As the housing market continues to be in a slump – to put it very mildly – and people still consider whether to rent or buy, the demand for rental homes has taken off. This has caused rent prices to skyrocket in many parts of the country! However, it is possible to find a place that you want while paying a lower rent, by implementing these simple tips.
These are the things that you will need to know in order to find an adequate rental, and to be able to negotiate with your prospective landlord.
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How To Secure A Lower Rent
I'm sure that many people think that the only way to find a deal on a rental property, is to live in an area that is full of crime, and has a horrible school system. Fortunately, there is a good chance that you can find what you are looking for, without breaking the bank (unless you have very unrealistic expectations).
Use Rental Websites
The first step to finding a lower price for a desirable rental property is to know how to conduct a search for one. There are plenty of sites where you can search for apartments in your area. Here are a few that my wife has used during our recent apartment search:
- therentalclassified.com (New Jersey listings only)
Some of these sites will actually pull together listings from newspapers, individual property management sites, real estate agents, and, of course, submissions from individual property owners directly to the site.
This is probably the easiest and most comprehensive way to determine the market price for your desired apartment type and area. By diligently searching all of these websites often (daily is best), you can detect changes in market behavior, trends, and anomalies.
Check Your Credit
Just about every property owner which you encounter is going to perform a credit check. If you want to be able to pay a lower rent for any property, you need to check your credit report to ensure that there are not any errors bringing down your score.
Make sure you check your credit report early enough to file a dispute if you do find any errors. You may want to refrain from borrowing any money, or making large purchases with your credit card (even if you are just trying to take advantage of credit card benefits) – basically, follow the same rules as if you were seeking a mortgage! By doing what you can to increase your credit score, you are putting yourself in a better position from which to negotiate.
Just about every property owner will tell you that the most important thing about a potential tenant is that they are trustworthy. Since they don't know you, your credit report is how they will judge that characteristic. This is where using credit cards responsibly can really pay off!
Know What Is Important To You
You will notice that some people are willing to place a huge premium on certain characteristics. Knowing ahead of time which ones are most important to you can help you to develop your own “fair price” for each property.
For instance, a friend recently told me about a huge price difference that they noticed when when they were looking for an apartment. They looked at a few townhouses for rent on a particular street, which happened to mark the division of two towns. On one side of the street the townhouses were $500 more expensive than the same exact unit on the other side. Apparently, there was a $500 premium being expressed in the price of the townhouses, simply for living in a different town (but directly across the street)!
I don't know if I could ever do something like that, but if you need to live in a particular city that bad (for the school system, or to keep a certain office, for instance), then you have to decide if it's worth that premium.
The same holds true for having certain amenities available to you. Each aspect of an apartment should have a certain value to you (even if that value is $0)! This way, you can search and negotiate in such a way, as to get the best value for your money!
By following these three steps, you should be able to find a few properties that seem right for you. In our next article, we will look at how these tips (along with a few other things) can help us to negotiate the best deal possible.
If you were currently looking for an apartment, what would be your top priority?
How often do you check your credit report for errors?
Would you be willing to pay someone to check rental websites daily in order to find a property that fits your description?