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The Apartment Search Guide: Tips for Renting Success

Updated: May 14

Finding an apartment or home to rent can be stressful, but with the right preparation and strategy, you can secure your dream rental.


Here are some tips for setting yourself up for rental success:


Tip #1 - Search Smart


Renting is a competition. Get ahead by starting your search 60 days prior to your move-in date and focus efforts on the first weekends of the month when there is less competition and more high-quality listings. The majority of renters start their search on Zillow.com, Apartments.com and Craiglist.com.

"Those looking for a new place have to compete with 14 other renters to secure an apartment." - Rentcafe

On rental sites and property management pages, create alerts for your must-have criteria like target rent, neighborhood, bedrooms, amenities, etc. Check your email alerts and the websites daily or even multiple times per day if possible. New listings often get dozens of inquiries within the first few hours, so you need to act fast. Enable push notifications on your phone so you never miss an alert. The earlier you can contact the landlord and submit an application, the better your chances of securing the unit before other eager renters.


You may find hidden gems by looking at landlord and management companies' websites or social media. Drive around neighborhoods you like and look for "For Rent" signs too. Lastly, leverage your social networks by posting on Facebook that you're looking - people may have inside knowledge of rentals not publicly listed.


RentCafe Rental Competitivity Index

Tip #2 - Calculate Budget


When determining your rental budget, the recommendation is to allocate no more than 30% of your gross monthly income towards rent. First, calculate your monthly take-home pay, factoring in taxes, insurance, retirement contributions, and any other deductions. Then multiply this number by 0.3 to get your maximum recommended rent amount. Next, research rental prices in your target locations - you may need to adjust expectations based on real market prices. Run the numbers for other essential costs like groceries, utilities, transportation and debt payments to get a full picture of monthly expenses. Make sure to factor in one-time costs too like security deposits, broker fees and moving expenses. With an accurate budget, you can confidently navigate the apartment search knowing what you can realistically afford. Sticking within your rental budget means you can live comfortably in your new place without being financially stressed.


Tip #3 - Avoid Scams


Protect yourself when apartment hunting by following key precautions. Never pay any fees just to view or apply for a place. Thoroughly research landlords online first and avoid those with concerning complaints. Verify the landlord actually owns the property before signing or paying anything. Be suspicious of listings well below market rate. Talk to the landlord by phone or video chat before meeting or applying. If something seems off, move on. Taking these steps will help you steer clear of common rental scams and ensure you find a legitimate apartment.


Tip #4 - Negotiate Terms


Don’t be afraid to negotiate lease terms if it gives you the edge to secure your dream rental. First, make sure you have a strong application ready with good credit, income verification, and references to show you’re a reliable tenant. Then, ask the landlord if they’re open to negotiating - many are. Offer to sign a longer lease like 13, 18 or 24 months in exchange for a lower monthly rent or lock in rental increases. If you can afford it, offer to pay a few months rent upfront if the interest and demand for the unit is high. See if you can get concessions like lowering amenity fees i.e. gym and parking. Just make reasonable requests and show you’re willing to provide equal value in return through guaranteed tenancy. With good negotiating skills, you can land better lease terms and make an application stand out.


Tip #5 - Apply With YourOwn


The application process is often the most arduous part of securing an apartment, as landlords and management companies typically request sensitive information like photo ID, income statements, tax returns, pay stubs, and bank account details in order to verify your identity and financial qualifications. While handing over this private data can feel invasive, it's an essential step for landing the lease. Landlords want to confirm you meet income requirements, usually you earn at least 3x the monthly rent. They also do credit and background checks to screen applicants.

"Never miss out on a place to live because you weren't ready to share your data." - YourOwn

This tedious process can be drastically simplified. YourOwn allows you to own your financial profile consisting of ID, income statements, income, tax and bank details in one secure digital wallet. You maintain full control and privacy - only sharing specific pieces of information with a landlord when applying, instead of handing over your entire financial life. Landlords can quickly verify your identity, income, and background with just a few clicks, without lengthy paperwork.


YourOwn Financial Profile

Using YourOwn means no more fussing with downloading, uploading, updating and scanning a bunch of documents. The convenience, speed, and security make rental applications painless while still giving landlords what they need to approve you quickly. So skip the application headache and look into secure wallets to get your dream apartment faster!


Secure Your Dream Rental


Apartment hunting can be a competitive and stressful process. But with smart searching, budgeting, scam avoidance, and leveraging tools like YourOwn to simplify applications, you can secure your ideal rental quickly and easily.


With the right strategy, you'll be signing your next lease in no time. Let us know in the comments if these tips helped you find apartment success!

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