Hi, I’m Demetrios from Bostonpads.com. Today, I am going to show you the in’s and outs of finding a great apartment in Boston. Moving to Boston, or anywhere for that matter, can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. I’m here to give you the framework and tools for making the transition as smooth as possible.
I’ll be covering four important areas that will be helpful for locating your perfect apartment in Boston. First, let’s talk about your budget considerations. Secondly, let’s figure out how to look for an apartment. Third, how to complete your paperwork properly. And lastly, how to ace the interview process. Keep in mind that we are here for you every step of the way. So don’t be afraid to reach out at any time by heading over to Bostonpads.com. Ok, Let’s dive in.
The first step to finding your apartment is figuring out how much you can truly afford. You have to be honest with yourself. Consider all the important factors that will provide a total sum of living costs, including but not limited to: utilities, transportation costs, food costs, and parking spaces if any. Have you spoken with your family or friends regarding your resources?
You have to get clear on what is most important to you once you have finalized your personal financial plan. Are you willing to share a bedroom or have roommates? Neighborhoods also matter significantly, as rents vary widely, from even street to street. Understanding your budget will help you determine what apartments are available to you and which neighborhoods make the most sense.
If you’re considering roommates, really think about what is the maximum number of people you are able to handle. You have to pull a group together that knows how much each person can afford. For example, if you have four people in your group and they can each spend between $900 – $1200 on rent and utilities, you should be looking for an apartment costing around $3800-4400 per month. Maybe you will find something awesome at the lower range of your budget. It’s important that you see a lot of apartments quickly to make the best choice while everything is fresh in your mind. Sometimes you may have two people in your group that can afford more; so perhaps they get the biggest bedrooms, or the better views, to make it fair for everyone. They key is to compromise so that everyone benefits and you get the best apartment possible.
To get your perfect apartment; you must have your entire group ready to go when it becomes available. You need to work closely with your future roomies so that your schedules are tightly coordinated and you are all looking at the same properties at the same time. When you go on showings, and do not have your entire group present, you will often miss getting the best apartment. The reason is that by the time you get the remaining people to check it out, it’s most likely been rented by someone else. There is an old saying in real estate, “the best apartments always rent within 48 hours.” So be on top of your game and act quickly. Or, you will end up always chasing the best apartment, but settling for second best.
There is nothing worse than losing a great apartment. Mostly speaking, landlords will not take an apartment off the market unless they see the total number of applications and paperwork. They need to know everyone who is going apply for the apartment and sign the lease. Your application will most likely not be accepted if you’re still looking for the rest of your roommates. And you may risk losing your perfect apartment to a fully prepared group. So make sure you have everyone together and onboard before you begin your apartment search. It will save you heartache and lost time.
A really important stage in your apartment search is figuring out which neighborhood best fits your needs. You want to look at websites that have the most real time apartment listings in your area of interest. Many cities have very specific, local websites that do a fantastic job of pooling together apartment listings by neighborhood.
Look for market leading real estate offices that rent the most apartments. It is highly likely that landlords will give them the first shot at renting their inventory each year. Generally speaking, each city has a dominant real estate group that consistently rents the highest number of apartments. Landlords nearly always flock to market leaders first, and generally do not like to give out their listings to a random group of small, disparate offices. Landlords find this is too time consuming and prone with security risks.
Most landlords give their best apartment listings to companies that have the biggest marketing budgets and best websites. They want to know their apartments are getting the widest exposure to both local and national websites as well as the most social media platforms. Look for high quality local websites and companies that have a long history of renting the greatest number of apartments. Try to find companies with the largest database of real time apartment listings in your chosen neighborhood. Seek companies that have great local domain names as they tend to attract the most landlords in their area. You can’t rent what you never get to see! So find offices with the most listings!
Do you want to find the best apartment possible in the shortest period of time? A good tip is to ask how many apartments you are going to see with your agent before the showing. If you are working with multiple agents and one mentions that they only have two listings to show you, yet the other agent says they have six, you’re better off going with the agent that has six. Chances are they will have the same other two listings because a lot of lesser quality listings are shared with many smaller offices. Be leery of an apartment that is given out to the multiple offices. What does that say about the apartment? Is the landlord desperate to get it rented? If it was a great apartment would the landlord need to give it to everyone?
