Apartment hunting can be time-consuming and stressful, yet usually brings the anticipation of new beginnings. Besides weeding out dozens or hundreds of apartments as they go, renters must decide which unique combination of amenities, location, and price will compel them to take a chance and schedule a tour.
Usually by the time someone is ready to walk through an apartment, they’ve already invested significant time, energy, and maybe even hope into the listing. Some searchers even go the route of applying sight unseen, especially when moving to a new city. Either way, apartment shopping isn’t just about finding an apartment that meets certain criteria.
Impressing the property management goes a long way in determining whether a renter will receive approval or see the opportunity dry up in front of their eyes. How can a hopeful apartment seeker send the right signals to the manager and move one step closer to getting the keys to their dream dwelling?
Focus on the First Impression
An apartment tour or even an electronic exchange is essentially an interview. This is your chance to demonstrate a responsible demeanor that inspires confidence in the landlord. U.S. News & World Report Money says it pays to be courteous, proofread written messages for typos, and show up to the appointment a few minutes early in business casual attire.
Just like a job interview is meant to showcase that you’re capable and well-suited for the position at hand, every interaction with the building ownership should demonstrate that you’re responsible and open to constructive communication. Showing up late, wearing sweatpants, or sending rude messages are huge red flags that you may not be an ideal tenant.
Know Where Your Finances Stand
Your credit report will come into play during the apartment application process, so it’s important to take ownership of its contents. A FICO score between 550 and 580 will usually be workable for first-time renters with steady income, according to My First Apartment, but requirements vary by location and situation.
If your credit score isn’t stellar, don’t fret. Your credit score doesn’t always warrant an automatic acceptance or denial, but you should absolutely be ready to explain any past incidents and to demonstrate that your situation has since changed.
Bring All Necessary Materials
Time isn’t always on prospective renters’ sides when they tour or inquire about a certain residence. Competitive markets often mean that properties move fast, and the early bird gets the worm when it comes to nabbing a lease. Come prepared from day one, even if you’re just taking a quick tour of a space. Time recommends bringing along:
- Proof of employment and income
- W2, tax forms, or a pay stub
- Your checkbook, or other form of payment
- Money for application and holding fees
You can always take more time to consider your decision, but you can’t magically summon the materials you need to show the owner that you’re serious. If you tour an apartment and instantly know it’s the one, you’ll figuratively kick yourself for not bringing along adequate materials to move forward on the spot. If your rental history doesn’t yet speak for itself, like if you’re fresh out of college or leaving home for the first time, bring along several references from previous employers or non-family authority figures.
Ask the Right Questions
If the property manager posted thorough, informative listings complete with photographs and statistics, you likely already have a decent idea of the apartment you’re going to see. Take notes throughout the comparison process, and make sure you distinctly remember each apartment before you go to tour it. Asking the right questions will demonstrate that you’re sharp, curious, and genuinely interested in the space.
Asking redundant questions that were obviously addressed in the listing may imply that the apartment is just one of many to you and that you’re not a serious candidate. Give each residence the respect it deserves and prepare valid questions that supplement the information already listed online.
As you’re vetting rental units, property managers are developing an impression of you as a person and as a renter. Put your best foot forward and you’re much more likely to receive the exciting message that your apartment application has been approved!