8 tips that will make going on your first apartment tour a little less stressful

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Living room with mint blue couch
(Image credit: Getty)

Going apartment hunting? If you are reading this, you're probably thinking of moving into your own space, which is so, so exciting! You can decorate it how you want (well, within landlord-approved reason, obvi) and do what you want with your space. 

But, before you can enjoy your new pad, you've got to find it. The reality is, it can be a slightly tricky process. The good news is, I've been where you are and I'm here to help. 

But first, let's start with a confession: When I first toured an apartment I didn’t ask the right questions or look out for the right things and I really regretted it. I ended up moving into somewhere that was rather pricey for pretty little space. So now, whenever I tour a new apartment, I make sure to take my time, ask the right questions, and think critically about the space. And I'd recommend that you do too. 

I know, I know, it's easier said than done when you're in a rush to find the perfect apartment. However, it’s vital that when you go on your first apartment tour — or any apartment tour — that you make sure you’re checking the right things and asking lots of questions. 

1. Ask lots of questions

First things first, always ask lots of questions, even if things feel rushed. Remember, it’s your realtor or agent's job to make sure that they show you everything that you need to see and answer every query that you have, so don’t feel bad about taking up their time. At the time you’re probs going to feel a li'l overwhelmed by the whole process, so it’s worth writing a few questions down before your tour and taking them with you to refer to. This should help to make sure that, when it comes to your questions, you don’t end up missing anything. Not sure what to ask? Screenshot our list below.

What are some good questions to ask?

  • How long is the lease? Is there a subletting policy?
  • Are there any additional fees to be aware of?
  • Are utilities included and, if so, which ones?
  • How do I file maintenance requests?
  • Is the apartment pet-friendly and are there any additional fees that come with it?
  • Does the lease come with parking?

2. Check the electrical outlets

Electrical safety is no joke, so it pays to take this stuff seriously. I once rented an apartment that had unsafe power outlets. I only realized once I had moved in and saw sparks coming from one of them (after which, I promptly moved out). So, as you walk around the property, make sure to keep a close eye on the electrical sockets, checking that they’re properly attached to the wall, aren’t loose, and look in good working order. Not sure whether an apartment’s electricals are safe? Request that the realtor has them inspected before you move in. 

3. Look for signs of rodents or pests

It’s also a good idea to know how to spot the signs of rodents and other pests. As you tour the apartment, keep an eye out for rodent droppings (gross but seriously necessary), scratching sounds within the wall (this can be a sign of rodents or insects), and nibbled carpets or curtains. You can also ask the realtor if any problems with pests have previously been reported. 

4. Check for fire safety items

Don’t forget to think about fire safety. As you look around the apartment, you might want to focus on the aesthetic appeal that the property offers, but it’s vital that you take the time to check for fire safety features as well. You want to be looking out for well-placed fire alarms and checking that they actually work, or asking the realtor to check for you. You also need to check to see if the apartment has a fire extinguisher. And, it’s also worth noting whether the apartment complex has a fire escape and how you would access it in an emergency. 

5. Check the light fixtures and fans work

The last thing that you want is to move into an apartment and go to turn on the fan or lights, only to find that they don’t work, or aren’t working effectively. So, it’s important that when you’re touring an apartment you always check that they’re working properly.  

6. Make sure the oven and stove work properly

It’s a good idea to turn on the oven and stove while you’re touring the property so that you can check that both are working and safe to use. You'll be out of luck if you're unable to safely prepare and cook food there, so it's def worth checking that both work correctly. 

7. Run the water

Another important thing to check is that the water in the apartment runs properly and gets hot. So, make sure to turn a few taps on and off as you walk around. If you’re concerned about water pressure and having a powerful shower, it’s also worth turning on the shower and letting it run, so that you can see how good the pressure is. 

8. Check that the locks work

It’s also a good idea to ask the realtor to demonstrate the locks to you and to check that every lock is working correctly. Household safety is important, which is why making sure that the locks are secure and work effectively is so vital. 

Helpful tip: Don’t just check the door locks, also ask the realtor to check the locks on the windows too. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.