Most renters move between May and September, so if you’re looking to get the best deal on rent, the winter months are a great time for apartment hunting. If you search for your new home in the winter, you’ll have demand on your side–not many people will be competing with you for a new apartment. Landlords want to fill empty apartments as soon as possible so that they keep making a profit. For this reason, if a unit is sitting vacant, the price may be cheaper than during a time when everyone is apartment hunting. A property manager may even be willing to negotiate knowing that another tenant may not be around for weeks.
However, less renters moving can also mean less available apartments. Here are our best off-season apartment hunting tips:
When looking for your new apartment, it’s important to make a list of your housing priorities. A few ideas include proximity to public transportation, in-unit washer and dryer, or great natural light. Choose your top three priorities and use them to narrow your apartment search. If you’re looking during the off-season, you have time to find a place that meets these needs, so don’t feel pressured to settle for something that isn’t what you wanted.
Before you meet the leasing agent or landlord, you’ll want to have a few things ready. A day of walking through apartments will go more smoothly if you have everything you need to fill out an application. The information you’ll need includes employer contacts, present and past landlords and, in some cases, your credit score. Most property managers will check your credit score when processing your application, though already knowing it when you come in shows some initiative. Also have your checkbook ready, as you will likely have to pay an application fee.
Meeting your priorities is a juggling act that requires some flexibility and compromise. The best way to avoid being disappointed is to have realistic expectations. Start by setting a budget. Next, research what the median prices are in the area in which you’re looking. This will help you determine if you can afford to live in certain neighborhoods. Of course, your budget may let you have a smaller apartment in one town or a larger one in another–it all depends on the cost of living.