Kitchen Living Room

Monday, February 13, 2012

Finding a Rental

Buying a place to live is a chore, to say the least. I could write for hours and hours about the process. But I really think the most difficult part is the step that comes before buying - finding a place to live.

This week I've been thinking about the differences between finding a house to buy and finding a house to rent. There are loads of differences. For one thing, if you're renting you don't have to consider structural problems or resale ability or property taxes. It seems that for a renter, finding a place is a simple task, but it just isn't. It's a pain to find a suitable rental and I've never enjoyed
the process.

All weekend my boyfriend and I looked for a place for him to live. We looked high and low (as in prices and quality of living) and we didn't find what he is looking for: the perfect balance of price and location and quality.

Throughout my life to this point, I've lived in five different rental properties (that I paid for myself). I found each one of them in a different way:

1. The local newspaper
2. Through a friend
3. A different local newspaper
4. Craigslist
5. Driving around (a sign in the yard)

This just goes to show that there's no one tried-and-true way to find a rental. However, I can say that the best place I've ever lived was #5, which my boyfriend and I found by driving around the city we were looking in until we knew the neighborhoods that were acceptable. Then we drove and drove and drove some more within those parts of town until we saw a rental sign in front of the cutest little house. And
then we aggressively moved to rent said house until it was ours (there was a couple in front of us in line when we first called). Aggressive = being on the landlord's schedule, telling her our checkbook was ready, providing positive references from past landlords quickly, and driving two hours home, two hours back, and two hours home again in the same day just to drop off our application.

So, as you can tell, actually landing a rental once we've found one isn't a problem for us. It's just finding the perfect gem of a house or apartment that's got me stumped this time. There are tons of cute houses and condos in the city I'm helping my boyfriend look in. The problem is that rental prices seem to be inflated compared to what a mortgage costs. Rental rates are nearly twice as high as a mortgage in
most cases. And buying a house seems so much easier in that all of the
nice places seem to be for sale - not for rent. But buying isn't an option right now.

Granted, there are plenty of complexes that offer affordable monthly rates in the area. The thing is that the places just aren't well cared for. Don't get me wrong, I don't look for granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. I just look for a property that I can tell the owner has some pride in. Something clean and respectable. That's difficult to find in a complex because oftentimes the owners live in a different state entirely.

For now, I've got Craigslist on refresh. And this weekend I'm sure we'll be gassing up the car to head out again. I'll let you know if we find any prospects.

Have you ever rented a home? How did you find it?

1 comment:

  1. Well, as you know, we're on the landlord side of this right now. Most of our calls have come from drive-bys. Fewer from Craiglist. The newspaper ad starts on the 22nd, and we expect to have it rented by then. Plus some fliers in area restaurants, post office, etc.

    We have learned to put an informational sign in front of the house because it looks so much smaller than it really is. If I can get people INSIDE, I can rent it. We have one application in hand and two more that should be on the way.

    You hit on all the hot points for a landlord: Provide references, turn your application in promptly, be prepared to put the deposit down. Talking to a prior landlord is my first priority, especially if there are pets involved, and there almost always are - we've given up on not allowing pets, we're just choosy.

    I've heard that rentals are scarce and expensive right now. We're keeping our price at the low end though.