Looking for Your First Apartment? How to Save Money in the Process

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buying a homeKeep these tips in mind when looking for your first apartment and save money.

Finding your first apartment can be exhilarating and challenging at the same time. First-time renters usually enjoy the task of choosing the ideal apartments based on photos, maps and amenities. However, apprehension and frustration may start creeping in as they tour their chosen units, meet their future landlords and talk about the rent. To make sure you find exactly what you are looking for without going over budget, here are some tips that can help you save money when looking for your first apartment.

Know your budget. As a general rule, you should not spend more than 30% of your annual income (before taxes and deductions) on rent. This would ensure you have enough money left over to meet all your living expenses and other housing costs while saving for your retirement. It would also allow you enough wiggle room to take care of any unforeseen expenses that may crop up in the future.

Do an online search. If you really want to save money, do your own research and don’t use a broker. Typically, hiring a broker will cost you one month’s rent so cut the middleman and do your own legwork. After all, you can always use your favorite apartment hunting apps and/or online tools and services to help you in your search. Consider using some of the best apartment search tools such as PadMapper, HotPads, Lovely, Trulia and WalkScore. You should also consider using Apartments.com to launch your search. Note: Consider working with a broker only if you don’t have enough time to search for an apartment on your own.

Ask for move-in discounts and special offers. Don’t be afraid to ask your future landlord about move-in discounts. Keep in mind that almost every apartment community offers this deal once a year to quickly fill up their vacant units. Some landlords may even give you up to two months worth of rent free if you sign for a full year’s lease.

Put your good credit into use. Having good credit can help you get a better deal on your chosen apartment unit since it can demonstrate your ability and willingness to pay your bills on time.

Document all damages in writing. Conduct a walk-through and document all existing damages to prove that they were already there before you moved in to the unit. Have the landlord sign off with a date for repair. Documenting the damages can also help you get your security deposit back in full in case the landlord fail to fix them by the time you decide to move out of the unit.