Knowing how to find the best home to rent isn’t a skill we use very often. Fortunately, the Internet makes this process much easier than it used to be. There are several methods you can use to find a house in your area with what you want.
How to Find the Best Home to Rent with an Agent
This may sound obvious, but the first step is to specify the general area where you want to live. You will probably base this decision on a number of factors:
- Proximity to work
- How close it is to your kid’s school system
- Neighborhood vs. alone
- City, suburb or country
- Access to nature such as mountains or lakes
- Quality of the school system
Assuming you already have a good idea of where you want to live, you can start digging around online and talking to local agents.
Working with a real estate agent could be helpful as they connect prospective landlords to buyers. It is easier for the prospective tenants to locate a house of their choice through agents than personally looking for one. Just keep in mind that going through an agent will have some kind of free involved, so you may want to forego the help if you are comfortable finding a place on your own.
Finding a Rental House on Your Own
The Internet – You can use a search engine like Google, but much better tools are real estate sites like Zillow.com or Rent.com. These let you search for homes available for rent in your target area, and can also tell you about the area. For example, they give ratings of the local school system. They also help you find real estate agents.
Referrals – Ask your friends and family if they know of any homes available for rent. Posting on social media is a good way to get the word out, and there’s a good chance at least one or two homes will be mentioned. Even if they aren’t vacant now, it might be they know a family moving away soon, leaving a vacant home. The best thing about this is you can get into a great house without having to deal with competition.
Driving Around – This old method still works very well! You can just drive around neighborhoods in the area where you want to live to see if you see any signs indicating a house is for rent. While this works best when combined with the Internet, you can choose to go on mini-adventures and just explore.
Personal Factors to Consider
Before moving into a house, make sure have thoroughly viewed all the options to make sure it meets your specific qualities. Ask for a copy of a lease and read it carefully to come to terms with the rules and other specified housing guidelines. In case you’re not comfortable with some of the guidelines, you can negotiate with the landlord or consider other options. Don’t be in a hurry to move to a new house simply because it’s available or affordable without having all of the information you need.
Here are the major factors that play into whether or not you should rent the home:
Cost – For many tenants, this is the most important factor. Don’t forget about all associated expenses with renting a home such as the water bill, electricity, and lawn care. When you’re looking at the lease agreement, confirm that it outlines al utility responsibilities. Sometimes utilities such as water, natural gas or trash may be included in the cost.
Size – As you know, size will always be some kind of factor. Even single people usually like to have extra space. Families with kids usually need more space, but how much they need is relative. Think about how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want. Do you need a basement or quiet office space to work from home? How about an attic for storage? Have a general idea of these things before you start looking to make the search go smoother.
Pets – A lot of landlords or property managers for rental houses do not allow pets such as cats and dogs. Even if they do, you will usually have some kind of restriction such as no dogs larger than 25 pounds, or no “dangerous breeds.” Every landlord is different, and some even prefer to have pet owners because they know they can justify a slightly higher rent for tenants with pets. The good news is, some landlords love tenants with pets.
Location Factors to Consider
Parking and Transportation- Do you have enough room to park your cars? If you need public transportation, check to see if the home is close to a bus or train station.
Pests – Some tenants move into a home and then find out about the squirrels in the attic. When scouting the home, ask about pests and rodents which could be present. Make sure it’s in writing in the lease agreement that any pest issues will be dealt with by the landlord.
Safety – The building should be safe and secure. Look for both structural and security issues. For example, cracks in the foundation or water spots on the ceiling could indicate structure issues. If you can’t lock the windows and there are no outdoor lighting fixtures, security may be a concern.
Once you find a great home, there is one more thing to consider – the lease agreement.
Questions to Ask Before Renting
Some of these will be covered in the lease agreement. Actually, they pretty much all should be on there. But asking informally after looking at the home is a great time to ask these questions.
- Where and how is rent paid each month?
- When is rent due?
- What utilities are included in the monthly rent?
- Are there rules regarding personalizing the home such as painting or hanging up pictures?
- Are pets allowed? (if applicable)
- Is my security deposit returned after I move out?
- Am I responsible for any maintenance?
- When was the last time the locks were changed?
It’s time to move forward with the agreement once you’re satisfied with the answers. Hopefully, soon you’ll be in your new home and love it.
That’s how to find the best home to rent like a pro. As a tenant, there are a lot of factors to consider, so just keep in mind that it may be tough to find the perfect property for your situation. Maybe you find a big home in your price range, but it’s a little older than you’d like. Or you find a beautiful, updated home in your area but it’s not as big as you’d prefer. That’s to be expected. Trust your gut, do your research, and you’re almost guaranteed to find a great home.