While autumn is already punctuated by festive holidays, football Saturdays, and the occasional all-nighter in the library of your choice – here’s one more item to add to your calendar: the task of finding off-campus housing for the following year. A large number of sophomores. upperclassmen, and graduate students elect to rent an apartment or lease a house with their friends after having lived in the Residence Halls for the first part of their academic career. The reasoning for this varies from person to person, but the idea of having a place of one’s own is central to this dialogue. In order to ensure a better selection, and make sure that that ‘place of your own’ is something you actually would want to own, it is advised that you and those you will be living with act fast. Apartment and house showings by property management companies in Ann Arbor tend to start around late October and early November.
Campus Info suggests that you first identify the area where you would like to live. This would depend on proximity to the resources that you and your housemates use the most, as well as the type of neighborhood you’d like to occupy (the Ann Arbor residential areas vary in traffic concentration and student-related noise).
Then, walk around this area. Take note of the property leasing companies that own the best up-kept houses. Try to identify what kind of students are living there, what their lifestyle is like (Are red-solo cups littering the lawn? That’s a mixed signal: you might end up with a freshly carpeted lease, or you could be stuck with the smell of spilt beverages for the next twelve months). Write down the names of these property managers and their contact information – it is likely that you can find this on a sign somewhere on the house or apartment complex itself. Don’t forget to jot down the address!
Call in early or mid-October. Ask them when showings will start or when rental information will be available. They may give you a date to call back. When the company is ready to discuss the 2014-2015 leasing year, inquire about specific properties that you are interested in to see whether or not that address will be renewing their lease. Ask about their other properties in the area. The company will work with you to narrow down properties based on availability, rental price, bed and bathroom requirements, etc. Then, it is likely that you will schedule one or two days to be shown properties that fit that description.
Ask current leasers about the management company. It’s best to know how responsive certain property management companies are before signing a contract with them. You don’t want to end up with an unresponsive or slacking landlord, or one that sneaks in hidden charges.
Learn what to look for during tours. Don’t feel awkward about asking questions or being actively engaged in the exploration – it is important to know what you are getting yourself into. Turn on the faucets, flush the toilets, check the burners on the stove and sit quietly for a moment to see how much noise pollution makes it through the walls. There is a plethora of resources for this on the internet. Ask your parents or another adult as well, it is likely that they have done this quite a few times.
Know what rent includes. What utilities do you have to pay extra for? Is there laundry on site? Is parking included and available?
The best way to learn more about the companies available in Ann Arbor is to simply type: “Property Management Companies Ann Arbor” into Google. You can also ask your friends, consult craigslist (careful!), or use the University’s off-campus housing website. Make sure to check out the student initiated program website, Beyond the Diag, for tips about living off campus!
Good luck and happy home hunting!