A good idea is to make a list of houses you like, not just one or two – in our current situation several couples are competing for every house. So don’t think that applying for a house means you will get it, always have some more on your list.
Finally after you’ve made a list of houses you like, it is time to inspect them. What many people do (without any success) is try to apply for apartment without inspecting it first, to save time. There is some logic to that – it happens that we can’t go to inspection because of work or whatever reason and there is no guarantee that we’ll get the house, so why waste time inspecting it. But this system will never work because it’s illegal to apply for house you didn’t inspect (driving by doesn’t count) – so the agents simply won’t let you.
What not many people know is, that you can apply during the inspection, if you have all of the documents with you (see the list of what they might want you to present here). The agent holding the inspection in many cases has application forms handy.
Inspections can be scheduled to a certain day and time (and you better be there, because the sooner you apply, the higher your chances are) or by appointment. In that case you first call the real estate agency to make sure they have the house keys, then go there, show your ID (passport or drivers license), leave a deposit (usually 50 dollars), get the keys and go inspect the house. When you return the keys – you can apply for the house.
After applying, you’ll have to wait for the end of a period (a week or so) when agency accepts other applications. When that period ends (or when they decide that enough people applied to choose from), the agents go over the applications and verify the details of future tenants. They most probably will call your referees and ask about you, the same with your employer – they will check that you’re actually work there and what they think of you.
When sorting the applications, agents can’t give priorities to anyone (it is the law), so my guess is the only priorities is the order of applications – whoever applied first has better chance of getting the house. After all applications were checked, the ones that passed are given to the landlord, and he decides will you get the apartment or not. It is not a bad idea to write the guy a letter and tell him about yourself (just the best things, of course) to add some personal touch – after all we all are people, even the landlords 🙂 .