Carrying furniture up and down the stairs, through doorways, and across parking lots is hard work. You have to pay for the truck, blackmail some friends to help you or hire some cheap labor off the streets. On the other hand, hiring a moving company will dramatically increase expenses.
Instead of moving regularly, before you start your search make a better decision using data. You will want to look at prices in the surrounding area and make sure you are not paying well above the market average. You also want to find out what kind of amenities you can expect to be included with your rent.
You don’t want the relationship with your landlord to become tense because of an incident out of your control. The last thing you need is to move somewhere and be surprised by high crime rates or find out you’re locked into an expensive contract you did not need. So instead of going through this process multiple times in a year, why not make the most informed decision you can once and find somewhere you will be able to stay for a long time to come.
There’s Help Out There
There are organizations out there dedicated to making sure every renter is informed and isn’t exploited. In particular, a few organizations that might be helpful are Housing Urban Development (HUD) and Housing Rights. HUD offers rental assistance and regularly updates its information about the rental market. Housingrights.com provides some housing services and gives you comprehensive information on your legal rights.
It’s important to know that no matter what you are not alone, there are organizations that provide you with support if you need it. All you need to do is ask. So, now that you understand there are organizations dedicated to your rights as a tenant it’s time to see what information we can get that will help us make a decision we can be proud of.
Where is The Right Area To Live
It’s easy to compare different areas online. Sites like Area Vibes offer a great pool of data for the average renter to use. With their livability score, you can see how the area you are looking at compares to those around it. You can find any city in the country on this website. Another way you will be able to compare areas based on cost is by looking at HUD’s fair market rents.
Sometimes you might be interested in the history of a particular property. A low-cost method of retrieving this info, without searching through the archives of your local government building would be Rentrange. Rentrange is free to sign up and each report, which details specific property info such as past foreclosures or pricing over time, costs an average of $14. What can you do with this report? Well, many investors use this kind of reporting to help educate their investment decisions. The property reports allow you to see detailed information on the property that you are looking at. If you see any warning signs for example if the owners are currently involved in a legal battle or if the house was ever in foreclosure you might be dealing with a property that could give you issues in the end.
Anything is possible, but by using these tools, you can better understand the areas you want to live in. Additionally, you’re going to be better off because you won’t be wasting your time looking in areas you either know you can’t afford or would make you uncomfortable.
Target Your Search
You can look at housing information in areas of interest to help narrow your search as well. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases annual reports that could be beneficial to renters. For example, their housing shortage report will show you where throughout the country there is a shortage of housing. Areas where there is a shortage mean that renting is inexpensive when compared to purchasing. Renters don’t think that they can use housing information and prices to gage where they can afford to live, but it’s a smart idea. By looking at how expensive houses are, you are able to see approximately how much you will be paying in rent.
In addition, you can look at certain statistics such as the stats published on Urban that will allow you to see whether it is more expensive to rent or buy in your area. Urban ranked cities with rent gaps including popular metropolitan destinations like San Francisco and New York. In particular, you might be pleased to hear that many cities such as San Francisco are cheaper if you rent. I would suggest targeting these cities. Another fun tool that you can use is a Rent vs. Buy Calculator. This calculator will tell you how long it will be before buying will become cheaper than renting. In some circumstances, this could take years. In others, it might be months. You have to decide what makes the most financial sense for you at the time.
Property Owner Background Search
Another key data point that you want to keep track of is your property owner. Landlords do background checks on their tenants. In fact, they usually do dozens of them when they are screening for a new tenant. It works both ways though. Renters shouldn’t want to get stuck with a landlord who is difficult to deal with. You’re interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Luckily, there are platforms out there that allow you to vet your property owner. Most of them are free to access but might have fees that allow you to access some of the better features.
Sometimes proprietors are difficult. Whether your dispute is about your deposit or privacy you have rights. You also have the right to know what their relationship with their tenants has been like in the past.
A great website where you are able to get background on your apartment complex is called apartmentratings.com. Not only does this site compile average cost and scores of individual cities throughout the country it will allow you to look at the ratings of specific apartment complexes. You can peruse thousands of apartment complexes and compare their ratings.
Another great way that you can collect information on your potential landlord is simply by checking public records. This is of course if you are looking for a home to rent privately outside of the apartment system. This can sometimes be a risky proposition because these property owners aren’t always beholden to the same regulations. So doing your background on them is a smart move. If you want to take your research a step further you can even ask for references from neighbors or the landlord themselves. If they refuse then you know there are going to be more issues down the line.
Due Diligence is Key
You deserve to have the best place in the entire city. In order to make the best decisions for yourself, it is always important to be able to leverage data. You can find different sources of data all over the internet, but especially helpful will be free resources like HUD and Area Vibes. Even using housing data could help you figure out where you want to live. Doing your due diligence will be key, but finding a spot where you can kick your feet up with a feeling of accomplishment will make it all worth it.