Rental Report: Apartment Hunting from Afar

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Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Sometimes renters don’t have the time or financial ability to do their apartment search in person. And while there is plenty of information available to apartment hunters, sometimes it can be overwhelming. If you aren’t familiar with the area, it is hard to know where to start. Looking at apartments on a listing service only gives you a small snippet of the overall picture. So what is the best course of action when relocating from afar?

Make A List – Determine your deal breakers. Write them down in order of importance. Sure, you know you want a washer and dryer in unit and parking included. But what if you can’t have both? Make a list of neighborhood features you want, and put those in order too. Need a dog park within a few blocks? What about a grocery store? Are you willing to walk a half mile to the Metro, or would you be willing to walk a little further?

Enlist Help – Do yourself a favor, if you aren’t familiar with the area, ask for help. Even with all of the information out there at just a few taps on a smartphone, it is hard to narrow things down. If you are relocating due to a job, ask the HR department for recommendations. Maybe they can connect you with some of your new colleagues who can give you some advice on where to look. If you have a friend in town, promise them a pizza or brunch, and maybe they will help you out by doing a video tour with you of your favorite apartment.

Find an AgentAgents in the area are able to listen to your priorities and help you narrow down your search. They are going to know the neighborhoods and the properties that meet your needs. Give them your priority lists and your budget. Be open so they can really help. Agents can direct you to better information about neighborhoods of interest. While many managed buildings are able to help you virtually, remember their job is to lease their building. A rental agent deals with several properties, in several neighborhoods, and is able to give you options, and pros and cons of each.

Virtual apartment hunting isn’t going to be easy. Most likely, nobody but you is going to find you that perfect apartment. But help from a friend or an agent will make it less of a headache. Do some research, prioritize, and ask for help, and you’ll likely be able to find something great!

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.