How to Get an Apartment in a Hot Rental Market

It’s going to be up to you to show your stuff so you can get your leasing application viewed and approved. What’s do you need to have? A good credit rating, glowing references and proof of employment.

Since certain times of the year are more competitive to go apartment hunting, you’ve got work to do. When the heat is on, apartments are hard to come by, tend to go fast and usually go to the highest bidder. You could be looking along with college students, millennials and boomers. Vying for apartments can be tough.

So, how can you push your application to the top? Well, we’ve got a handle on this topic, so let us be your guide.

Rising costs

To start the process in a fast-moving market, you need to do some research on rental costs. Statistics show that summertime is one of the most competitive seasons. And one of the most expensive.

For example, when looking at our rental data for New York City from 2018, you can see a noticeable spike in three-bedroom apartment prices in July and August.

2018 nyc rental price trends

Why is there so much competition when temperatures soar? One big reason summer is so popular is that it’s easier to move in sunny, warm weather than in snow and cold. To win out you should be ready to:

  • Wade through high-demand rentals in college towns
  • Cope with higher prices and bidding wars on apartment rentals
  • Find creative ways to get your application approved
  • Get a jump on other people crowding you out

We’ve got four suggestions to help you get in the door:

1. Go in strong

You’re not alone. Lots of people are looking for convenient, comfortable and affordable places to live. When you’ve found your dream apartment, how ready are you to snatch it? Do you have a check with you to pay an application fee, for example?

Don’t lose out because of something so basic. Get a jump on everyone else and have required documents in hand. Know what your rent limits are, but also be flexible in case you see something you don’t want to walk away from.

The following essentials will help to prove you’re a worthy candidate. Your paperwork should include:

  • Evidence that you’re a working professional with proof of income. Have pay stubs, or an offer letter from the company you work for stating your start date and salary.
  • A reference letter to prove you’re an excellent tenant who pays the rent on time and is also a good neighbor. If it’s all true, your current landlord should be happy to oblige.
  • Proof of where you rented for at least five years. Have the contact information at the ready for the leasing office to call for a follow-up.
  • Veterinary records to show your cat or dog is up to date with immunizations and rabies shots, if applicable.

If you’d rather email all the above, have a file ready to go. You can send it immediately to the leasing office for swift approval. Or, put everything on a thumb drive and hand it over on the spot with all the docs on it for review.

2. Know the market

Do some research ahead of time, so that sticker shock and disappointment don’t deter you. Ask a licensed real estate broker about the market’s highs and lows. It might help you to determine the trading area that’s a good fit for you.

Be honest about your finances, too. How flexible are you on your monthly rent, and what would you be willing to give up to find the perfect new place?

3. List must-haves

Be confident about your likes and dislikes when you search for your new apartment. According to an Apartment Guide survey in 2018, the majority of renters are most interested in gated access to their apartment complex, followed closely by hardwood floors and a rooftop terrace.

Source: Apartment Guide

When searching for your dream unit, be flexible about location and lack of musts on your wish list. Jot down a list of what you’re looking for in your new place:

  • Is it near your job?
  • Is the neighborhood walkable?
  • Does the complex have a fitness center, dog park, playground or pool?
  • Is the quality of the complex in alignment with your expectations and the rental rate?

4. Get creative

You might need to sweeten the deal in a high demand, hot summertime rental market to get the keys to your apartment. So how do you go about it?

  • Don’t limit yourself. Apply to more than one apartment you like — even if there are non-refundable application fees involved — upping your chances you’ll be chosen for at least one.
  • If there’s a bidding war, write a letter stating why you love the neighborhood. Talk about how close the complex is to your job and how it would make you feel to live there. Make yourself stand out from the crowd.

After you sign the lease

While the rental market is competitive during the summer, lots of other moving-related stuff is, too. Moving companies could charge more by the hour since their services are in high demand.

Even if you plan to box up your stuff and move it on your own, there could be a few snags. Be prepared for higher truck rental costs, for instance. And get ready to spend more on moving boxes and shipping fees, which are on the rise as much as the summertime temps.

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Susan FriedmanSusan Friedman is a lifestyle journalist with a background that includes real estate, interior design, architecture and kitchen and bath design. The former senior editor of Florida Travel + Life magazine, Susan resides in sunny south Florida and loves exploring the next great place to live, local culture and neighborhoods with cool vibes. Whether it’s in her own backyard or beyond, she has the pulse on what’s trending now in apartment dwelling and more.

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