Apartment hunting is super frustrating and time consuming. Just when you think you’ve found the perfect place, it is yanked from under you due to the highly competitive rental market. I’ve been searching for the perfect place for weeks and last night I think I finally found it. Now it’s time to make it happen.
I’ve had success with landing great rentals in the past, so I’ve put together a list of my tried and true practices. I’ll be putting these to use this week as I go through negotiations on my dream condo in Portland. Wish me luck!
Know Your Budget First
It is commonly accepted that you should not spend more than 30% of your monthly income on housing. Figure out your top budget for rent, utilities and other housing expenses and stick to it. Don’t tempt yourself with higher priced places if it’ll stretch your budget too thin.
Do More than Craigslist
Craigslist is a great start, but there’s more out there than the by-owner properties listed on the popular classifieds site. Google Property Management companies in the area you’re looking to move. Get familiar with their rental applications and check their availability daily. If you find a place, Google Map the address and "walk" around the streets, getting a feel for the surroundings.
Make a Great First Impression
You’ve found a place. The pictures look great, it’s in your budget, and it’s in the best location. You’ve got to nail your first impression. Chances are, you’re not the only one who thinks this apartment is the best place to call home. If you’re replying to an online ad via e-mail, include some information about yourself and the people who will be living with you. Landlords want to know that they’ll be renting to quiet, respectful individuals. Mention your profession, your rental history, why you think the property is perfect for you, and list three to four dates/times that you’re available for a showing. Make it easy for the landlord to contact you.
At the showing, be prepared to ask several SMART questions. They'll make you look like an educated, prepared tenant and they'll give you a better idea of what this landlord will be like to rent from.
- SAFETY – Is the apartment equipped with necessary safety equipment like smoke detectors, fire escapes, working locks and two means of exit?
- MOVE-IN DATE – When will the apartment be ready for occupancy?
- AREA – What’s in the neighborhood? Is there parking available? What’s the walkability rating?
- REQUIREMENTS – Many landlords require a security deposit, first and last months rent to move in. Is rental insurance required? If you have a pet, do you have to pay an extra pet deposit?
- TENANTS – Who else lives in the building? Is it a young professional community or families?
Have References Ready
Prove your tenant-worthiness with strong references from past and present landlords. Have hard copies of the letters in hand when you arrive at a showing. If you’re looking to rent your first place, gather references from employers that speak to your good character.
Be Flexible, But Stand Up for Yourself
It can be tempting to agree to any terms necessary in order to land the perfect spot, but you need to stand up for yourself when dealing with a landlord. If there is an issue with the unit, ask if it will be fixed before move-in. If you believe the apartment is listed way above the current going rate for comparable units, politely ask if you can discuss price. Be your own biggest advocate.
Once you’ve found the perfect place, it’s time to pack! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog, it is “packed” with moving tips.
Was that a bad joke?
Have a lovely Monday!