Think Smart
Apartment Hunting Made Easy
Tip 1
Nail down a few basics: Do you want roommates? Where do you want to live? Townhome, hi-rise or garden-style building?

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Tip 3
Peruse listings online and in newspapers to get a sense of the market in the neighborhoods that interest you.

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Tip 5
Plan how you will tell prospective landlords about your rental and credit history. You may need to sell yourself as a reliable tenant.

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Tip 7
Spend time in the building to get a feel for it. Ask extensive questions of management. Landlords are business people and may not give you straight answers, but asking these questions will help assess their management style.

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Tip 9
Don't feel obligated to sign a lease on the spot. Be sure to read it, understand it and know all the fees and policies associated with your agreement -- especially the penalty for early termination.

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Tip 2
Choose a neighborhood with care. Visit during the day and night. Check crime reports and practice your commute.

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Tip 4
Make a list of apartment features and amenities you (and your co-habitants) need and desire.

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Tip 6
Physically inspect prospective properties carefully. Check for signs of poor maintenance, rowdy residents, safety issues and parking problems.

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Tip 8
Visit the building on your own (without a management escort) and talk to residents about their experiences with maintenance, noise, rent increases and parking.

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Tip 10
Pay attention to any red flags that pop up during your search. Never get so caught up that you forget that you are a consumer with choices.

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© 2005 The Washington Post Company