Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Right Questions: What To Ask When Your Looking For The Right Apartment!

General Guidelines

Finding that perfect apartment means taking some time and coming up with exactly what you're looking for. Having a well defined list of must-haves and nice-to-haves will make your apartment search much easier.

1. Investigate the areas you'd like to live in:

*Find out the crime rates in these areas
*If schools are important, find out how they rate in that area?
*Are shopping, services, health and recreation facilities convenient?
(Check out Realtor.com's neighborhood search tool)

2. Identify your top priorities

*Do you have pets?
*Do you need extra parking spaces?
*How many bedrooms, how much living area?
*Do you prefer to be on the ground floor?
*Is a view important?
*What amenities would you like - swimming pool, recreation or fitness room, tennis courts?
*Do you need laundry facilities?

3. Evaluate the apartment

*Is the building in good condition?
*Are the grounds well landscaped and neat?
*Are the grass and plants green or dieing?
*Are common areas, both inside and outside, well looked after?
*Are steps, walkways, windows and doors safe?
*Visit the apartment at night. Would you feel safe in the parking lots, garages, walkways and hallways? Are they well lit?

4. Evaluate the security

*Is there a private security service? If so, during what hours?
*Is there secured access to the grounds? To the building? If so, are doors and gates kept locked?
*Do the apartments have adequate locks on doors and windows?

5. Ask the neighbors how they like living there

It may take a little courage, but it is worth asking current residents how they feel about the building. See what response times are like for maintenance and repair requests. 

The Right Questions

6. Check out the amenities

*Who's allowed to use swimming pools, recreation and fitness rooms, tennis courts?
*What hours are they open?
*Is there additional fees charged to use those facilities?

7. Ask about Utilities

*Does the owner or tenant pay the water bill?
*Are any utilities, such as gas and electric, included in the rent?
*Do units have individual thermostats to control heat and air conditioning?

8. Examine the lease

*How much notice must you give before moving at the end of the lease term?
*Can the rent be increased? If so, by how much and how often?
*Are pets allowed?
*What provisions cover your security deposit and end of lease cleaning costs?
*What is the responsibility of tenants for wear or damage to property?
*What is the penalty for breaking a lease?

9. Be prepared! Collect information to present to landlords and leasing agents before beginning your search. Include:

a. Credit Report
b. Application
c. Pay stubs/tax returns
d. References

Do-It-Yourself Movers Guide

How do you pack those items that are hard to wrap or items of value? Here are some simple packing tips:

How to Pack Furniture:

Disassemble furniture if possible and cover
Wrap table legs separately
Lay down padding between your furniture and the floor of the truck
Place tables with legs assembled top down on floor with legs up
Stack chairs seat to seat

Packing China:

Use special "dishpak" boxes
Wrap plates, saucers, and bowls individually using several sheets of paper each
Start from the corner, wrapping diagonally, continuously tucking in edges
After wrapping individually, wrap 4-6 pieces in a bundle with a double layer of newspaper
Place cushioning material in bottom of carton
Place flat, heavier pieces like platters, plates on bottom
Place bundled items in a carton in a row on edge.
Surround each bundle with crushed paper, being careful to leave no unfilled spaces.
Cups and glassware should be wrapped in a double layer of paper and placed upside down on rims in a row on an upper layer within the box with all the handles facing the same direction.

Packing Clothing:

Shoes may be left in shoe boxes and placed into large cartons.
Or, wrap each shoe individually, then in pairs.
Shoes should be cushioned to avoid damage occurring to high heals or ornaments.
Do not pack heavy items on shoes.
Clothing may be left on hangers and transported in wardrobe cartons.
Lightweight clothing such as hose, lingerie and sweaters may be left in dresser drawers.

Lamps:

Remove the light bulb.
Wrap the base, harp and bulb separately, in newsprint, and place together in a carton, filling spaces with crushed paper.
Never wrap the lamp shade in newspaper.
Carefully wrap each shade in 3-4 sheets of fresh tissue paper, a pillow case or large lightweight towel.

Pictures and Glass:

Use a standard picture box or cover both sides of the picture with cardboard.
Place packing paper along the sides and edges of the picture to prevent it from moving inside the box.
Place no more than 3 or 4 pictures in one box.
Keep the box right side up at all times.

What NOT to Pack:

Heat from the sun can raise temperatures inside a closed moving van and trucks to more than 150 degrees. Even in the middle of winter, heat builds up inside. Many common items, including aerosol hair spray or cleaning products, can trigger an explosion or fire that could destroy your possessions when packed inside a van.
For your own safety, make sure that no member of your family packs these items in a container to be moved. Replacing a can of hair spray is much easier than replacing all of your belongings.
We want you to have a satisfying move. For the safety of your belongings, review the list below and eliminate all dangerous items before packing:

Hair spray
Cleaning products
Shaving cream
Spray starch
Deodorants
Insecticides
Spray paint
Oil-based paints
Bleach
Gasoline
Muriatic acid
Kerosene
Auto batteries
Naptha
Propane in tanks*
Tar remover
Oxygen in tanks
Paint thinners
Lighter fluid
Turpentine
Matches
Lacquer remover
Ammunition
Mineral spirits
Chlorine granules or powder
Any other type of combustible