The rental market is extremely active these days. Housing prices are rising and it seems to make more and more economic sense for people to rent. Even if you have rented before it is likely that you will still be caught off guard by a few curve balls due to the current state of the rental market. And, if you a first time renter, you may feel like a fish out of water. Here are a few things to consider before dipping your toes into the rental pool. Consider your options and set your priorities before making any drastic changes.
Know what you can afford in advance and don’t fool yourself. There is no sense in even searching for something outside of your budget. Quickly separate your wants from your needs. Now sit down and sharpen your pencil, and get ready to do some math. This will help you limit your options and determine your long term goals. Ask yourself if you are planning on renting permanently, or just until you save and find the right property to purchase. This will also narrow your search to specific locations and neighbourhoods.
Once you have narrowed your search field based on your budget, you can now search based on location. Do you have a neighbourhood/area in mind? Is there a school zone that you need to be in for your kid(s)? Be sure to consider things from the area’s census, such as average income, average age, percentage of renters, employment rates. Ask yourself how far you are willing to travel to work. Now consider the location in terms of points of interest. You want to be happy and comfortable in your new living space. Are you close enough to external amenities that suit your lifestyle? If you’re a nut for farmer’s markets, but the closest one is a few hours away, is this the right place for you?
Some people are after an apartment, others a detached house. There are a great number of options out there and you need to consider the pros and cons of each as it pertains to your specific needs. For example an apartment building may offer a greater number of amenities and ease of living, but less privacy. While a detached house may offer greater privacy and space, but you may be left to take care of things like snow removal and lawn maintenance yourself. Unless of course you go with Harbourview (shameless plug).
Figure out what you need included with your rental. Do you need someone to take care of those external maintenance issues? Are you willing to sacrifice one thing for another? Determining your wants and needs will help with this process, but make sure you’re realistic. Don’t expect to have 4 cats in a bachelor apartment. Don’t expect to get a 4 bedroom house with a garage for the price of a bachelor. Be realistic and understand your ‘deal-breakers’. Make a list of your requirements, such as must be ground floor, must have laundry on site, must have parking available etc. Again this will narrow your search and help you find the best property to suit your situation.
Legal mumbo jumbo:
This is often an overlooked aspect of the rental process. And why not? It’s boring and irritating. Nevertheless it is a crucial point to consider before renting a property. Quite often we find people will spend so much time looking for a place that they are willing to sign a contract without even reading it just to secure their position as a new tenant. Harbourview’s contracts adhere strictly to the residential tenancy act and we certainly don’t try to pull any fast ones. But that’s not to say that some Landlords out there won’t sneak something into that paperwork that hurts you in the long run. Ask if you can view a copy of lease early on, before you get your heart set on a place and get burned.
Consider these things and above all remain realistic. The market is volatile and you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize your long term goals and happiness. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the process consider choosing a property management company to help you along. “You’re busy! Let us do the work.”