Finding your perfect apartment or house for rent is a process that requires a lot of time and research. We’re here to help make this process easy for you! In this ‘How Tos’ rental section we cover all the necessary steps of the renting process with tools, tips and helpful advice that’ll empower you to discover, selection and lease your ideal home.
Choose Which Amenities are Important
Consider which amenities you and your family really need. We all want as many amenities as possible; however, be honest with yourself about which ones are essential. If you are able to compromise on some amenities, such as an outside pool or water view, you may be able to find a home in a better location, or closer to your favorite activities. Don’t get caught up in all the bells and whistles and forget about all the other important factors that go into choosing your perfect rental home.
Get to Know the Neighborhoods
If you’re familiar with the city where you’re looking, then you may already have a pretty good sense of most neighborhoods. But if you’re browsing from a distance, then it makes sense to check up on areas where potential rentals are located. Look at crime maps. Read reviews on the local schools. Seek out information in forums, and if you have anyone in your network that might be able to give you the local’s perspective on a particular neighborhood, ask them for input.
Decide What Location is Ideal
One main thing to keep in mind is location. What is important to you and your family? Is the school district the number one priority? Do you prefer being close to the action of the city, or do you like the laid-back country lifestyle? Use the search feature on Homes.com to easily search rentals by zip code, as well as find listings in nearby locations to ensure you don’t miss your dream home in the locations that best fit your personality.
Know the Local Market
For many families, renting a home may be the best solution they have for providing their children with stability. For this reason, these types of renters will often try to negotiate multi-year leases. These families don’t want to have to worry about taking their kids out of school or away from the friends they’ve made. They want to enjoy living in their communities without worry that they might have to look for another place to live in a few months’ time.
In such cases, a landlord might offer a 12-month lease upfront with the potential for a multi-year lease upon renewal. This is so they can have a year to learn more about their renter’s habits. This allows the landlord to get to know their renter before they take the leap in offering a lease longer than a year.
Moving can be an expensive process, and preparation is the key to a successful move. Focus on your budget, turn to your friends and family for help, and be realistic about your expectations to make this move enjoyable.
When searching for a new home to rent, it is natural to start looking based on rent prices. The initial price might not look like a stretch, but down the road, you might realize you’re struggling to keep up. Keep your new rental home search around a budget you can afford. Tip: Having a roommate will reduce the cost of rent. It will not only make it less expensive, but it also gives you more freedom in selecting your next rental. Before you make a decision regarding a roommate, make sure you are prepared to live with a roommate, as it is not for everyone.
Another important thing to remember is what day of the month your rent is due. This will help calculate how much money is going in and out and during what time of the month (and also helps avoid late fees). Consider online budget tracking apps such as; Mint.com, Budget Tracker, and Duck Software’s Budget Tracker. All three apps are free and can help you manage your expenses. Check with the apartment community or property owner about paying rent online to avoid missing a payment.
Make sure to ask the property manager or owner which, if any, utilities are included. Renters commonly pay for water, electric, and gas. Trash removal is usually included in rent price unless stated otherwise by the property owner or apartment community, but it always good to double check. It is common for leasing staff or the property owner to provide you with companies that you should use for utilities. Call those utility companies and give them the address you’re considering renting, then ask for an estimate. This will help you see how much utilities could cost you each month living in that particular rental property and save you from panic in those first few months.
A great website & app resource to see all your balances and transactions together: Mint.com
An effective money management tool / app designed to keep track of all your transactions and bank accounts: Budget Tracker
Check Your Credit
Once you understand how much you can afford it’s a great idea to check your credit rating, as it’s one of the first things your new landlord or property owner is likely to do once you’ve applied. The government mandates that the primary credit companies provide a free credit report to consumers once a year, the easiest way to get that report is using the Federally recommended Annual Credit Report site.
If you have good to great credit, you generally have nothing to worry about. If your credit has any issues, you may need to find a co-signer on any lease, but don’t assume a relatively clean credit sheet with a few blemishes is always a concern. Having a steady income, good references and a pleasant and polite disposition can, in many cases, make up for a less than a stellar credit report. In any case, be ready to explain the reasons behind your credit score to potential landlords if it’s low, and what you’re doing to improve and fix it.