5 Things to Look for in a Rental Listing

Lackluster listings abound — learn to cut through the clutter and spot the keepers.

Whether you’re looking for an apartment, single-family house or townhome — and whether you’re in a city, the suburbs or a small town — be prepared to spend a lot of time online and even more time driving around to tour the most promising places in person.

If you want to save time and avoid headaches, make sure that every rental listing you consider has all the information you need. High-quality listings help you weed out the places that don’t fit your criteria (wait, Fido’s not welcome?), but they also indicate an organized, communicative and professional landlord — something every renter wants.

As you begin your search, consider these five important things every good rental listing should contain:

1. Detailed details

Front and center should be the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, storage space and a floor plan to help you visualize the layout.

Avoid listings with vague terms like “junior one bedroom” or “open one bedroom.” According to Zillow research, 65 percent of renters require their preferred number of bedrooms. Landlords know this, so they get creative with descriptions to attract more tenants.

Another need-to-know detail is how safe the property is. Zillow research reports that 75 percent of renters said that a safe neighborhood is a must-have. Most landlords will say that the neighborhood is safe, so do your own research, especially if you’re new to the area.

Speaking of being new — if you’re moving to a new part of town or an entirely new city, look for listings with important facts about the neighborhood, including proximity to transit or major freeways, convenient shopping centers, and nearby recreation and entertainment options.

2. Amenities — all of them

Beyond basics like heating and kitchen appliances, every renter has different amenities that they consider must-haves.

The most popular amenities renters look for include air conditioning, in-unit laundry, ample storage and private outdoor space. Watch for other nice-to-have in-unit amenities, like recent renovations, hardwood floors, plenty of windows and upgraded kitchens.

Shared amenities should be included in the listing too — things like parking, rooftop decks, fitness areas, outdoor space, swimming pools and bike storage.

3. Major (and potentially problematic) policies

The listing should disclose any policies that could be a deal breaker for you. Examples include rules around pets (including specific breeds), the maximum number of people who can live in the unit, smoking, parking, noise and — most importantly — lease terms and length.

Additionally, see if you can tell if the landlord lives on-site or if a local property management company manages things. If the landlord is nearby, they’ll likely handle repair requests quickly, along with general building upkeep and maintenance.

4. Clearly described costs

Make sure the landlord is exceptionally clear about the dollars and cents:

  • What is the monthly rent?
  • How much of a deposit is required, and is any of it refundable?
  • Are there any one-time fees?
  • Is there a pet fee or monthly charge?
  • Does parking cost extra?
  • Who pays for utilities?

These additional charges can quickly move a listing from feasible to fruitless, so make sure you have all the info you need to do the math ahead of time.

5. High-quality photos

Focus on listings that have not only good photos but also recent photos — and lots of them.

Look for listings that include both interior and exterior shots, plus photos of all shared amenities. But renter beware: If the landlord says the photos are of a similar unit — not the one that’s actually for rent — you may find yourself in a bait-and-switch situation.

Once you find a few listings that include these details, you’re off to a great start. You can more easily compare properties side by side, identify deal breakers and find areas where a landlord might be open to compromising.

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Originally published June 2018. Statistics updated January 2019.

Source: zillow.com

Can You Rent an Apartment if You’re Not a U.S. Citizen?

Many Americans are interested in living abroad and experiencing cultures different from their own, so it’s not surprising that many people from elsewhere want to come to America, as well. In fact, according to American Community Survey (ACS) data, more than 43 million immigrants resided in the U.S. in 2016. And many of them rent.

Renting as a non-citizen is absolutely plausible, but just like an American-born renter, you’ll be similarly scrutinized before signing a lease. Read on for a quick rundown of what you’ll likely need to provide and what to expect overall.

Proof of income

That charming accent you bring to the table won’t get you out of paying rent, and your landlord wants to know that you’ll pay on time each month. As such, part of your rental application will ask for information about your job or employment history.

