A post from our friends at RentSeeker ..
With the myriad of options available to you, the online hunt for your perfect apartment can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. At RentSeeker, we understand that you just want to find the right place at a reasonable price without having to spend hours (or days) sifting through listings that are not relevant. Here, we have put together our best tips for getting to the heart of the matter in mere moments - and getting you into your ideal home faster than you ever imagined.
Know What You're Looking For
Before you even start looking online, make a list of what you want. The biggest items will include the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms and whether or not pets are allowed, but don't stop there. Make this a true wish list - do you want in-suite laundry, a dishwasher, bike storage and other amenities? Write them down so you can refer back to your list when you're searching. It's best to separate your list into "must-haves" and "extras".
Next, it's time to determine exactly how much you can afford in rent each month. Set your limit before you search and keep it realistic. Remember that some apartments may include utilities, but others may not (thereby increasing your monthly budget). By setting your price before you search, you'll avoid the disappointment of finding a place you love that is way out our your price range.
Start Your Search Engines!
Now that you've got your list and price handy, it's time to start your apartment hunt. Using a website like RentSeeker, Craigslist or Kijiji means you can enable parameters that will narrow your search to exactly what you're looking for. Select your price range, your number of bedrooms and even your neighbourhood. Many sites also have extra search features, like "pet friendly" or "all inclusive". By using these search tools, you will find that your great apartment quest is much easier.
If you don't have a particular neighbourhood in mind, you should still make use of the map feature (embedded in many apartment search engines) so you can see exactly what is nearby. This is particularly handy if you're not familiar with the city that you will be moving to. RentSeeker also has WalkScore information with each listing, allowing you to see at a glance the "walkability" of the neighbourhood. This includes the type of amenities nearby, like grocery stores, and ease of access to public transportation.
Find a few apartments that you are interested in viewing and contact the landlord or property manager as soon as possible to set up an appointment. Make a list of questions to bring with you to your appointment. Remember, while the landlord wants to make sure you're a good fit for the apartment, you also want to make sure that the apartment is a right fit for YOU.
Be Safe and Smart
As with anything online, you need to protect yourself. If an apartment listing seems too good to be true (a 2 bedroom apartment in the heart of downtown for only $500 a month?) it probably is. Also, avoid phishing scams where the person who posted the ad asks for you to wire them money to hold the apartment for you. Never send money online for an apartment, especially if you haven't even seen the apartment in person.