Amenities

Whether you're shopping for your first apartment on Trulia or your 15th, you'll need to prioritize what matters most for your search. From cost to conveniences, here's a list of the top 5 things to evaluate before renting your next home.

5. The Amenities
An apartment's included amenities should be low on your priority list, but they're still worth considering. Sure, a washer and dryer or parking spot is nice to have, but if they aren't available, see what your other options are. For example, if the landlord doesn't offer on-site laundry, where is the nearest laundromat?

If it's inconvenient to access alternatives, ask the property manager what he or she can offer in exchange. If you bring up the downsides, the landlord might be willing to budge in other areas such as the cost of rent.

4. The Damage
When touring a potential apartment, take note of any visible damage, and mention it to the landlord. Find out if the they are willing to fix the damaged items before the start of your lease; if not, ask for lower rent or amenities in exchange. Be sure to take pictures of any dings or nicks, and remind the landlord or property manager to detail the items in the lease.

Furthermore, inquire about what your potential landlord considers damage. What you consider decorating, your landlord could consider a hole in the wall.

3. The Price
It's important to compare prices of other local properties on Trulia. Likewise, examine the costs of your previous apartments, and see how they compare. Is the price of the apartment fair? If it is, can you comfortably afford it? You may be ready for an upgrade, but is your paycheck? Write down your monthly budget items. If you want a nicer place, consider what you'll have to cut to afford it.

2. The Neighborhood
There are several ways to scope out neighborhoods before you sign a lease. Use tools like Trulia's Neighborhood Map to evaluate the safety of a city or to check out school boundaries. Visit the area at different times of the day and night to get a feel for the usual activity and noise level. And talk to the neighbors. If you neglect proper research, you could be moving into a retirement community or a crowded college party town without even knowing it.

1. The Lease
This is arguably the most important aspect of an apartment. All other features depend on it. The list of included amenities, previous damage, lease term, and price should all be clearly stated in the contract. Read it, and make sure you fully understand what you're signing. What if you're unhappy with your neighbors? Do you know what would it cost to break the lease? Can you sublet if you decide to travel?

Now that you've established your priorities, it's time to start apartment hunting. What matters most when it comes to your own personal search? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

This article originally appeared on Trulia.com.

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