5 Tips for Renting in a Fast-Paced Market

You find a great apartment online, call to schedule a showing, only to find out the apartment was just rented. So you head out on the road, find another rental, take a tour and fall in love with the place. But when you call back the next day to say you’ll take it, you find out it was rented on the spot to someone else.

If you live in a fast-paced rental market, apartment hunting always seems to go like this for you—but it doesn’t have to.

You can find a great rental for a great price and sign the lease if you understand how to work with the market.

1. Don’t Rely on One Method

You don’t want to spend all of your free time apartment hunting, but if you are relying on one method to find available places, you may be missing out on some great apartments.

For example, by driving around neighborhoods you can find hidden gems not posted online, but those signs can be unreliable. Sometimes the landlord will leave a “For Rent” sign up after a lease was signed. Instead, broaden your search to include both in-person stops and online apartment hunting.

2. Ask a REALTOR®

Many REALTORS® double as property managers but not many renters think of using a REALTOR® for a rental search, meaning you may have less competition from other potential tenants. You may also have more types of housing to look at, since REALTORS® often manage private houses, duplexes and small apartment complexes.

Use the Find a REALTOR® feature to find one in your area.

3. Wait Until You’re Ready

In slower rental markets, people often look weeks (or even months) before they’re actually ready to sign a lease, knowing there is a good chance the rental will still be available later. In fast-paced rental markets, some rentals will go in a day. If you’re shopping before you are ready to put down a deposit, you may be wasting your time. Instead, get your pet and security deposits together before you start hunting.

4. Come Prepared

If you find the perfect place, you’ll have a better shot at landing the lease if you’re ready to apply right after the walk-through. Before you tour any rentals, create a just-in-case folder with the information you will need to apply, such as copies of recent pay stubs and referral letters from previous landlords.

5. Don’t Ask for Exceptions

When properties sit vacant for a month or more, landlords are often willing to make big changes to their asking price (or their lease) to get a tenant. In a fast-paced market, landlords have the upper hand. Trying to negotiate the rental price or asking to split the security deposit over several months may not work if the landlord has other interested renters. Instead, make sure the costs work for you before you look.


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