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Getting the Best Rental Deal

As the real estate market is slowing nationwide, rental rates are on the rise. More buyers are sitting on the sidelines, which translates into more people renting while they wait for the housing market to bottom out. Adding to the rental crunch, condo conversions have turned huge numbers of former rental apartments into condos for sale. With fewer rentals and more people competing for them, savvy landlords know they can be selective and still get top dollar.

Here are some tips to help you get the best deal:

  1. There's no such thing as too much research. Begin your search early, 45 to 60 days before you need to move.
  2. Have your credit report and a rental application ready to give the prospective landlord; include landlord references, bank statements and a copy of your paycheck stub.
  3. Be sure to have enough money on hand for at least the first month's rent and a security deposit so your bank can immediately draw a cashier's check on your account. Nothing is as persuasive as money!
  4. Be prepared to make a decision quickly as the unit may not be available the next day, especially if it is a good deal.
  5. Try to find rentals offered directly by the owner vs. a rental company. Owners, particularly out-of-town landlords, may not price their properties at current market rates.
  6. Look in the newspaper and Internet for special deals offered by apartment communities, such as a month's free rent or reduced rates for longer leases.
  7. Contact condo conversion projects to see if they will rent you a unit on a month-to-month basis until they sell the unit.
  8. Seek out investors who tried to flip their properties or have your realtor look up homes on the market that are vacant. Make the owner an offer to rent their property; they may need the cash flow until it sells.
  9. Many landlords don't advertise in the paper. Drive through neighborhoods that you want to live in to look for rental signs and be sure to visit sites such as www.craigslist.org for owner listings.
  10. If you don't need to move, stay in your current rental as many landlords do not raise rents on a timely basis.

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