8 Things You Should Never Do While Touring Apartments, According to Real Estate Agents

updated Nov 9, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Your search for the perfect (or, perfect-ish) apartment is on. You’ve got a budget in mind for rent. You’ve saved up a deposit. You even have a resume for your dog on hand. Now, after all that preparation, all you have to remember is what not to do to spoil your chances of getting your dream apartment. Ahead, a few pointers from the pros.

Don’t… forget to bring a measuring tape

Show up without a measuring tape and you risk needing to buy new furniture once you move into your new place, points out Gina Castrorao, rental manager of REAL New York. “Part of the decision-making process for an apartment is if your furniture will fit: Couches, beds, TVs, you name it,” she says. Also, don’t forget to measure the door frames to see if your furniture will fit through the door in the first place, Castrorao says.

Don’t… use the bathroom in the apartment 

You’re touring apartments all day long. You’ve got your favorite water bottle in tow and are staying hydrated (good job, btw!). But, if possible, take your bathroom breaks in public bathrooms. “Often times a rental unit is being shown while it is still tenant-occupied, so think about it from the current tenant’s perspective—if it were your apartment, would you want a stranger using your bathroom while you’re not home?” says broker Becki Danchik of Warburg Realty in New York City.

Don’t… request separate showings

Plan on renting with a partner, spouse, or roommate? Tour the apartment together rather than requesting separate showings, Danchik suggests. Not only are you maximizing everyone’s time (your real estate agent will surely appreciate it), but seeing the apartment together can spur important conversations.

For instance: Would one roommate be willing to pay more in rent because one of the unit’s bedrooms is much larger than the others? Also, in a competitive rental market, apartments get snapped up faster than you can say “let me see what my roomie will think.”

Don’t… arrive late to the showing 

If several showings have been planned for the day, there is a limited window of time allotted for each appointment, says Axel Francis, realtor at Forest Hill Real Estate Inc. in Toronto, Ontario. And if there’s a tenant currently living in the unit, the days and times of showings are even more limited. If you arrive late, you risk cutting your viewing time short.

Don’t… stall on your paperwork

Different rental markets will require different types of paperwork to get the application process rolling. The overarching rule? Don’t wait until you’ve started touring apartments to gather your paperwork. Have it at the ready, suggests Daniele Kurzweil, a licensed real estate salesperson with the Friedman Team at Compass in New York City.

Documents you should have ready include an employment letter, tax returns, pay stubs, a reference letter from a former landlord, and bank statements from the past three months. “If you know that it will take your HR department 10 days to turn around an employment letter be sure to ask for one before you begin your search,” she says. 

Don’t… come without questions 

It’s easy to be dazzled by a walk-in closet or top-notch appliances when you’re touring an apartment. But don’t forget to write down questions to ask the leasing agent while on the tour, says Melissa Zavala, a broker at Broadpoint Properties, a real estate brokerage and property management firm in North San Diego County. Here are some sample questions that she suggests asking:

  • Are pets allowed? If so, are there weight restrictions? Is an additional deposit or monthly fee required?
  • How much is the security deposit? What other fees should I know about?
  • Who pays the utilities? 
  • How do you qualify applicants? 

Also, don’t stop at touring the unit alone. Ask to see any communal areas, whether that’s a rooftop, gym, pool, or game room.

Don’t… forget your ID

Some professionally managed apartment buildings will require a driver’s license or photo ID before you can take a tour, says broker Brad Pauly, the owner of Pauly Presley Realty in Austin, Texas. Requiring an ID is a safety measure intended to protect leasing agents showing apartments. 

Don’t… assume cell service will be OK

Go ahead, and ask the leasing agent what cell providers get the best and worst cell service in the apartment complex. But check for yourself, too. “It’s always a good idea when touring apartments to make sure you have adequate cell service in the apartment you may want to rent,” Pauly says. 

Once you find a place you love (and where your furniture fits and your cellphone has bars) check out our 35 best rental hacks that will make your apartment feel like home sweet home.