How to Land the Home or Apartment that Works for You

Dated: December 9 2021

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As the weather cools and we spend more time indoors, it could be a good time to reassess your current living space. Is it large enough? Is it bright enough? Is it close enough to public transportation or other amenities that are important to you? 

 

If it’s time for an upgrade, follow this action plan to help land the apartment or home of your dreams. 

 

SHOW ME THE MONEY 

 

The first step in finding a new home is deciding what you can afford and what you are willing to pay, which can differ significantly on several things. For example, you may be able to afford a more expensive apartment and live by yourself but if you want to start saving to buy a place of your own you may be willing to live with a roommate and save money towards a down payment. This is a very personal decision. 

 

If you are renting, don’t forget to factor in your upfront costs which can include some combination of first and last month’s rent, security and broker’s fee as well as utilities, parking and other building amenities not included in the base rent. 

 

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION 

 

You’ve probably heard some twist of the adage “The three most important things in real estate are location, location and location.” This is true whether you are renting or buying. Although it is easier to leave a less than desirable location when you are a renter than when you are a homeowner, location should remain a key factor. 

 

As with budgeting this is a very personal decision. Is it important for you to live near the T or bus stop? Within walking distance of your office? Adjacent to nightlife? If you are a renter you can always work with a landlord to change things you don’t like in the unit itself (you will have carte blanche as an owner!) but you aren’t going to be able to move the building to your desired location.  

 

YOU CAN’T LIVE WITH THEM AND YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT THEM 

 

Make a list of the things that you can’t live without but also make a list of the things you cannot live with. I am often surprised by the answers I receive when I pose this question to both buyers and renters. Some of the things I have been told that were absolute deal breakers are: wall to wall carpets (for both aesthetic and health reasons), shared entries or laundry facilities, insufficient number of electrical outlets and laundry facilities that don’t accept credit cards. 

 

ENGAGE AN AGENT 

 

As a buyer, it is imperative that you engage an agent. The listing agent represents the home owner and is tasked with representing their interests - not yours. A buyer’s agent can help ensure that you get the right house at the right price and guide you through the process. The seller pays the broker’s fee which the listing brokerage will split with the buyer’s brokerage. There are other costs related to buying a home but a broker’s fee isn’t one of them! 

 

As far as rentals, the listing agent likewise represents the landlord and is focused on getting the most qualified tenant into the unit at the highest price and in the least amount of time. Renters can go directly to the listing agent but they can (and should!) engage an agent who will represent THEIR interests - as a renter you are still only paying a single broker’s fee.  

 

Refer to my blog post for more information on why you should engage an agent when looking for an apartment. 

 

GET THE MOST FROM SHOWINGS 

 

A few tips to ensure you get the most from showings and don’t run into any surprises on move in day or thereafter

 

  • Measure – bring the measurements of your furniture. If your beloved sectional can’t fit in the living room or won’t make it up the stairs it’s better to know that up front 

  • Sweat the details – look at your list of must and can’t haves and make sure the property is aligned (or has enough of the must haves to compensate for the don’t wants)

  • Walk the walk – explore the neighborhood. Renters should walk a few blocks in each direction from the property (including to public transportation if it is advertised as “walk to T”) to ensure that the location fits your needs. Buyers should do additional reconnaissance.  

Looking to upgrade your digs? Reach out to me via email or phone (617-640-7163). 

Think you're ready to go from being a tenant to being a homeowner? Follow my upcoming six-part series for first time home buyers. In the meantime feel free to reach out directly to discuss how we can get  started!

 

Blog author image

Elizabeth O'Brien

I leverage my experience as a landlord, investor, and Realtor® to get you results. Previously a leader at a multinational organization, I'm well-practiced in viewing transactions from multiple releva....

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