Finding A Home Without Losing Your Wallet

by Christopher 14. March 2009 15:58

In the past 8 or 9 months I have noticed a trend with today's renters...they have become more frugal and money conscious. And with good reason too. Our economy has really hit the skids. California is virtually bankrupt, there is a 10 % unemployment rate, yada yada yada more doom and gloom etc. That said there is a terrific upside for renters: there is a lot of inventory to choose from and certainly some deals to be had. That's not say that 6,500 sq ft house down the street for $10K is going to be yours for the next year for $3000/mo, but if you're looking to stretch your buck and find a great house you should consider the following:

1. Think outside the box: Several times a week I run into renters coming from outside the Marin area looking to rent a family home in Tiburon or Mill Valley because of their award winning school districts, fantastic downtowns, access to outdoor recreation and all the other wonderful aspects that make Mill Valley and Tiburon so great....only to find  that the rentals available in their price range are somewhat disappointing. I make it a point to expose these renters to areas a little further north. There are a lot of people who don't realize that Larkspur, Corte Madera, Kentfield, and Greenbrae all have great schools (check out www.greatschools.org) and wonderful downtowns and your dollar goes much further. I also recommend that they check out areas in San Rafael, San Anselmo and Novato

2. Don't take a house for face value: I can't tell you how many times people decide not to rent a property because they hate paint color on the walls, complain that the yard was over grown or that the kitchen and bathrooms were dirty or dated. These "awful" aspects are your allies. Not only are they are negotiating tools that a tenant can use to get the rent down a bit, but they are usually reasons that the property hasn't rented. There is no limit to how far your imagination and a little elbow grease can go. Don't like the paint? Change it to what you like (with the owners permission, of course!). Think that yard is terrible?  Get out there and mow, plant and water. Often times an owner will contribute to the cost of improving their property and they will always appreciate a tenant who cares. Kitchens and bathrooms aren't so simple, but a clean space, a color change and nice hand towels can change your perspective.

3. Do your homework: With Craigslist and the Internet you can do a lot of research to see what is out there for rent and compare the inventory. Look at various school districts. San Rafael, San Anselmo and Novato elementary schools are often over looked. Consult a leasing professional. These folks are your eye in the sky and can give you important information on homes, areas and will shoot it to you straight.

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Comments (9) -

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