You don’t want to waste your time going to a bunch of small disparate brokerages with few listings. It is incredibly difficult to coordinate your roommates to go see different places using different offices. Think about how hard it is to even go see a movie with five of your friends. Now imagine that four times to go see just two apartments each time. Does that sound like fun? Or would you rather go see all eight apartments at once with a team that has the most listings? It it is a lot easier to make an accurate decision on a great apartment when you go see a bunch on one day!
Some agencies may claim to have great listings, but they show you the apartments you may have already seen, and that know you don’t want. Don’t waste your time! When in doubt, always go with the team that specializes in apartment rentals and can prove that they have the most landlords, listings, web traffic and rented apartments!
Ok, so you have found your perfect apartment through an agent you found on Bostonpads.com, now what? Well, you have to make sure to do the paperwork properly and immediately, or otherwise you could still lose that apartment to another group. The first step is to fill out applications and put down a deposit. While there is no specific standard for a deposit to hold an apartment; many landlords will often ask for one months rent to begin their review process. In the interim, depending on income and other matters, some landlords will require a co-signer or guarantor.
During the application process, you may be gathering some documents such as: pay stubs and references, depending on each landlord’s requirements. There will most likely be credit reports pulled to view your financial history. You may need references from past landlords as well. Letters of recommendation from previous landlords are a great way to tell them that you’re a fantastic renter. Additionally, you might be required to have at least two or three paycheck stubs from your past pay periods. And, you will most likely need to show a good history of paying your debts on time. Listen to your real estate agent; they will help you determine the best path you need to get the apartment. You may need to explain to the landlord why your credit score isn’t as high as it should be. You may need a guarantor or additional references.
A guarantor is a person that will cover your rent in the event you are unable to pay. In essence, as the name implies, they are guaranteeing your rent. Landlords will want this guarantor form provided back to them notarized so that they know the document is real. While there is no specific time frame allotted to getting co-signers back to the landlord, most property owners usually tell real estate agents and applicants that they need to see the co-signers back within one week or they will start looking at other prospects. However, it is not uncommon for some landlords to want all the co-signers delivered within 48-72 hours. It is very important to listen to your real estate agent as they will coach you through the process. If you are having any problems getting your co-signer, it is important that you communicate effectively as to why. For example, some delays are reasonable such as your parents are on vacation and not back until the following week. But no matter what the problem is, make sure you communicate any issues. Some landlords are very understanding.
After getting all the co-signers from your group, most landlords will want you to sign the lease and some associated documents such as Lead Law and an addendum. While this may seem like a daunting task, many leading real estate offices now use electronic signature software so that it is easily viewed and signed from anywhere. This also gives your co-signer a chance to review documents as well if needed. Your licensed real estate agent will be working with you closely to help you navigate and answer any questions you have. Never be afraid to ask too many questions.
Some landlords will require an interview. There can be certain properties where the landlord will want to speak with you about specific items that need to be addressed. These items can vary widely; from shared driveway parking, common area storage, snow removal, trash days and other matters. Often times you are renting a property that’s a multi-family dwelling, so there can be a host of good neighbor etiquettes the landlord would like you to follow. Some landlords will even introduce you to other people living in the building so that friendships and trust is formed. While there are no hard and fast rules to any of these landlord interviews; it is important that you show up in a presentable manner. Show up early or at least on time. This sends a signal that you are respectful and serious about renting the apartment.
Overall, you now have a good idea of what it takes to land your perfect apartment. We’ve covered budget considerations, how to look for an apartment, how to complete your paperwork properly, and finally, how to ace the interview.
We hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at any time so we can help you every step of the way. Head over to bostonpads.com to contact us directly.
Published March 11, 2019
Demetrios has pulled together the largest apartment leasing team in the Greater Boston Area and is responsible for procuring more apartment rentals than anyone in New England – with over 130k people finding their housing through his services. Demetrios is an avid real estate developer, peak performance trainer, educator, guest lecturer and motivational speaker.