Standing in line with dozens of others to view an apartment: Those looking for an apartment in urban areas should be familiar with the scenario. But how do you manage to stand out from the crowd?
Finding an apartment is often a matter of luck. However, interested parties can give their fortune a boost by making a good impression. What matters when people looking for an apartment want to score points with landlords.
Anyone applying for an apartment should prepare just as carefully as they would for a job application, recommends Karsten Statz from the Spar- und Bauverein Dortmund. The largest cooperative in North Rhine-Westphalia owns around 12,000 apartments. With an average of just over five euros per square meter, the rent is very cheap. The Bau- und Sparverein would like applicants for its coveted apartments to have a "groomed, confident appearance and a polite demeanor". including punctuality.
Interested parties can collect additional points if they justify why they want to move into a cooperative apartment and how they feel connected to the neighborhood and the community. Volunteer work can also count. "It's important to make a good overall impression," says Statz.
Housing companies and private landlords tick in a similar way to the cooperative. They want to find out something about the personality of prospective tenants as early as possible at the first contact - regardless of whether in writing or by telephone. For example, most want to know the reason for looking for a flat - for example because of a shorter commute to work, due to family growth or separation. Applicants should report this immediately.
On the other hand, income, Schufa information and a certificate of freedom from rent debts should only be an issue if there is serious interest in the apartment after the inspection. Owners are not officially allowed to ask for it beforehand. This is what the data protection rules say.
Although there is no right to information, "tenants often have no choice but to present the documents, otherwise they have no chance of renting the apartment," says Jutta Hartmann from the German Tenants' Association (DMB) in Berlin.
From the information, owners expect an early indication of whether candidates meet their expectations of the ideal tenant. It should usually not only match the property being offered, but also the neighborhood and, of course, the landlord himself. The comparison "is the most important criterion in the selection," says the Hamburg broker Simone Foth, who acts as a social ambassador in the German Real Estate Association (IVD). It is about homogeneity and conflict avoidance.
Foth cites a house inhabited by many older people as an example. Some would be happy about young people who bring life into the booth. The others had concerns because it might get louder. Agents and landlords include this in their considerations right from the start.
So-called letters of application and initial interviews were used to quickly filter out unsuitable apartment candidates. "That can save both sides disappointment," says Foth. After all, it is about a solid tenancy that both tenants and landlords are satisfied with. The prospects increase the better the candidates meet the requirements of the landlord.
However, apartment advertisements do not always clearly indicate what is expected. This makes it difficult for prospects to land a hit. In Foth's experience, many therefore apply blindly. With the risk of being thrown out early and causing even more frustration. To avoid this, the broker advises reading carefully despite everything. Because even indirect information can help: A location described as being conveniently located is not for those in need of rest, a quiet complex is hardly suitable for families.
Most people looking for an apartment first contact the landlord via the Internet and e-mail. Even with this contact, the cover letter should be drafted as carefully as when applying for a new job: the text factual and concise to save the reader time with the large number of applicants, the content as free as possible of spelling mistakes.
Providers of digital application folders target those who send all the documents along with them. They advertise that landlords have access to all the documents from the outset without great effort, which means that the candidate for an apartment can gain a better starting position. In addition, the saved profile can usually be used several times, which in turn saves applicants work.
Banks such as the Berliner Sparkasse also offer online application folders. For this purpose, current account data is uploaded from online banking, and a service provider uses this to generate the documents, including credit reports. Digital application folders are often subject to a fee.
Broker Foth thinks little of such offers. "I don't look in," she says. She prefers direct personal contact. "It's more time-efficient than working through junk data," she says. Applicants with four or six eyes can also convince with qualities beyond perfect documents: for example with sympathy and helpfulness.
If someone offers a helping hand in the house and yard, or if the chemistry between the landlord and the candidate is just right, that can secure the bid: "Especially for small landlords, that will play a major role," the DMB also speculates. Small landlords provide the majority of the rental apartments.