It’s a landlord’s market. Renters are out in droves. There’s those that prefer to rent rather than own, the usual crowd on the market. Add to those all who were displaced from their homes due to the economic crash and lost jobs. Add to the market the many many people who lost their homes to foreclosure and short sale. Now you have a marketplace flooded with potential rental applicants. Landlords are doing a brisk business just looking at piles of applications.
What can you do to increase your chances at being the one application that stands out? Here’s a few tips.
1. Get Your references in order. Your landlord or his agent will be calling, so pick well and don’t be afraid to tell them what you’d like them to say. Many people would like a lead. One should be your past landlord, give a prospective landlord a taste of how you’d be as a tenant from one of his peers. “You were a great tenant and will be missed. You paid rent on time or before every month. You’re a quiet person and keep the place spotless too.” Co-workers and charities you support would be the next best bet. Now they get a feel for how dedicated and reliable you are and how stable, trustworthy & connected to the community/charitable you are. “Great worker, always on time. Always ready with a helping hand. Looking forward to years more working with ’em.” Friends and family would be your last bet. Not the most objective source for information on you(and your landlord and his agent know that.) but solid and with a lot of feeling. “A truly wonderful person, who I’ve known for years. Saint-like…..” You get my meaning.
2. Get your credit in order. It seems a shame landlords and their agents put such store in credit reports when such a preponderance of factors that lead to bad credit rule the day now. High Unemployment, Foreclosure, short sale and more lay in wait ready to assault good people’s credit rating. Of course there’s plenty of bad choices out there too. Bad credit resulting from missed payments and overspending, from late payments and lack of urgency and so on. Get a free credit report. You’re entitled to one per year. It also makes a big impression on a prospective landlord if you hand him a copy at your first interview. “Obviously, this one’s prepared and has nothing to hide.”, he thinks to himself. Find the blemishes and fix them. There are plenty of free credit counselors out there. Some problems can be fixed in a a month or less, depending on the issue and speed of agency updating.
3. Know what you want in an apartment. How many bedrooms/Baths?, Need an apartment that allows smoking? Have any Pets? How about Kids….Is lead paint an issue? Need lots of storage space? How about Parking? Measure the furniture you plan to take with you. Make sure it fits in the places you think you’d like to apply for.
4. Know which neighborhood you want. “I don’t care. Anywhere is fine.”, is a statement that makes me cringe. This is where you live. This is HomeBase for your life. How you live should be a known factor for a renter. A person should know whether they like a small town, big city or more rustic setting. They should know whether they want to be close to schools or shopping or hospitals. If they want to nearby good hiking trails, fishing holes or golf courses….See where I’m going here?
5. Are you a veteran? There’s tons of assistance and benefits out there for veterans. The VA is a big source, but not the only one. Your town veteran’s officer will be a great resource for what’s available from local government and private organizations. Many I’ve spoken too are too proud to accept help. If you’re a veteran, you’ve earned it. Take it.
6. What is the best range for you to pay in monthly rent? By stretching to the max, pinching every penny, you can afford a luxury apartment with all the trimmings you dreamed of. How long can you maintain that discipline and the lifestyle it demands? Instead of looking at Maximum possible rent, ask yourself what your comfortable spending. The amount you’re really looking for is what you can afford to spend on rent and live life the way you’d like. That balance is CRUCIAL to being happy there. All I’m saying is: That apartment better be pretty nice if you can’t afford to ever leave it.
7. Be prepared to question your prospective landlord. Good ones expect it at the interview stage. Here’s a couple of suggestions:
a. Are utilities included in the rent? If not are there providers that you recommend or have an arrangement with?
b. How is garbage storage & removal handled? Is recycling mandated or even available?
c. How are common area used? Can they be reserved for special events?
d. How are noise issues handled? Is it a quiet building?
e. What is the policy for overnight guests?
These items are a guide to help you search for an apartment or single family rental opportunity. For more information, contact your favorite Realtor (Me!) or real estate agent (Me, Again!). They’ll happily augment this list with market specific suggestions that will make for an easier, better targeted search and a smoother, more successful interview process. Good Hunting!
Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise! Contact me today for a market analysis of your house!Lew McConkey
I service the following towns in South Shore MA: Whitman, Hanson, Brockton, Rockland, Abington, Pembroke, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Easton, Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy MA.