While it may not be as long of a commitment as buying a house, finding the right rental property for you can be tricky. Remember, this isn’t just four walls and a roof. It’s where you’ll live, make memories, and come home to after a long day of work to relax your cares away. But how do you find the right rental for you?
Budget and Calculate – you need to know upfront how much rent you can afford before looking at rental properties. Review your budget and decide what part of your monthly income you can afford to pay toward your living expenses. Ideally, you want to have the first month’s rent and deposit saved up before beginning your search. This is also a great time to gather the documents and information that a landlord will require upon application.
Figure Out What You Want – it’s hard to search for a rental property if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Do some research, particularly if you’re new to the area. Do you want an apartment, townhome, or a house with a yard? Do you have specific needs or amenities that you want? What type of neighborhood do you like? Is there a location you like? These are all questions you should have answered before beginning your search.
Begin Online – 90% of renters begin their search online. It’s a great way to get a feel for what the local rental market looks like. But don’t rely completely on the internet. Online listings usually don’t give you a clear picture of the local neighborhood, schools, or area amenities.
Timing is Everything – most rental leases expire at the end of the calendar year and require current tenants to give 60 days’ notice if they intend not to renew. Therefore, beginning your search early is key to finding the best rentals in terms of price, location, and amenities. While it differs from market to market, most professionals recommend beginning your search at least 60 days prior to when you need to move.
Hire a Professional – particularly if you are new to the area or in a competitive rental market, hiring a professional can help make your search much easier. The key is to find an agent who specializes in rentals. Their professional knowledge and access to information can help ensure you find the best rental for you in the local market.
Be Smart! Don’t Get Scammed! – if you’re using the internet to search for rental properties, a bit of street smarts goes a long way. Particularly if you’re looking at rental listings not rented through a professional, you need to be careful that you’re not setting yourself up for a scam. Here are some red flags to look out for:
- The listing photos don’t have an MLS watermark
- The listing details are vague or missing
- The owner wants you to sign a lease before seeing the property
- They’re not concerned with background/financial checks
- They’re out of the country
- The asking rent doesn’t match similar rents in the area
- They instruct you to wire money
Running full steam into the rental market without taking the time to do a bit of research and planning upfront, will likely result in unhappiness down the road. Remember, this is going to be the place that you call home and as a wise girl once said, “there’s no place like home.”