Apartment Hunting Checklist: Ch-Ch-Check It Off!

An apartment hunting checklist is a must-have for anyone about to enter the murky, unpredictable waters of the NYC real estate market. Making sure that you have all of your ducks in a row earlier rather than later can put you ahead of the pack.

You may wonder why you should put together an apartment hunting checklist now when you’re not going to be looking for a new apartment until spring, official apartment hunting season. It may seem like you can still see fall in your rear-view mirror, but before you know it, it will be apartment hunting season again. The early bird gets the deal of the century, so getting ready for the hunt now can help you win the prize later.

Work on Your Financial Health

You’ve got about six months; use the time to improve your financial health. Fatten up an anemic credit score by paying down credit cards, while keeping your utilization at a healthy level. Experts say 30 percent credit card utilization shows creditors like landlords and banks that you know how to spend responsibly. DON’T close any credit cards: Doing so will cause your credit score to take a hit. Build up a healthy savings in your bank account. Pay down as much debt as you can, especially if you’ll be applying for a mortgage.

Research the Neighborhoods

Find out the cost of living in neighborhoods that you’re interested in living in. Find out if you’ll be able to swing the monthly payments without an issue. If you’re dead set on living in a specific neighborhood but you’d probably need a roommate to live there, start your search now. The most popular neighborhoods in NYC are usually the most expensive, so check out rents now.

Finding someone you can live with is just as important as finding an apartment you can live in. Use your social media connections to find out if anyone in your circle is looking for someone to share the rent. You’ll want to find someone who is fiscally responsible and easy to live with. Before you say, “Oh, I’ll just move in with my best friend in the world,” be aware that many, many friendships over the millennia have been ruined over money issues. Is your best friend good about paying bills?

Make Friends with a Broker

Many people try to avoid dealing with a broker in order to not have to pay a fee, but the fact remains that some of the best apartments on the market are in the hands of brokers. And they’re the first to know about awesome spaces that are about to hit the market but that aren’t on the public’s radar as of yet. With a good broker, you’ll not only be able to get the inside scoop on upcoming spaces, but you could also have an ally in your corner when it comes to placing you above the pack of apartment hunters. Ultimately the choice is yours, but for many people, the fee is worth it.

Gather Your Documents

Sometimes an apartment is gone by the time you’ve read to the end of the listing. Nice apartments can be hard to score. Nice apartments at nice prices literally fly off the shelves as soon as they hit the market, so do yourself a favor and get all your documents together. Documents you’ll need to have as part of your apartment hunting checklist two months bank statements, last couple of pay stubs, recent credit reports, job letters, personal and business references, etc. If you have black marks on your record, either work hard to remove them before you move or have documentation in hand that shows that you’re working hard to correct the issue.

Image Source: Flickr/Henry Hemming

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