Social Distancing and Maintaining Your Apartment Search

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Erin Lipinsky
Mar 17, 2020

We understand that intermingling with the general public can feel a little iffy right now; we also know that even in the midst of social discomfort, apartment leases are up when they’re up.

Don’t stress!

There are ways to continue navigating your apartment search and future move while practicing social distancing and keeping interactions at a level you feel is comfortable and strategic. Here’s how:

Use a Smart City agent

Using a free Smart City agent can help renters free up time and energy spent looking for a new place, ensure the right questions get asked and bring peace of mind when it comes to your next move. We live and breathe apartments, so we’re able to leverage our current property relationships to easily get answers to questions you have based on what’s important to you! If you’ve never used a Smart City apartment locator before, here are a few things you should know:

Our service is free for clients.

All of our agents are licensed real estate agents fully equipped to navigate and educate clients and realistically set their expectations at the forefront of their search.

We work with the majority of properties in the metros we serve (Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston) and have positive relationships with those properties and their managers.

– If you’ve been stalking us on social media, you know we tour A LOT of properties, which means we have ample live tours and photos to send clients in lieu of touring in person!

We negotiate deals and exclusive pricing on select units at properties just for our clients. (These deals are negotiated with properties at the forefront and made available to lease as opposed to individually negotiated units.)

We’re just that extra way of knowing all options have been explored and every accessible avenue of accommodation has been exercised!

Smart City Locating Apartment Locating

If you’re not leveraging a locator yet, there are other ways to make sure you’re extremely prepared.

Get your prep work done upfront

“Prep work” is more than just knowing your budget and the area you want to live in. It also requires renters to think about things that are important to them when it comes to their apartment spaces. We’re talking must-haves, deal-breakers, and property/neighborhood features. Here are a few examples of things our clients mention to our agents in regards to their apartment search outside of location and budget:

– Must-haves: gas range stove, certain apartment views, pet-friendly property, washer/dryer in-unit, good water pressure, ample pantry space, etc.

– Deal-breakers: Washer/dryer on-site but not in-unit, low walkability and increased commute times, no ceiling fans, having to share a bathroom if renting with a roomie, etc.

– Desired property and neighborhood features: “close” to work, secure/gated property entry, parking preferences, on-site dog park, on-site guest suites for visitors, etc.

As properties do their best to navigate and redirect processes for new and existing residents, they may be spending more time out of the leasing office for one reason or another. So, it’s important that once you have them on the phone, you have an organized list of everything you want to know to decide your next steps. Be ready to take notes and ask any follow-up questions in regards to your initial list.

Ask the right questions

If you’re conducting an apartment search on your own, leasing agents will be your most knowledgeable resource in regards to giving you a feel for a unit or property you’ve maybe never seen in person. If you’re not comfortable touring properties right now, or if properties are exercising appointment-only touring or virtual touring only, there are things you can ask to give you a better idea of a unit you’re interested in. Here are a few things to consider asking a property leasing agent:

Furniture fit – Does the bedroom need to fit a king-size bed and nightstand? (Pro tip: measure your larger pieces of furniture to ensure wall lengths can accommodate them.)

View goals – If you want certain views from your apartment, you’ll want to ask what floor the unit is on and what direction it faces.

Fees – To account for total expenditure, ask the leasing agent what upfront and monthly fees you’ll incur. If you have a pet, make sure to ask about those associated fees.

Accessibility – If you require an apartment fulfilling ADA requirements, leasing agents need to know that prior to extending unit options.

Future move-ins – If you recently leased an apartment or you’re looking to move in the coming months, it doesn’t hurt to ask leasing agents what future move-in processes might look like.

Another resource properties and their leasing agents are offering, similar to our agents at Smart City, is virtual touring, which takes us to our next topic.

Tour virtually and leverage other online resources

Smart City announced last week on our Houston, DFW, and Austin social media accounts that we’re happy and willing to send clients videos, photos and agent-facetime tours of units we’ve previously posted (which is a lot). Properties are also starting to offer prospective residents those same options, which is extremely helpful! (Pro tip: if you’re interested in seeing a property right now, definitely make sure to call/schedule a tour prior to showing up. Walk-in availability may be limited.)

Here are a few touring and online resources you can ask about:

Virtual touring– If, for the time being, a property has decided to halt in-person touring or conduct tours on a by-appointment-only basis, ask about virtual tours. This could come in the form of Facetime or Skype tours, recorded video tours or photos.

Property website resources – Some property websites actually offer virtual tours and unit walk-throughs! This is essentially a 3-D drag-through of a unit offering viewers 360-degrees of visual accessibility. It’s a great way to feel acquainted with a space in any instance that’s your only touring option prior to applying for a unit. Some properties also offer site map PDFs on their websites, which will give you an idea of the layout and flow of the property. If a website doesn’t have that, simply email the property or submit an online form asking for a copy to be emailed to you.

Using Google Street View – To view the immediate surrounding neighborhood, simply enter the property address into Google Street View. Click, hold and drag your cursor around to get a glimpse at what’s in the area.

Ways to keep your apartment search on track

Our goal is to equip apartment renters with tools that will keep their move timelines on track and hopefully minimize stress. If you have questions about your move within the coming months in Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin or Houston, DM us on social media and we’ll get you matched with an agent!

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