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Renter’s Checklist, Step 3: Compare

How to find the best place to live — even if you're a novice — in 4 simple steps.


Step 3: Compare

Visit properties — and ask lots of questions

  • First things first: Make yourself available. Again, some rentals are snapped up lightning fast, so squeeze in that lunchtime visit if you can!
  • If you’re viewing a model unit, ask how the specific apartment for rent might differ.
  • While you’re there, take pictures to jog your memory and help determine how your furniture will fit.
  • Bring a trusted friend or family member. They might think of questions you forgot to ask.
  • Keep in mind that one of the best ways to evaluate a property is to talk to neighbors. They’ll have the real inside scoop on parking, building management, noise levels, etc.
  • Before you leave, ask about upcoming specials or rentable items like furnishings. And inquire about what’s recently been upgraded — and what items still need fixing.

Go back to the drawing board

  • No, we’re not talking about starting over, but we are talking about taking a look back at your initial set of rental criteria from step one.
  • It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of visiting a really great rental, especially when the clock is ticking. But before you apply, take a breath, and make sure the place (1) fits comfortably into the budget you’ve designed for yourself, (2) has the must-have amenities you require, and (3) is located in — or at least near — your desired neighborhood.
  • Be decisive, but don’t let a high-pressure situation cloud your judgment.

Prep paperwork ahead of time

  • This step is essential. Scoring that apartment requires a load of documents, and most landlords won’t wait while you fumble to get everything in order. Here’s a list of things you might need:
    • employer letter
    • recent pay stubs
    • tax returns
    • bank statements
    • references
    • previous landlord information
    • photo ID

Step 1: Discover
Step 2: Search
Step 3: Compare
Step 4: Sign