Here are 9 ways to score a great apartment in a hot market

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

The blistering real estate market of 2022 has extended to apartment purchases, and how to rent an apartment has now become a test of research and willpower. Oh, and also your credit score and work history.

Renting an apartment with all the comforts and amenities you want, at an affordable price, has become a challenge, especially in the most popular urban areas of the country.

Yes, the usual markets of New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles remain expensive, but joining the high rent neighborhood for a dream apartment are the Tampa Bay area and Jacksonville in Florida, as well as Charlotte and Raleigh in Carolina. North and San Antonio, Texas. Real estate prices are soaring there, as well as the cost of a month’s rent.

Here’s how to compete and get the apartment you want.

People – and tenants – are on the move

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More than a decade after the Great Recession and two years after the start of a historic, life-altering pandemic, people are moving at a staggering rate.

Some are downsizing, others are moving. Some move for a particular job, and others move because they can live where they want and keep their jobs remotely. And the monthly rent payment is also changing. Especially upwards.

The houses are selling quickly and at the best price. This trend is then reflected in the popularity of apartments, as many young people find themselves out of the market for a home.

Competition for apartments in hot urban areas is the strongest it has ever been, and potential tenants are paying the price in higher rents, as well as possibly larger deposits. They pay more for every square inch and they are bound to jump on properties as soon as they become available in just about every apartment complex with openings.

Tenants are also required to sell themselves to landlords and the property management company.

Here are tips on how to rent an apartment by gathering as much information as possible about your finances and your potential new apartment before you apply. To get started, have these personal references ready along with contact information for previous owners.

1. Know what you can afford for monthly rent

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While you can negotiate some amenities, you probably won’t be able to negotiate your monthly rent. (Before the pandemic, what you paid for rental accommodation could be negotiated, but that was before the markets got so hot.)

The owners and the property management company probably know that they can get what they want from someone and someone doesn’t have to be you.

Therefore, it is necessary to know what you are willing to spend in terms of rents. There are a myriad online tools this can help you decide what you can afford in terms of monthly rent and utilities. Consider all the new expenses that will result from your move, as well as the potential savings (transportation being at the top of the list in both cases). But know your rent budget so you can start the process with confidence.

2. Have cash on hand for a security deposit and more

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You don’t have to rely entirely on your salary to pay rent, security deposit and moving costs. You want to have enough cash on hand for the first month’s rent and beyond, plus a month or two of security deposit, without stretching your budget. You don’t want to argue with the property manager about when the rent is due or whether to offer the deposit immediately.

You have expenses to plan for (moving costs, new furniture, etc.) and you want to be able to move without extending your credit. Simply put, you need to have extra money to attract landlords.

3. Clean up your credit

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The owners will check your credit history and can go back up to 10 years. They look for missed or late loan payments, credit card balances, and any other loans or financial obligations you have. They won’t look so much at the amounts as at your consistency in paying your bills on time. Your credit rating, especially a low credit rating, could come into play.

The three most well-known credit reporting services – Experian, Equifax and Transunion – will work with you to eliminate incorrect information on your credit report and may remove old overdue information from your account. This will make your credit history more attractive when it’s time for the landlord or rental agency to consider you.

4. Prepare your references

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In today’s apartment market, you are being interviewed for the position of tenant. As such, you will need to provide references. Your landlord will want to get references from you to determine what type of tenant you are going to be. This could be a previous apartment owner or an employer if this is your first apartment. If you have a rental history that you are proud of, be sure to get references from your previous landlord for that period. The management company can perform both a background check and a credit check.

But this is a two-sided subject. You are going to want to know your landlord as well as possible. If you find a building or complex that you particularly like, there’s nothing wrong with sitting outside on a bench near the building and asking current tenants if the landlord is responsive and fair.

5. Survey the neighborhood

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So you know what you want in the space you will be living in, but do you know where you want that space to be? An apartment search is essential, but also a look at the neighborhood surrounding the complex.

Often in urban settings, any place will meet your needs to get to your office if you work there. Public transportation can get you from point A to point B. Therefore, you want to shop for a neighborhood that offers the amenities you are looking for. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there a grocery store in the neighborhood?
  • Do you want a quiet or active neighborhood?
  • Do you need a park or another outdoor place for your recreation?
  • Are you a walker or a cyclist?
  • Do you need one parking space or maybe two? Depending on where you are, the parking space may be an additional cost and the rental office can help you with this information.

You’ll probably need to have a few neighborhoods in mind to compare and contrast apartment costs and size with the amenities the neighborhoods offer.

6. Do some research online

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In order to find the apartment you want and to be able to respond to sudden availability, you must use online search platforms that update frequently. Many of the factors you use to determine which apartments you want to check out can be entered into the search parameters of these sites so you can narrow down your list.

Sites better known for selling houses, such as Truly and Zillowalso offer information on available apartments. Apartments.com is specially structured for people who are looking for the best apartment offer. Craigslist is also an option, although there is little monitoring or verification and advertisements on this site should be considered with a large grain of salt.

7. Submit a pre-request

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Unfortunately, the best apartments go quickly and there is a race among potential tenants to get their application submitted and approved before others. One way to make your search for the perfect apartment easier is to apply in advance with an apartment complex manager or rental agency you work with.

You are not applying for a specific apartment in this case; you simply authorize the agency to put your application through the credit check process before finding the apartment in the ideal location. Then, when you find that perfect space, you’ll be pre-approved and become a more likely choice for the landlord or agency.

8. Rent when you have a pet

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If you are bringing a pet with you, this will definitely limit the apartment complexes or buildings you can choose from. But you should be aware that your pet will also undergo some sort of background check.

You need to make sure your pet has all of their necessary vaccinations and treatments to live in a building with others. Your veterinarian can tell you what vaccine rental agencies look for when they check pet medical records.

There will be details spelled out on the rental agreement.

9. Be flexible

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Someone else already has your perfect apartment, so you need to be flexible in terms of needs and wants if this is your first apartment or if you have already rented several apartments. You should prioritize what you want, but be aware that you may have to make some tough choices regarding those gears lower on your list.

Is the fact that there is no washer and dryer in the unit a deal breaker? Then move on if the resort doesn’t offer it. However, if the apartment is in a great location and the common laundry room is clean and well-lit, you might want to sign on the dotted line.

This is also true for neighborhoods. It’s likely that the first two neighborhoods on your list will be expensive, and you should consider a third or fourth neighborhood that isn’t exactly what you want, but might give you a bigger living space in exchange. fewer opportunities for shopping or leisure. . You can still walk, cycle or take public transport to these other neighborhoods when you need to.

The final evaluation

The agent gives the keys of the apartment to the new tenant
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Doing this work ahead of time will make it easier for you to snag that new apartment than if you took your time collecting this information after you find the ad.

Remember, there are plenty of people like you who want an apartment in the city center and within walking distance of work or your favorite cafe. They will be ready and so will you.

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