How to Evaluate a Potential Living Space

When looking for a new home to rent or buy, evaluate the living space closely to make sure you select a property that suits your requirements.

Moving into a new home impacts your life for the foreseeable future, therefore it is best to avoid selecting the first available property you find. This is difficult if you feel pressured into finding a home quickly.

It is worse if you do not take the time to make a good choice, because contracts lock you into this decision for at least a year if you rent an apartment. Longer if you purchase a home. Maybe you realize you need to do this type of deep investigation but are unsure where to begin the process.

The following information helps you to develop a game plan for finding your perfect living situation. It offers practical advice on evaluating each aspect of a potential space before you determine whether it is right for you. By knowing what to look for and what to avoid, you can sign a contract with less stress.

Do You Know What You Want?

If you are like most you only know you want a home in a certain area, or in a certain style. However, you need to nail down specifics. This helps you to make your search more effective and allows you to properly evaluate and compare properties.

Next, consider what your budget actually is. You may have decided what you want to pay per month toward a mortgage, but understand that a portion of that must be paid to homeowners insurance.

For example, if you only want to pay 1,000 a month on a mortgage, then look at home payments of around $800 to account for the monthly mortgage insurance payment as well as any property taxes.

If you are searching for an apartment, renter’s insurance may be required by the apartment complex, as well as garbage, water and utility fees. There may be pet fees as well.

Next, focus on what in your opinion are deal-breakers. Some properties are beautiful, but back right up to a busy highway. Others are the perfect layout but you must drive 45 minutes to get to any entertainment venues. Making a quick list of what is important to you and your family can help you to rule out properties tempting you to make an emotional decision.

Once you have this list of what it is you want, take this checklist with you when you do a walk-through of the home. This way you can quickly evaluate the space and leave some of the emotional aspect out.

If you are assessing a place to potentially rent, then your checklist may be potentially longer and include certain amenities you prefer, location to schools and transportation as well as what others are saying online about the management company.

Viewing an Apartment: Factors to Consider

When creating your checklist for the apartment, make one that allows you to quickly check a box to indicate the apartment has the features you require. In fact, take in a clipboard with the list on it, and put on your inspector’s hat.

Leave an area on the checklist for additional follow up questions you may have. Make sure to place on that checklist a quick assessment of the building and grounds as well.  It is all too easy to be wowed by the model apartment, thinking your apartment will look exactly the same. This often is not the case.

Do Not Get Fooled into the Wrong Apartment

One of the reasons renters end up in situations where the apartment does not look anything like the model unit is, they become impatient. This is often a good way to get scammed as well.

Taking the time to read the lease, to read online reviews (not on the apartment’s website) and understanding what you get for your money is crucial. Evaluate the area where the apartment is located as well.

Even if the apartment complex is amazing, the amenities top of the line and the rental is within your budget, it is worthless if it exists in a neighborhood riddled with crime.

Considering a Home’s Neighborhood

Picture the ideal neighborhood for yourself. Then write down the characteristics you envision. Does your ideal situation include a neighborhood where you can bike or walk to almost everything you need?

Is it metropolitan, rural or semi-urban? Do you want it to be boisterous and lively or do you prefer a peaceful retreat? How far are you willing to drive to work if you find a neighborhood and home you like? You must know the answers to these questions before you even begin looking or you may end up stuck in a contract or mortgage you regret.

The old adage: Location, Location, Location is very correct. Knowing the implications of your home’s location is critical because otherwise you could find yourself having to take three bus changes just to get to work.

Your child may have to change schools if you move, or you may not be able to visit the venues you prefer. If you are single, or newly married, having children may not be at the top of your consideration list.

However, if you rent or purchase a place with an eye to the future, you cut down the stress and strain of having to move and find another living space once your family begins to grow. This is particularly true if you are purchasing a home.

Finding a living space is an important consideration and not one that should be rushed on any level. If a realtor or leasing agent seems to be pushy or aggressive, walk away. It is not worth it, and some someone who is that driven to make a sale or book a unit may have ulterior motives, and certainly not your best interests in mind.

To learn more about the neighborhood and its relative safety, several safety websites exist online to give you the facts and figures for your potential new home.