13 Things You Do to Sabotage Your Success at Finding An Apartment

Forbes.com published an interesting post; 13 Little Things You’re Doing to Sabotage Your Success on 1/8/13. I had the usual curiosity to see what I’ve been doing wrong in my life that I’m not as rich as Michael Bloomberg yet.

What struck me about the article was not what I’m doing wrong, but how totally applicable the same 13 points were for predicting the success or failure of apartment hunters! I’ve listed each of the 13 points below, and below each point, I’ve re-written the point to aid you in your search to find the right apartment for rent.

1. Grammar: This is not something to “LOL” about. Misspellings, lack of capitalization, and generally poor grammar say you’re uneducated, inattentive to detail, or, frankly, just don’t care. Poor grammar is like a giant fluorescent warning sign that says: “Steer clear.” Please use spellcheck tools, reread your note, and if it’s something “important,” have others proof it, too.


Interesting. I always recommend that each apartment applicant write a cover letter to go with eachapplication. The cover letter is your opportunity to put your best foot forward and “frame the conversation” towards your better point and it’s your chance to explain away anything negative that will show up in the credit report. Needless to say, I always stress that the cover letter  needs to be a well written letter. Pay attention to grammar. Read more about the cover letter in our apartment guidehere.

2. Flaky McFlakerson: We all have our “off” moments when crap comes up, but consistently failing to show up or deliver quickly takes its toll. Chances are, you’re either disorganized or a megalomaniac. Either way, it’s a deal breaker. And no, your constant string of excuses doesn’t help. Just do what you said you would when you said you’d do it.

It’s the same with renting. You motto should be, “be prepared” when you go out looking at apartments for rent. That means have your application package and money ready to go. When you see the right apartment, go for it! More about the application page here.

3. Quick Sale: Nothing’s worse than getting slimed at the cocktail party by the undercover used-car salesman. As a general rule, never ask to get before you give. Add value before you expect value in return. And for goodness’ sake, please don’t sneak-attack sell anyone.

The apartment hunting equivalent is: beware fast talking landlords and showing agents. If they don’t answer your questions, or they don’t even attempt to address your issues, run. They want to lock you in to a bad building. A good landlord respects good tenants.

4.  Talking Crap: You said, “He’s so annoying the way he _____.” I heard, “I’m sure I’ll find something annoying about you and tell everyone about it.” You said, “The last company we worked with was terrible, oh, and the one before that, too. Just awful.” I heard, “I’m really difficult to deal with, will be a terrible partner, and will share my misinformed opinions with everyone I meet.” Unless there’s a material breach of ethics involved, keep your trap shut.

Don’t be catty and snapping at the apartment shower.

When you’re out looking at apartments, don’t be catty and snippy. If you don’t like the apartment, politely decline to see any more of it. If you like an apartment, don’t start gushing, calling your best friends about it, or instantly telling the landlord how you’re going to change everything around. Let them come to respect you as an adult, a person, and a potential tenant.

5.  Over-promising: Expectations matter. If you promise me a miracle, I’ll expect it. If you promise me a little, I’ll be happy with a little and delighted with a little more. Being impressive is mostly about being reasonable in your projections and hitting them consistently.

Having a professional demeanor is your best course. If you are accepted for an apartment, don’t promise to have your certified checks ready the next day if you can’t possibly do that. Be honest. Say you need two days to get your funds in order. If you say you’ll move in on the 1st of the month, don’t call the landlord 15 minutes later to ask if moving in on the 15th of the month is better. Give your word and stick to your word. Mean what you say, and say what you mean.

6.  Not My Fault: We’re human. Mistakes happen. But ever noticed how some people always have a scapegoat and even a backup scapegoat? The finger is always pointing in the other direction. Occasionally, another person might have played a role. Most of the time, it’s your own fault. Own it.

If something does go wrong with getting your funds together, or your roommate, or anything else, be honest about it and own it. Nobody likes a last minute change, so when there needs to be a last minute change, you best bet is complete honesty and transparency. Prove that you can be reliable.

7.  Lack of Patience: I’ve found that nothing worthwhile comes quickly or easily. Regardless of your goals, they will take focus, hard work, and plenty of time. Stop looking for the secret sauce or the quick fix. There aren’t any.

