New grads get a helping hand in apartment hunting

Moving out and living alone for the first time can be a daunting experience for students who have just graduated and are looking to start their adult lives in the real world. Fortunately, apartment hunting has gotten a whole lot easier with the start of companies that assist in this process. BC students who are graduating can find solace in these websites.

The sole purpose of companies like My Grad Pad and The Next Step Realty is to mediate the stressful and lengthy process of apartment hunting in a new city. Next Step Realty's website claims that the process is simply, “Register online within 1 minute. Receive your appointment confirmation and available apartments via e-mail within 24 hours. Then spend less than 6 hours finding the right apartment.”

These sites could be a big help for those who have never gone through the process of buying an apartment and find themselves at a loss for how to go about it. Knowing where to begin is one of the most difficult steps, and can easily be the first and biggest mistake. These companies provide a trustworthy source of help and information for students who do not have a firm grasp on the process of finding and acquiring an apartment, especially if they are moving to a new city. This video gives feedback from students who have used this process.


Courtesy of Flickr/SongquanDeng.

The registration for both these companies is free and students are only charged a broker fee when they sign a lease to an apartment. The process begins by first narrowing the choices down to one city. From there, students can make an appointment that usually lasts 2-5 hours where they take a tour of all the possible apartments available to them in the area and price range of their choice.

It is no secret that first time apartment renters are often taken advantage of by getting tricked into signing leases they don’t completely understand or have the terms of the contract changed by some fine print they missed. Companies like this could save thousands of college grads the possibility of falling into one of these unfortunate situations.

While going to a normal broker can get expensive, especially for recent grads, companies like Next Step Realty offer an initial 20 percent discount. Students who have used Next Step Realty said, "The transition from college to the real world is daunting in and of itself. During the process having Next Step be like the parent to our real estate search was comforting."

The Next Step Realty actually only finds apartments for those looking to live in Manhattan, so it might not be the best source for recent grads with a lower price range. Most of the apartments on the website seem to look like large, trendy, costly, 'grad pads' in Manhattan. This may not be an affordable reality for students who have just graduated and have student loans to worry about, not to mention those who still have to find a job. The site does however have "beta" offices in London, Chicago, and Miami.

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Screenshot by Itzel Ayala

So while these two websites either don't cover every city a student is looking for or Manhattan isn't exactly in their price range, there are other websites like these with that do. The hope is that with success in websites like these, it will be followed by an improvements to make for a more practical and affordable use. For now, these will have to suffice.