“Be Well, Be Ready” series begins with housing advice


Photo by Flannery Langton ’22   Reisa Alexander gives accommodation advice to seniors.

Photo by Flannery Langton ’22

Reisa Alexander gives accommodation advice to seniors.

The first of the “Be Well, Be Ready” lectures kicked off in a room full of Mount Holyoke seniors, anxious at the prospect of the upcoming year. In the spring, many will leave to face the nerve-wracking prospect of pursuing their dreams and careers in the big city.

Local realtor Reisa Alexander was there to help.

Before the lecture began, a group of seniors laughed when asked why they were attending the talk. “[I’m] currently in the middle of nowhere and need to find a job,” said Toni Soto ’19. On a more serious note, she added, “I know very little about this process and feel that it is best to get as much knowledge as I can before I begin.”

B. Pinto ’19 was in a similar position. “I’m an international student, so I don’t know how applying for housing works: finding an apartment and paying for it. I want to find a good location, near the train station,” Pinto said.

Alexander, a realtor with Keller Williams Realty, began her presentation with a firm mantra: “Documentation is everything.” This was a continuous theme throughout her presentation. She explained that renting has become such a nightmare largely due to tremendous demand, sky-high prices and shocking income requirements. Most landlords expect a tenant to earn 40 times the rent they pay. For many big city studio apartments, this means a renter is expected to make upwards of $100,000 a year. Many of the seniors paled at this, but Alexander assured them not to be too worried.

Guarantors are third-party cosigners that allow thousands of young college graduates to sign leases without breaking the bank. Besides guarantors, Alexander’s suggestions included opting for a longer commute, sacrificing some more luxurious amenities and finding a few roommates. She mentioned the importance of finding trustworthy roommates and keeping important documents organized.

Alexander kept returning to the importance of organized documentation throughout the presentation. She said to think of it as a research paper, which is always a lot less painful when you start early. Such documentation includes passports, references and credit scores.

Alexander explained that, when starting an apartment search, it’s best to take time, but not too much time. Most apartments are not listed until four or five weeks before move-in day. “I know this all seems daunting and scary, but remember you can do it!” she said.

After the presentation, Zoe Zelkowitz ’19 said that the lecture was useful because “[as] seniors we don’t know how much we don’t know about what we don’t know. [Alexander is] here to assuage students of fears for the future and to be prepared for life post-grad.”

Gabi Muir ’19 left feeling more prepared to begin searching for an apartment. “[The lecture] was very helpful, but it was definitely scary,” Muir said.