- Knows 2 Free Months! and other steep discounts are not really deals, they are WARNING signs – A savvy renter knows shopping for an apartment is not like Black Friday, Groupon, or last year’s fashion styles. A steep discount leads a savvy renter to ask “Why is the rent lowered so much, is there something wrong with the apartment or community?” or “I wonder why they are so desperate, do people generally not like to live here?” or “I’m getting this great rate this year, I wonder if they bump it up significantly next year?” Just keep in mind that steep discounts are generally the easiest and laziest tool a landlord has in their marketing toolbox. Reputable landlords with well kept apartments and quality customer service never resort to STEEP discounts.
- Knows what they need and what they want – A savvy renter keeps a list of things that are important to them in their next apartment. Knowing what you want and need in advance helps you more quickly narrow down your options. These savvy renters do not get overwhelmed, which leads them to a better decision and a happier living experience.
- Asks good questions about the intangibles – A savvy renter looks beyond the rate, the floor plan and the basic amenities. A savvy renter wants to know the intangibles, which include the routine and emergency maintenance services, how the security process works, how complaints are handled, hidden fees, etc.
- Reads online reviews – A savvy renter pulls in information from various sources when making their housing decision. Online reviews give a great insight into others’ experiences. Some reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt, of course (click here for tips on deciphering common online review complaints). But in general, online reviews are really good for finding trends. IE. Many bad reviews might be a red flag.
- Talks with a current resident – this is not always possible, but if a savvy renter sees a current resident, they’ll ask them a few questions. “How do you like living here?” “How is the management?” “Are you happy with your decision to live here?” Most current residents are more than happy to share their honest thoughts, both good and bad.
- Pays attention while walking the property – A savvy renter knows they can learn a lot by looking around a property. Are there weeds everywhere, is the landscaping unattractive, is there trash all over the place? A savvy renter knows the condition of the property is a very good indicator of the quality of the management.
- Reads the lease – Savvy renters don’t like surprises. They take 10 minutes to read the fine print. You really shouldn’t be mad at the landlord for following the lease you’ve signed, especially if you didn’t read it.
Above all, savvy renters understand their housing decision is a really big decision. Remember, this is your HOME for the next 12 months, it’s the place you go to unwind, to sleep, to eat, etc etc. It’s not like buying a sandwich; it’s a decision that affects you for a long time. You owe it to your future self to spend a little time to find the place that is right for you. Be a savvy renter and find the place that is best for you!
Please share your comments. Would love to hear what other savvy renters are doing to help find great places to live.