1) Who lives next door?
More than likely you won’t be able to meet your future neighbors before you move in but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask about them! Do they have kids? Do they have pets? Do they love to host neighborhood picnics or do they like keep to themselves? Do they enjoy loud music late into the night or do they appreciate silence once the sun goes down? If the answer to one of these questions is yes, it very well might the deciding factor for you – either way! Also, it is important to learn about the neighborhood as a whole, some of this information can be found online but you might also consider asking your friends and family who live in or around the area what they know about the general neighborhood.
2) What are the restrictions?
If you have your eyes on an apartment and everything looks and sounds great, congratulations! Just remember to read the lease very carefully and be sure to ask about the restrictions explicitly, are there any restrictions in place that will prevent you from fully enjoying your new space? For example – No hanging anything on or from the balcony, no laundry lines, no painting the walls or putting any nail holes in the walls. If you love art or enjoy the smell of fresh air dried clothing, these things could be deal-breakers!
If it’s a house you’re in love with, you may still be governed by a homeowners association (HOA), so be sure you understand the rules of the HOA and know if you can live with them. Some HOA’s restrict boats or work trucks in driveways, some will ticket you for parking a car on the road outside your house, others require you to get any exterior home improvement projects approved through them or you end up with a hefty fine. Homeowners associations serve a great purpose and being in a neighborhood with an active one is great, as long as you know the rules and they don’t restrict you enjoying your home and property.
3) When was the last time the place was updated?
It is a good idea to ask how old the major appliances are. Have the stove, refrigerator, heater, AC or any other major appliances in the home recently been replaced or repaired? Another good question to know the answer to is, how old is the roof? The reason you want to ask these questions is because you will want to be able to forecast when they will need to be replaced. While a newer stove could break tomorrow, it’s not as likely to occur as if the stove is 10 years old. While this point might seem to apply less for apartment hunters than house hunters, it’s still a good idea to find out how old the appliances are and who would be responsible for replacing them if they break down!
4) Where is the Neighborhood?
This isn’t one that many people overlook, in fact it is often the first thing we think of! Will you be close enough to things that are important to you? (e.g- school, church, family, stores, public transportation, dining, park, playground, public pool) If you are not very familiar with the area and you can pull it off, spend a day or two in the area! Visit the local shops and stores, check out the local park and test out the public transportation to make sure you will be happy in your new neighborhood.
5) Why do you love it?
If you have your heart set on the perfect place, make sure you carefully consider why you love the property. Try to make a list of all the pros and make yourself identify at least 5 cons, if you’re having trouble with the cons request insight from friends and family to ensure you are not overlooking other important aspects just because it’s right next door to your favorite coffee shop.