In the United States, the general rule of thumb dictates you should spend about 30 percent of your income on rent. Do the math beforehand to see if you (and your roommate or roommates) can collectively afford the place in which you’re interested, because your landlord’s going to do it for you, as well.

Rent, of course, won’t be your only housing-related expense, so do research (you can even ask the landlord or property manager) to get an estimate of utilities such as water, gas and electricity. Some power companies even have online calculators you can use, plugging in things like square footage to determine what it will cost to heat or cool the place.

Deposits

Most apartment communities will require a security deposit when you sign a lease. If you have a pet, a pet deposit may be required, as well. These fees serve as financial insurance for the landlord should you fail to pay your rent, break your lease or damage the property in any way.

What’s more, when renting as a non-citizen, you may be asked for a larger deposit in the event the property management company is unable to thoroughly check your credit.

Proof of immigration status

While there are federal laws in place that expressly prohibit landlords or property management companies from discriminating against or excluding prospective tenants on the basis of gender, race, religion, disability, familial status or (and for our purposes here, especially) national origin, it is 100 percent legal to ask rental applicants to provide documentation regarding their immigration status.

Why?

Simply put, business is business. Your status is directly connected to whether your landlord can expect you to remain in the United States for the full term of your lease. If your documentation only permits you to stay in the country for another eight months, you won’t be able to fulfill the terms of a 12-month lease. That could be valid grounds for denying your application.

Refusing to rent to a non-citizen solely on the basis of his or her citizenship, however (assuming their citizenship would not prevent them from fulfilling the terms of the lease) is prohibited by law.

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This content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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Housing Inventory Lowest Since 2007, But Median Price Unchanged

Last updated on January 10th, 2018

A while back, I mentioned that it appeared as if we were running out of homes for sale, despite being just years (or days) out of the housing crisis.

I was being somewhat facetious, but it’s true that there are very few homes for sale these days, at least in areas where people want to buy.

A new report from Realtor released today revealed that there were just 1.76 million single-family homes, townhouses, condos, and co-ops listed for sale in October nationwide.

That number is down 2.58% from September and 17.0% from a year ago, displaying just how bad things have become for would-be homebuyers.

Total listings in October were also 40% below the 3.1 million units for sale back in September 2007, when Realtor.com began tracking associated housing markets.

On a year-over-year basis, for-sale inventory declined in 141 of the 146 markets covered by Realtor.com. Good luck finding a house!

Median Price Unchanged

median

Despite this drop in inventory, the median list price in October was $189,900, unchanged from a year ago (it dropped 0.83% month-over-month).

It has fallen for three straight months, and likely won’t see any improvement during the holiday season, so we could be in for a long winter.

So even though there are far fewer homes for sale, demand hasn’t won over supply, though it may prevent further home price declines. Phew.

Still, it doesn’t bode well for a recovery if home prices can’t even steady themselves with record low rates on hand and limited supply.

Recovery Uneven

List prices increased in 71 markets, remained unchanged in 31 markets, and dropped in 44 markets.

Median prices are up in many hard-hit regions, such as Phoenix, Atlanta, Seattle, Las Vegas, and much of California.

The median price in Vegas in October was 12.41% above year-ago levels, thanks to a 24.4% drop in housing inventory.

[Foreclosure resales hit five year low.]

But median prices are down in many areas of the country that didn’t experience a run-up in prices during the boom, namely the Midwestern “rust belt.”

In other words, continued economic uncertainty is killing demand and hurting home prices in areas that aren’t highly sought after.

And with the impending fiscal cliff, you have to wonder if this recovery really has any legs.

Still, investors seem to be scooping up properties and everyone I know wants a house; they just can’t seem to find one for sale.

So at minimum, that should buffer home prices, even if the economy takes another turn for the worse.

Two-Year Window to Buy

While that all sounds pretty grim, Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity firm, has purchased about 10,000 foreclosed properties in the United States this year, according to a Bloomberg report.

