So maybe you are sick of trying to explain to women why, at 29 years old, you still live in your mom’s basement. So you start apartment searching through the newspaper classifieds, Multiple Listing Service, Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, Craig’s List, and you finally find the perfect apartment. So here are some tips to help you prepare and get that apartment and improve your pathetic dating life.
1. Don’t get a dog, cat, pig, mini-giraffe, etc.
No quicker way to exclude yourself from getting a nice apartment, in the town you like, than having a pet. Whether unfair or not, most landlords don’t want to deal with the headache of their tenants having pets. Pets pee, poop, bark, scratch and aren’t worth the hassle for most landlords. When I rented in New Jersey, I had 2 dogs and it was a nightmare finding an apartment. I ended up living in an apartment in a town I hated, next to a noisy highway, had my rims & tires stolen off my car and put on blocks, and the apartment’s interior appeared to be taken from straight out of the gaudy 70′s, harvest gold appliances and all.
2.Save your money up.
In New Jersey, you will likely have to pay 1 to 1.5 months (maximum a landlord can charge) security deposit, 1st month’s rent, and if the property is listed with a real estate brokerage, a broker’s fee equal to one month’s rent. In some states, the landlord or complex pays the broker’s fee. In NJ, often the tenant is responsible. A few listings may offer the landlord pay the entire fee or half the fee, but those are more rare.
3.-Pay your bills on time.
Some landlords won’t even look at your lease application if they see a low credit score. Pay your credit cards, car payments, and your current landlord on time! It always helps too when past landlords can recommend you and tell your prospective landlord you always paid your rent on time! Don’t burn any bridges with previous landlords! If you do have bad credit, write a letter explaining the reasons behind the low score and a sympathetic landlord may overlook the credit score if everything else checks out ok.
4-Actually have a credit score, then improve it
I have been encountering this more often lately where a prospective tenant has ZERO credit history. That’s actually worse than having a bad credit history! The landlord has no track record to judge you by how responsible you are with your bills. It may be admirable to always pay cash and never use credit cards, but many landlords see you as an unknown risk. Establish some credit, so its easier to help you get an apartment or possibly buy a house down the line. Work on building your score up too. Usually a score over 700 will be most attractive to a landlord, but some will still work with you in the mid-600′s.
5. Be willing to make a commitment to at least a 1 year lease.
You will find it very difficult to find a landlord willing to rent to you on a 6 month lease or a month to month lease. If they do, they are likely to charge you a premium for the luxury of the flexibility. When landlords have vacancies, they lose money. They want the piece of mind that they will be getting a check in the mail each month for at least a year.
Never pay a company a fee for them to simply send you listings. Often these companies have poor ratings with the Better Business Bureau. I had a friend use their service once. He paid $295 and they hardly sent him any listings at all and the ones they did send, didn’t even fit his criteria or were already rented out. Also, when looking on Craig’s List for an apartment, if you see a really nice apartment listing and an absurdly low rent, its most likely a scam. I read recently that scam artists are stealing pictures from listings currently on the market to sell, posting them as rentals, and having unsuspecting, prospective renters wire them money for the security deposit and disappearing with their cash. Craig’s List can be a good tool to find a rental listed directly by the landlord, thus avoiding paying a Realtor fee. Just be careful!
Need to find a rental? Search for rentals at: http://pascackvalley.kwrealty.com/search/