It's not uncommon for first time renters (or even seasoned renters) to jump into an apartment without really thinking through all the important rental factors. If you have never rented before, the Austin apartment market can be a scary place! Apartment leasing agents often use terminology that can use go right over the first-time renter's head and can lead to lost money and time when they don't get approved. Below we outline the process and some of the questions you can expect to be asked by the apartments!
STEP 1: Analyze Your Wants and Needs.
Most of the time people NEED to stay with a certain price point on rent (typically 30% of income) and they may only have a certain amount of money upfront for things like deposits, app fees, pet fees, etc. Look closely at your financial situation. Renters typcially WANT a specific location based on where they work, school districts, hobbies, friends, etc. You may NEED to have a large bedroom to fit your king sized bed, or an apartment that takes cats for Mr. Fluffy. Outline what you NEED, and then what you WANT in an aparmtent or rental before you do anything else. It will make the next step go a lot smoother!
STEP 2: Determine Your Budget.
Your rent should not exceed 30% of your monthly income.
STEP 3: Narrow Down Locations
Most renters know where they WANT to live, but often that area isn't in your budget, so it's important to have options. Outline areas of town in order of preference so that you are prepared if you don't find something in your ideal neighborhood. If you are not from Austin, this is where our experienced apartment finders can really help smooth the transition. Our apartment locators can give you insight into neighborhoods that fit your commute, needs and lifestyle.
STEP 4: Roomate or No Roomate?
Are you open to having a roomate? Some renters are determined to live alone, which is fine. However, if you are open to roomates, the combined budget can often expand your apartment options. Two and three bedroom apartments have a lower per-bedroom cost than one bedroom apartments. Take into account what you would be looking for in a roomate. Good roomates tend to be less about being friends and more about having similiar living patterns. Consider your schedules, cleanliness, noise level, how you would split bills, how you would handle groceries and meals, and how you feel about guests. The right roomate can be great experience and help you get into the area you really want. On the flip side, the wrong roomate can make for a long year.
STEP 5: Research Apartments.
Now it's time to start your research. There are many places to find apartment listings both online and off. Expect to invest time in not only searching listings, but following up on those listings. You will need to confirm the information in the listing, as well as the available date, and whether each apartment really fits the particulars of your wants and needs list and the wants and needs list of your roomate(s) if you are not living alone. Many hours are often spent just on the process of researching apartment. It involves:
STEP 5: Visit the Apartments
The better you have done on steps 1-4, the less work this will be. If you have efficiently narrowed down your options to only the top few apartments, and you have confirmed that they are definitely available for your budget and your move-in date, then you are ready to hit the road. You can try to schedule appointments, but it is hard to tell sometimes how much time it will take to tour a specific apartment, so its best to get the hours of operation at their leasing office and make sure you arrive during that time. Don't be surprised if they are with another renter and you have to wait for your tour.
SPECIAL NOTE: Be ready to adjust!
The Austin rental market is very competitive. Rents change daily based on the occupancy rate of the apartment community. The apartment that was available for a 30 day move in yesterday afternoon may not be available at 10 am this morning. You need to have back ups and be able to compare on the fly.
STEP 6: Pull the Trigger!
You've found the place you think you like best. Now comes the application and qualification process. Austin apartments, like any other apartments, typically look at income, credit, rental history and public record to determine if a renter is a good fit for their community. They will want to know about any pets you have and who else will be on the lease. Most apartments will require all occupants over the age of 18 to qualify. Here too, using an apartment finder / apartment locator can really simplify the process. They will have already vetted the apartments for your specific situation, they can answer questions about the paper work and ensure that they apartment is forth coming with answers as well. An apartment finder is your advocate in the rental process!
The service is completely free to you! Save time, save money, save your sanity :-) and skip all the hard work.