No matter when you have to look for an apartment, the task can be quite daunting. You have to look through dozens, if not hundreds, of advertisements for apartments. While it is much easier today to look for an apartment, the fact remains there are many duds on the market. It can take hours of searching to come up with only a few listings that you want to look at. The job doesn’t stop there. Now, you have to venture out and verify the location and dwelling are what they are advertised as. The description listed above is under ideal circumstances. However, I, Mark Roemer, know people are not always looking for an apartment during the best months. Some folks need to find a place to live in the middle of winter. It is for this reason, I am going to provide you some pros and cons to shopping during the offseason. Along the way, I am going to attempt to give you some tips and tricks to find the perfect apartment for you and your family.
Let’s get one thing straight; no one likes to move. Add winter to the mix and something that is quite difficult even to consider. What with all the rain, snow, cold weather, holidays, travel, etc., it can become quite frustrating. But what if you had to move? How can you turn this negative into a positive? Take the following things into consideration.
Things to Consider
Less Competition – Since most people don’t want to combat the plethora of obstacles associated with moving in the winter, you will be competing for the less than ideal apartments. What does this mean? It means that when you see an apartment listed, there is little to no chance it will be taken by the time you contact the owner. When shopping during the summer, you will find many of the apartments already rented by the time you get to them. The lack of competition means you will spend less time hunting for an apartment to visit.
Negotiations – During the winter months, you can negotiate with the landlord a little more than you can during the summer. Since the landlord wants to fill the vacancy, they will be more willing to accept conditions to the rental agreement they usually wouldn’t. For example, if you have a cat but want to rent an apartment that generally does not allow pets, you may be in luck. Don’t forget to ask for free parking as well. These are just a couple of the amenities or requests that you can ask for during the winter. I don’t suggest you do this during the summer. They have dozens of people that will take the apartment as is.
Lower Prices – During the summer, competition for apartments is at its max. For this reason, landlords tend to charge more during this period of time. This means that you have the possibility of acquiring the same property that would be available in the summer for a reduced price in the winter.
Less Selection – Even though you will have less competition, the ability to negotiate, and lower prices, you will also have less selection. The reason for this is that most apartment leases terminate sometime in the summer. If you have been following along since the beginning, you will know why this is. What you will get are apartments of people that have terminated their lease, vacancies due to eviction, or other unexpected listings. The apartments you find may be less than ideal, but they will come with many benefits you would not usually get. The key to hunting for an apartment in the winter is patience. If you have patience, you can find one heck of a deal.
Sublets – Most apartment management companies do not allow renters to leave during the winter. They, too, know it is hard to rent during this time. Therefore, you may need to check the secondary market for your apartment needs. If someone needs out of the apartment, they may be allowed to sublet the apartment. This means that their name is still on the lease, but if you rent, you will be responsible for paying the rent. To find these apartments, stay away from the major rent websites and apps. You will not find them there. Instead, check local listings such as Craigslist. Make sure to cover yourself when you are renting this way, though. Act as if you are signing the lease with the owner. Take plenty of pictures in case there are damages that existed prior to you renting the apartment. I have several of these checklists in other blogs.
Rooms – Don’t shy away from renting a room in a house or condo. If you are single, this might be a great way to get an excellent place for relatively cheap. As with sublets, you will not usually find these listings on a rental website or app. Quite often, they are not even on Craigslist. Take a look at the local paper for rooms for rent to find these hidden gems.
While renting an apartment in the winter is difficult, I, Mark Roemer, am here to tell you it is not the end of the world. The same principles you would use to find an apartment during the summer apply in this situation. The difference is, you will have to look in the secondary and, in some cases, tertiary locations to find a place that suits your lifestyle. Once you find the place, do not hesitate to do a little negotiating. The landlord is just as eager to rent the apartment as you are to rent it from them.
In some cases, they may be even more interested in you renting the place from them and not someone else. After all, their livelihood depends on having all their apartments rented. Having a vacant apartment means they may be in financial stress at the end of the month. I wish you the best of luck if you find yourself looking for an apartment this time of year.