Rental Hunting Tips

Okay, you’re looking for a rental unit: someplace that you can afford and where you’ll be comfortable for the next year or more.  Can’t work out where to start from? Yes, there are probably a lot of options available, but how do you narrow down the selection? Here are some tips. Take these three steps as follows:

– Set a Budget First

Generally, the first thing you’ll need to do is to work out your budget. You need to start off with your monthly income. Now, subtract your monthly expenses, including food, entertainment and miscellaneous items. Also subtract whatever amount you want to save each month to account for emergencies. Remember, you can’t predict emergencies! Now, what do you have left? That’s how much, at most, you can spend on rent. Once you’ve worked this out, you’ve taken the first step. Now you know the price range of a rental that you can afford.

– Research Available Properties

What’s next? Well, now you should make a list of all the properties within your budget range. Just to check that your budget is about right, you should take a look at rental units which are slightly above the range, as well as properties which are slightly below the range. This might seem unnecessary, but it’s best to make sure you’ve got it right at this stage, rather than finding out later. Plus, it may sometimes be possible to negiotate a lower rate on the slightly more expensive properties, dropping them into your  price range!

Having trouble visiting all the properties? Don’t worry about it, at this stage you can get most of the necessary information from resources such as internet websites, newspapers and rental magazines. At this point, pricing is your primary concern.

Once you’ve finalized your budget and made a list of potential properties, you’ve completed the second step.

– Comparison Shop

Now it IS time to start visiting the rental properties. You need to get a feel for the quality of the apartment/room/house, and the type and quality of the associated amenities. On paper, a number of properties will seem almost identical, but if you actually visit the places in question, you may discover strong distinctions! Those distinctions may be critical to your comfort while you are living there, so pay attention.

Another reason to visit and compare the properties is that you can get a better idea of the going rate for rent in a particular area for a particular size of apartment. Why is this useful? Because it gives you information for rate negotiations! Once you know the going rate, you may be able to convince leasing agents to lower their prices at least a little bit. You probably won’t be able to negotiate a huge drop in price, but it’s certainly worthwhile to give it  a shot.  Conversely, if a landlord is offering a great deal to entice you to take their rental unit, you’ll know what is a deal and what is going rate.  Becoming a better informed rental shopper will benefit you and allow you to understand your local rental market better.