Getting an apartment is your first big step to becoming an adult and living on your own.
It’s important to understand contract terms and figure out how much you can actually afford. Follow these tips on how to get the best deal when negotiating price.
Research Rent Cost Where You Want to Live
It’s not uncommon for renters to feel sticker shock. Real estate prices, and therefore rent price, is very high in many cities throughout the country. Still, don’t automatically assume that, just because the rent is high, you can’t negotiate. But before you get started, you need to know what the averages are. Look at websites. Compare square footage, available amenities and so on.
Keep a written list either on your phone or notepad so you can compare pros and cons of each apartment complex you visit. Then, consider what your apartment offers versus the rental costs. A higher rent can be worth it in some situations. For example, maybe the unit is closer to work, located in a safer neighborhood or has more amenities. All these things have tangible economic tradeoffs that can make higher rent a prudent decision financially. A shorter commute equals less time and gas wasted. Greater safety means you’re less likely to experience a break-in. Amenities like a health club or exercise room could save you from spending money on off-site health club dues.
Ask for a Longer Lease in Exchange for Stable Rent
One of the perils of being a renter is that a landlord can jack up your rent every year in most places. One way to negotiate is to ask for a longer lease in exchange for a stable renting price. If you have a two-year lease, for example, at least you’ll be assured of the same rent for that period and not be surprised by a steep hike.
Be sure to read the contract, too, for how much landlords say they’re allowed to raise rents every year. Even if you are successful in getting a rent stabilization, if it’s a lot, keep negotiating. You might want to stay in the unit for five years. It’s to the landlord’s benefit to have reliable, stable tenants.
If you do plan to negotiate a longer lease, make sure you understand the cost of breaking it. Most young adults fresh out of college don’t stay at the same job for very long and you don’t want a little thing like a lease to keep you grounded at a job you don’t like.
Move During the Off-Season
Summer is primetime for real estate moves. Families with school-aged children and students are two large groups who like to move at this time of the year so they’re settled by the time a new school year rolls around. Plus, it’s easier to move in good weather than bad.
Work that to your advantage by not moving during these busy seasons. Landlords are more likely to really want tenants in the winter because they’re more likely to have vacancies then. If you want them to knock $100 off the price, you’ll have more success in wintertime or early spring.
If you’re a good tenant and have friends or acquaintances who are also good tenants, negotiate by offering referrals. Landlords like to have a convenient way of finding new tenants. Your popping up with a few names of your buddies could well be worth a couple percentage points off your rent.
Always Negotiate Face-to-Face
Finally, always negotiate by talking to your landlord in-person. An email or letter is simply too easy to miss or dismiss. It’s much easier to fire “no” back in an email message than it is to say it to a person’s face. It’s almost always worth taking the time to negotiate on your rent. Even if you get a “no,” you know you tried. But if you follow these four tips, you’re much more likely to get a “yes.” What’s the harm in trying?
Once you’ve found your idea place -at your ideal price point- be sure to ask your future landlord these ten questions before you sign on the dotted line!