12 Apartment Therapy Editors Share the Best Real Estate Advice They’ve Ever Gotten

published Dec 16, 2021
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Sometimes after hours and hours of scrolling through listings, you just want to talk about the house-hunting (and apartment-hunting!) slog with a trusted friend. What does your best pal think about that neighborhood you’ve been eyeing? What was it your dad always said about electric heat again?

We, as Apartment Therapy editors, like to consider ourselves friends of yours, which is why we’ve rounded up our best real estate advice to share with you. Hopefully our tips will make your search for a new home a liiiittle less stressful. Ahead, find selected wisdom and advice from 12 editors.

“A lot of cities have a subreddit. I know the New Orleans one has a sidebar with everything you need to know if you’re going to rent there. Try doing searches for your future landlord’s name, apartment complexes, and things like that — people will tell the truth about these things. And if you have a dog, do a dog walking test. While you’re walking your dog in a potential neighborhood, you can think about how it feels, and see what it’d be like in the morning, afternoon, and evening.” —Adrienne Breaux, House Tour Editor

“I’ve lived in a series of really great apartments, and I’ve gotten them all one way: by setting up tons of instant alerts. Craigslist alerts, Apartments.com alerts, Zillow alerts — I got them all sent to my inbox the minute a listing within my criteria hit each site. Then, like a crazy person, I’d request a tour within seconds of it being posted. It pays to be first (and to monitor your inbox way too closely, I guess). —Madeline Bilis, Real Estate Editor

“Don’t try to buy in an area based on whether it’s ‘up-and-coming’ or any other buzzwords that tend to denote gentrification and displacement. Instead, ask yourself if this is an area that you’re ready to invest in as a community member in the here and now.” —Ella Cerón, Lifestyle Editor

Credit: Daniel Kim Photography/Stocksy

“My best friend is a successful real estate agent in Virginia, and her advice is to wait. We’ve been in a period where there’s been a frenzy of homebuying activity because of the pandemic and low interest rates. Don’t feel pressure to buy just because everyone else is.” —Danielle Blundell, Home Director

“Don’t get caught up so much in potential resale value. Yes, we’re in a pandemic, but no one could have anticipated what’s happening in the market now a couple of years ago. You’re spending so much time in the home you do own, so you should make sure it works for you and your family now, versus how much money you’re going to make when you sell it five or 10 years down the line.” —Alison Goldman, Special Projects Editor

“What really helped me when I was shopping for my place was realizing the conventional advice of listing your top priorities before looking is a really smart idea. Not enough people connect their personal socioeconomic values with the way they approach house shopping. I think it’s important to connect your values with your real estate approach, and having firm priorities helps you focus and avoid compromising your morals and ideals for an extra bedroom or updated kitchen.” —Taryn Williford, Lifestyle Director

“My advice is to make a spreadsheet with a lot of links to apartment listings. Try to look at as many as possible. Quantity over quality worked for me when I was looking for my rental in Brooklyn.” —Sarah Everett, Editorial Assistant

“This year, more than ever before, do not waive your inspection. I just wouldn’t do it. And request a copy of your building’s inspection if you’re a renter. —Terri Pous, Managing Editor

“Buying a house this year was stressful. I don’t even know how we did it. But I’d say to make sure you know you have the money — knowing exactly what your budget is is very helpful. You don’t want to waste your time looking at houses that are too expensive. So, have a budget and stick to it. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s OK to keep renting. Savannah West, Home Assistant Editor

“Before you sign a lease, see if you can get to know your landlord and what kind of person you’re dealing with. My rental application had an optional letter to write to the landlord, which was great. Mine lives below me and acts as sort of a handyman. Even if your landlord doesn’t go above and beyond, you want to make sure there’s still a presence you can reach out to.”—Blair Donovan, Shopping Editor, Style

“My tip comes from Amy Sedaris. In her New York Magazine apartment tour, she said a security deposit is a personality fee. Do whatever the f*ck you want to your apartment.”  —Tara Bellucci, News & Culture Director