Not Quite Ready to Buy

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Even if it's not quite time to buy a home, you still have to have a roof over your head, right?! Welcome to the complex and confusing world of Wilmington's residential rental market.  Whether you're looking to rent an apartment, condo, townhouse or single family home in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Leland or the surrounding areas...there are a lot of options to choose from.  Read more to find out valuable information that will hopefully help make the rental process easy and enjoyable!

Over the past year and a half, I (Rebecca Pirone) have had the misfortune of moving a whopping five times all around the Wilmington area. Yes, that means that every earthly possession of mine has been packed, moved and unpacked five times.  I get exhausted just thinking about it! Even though this has been a major headache, its one benefit is that it's virtually made me an expert on the Wilmington rental market.  Recently, a friend consulted me on where to find a great rental and I realized that my knowledge is something that other people may benefit from too.  So...I have decided to share my list of go to sites that I check religiously when in the market for a rental property.  I will also let you know some of my do's and don'ts in renting a property to hopefully save you some time and stress. 

  • Get a head start!
It is best to begin your "for rent" search about 60 days before your ideal move in date.  If you do it any earlier, the properties may not still be available by the time you need to move in and most of the time, they won't hold them for you.  
  • Take your time, be patient and do plenty of research
Make this your new hobby. The rental market changes daily, so stay on top of your research and be consistent, it will pay off in the long run!
  • Make a "must have" list
This is not to be confused with an "it would be nice if..." list.  Write down the things that are necessities in your new property like a washer/dryer, backyard, being pet friendly, or having plenty of storage.  Once you make this list, stick to it. This will help keep your decisions logical and grounded without getting wrapped up in the emotion, charm or excitement of a property.
  • Google the property address
This is a quick and easy way to get a lot of valuable information.  I know you've heard it all before but location, location,'s important! Pictures can be deceiving, so always check a map and use the street view feature for an even better look at the property and surrounding areas.  You can also see how close you are to shops, restaurants, entertainment and your workplace, which are all important factors in making a good decision. 
  • Tell everyone!
Sometimes great rental places aren't advertised by anything more than a sign in the window and they move fast! Just like when you're looking for a job, it's always good to have some extra eyes and ears out there looking for you.

  • Don't rent from Joe Schmoe
You want to make sure that you are renting from someone that knows what they're doing, whether it is a professional rental management company or an individual.  When renting, and especially If renting from an individual, make sure to ask lots of questions and check their credibility.  Be sure to ask about things like regularly scheduled and emergency maintenance.  You don't want to wait until your ac breaks mid-July to find out that the owner lives out of state and is on vacation.
  • Don't fall for craigslist scams
Buyer beware; and in this case, renter beware! Be cautious when dealing with people over the internet.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  One common scam is to advertise a fantastic property for an even more amazing rental rate.  When you inquire, they ask you to fill out an application, pay an application fee and pay one month's rent as a deposit. By the time you do all of this, they have your personal information, your money and they virtually disappear.  Be very cautious about sending private information over the internet and wiring money to someone you don't know.  Also, if meeting someone to preview a property, always bring a friend!
  • Don't forget about utilities
Be sure to factor in the cost of utilities when setting your rental budget.  Call the utility companies and with the address, they can usually tell you the billing history of the unit. Keep in mind that sometimes features such as cathedral ceilings, gas fireplaces and being in a historic building can translate to additional heating and cooling costs.
  • Don't get mixed up with vacation rentals
Make sure you are looking at long term rentals.  With the beaches so close and so many people coming here for vacation, there are a lot of short term and weekly rentals thrown in the mix.  Be sure it says 12 month lease, especially at the beach!  It is common practice for long-term beach rentals to be only for the off season and you have to find a different place to stay during tourist season. you know what you want, what to look for and what to avoid. The only question left is, "Where do I start?" These are my favorite sites for looking at local rentals.  I suggest bookmarking them in a folder so they can be easily accessed on a regular basis. Keep in mind that if you want to live in a specific apartment complex, they usually have their own rental departments and should be contacted directly. Be sure to use any available criteria (bedrooms, pets, price range) to narrow down your search so it's not so overwhelming.  Feel free to post your feedback and any new ones that you discover.  I'd love to add them to the list for others to use.  Best of luck and happy renting!


Century 21Rentals

Bryant Real Estate

Intracoastal Realty

Network Realty

Atlantic Rental Management

Victory Real Estate

Karen Parkin Real Estate

Penton Properties

Downtown Wilmington Rentals (city site)

Legacy Real Estate

Town and Country Real Estate

Prudential Laney Real Estate



Comments (2)

Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Good morning Jessica,

Great blog, such useful information for the potential this market, the landlord rules and here in the Dallas area rent homes are snatched up almost as soon as they hit the MLS. Have a great week!

Jun 22, 2011 01:11 AM
Victory Property Management Rental Housing Leader
Victory Property Management - Wilmington, NC
Imagine, Property Management so Passionate, You'll

Morning!  Thank you for listing our company!  I wanted to mention that our website has since changed to



Oct 27, 2021 03:35 AM