Over the past year I’ve known numerous people that have been having difficulties finding a home to rent. At the time I shrugged it off because I didn’t understand the difficulties that they faced. I thought to myself, “All I hear about is how terrible the housing market is. I bet there are tons of nice, cheap homes out there for rent and my friends just aren’t looking hard enough.” Unfortunately for me, they were right.
It makes sense to me, someone who doesn’t know a lot about real estate, that if you can buy a house for dirt cheap then you should be able to rent a house for cheap too. After starting my hunt for a rental I realized that isn’t the case. The reasoning for this wasn’t apparent to me so I asked a friend from work, who I know owns rental properties, why people were still asking so much for rent. He explained that people that own rental homes need to build up a cash reserve to take care of any future problems that might occur with that home, and maintain the house and cover the mortgage in case it sits vacant. His reasoning makes sense, but I’m still not happy with the rent prices. Another thought that occurs to me is that with all the foreclosures as of late (Reno is the foreclosure capital) there must be a huge demand for rental homes. Unlike a high demand for home ownership drives prices down to get more bids, a high demand for rentals drives prices up. There is no way rental prices will go down when people have to live somewhere and are willing to pay that high price.
After looking for a few weeks, I’ve come to the understanding that I won’t get to live in the type of house I want. The only thing I can do is keep looking. I don’t know how many of you have ever looked for a home to rent, but it isn’t a pleasant experience. I’ve tried looking online; I go to websites like Craigslist.com, Zillow.com, and rent.com. The frustrating thing about these sites is they advertise so many apartment complexes, but not many houses. Then, once you do find a house, there is a 50/50 chance it’s someone trying to scam you! I finally found a house that I’m interested in checking out. I called the rental company that’s in charge of this property and expressed my interest. They told me that I needed to bring $40.00 down to their office so I can leave a deposit and pick up the key and a take a look at the house myself. I guess the days of people showing you the homes are gone. The funny thing about what they said to me is that I can only see the home Monday-Friday and it has to be between 8AM -3PM. Those days and times just happen to be the same days and times I’m at work, and I’m pretty sure most people work a similar schedule. How does this company plan on renting out homes if their hours are so limited? In case you were wondering, yes I’m frustrated!
So the online hunting hasn’t been working out very well. Maybe a better thing to do would be to drive around neighborhoods I like and look for rental signs. Because I’m on a budget, I’m looking for a small home. I found a few that looked small so I thought I was on the right path; however, when I called the owners I found out that the tiny houses on my list were all 4 bedroom homes and weren’t anywhere near my price range. I guess driving around doesn’t work as well as I thought it would.
Here is where I need help. I have 1 ½ months left until my lease is up, and I don’t have an effective strategy to find a home to rent. There has got to be an easier way, maybe a website that has a ton of listings for homes but excludes apartment spam, or just some other strategy that I haven’t explored yet. Do any of you have any ideas for me? I’d really appreciate them.
March 18, 2012 at 3:10 PM
good reading, Chris!
Megan @ The Finance Geek
March 21, 2012 at 3:57 PM
I experienced the same frustrations when my husband and I were looking to move out of our 800 square foot apartment. We desperately wanted a home to rent; something with a yard, where we could have a dog and maybe a garden. Not much more than 900-1000 square feet. But there was nothing. At least, nothing in our price range. Apartments/townhomes are renting in Denver for ~ $1.00/square foot. Single-family homes are renting for upwards of $1.50/square foot, which is ridiculous!
This dearth of good, searchable websites for rental homes (not apartments) seems like an opportunity, but I’m not sure how to take advantage of it. There’s got to be a better way.
We ended up buying a condo (1,090 square feet) for ~3/4 ($650) of what we were renting for. (A similar condo/apartment would be at least $1,100 if we were renting). It’s not the single-family home we hope to one day live in, but it’s a good starter place. My sister (she lives in Tennessee) experienced the same situation when she moved there with her army husband and newborn son. They were just planning to rent, but couldn’t find anywhere for less than $1,200 a month. They ended up buying a small house and are paying $600 a month on their mortgage.
All of which leads me to say: this housing market is crazy, and there’s a really opportunity for some clever individual to make a buck helping out people like us who want to rent but don’t have a reliable way to find rental houses.
March 21, 2012 at 5:20 PM
I’m glad everything worked out for you. It’s funny because all we want is a yard for our puppy! I really don’t think it’s too much too ask. We applied for a nice townhouse a few miles out of town. Hopefully we hear back from them soon. It seems like buying is a way better option. If we were planning on staying in Reno, and had reliable jobs, we would buy. Interestingly enough, I just heard on the news that even though it’s such a good time to buy people can’t afford the down payment because their rent it too high!