Apartment Hunting 101

Apartment Hunting 101

What to Look for When Touring Apartments

You’ve narrowed your list down to 2-3 apartment complexes. They look great online and have stellar reviews. Your next step is to schedule appointments with the leasing agent for on-site tours. Before you sign a lease or pay a security deposit, there are many aspects of your potential new residence that you need to check out. Not only can some due diligence help you screen out questionable apartments, but it can also alert you to any safety or maintenance issues that may come back to haunt you down the road.

1. Overall appearance of property. Are the grounds well-maintained? Dying grass, overgrown weeds, and trees indicate that curb appeal isn’t a priority. Look at the building exterior and look for paint peeling or foundation or sidewalks cracked, loose shingles, dangling pipes or gutters. When you arrive, look carefully at the parking lot. Look to see if the asphalt cracked and full of potholes? Are parking spaces well-defined? Check out common areas as well for cleanliness, modernization, and utilization. There is also a flip side to this. Some apartment complexes focus on all the capital improvements on the grounds at the expense of the units.

2. Front door. If security is a concern, you will want to know if the apartment has security doors that are accessed by a buzzer or passkey. Is there a doorman or concierge? Is the door sturdy and in good condition? Does it catch securely after being closed?

3. Odors. It’s impossible for a communal living building to be odor-free, but what you smell can make a huge difference. A stale, musty odor, cigarette smoke, and lingering cooking orders are a big turn-off.

4. Apartment unit. The same advice holds true for front and other exit doors. Are they secure? Is there a peephole and deadbolt locks? Do sliding glass doors on patios and balconies have locks in good working order? Check the windows to make sure they are easy to open and close. Do they lock? Are the screens in good condition?

5. Apartment interior.Most apartments are freshly painted after a tenant moves out. However, check for any scratches to the walls or dings/chips in the trim. If you find any, document them, so you are not charged for damage when you move out. Ask if touch-up paint is available for use after you’ve moved in.

6. Carpet. Carpet should be preferably new or have been thoroughly cleaned after the previous tenant left. Check for stains and signs of wear. Again, document any holes or stains.

7. Kitchen. What type of floor is there? Is it easy to clean? What about the countertops and sink? Look for stains, scorches, chips and cracks. Make note of them and ask the landlord if these surfaces can be replaced before you move in. Are the appliances in good working order? Open and close the doors to the fridge and freezer to make sure they seal properly.

8. Bathroom. Is the toilet new? Are there ugly lime/rust stains in the bowl? The same goes for the shower/bathtub. What kind of shower head is used? Is there enough space on the vanity or in the cabinets?

9. Bedrooms. Is there room for your preferred size of bed? How big is the closet compared to your needs? Is there a cable outlet for a TV (if you need one)?

10. Lighting and electrical outlets. Turn on the lights throughout the apartment to see if the lighting is adequate for your needs. Do the light fixtures accommodate energy-saving lightbulbs? Will you need to augment the lighting with your own lamps? Are there enough electrical outlets in the unit? Same with cable outlets.

11. Closets and storage. How big are the closets? Ask if there is additional storage for residents’ use in the basement or elsewhere on the property. That will be a huge consideration in whether not you’ll need to downsize if you move in.

While this seems like a LOT to consider, it will pay off in the long-run. You want to find an apartment where you’ll feel safe, clean and enjoy your living experience. 

At Vision Communities, we pride ourselves in the communities that we build. With apartment communities near ClintonvilleDowntown Columbus, and Westerville, Vision Communities has the floor plan and amenities that you are looking for. To learn more, browse our Central Ohio communities and find the right floor plan for you and your family. 

Apartment living with pets

Needs VS Wants in an Apartment

Apartment Amenities: Needs vs Wants

You are getting ready to go apartment hunting and have determined your monthly rent budget and possible locations. The next step is to schedule on site visits. Sure, you want a comfy place that will hold all of your stuff, but what about the extras? “Extras” are known as “amenities” in apartment lingo. Here are a few of the most common and popular amenities that landlords offer to entice renters. Take a look and see which ones are “musts” and which ones you can live without (and not pay for).

In-unit washer and dryer. Being able to do laundry within one’s home has made it the top of the “need” list of practically every apartment seeker. It’s not only convenient, but a lot cheaper plus, you can do your laundry whenever you want and not be restricted by other tenants’ use or specific laundry room hours.

Energy-efficient appliances. Today’s renters are concerned about the environment and demand appliances that don’t waste resources. Look for appliances that have Energy Star ratings, and ask the landlord what the average utility costs are for the unit you’re interested in.

Online rent payment and maintenance requests. Few people write checks these days and even fewer enjoy the process. Most apartments have a website with a tenant portal for paying rent and submitting maintenance requests. This offers the freedom to pay rent at any time of day or night and not have to play phone tag if you need work done in your apartment.

High-speed internet. Which ISP does the apartment complex use? How reliable is it? Use your phone to check connectivity in the unit for speed and hot spots.

Pets allowed. Believe it or not, some apartment complexes do not allow pets of any kind. If you have a pet, you can cross those places off your list. You will find, however, that more communities are pet-friendly and offer amenities such as fenced dog parks and “doggie stations” throughout the property.

Security doors. Look for secured outer doors that are accessible only by code, key or card offer an extra layer of security, as well as provide a barrier against unwelcome solicitors. Be sure to ask if there is a lock-out policy. Some apartments will charge a fee to tenants who find themselves locked out.

Community amenities. Most apartment complexes have a swimming pool, unless it is located in a climate where it would not be practical. Other popular shared amenities include clubhouses, coffee bars and fitness centers.

Other popular wants vs. needs include:

  • Hardwood floors
  • Balcony or patio
  • Granite countertops
  • Covered parking
  • Package acceptance or package lockers
  • Well maintained pool and grounds

While it’s great to have some little extras in your new home, just be mindful of the cost. Many of these amenities are offered in the form of higher rent. While it may be tempting to have some luxuries in your apartment, be realistic about whether or not you really need them and if they offset the added expense.

At Vision Communities, we are committed to creating the best apartment communities for you and your family. We feature communities with great amenities, with multiple bedroom layouts, in desirable areas such as Westerville, Clintonville, and downtown Columbus. For more information about our communities, contact our team to get started.