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Eduardo Brandt

Sotheby's International Realty

Money-Saving Tips When Looking for a Rental

Many people decide to live in a rental property before buying a house, as it allows them to save money for an eventual down payment on a home. Meanwhile, they can also take some steps to lower their costs when choosing a rental and, thus, help them reach their goal of homeownership even faster.

Show That You’re a Perfect Tenant
Having a clean appearance is putting your best foot forward, but the best thing to do before meeting with potential landlords is to show them on paper that you’d make a good tenant.

Have a copy of your credit score with you. This is something they’ll probably check on their own anyway, but having a good credit score in your hands can show them that you’re serious about being a reliable tenant who pays rent on time.

Also be able to show them that you have a stable job history and a good rental history. Provide letters from past landlords that quickly detail how you were a good tenant.

Know the Neighborhood
Scour the rental listings in the neighborhood you want to rent in and visit them in person. Instead of searching for rentals in a prestigious neighborhood that has amenities, such as a massive pool, gym and valet parking, consider looking for rentals in older, but safe, areas that are likely to have lower rents. You may find that landlords in these areas are more willing to work with tenants who have high credit scores and solid jobs that pay well.

With the above facts on your side, negotiate the rental price. Some landlords would rather have a tenant with a stable job, good credit and no past rental problems than someone with one or more issues—and may take a lower monthly rent to keep a good tenant in a unit.

You can also ask for a lower monthly rate in exchange for a longer lease. If you don’t mind shoveling snow, mowing the grass, doing general maintenance or performing other odd jobs, ask if you can barter some work for lower rent.

Referral Bonuses
Once you’re a tenant, ask your apartment manager if there’s a “finder’s fee” available for a referral of another good tenant. Ask your friends who are considering moving if they’d like to move into your complex, and see if the manager will compensate you for your help.

Armed with these tips, you may just find yourself with more cash in your pocket each month and, therefore, more money to save for a home someday.