As the wifey and I have been searching for a rental house these past couple of weeks, I’ve learned/re-learned a couple of things:
- I hate hate HATE house searching. Add car searching to that too. If I see a house online that I want to see, I don’t want to wait a day or two for the realty company to get back to me. And apparently Zillow is is a waste of my time. We found a ton of awesome houses yesterday that were “added 1 day ago”, only to find out that none of them are actually available. I also hate being around salespeople. No matter what, they’re going to spin something to fit their agenda.
- Because rent is a monthly bill that has the power to suck you dry and put a damper on your savings plan, there are some legitimate things you can do (and should do) to decrease your monthly rent.
Instead of dwelling on the negative (Surprise! All of those realtors that weren’t getting back to me yesterday are calling me like crazy this morning when I don’t have time to look at houses), here are a few awesome things you can do to lower your monthly rent when you’re looking for a new place.
Ask. If you’re living in an apartment complex with one owner, this probably won’t do you any good, but if you’re looking at a house or a condo where one person doesn’t own the whole complex, just ask if they are willing to negotiate on the price. Their biggest concern is getting someone into the place, and if you have a great credit score, they would be willing to take a little less every month from you because you’re low risk.
Get your own furniture. Our first apartment was furnished. We had just gotten married and didn’t have a ton of cash lying around to purchase furniture, but 8 months later we sold our contract and got into an unfurnished apartment that was bigger and cost $100 less every month. We hit up Craigslist and IKEA and spent about $400 on some cheap (but not disgusting) furniture. It only took 4 months to break even and the rest was gravy. You don’t have to get nice stuff, unless of course you can afford it. The other day when we were looking at a house (which apparently had already been leased to someone else, but the realtor didn’t know), the owner was willing to provide a fridge, but if we got our own, he’d go down $50 on the rent. Really? So the dude’s basically renting out a fridge that probably isn’t all that nice for $600 a year. And people do it. And if we can find a fridge for less than $600, we save money on the year contract AND we have our own fridge to take with us when we leave. Ballin’.
Don’t be too picky. With a lease, you’re only locked in for a limited amount of time, so it doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s not an investment like owning a home, so you’re not going to get any of that money back. So if there’s something you don’t like about a house/condo/apartment, ask yourself, “Can I put up with this for x amount of months?” Or, “Is dealing with this worth saving $100 a month?” Now I’m not talking things like mold or rodents or nastiness like that. I’m just talking about things like the look of the place, the color of the paint, minor things like that. And with things like paint, you may even be able to talk the landlord into letting you paint it the way you want, as long as you don’t get too crazy. But getting into a place that may not be perfect, but is sufficient for your needs, could save you a couple hundred a month.
Is there anything you’ve done to negotiate down the price of your rent? What about other things like cars and other random stuff from sites like Craigslist? I love hearing stories about people scoring themselves great deals with nothing but the power of their words.