TCU Daily Skiff Masthead
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
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Locator services help avoid hassles of apartment searches, but buyer beware
By Kelly Morris
Managing editor

When students sign up to live in residence halls on campus, everything is at their fingertips and all decisions are pretty much made for them.

Their only worry is deciding whether to bunk or loft their beds.

But when students decide to leave the convenience of on-campus residence halls for the freedom of off-campus apartments, everything is no longer so convenient and many decisions await them.

With so many apartments to choose from around the TCU campus, finding just the right one can be a daunting task.

Martha Maddox, a leasing agent at the Apartment Locator Service at 5412 S. Hulen Street, said locator services can be helpful in narrowing down a person’s apartment search.

“It saves you a lot of legwork,” she said. “If someone had to move next week, we’d get on the phone to make sure they have something available. If they don’t have anything available, there’s no reason to go out and look. It saves you time and gasoline.”

Maddox said to begin the search, customers must fill out a form to specify what kind of apartment they are looking for. She said it is important to know the size, the location, the price range the customer is willing to spend, if they need a washer/dryer connection or have pets, she said.

“We can e-mail (the results), fax them or they can pick them up,” Maddox said. “We like for them to pick them up, so we can go over it with them.”

She said most apartment complexes take pets up to 20 pounds, but some have breed restrictions, like pit bulls. It can cost $600 to $800 to house larger dogs, Maddox said.

She said the locator service gets busier at the end of March and April, during which time there are many apartment specials like getting one to two months free rental or having a move-in cost of just $99.

“Right now everyone is doing good specials, so we can give you the update on the moving specials,” she said. “When it comes toward late spring and early summer, you’re probably not going to have as many specials because they are going to fill up.”

Maddox said searching the Internet has limited benefits when looking for apartments.

“You can go on there and get a list, but they’re not going to be able to tell you the availability,” Maddox said. “They may be able to give the specials, but as far as giving the availability, you’d still have to do that on your own.”

Maddox said the free service she provides doesn’t end until the customer finds an apartment.

“As long as they’re still looking, I’m searching,” Maddox said. “We try to follow up to see if they need more help because we strictly work on commission, so it’s important for the client to put our name down on the apartment application.”

But real estate lawyer Dan White said it is that commission that students should be careful of.

“Locators take you to apartments that pay them,” he said. “Don’t assume they’re looking out for your best interest. They represent one thing and that’s their commission.”

Maddox said her office doesn’t work that way.

“Some of them do it that way, but in this office, we don’t do it that way,” she said. “We are honest people and we try our best to find the best apartment for our customers. If it’s a bad place, we’re not going to send them there just because we have a commission there.”

White said that apartments scams are not a terrible problem but that he sees most of his clients when they’re trying to terminate their lease.

“Not all landlords are perfect,” he said. “There are landlords that are just unscrupulous. It’s a lot easier to get in an apartment than get out.”

White said the reason why terminating a lease is more difficult than signing one is because most residents are unfamiliar with their hold-over or end of termination agreement, which gives residents either 30 days or 60 days to inform their complex they are leaving.

“If you put a deposit and an application fee down, and if you decide not to get the apartment, how many days do they have to get the deposit back?” she asked.

Maddox said the apartments around the Hulen Mall are cheaper than the ones located near TCU.

She said you can find a one bedroom near the mall for $500 a month.

“It’s great to live around the mall,” she said. “There’s five grocery stores, and there’s no nicer mall in Fort Worth than the Hulen Mall.”

She said the Park Ridge apartments located closer to campus are also a cheap find.

“They’re a little older, but they’re very inexpensive,” she said. “A lot of the young boys don’t care if it’s real fancy. They just want a place to lay their head and a closet to put their clothes in.”

She also said some complexes charge more a month depending on what floor your apartment is located on and whether it faces the pool.

White said with a little research and time, students can have a hassle-free experience when they sign the dotted line.

“You need to read your lease and understand it the best way you can,” he said. “A lease is not drafted in your favor. Make sure there are no blanks in it, or if there are blanks, know what they mean.”

Kelly Morris


TCU Daily Skiff © 2003

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