Simplifying the Rental Search
In our move to Denver a few years ago, we experienced what could only be described as “The Hunger Games: Rental Home Edition.” The rental market was so competitive and rentals were so expensive that we ended up living in a hotel for two months while we tried to find a place to call home in the Mile High State. Each morning I would wake up and scour various home rental websites to see any new listings that may be available and if we found any we liked, we would run around town checking out open houses.
The whole process was pretty exhausting, and we decided we needed to be strategic and organized to find a rental that worked for us. Here’s our best advice to get you moved in to your rental home as quickly and easily as possible:
- Decide what you want – Sit down with your family and decide what kind of home would fit your needs. Do you need a house or would an apartment work? How many bedrooms do you need? Do you need a garage or backyard with a fence? Be sure you know the minimum requirements that your family could live with so that you aren’t unhappy.
- Decide what you want to pay – It will be important to decide what your rental budget is BEFORE you start to look at listings. Once you set your buget limit, you can only search for houses in that limit and you won’t waste time looking at beautiful houses that are too much money.
- Get organized – It may be helpful to create a spreadsheet for listing areas of town, rentals that interest you along with their details (bedrooms, prices, etc.) and contact information. Then you can keep track of where you called, what you like and don’t like about a certain home and the status of a certain home (interested, viewed, already rented, etc.)
- Start searching – There are TONS of websites out there that list rentals. Depending on where you move, different sites may be better than others. Type your city into several different websites and check what pops up on four or five different sites. Keep in mind, most of these sites offer a chance for you to register your name and email. This feature allows you to save the rentals you are interested in and also receive updates about new listings that go up in your area each day. Here are a few to try:
- Rethink your searching – Instead of just searching for “rentals in (your new city)” try searching for “property management companies in (your new city.)” You can find several local management companies with unique rental listings by searching this way.
- Think “old-school” – Don’t underestimate the power of the local newspaper, especially in rural or smaller communities. There may be some great rental gems listed in the newspaper. Sometimes rentals are listed on the newspaper’s website, but it may be a good idea to pick up a copy of the newspaper and check the classifieds section.
- Don’t get scammed – We’ve all heard about annoying online scams, but unfortunately, they are real and there are way too many of them out there in the rental world. Many times listings will say that the owner is out of the country for a certain amount of time and they just need someone to look after home while they are gone. The scam houses are beautiful and large and they are renting for dirt cheap. Just try to remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Check with an expert – In some parts of the country, a real estate agent is necessary in order to see listings. Even if it isn’t required, an agent can be a great resource and may even be able to connect you to homeowners who planned on selling their home, but may be interested in renting it to you instead.
- Jump on it! – Once you find a reputable rental that fits your needs and your budget, get after it. In most markets, you are not the only one that will be interested in it, so be sure you get applications turned in or make the appropriate contacts so that you can be the one living there. It can be difficult to not think that there may be the perfect rental just about to go on the market, but at some point, you just have to go for it and choose your house. Remember, the faster you find a home, the sooner you can start meeting your neighbors.
-by Emily Robertson