Anyone attempting to find an apartment today knows that rents are climbing and inventory is moving quicker than you can say "I'll take it." Fear not- we have some tips to make your search more effective and to help you snag that sweet pad before someone else does.
1. Professionally Managed vs Privately Owned
Right now, professionally managed apartment buildings are commanding higher rent rates than privately owned units (Listed by apartment placement companies and by real estate brokers on the Multiple Listing Service). This means that these units on the MLS are moving fast. The upside to the professionally managed buildings is that if you are short on cash- very few require a security deposit- depending on your credit. The other upside? Finding one of these apartments takes a lot less time. They typically have multiple options in the building within a small range of dates and a window of pricing.
2. At the Showing
Ask questions! Do they charge security deposit, application fees, and move-in deposits? If you are interested- ask for the application on the spot. If you wait to do this, someone else may have already grabbed it. Also- bring your checkbook. You can submit a deposit at almost every apartment complex to hold a unit. Yes, it is a pain to carry around. You'll thank us later! (Really, we do accept gifts...)
3. Submitting the Offer
Apartment complexes rarely have negotiating room. They will often have incentives for signing within 24 or 48 hours after a showing (waived fees, half off application, etc) but will rarely budge on the price. The one negotiating tool you have is the length of your lease. Some complexes offer discounted rent for lease terms exceeding 12 months.
Privately owned units may have some negotiating room but be careful. Come in too low and you risk being outbid. Owners love leases that are at least 12 months long, and don't end in the middle of winter. They also hate having the unit vacant, even for a few days. Find out when the previous tenant is moving out and structure your offer to coincide with that date.
Be proactive. Have your pay stubs, references, and even your credit score at the ready. After you've submitted, follow up.
4. Starting From Scratch
Remember- you are renting an apartment, not buying a house. While you want the best option, if your budget is tight and you are short on time- you may want to relax some of your criteria. If you missed out on your dream unit, be aggressive in your search and play to win.
As part of the real estate industry, we always advocate for using a licensed professional. This is what they do and, if it is on the MLS or part of an apartment complex, the landlord is offering a commission for your agent- they are of no cost to you. Why wouldn't you want to save your time for dining al fresco while your agent does the grunt work for you?!
Places are moving quickly so if you're on the look out- good luck!