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. You can use several methods to find a house in your area with what you want.
How to Find the Best Home to Rent with an Agent
The first step is to specify the general area where you want to live. You will probably base this decision on several factors:
- Proximity to work
- How close is it 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 know 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. In addition, it is easier for prospective tenants to locate a house of their choice through agents than personally looking for one. Just remember that going through an agent will have some kind of free involvement, 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 real estate sites like Zillow.com or Rent.com are much better tools. These let you search for homes available for rent in your target area and can also tell you about the location. 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 an excellent way to get the word out, and there’s a good chance at least one or two homes will be mentioned. Even if they are currently occupied, they might know a family is 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 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 explore.
Personal Factors to Consider
Before moving into a house, ensure you have thoroughly viewed all the options to ensure 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. If you’re uncomfortable with some of the policies, 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 critical factor. Don’t forget about all associated expenses with renting a home, such as the water bill, electricity, and lawn care. When looking at the lease agreement, confirm that it outlines all 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 a factor. Even single people usually like to have extra space. Families with kids typically 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 search go smoother.
Pets – Many 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 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 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 structural issues. Security may be a concern if you can’t lock the windows and there are no outdoor lighting fixtures.
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 the 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.