Home Dwellsy's blog by renters, for renters

man and woman with clipboard looking at apartment

How to Tour an Apartment Like a Pro

Want to find an amazing rental?  Did you tour an apartment and are still not quite sure if it is the right place to make a home?  Some of these tricks even work when you can’t tour the apartment in person.

We asked a few apartment maintenance professionals what to look for when you’re touring an apartment community – red flags, good signs, and more.  Here’s what they told us – including some real secrets from those who know best!

First, the outside.  

When you tour an apartment, notice how the landscaping around the building looks.  Doesn’t have to be fancy, but does it look like someone cares about it?  If so, that’s a sure sign of a well-managed property and it’s one of the first things that our professionals mentioned.  Bonus points if there is 1) mulch (shredded tree) in the landscaping and 2) if the mulch has been contained in the planters.  

What about paint?  Does it look recently painted?  If so, that’s another good sign of regular maintenance.  How about the signage around the property – what tone does it set?  Is the signage professional, direct and respectful…or something else?  Signage reflects how you can expect the management to talk to you…if the signage is professional and respectful, that’s a good…sign (sorry to be punny!).

Now, inside.  

Are there hallways and common stairwells?  If so, are they well swept? Does the carpet, linoleum or other floor surface look well maintained?  What about the paint – how does it look? Is someone struggling with painting inside the lines or does it look great?  Anything hanging from the ceiling?

Hate to say it, but how’s the smell?  Make sure when touring an apartment that you breathe everything in. Any unexpected odors could be a non-issue like residents cooking something interesting or it could be from pet odors or even indicate something troubling.  Use your nose and ask the management team if you smell something. If it smells mildewy, be careful!

The apartment itself.

First, let’s talk about circumstances.  Is the apartment occupied or unoccupied?

If it’s occupied, then it’s hard to grade the landlord for its condition when you tour the apartment.  Lots of us live in lots of different ways, but if it’s a mess or it’s obvious that it needs a little TLC, then make sure you know what you can expect the landlord to do before you move in.  

Some reasonable things to ask for include:

  • New carpet if the carpet is worn
  • Fresh paint if it needs it
  • New appliances if the appliances are beaten up
  • Ionizing treatment to eliminate odors from pets/smoking
  • A thorough cleaning!

If it’s unoccupied, this is the landlord’s chance to shine!  Or not…?  

An unoccupied apartment should be very clean, and all major and minor maintenance items should be complete, or the landlord should call those out to you.  Paint should be touched up and in good order, and there should be no significant odors. Don’t expect perfection, of course – almost every “new to you” home has a bit of a lived-in feel to it.  But, it should feel like someone has made an effort to keep it in good condition.

Bonus secret round!  

Some secret tricks from the pros to make sure a place is really the right home for you:

  • Partake in a self-guided tour of the apartment property at night/on the weekend and walk the community/neighborhood to make sure it’s comfortable for you.
  • Visit the apartment at a time when neighbors are around so you can get a sense of what kind of noise carries through from the neighboring units.
  • Knock on a couple of doors and ask the neighbors what they think of living there
  • Find a maintenance person and ask them what they spend most of their time fixing

Check out these renter tips and then visit Dwellsy.com to find a rental and make it home.

Pssst... More Posts