Looking for, and finding, the right apartment for you is hard. It may take time, or the right apartment might show up right away. Getting angry or letting out your frustrations with the employee who is showing you an apartment is not appropriate. The good news: you only need to find one good apartment for you. Then go for it with 100% intention of getting it.

8. Pretend Motives: Actions have a funny way of exposing motives, particularly over time. You can pretend you want to help, but if it’s not in your heart, it will be obvious. Think deeply about why you want something, and make sure you’re transparent about it. Nothing is more off-putting than thinly veiled grabs at money, fame, or power.

Be honest with yourself about what kind of apartment you want to find, where you can find it, and what it will cost. There is no sense getting angry if your dream apartment costs hundreds more per month than you can afford. Sooner or later, you will come to recognize good value – within your price range. Then, when you see the right apartment, go for it.

9.  Without Intention: Each day is packed with questions of how to spend your time, money, emotions, and focus. Do you know why you do what you do? I see lots of “ping pong people” bouncing between distractions. Pick something meaningful to accomplish and attack it. You’ll be amazed at what you can do.

People with the true intention of finding an apartment -do. If you’re not sure you want a new apartment, or you’re not sure you want to share an apartment with a roommate, or you’re not sure if you want to live in Queens when your heart has been set on an apartment rental in Manhattan, then you will spin a lot of wheels and you will come up empty. So don’t waste your time, energy, and money like that.

10. Overcommitting: You can’t juggle an endless number of commitments. Every time you say “yes,” you’re saying “no” to something else. Eventually, things break down and blow up. Ask yourself if the commitment in question will help achieve your goals. If not, politely decline.

Don’t run out at lunch time to look at an apartment and tell your boss you’ll be back in 15 minutes if you can’t do it. Don’t commit to looking at an apartment at 5:30 PM and then leave your office at 5:15. Be punctual or don’t commit to the showing.

11.  Complication: Even seemingly small choices matter. Life is packed with small corners to be cut, victimless crimes to be committed, and endless opportunities for one-night stands. Suddenly, a life that seemed so simple becomes complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. Don’t fool yourself into believing that this one time is different, because it’s not.

Be an honest and straight shooter. Don’t try to schmooze your way into a rental you can’t afford or a commitment that you can’t keep. Don’t add the stress to your life.

12. Subtraction by Addition: When things get hard, the inclination is to do more. Work more hours. Demand more from others. In the short term, it feels great. Your brain rewards you for “doing more.” But when you look back, you’ll find you accomplished less. Instead, focus on addition by subtraction. Spend more time thinking, and less time doing. Be still. Be alone. Be thoughtful.

If your apartment search is driving you bat-crazy, then turn it off for a week. Re-assess your needs and wants. Start again with a fresh eye. There’s always a new apartment available every day. The dream apartment you lost is not worth obsessing over. There is another around the corner. If it takes 20 apartment viewings to find the right one, then each time you go so see a dog of an apartment, you’re getting one closer to the 20th apartment, which is the jackpot.

13.  B.S.: Most, it seems, have a flair for the dramatic. The temperature is always five degrees warmer or cooler than the forecast. Employee count, revenue, or profits are a multiple of reality. As someone who fights this urge, I can tell you it’s wildly unhealthy and quickly destroys trust. Just be honest and confident. Stop comparing yourself, and be grateful for whatever you actually have.

Amen to #13. You simply need to give up what you can’t have and be grateful for what you can have. When it comes to renting an apartment, it’s not a life-time decision. You will have the time and opportunity to revise your choice in the future.

Authored by: Lorenzo Rosenberg

Brent Beshore is the CEO of AdVentures , ranked #28 on the 2011 Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in the U.S.

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Written by Lorenzo

Lorenzo has been hanging around the RDNY.com office for the past 20 years, and, in the process, has become the president of RDNY.com, Rent-Direct.com, and Acmelistings.com. His mission is to build RDNY.com into New York's largest no fee apartment rental service. Before RDNY.com, Lorenzo was a Regional Sales Manager for Time Equities, Inc., one of New York's largest converters of rental buildings to coops and condos. Lorenzo was once a part owner of Swift & Watson Real Estate in NYC's Greenwich Village.

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