I just found a great article about what to bring to every apartment viewing in NYC. This probably also applies to apartment viewing in other cities, but these are crucial in NYC, because the places are small, screwups are expensive, and it’s often somewhat high-pressure. Anyway, the article:
The short list (for explanations, check out the original article):
- A tape measure
- A notebook
- A map
- A check and pen
- A camera
- Contact information for the leasing agent/broker
- A friend
To this I would also add that you should have your personal documents with you so you’re ready to apply immediately. These include a recent bank statement, a letter of employment with salary stated, and sometimes some other background info about you.
A great quote from the article: “Â I don’t advise writing a check for too much (see tip #3 inthis post) but $75 for a credit check or application fee is acceptable. This shows the management company or leasing agent that you are serious about the apartment. This initial deposit is refundable 90% of the time (credit check fees not so much). If the deposit is non-refundable or if it’s above $200, it reeks of a scam to me. I would walk away from the apartment.”
We got scammed for a $500 deposit when looking for our place – we got the lease, and it had a number of unconscionable terms in it, and we couldn’t get back the deposit once we had the lease. Don’t pay unreasonable application fees, regardless of how good the apartment is. It’s a more subtle form of those emails promising you won a lottery you never entered.