5 tips for finding an apartment

If you are finding it difficult to get your head around the German housing market, then don’t worry, its because it is a little different from other countries and can be hard work. So here are a few survival tips for you:

  1. Have all of your documents ready in advance
    If you haven’t already realised, the apartments move quickly in Frankfurt. If you get a positive answer from a landlord or real estate agent (Makler) for a visit, then you need to be ready. You won’t necessarily be able to choose your own appointment date and if you aren’t prepared then you will probably just miss out. So have all of your documents ready: 3 months salary statement, certificate of residency/reference from previous landlord and a Schufa credit certificate. You can do Schufa for free online at the moment but normally it costs about €30. While Schufa and the reference are often not needed, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
  2. Does it sound too good to be true?
    Is the apartment 20sqm bigger than everything else for less money? Does it have a perfect location and no commission? You could have struck it lucky as there are sometimes some privately offered flats that are a bargain but most likely there is something wrong. Check how long it has been online as this is a good indication. Common problems though are no natural light, basement apartments, top floor apartments with no lift, no balcony or simply get very hot in the Summer. Also keep an eye out for poor window fittings and a loud road or nightlife area (Alt-Sachsenhausen) or no parking possibilities (Nordend).
  3. Use all channels
    The big search tools like www.immobilienscout24.de or www.immonet.de are great but many apartments and houses are offered privately now. Ask around at work or ask friends. Also keep an eye on expat groups like Frankfurt Expats on Facebook (not affiliated to this blog 🙂 ). Make a post and see if anyone is offering.
  4. Be personal and leave a good impression
    It is tempting to make use of standardised messages especially if you are trying to do this in German, or if someone wrote the text for you, but being personal and specific to the apartment can made a big difference. Winning the sympathy of the person making the decision is key so treat it like a job interview. Be well dressed, polite, friendly and smile (but not in a crazy, stalker way). As a non-German speaker you should also take a German-speaking friend. But don’t just pick anyone, you need a known charmer who can win over the agent and reassure them that you are going to be an easy, reliable and quiet tenant.
  5. Try some German
    And you should make sure to practice a few sentences in German as the landlord may be scared off by a complete foreigner who is going to be unable to communicate with him and the neighbours…

5 thoughts on “5 tips for finding an apartment

  1. A friend of mine is getting ready to move into the city, and we were curious about how to find the right apartment. I really like that you say to make sure that you have all of your documents ready, and 3 months salary ready. It would be nice to know that the process will be quick.

    1. The process will be quick once you find the apartment and the landlord likes you! But you could be searching for a while for the right fit, especially if you have specific requirements.

  2. I hadn’t thought about checking how long the apartment has been listed to see if it is really a good offer. I have been looking for a new place to live, and I there are so many options that I can’t make an easy decision. I can see how it would be nice to look at how long one has been listed, so you can see how fast the good complexes sell.

  3. My boyfriend and I will be renting an apartment next month to be closer to our workplace. We work in the same company but different departments, so it is practical for us to live together since we can share the fees and have the ease when coming and going to work. Right now, we are still in the hunt for an apartment for rent, so I love that you suggested being prepared with all the documents that we need since we cannot choose the appointment date with the landlord. Thanks!

  4. It got me when you said that if I manage to get an answer from a landlord and agrees to meet up with me, I need to be prepared in order to not miss anything out. If so, then I will get all the documents prepared before I start looking for an apartment. There are a few that I do not have yet, so I might as well wait for them first. That way, once I do start looking for an apartment, the process will be a lot simpler.

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