What to keep in mind about online photos

Since apartment photos are readily available on advertising websites, most people base their impressions on the posted photos. But are they real or not? Are they old or new? Are they photos of the actual apartment or of another unit? Do the photos truly reflect the apartment as it is or not? Bottom line: is seeing believing? 

When you're making an appointment to take a look see at an apartment, ask when the photos were taken. It's not uncommon to find 5-7 year old photographs on landlord and management company listings. After all, with so many people moving in and out, it's almost impossible for most landlords to take new photos and post them each and every time an apartment becomes available. Some owners do. Most, however, don't. 

If you should discover the photos are old, but you like the layout of the apartment, go see it. Bear in mind you may also be looking at someone's furniture, or someone else's ugly paint choice on the walls, and the space might even feel smaller because they are other people in the apartment. 

At this point your imagination has to be conjured up for help. Do not focus on the furniture or the paint color or even on the people. 

Ask yourself: Do you like the layout? Are the appliances updated? Can you see your furniture fitting well in the space? Keep in mind that some well-priced apartments in New York City have uber tiny bedrooms. However, they all accommodate a bed. As long as you want a separate room that is a bedroom and you are on a strict budget small is standard. 

This requires imagination. And, not everyone has it. But you can learn how to look. It requires a little practice. Give yourself an assignment: the next three times you walk into a place full of furniture whether it's your office, your own apartment, or even a public place, clear it out! In your mind, that is. Allow yourself to see your things, or the furniture you are going to select, in its place. 

Focus on the bones of the place. When you learn how to do this, you won't pass up a winner apartment just because someone's sofa is big, old and ugly, or the walls are painted an atrocious color, or because the current tenant happens to be a slob. 

I would be remiss if I did not say that attractively priced apartments might require a little elbow grease. Some of the most beautiful apartments I've seen have also been the smallest and initially the least inspiring. 

Seriously, if you learn how to look you will be far less disappointed with an apartment and far more likely to know when you've discovered a gem. With a little work you can have an enviable apartment your friends will rave about and one you'll love coming home to.