The price tag so far is a mere $1.5 billion, with about $100 million in weekly home purchases.

The company has been scooping up properties on the cheap, with an average purchase price of $150,000, many of which were valued at $300,000 during the boom.

Blackstone plans to renovate the homes and rent them out via property management companies.

But Blackstone Global Head of Real Estate Jonathan Gray believes there are only another two to three years of buying opportunities before the market becomes less attractive from an investment standpoint.

Clearly this presents a bit of a quandary, seeing that everyday buyers can’t even find a suitable property, thanks in part to these vulture investors coming in and paying with cash.

Read more: Should you buy a house now or wait?

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

The Pros and Cons of Renting Out Your Mother-in-Law Apartment

Also known as secondary units, these spaces can be handy when family visits or moves in. But if you’re not housing relatives, you can still put the unit to work.

Whether you’re buying your first home, looking to build one, or trying to make use of some free space, mother-in-law apartments (also known as accessory dwelling units or secondary units) are a great investment — even if you’re not planning to have relatives move in.

By renting out a section of your home, you can help ease the strain of a mortgage, or grow your savings. While these units can be difficult to find while house hunting, their advantages make them worth the extra effort — and if that doesn’t work, you can always build your own.

What is a secondary unit?

Similar to duplexes, secondary units offer an entirely separated living space that is part of a single building. They typically have their own entrance, bedrooms, kitchen, and living space. However, while duplex units are typically mirrors of each other, secondary units are a smaller part of a primary property.

In some cases, homes are built with a secondary unit in mind, and the design reflects an obviously segmented property. Other times, homeowners add a secondary unit to take advantage of underused space.

If the home has multiple bathrooms and kitchens, a retrofit can be as simple as blocking off a staircase. Otherwise, you’ll need to add basic amenities in order to rent to tenants.

While this construction may seem expensive, it can pay for itself in as little as a year or two. And as long as it doesn’t add to the square footage of the home, this type of addition may not even increase the property taxes (though your income taxes will increase).

Tally the benefits

Immediately and long term, the biggest advantages to owning a property with a secondary unit are financial. A tenant can be a huge help for first-time home buyers saddled with a steep mortgage payment. If the mortgage isn’t necessarily a concern, that rent money can help with bills or savings contributions.

Looking ahead, some homeowners will put their tenant’s rent money toward a down payment on their next home, which opens up the possibility of moving out and renting both units.

For parents whose children have recently left the nest, adding a secondary unit to rent out can help them save for retirement or provide income in twilight years. Taking recent trends into account, having this type of unit available can also be great in case adult children need to move back in, but don’t want to sleep in their old bedroom.

Beyond the initial return on investment, secondary units have long-term advantages. Along with savvy home buyers, real estate investors and property management companies are always on the lookout for these types of properties, driving up demand and price. And as any house hunter in the last decade can tell you, they go fast once they hit the market. This means that anyone planning to build their own house should definitely consider the possibility of adding a secondary unit, which may help boost the resale value and interest in the property.

The downside

Once you begin renting a secondary unit, you are no longer just a homeowner — you are a landlord. For first time homeowners, this may be a bit too much to handle; the unexpected costs and problems that creep up on new homeowners are magnified when managing two units. Repairs that you may normally leave for another day become immediate when they’re in your tenant’s unit.

You’re also responsible for finding a good tenant who will not only pay the rent on time, but will take care of your home. Tenants are sometimes harder on properties than property owners, which can be jarring for inexperienced landlords. Keep in mind that any damage your tenants do is damage done to your home.

So while houses with secondary units may seem like a cash machine, that machine requires a lot of time and maintenance to keep running. Make sure you have the time and energy to be on-call for repairs, emergencies, bill collection, complaints and more.

Finally, make sure you’ve done all your research before you start bricking up that basement staircase. State and local regulations vary, and while you’re probably okay to buy a home with an existing secondary unit, building your own may come with additional fees and paperwork.

