A friend of mine is looking for a rental property to move in to, and after talking about it with them, I thought it’d be a great idea to write down some of my own tips to being successful with securing a rental property.
First up, look at the market to see what’s available out there for the type of property you’re looking at. If you’re looking for a 4 bedroom family house, or a 2 bedroom flat, they’re going to have very different values in the weekly rent.
What features do you want
Once you know the weekly rental prices, you can then start to look at the features available. The more ‘luxuries’ that are included in the property, the higher will be the weekly rent. For example, a 3 bedroom house with a dishwasher, heating and airconditioning, outdoor entertainment area, and a double garage will have a much higher weekly rent than a 3 bedroom house without those features.
If you have certain luxuries that you can’t live without, you’re going to have to pay more for them.
Beating the competition
When you go to an open home inspection (where everyone who’s interested can come and look at the property), expect there to be competition. Especially for cheaper places. An open home can have dozens of people all walking around the house at the same time, looking into the cupboards, opening the kitchen drawers, wandering around the yard, or talking to the real estate agent.
It’s important that the real estage agent remember you when they’re considering who they’re going to shortlist to check out references and consider suitability for the property, but that can be impossible when there’s dozens of other people there trying to do the same thing.
Organise a private inspection
A good strategy is to find a property in the online real estate / rentals website and contact the real estate agent / property manager a few days before the open home inspection. Let them know that you’re really interested in the property but you’re unable to go to the open home because you’re unfortunately going to be out of town. You’d like to organise an inspection “today or tomorrow” to have a look at it, with the intention that you’d be happy to go ahead with renting the place if you think it’s suitable.
Tell them you’ve already got copies of the application form off of their website which you’ll have filled in, along with references for them to call.
A good real estate agent or property manager will be happy to organise this for you. They need a tenant for the place as soon as possible, and it would be better to do it without dozens of people stampeding around the house and gardens. If you like the place and hand over the forms on the spot, you’re the only person so far that’s applied for the place. Naturally they’re going to remember you, especially since you’ve already got the paperwork for them.
Appearances DO matter
Make sure that you dress nicely and that you turn up in a nice car. It’s not necessary to turn up in a luxury car or sports car, but something that says you can afford the rent on the place because you can obviously afford a reasonably nice car. Borrow someone’s car, or even hire a car if necessary.
Your appearance and the impression you give them are extremely important. You’re selling yourself here. They don’t know you, they don’t know what kind of person you are. But if you show up looking presentable and in a car that you seem to look after, they’ll already get a good feeling that you’ll be looking after their property for them.
Also make sure to talk to them when you’re inspecting the house. Ask questions about the place, about what they’re looking for in a tenant. Be friendly, smile, make a joke or two. Don’t just walk in, look around and say nothing, and then hand them the paperwork and leave.
Make a new friend
If it’s a property that you’d really like to live in, then you’ve got to connect with them. You’ve got to be someone that they’d be happy to live in the property. You’ve got to be someone they remember, and that they’d recommend to the owner as someone suitable to be a tenant.
If you can follow the above strategy, you’re almost guaranteed that you’ll secure the property that you want.
If you can’t get a private inspection
Of course, you might not be able to get a private inspection, so you can go along to the open home anyway, while doing your best to maintain the above strategy.
Turn up presentable, in a nice car, and introduce yourself to the real estate agent. Tell them you were the one who called, and it’s lucky you were able to reschedule your trip out of town because you’d really like this place. Be friendly, smile, and ask them to show you around because you’re going to have questions.
Out of all the people at the open home as well, the agent is going to remember you. Have the forms ready to hand over, and let them know you’d be happy to move in straight away. The less time the property is on the market, the better, so they’re more likely to give it to you than to someone else who might be as presentable as you, but can’t move in for another few weeks.
After all that, you might not like it
All of these strategies are only suitable if you really want the place. If you turn up to the private inspection or the open home and you find that it just doesn’t meet all your needs, then don’t be afraid to be honest. You don’t want to waste their time and have them thinking you want the place if you actually don’t.
“Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it, but – it’s just not what I’m looking for.”
Don’t be afraid to let them know why it’s not suitable for you if you get along with the agent. They will have other properties, and they might have something that you’ll find is a better match for your requirements.
Negotiate for a lower rent
Also, remember that most rental properties on the market are going to be there for no more than a week. They’ll be wanting a tenant from their open home inspection and will take anyone they think is suitable. If you find a property that’s been on the market for a few weeks, but it’s a bit higher priced than what you’re prepared to pay, contact them for an inspection and then ask them if they’d be willing to reduce the weekly rent a bit in exchange for a longer-term lease.
For example, you might be looking to live somewhere for a while. Ask them to drop the rent from $500 a week to $480 a week in exchange for a 2 year lease instead of a 1 year lease. Since the property’s already been available for a few weeks and costing money without anyone paying rent to compensate for the loss, they’ll be more enthusiastic about accepting your request. And having someone in the property for 2 years at a reduced rate is better for them than keeping the property on the market.
Be a good tenant
To help make sure you get a rental that you want, you already need to be a good tenant. References are important, and you really want your current or past property manager or landlord to give you a glowing reference when they’re called. That’s not going to happen if you’ve been a bad tenant and haven’t paid the rent or you’ve let the garden grow wild or you’ve trashed the house.
I hope all the above has been helpful. If you can think of any other tips, strategies or improvements, please make sure you leave a comment below.
And above all – good luck!
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