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Apartment Hunt: Review Sites and Sanity Checks

By September 7, 2011

Uncategorized

How much research do you do when you are looking for an apartment? Is it enough to find an apartment in the right location for the right price that after an in-person visit seems to check out? Or do you dig deeper before signing a lease?

Personally, I never gave review sites or additional online research much thought until I recently googled an apartment building and pulled up a bedbugregistry.com listing in the top ten search results. That didn’t seem like a good sign.

And while I think people are generally more quick to complain than compliment on review sites, the insider perspective can be helpful in your search — especially if you are new to a city or neighborhood. A high concentration of negative comments can warn you away from a sketchy situation just as easily as a couple of positive reviews tell you that a building is worth a look. Plus, you might want to ask about specific issues reported in comments if you are seriously considering leasing in a building.

So if you want to invest a little more time researching, here’s a start for you. First, I’d do a search on the name of the apartment and then on the address itself to see what comes up in the top 10 or 20 results.

Then I’d look up the building in one or two of the following resources to sanity check a potential apartment:

  • ApartmentRatings.com – This site says there are just over 7,000 reviews posted for nearly 800 Seattle apartments. Seems to be the most commented of the three I list here.
  • Yelp.com – I’ve seen reviews for both apartment management companies and apartment buildings on this site. The blank query for Apartments in Seattle returns over 1,000 results.
  • ApartmentReviews.com – I like the clean UI on this site, but it seems to have a lower number of reviews per property so I’d probably look to Yelp or ApartmentRatings first. And the fact that it doesn’t list Capitol Hill as a neighborhood is an automatic fail in my book :).
  • BedBugRegistry.com – I’m thinking it is better to know about a potential issue before you sign a lease. A visual check on an empty apartment might not be enough if it is your neighbors that have bedbugs.

Are there other useful sites that I missed?