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What to Look for When Moving: Insights from Beal Properties

Moving can be stressful, but for many, it’s an important milestone and an opportunity to breathe fresh air into your life with a change of scenery. The new year brings with it visions of change for the next one, and the rental world is not different. As tenants enter the final months of their leases, the process of searching for the next home can be overwhelming, but also exciting and invigorating.

It can be tempting to fall quickly for a new place, but it’s vital that the anticipation of the move doesn’t cloud judgment or distract you from doing due diligence on what could very well be your next home. When you find the perfect place, it’s important to ensure that it’s just that … perfect. It can be difficult to remember everything you need to keep in mind while touring potential residences, but Beal Properties, an established Chicago-based property owner, recommends using this checklist when looking to sign a lease for a new home.

1. Check the Lights, Water and Appliances 

When touring a house or apartment, it might feel a tad uncomfortable pausing to check the water, lights and appliances. However, there is no problem with making sure everything works how it should — in fact, it’s the expectation. Checking lights, outlets, appliances and water pressure is a key step in the process; even if repairs are the landlord’s responsibility, ensuring the house will be in top shape for move-in is essential before committing. Getting everything — from a defective bulb to a wiring issue — fixed immediately will alleviate future stress, and it can provide an indicator for how responsive the landlord or property management company is to maintenance requests.

2. Check Outside

When visiting a potential new home, it’s easy to dwell on the inside and overlook the surrounding environment. Particularly when looking to rent a unit in a multi-family building, it may seem trivial to scrutinize the outside. After all, that’s not what you’re looking to rent. 

But some outdoor elements are core pieces of the living experience, and a number can have a transformative impact on your quality of life. How is the parking? Is it included, or will you have to fight for a spot? How much of the walkway outside your apartment belongs to you? And can you decorate with plants or seating, or are residents expected to keep it clear? How is the street lighting? Is it too dark or too bright — or too close to a window? 

These are just some examples; when doing a scope of the outside, keep an eye out for anything that raises an eyebrow. Each complex and home is different so considerations may vary, but often these are questions you can ask the realtor or property management company if the answers are not immediately apparent. 

3. Get a Sense of the Neighborhood

Just as it’s crucial to ensure comfort with the immediate surroundings of the building or house, it’s also important to explore the neighborhood and get a sense of who lives there. Communities can strongly impact your overall happiness and comfort, and it’s helpful to speak with a neighbor or current resident and hear their experiences. Keep in mind, everyone has different preferences, so be sure that the neighborhood you’re looking to join fits your lifestyle.

Safety is often the leading consideration, but lifestyle is important too. A neighborhood may be safe, but if most of the residents are rowdy night owls and you work an early-morning shift, it may not be the best fit. Alternatively, if you tend to stay up late and have neighbors who can’t stand any sound after 9 p.m., that should factor into your decision as well.

Once you’ve made the move, websites like NextDoor can keep you aware of the goings-on in your neighborhood, but don’t be afraid to ask around a bit beforehand.

4. Look at the Real Cost

This may seem a bit obvious, but it can be surprisingly easy to overlook just how much you’ll be paying in your new place. Obviously, rent, the security deposit and potentially a pet deposit will all factor into the upfront cost once you’ve signed a lease.

But there are other costs that may not be immediately apparent. You should ask whether rent includes utilities and understand that, when moving into a bigger space, utilities will likely rise. If the space is not well insulated, that too can factor into utility costs. Additionally, it’s important to account for gas, trash pickup and internet — and to ensure you’ve got your arms around the holistic cost and how it fits into your budget as you’re looking for your next home.

5. Can You Hear Me Now? Check Your Cell Reception!

Cell reception is easy to take for granted. Depending on your provider, you may notice that certain areas can cut your signal. While it may not be a deal breaker, it’s worthwhile to make sure there is strong reception when touring a new neighborhood. 

6. Ask questions!

You’re going to have questions when searching for a new place; that’s a given. Whether it be about the building, the expenses, the amenities or the neighborhood, it’s important to leave no question unanswered before signing the lease. The realtor or property manager is there to help, and you should take advantage of their expertise during your visit. A good property manager will also be a reliable reference during the apartment-hunting process, and any reluctance to answer questions could be red flag. Be thorough when searching and trust your instincts. Finding a home is an involved process, and it can be easy to miss things when you’re caught up in the excitement, so if you’re ever unsure, let Beal Properties’ advice and insights guide you. Happy hunting!

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