Looking for an apartment? Having been a tenant myself, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the search! For example: Where do you start the search? What are the most effective ways to find a new place?
Here are some tips and tricks to minimize hassle, get access to as many options as possible, and rent the apartment you want!
- 1. Figure out “What you’re looking for”
Do you know what you want? Being an Admin for the Nassau County for Rent group, I see vague, nondescript requests often. (How can we find what we’re looking for, if we don’t KNOW what we’re looking for?)
So – the first thing to do is to determine what would we like to have in terms of:
– Number of bedrooms & bathrooms (easy)
– Max monthly budget : Renting for the first time and unsure of what’s a “safe” budget? Take your monthly income and multiply it by 0.35. This is a common “safe number” or ratio between housing expenses vs monthly income.
– Target towns / areas for the apartment : Be as thorough as possible. The more specific town names you have, the easier the search will be!
– Pets permitted : Do you have to bring a pet with you? If so, seriously think about this question – most properties DO NOT allow pets of any kind, so by having / bringing a pet, a huge number of properties are no longer available as an option.
- 2. Have ready and on hand “what you have to offer”
Unlike buying an off-the-shelf item, apartments are a limited commodity, and their availability is generally controlled by its landlord or apartment manager. To maximize your chances of securing the apartment you want – it pays to be prepared BEFORE starting the search! Here are some items to prep before / while searching for the ideal apartment:
– a. How is your credit?
(i.e. Can you show that you will pay on time?)
This will be one of the most commonly asked questions in your apartment search. Most landlords these days will likely require a credit check- so it’s in your best interest to check it BEFOREHAND! Learn how by clicking / reading here:
Tenants : Why you need to check your credit – and how to do it for FREE (No Credit Card, No BS)!
By having your credit report ready and on hand, you’ll help improve your chances of success and cut down the time required to find the right place!
– b. How much do you earn per month/year?
(i.e. Can you prove that you can afford this place?)
Along the same lines as the credit report, have your last 2-3 pay stubs handy! These will show your income, which many landlords use as a measure of ability to pay.
As a general rule of thumb, some landlords target to a 35 percent gross income to housing ratio. (What this means is: Say if you make $1000 per month. Of that $1000. landlords would generally would not want their renter to to spend more than $350 per month on rent.)
Note that not all landlords use this calculation as a qualifier, so it may not be a big deal. However, keep in mind that you’ll likely be competing against others for the same apartment – so targeting apartments that fit into this ratio will help you “win” the search!
– c. Are your funds for rental & security deposits liquid and ready to move?
(i.e. Can you sign the lease, or should the landlord keep looking?)
Time is money – so landlords & PMs hate having an unoccupied unit. If you fit the landlord’s bill for credit & income requirements – the last hurdle would be getting funds ready to sign the lease!
If you don’t have your funds ready yet, seriously consider postponing. Otherwise, you may find it all in vain if you find the perfect place – but it was passed along to someone else since the funds aren’t available to secure the place.
How much should we save? Typically, landlords would expect 1 month’s rent + 1 month security (2 months total). If you’re using an agent, add another month for their commission (3 months’ total). Some areas may require 1st and last month’s rent + security (3 months total + agent, if applicable).
- 3. Start your search, and narrow down the list
Got the criteria above figured out? Awesome! It’s now time to start looking! This article by yours truly covers the topic nicely:
Top FREE resources for finding your next apartment
Best of luck in the search!