People do this because:
1. They like to feel like they’re getting their best for their money.
2. They like going to open houses just to “see what’s out there.”
Don’t do this. Why? Because:
1. Why worry about what you “could have” gotten? You’re not going to get it. It’s like researching for a vacation you’ll be taking five years from now and expecting rates to stay the same.
2. You can “see what’s out there” by using Craig’s List. Granted, sometimes the information isn’t completely accurate. But you can ascertain the bare facts.
In short, the only thing looking at an apartment is good for is to ‘get a feel’ for the place and confirm what’s in the ad to see if you could live there. And those things don’t matter until you are actually looking for a place to live.