Congratulations, you’re apartment hunting! Choosing a home is one of the most important decisions you can make, and there’s a lot to consider. Attending an open house for an apartment that interests you is a great way to start.

How Should I Prepare for an Open House?

Before the event, it’s a good idea to research the neighborhood a bit. Does it have everything you need, like a grocery store, pharmacy, etc.? If you’re not familiar with the area, use Google Maps to have a look around. Study the StreetEasy listing carefully as well: It will tell you the closest subway lines, parks, and more. Think about your potential commute, too. How far is the building from the subway you need? How long of a ride will it be? Finally, you might also want to check your favorite food-delivery apps to see what kind of restaurants deliver in the area.

Manhattan Homes Under $1M Article continues below

What Should I Look for During an Open House?

It’s smart to think critically when you tour a space. Be sure to bring your phone so you can snap photos and take plenty of notes. Here’s a checklist of what to think about, look for, and double-check while you’re in the apartment. 

Start with the basics:

  1. Measurements: Bring a tape measure to make sure your belongings will fit — not just in the space itself, but through the doorways as well. 
  2. Closet and cabinet space: Is there enough? 
  3. Floors: Are they in good condition? 
  4. Cell reception: Do you get a good signal inside the apartment?  
  5. Views: Do you like what you see out the windows? 
  6. Smells: Do you smell anything iffy? 
  7. Noise: Do you hear street noise or neighbors? If so, is it at a level you can live with?
  8. Smoke detector: Make sure there is one!
  9. Stairs: If there is no elevator, consider the stairs carefully. Can you manage them with groceries or heavy packages? Are they clean and well lit?
  10. Amenities: Ask to see any you care about, like a laundry room, roof deck, gym, etc.
  11.  Packages and mail: Where do they go? Is it secure?
  12. Cable/internet: Is the building wired? Which provider?

It’s also important to make sure everything works as it should:

  1. Light switches.
  2. Plugs. Bring a small device, like a phone charger, that you can easily plug in to make sure every socket has power.
  3. Faucets and toilets. Note the water pressure in the shower, and how long it takes for the hot water to get hot. 
  4. Kitchen appliances. This includes all the burners on the stove.
  5. Ceiling fans, central A/C, buzzers or intercoms.
  6. Windows and doors. Make sure they open and close easily, and more importantly, make sure they lock securely. This includes the front door to the building.

Brooklyn 2-bedrooms under $2M Article continues below

A Note About Decor

When you’re touring an empty apartment during an open house, it’s easy to see it as a blank slate. You can picture where your furniture will go, what kind of curtains to hang, where your prized plant will live. But what if it’s not empty? Some apartments are shown while the previous inhabitants still live there. In this case, try as hard as you can to ignore the current decor. Visualize your own belongings in the space instead. Even if the living room sports the ugliest carpet you’ve ever seen, or the sofa is straight out of 1974, remember: It will all be gone before you move in. 

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