Clicking your way to your new home

How did you search for your last apartment? Are you doing anything differently now that you’re looking to move again?

Looking for an apartment has evolved rather quickly over the last decade. There are many people who still remember a time before the Internet, when you had to search – literally, physically search – for an apartment. From searching newspapers to checking classified boards, looking for “For Rent” signage on lawns and asking for word-of-mouth referrals, there were so many ways to go about it, and it was time consuming. You made appointments and visited each unit. You didn’t get the benefit of reading articles and searching reviews. There were no Facebook forums and no aggregating tools to automate your search results to fit your parameters.

So much has changed.

Now you can set alerts, surf multiple times a day and register with just about any property management company on your own time, 24/7, from any device. There are websites and apps, newsletters and e-blasts to keep you informed as things constantly change.

Searching for an apartment online is still evolving, and being innovated. It takes a combination of media types to help you maximize your search and see all your resources. With so many choices and endless search capabilities available to you, how do you go about that search?

1. Budget, location and size

There are three factors that will dictate how you do your search. You need to know your budget, the location you want to live in, and the size of apartment you need – though the way you prioritize these factors will dictate your search results. You may have flexibility in your budget but not in location. You may have a large family and need a bigger space, making the apartment size and number of rooms more firmly defined. Once you know these, you can start your search.

2. Connect

It’s a competitive market. Once you start looking, you’ll quickly discover that low vacancy is pushing up prices. Start connecting with vacancies and requesting information. Get on wait-lists. Book viewings. Some websites will give you photos, videos, descriptions and even available floorplans online. Take the digital tour and apply right online if you find a great place.

3. Do your homework

While half the challenge is finding a vacancy, the other half is making sure it’s going to be a good experience. Check out rental forums and search to see reviews on both the property and the management company. There are a lot of fantastic rental properties, and you want to make sure you get one!

4. Be prepared

In a competitive market, you need to be prepared. Make sure you’ve got your business in order. You’ll need things like references, verification of income, money for a deposit and a healthy credit rating. Get your info together. You can check your credit online, create a document with references, and obtain proof of income. You also need to give your landlord notice – 60 days, starting on the first day of a rental period for month-to-month tenancies in Ontario. If you don’t give proper written notice, you may be on the hook for two rents!

5. Make your move

When you find the right place, don’t wait to plan your move until the last minute. Start packing. Book movers. Switch your address. Transfer bills and utilities. Get ready to enjoy your new home!

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