My dear friend Niki offered to share some of her wisdom about renting! Since we are thinking that renting will be our best move after we sell our home, I’m soaking up all of the information that she has. To start she is sharing how to find the right rental home to fit your needs, and next time she will share some of the little known perks that come with home renting! Take it away Niki!
Hi, I’m Niki- full time Mama extraordinary to two boys three and under and a lifetime educator. My husband and I operate a small business out of our home, always an adventure with little ones running about! I’m not much for crafting, but I can coax a literate essay out of a 10th grader, make a mean apple pie and pack up a 2,000 sq ft home in less than a week, while balancing a kid on each hip!
So, how to find the right rental for you or your family?
First- decide on your non-negotiables and start looking at least a few months before you even want to start really looking. Are you set on a certain area, a specific price range or a length of lease that you can’t budge on? Before you even start looking at houses, figure out what CANNOT change and then build your search from there.
The more flexible you can be, the more options you’ll have, but that can get overwhelming. So, play around on rental websites for a bit and see what’s out there. I personally like Trulia.com for window shopping, It lets me look at areas by maps and see what I can get for my monthly budget in different areas. If schools are important to you, use Greatschools.net and stalk the heck out of the neighborhood schools, look in the districts you love for a house. Look at different styles of homes and decide what you enjoy.
Next- once you know a general area you like and a style of house you’re all about, start budgeting. Renting can be a bit pricey in the beginning. Figure in costs. Most landlords wanted a security deposit and at least one month’s rent up front. There’s also typically earnest money of at least a few hundred bucks to take the house off the market and and application fees of 25-100 dollars per adult applicant.
Moving costs can be pricey as well, so figure that into your budget. My best advice is put aside three months’ rent for your move in cost before you start looking. This takes the pressure off of you and gives you more flexibility in where you can move. Also, and we’ve done this- consider lump sums. Maybe you want a house, but think the landlord is asking a bit much for it. We’ve talked rent down by paying quarterly instead of monthly. Many landlords will take less for it total if you’ll pay a few months at a time. It gives you some bargaining power.
Ok, so you’ve got an idea of what you want and you’ve saved up some funds- the best advice I can give you as a renter is to find a realtor. I know this seems counter-intuitive, because it’s not like you’re selling, but a realtor can be your best friend in the renting process. They’ll set up viewings for you so you can see multiple homes in one day.
Without a realtor, you have to play phone tag with the landlords or the owners’ agents just to get in the door. You can easily spend a week trying to get someone on the phone to let you go tour the place, why not let a realtor do that for you? Also, landlords take you a lot more seriously with an agent. To find a great realtor, ask around- see who your friends have used or even search online.
Many landlords will allow you to move in fairly quickly, as they don’t like to have their home unoccupied. See if you can get your new lease to start a bit before your current situation ends. I’ve had it work out that I had weeks to move so there wasn’t any stress to get out and was able to move and clean up the old place leisurely.
Ask about redecorating, if you like doing it, it can be worked in. Some landlords will let you repaint as long as you’re willing to paint back. My home now actually has walls painted in colors that I really like- grey on some, buttercup on others. It was something that set the house apart in my mind and made it feel different than other rentals. Also, see what you can work out with landscaping and bug spraying. These are essential in Arizona and many landlords are willing to throw them in for free so you don’t even have to think about it.
Renting can be fun and make your life easier. If you do your research in the beginning and set yourself up to be in a great situation from the beginning, it can make all the difference in the long run.
Thanks Niki! I have learned so much and I feel a lot more comfortable with the prospect of home renting thanks to your sage advice. Also, there are a lot of really great bloggers that rent and talk about how they update their home without making permanent changes. I’m already soaking up a bunch of inspiration since I know I will want to decorate to some extent.