Tips For Tenants – How To Find A Home To Rent

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Hi, Benton Cotter here, helping making your rental decisions successful.

Today, I’m gonna talk about how to find a home to rent, and some tips and tricks that I have picked up managing over 4,000 homes, placing over 10,000 tenants. I’ve kinda seen what you’ve gone through, and so I wanna help you figure out where is the best way and how to identify and get into the home that you want.

A first step is always identify what you want. Go through, talk with your significant other or whoever’s making the decision with you. Figure out the amenities you want, square footage, price, get all that beforehand.

Don’t just go shopping on Zillow, ’cause then you just get all over the place and you go down a rabbit hole. Usually, if you don’t have anything in mind, usually what happens when you go to online sources is you start shopping for your dream rental, when, in fact, you can’t even afford that. You need to stick within your money, so identify, figure out what those are.

You might have 15 different things. You know, this type of kitchen, I want a double oven, or, I don’t know, a bigger backyard, or whatever you are, community pool. There might some things, narrow those down to the top three that you really, really can’t live without or you really, really want.

Once you find those top three, you can go to all the online sources, and this is one of the easiest place to find it, Zillow, Zumper, Trulia. These are the websites that have tons of listings and they have filters at the top. Use the filters by your top three. If your square footage is one of your things, and you need at least 2500, filter out anything below around 2500.

Make sure you’re only narrowing down your results, ’cause there’s tons of rental out there. It’s kinda getting a bit overwhelming, so use those filters, but again, you can go back to your top three, and always use the online sources. You can use Craigslist, we like Zillow, Trulia, and Zumper.

That usually means they put some effort into it and pictures. Craigslist as well, you can find some good deals. You just gotta be careful for scams. Make sure who you’re talking to is actually the owner of the home or the manager of the home. Easy way, if it’s the landlord themselves, she can look up the tax records and see, actually, if they talk to Joe Smith, if he’s actually the owner of the home. If he’s not, you might have going through a scam situation or figure it out.

If it’s a property management company you’re dealing with, go to their website and make sure the home’s listed on there. You can kinda verify it through that. Usually a little bit safer going through a property management company, because they’re a business, they’re established, online reviews, lots of things, but definitely can find some good deals through those self-managing landlords, so kinda go through there.

Big things, always send inquiries. Do the online inquiry. Zillow has that little thing, you can say, “Hey, I wanna contact the agent over this house, “or landlord,” also call them, send as many as you can. You might have to bug them. Rental records are pretty hot right now, so these landlords and management companies are getting tons of inquiries, so yours might just get lost in the shuffle.

So I request, inquiry, inquiry until they get a hold of me, I call them and call them. If you really want that rental, you kinda have to work for it a little bit. A lot of companies, sometimes the rental, if you know it’s too good to be true, you might even have to apply before you even get to see the property, just go in and fill out the application.

Trick with that, it does cost money, usually. Sometimes it’s 25 bucks. It can be up to 60 bucks sometimes per applicant, so you’re kinda wasting money there, so you kinda have to be careful with that, but usually, when you’re looking for a home, count that you’re gonna spend three to 500 bucks just on average applications, ’cause you’re gonna put them out there.

Even if you’re the first to call and they tell you to apply, there might be four or five applicants that are applying for the same home, and you might not get chosen, so you kinda have to just face the fact that you’re gonna lose some money on that application fee, but it depends on how much you want a house.

If you really love the house, I would apply for it before even seeing it, to be honest, and maybe if it turns out to be super ugly or way off-base with what their listing was, you can ask for a refund and go through that process. You’re not guaranteed to get it. A lot of those are non-refundable, so you just gotta be aware of that, but that’s kinda the name of the game right now, unfortunately.

Another cool thing that we can do is you can actually go and find a tool, like Cozy or TenantCloud. There’s lots of these tools out there, for on behalf of the tenant, that you can actually fill out your application right there. I do this a lot if I’m going to, I’ve rented before, I actually just came off a rental. If I’m going to apply for a self-managed landlord, I’ve used Cozy’s tool.

I  think it’s hooked up with Experian, which usually they ask for. You can actually do a credit report through them, it costs you 20 bucks, and then you can actually email that to the landlord and be proactive in it. What’s nice about that is you control the application, so if you can get three or four landlords that’ll accept this, you only pay the application fee once and you’re able to send it out to three or four people. And so I like that. Sometimes they won’t accept it, though. Sometimes they want you to still go through theirs, so that’s a risk you’d run.

Well, it’s cool if you actually do one of these apps. It looks like you’re actually putting more effort into it and more professional about it, and so it kinda helps set the standard of who you are. You wanna kinda build the narrative of who you are, especially if you’re competing for a home. Remember, these other tenants here are competitors. They’re not your friends, they’re competitors, and so what you wanna do is you wanna build yourself, build the narrative that, hey, you’re the best person for this home.

Build the narrative. Send that application, and also, when you get a hold of somebody, especially if it’s just a single landlord, someone that’s not a management company, send in that story. Send that story of your family and kids with a picture. You wanna make the feel close to you and see, hey, this is my home. I wanna live here for a long time. I wanna build a community here.

You kinda have to sell yourself, so build that narrative around yourself, and it’s a great way. As a landlord, I love that. I’m more inclined to rent to someone like that, for sure, 100%.

Also, people that actually show effort. They’re filling in, they’re getting all the documents that I request, they’re doing it in a timely manner, they’re being responsive. That’s another key. If you are super-ultra-responsive, that landlord or the management company might not be responsive, but if you are, again, you’re building that narrative of who you are and what type of tenant you’re gonna be. This will increase those odds, hopefully, that they’ll wanna rent to ya.

And so, hopefully, you can use all these tips, tips and tricks that I’ve learned. Hopefully, you can find a home that works for ya. We have tons on our website and we can help ya out, or you can always go down the road, if that’s not working.

You can actually find realtors that will find homes for ya. Only issue with that is not a lot of realtors, not a lot of companies will pay the commission to the realtor, so it might limit you a little bit of inventory of the homes you can look at, but another great way that they can kinda navigate that for ya. You might even have to pay the commission for them, but it might be worth three to 500 bucks for you. But some tips there.

Hopefully, it works out for ya, and hopefully, you’re successful in your rental decision.

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