I am OBSESSED with making lists, as evidenced here and here. So the last couple of weeks as I was house hunting my house became littered with lists upon lists. This will be my sixth move in six years so I have learned all about searching for a nice place, important questions to ask a property manager, things to look for in a lease, etc. May I add that I have been house hunting in a city nearly 10 times the size of my home for the last 6 years. Did I also mention that town is about 300 miles away! Organization was key for the search since I didn’t have the luxury of scouting out a location and seeing houses quickly. So I compiled a list to help remember my requirements, specs, preferences, etc. It was soooooo helpful to be easily reminded of what I was looking for. Here is my advice from the experience:
1. Searching: Before you start looking determine your desired size and price range. Number of bedrooms and bathrooms? Write all this information down. Keep it close during your search so you can rule out unrealistic options faster. It’s better to know what you want before looking at places you may not be able to afford. Be realistic: search only in your price range. Once that is figured out drive around your desired location, search on craigslist, and search on property management websites. Beware of craigslist. Running into scams is fairly common. Don’t give your information to anyone until meeting them to see the house and fill out an application. Once you find something you’re interested in call immediately. Depending on where you live and your house requirements you should start looking at least a month before the desired move-in date.
2. The Showing: Ask LOTS of questions including: “What is the cost of utilities?, How old are the appliances?, How old is the roof, Pet policy?, Who is responsible for lawn care?, Who is responsible for repairs and repair costs?, Is there a basement?, Flooding issues?, Any plumbing issues?, Garage? Does the garage door opener work?” These are just a few examples. While you’re at the house look EVERYWHERE! Check the water pressure. Measure room sizes. Look under sinks for mold, mice droppings, or pipe issues. Check the ceiling for possible cracks. Adequate parking? Closet space? Distance from other units or houses. Note windows and lighting. Take LOTS of pictures and notes if you really like it.
3. Making the choice: Go home and discuss the pros and cons with your significant other, roommate, family, friends, basically whoever will talk to you. Can you overlook the negatives on your list? Any complete deal breakers? Do you really, really want it?!
4. Snagging the place!: Apply if required. Once you’re approved put down a security deposit. Then discuss the lease.
5. The Lease: Read the lease very closely. Do not sign anything until you are very sure about agreeing to the document. This is a legal binding document. Take it seriously! When you’re reading watch out for provisions such as rent increases or unlimited entry of landlord. Speaking of the landlord discuss when they are allowed to enter the premises. How long is the lease? What is the picture hanging policy and decorating policy? Any restrictions of property use? Is there an alteration policy? Is the landlord easy to get a hold of?
6. Move in and Enjoy!
I made a short version of this list for you to download. Check it out below!
I’ll be talking about moving and packing tips later this month. I am a Master Packer!
Happy House Hunting!!