Buying a house is frequently challenging, especially if you are a young adult moving out of your family’s house or you are raising children. For this reason, rentals can be the perfect option. Not just houses, but millions of rentals are available in different types like apartments, condos, townhouses, and mobile homes.
Why to Rent, Not to Buy?
There are plenty of reasons you may prefer renting over buying a house, to mention a few:
- You do not have enough money for a down payment, you cannot afford the monthly mortgage payments, or you are not eligible for a loan.
- If you might be moving again within 3 years or less for any reason.
- Renting gives you time to figure out where to live if you are new to the city.
- No need to worry about the burdens of maintenance or being stuck in the same spot for decades.
Whether you are leaving your parents’ house for the first time to live on your own, or you just want to change your apartment and move to another area, you have to be prepared before you start looking for a new place. Going for an apartment hunt should not be that hard, but it also can be tricky if you do not pay enough attention.
When it comes to rental houses, the biggest challenge is to find a housing unit that meets your budget and requirements in a safe location. So, here are some important tips to consider before you sign that lease:
#1 Pin It On the Map
First things first, you need to determine where you want to live. Choosing the neighborhood is essential in this process to set a base for your plans. Now, how to find the right neighborhood?
Before you go anywhere in person, it is better to have a look online on real estate platforms. This way will save you lots of money, time, and effort, especially if you currently live far away from that place. To get started, this list may help you out:
- Walk Score
Social media is another great place to look for a rental. Local rental groups, local community groups, and the Marketplace on Facebook are full of what you are looking for.
Consult Your Connections
Do you know someone living in that area you intend to move to? If yes, this person could be your reference. Ask them for a review about the neighborhood, the rental costs, the services, the residents, and any important details.
Getting information from people who have actual living experience in a specific place can make your job much easier.
Contact the Neighborhood Association
Assuming that you are interested in more than one neighborhood, it would be a good idea to contact each one’s association for more details. They can help you discover a rental, and provide you with the info you need about the area.
Work With a Rental Broker
To speed up the process, you should consider working with a rental broker. This can help you discover a suitable rental faster and save you a lot of time, effort, and money in the end.
Finally, make a checklist with your priorities to narrow down your options. This way you will be able to find the most convenient neighborhood to look in. When you finally decide where to search for the rental, you might need to go have a look yourself.
#2 Come Down To Reality
Pictures can be misleading, and that large bedroom you saw online might not be big enough to fit your queen-size bed. For this reason, it is time to pay those couple of locations on your list a visit, if possible.
In order to make sure everything is good for you, try to ask around. Sometimes word of mouth can significantly help you make the final decision.
If you are moving with your family, it is so important to have them with you on this journey. Everyone’s opinion matters, and most of the time it is a game-changer.
#3 Watch the Calendar
Rental costs differ depending on the time of the year. For instance, during the summer, there may be a variety of rentals available, but the rates will be significantly higher. It is because this is when most people are looking for a new place to move in. Under those circumstances, you should consider the timing when you look for an apartment.
In case you do not mind waiting, it might be better if you look for an apartment from October to December or February to March. If you try to secure a booking during the “off” season, you might be able to work out a deal with the homeowner directly.
#4 Stay Organized
When you’ve seen many apartments, it’s easy for the details to get lost or mixed up. So, do yourself a favor and make a spreadsheet with the fundamental data. Stuff like facilities, rental rates, security deposit amounts, location, and contact information should be included in that document.
This way you will not waste time looking for information, since you’ll have them right where you need them. Also, the spreadsheet will help you compare the apartments that you shortlisted, making it easier for you to decide.
#5 Stick to Your Budget
One of the most important factors in determining where to rent is how much you can pay. According to the US Census Bureau, your monthly rent should not exceed 20% of your monthly income, and at most 30%. For example, if you earn 4000 dollars/month you should limit your search to $1,200.
You can also use the 50/30/20 budget as a reference to determine how much you can spend on rent. This strategy divides your take-home salary (after taxes) into 3 parts: 50% for necessities, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings and debt payments.
Before you go for the hunt, take some time to specify the price range you can afford. It is important to stick to what fits your budget, no matter how appealing a more expensive apartment may appear.
#6 Ask About Special Offers
You may be able to take advantage of special discounts or move-in offers depending on the rental house you are considering. Some landlords, for example, would waive the first month’s rent if you signed a longer lease. Even if there are not any discounts available, it is never a bad idea to ask.
#7 Beware of scammers
Do let scams fool you, particularly online ads that ask you to provide your credit card to charge you a deposit before showing you the apartment. This should never happen, hence do not give your credit card info to anyone.
Another fishy alert: if every time you ask the renter to show you the apartment, they come up with excuses for why it is not possible yet. This is not a good sign, because any landlord planning to rent out their property is usually willing to show it. That is to ensure that the rental matches the photos on their website.
#8 Read the Lease Agreement
This is NOT a situation where you just agree to the terms and policies without actually reading them. No matter how boring it might be, you have to pay attention to the agreement.
It is much more serious this time since the lease explains the responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. With this in mind, make sure you understand all the details of the contract before you sign it. If something is not clear enough, it is ok to ask questions.
In short, finding the right house to rent can be hard sometimes. The key is to plan ahead; therefore when you want to change your dwelling, there are some important points to take into account.
Foremost, find a good spot, either by searching online, asking people for recommendations, driving around to find rent signs, or dealing with a rental broker.
Also, do not sign a lease without checking the rental yourself. Make sure everything is fine and that you get answers to your questions. Moreover, keep in mind your financial situation and be prepared for negotiation.
Last but not least, remember that it does not matter what kind of house you live in; what really matters is that it is somewhere you can call home.
- 10 Best Websites For Finding the Right Neighborhood In A New City – The SpareFoot Blog
- How to Find Rental Homes: 10 Things You Need to Know
- How to Find the Perfect Apartment for Rent – 10-Step Process
- How to Find a Quality House to Rent
- Dos and Don’ts of Finding a Rental – Moving.com
- 9 Tips for an Efficient Apartment Search
- 8 Ways to Find Apartments for Rent