How to Find Your Dream Apartment in the Off-Season

Finding Rental Homes in Winter

How to Find Your Dream Apartment in the Off-Season
December 16, 2014

Hunting for apartments in the off-season can be a blessing or a curse. Most renters tend to move in the summer months, so it makes sense that there are more apartments to choose from during peak season.

Unfortunately, that means there are fewer available apartments to choose from during the off-season. At the same time, landlords will not have as many prospective tenants to choose from during the off-season, so rents may be lower.

Fortunately, you can use this information to your advantage to make sure you get the perfect apartment at the right price, even during the off-season. Here are five tips to get you started:

  1. Set up Alerts for New Rentals - Chances are there will be a smaller selection of apartments in the off-season in most parts of the country. Due to this fact, you need to make sure you find out about new rental listings as soon as they come on the market, so you can be the first to get your foot in the door. You can easily do this on Zillow.com by saving a rental search and signing up for instant email updates.

    As soon as you see an apartment you are interested in, follow up immediately with whoever listed it. This will allow you to be one of the first to submit an application and increase your odds of getting the apartment you want.

  2. Consider Enlisting a Rental Real Estate Agent - In super-competitive markets, you may want to enlist the help of a rental real estate agent, especially when inventory is low. These agents often know about rental properties before they come on to the market, which could help you get an edge on your competition.

    Who pays for the real estate agent? That depends on where you live. Landlords will pay the real estate agents in some markets, while the renter will pay the agents in others. Sometimes the costs are split between the landlord and the renter. Regardless of who pays, the typical fee is around one month of rent.

  3. Be Prepared to Apply Immediately - Make sure you are ready to fill out an application on the spot in a competitive off-season market. That means you will need to have all of your information ready to fill out the typical application form. Here are a few things to make sure you have with you:
    • Driver’s license
    • Social security number
    • Contact information for previous landlords
    • Contact information for your current and previous employers
  4. Be Prepared to Offer Incentives to Get the Apartment You Want - Competition can still exist even though prices may be lower in the winter. You can use a few tricks if you really want a specific apartment. First, you can offer to sign a lease that is longer than one year. The longer the lease is, the more comfortable a landlord will feel. This is because it lowers the chances of them having a vacancy that costs them money.

    Offering the first three months of rent up front is another great option to make a landlord feel more comfortable with your application. This shows the landlord that you are financially stable and, combined with a good credit report, will show them that you should not have any trouble paying your rent on time.

  5. Do Not Settle for an Inferior Rental - Do not settle for an inferior apartment just because it is the off-season, unless your back is up against the wall and you will be homeless. See if your current landlord will extend your lease on a month-to-month basis until you find your ideal apartment. Most landlords will charge an extra fee, but it will be well worth it once you find your perfect rental.

    You can also reach out to your friends and family to see if you could stay with them for a short period. Unfortunately, this means you will have to move much of your stuff into storage. You will have to move twice, as well, which can be pricey.

Looking for a rental in the off-season has both rewards and downsides. You will potentially get a better deal on your monthly rent, but your options may be slimmer. Using the tips and tricks above, you should still be able to find the right apartment for you. May your new home be your castle.

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