More than one-third of U.S. residents rely on the rental market for housing. And although many people choose to rent because it’s more flexible and financially approachable than homeownership, inventory is at an all-time low, rents are spiking, and finding an affordable apartment can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack: incredibly difficult, but not impossible.
Here, four leasing experts speak to some ways you can better your chances of landing the rental of your dreams in spite of current market conditions.
“I suggest reaching out to your network on social media to see if anyone you know is looking for a new tenant. Another option would be to search for rentals online through property management companies, such as Zillow, Trulia, Apartments.com, or even Craigslist. Be prepared with your credit score, provided for free from most banks, and enough cash on hand for the first month’s rent, last month, and a deposit.” —Kenny Truong, founder and team leader at Fast Real Estate, Oakland, California
“You may have to consider apartments just outside of your ideal neighborhood or be willing to sacrifice on certain criteria to find something that fits your budget. If you want to try to negotiate on price, I recommend trying two things: offer to do a longer term lease, such as two years, which will help the landlord keep occupancy, and ask the landlord what their ideal move-in date is and try to accommodate that. At the very least, you can often get fees waived, such as application fees, amenity fees, and pet fees, so be sure to ask about these things.” —Annie Oliver, leasing agent, AMC Delancey Group, Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“It is definitely beneficial to work with a good agent, especially with the speed units are going off the market due to the limited inventory. It saves the client so much time and energy because we can answer a lot of their questions and check that inventory before we even leave the office. In Chicago, it costs nothing to work with an agent.” —Justin Stokes, licensed leasing agent, The Apartment Source, Chicago, Illinois
“You can always employ the help of an apartment locator — we have knowledge of the best deals in all major cities. This service is completely free to the renter. If you are searching on your own, always check out the new apartments in your area. If they are running a special you may be able to get a better rate.” —Briana Barnes, real estate agent with Texas Apartment Experts, Houston, Texas