Moving, whether across town or across state lines, is a big event. Granted, renting a house for a year is a finite event that does not involve the transfer of ownership that a purchase involves,still it is your home! Plus, the rent is an expense, one that yields no tangible benefit once the lease is complete. Due to the infrequency of many in renting a house, here are some tips.
First, evaluate what your true needs are in terms of bedrooms, living space and style. If you are only renting for a year for relocation or home renovation, consider putting some of the furniture in storage. Second, calculate your rental expense budget. So, how do you figure out what you can afford for monthly rent? Landlords will use different calculations for affordability, such as income that is twice or even three times monthly rent. Other financial considerations are the security deposit, application fees, and pet fees, and first months rent up front. Landlords use a variety of measures that could include criminal background check, employment check, credit score and rental history, and may adjust what you need up front based on the results. So, know what you can afford using both measures: the monthly income and the up front move in money. As for how much house can you get for your allocated amount? The real estate market, including rentals, is all about location, location, location, with a variety of influences affecting values. As for rental rates in an area, most owners will only charge what they can get with no more than a month’s vacancy for cash flow purposes. So, the rental market is very fluid.
Got your checklist of what you are looking for? Here are a few of the main details: if you have pets, see what the owner will accept, whether by weight, breed or type. Also, if the house is in an area with a home owners association, find out if you need to apply to them as well. Find out the move-in date: when will the house be ready. With the fast pace of the rental market, owners will often advertise their house weeks before it is actually ready for new tenants. For searches, there are a variety of sources including the local property management web sites, 3rd party sites, and the multiple listing service.
Do you need an agent? Maybe, or maybe not. Generally, agents don’t make a lot of money helping tenants, so getting an agent to help with a broad search will be hard to accomplish. If you are relocating, or if you haven’t tried to rent before, finding a trusted agent will be worth the effort. To help entice the agent to spend time on you, offer to pay them (their broker, actually) if they find a place that doesn’t offer a commission: or if you are buying in a year, offer them your future business. Other sources include brokers with for rent listings in areas you like: ask questions on what they will show you.
Once you have found a house to rent, there will be an application and fees and a few details to talk about. Before you fill out the application, feel free to ask about who takes care of the grounds maintenance and find out if the rate is negotiable. Once approved, verify the who to call if something breaks, and ensure you know where to send your rent. Finally, a move in date is established, and the utilities companies plus your family, friends and others can find out your new address!