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Old 02-17-2012, 08:06 AM
 
6 posts, read 8,903 times
Reputation: 10

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Hey there

So I am going to be moving to Northern Virginia from Columbia, MD soon and am looking for a place to live. My problem is not finding apartments or condos to rent in my price range (about 1200 - 1300), it just seems every time I look at a place a read bad reviews about it regarding problems such as roaches/mice/bugs or crime etc...

Now I have been reading on apartmentratings.com, are there any other sites? I have heard that you should take ratings with a grain of salt because its just the whiners who are upset with something. But I have also heard you should really look into those ratings and keep in mind that the good ratings could just be landlords and complex employees writing good reviews. So I am in a catch 22. Any advice? Thanks!
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Old 02-17-2012, 08:33 AM
 
1,038 posts, read 1,034,604 times
Reputation: 983
Review sites are pretty tricky in general. You've got landlords writing good reviews, but you've also got angry tenants exaggerating things because they didn't like something. A lot of tenants in rental properties treat the rental like garbage, so perhaps part of it was their fault (food lying around, etc.) or what they consider crime is just a foreign family living a few apartments down. It's really hard to sift through the garbage. The best thing you can do is go check the places out yourself, and here's a neat trick I've used in the past that's worked: Look at the cars in the parking lot. If you're worried about crime or unsafe conditions, seeing if there is a decent amount of mid-range cars in good condition is an indication that the people there are middle class or higher and probably take care of the properties.

The other thing you can do is call the local police department and ask them about specific properties and see if there's a crime listing. I actually wound up having a lengthy conversation with a police officer (when I got pulled over, though) about my apartment complex and he gave me the whole history of the place and the trends in crime there. (My place used to be a dive but he said it's been cleaned up. They only have to come out here once a week instead of a couple times a night, which he said they used to do, haha).
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Old 02-17-2012, 08:47 AM
 
6 posts, read 8,903 times
Reputation: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by VM1138 View Post
Review sites are pretty tricky in general. You've got landlords writing good reviews, but you've also got angry tenants exaggerating things because they didn't like something. A lot of tenants in rental properties treat the rental like garbage, so perhaps part of it was their fault (food lying around, etc.) or what they consider crime is just a foreign family living a few apartments down. It's really hard to sift through the garbage. The best thing you can do is go check the places out yourself, and here's a neat trick I've used in the past that's worked: Look at the cars in the parking lot. If you're worried about crime or unsafe conditions, seeing if there is a decent amount of mid-range cars in good condition is an indication that the people there are middle class or higher and probably take care of the properties.

The other thing you can do is call the local police department and ask them about specific properties and see if there's a crime listing. I actually wound up having a lengthy conversation with a police officer (when I got pulled over, though) about my apartment complex and he gave me the whole history of the place and the trends in crime there. (My place used to be a dive but he said it's been cleaned up. They only have to come out here once a week instead of a couple times a night, which he said they used to do, haha).

Ah ha! That's a good idea. Yea I am going to down there this weekend and just drive around and check the Alexandria-Arlington-Bellview areas out, being from central Maryland won't be too bad for that. Thanks!
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Old 02-17-2012, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 8,784,570 times
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There are crime report websites you can use to look up the information as well. I know Fairfax county has a map.

I would just remember that in this area you tend to get what you pay for. There are very few awesome deals to be had.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:29 AM
 
1 posts, read 1,900 times
Reputation: 10
You should take them with a grain salt, but you should pay attention to those where the tenants are still living in them like my report of the Halstead of Windsor on King street, The problems I have had are only . the short of the long of many residents who have moved out. Beware your rent will increase from $280 - $400 should you renew lease. And if you are accustomed to negotiating any contract you engage with, here there is no way that you can change or add to their contracts, unless you..............
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Great Falls, VA
770 posts, read 1,061,444 times
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I used to post reviews of the places I've lived in, but my experience is that almost every single apartment complex is horribly rated, some deserve it and some don't. So I personally stopped paying attention to those sites. Nothing like visiting the actual apartment complex yourself.

And one thing I would strongly recommend doing, is to ask the leasing office to show you the apartment you will actually occupy BEFORE committing to a one year lease. I've been burned for not doing this before: the leasing office would show me a very nice model apartment with new appliances, and then give me an apartment that hasn't been updated or renovated since 1970 and which has wonderful view of 495.
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Old 04-11-2012, 03:34 PM
 
1,076 posts, read 1,513,455 times
Reputation: 793
The apartment buildings inside the beltway have had hundreds/thousands of different tenants, yet there are only a couple dozen reviews online for them. The most vocal will always be the most negative. Most people have little to no problems at all. The ones that have issues - who knows how much of it is their own fault (like being dirty and leaving trash around).

The only reviews worth looking at are the ones that list both pros and cons. I'd ignore all pros, as they are likely written by shills, and I'd ignore the all cons, as they are mostly written by that are disgruntled for whatever reason - like someone registering here and posting just to bad mouth their old apartment complex, for example....

The best thing you can do is go look at an actual apartment in the building (not some demo unit near the leasing office), and the neighborhood around the building. If you feel like you're in a bad part of town, you probably are!
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:02 PM
 
7 posts, read 20,392 times
Reputation: 18
I like to read the ratings themselves. A lot of times, the complaints are only about management (which are just angry people yelling at the internet over nothing):

- "ITS REALLY EXPENSIVE AND THEY KEEP INCREASING THE RENT!"
- "They wouldn't let me break my lease 6 months early!"
- "They took money out of my security deposit for carpet stains!"

If the complaints point out stuff like thin walls/noise, cockroaches, they is probably some truth to it.

Generally, you get what you pay for. If you are paying the average rent for the area, you are more often than not going to get an average apartment. If you pay top dollar, you probably are going to have an amazing place. If you find what you think is a steal, you are probably going to find out what makes that place so cheap sooner rather than later.
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:10 PM
 
221 posts, read 359,736 times
Reputation: 89
Don't waste your time reading reviews. All the really positive ones are fake and all the really negative ones are from deadbeats. Go there yourself and use your own judgment. Drive by on a Friday night and see what it's like.

If it smells like Indian food, the office manager is some kid, it's dirty, there's a line of people there to complain, they have special move in deals indicating it's a unit that is hard to rent out for a reason....

Just be observant.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:49 AM
 
6 posts, read 7,566 times
Reputation: 10
Hello,

I am brand-new to this site, which I found while apartment hunting.

I am also new to the area (Manassas). Recently a couple of drug dealers have moved into our neighborhood and we are planning to move to a safer neighborhood. Is there any such thing in Manassas - a good neighborhood? How about the Gainesville or Woodbridge areas? Any thoughts or comments?

Thanks!
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