Rents are on the rise, but you don’t have to suffer because of it
The rent doesn’t have to be too damn high.
Compared to last year, rents across the U.S. have climbed 2.9%, surpassing the 2.4% growth from this time last year, according to data released in August from ApartmentList.com. What’s more, 92 of the 100 largest cities in America have experienced rent hikes compared to last year, with 84 of them seeing increases just in the past month.
You don’t have to take this. In fact, real estate insiders from around the nation say there are plenty of ways you can still find a great apartment that doesn’t break the bank. Here are four of the best rent hacks.
You’ve probably Yelped restaurants or businesses, but most of us haven’t even thought to look on review site Yelp for reviews of apartments. But Brian McFadden, the director of agent development for real estate and brokerage site Triplemint, says this can be a great way to vet a building. Large apartment complexes in big cities may get reviews on Yelp and you can tell if the landlord is good, the building has problems, and more. You can even ask the tenants who reviewed the building questions, which could help you figure out if the landlord will cut deals on rent. Another tip: If you live in New York City, you can also look for your building on the site RentLogic.com, which rates buildings on everything from issues like mice to electrical problems.
Time it right.
If you can swing it, you’ll find the best deals on rent from November – February, as few people move during these months, says McFadden. “The market starts to warm back up in March and demand is always the highest between May and September — this is tied to the school year and graduation season — and apartments go quicker and landlords charge more,” he says.
Look for this type of building.
“Often times, properties that have plenty of similar units available offer the best value,” says Scott Bierbryer, the co-founder and chief operating officer of an apartment search startup VeryApt.com.”Consequently, if a renter is looking for a 1 bedroom unit in a property with 10 available 1 bedrooms, it’s likely they can score a great deal,” he adds.
Now is the time to negotiate — even if you don’t want to move.
While rents are climbing still, growth still isn’t as fast as it was in 2015 (when it grew 3.5%) and experts say many landlords are starting to throw extras at tenants that can save them money and get them extra perks. “Many new properties will give 1-2 months free to encourage renters to move in ASAP,” says Bierbryer. “Many new properties that are trying to fill all 100-250 units at once will offer concessions, typically a month or two free on the first year, to early adopters, which can translate to a 10-20% discount.”
Even if you live in the building already, you can get concessions. “Developers are pouring resources; money, time, energy and personnel – to keep existing residents happy, year after year,” says David Picket, president of the Gotham Organization, which recently hired a community manager for its buildings to manage resident requests and improve the resident-landlord relationship.
You can get a deal on rent, for example, if you agree to sign on for two more years instead of one or prepay part of the rent, especially if you’ve been a good tenant already.
Go beyond the advertised price.
When you’re scanning for rental units, you often just look at the monthly rent, but “condos that include utilities in the rent are frequently overlooked and undervalued,” says Bierbryer. “In some markets like Chicago, condo rentals can include utilities, electric, internet, and cable, which can instantly translate to a $100-250/month savings.” He adds: “A savvy apartment searcher can secure a nicer unit for the same price if they appropriately budget for their all-in costs rather than just paying attention to the listed rent price.”
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