The Apartment Tour: A How-To Guide

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Trying to find the right apartment requires planning and research.

First, you need to make a list of apartments in the geographic area where you are looking to reside. When creating your list, consider, among other things, traffic, convenience, public transportation, shopping, entertainment along with a list of features (both within the apartment and within the community such as a pool). Then map out these communities, and schedule visits to see them.

Scheduling can be challenging as it depends on both your available time and the specific community office hours and availability of their staff, as well as, travel time in between complexes. If you spread the task over too much time, it’s possible your preferred unit will have been leased by the time you make your decision. On the other hand, if you don’t plan ahead and allow enough time for your search, you may exclude the “perfect apartment” simply because you did not coordinate a viewing time that worked for both you and the community.

It’s typically best to try to visit as many apartments as possible that meet your criteria, in a fairly short period of time. You do not want to exhaust yourself; you need time to ask questions, and quiet time to digest all the information before making decisions. We have broken down the touring process into a step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Create a list of apartments. You can search by location. Write them down. While there is no right number, you should hopefully have at least a few on your list, so you can compare apartments and feel confident you are making the right decision.

Step 2: Map out all of the apartments on your list so you can see where they are located geographically. If you’re familiar with the area, this should be fairly easy. If you’re not or if you want to make the process easier, copy and paste all the addresses of the apartment complexes into your favorite online map website such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, or MapQuest. This way, you can visually see where all of the apartments on your list are located and plan your visits out by geographic cluster.

Step 3: Figure out how many apartments to view based on your available time, travel time, and touring time. You’ll probably walk into a few apartments and know instantly they’re not right for you. In these situations, be polite, thank your guide, but don’t waste your time or the rental agents time. While it’s your decision, a good rule of thumb is to allow for about 75 minutes per tour plus travel time. If it takes less time, you can relax and have a coffee break.

Step 4: Plot out your ideal trip (and over multiple days if needed). Use a navigation app such as Google Maps, Apple Maps to map out a logical progression between all the places you want to visit. You can also try using MapQuest’s New Route Planner to get their sense of an optimized route. See what route makes the most sense for you. Take note of the suggested transit time.

Step 5: Call all of the apartments you plan to visit, and make sure someone will be on-site to show you a unit when you plan to visit and/or inquire if an appointment is needed (if an appointment is needed, you can either make an appointment while you are on the phone or wait until you know what time works best for your schedule). You may find you need to adjust your optimized route based on your and the landlord’s availability. In this case, repeat steps as needed.

Step 6: Print or write down your route so you have it handy the day of. If you are having trouble getting the map to print exactly as you want it, consider taking a screenshot and printing it out that way. It’s a good idea to call again to confirm someone will be able to see you when you visit, to maximize your time.

Step 7: Happy touring.
Remember to allow for the estimated 75 minutes per tour, plus travel time. Limit your tours to between 3 to 5 apartment per day. Bring a pencil and pad for notes (or if you don’t mind typing, make use of memos in your smartphone). Of course, visiting 3 to 5 apartments in a day assumes all the apartments are fairly close to each other and this schedule meets your endurance and your own preferences. You’ll perform better when you’re well rested.

Bonus Tips:

  • If you will be driving, call ahead and ask where you should park. If you are touring in a major city, parking can be particularly problematic. Call and ask the community if they have guest/visitor parking.
  • To get the time slots you want, you might want to do your tour on weekday when landlords are generally not as busy.

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