The Basics of Apartment Hunting
Be prepared ahead of time unlike apartment hunting in other cities, applying for any apartment in Miami Beach is an intense process that requires a lot of documents. Apartments fly off the market, so it’s vital that you have all your documents and finances in order before you even see your first apartment. Give yourself at least ten days to get everything squared away.
When to start looking
Most Miami Beach and Brickell apartments aren’t listed until four or five weeks before move-in day. If you start searching sooner, anything you look at will likely be gone by the time you want to move. However, you can and should look at comparable apartments in high-occupancy, high-rise buildings that have a lot of turnover. The apartments in these buildings will be very similar, so it’s a good idea to check them out ahead of time so you can decide if they meet your needs.
Apartments go fast
Once inventory hits the market, the best deals disappear immediately, so be prepared to start searching five weeks before your move date. And if you’ve missed the boat, and are caught searching the dregs of the inventory, consider couch surfing or extending your lease for another month so you can catch next month’s batch that will hit 4-5 weeks before the 1st of the month. If you’re working with an agent, keep in mind that many won’t work with you if your move-in date is months away because apartment availability is hard for brokers to predict.
A Typical Apartment Visit – The most important thing is to be prepared
Before you view any apartments, have your documents in order and bring them with you! When you see an apartment you like, you’ll be ready to secure it. If you don’t have your paperwork with you, the apartment could go to the applicant who sees the place right after you.
Where you’ll meet a broker
You’ll likely meet him or her at a location close to the listing, such as a nearby coffee shop or at the building lobby depending on the building.
Time of day
Most apartments are not available to see after 7pm because most buildings don’t want non-tenants roaming around. To see a luxury doorman at night is next to impossible. Also, a lot of management companies aren’t open after 8pm. Some even have restrictions about weekends – they work Monday through Friday. In other words, you’ll have to be a little flexible.
How long does a visit take?
Budget two to three hours to see a few apartments. Each apartment takes approximately 45 minutes to travel to, get in, and see. So if you can only view during your lunch hour, then plan to see one apartment per day. And keep in mind that on the third or fourth day, the first unit you saw will probably be gone, so don’t be a lunch-hour hunter. Try to make time to view four or five apartments in one session.
After the Visit – Assessing demand and making the call
Apartments move fast so you need to make decisions quickly. Did you hate the apartment? Move on, and see more. If you loved it, or liked it, you need to make a decision. First, get a sense for how likely it is that the apartment will stay on the market. Did it just get listed? Has it been available for days or weeks? Are there a lot of similar and available units in the same building? Once you gauge the demand for the apartment, make the call and act. The reality is you’ll never have 100 percent certainty in your decision, so you need to be comfortable with uncertainty. Are there better apartments out there? Will the next person put an application in? Assess demand, trust your instincts, make a decision, and be happy. No regrets!
Give clear feedback
If you’re working with a broker, be upfront about what you liked and didn’t like. If you don’t give clear guidance, your broker can’t find other apartments that match your feedback. If you’ve been clear about your needs, and you’ve seen ten or more apartments something’s not working. It will probably be time to adjust your expectations or have a detailed conversation about your needs with your agent to make sure they are not out of line. Re-evaluate once you’ve seen some apartments available and be ready to adjust your expectations, especially if you’re new to Miami Beach rentals.