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RISMEDIA, October 5, 2010—Existing-home sales dropped 27% in July 2010 from the prior month, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Unpredictable home values plus a soft job market have many Americans turning toward renting as a more affordable and flexible living option. In response to this recent shift in attitudes about renting, Apartments.com conducted a national survey to more than 2,700 website visitors to get a pulse on the mindset of today’s active apartment hunter.

Today’s apartment seekers are choosing to rent because it affords them the lifestyle they desire. According to Apartments.com survey results, nearly 60% of respondents said they prefer to rent. Living maintenance-free with convenient access to amenities topped the reasons why Apartments.com visitors said they enjoy renting, followed by not being able to afford the costs associated with homeownership, wanting to live in great neighborhoods and more flexibility to move.

The survey also revealed there are a lot of new apartment hunters hitting the market. Nearly 30% of Apartments.com visitors surveyed indicated they have never rented before, but are currently searching for an apartment and 34% have been renting for four years or less. This is further supported by record-breaking traffic and lead activity Apartments.com experienced during the first half of 2010 compared to previous years.

Previous homeowners are also looking for apartments. Despite having owned a home in the past, 43% of survey respondents are either switching back to renting or entering the market for the first time. Of those previous homeowner respondents, 32% indicated they have never rented before and are in the process of looking for an apartment. More than half said they prefer to rent.

While the majority of previous homeowners surveyed agree homeownership is a good investment, nearly 20% disagree and 65% still think renting is more affordable. Ongoing maintenance costs, fluctuating home prices and difficulty selling during the first few years were cited as the most popular reasons why some former homeowners do not believe owning a home is a good investment.

Apartment hunters are planning ahead for their moves by searching now. According to the survey, more than half of active Apartments.com visitors said they are looking to move before the end of this year.

Apartment seekers currently in the market for an apartment are encouraged to read the following tips, from Apartments.com, to help them find a perfect place to live.

-Finding the perfect fit: Before beginning your apartment search, understand your needs, including which amenities you can’t live without and places you would prefer to live nearby in order to carry out the day-to-day activities of your life. Different apartment styles and locations appeal to a variety of renters. Knowing you want a shorter commute to work may require different apartment housing than someone who wants to be within walking distance to restaurants and entertainment. Once you have identified your sticking points, you can tailor and narrow down your online rental search to generate apartments that are the perfect fit for the lifestyle you prefer—saving time and headaches.

-Shopping for safety: Safety should be a key factor in your apartment search. This is especially true if you are moving to a new location. When visiting an apartment you are interested in renting, look around the neighborhood. Is it well kept? Remember that a neighborhood can attract different crowds during the day and evening, so be sure to talk openly with your landlord and local business owners about nighttime activity and neighborhood crime. It’s also important to know where the closest police station, hospital and fire department are located. As a result of being more informed, you can feel secure about entering your new rental agreement.

-Negotiating no no’s: Would you buy a pair of shoes two sizes too big because it’s on sale for 50% off? No? Then, don’t let the deciding factor of where you choose to rent an apartment depend on who is offering the best deal. While knowing how much you can afford is imperative, the free plasma HDTV hanging on your wall may not seem like such a sweet deal a few months down the road if you’re locked into a lease at a place that does not meet your needs.

For more information, visit www.apartments.com.

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