Shopping for a new apartment is an anxiety-inducing process. Not only are you facing one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, you’re also venturing into a field that, for many consumers, is unfamiliar. That increases the risk of errors in judgment, many of which are tied to a lack of knowledge or understanding in what to look for when seeking out an apartment. There are obvious concerns, like square footage, finishes and price, but there are plenty of not-so-obvious worries that you’ll want to keep in mind as you shop.
Because it’s easy to overlook some of these smaller details, it’s wise to put together a checklist of potential sticking points that you’ll want to investigate prior to buying an apartment. If you come in organized and with an understanding of the common traps that claim inexperienced apartment buyers, you’ll be in a much better position to lock down your own place without the subsequent pain of buyer’s remorse.
With that in mind, here are five tips to help you succeed in your hunt for a new apartment.
1. Parking availability
Here’s a nightmare scenario: You purchase an apartment and pull up to scope it out for the first time as the official owner. But before you can get out of the car, you’re struck with the realization that there’s nowhere to park. It might sound crazy, but many apartment complexes don’t provide adequate parking to their tenants.
You’ll either be provided with some limited off-street parking — which may come at an additional cost — or you’ll have to fight and claw for coveted off-street parking. In dense urban areas like Kansas City, this can be a real problem that will make or break your experience in the apartment. Ask about parking early in the process to avoid this troubling, unending problem.
2. Age and quality of appliances
Most apartments come stocked with basic appliances, but how old are they? An aging, worn down stove won’t be a huge boon for anyone, and if you’re a frequent cook, it might be a deal breaker. You can always upgrade appliances on your own, but that comes at an extra cost that should be factored into the price you end up paying for the property. Review the appliances offered in a given apartment and decide which ones you’ll keep and which ones can be dispensed to the curb.
3. Heating and cooling options
Heating can come in a variety of forms, and some people have strong opinions about what they want in their apartment. Furnace heating delivers warm air throughout the home through air vents. By contrast, heating panels and baseboard heating use electrical heat to warm up the air. Baseboards and panels can restrict where you set up some furniture, since there’s a risk that the high heat from a baseboard could melt certain items or even set them on fire.
Cooling, meanwhile, can come from a central air-cooling unit or an air conditioning unit set up in a window. For larger apartments, central cooling will be much more efficient than the units set into a window, most of which are only equipped to regulate the temperature of a single room.
4. Water leaks
Look for signs of water damage, which could indicate costly repairs that need to be done. Roof leaks are a common threat and can be identified by discolorations on walls and ceilings. But you should be sure to check other areas for leaks, especially around the toilet, faucets and other plumbing fixtures throughout the apartment.
5. Insulation and noise reduction
What’s inside your walls could have a big impact on how well you’re able to enjoy your apartment. Insulation serves two purposes: It reduces heat transfer and minimizes the noise that carries through your walls. Kansas City apartments, for example, need to be able to handle the extreme temperatures of the summer and winter, so a quality apartment will be outfitted with good insulation. Find out what kind of insulation is behind your walls to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.
No matter how prepared you are when you start the apartment hunting process, it’s pretty likely that you’ll still feel nervous and hesitant when it comes to signing on the dotted line. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging these feelings, but keep in mind the trust you’ve placed in your research process. If you’ve done your homework, you can ease your fears with the reminder that you’ve done a thorough review of the property in question and know it’s the right choice for you.