As a renter you would think the optimum time to start searching for a new place to live is 30 to 45 days prior to your move date and I would agree with you. Yes, responsible people like to know they have a place to live prior to giving a 30 day notice. Most apartments complexes and even private owners now are requiring a 60 day notice in their leases knowing the facts that I’m about to give. They do this in hopes that you’ll just renew your lease so they don’t incur the costs of re-renting their property.
However, believe it or not, the optimum time to look for a rental property is between 3 to 4 weeks prior to your move date. It’s true that most private property owners (owner of condos, townhomes and homes) don’t want to hold their property off the market for longer than 30 days. They still have to pay their mortgage and expenses while not receiving rent. We’ve had many owners turn down offers because of this. If there are two similar offers on a rental property, the owner will usually chose the one that occupies the soonest. Also, private property owners are also less likely to negotiate the rent. They will hold firm on the price in hopes of a getting a stronger offer.
Apartment complexes have a set price. It’s usually a first come, first serve policy so you don’t have to worry about competing offers. However, we are seeing apartment complexes set higher rents for those looking 30 plus days prior to their move date. Like the airline business, they’ll start to drop prices/rents and offer move in specials to occupy vacant units fast. It’s very common for an apartment complex to offer a special if the renter occupies by say, that weekend.
Now, having said that, I still recommend getting an early start which is up to 6 weeks prior to your move date. My realtors will hate me but I’ve always been against pessimistic realtors that blurt out “owners won’t hold a property off the market that long” and turn a renter in need away. A good realtor should at least show you what’s available at that moment in time and should also be knowledgeable enough to give you a short term forecast of the rental market.
I hope this helps you on your next rental search.
Dan Gallien – President Rent 1 Sale 1 Realty Franchise