Welcome to the first article in a mini-series on how to find an apartment in Norwalk (or pretty much anywhere for that matter).

In this first article, I will touch base on when tenants should start looking (in person) for an apartment.

When should I start looking for a place?

This is a question that comes up a lot with the tenants I help.  The answer, like most answers in life, is “it depends.”  It depends mostly on when you are looking to move (or start a lease).  For example, today is November 28th; if you are looking to start a lease and move in to a rental on December 15th, now is a good time to look at some places.  If you are looking to start a lease and move in to a place on February 15th, now is a good time to wait.

Why is this the case?

The trend in Norwalk and in lower Fairfield County is to list rentals when they become vacant, or when the current tenant has about 30 days or less remaining on their lease.  Landlords also do not want a vacancy if they can help it.  Ideally their current tenant moves out one day, and the very next day their new tenant moves in.  This keeps their rental unit occupied and keeps the rental income stream flowing in.  Vacancy for a landlord = lost rental income.

If you are the person in the above example looking to move on February 15th (about 2.5 months from now), you aren’t going to be very appealing to a landlord who is looking to fill his or her apartment right away.  They want the apartment to be vacant as few days or weeks as possible.  If their rental is vacant right now, and you wanted to move on February 15th, you’d be asking for them to lock in 2.5 months of vacancy if they went with you as a tenant.  A landlord won’t do this because they know that someone could see the apartment tomorrow and possible start a lease in just a week or two (reducing their vacancy).

I suggest to most people to wait until they are under 30 days from the time they are looking to start a lease.  That way we know that every place they look at (even the vacant ones) would at least consider their application for rent.

If you are looking to move in 2 or 3 months, there is good news!  It is called the Internet…

Never before has there been so much information about real estate readily available on the Internet.  If you have an Internet connection, you can see pictures of just about every property on the market.  You can pull up Norwalk apartment listings on your computer, cell phone and tablet.  You can learn a lot about each rental based on the information provided in the listing, along with the map and information about the community.  In some cases, you can even “walk” down the street with Google’s Street View.  Because the information on the Internet is so robust (and normally accurate), I have helped tenants rent apartments in Norwalk without visiting them in person!  Of course this isn’t very common, but these tenants decided to save the money on a flight to the area just to find an apartment, and relied on my expertise and the information on the Internet in order to find a rental in Norwalk.

One of the best sites to use for looking at apartments (and all residential real estate) is Listingbook.  Listingbook gives you access to the MLS, which is the database Realtors use.  Listingbook updates their listings multiple times per day to give you the most accurate information.  Their information is much more accurate than Zillow’s or Trulia’s.  For more info on this free site, visit:  http://norwalkrealestatetodd.com/listingbook

Of course, the best thing to do is contact a Realtor who is very familiar with the area.  We at Milligan Realty help a lot of tenants with Norwalk rentals, and we are experts on the Norwalk rental and apartment market.

The best part?  There is no fee to you!  The landlord pays the fee in our area for bringing them a well-qualified tenant.  It really is a no-brainer!

Feel free to visit www.NorwalkRealEstateTodd.com for more information or to email Todd with any questions.