Have you ever had your eye on an apartment and finally it opens up so you immediately call to schedule an appointment just to be told it was already taken and it has only been posted for 10 minutes? Seeing your dream pad get snatched up before you even had a chance to see the inside is incredibly frustrating! I see it all the time, so I thought I’d put together some insider tips on the top 5 things you can do to help you get the apartment or home you REALLY want!
- KNOW WHO RENTS: Know the Management companies in your area, bookmark their website and check their listings daily. Usually when Property Management companies have vacancies they are automatically listed on their website first because the website is connected to their vacancy program. If you wait until the unit is shown on a public site, it has usually been open for several hours or even days.
- GET ON A WAITING OR PROSPECT LIST: If you have your eye on a property, call the Management company and see if there is a waiting list for it.
- KNOW THE QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS: Each Property Management Company will have an established set of requirements for approval and will generally include all or some of the following:
- Credit: Each company has different credit and score requirements and each company will pull your score from a different credit reporting agency. There are several agencies and each are slightly different. They will be looking at your collections, late pays, charge-offs, judgments, and bankruptcies as well.
- Criminal Background: Many companies have immediate disqualifications for certain types of criminal records. Some have time limits, some do not. Generally, the disqualifications are going to be for aggressive charges, drug charges, felonies, and sex related charges. If you have a record of any kind, I recommend getting your background pulled before applying so you know exactly what shows up and be upfront with the company BEFORE paying for the application fee because you may be immediately disqualified and this will save you that cost.
- Eviction: Usually an eviction record is filed with a court as soon as a pay or vacate notice has expired without action. Usually an eviction is an immediate disqualification; however, some companies will have a time surrounding this. If you have an eviction, be up front BEFORE paying for application fee because you may be immediately disqualified and this will save you that cost.
- Debt to income ratio (DTI): This is usually your gross income (before taxes) divided by your expenses excluding things like utilities, phone bill, insurance, etc. Bills that would show up on your credit. Some companies have a 50% maximum, some are less. Example: If you make $1000 per month before taxes, your bills plus your rent cannot exceed $500/month to meet a 50% or less DTI
- Income to rent ratio: Generally if the company looks at your Income to Rent Ratio, it will be 2-3 times your gross income to your rent. In this scenario, your other bills usually aren’t considered. Example: If the apartment you want is $500/month, you would have to make $1500 per month before taxes to meet this qualification
- Rental History: Usually a company will call your previous rental references to determine how timely you paid, if you caused any damage, if you had any complaints, if there were any non-compliance issues. I recommend you calling your past rental references and asking these questions so you know exactly what kind of reference you will be getting. If there is an issue with a past reference, try to fix it if possible, such as balance owing, etc.
- Job History: Usually a company will have a minimum time on the job to show stability unless you transition directly from one job to another in the same field for more pay. Most likely, the company will also verify your pay, time on job and guaranteed hours.
If you fall under an immediate disqualification category such as eviction or background, do not apply, you will waste your $$!
If you do not qualify due to job history, income, or credit, chances are you may be able to provide a higher deposit and/or a cosigner to qualify. If this is the case, be prepared in advance with a highly qualified cosigner that meets all requirements and/or a deposit of usually 2-3x the initially requested amount.
- PRE-QUALIFY: If you know a certain Property Management Company has units you want, get pre-qualified. You will most likely have to pay the credit and background check in advance, but it’s worth being first in line when something comes open!
- COME TO THE SHOWING SLIGHTLY EARLY & PREPARED: If you haven’t already pre-qualified, come to the showing prepared! You will generally need the following in order to apply and usually the Property Manager will take the first completed and paid application:
- Photo ID
- Last 2 month’s pay stubs
- Completed Application (you can usually pull one from the website) OR an electronic device that you can complete an online application.
- Know your employer’s address, contact name and number
- Payment for the application(s)
With some advanced preparation, diligence and a dash of luck, you’ll get your dream pad the next time around!