You’ve been browsing all the best rental property websites. You keep your phone on you so that you can book viewings on the go. But whether you’re a future renter or a future landlord, there’s one thing that all sides can agree on:

Knowing how to find rental properties is an absolute necessity.

If you’re an aspiring real estate investor, rental properties are as close to a can’t-miss purchase as it gets. But if you make the mistake of purchasing a building that has rotting pipes, a leaky roof, and a general contractor’s bill the size of your 401k attached to it, those financial benefits can be wiped out in a hurry. And if you’re a soon-to-be tenant, you don’t want to lock yourself into paying for a property that you can’t enjoy living in. 

Fortunately, finding top-notch rental properties doesn’t have to be rocket science. Keep reading to see our list of factors to keep in mind for your apartment search.

  1. Your Cash Flow Situation 

According to The Balance, investors often lose money on the stock market by investing without regard to larger market trends. But the ups and downs that the market is known for can hide another fundamental risk when it comes to investing:

It’s possible to buy the right stock at the right time and still lose money if you don’t have enough funds to handle a dip in price. And apartment rentals are largely the same way. 

Can you afford to make that initial purchase? If your job situation was to break down, would you still be able to handle paying rent?

Whether you’re paying rent or you’re collecting it, acquiring a rental unit can change your finances in a big way. Even before you start booking viewings and speaking to real estate agents, you’ll want to make sure that your financial planning is rock solid.

  1. Your Needs Versus Your Wants

Learning about the difference between needs and wants is a lesson that we all start learning before kindergarten. But as we get older and lifestyle creep begins to set in, it’s easy to find yourself turning down perfectly good properties in favor of a mythical, I-couldn’t-dream-of-anything-better type of apartment.

And while those rentals do exist, it’s important to be realistic about your non-negotiables. We all want to hit the jackpot when it comes to purchasing a rental property. And you should always make sure that the building is worth it before you hand over the down payment for a rental property.

But at the same time, you don’t want to lose out on a great apartment just because you’re hoping to find another one that you like better. Sure, if you’re trying to house two people that work from home, a bachelor apartment probably won’t work. However, it’s important to understand the importance of compromising as well.

  1. Know What to Look for During Viewings

Many people attend viewings while looking for positive signs that one of those apartments for rent is the one they can turn into a home. But as valuable as those green lights can be, it’s also important to keep an eye out for red flags.

Is the property well-maintained? What do the crime rates look like in the neighborhood? Are the other tenants quiet working professionals and students or are there often less-than-savory individuals lurking in the hallways and hanging out in the lobby?

Whether you’re a renter or a landlord, those monthly apartment rentals are going to take up a huge chunk of your money and your time. It pays to make sure that you’re not biting off more than you can chew.

  1. The Real Estate Market in Your Area

In 2020, the real estate market was so hot that there were more buyers than sellers for a while. And in 2021, the housing market didn’t cool down much. If you’re the type of buyer who likes carefully assessing things and making lists, you would have had a hard time purchasing a home in the post-COVID real estate market.

When you’ve stumbled across a property that has all the things you want and then some, chances are that other buyers and renters will have many of the same thoughts. And in many cities, every minute that you don’t say, “I’d like to make an offer.” is a chance for someone else to beat you to the punch.

During your rental search, it’s important to understand that you may need to make some hard calls. Understanding your local rental market can give you a sense of the decision-making timelines you’re working with.

  1. Your Added Expenses

When you’re looking at the rental agreement or your monthly mortgage document, the monthly payment amount is impossible to miss. But what many people don’t realize about purchasing a property is that there are additional expenses that you have to manage on top of the rent or the mortgage.

How so? Imagine that you’ve purchased your dream property while renting out the individual units to tenants. Sure, you’ll obviously have to cover the mortgage. But there are also maintenance costs, taxes, and insurance fees that you’ll have to put into your expense column.

If you’re a renter, what kind of insurance will you need to cover your belongings? Are you planning to pay for utilities and internet costs? 

These types of bills might not seem like much during your apartment hunting phase. But when you sit down and add everything up, those fees can take a seemingly perfect apartment rental and turn it into a less affordable purchase than you might have otherwise expected.

How to Find Rental Properties 101

When you’re new to the whole apartment hunting thing, figuring out how to find rental properties can be overwhelming. There are tons of places to see and price points to consider. And you don’t always know if the property you’re dealing with is a lemon.

The good news is that the key to a successful rental property search is pretty simple. You just have to be patient. When you take your time and use your website filters, the odds of finding the right property will go up steadily in your favor.

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