When is the best time to start looking for a rental?
Leasing as many homes as I have (on both sides of the transaction) I can tell you that there are a lot of steps to finding your new home but none of them are very complicated. I have worked with all types of people, from the ones that are looking 6 months in advance, to the people that need a place tomorrow. While there is no perfect way to do it for everyone, this is my recommendation.
2 Months Out
To start your planning process, first things first, figure out what you can afford. Companies vary, but a good rule of thumb is that your gross household income should be 3 times the amount of rent. So if you want a $1500 a month home, you should be bringing in around $4500 a month. After figuring out what your household can afford, you need to determine what you are looking for. Talk with your Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Partner, Roommate, Spouse... What part of town do you want to live in? How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? Apartment? House? Downtown or suburbs? Sky rise or first floor? Yard or balcony? Are there any deal breakers? My current roommate absolutely refuses to live in a place that has carpet, I could care less. The list of questions goes on and on but if you are living with this person I hope you know at least a little about their likes and wants. Also consider proximity to work, school, traffic, airport, and what type of neighborhood you want to be in. Most websites like ours at www.findahouse4rent.com have an interactive map you can use to find a place.
6 Weeks out
By now you should know what part of town, and how much you can afford. Start looking for deals in the area and how much things are going for. Start figuring out how much house you can get within your budget. One time I came across a deal where they said if you looked and leased within 24 hours, the first month and a half were free. So I did it and was able to take my time moving. Don’t forget that many places charge rental tax; find out if that is built into the rent, or on top of the rent.
4 Weeks out
Now it’s time to get serious, most places will only hold a place for a maximum of 30 days. With that being said, sometimes you need to put down an earnest deposit to hold the home for you. If something should come up and you can’t move in, you may lose that money. Be sure that is the place you want before applying for it. I always drive by a place I like 3 times minimum. Once in the morning when I would be on my way to work to check traffic same thing one day after work and once on the weekends. When I was young, I got stuck living in an apartment community that had 17 buildings. It was a beautiful community - it looked like the set of a Swiss town with a windmill and everything. Unfortunately, these 17 buildings all used the same entry and exit, so it took me up to 45 minutes to get out of there weekday mornings. It seemed that everyone in the complex worked at the exact same time.
2 Weeks out
You found it! You found the perfect place for your life, it is the perfect size, price, location, and has everything you could possibly need. Now it’s time to apply for the home. The more info you have readily available the faster this process will take. They need to verify your income, easiest way to do this is with pay stubs, at least the past month. If you are just starting a job in the area get an offer letter on company letter head with someone they can contact to verify saying something like “We are excited to offer you a position as a …… making …….. per year/month/hour, starting…..” The other most important thing is rental history. This can be tricky for younger people or people that like to move. If you can provide a letter from your previous landlord, or even better if you were able to pay rent online you should be able to download a transaction history from your landlord and submit that.
Most companies can take between a few days, up to 2 weeks to get approval, so the more info you can give them right away the faster the process will be.
One week out
By now you have been approved, you have a move in date and you are ready to go. You should be packing up the old place getting everything ready, bribing your friends with pizza and beer to help you move, or getting a company lined up to do it for you. Try to overlap your places for a few days if you are moving in town so you’re not rushed and you can take your time to clean and get the most of back from your deposit and you aren’t stressing.
This is obviously in a perfect world, and we all know that that can’t always be the case.
Keep an eye out for my next few blogs on emergency relocating and getting in a place in a few days, and how to get the maximum of your deposit back at www.metrowb.com
Christopher A. Tong