Top Five Questions to ask your Leasing Consultant

In this day and age, we as consumers have an overwhelming number of choices when it comes to selecting an apartment community. In DC alone, the number of high-rise apartment communities has risen exponentially over the past decade. Couple the available inventory with all of the leasing specials many of these new buildings inundate the consumer with and even the most veteran apartment dweller can be left unsure of how to filter the options and find the best fit. Below are the top 5 questions you should be asking your leasing consultant that will help you find your best next home.


What is the average rent increase at renewal?

One strategy many new buildings employ is to offer one a move-in special or concession. They will offer one month or (at times) 3 months free. While this seems enticing and like a no-brainer, the rent specials usually end up not being free in the long run. If you’re planning to potentially live somewhere for longer than one lease term, buildings often recoup these specials through your renewal rates. Also if you prorate your special over the course of your lease term, even a modest rent increase off your market rent will seem extraordinary. That’s why it is very important to take note of what the average renewal increases are, especially if you’re receiving a rent special.


What happens if I break the lease? What are the early termination fees?

While most people don’t like terminating their lease early, in reality, it’s at times necessary. Job transfers happen often as do relationship changes, and the last surprise you want to receive is an unexpected fee. Early termination fees typically range from the equivalent to one to two months’ rent but can sometimes be the remaining amount due for the lease term. Did you receive that 2-month free rent special at move-in? Many property management companies require that rent specials be repaid should you terminate a lease early. While these fees are unavoidable and usually all outlined in your lease, it’s a good idea to ask your leasing consultant so that you’re prepared should you ever need to terminate your lease early.


How is the building constructed?

Depending on the age and size of the building, it could be a wood frame or concrete construction and have different types of insulation. The insulation factor is key because while some sounds or noises (especially in a high rise) are standard and even unavoidable, nobody wants to listen to their neighbors’ conversations. Another thing to ask about is the windows. Are they single-paned or double-paned? This makes a huge difference when considering outside noise. Have a listen when you’re inside an apartment, ask your consultant to open and close the window to make sure that the ambient noise volume is acceptable to you. Lastly, you want to verify the heating and cooling accommodations. Do you have your own thermostat that offers you full climate control, or is it a system where the building management switches the heating and air condition functionalities seasonally?


How does parking work?

Looking to save on parking by using a Residential Parking Permit as opposed to the accommodations offered by the building? Depending on which DC neighborhood you live in, the neighborhood may not be zoned for residential parking. This means your only parking option is in your building’s garage or other parking accommodation. While your leasing consultant should be well versed on their building’s parking status, you can find more info about the residential parking program here.


Is the apartment you are viewing actually available, or is it a similar apartment home?

In a brand-new building, you might have the luxury of hand-selecting your perfect apartment. However, for more heavily occupied buildings, it may not be possible to see the exact unit that’s available because it is still occupied by the previous resident. Always check with your leasing consultant to make sure you know what you’re seeing.


Surprises and the apartment search/leasing process seldom mesh well, so asking these important questions will ensure that you’re truly finding the best apartment.

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