Finding a good apartment to rent, even in low markets, definitely takes time, as you obviously have lots of things to consider, for instance, if it's a “for rent by owner” property. However, by simply knowing where and how to look, you can save yourself from the lengthy and tiring, renting process. Here are some tips on finding apartments and real estate for rent by owner that fits your finances and needs.
On Preparing To Apply
Determine what you really need for an apartment
Decide on the size you want to have, the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, amenities, and of course, location and rents price, before you start your search.
Do your homework, check for apartment and real estate or rental properties listings in Craigslist or other Real Estate property finder sites. Get the number of broker and set up an appointment in advance as much as possible.
Also, gather the documents that will prove you're capable of paying for the rents of the apartment. Simple documents such as paychecks and stubs are great proof of employment. There are also property owners out there that may ask for full-employment history. It would be better if you prepared these documents beforehand to avoid any hassles and to assure the property owner you're responsible.
Some apartments for rent by owner require rental homes houses history. So, list down the names and addresses of at least three of your previous property owners and all their rentals. If it's your first time to rent (or if you've rented before), then have at least three references that can prove your character and dependability. Including at least one professional in that “rentals list” would be great.
Some property owners are more meticulous, and may ask to see your credit report. You can get your credit report for free from annualcreditreport.com for any of the three credit report agencies. If you don't think you have a very good credit report, showing the property owner something like proof for your on-time payment can make a huge difference in your chances.
On Searching for Apartments and Real Estate
Ask for help
If you have friends living in the town or city where you're moving, then phone them and ask for their help or for suggestions on apartments or for real estate properties for rent by owner they know. This can be a big favor to ask, so make sure you lay down the specifics, and let them know what you're looking for in a rented place.
Check classified ads
Always check your local newspaper for its classified ads and availability rent rates. You can also check for rental homes brochures in the area you want to move in for more options. Driving in the neighborhood you want to move in and looking for “For Rent” sign is also a great idea.
Call the property owner or the broker and ask for a tour in the renting property. Also, always bring a pen and paper with you in searching for a property for rent by owner and jot down the perks and drawbacks of the property and why you like it. You can also bring a digital camera and shoot a short video or snap photos of the property and compare your options for when you get home.
On signing the lease
Ask for a shorter lease
Most apartment and real estate owners would love to tie you in the rent contract for a long time to ensure regular income. However, if you don't think you'll be staying in the area for long, or you're not sure, or very comfortable in your location, then you can always ask the property owner for a shorter lease. Some property owners are fine with six-month rent contract while some will agree for month-to-month. This is can be a win-win situation for you and the property owner or the landlord, especially if the neighborhood's popularity is on its way up as he or she can collect money and increase the rent in the future as the location matures.
Always read the full leasing contract before signing
This one is a no-brainer; you want to understand and agree to the terms and conditions stated, and make sure everything you were told before the involvement of the contract is written before signing it. Ask questions if you're confused or not sure about anything. You can also ask a friend or a lawyer to help you understand the terms and conditions of the lease.
Do a last-minute check
Before you move in, walk around the property immediately and check for any signs of damage or defects in the property. If you see any, call the property owner and inform him or her about the situation.
It doesn't hurt for anyone to be meticulous, especially if you're planning to stay in homes for rent by owner for quite some time.