Apartment Hunting Tips for First-Time Renters

Feb 21 2024

Apartment hunting is tough for anyone, but it can be especially difficult to secure a place that’s right for you when you’re a first-time renter. With apartments being snatched up almost as soon as they’re put on the market, you need to be on the ball to avoid disappointment.

In this guide, we at The Marches share our top tips for finding the perfect apartment as a first-time renter. We’ll cover everything from when to start looking to what you should do to make sure you’re successful in securing the place you want.

Looking for a place close to Central London, but don’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of the big city? Our luxury apartment at The Marches could be perfect for you – discover your new home today.

Apartment hunting 101: Top tips for first-time renters

Choose the right location

Where you end up living can make a huge difference to the price of your monthly rent. An apartment located in the middle of a major city will typically cost you much more than an identical apartment located outside the city centre. If you have a strict budget, it could be wise to live outside the city to save yourself some money.

But the price of rent in different areas isn’t the only thing that you need to consider – the overall cost of living in different areas can be impacted by a number of factors. You may want to think about how much you would have to spend to commute to and from work, for example, or what the local supermarket prices are like.

If you’re looking to live close to the capital but don’t want the Central London price tag, Woking could be the perfect place for you to plant your roots. Discover what life is like at The Marches today.

Set a budget and stick to it

Refine your search by setting a budget and sticking to it

It can be tempting to push yourself to your financial limits so that you have more apartments to choose from, but you need to make sure you will be able to live comfortably and can afford all of your other expenses on top of your monthly rent

Work out how much you can afford to pay in rent by calculating all of your other monthly expenses and comparing it to your monthly income – don’t forget to include the amount of disposable income you would like to have as well

Something to bear in mind – we understand that moving can be a costly affair. As such, we’ve introduced a low deposit scheme for our tenants, thanks to a nifty partnership with Flatfair.

Be clear about what you want

It’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for so you can refine your apartment search accordingly

Consider things such as:

  • The number of rooms
  • The location
  • Outside space
  • Storage
  • Transport links
  • Parking
  • Guests rooms
  • Pet policies

It might seem obvious, but knowing what you want and sticking to it helps give you clarity. If you’re searching for two bedroom apartments in Woking, it means your potential flatmates know what to look out for, keeping your apartment hunting focused and collaborative. It also helps to avoid any unwelcome surprises at viewings.

Finally you may find talking to agencies easier if you have a set list of requirements and reduces the time you spend outlining your requirements to different agencies.

Contact letting agents directly

Letting agents typically know about new lettings before anyone else – so contacting them directly rather than solely relying on property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla could help you gain access to new apartments before anyone else knows about them. This helps to reduce the amount of competition you have to worry about.

By putting yourself on a letting agent’s radar, they may be more likely to contact you directly when new apartments become available that meet your requirements.

Look out for reviews

Before securing a property through a letting agent, be sure to use Google reviews. This will give you an idea of the company’s track record when it comes to supporting tenants when they need it – e.g. carrying out repairs quickly, returning deposits at the end of the tenancy, etc.

Most letting agents will have a mixture of both positive and negative reviews, but if the reviews are overwhelmingly negative, you might want to be cautious of signing for a tenancy with them.

When apartment hunting, attend viewings before putting down a deposit

Because the market is so fast-paced, it can be tempting to put down a deposit as soon as you see an apartment you like – based solely on the photos.

However, you can’t be sure that the photos actually match up to the reality of what the apartment looks like – the photos could be old or taken from a strategic angle to hide damage. This is why you’ll be taking photographs and videos of your own – we’ll get to this shortly.

Always arrange a viewing before putting down a deposit or agreeing to sign a tenancy agreement. If you act swiftly by contacting the letting agent right away, they will often be able to book you in for a viewing within the next couple of days.

To help you with your search, here is a list of things to consider when you’re attending a viewing.

  • Condition: Inspect the overall cleanliness and condition of the apartment
  • Signs of Deterioration: Look out for signs of mould, dark marks on walls, weak floors, rotting wood or other forms of deterioration around the house
  • Photographic Evidence: Take plenty of photographs and video of anything you want to query later and don’t be afraid to voice these with the agency or landlord
  • Natural Light: Attending viewings during the day allows you to get a good idea as to the natural lighting situation in the apartment. This can have a big impact on your outlook of a potential home.
  • Mobile Phone/Internet Signal: Check the signal strength in different areas of the apartment
  • Noise: Pay attention to the amount of noise coming from outside and whether it would be a nuisance
  • Appliances: Check the functionality of appliances such as the refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, dishwasher, and washer/dryer if applicable
  • Utilities: Inquire about included utilities and confirm which ones you’ll be responsible for
  • Windows: Check for proper insulation and ensure windows open and close securely. Check around windows for any damage or leaks.
  • Water Pressure: Test taps and the shower to gauge water pressure.
  • Electrical Outlets: Ensure all electrical outlets work, and check for any potential safety hazards
  • Storage: Assess the amount of storage space, including closets and additional storage areas

This list is not exhaustive, so feel free to include anything else thats important to you so you go in prepared and get all the information you need. You don’t want to get home only to realise you’d forgotten to mention something at the time.

Start looking early and take your time as a first time renter

If you have a deadline for when you need to have moved into a new apartment by, it’s important to start your search early.

Leaving it too late can cause a lot of stress and you may end up signing a tenancy agreement for an apartment that doesn’t actually suit your needs out of panic. So start early, take your time, and don’t be disheartened if the first few apartments you had your eye on end up not working out.

Act fast when you find the perfect apartment

Although it’s important to take your time with your search, once you do find the perfect apartment you need to act fast. If you’ve viewed an apartment and are confident that it’s right for you, you’ll want to contact the letting agent as quickly as you can to let them know

If possible, contact the agent on the same day as the viewing – leaving it any longer gives your competition time to swoop in and secure the apartment before you

The agent will typically ask you to put down a deposit to secure the apartment – make sure you send this over promptly. As for signing the tenancy agreement – you may feel a need to rush and sign on the dotted line, but it’s in your best interest to make sure you give your tenancy agreement a read first before signing, especially if the tenancy is for an extended period.

Hopefully these tips for first time renters have helped with your preparations – apartment hunting can be a stressful process for everyone, especially if you’re a first time renter.

Once you’ve secured your ideal home, you can head over to our guide on 5 Things To Consider When Renting An Apartment to help you get your bearings and flourish in your new home.

First-time renter? Find your ideal home at The Marches Woking

Planning on joining us and bringing your friends along? If you’re looking to find out what’s going on at The Marches – we’ve always got a thrilling time to share with you – we’ll do all we can to keep you nice and busy!

Gaze out to the bustle of London town, knowing you’re calmly out of the way yet also just a stones throw away should you fancy a jaunt into the capital!

At The Marches we’d be thrilled to show you around a viewing at one of our luxury apartments. So if starting a life at The Marches excites you, take the first step on your new adventure and book a viewing today.

You can also call us on 0148 395 8555 if you have other queries and our friendly team will be thrilled to help.

Enquire now