Rent gets real pricey real fast. Finding a place that works for you can be tough and learning how to get the best deal is absolutely vital when it comes to apartment hunting.
I lived in a dorm all through high school, so you can probably understand why I was dying to escape the shared-living scene in college.
I was too obsessed with trying to move out of my freshman dorm that I failed to think through my long-term plans. But as cliché as it sounds, I learned so many valuable things through my mistakes.
Here’s how you can
not be me find deals for cheaper rent:
- Start apartment hunting sooner rather than later. The first apartment my roommate and I landed was terrible. And that’s because we started apartment hunting too late. By the time we started our search, most of the good deals were gone, and we ended up living a 15 minute drive away from campus – neither of us had a car so we had to walk 45 minutes to class everyday.
- There are certain items which you must have ready to show a landlord. Having them prepared in advance will be a huge time-saver, plus it’ll make you look good. Make sure you have a copy of your credit report, a copy of your rental application, a letter of reference, your most recent apartment lease, tax returns and your employment verification. It’s not a bad idea to prepare a rental resume either.
- Look Nice. Meeting with a landlord or Realtor is more important than any first date you’ll ever go on. This is your first impression, so you should be dressing to impress. No need to go overboard, but you want to look professional, responsible and put together.
- Be Friendly. You should be radiating positivity and kindness. If you are going to be a tenant, you want to come off as easy to please and happy. No one wants to deal with someone who is constantly nitpicking and complaining. Being friendly will definitely work in your advantage to getting a lower price.
- Do not be afraid to negotiate. Most of the time you will not be willing to pay the original offering price, so while being friendly is essential, you mustn’t be afraid to stand your ground and ask for what you want. Learn some negotiation skills ahead of time. Depending on the market situation in the neighborhood, you might be able to pull of asking if they could waive the last month’s rent. Note that this will most likely get you laughed out the door if you’re looking to rent in expensive cities like San Francisco or New York.
- Be Flexible. In terms of what you have envisioned for your dream home, it’s important to realize you might not get it. If you’re fresh out of college, you might be surprised to learn that four-bedroom places don’t come as cheap as student housing makes them seem. Shaving off a requirement or two from your list does not mean you’re settling. You can still find an amazing first home without all the luxuries.
- When comparing one option to another, you are most likely not comparing apples to apples. If one is more expensive, consider what you’re getting for the extra cash. Are there a lot of amenities that actually make a really big difference? Once weighing out the pros and cons of each, you’ll be equipped to decide what is really worth it. In my Junior year, my roommate and I found this gorgeous town home complex that had the best amenities in State College. The prices seemed so reasonable when the realtors said that “everything was included except for the electricity.”
Little did we know that the electricity bill came up to be an average of $400 every month.
This made no sense since we didn’t own a TV or even a desktop computer. I grew up learning how important it was the save electricity and water, so it’s not like we were being reckless with wasting those resources either. This brings me to my next point.
- Word-of-Mouth. It’s possible you’ve got all the apps, are following all the right sources on Twitter and know exactly what websites to hit up for apartment listings. All these things are good, but do not rule out word-of-mouth. I would have found out about the ridiculous electricity prices if I had just spoken to some people who lived in that complex. After we got our first electricity bill, we asked around the neighborhood and found out that everyone’s electricity was unbelievably high. I should have done my “research” better by talking to the neighbors first.Don’t forget that telling your friends and family that you’re looking for a new place, and explain to them what you’re looking for. You never know what you might find when everybody’s got their eyes open.
I recently was able to negotiate my $1100 rent to just a little over $900 just by using these steps. The landlord was shocked to see how prepared I was, and I could see on her face that she was seriously impressed (I like to think that it was the rental resume that did it).
Be sure to remember these tips on your endeavor to finding a great first place, and you’ll be settling into your own home sweet home in no time.