As the housing market fizzled during the recession, many previous or would-be home-owners opted to rent, instead. This sent rent prices soaring over 10% in most major metro areas -in some hot markets, such as my hometown of Houston, rents have soared over 5% in one year, alone. If you’re trying to save $5, $10 or $20 a day, the techniques below can help you reach (and possibly even exceed) that goal.
Most landlords and property management companies know we tend to time moves around summer vacation – and they jack up rental prices accordingly during that season.
In many cases, rents can be a full 30% lower if you lease during the low seasons –such as late winter, for example — when few people are moving and landlords are desperate to fill units.
A little advance planning can help you determine the best dates for a move. If you plan on renting from a professionally-managed property, their computer systems automatically adjust prices by availability and season, so don’t be afraid to ask how much the same 1 bedroom would cost if you rented it today vs. three months from now.
Properties Under Renovation or Construction
My current condo building is being renovated, and in the process, it’s stirring up dust and noise which could turn-off many potential renters. To compensate for the inconvenience, the rental office is offering some price concessions — including cheaper deposits/fees, free gym passes, and discounted rents — to new renters. The renovation will be done in a couple of months, but new renters will enjoy a full year of cheaper rent.
The same is true of new properties under construction; if you’re willing to pre-rent an unit off a floor-plan before it’s fully completed, you’re likely to score a big discount. The leasing offices for properties under construction tend to open a few months before the property is ready, so drop in then to inquire about rents.
Pet or House-Sitting Arrangements
If you spend enough time on Craigslist or your local alternatively weekly paper’s site, you’ll notice ads for discounted rent if you’re willing to care for someone else’s pets, plants, or other property. This usually requires you to rent someone’s fully-furnished home or apartment while they’re away, so it’s not a tradiitional leasing arrangement. However, I’ve seen desirable units leasing for 50% off market rates for those willing to walk and feed someone’s dog while they’re away in Europe for a few months. If you’re the more adventurous and flexible sort, it’s worth a try.
Rent Near Growing Housing Developments
Now that the housing market is re-gaining steam, once-empty housing developments are again filling up. That means more people are buying houses than renting in those areas, so nearby apartments are likely to have lower occupancy rates — and rents.
One other word about occupancy rates: It’s always worth asking landlords or property management offices what their occupancy rates. If they admit to anything under about 85-90%, you’ve got a good chance of negotiating a better deal, since they’ll be in more of a hurry to fill empty units.
Until recently, ther was no central repository which allowed landlords to see your rental background. RentReporters.com enables you to work with your landlord to track your payments, so that you can effectively demonstrate your worthiness as a renter. If you establish credibility through a free service like RentReporters.com, it may help you negotiate cheaper rent in the future.
Rent the Neighborhood – Not the Unit
If what you really want in your apartment is a safe address, proximity to restuarants and shops, or easy access to transportation, then location, not the apartment, itself is what you need. Prioritize correctly by seeking units that meet your basic apartment needs – but enable you to capitalize on the location benefits — by choosing older or less-luxurious options in the neighborhood you want. In Atlanta’s luxe Buckhead neighborhood, for example, older properties (still in good condition) have to compete against numerous new high-rises and loft developments, so their rents can be 25-35% lower -even though they’re right next door.
Five Ten Twenty Club Estimated Savings
According to several sources, the average 1-bedroom apartment in major US metro areas averages about $1000 per month (some cities, such as NY or SF, are obviously much higher). Taking that as our baseline, and assuming we succeed in cutting our rent by 20% using any of the above techniques, we can deduce that:
1 Month Savings: $200 (That’s about $7/day!)
1 Year Savings: $2400
35 Year Savings: $650,000 (Including 10% interest/market returns)
What techniques have you used to score cheaper rent? Tell us about it in the comments section below, or discuss it in our community forum!