When the housing bubble burst a couple of years ago there was a huge shift to rental properties. Some would-be buyers began renting instead of buying property due to fear of the turbulent market, while many homeowners who lost their homes were also forced to rent.
As a result, rental prices in many markets increased with the new demand and rental properties have become increasingly more difficult to find. Today's prospective tenant needs to be ready to peruse the inventory, maybe make some compromises and jump on a desirable property quickly, as the following infographic demonstrates (click to zoom):
Know What You Need and Where to Look
Much the same way buyers have to make certain compromises when purchasing a home renters often have the same scenario to look forward to and perhaps end up compromising more frequently than buyers. As a renter you're often working with a much smaller inventory than those looking to purchase, and in many areas rental properties are much more quickly snatched up. So before looking you should make a list of your needs vs. your wants.
For instance, you might love a certain building but need a laundry facility which it does not offer. Or you might need for appliances to be provided. Knowing these things before you get started can help you to narrow down your choices to just those properties that most closely fit your needs for viewing, which will not only save you time but also eliminate wasted looking when you could be putting in an application on a property that better suites your needs. It's also important to know where to look for rental property.
A property management company usually has a list of available properties either posted online or in their office: this approach usually gives you a few options in one shot. You might also looking at online resources for lists of prospective rentals.
Don't Be Afraid to Negotiate
So you've found this great place that has everything you're looking for in a home, but the rent is just slightly out of your budget. Or maybe you'd prefer to do a six-month lease as opposed to a one year. Renters often don't realize that there may be some negotiation room in the terms of a rental agreement, particularly if the property needs some work or has been vacant for quite a while. Sometimes, it might be fairly easy to alter the terms of the lease when the owner is anxious for income.
Perhaps you can offer a slightly higher deposit in return for being allowed to have pets, or take on some of the repairs in exchange for a lower monthly rent. Be careful, however, not to ask for more than you need or make ridiculous demands on a property that you really want. For some landlords putting an extremely difficult tenant in place for a long lease is not ideal and they may skip over you for a more amiable suitor.
Unless you have an unlimited budget you probably won't find your dream home complete with everything on your wish list. However if you know what items you can't live without and are ready to negotiate where needed chances are that you'll find a great property that will fit your needs if only in the short term.