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How To Find a Great Apartment Rental and Get Cash Back

Published 12/8/07 (Modified 3/22/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

How To Find a Great Apartment Rental and Get Cash Back

Review Of Rent.com and Ways To Make Money While Finding An Apartment

I've been renting for quite a long long while and have learned a thing or two about apartment hunting. Because of the bursting real estate bubble, I'm going to be continuing my long lasting rental streak for the foreseeable future. Renting is not so bad. You get to live somewhere different every few years and you don't need to worry about upkeep or maintenance because the landlord takes care of everything. For college or graduate students, it's usually the only option, aside from moving back home. Unless you want mommy and daddy to rule over your comings and goings though, I would highly recommend striking it out on your own. Of course, if financial independence is an issue, living with your parents will allow you to better conserve your financial resources until you can stand on your own two feet.

Get $100 For Using Rent.Com To Find Your Apartment

I always try to maximize my money and take advantage of money saving and money making opportunities whenever possible. On the subject of searching for an apartment rental, Rent.com offers a unique deal not offered by most other apartment search sites. This eBay owned company will hand you a cool $100 in the form of a pre-paid Visa debit card if you register with them and find an apartment to rent through their online listing. Their listing is quite comprehensive but only includes sites that have agreed to participate in their program. They have a decent listing of all the major apartment properties out there, but there are a few that have declined to participate. Property participants have to pay a referral fee to Rent.com and that is how they can afford to offer users like you and I the $100 for using their service.

The process is quite straight forward. Register a free account with Rent.com and search their comprehensive listing to find your new home. Then tell the property you found them through Rent.com. Make sure this information is clearly recorded on their welcome visitor form or at the very least on the signed lease. Then you log back onto your Rent.com account and report your lease. It may take Rent.com a few weeks to contact the property management office to verify that you indeed listed Rent.com as your referring party, but afterwards you can rest assured, you will receive your debit card in due time.

There are other apartment search sites like Apartment Guide and Apartments.com, but none provide the same enticing cash back incentive that Rent.com offers. Frequently, many of these sites list the same apartment properties, but if you had to decide which one to go with, the choice should be easy - go with the one that will offer you money back for your efforts!

Use Craiglist To Find Apartment Deals Not Listed Elsewhere

Craigslist is the wild wild west of apartment searching. You never quite know what's out there since it can be filled with an unregulated and wide assortment of people. You have to narrow your search by geographical location but many deals are available if you are careful enough to weed out the scammers and weirdos.

Established apartment facilities occasionally post on Craigslist but most listings are posted by regular Joes and Janes. Although I found my previous apartment through Rent.com (and received a crisp $100 in the process) , I found my current condo rental through Craigslist. I negotiated and worked out my own terms and was able to secure a pretty nice deal.

Use Apartment Review Sites To Help Your Search

Finding an apartment to live in can be a challenging process especially if you don't have the time to talk to everyone at the apartment property to see what the neighborhood is like. Is there a roach problem? Rats? Drug dealers? Gang activity? All of these types of things you can discover through online review and rating sites like ApartmentRatings or RottenNeighbor. You should always be very, very leery of extremely positive or extremely negative reviews. Apartment competitors will on occasion post on these forum and review sites to boost their own ratings and bash their competition.

But there is no replacing your own visual inspection of the premises. Requesting a walk through of the rooms and facilities is always your best bet. I'd also recommend driving through the area at night as well. Especially for less upscale locations, it's remarkable how scary and creepy certain neighborhoods become when night falls.

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3 Responses to “How To Find a Great Apartment Rental and Get Cash Back” 

  1. Honest Dollar says:

    Another major advantage of renting: it's much easier to find a roommate and work out a fair value contribution. It's harder (and not to mention a bad idea) to go in together on a mortgage with someone to whom you're not married or related.

    When I graduated, it was easy for me to find an apartment in New York because I had realistic expectations: small square footage, high rent, and probably brokerage fees. A lot of my colleagues entering the same job as me ignoring listings with brokerage fees, insisting that they could CraigsList their way into a no-fee apartment. Eventually they all caved because a lot of the CraigsList postings were so shady. But there are some CraigsList hits despite many misses, so it's definitely a good resource. Point is, don't eliminate apartments with brokerage fees, because sometimes the quality of the apartment and the competitiveness of the rent will make the fee negligible.

  2. Dave Bartlett says:

    I have lived in three apartments in Manhattan in the last year so I know all about the hunt.

    I agree with the Honest Dollar about a brokerage fee. I think a nice way to look at an apartment is to divide the fee by 12 and add it to the rent. Landlords who list their apartments with no fee aren't stupid-they often raise the rent to compensate.

    Ultimately, the best deals when finding an apartment are usually through people that already have them. Ask around and see if there are free apartments in people's buildings. New buildings that are not done are also a great way as they have to fill the whole building quickly. However, be prepared for a huge rent hike when your lease is up and the building is full.

    In addition, good deals can be found for those who are willing to do some slightly sketchy things. Paying brokers' fees in cash, renting an apartment that is being renovating without seeing the results, and other things that might make you feel totally comfortable are all great examples. Not for the weak at heart, these conditions give the renter more leverage in negotiations. I have managed to cut down both fees and rent due to these things in the past and have been happy with the results.

  3. Christian says:

    Hey thanks for the tip..I had no idea you could actually get a $100 check just for using the Rent.com service. Next time I search for a new apartment, I'm definitely going to utilize the Rent.com feature over the other choices. Might as well get something for my efforts and free money is always a huge plus!

    The only catch I've heard is that you absolutely must mention Rent.com as your referrer when you visit the apartment complex management office for the first time. You can't indicate that you find out about them from the Yellow Pages and then afterwords decide to say you find out about them via Rent.com

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