"A Huge Billion Dollar Slumlord." That is how one tenant describes her landlord - one of a new crop of investment firms buying and renting residential homes by the tens of thousands across the United States. This article from the Huufington Post is eye opening. The lesson here is to know your landlord. These days it is well worth your time to do a little due dilligence of your own to learn who is the atual owner of the property you wish to rent. Are they local? What is their reputation for maintenance and repair? Do they have local offices and management and maintenance personel? These are important questions that if you take the time to ask can make your rental home an enjoyable experience.
If you are like many people who are relocating to a new city, you know by now how frustrating it can be to find an apartment that is right for you. It is difficult to make appointments to see apartments when you are available, the landlord is not available or the apartment is just not as advertised. The solution is to work with a professional apartment location firm for your next apartment. In selecting a firm, here is what you should look for:
1. Is the firm comprised of professional Realtors and licensed rental agents? Many firms employ inexperienced people just out of school or just out of work who are looking for a temporary gig until they can find a real job. Avoid those companies. A good apartment search firm will employ only licensed real estate salespersons or leasing agents. These people see their job as a career and not just a temporary paycheck. The results you will get are similarly professional.
2. How does the firm get its listings? Apartment location firms employ various means for obtaining the listing for the apartments that they list. Some employ call centers where employees sit at banks of phones calling potential landlords that they have located through scanning classified advertisements. The quality of these listings can vary greatly. Often, the apartments have not even been viewed by the agency prior to listing and the people who are asking you to rent it are not even familiar with its amenities. Go with an office that finds quality apartments through hard work and referrals. Ask how the firm gets its listing. Do landlords come to them or do they employ cold calling tactics? Only firms that put the best effort forward in obtaining the listing will have the best apartments to show.
3. How does the firm market its listings? Take a careful look at how each firm handles it marketing. Does the firm have just a bare bones description of the property? Are there detailed photographs of the inside and outside of the properties? Are its amenities fully described? Work only with firms that have detailed descriptions of the properties that they renting. If the firm did not take the time to get the details, how can you trust that they will show you the properties that you want to see.
4. Does the firm have a web site? Many real estate firms offer properties for rent from time to time but few are dedicated full-time to the rentals. Take a good look at the firm's web site. Is it dedicated to finding apartments for people? Or, as is common, is the firm's true business the sale of properties. Does the firm have detailed descriptions of the properties it rents on it web site with photographs?
5. Where is the firm located? Is the apartment finding service in the city itself? If so, what neighborhoods does it have offices? There are many "national" firms that seek to rent apartments but hey often have no physical presence in your area. Avoid them. Can you really expect that such firms will know anything about the neighborhoods that you want to live in? Look at where the firm has offices. Firms are most familiar with the areas where they have offices.
6. Are the agents knowledgeable? When you call a firm and speak with the firm's agents are they knowledgeable? Can they answer specific questions about the apartments for rent? If not, do not use that firm. Work with a firm that has only knowledgeable agents that know the properties for rent and the neighborhoods where those properties are located. If an agent cannot answer specific questions, look elsewhere.
7. Does the firm charge a fee? Ask the firm what fees there are for their services. Most firms that rent apartments are paid by the landlord and not the tenant. However, some forms also charge application and credit report fees. Before you start working with a firm, ask what these fees are and get it in writing. Expect to pay a reasonable fee of $50-75 including your credit check.
8. How are showings handled? It is also important to consider how each firm handles the actual showings for its apartments. Are you meeting the agent at the properties? Do you know the city well enough to find your way around to the different properties? A good firm will meet you at their offices and then drive you to each appointment. You can relax while the agent locates each property and while the agent drives take in the areas amenities.
9. Does your agent listen? The number one frustration expressed by tenants is that the agent did not listen to their particular preferences and instead showed them properties that were not in the areas they desired or simply did not meet their needs. Many felt that they had wasted their time. If you notice that your agent is showing you properties that are out of your price range, not in the neighborhood that you want or are simply not as described to you, then stop working with that firm. A good apartment service listens to you.
10. Do you feel comfortable with your agent? As the client, you have the right to demand good service from courteous, knowledgeable and professional agents. If ever you are uncomfortable with the service that you are receiving, simply stop working with that form and contact one that is lives up to your standards. Never feel pressured into making a decision that you will regret. A good firm will never employ pressure tactics but will invest the time with you in making a good decision.
Finding an apartment can be a good experience if you choose the right firm to assist you. Selecting that firm should be undertaken with serious consideration because the choice you make will impact you significantly. It is after all your home that is at issue. Select a firm based upon these considerations and you will no doubt succeed.