Apartment hunting has a PR problem: everyone thinks of it as stressful and challenging. Too many renters shrink at the thought of their next search and would rather avoid the process whenever possible. Why? Unexpected fees, nonsensical income requirements, competition for the best units, the sheer amount of time it takes to search through listings online, and the frequency with which landlords and property managers ghost prospective tenants when they try to reach out for more information. If you’re a veteran renter, you’ve experienced at least one of these issues, but probably more.
For anyone embarking on their search alone, transparency and integrity could appear to be in short supply in the online jungle that represents the apartment industry. Luckily, AptAmigo, a real estate broker that specializes in luxury rentals, transforms apartment hunting into the fun and exciting experience that it always should have been.
Below, we outline just some of the key challenges that plague the apartment industry, reducing the quality of the experience for renters, alongside our rundown of how our free apartment locating service will help you to avoid, or greatly reduce, these stressors.
Apartment Industry Problems Prospective Renters Face & Some Solutions
Problem 1: Lack of Transparency
Naturally, apartment hunters have many questions about the search process, individual listings, what neighborhood to choose, how the rental industry works, and more. Unfortunately, the answers often elude them because centralized resources with all the necessary information don’t really exist.
Looking for a neighborhood to live in? That requires many Google searches about a neighborhood’s character, history, attractions, culture, restaurants, and more. Want all of the available listings in one place and for them to contain all of the details that you could possibly need about an apartment? Sorry. That requires cross-checking multiple listing sites, such as Zillow or apartments.com, as well as emailing contact after contact for the information missing from the listings. Do you need to know whether everything in a unit works properly – water pressure, electrical, pipes that don’t leak? Even at an in-person tour, some of those issues can remain hidden, sometimes on purpose. Same goes with fees. You also won’t know for sure how promptly a building responds to maintenance requests without digging into reviews and getting feedback from current and former tenants.
All of these unforeseen challenges might leave renters baffled as to how these unfavorable practices persist.
Sadly, unlike when buying a home, renters don’t receive many protections from potential apartment problems. When you buy a home, you will hire a home inspector to come out and perform a comprehensive inspection of the place so that you know, for the most part, what to expect as far as needed repairs, updates, and renovations. But, house buying takes time, whereas apartments often get snatched up within a few days of their initial published listing. Thus, the safeguards that protect consumers during a home purchase can’t protect renters from unknown problems. And, in the apartment industry, landlords don’t always disclose those problems ahead of time.
Now, returning to that earlier point about extra fees, those hidden costs repeatedly frustrate apartment locator Keisha Pettway’s clients: “Renters usually get surprised with all of the additional fees after they have already finished touring and fell in love with a place. I started sending fee sheets for buildings that my clients choose as favorites so that I can save both of us time by not going there if they can’t afford a $200/month parking fee.” Indeed, nobody enjoys hidden costs, which tend to leave consumers feeling swindled by a company’s or management’s dishonesty.
Thus, a lack of transparency can hinder even the most diligent apartment hunter at every stage of the process. Questions remain unanswered, and surprise issues pop up after a new tenant moves into their new, sometimes unsatisfactory, home.
How AptAmigo Can Help
Our luxury apartment search site provides the most up-to-date and accurate listings out there for anyone moving to or within one of our markets. And, because it’s a major tenet of our company mission, we train our agents to operate with complete transparency, empowering them to secure information from buildings about fees, application requirements, and any other information that you need in order to avoid any bad surprises.
We also provide a whole slew of resources for choosing a neighborhood, learning about your city, and preparing for your move. Our content library keeps growing and improving every week, so it will only continue to become even more useful over time.
However, don’t just take our word for it. We received a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Google and encourage you to see what our clients say about our free, concierge-level service. Our apartment locators are determined to take the pain out of searching for a place to live and will seek out the answers to every single question you ask.
Problem 2: Confusing Listings on Major Sites
This apartment industry problem stems from the transparency issue. With so many listings across so many search sites, it will take an inordinate amount of time to sift through them all and save your top choices.
What makes that time-consuming process worse is that many of the listings you save will turn out to be unavailable, inaccurate, or direct you to unresponsive contacts. Sometimes a landlord forgets to delist a rented unit. At other times, the information for a listing changes too fast for advertisers to keep up. According to Curtis Crowell, a leasing agent in Chicago, “constant price changes occur when units get rented. Units can jump $100’s overnight. That’s one reason it’s nice that our site updates pricing daily.” Ad writers might also embellish an apartment’s features and overall condition, purposefully misleading clients into thinking an apartment could work for them in order to drum up more interest. Listing sites themselves will leave outdated listings in place to make it look like renters have more options than they actually do.
Additionally, if you require further information and reach out to the posted contact person, you may or may not ever hear back from them, making it difficult to gather and assess the feasibility of a particular place.
How AptAmigo Can Help
Unlike other websites, we update our rental listings every day. Because we work directly with such a large network of buildings, we can easily confirm their availability and ensure accuracy in the information we convey to you.
Our team members’ local insight into the apartment industry and their personal experience with these buildings mean that they can bring a level of expertise to your search that you won’t find anywhere else. Once you hand over your criteria, they can create a list of available buildings that match it with speed and ease, saving you the endless hours normally involved in perusing inaccurate listings.
