WHY FALL AND WINTER ARE THE BEST TIMES TO RENT AN APARTMENT
Looking for a new place to live and wondering when is the best time to rent an apartment? You’ve probably already asked yourself questions like, “what can I afford to rent?” and, “where do I want to live?” But when peak moving season ends in September, another question may be top of mind: “Is the apartment I’m looking for out there at all?” If you’re worried about looking for an apartment during the off-season, all hope may not be lost. Although most people move in the Spring and Summer months, the colder months provide opportunity for renters who are looking to save some money. Many apartment hunters don’t realize that the off-season isn’t a rental wasteland; it can often be an ideal time for apartment hunting. Best of all? We’ve got some great ways for you to make the most of this underrated rental season.
What is the off-season anyway? For renters, peak apartment hunting season usually takes place between May and September. This seasonal shift in renting makes sense: better weather and shifting school schedules can make the spring and summer months a more attractive time to move. Kids are out of school, recent graduates are moving to new cities or back home after college, and you don’t have to wear a coat and carry a couch. But that doesn’t mean you have to postpone your hunt for the place that’s right for you. In fact, moving during the off-season can be a smarter decision if you are trying to find an affordable apartment.
Here’s why: Fewer people moving means less competition. There may be less choices available to you, but you’ll find property managers are more eager to welcome new residents to their properties as the demand slows down. This need to fill vacancies can help you because you are likely to be offered better lease terms, waived fees, and lower rents. Off-season deals may be so tempting that some renters wait for the market to cool before looking for a new place. Make sure to check your current lease (and your risk tolerance!) to be sure you’re able to swing an off-season move before beginning the hunt. If you are getting into a new lease, be strategic. Look outside of the traditional 12-month lease. A 9-month or 14-month lease can position you to move at a more ideal time. If your lease is up in the summer, go month-to month until the Fall. You will give yourself more time to look for a place you really like, land the best deal, and still have flexibility in your current lease.
Why Fall and Winter seasons are the best time to rent an apartment
To prepare yourself for off-season apartment hunting, make sure you’ve got a solid strategy in place. Now’s the time to identify your apartment priorities (property type, square footage, location, amenities) and decide where there’s wiggle room, if any. While you may find something within your price range, you might not have the upgraded appliances you wanted. On another hand, you might get the neighborhood and unit type you were looking for, but have to wiggle on the price range or move in date. Be open-minded.
Remember to stick to your guns where it counts and stay flexible where possible. Since off-season apartment inventory can be more limited, you may determine that your original must-haves are worth compromising for perks like quicker move-in time or lower rent.
And don’t forget the game also means plenty of negotiation. When you look for an apartment or condo during a spike in rental demand, you might not have the ability to ask the property to fix a cosmetic flaw, upgrade an appliance or write off utilities. In the off-season, you just might but only if you ask for it. When negotiating a better deal on an apartment, figure out what you have to offer first. Are you a super-responsible renter? Are you willing to commit to a longer lease to get what you want?
Once you’ve figured out your strengths, approach the leasing agent with confidence and ask for just a bit more than you think you deserve. If you reach a sticking point in the negotiation, support your points with research and documentation. Above all, remain confident, calm and optimistic. It’s all part of the off-season game!
When hunting for a place during the off-season, you may run into some leasing situations that you’d never see during peak months. Don’t be surprised by those who expect quick move-ins or longer/shorter leases than you expect. The reason for such unusual terms is simple: property managers who rent during the off-season are often in an uncomfortable position. Their residents may have broken their leases unexpectedly, leaving an apartment vacant suddenly, or the desired peak-season rush may have never materialized. Instead of waiting out the lull, they can become anxious and will often try to close the deal and get replacements quickly.
The great thing about the off-season: there’s less inventory. As a result, being a renter, you’re more in demand. Use that as a bargaining chip during negotiations with leasing agents. You are at an advantage. Now is the time to get the best deal on the apartment you’ve had your eye on.