In today's real estate market, there is a high demand for quality rental homes. This makes the competition fierce and in many areas, homes for rent last less than a week on the Multiple Listing Service. If you're looking to make your life easier as you search for a rental home, please follow these tips for finding a rental home.
1) Know your credit score. Many landlords are unintentional landlords. They are only renting because they're unable to sell. They are going to be very conservative and will be looking for tenants with higher scores, generally with FICO's over 600. Almost every home for rent on the MLS and those for rent by property managers will require a credit score, and in many cases, a background check, too. Websites such as CreditKarma and CreditSesame will give a free evaluation of your credit picture, provide suggestions for improvement and may help procure offers for improvement. In my experience, scores below 550 are difficult to get accepted. This could save you up to $50 per person on an application fee when the landlord runs your credit and takes away the potential for surprises on your report. I've had clients find out that they owe the tollway $600. It's best to know about that and take care of it before the landlord gets a look at your credit report. Also, you may also want to consult with a loan officer if your credit scores are over 640 as you may qualify to buy a home. In many areas, the cost of buying is lower than that of renting.
2) Stay within your budget. Many renters overextend themselves. The general rule is to keep your housing cost to income ration to 2.5 or 3 to 1. That means if your monthly income is $3,000, you should keep to rentals under about $1,000-1,200. Whether you use 2.5 or 3 will also depend on your credit scores. Landlords will be willing to go to 3 or a little higher with better credit scores.
3) Start Early. Too many renters wait until the last minute to start their search. You don't want to start months in advance, but I've found that about 30 days prior to moving is a good time to start. Many landlords won't hold the home empty for more than a few weeks so don't go to soon. Wait too long and you're going to have to settle for whatever you can find on short notice.
4) Don't get a Pet. Landlords want to keep their home in the best condition possible and they don't generally like pets. Some won't want cats, others will say no to dogs. Either way, a pet limits the number of rentals available to you or adds to your expense. Don't be surprised if there is a monthly pet rent added or extra security deposit. I've seen as high as $500 non-refundable deposits or an extra $50/mo. Keep this in mind as you're searching because it will reduced what you might otherwise be able to afford.
5) Check with Rental Websites and Corporate Landlords, but be wary. Websites like Hotpads and Craigslist will have many rentals that don't appear elsewhere where the owner is marketing their own home or property managers are trying to keep the commissions down for the owner. But watch out for anything that's too good to be true. Anyone that asks you to send money to Nigeria (for example, because they left to work for a charity) is not the owner of the home. Scammers are everywhere. Also, check with companies like American Homes for Rent and Rental Homes Plus as they often have a large inventory that updates frequently. They also will only run credit once (one credit check fee) and are often more lenient with poor scores.
6) Consult with a local REALTOR. Your local agent will know the ins and outs of what's typical for rentals in your area. They're paid by the landlord (indirectly) so it shouldn't cost you any extra. Check first if there are any other fees as rental practices do vary by location.
7) Look into rent to own or rent with option to buy programs in your area. If you're planning to buy in the near future, rent with the option to buy or rent to own may be a good option for you. It will reduce your moving costs and hassle and provide you with long term certainty. If the agreement is done well, you may only have to commit to a one year lease. The up front cost is also typically comparable to a normal lease agreement. There are a few homes in the MLS that are listed with the option to buy. There are also several companies that buy homes with the intent to rent with option to buy. If you're in the Plainfield area, here's rent with option to buy info.
Follow these tips for finding a rental home and you'll be moving into the perfect home before you know it!
originally posted to http://roakehomes.com/blog/tips-for-finding-a-rental-home/