Your Apartment Locator's Guide to Apartment Shopping!


Apartment hunting in the near future? Here are a few tips and tricks your apartment experts with TopNotch have put together. 


Schedule weekday tours if at all possible. Weekends are when everyone goes apartment shopping which means you usually wait to tour even with an appointment. Leasing offices are short staffed on the weekends which means the agents are usually in a rush to help each person and sometimes you miss key information because the leasing agent may have been in a rush. Weekday tours are usually more relaxed and the onsite team is usually less in a rush to get you in and out. Shorter office hours on the weekend is also a down fall. Shorter hours means you can’t view as many properties in one day. Look and lease specials are typically 24-48 hrs so view as many properties in one day to take advantage of specials. Another key piece of information is the last week of the month is a great time to apartment shop. It is “close out” and properties are trying to hit their leasing numbers which means SPECIALS.


Make sure to call ahead for pricing. Most properties are on computerized pricing system that changes frequently based on inventory. Some websites are up to date and you can determine this if it allows you to see the day the apartment is ready for move in and the unit number.  Ask to view the apartment first and amenities second. Do not fall in love with the property and overlook how the apartment might be too small or have an awful location. Use your smartphone! Take a picture of each property name first and video the apartment second. If you view multiple apartments in one day you may mix up which property had the apartment you loved.


  • What view will your apartment have?

Make sure you know where your windows are facing.  The direction you have will determine morning or afternoon sun which affects your utility bill.

  • What finish is in the apartment you are looking to lease?

Most apartments have multiple granite, cabinet, and flooring colors. Make sure you like the finish your apartment will have.

  • What location will your apartment have within the community?

Make sure you know how close parking is to your place. Grocery shopping is what to consider.  If you are near a trash shoot you may have a disturbing smell for yourself and guests if they do not maintain them. If you are a light sleeper being close to an elevator may not be the best. You will hear everyone come in and out of your hallway. The location of your apartment within your community could really make or break your experience.

  • What extra fees are on top of the rent?

Do they charge for parking, valet trash, amenity fees, pest control, trash, etc. Do not forget to ask. Sometimes when discussing leasing an apartment the base rent is the only number talked about. Make sure you do not have any hidden fees before submitting in your application.

  • What about parking for you and your guests?

Find out where parking is it located. It may be important to you if the parking is gated and covered. Make sure to factor in the distance of parking to your apartment. Also, don't forget about your guests. Most properties have some guest parking but if you end up living in the city some apartments do not have free guest parking. This can make having overnight guests a real pain. 

  • What are average utility costs?

The onsite team can usually tell you the average electric or water bill is in your size unit. Make sure to ask if your water is sub-metered or allocated. Try to find an apartment that has sub=metered because you are getting charged for what you actually use. Allocated water is calculated on your square footage and how many people live in the apartment. Allocated bills are usually more expensive because if you have someone in the building who uses a lot of water but lives in a small square footage the rest of the building makes up their costs. Don't forget to ask about electric bills. Find out if your building LEED certified or have any eco-friendly features. Energy efficient apartment buildings can have electric bills as low as $30 and other buildings can have you at $150 for the same square footage.


Federal Fair Housing laws dictate that properties have to offer the same deal to everyone but sometimes you can still find ways to negotiate. Depending on the occupancy of the building sometimes you can negotiate a couple weeks free, free storage, no pet rent, waive move in fees, etc. Properties usually cannot reduce your rent, however, they can sometimes give you a “move in special”. Specials can be prorated out during your lease to make rent cheaper. Ask if you can “self-prorate” the special or if you have to take it up front. Find out if you are on the “preferred employee” list. Most communities have a list of employers they can waive application fees, administration fees, and/or deposits for but you have to ask! Let the leasing agent know you have been looking at other places. They may even ask what the pricing or specials are at the other communities. This is usually an indicator that they may be able to negotiate a better deal.


Pricing is all computerized based off of supply and demand. This means pricing can change the second the leasing agent’s computer refreshes because inventory changed. Apartments also can now be leased online. Be aware someone else may be applying online when you are in the leasing office “thinking about it.” Be sure to always ask the leasing professional if they can give you a “quote” for the price. The quote guarantees the price for 24-48 hours even if the price changes in their system. Have the quote emailed to you for documentation.


Well there you have it! Moving season is upon us so if you are looking for a new apartment in Texas this year TopNotch would love to help. We can be your easy tool to find the best price, move in special, location, and building for what you are looking for. TopNotch Locating has great relationships with the onsite teams in your city so we are the first to know about specials. Plus, we are pretty knowledgeable too. Contact us for your free list of apartments in your area and use this guide to help you in your apartment search.