Problem 3: Scheduling Tours
It might sound easy enough to schedule some apartment tours on your own, but don’t be fooled by the actual amount of time and effort it can take to complete this step. Endless phone calls and inconvenient appointment times will test your patience. Plus, the logistics of carrying out a series of tours in a geographically sensical order so that you don’t inadvertently set yourself up to drive back and forth across the city and through traffic multiple times in a single day can frustrate your efforts.
Additionally, as our CEO, Dan Willenborg points out, “most apartment buildings only allow tours during normal business hours,” and that hinders would-be renters who work during those times.
As a result, you’ll need to juggle calendars, maps, and contacts all at the same time, and if you don’t know the city’s layout well, that can prove challenging, especially if you already began your search a little late.
How AptAmigo Can Help
With our help, you don’t need to cold-call apartment buildings with the dubious hope that they’ll pick up the phone and give you a tour at a convenient time. You can also relieve yourself of the pressure that comes with navigating an unfamiliar city, while fitting numerous apartment tours into your already crazy schedule.
At AptAmigo, we love problem solving and will do all of the hard planning for you. Tell us what you want in your next home, and we will create a list of apartments that matches your needs. Then, we will schedule your tours and build your itinerary. We even pay for rideshares to each tour and send an agent with you to support you throughout the entire process.
Plus, if you can’t come to tours in person, that’s okay. Some buildings may only tour during business hours, but, as Mikka Vargas in our Austin market remarks, we can help “by going to the apartments and doing virtual tours and taking videos and pictures for clients.” So, don’t fall into a state of despair when scheduling tours feels impossible because we will provide a solution to get you through it with as little friction as possible.
Problem 4: High Rent
High demand, the Covid pandemic, and an unstable economy mean that rising rent prices will continue to go up, even if the rate of increase slows somewhat. These high costs add to the complexity of navigating the apartment industry and put extra financial pressures on renters. Even tenants who already live in their dream home might feel squeezed out when their building increases their rent dramatically at the time of their lease renewal. We address rent prices more fully elsewhere in our articles on why millennials and Gen Z rent longer than previous generations and why houses and apartments are so expensive these days.
How AptAmigo Can Help
If we could erase the many social and economic factors causing such steep rises in rent, we would. Honestly, we can’t really fix this one, but what we can do is find good deals. Apartment buildings often offer concessions, such as one month free or waived move-in fees. Because we know the buildings personally, we are often the first ones to learn about these sales, so tell your agent if you hope to tap into these special offers.
Problem 5: Timing Your Move Out Notice and Next Apartment Search
Michael Bleier, a Denver apartment locator, points out that landlords usually “require 60 days notice” when a tenant decides to move out, and renters need reminders because when they forget, it causes problems with the timing of their search. Likewise, Julia Thompson in Chicago notes that renters, in general, “have no idea that the best time to apply for a new apartment is 60 days out from their move-in date.” Thus, timing your actions in such a tight market matters if you want to guarantee a smooth process.
How AptAmigo Can Help
We provide resources online to educate renters about how the industry works, including our article, “How Long Does It Take to Find an Apartment?” That piece gives readers a full run down on when to start the process to achieve the best moving experience. Plus, while we recommend marking your calendar for the 60-day from lease-end date, we try to send reminders to current clients when their lease will end in a few months so that you know to notify your building’s management if you decide to move out.
Problem 6: Nonsensical Income Requirements
You never know when an apartment building’s policies on income documents will put an abrupt end to your application attempts. Weird rules to determine whether you will be able to make rent in full and on time every month can stymie even the most responsible applicants. For instance, Jeremiah Andrade experiences these hurdles on a routine basis when buildings decide to not allow “an applicant’s own business to count as their income. Entrepreneurship is huge in Atlanta,” so it makes no sense.
Janie Swarthout, one of AptAmigo’s Chicago agents, gave us a more personal example of how building management thwarts applicants when they don’t allow “more than one stream of income from one person. Before this job, I had three jobs to make ends meet and finding a building that accepted all three to count toward my monthly income was impossible. We barely met the criteria because they only accepted my husband’s income.” The takeaway: in the eyes of building management companies, not all income sources are created equal.
How AptAmigo Can Help
Naturally, we can’t change these buildings’ nonsensical policies, and you can’t simply change jobs just to make apartment hunting easier. However, not all buildings adhere to such silly rules, and AptAmigo partners with hundreds of buildings across our markets. Therefore, if you know that your income source might pose challenges for your search, tell your agent. They can work with that information to create a list of buildings for you that will avoid these kinds of income-related pitfalls.
Avoid these Apartment Industry Problems and Enlist AptAmigo’s Help for Your Search
Unfortunately, any of these surprising apartment industry problems could put a damper on your next apartment search. Maybe they already have. Whether you want to avoid these traps altogether from the get-go, or dig your way out of one that caught you during your current apartment search, we strive to counteract these challenges with exceptional service that enables a smoother, stress-free experience for our clients. Help us usher in a new era of transparency and honesty in the apartment industry by enlisting our free help today.
Karrie Fuller earned her PhD in English from the University of Notre Dame. After a decade of teaching college-level writing and English courses, she brings a wealth of expertise about writing, editing, and content management to AptAmigo's marketing team.