Striking out on the apartment search—or trying to avoid striking out? At the risk of sounding like a bad issue of Seventeen magazine, spend some time making yourself as attractive a tenant as possible.
Be friendly and responsive from the beginning
Your first impression might be your only shot, especially in tenant-flooded markets where landlords get 437 responses to one Craigslist posting. Be clear, friendly, respectful, and responsible in every interaction, even emails. That includes actual use of grammar—some landlords still care.
Be prepared for questions
Before meeting with a prospective landlord, spend some time thinking about what they care about. What’s your financial situation? Have you proven a reliable tenant in the past? Will you be self-reliant, or whiny and needy? Be prepared to answer standard questions, and also to volunteer information about yourself without them having to pry it out of you.
Have the most complete rental application
If possible, show up with a rental application in hand, filled out. Some renters choose to include their resume with a rental application. May seem like overkill, but it gives a lot of information about who you are, and (rightly or wrongly) suggests you’re a serious person. The seriously hardcore apartment hunters arrive with a renter’s resume, which includes personal information, employment information, and references. Consider taking your credit score with you to an open house or private meeting, in case a landlord asks. They’ll see it eventually anyway, and you’ll show initiative.
Emphasize your strong points (no smoke/pets/money problems/issues with landlords)
What might set you apart? Make sure a landlord knows this about you—just try not to sound like the world’s biggest goodie-two-shoes when delivering the information. Don’t smoke? Don’t have pets? Have perfect credit? Still talk to your previous landlords on the phone because they just love you so darn much? Or…really good at DIY plumbing? Whatever you can tell a landlord to make them think, “this person will be less work for me.”
Ask good questions
Prepare a list of (intelligent) questions so a) you sound prepared and b) you don’t have to bother the landlord later. Things like, how do you prefer I pay rent? Do you have any common maintenance requests? What is the parking situation?…or whatever else might be on your mind (but not incriminating).
Long story short, stay on top of your stuff, and behave like a decent person. Happy apartment hunting!
If you have any additional ideas to help in the apartment hunt then feel free to chime in on Facebook!