Finding the perfect rental property is no small task. Whether you’re getting ready to rent for the first time or are looking for an upgrade from your current rental, you need to find a place that meets your needs and feels like home.
The process itself can be intimidating and time consuming, but it helps to plan ahead. This step-by-step guide will make it easier to find the right rental property for you, and quickly eliminate the ones that don’t meet your needs.
How to Choose the Best Rental Property for Your Needs
Step 1: Set your budget
First and foremost, you need to determine what you can pay for your rental property. Start by drawing up a budget, and take a good look at where your money will go. As a general rule, it’s recommended that you spend no more than 30% of your income on housing costs (including utilities).
Granted, budgeting is not the most fun part of the home-hunting process. But it’s important to take this step first so you don’t end up falling in love with a rental property you can’t afford, or worse—actually signing a rental agreement on a property you can’t afford.
Step 2: List your needs and wants
What do you want in a rental property? What do you need in a rental property? This is the fun part where you get to write down lists of all your needs, wants and dream features (and, of course, design your dream apartment in your head as you go).
Maybe you need a certain number of bedrooms for your growing family, or a home office space for your work-from-home business. Maybe you need to live on the first floor, or have access to certain other amenities. Write these all down, and order your list from most to least-important.
And don’t forget to list things that you want, but could live without. These will also help you find the right rental. Maybe you’d prefer a rental with access to a patio, or off-street parking. Perhaps you’d rather have a gas stove than electric, or are looking for a rental with lawn access or a fitness center.
Step 3: Get the lay of the land
Time to map it out! Think about where you spend the most time—where you work, where you shop, where you like to take your morning run, where you like to go out to dinner—and look for rental properties that are close by.
Whether you drive, walk, bike, or take public transportation; it’s always preferable to find a rental property that’s convenient to the places you need to go. Online mapping apps are great for this, but if you like doing things the old-fashioned way, you can always get a paper map of your city and start putting pins in it!
If you’re looking for a rental property in the city you currently live in, you can even put boots on the ground and explore neighborhoods you’re interested in in person. But if you’re moving somewhere far away, you may have to make do with maps and GPS.
Step 4: Look at listings
Once you’ve mapped out some potential areas you’d like to live, it’s time to start looking at rental property listings in those areas. Online listings are great because you can usually filter the results based on the location, price, and on the needs/wants lists you’ve already made.
Good listings will also have professional photographs that can give you an idea of whether or not a rental property will be right for you. Of course, online listings aren’t the only resource. Many prospective renters use the services of a rental property broker, and you might find something perfect just by word-of-mouth.
Step 5: Make your move
Once you’ve found a place you feel like you can call home (maybe a few places!) it’s time to really get the ball rolling. Contact the landlord or property manager, and begin the application process.
Be prepared for what the application may entail. You’re likely to undergo a background check that includes your credit score, employment and income verification, rental history and criminal record. If and when you sign a lease, be prepared to make a security deposit in addition to the first month and possible last month’s rent.
Bellingham Rental Property Manager
Looking for more information on finding the perfect rental property? Contact us today to learn more!