Despite these potential issues, property management provides valuable experience that will benefit any homeowner. For many, the benefits of owning a property with a secondary unit far outweigh the disadvantages. Paying down a mortgage, building a nest egg, or increasing a home’s value are all great reasons to look into properties with secondary units.

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Source: zillow.com

Pros and Cons of Tiny House Living

Smiling man leaning on orange camper van.Are you in the process of looking for a new home? Whether you live alone or you’re relocating with your roommates, you’re probably weighing all of your housing options. Houses and apartments are the two obvious choices, but have you considered tiny houses?

Tiny houses are a relatively modern type of housing that’s gained significant popularity over the past few years. These small-but-mighty homes vary in terms of style, amenities, mobility options, and more! Are you curious about what it’s like to live in one of these charming abodes long-term? Here are the pros and cons of tiny house living.

The Pros of Tiny House Living

In addition to being aesthetically adorable, there are many pros to tiny house living, which can explain their boom in popularity.

Most notably, tiny houses are incredibly affordable in comparison to their “normal-sized” counterparts. They cost much less money and time to build and are typically designed to be highly energy-efficient. Depending on the total cost, tiny home dwellers are often able to skip paying a mortgage altogether. All of these subpoints make tiny houses an especially great option for first-time homeowners.

Additionally, tiny house living can span beyond miniature houses. Converted vans, refurbished buses, and trailers also count! With all of these different options, portability is a big advantage. Choosing the tiny house life allows you to enjoy unconventional freedoms, such as a nomadic lifestyle, going off-the-grid for extended periods, and traveling without pricey hotel bills.

The Cons of Tiny House Living

Although tiny houses have their fair share of perks, it takes a specific personality and lifestyle to thrive under this type of living arrangement. Consider if you’re willing and able to deal with these cons.
Living in a tiny home can cause you to encounter issues that apartments and larger homes manage to avoid. For instance, sub-par plumbing is a known problem with this type of living arrangement. If a tiny house is calling to you, make sure you can handle a composting toilet first. This kind of living experience is not for everyone.

What’s more, tiny homeowners aren’t awarded the luxury of having a landlord, HOA, or dedicated property management company to help with routine maintenance and repairs. Although it’s nice to have ownership of your place, this means more work on your part when something needs to be fixed.

Most obviously, tiny homes are significantly lacking in space. This typically isn’t an issue for those living alone or practicing a minimalist lifestyle; however, that’s where the buck stops. Tiny houses aren’t well equipped to handle large families or excessive storage and can feel quite confining to some.

The Happy Medium

As you can see, tiny houses are an enjoyable and affordable option — but they often come at a cost. If low-maintenance living is what you’re looking for, you’re better off finding an apartment that perfectly suits your needs.

By using our apartment lookup tool, you can find all the things you love about tiny homes in an apartment of your dreams. You don’t have to live in a small house to reside in an on-trend space! By searching short-term apartment rentals on ApartmentSearch.com, you can enjoy the same freedoms that tiny home living brings. Plus, with our referral reward, you can easily claim a $100 cash + $100 CORT bucks to spend on your furniture rental package!

ApartmentSearch.com does all of the tedious work for you by gathering all of your worthy options in one place. Whether you’re looking for a studio apartment, a one-bedroom, or a space with multiple bedrooms, ApartmentSearch.com will help you pick out your ideal living situation.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

What’s the Difference Between a Property Management Company and a Landlord?

When renting, the terms “Property Manager” and “Landlord” get used interchangeably. But, there are some distinguishing characteristics between the two.

We’ll tell you what they are below.

Property management companies

A property management company is an umbrella term for a person or company that manages both small and large-scale operations of a rental property on behalf of the owner.

Property management companies can be almost any size, and it’s not uncommon for one smaller company to report to a larger parent company. But in simple terms, a property management company is the middleman between you and the owner of the property – whomever that may be.

At properties operated by a property management company, lease agreements and rental terms are typically dictated by company policy as opposed to the preferences of the individual owner. Additionally, property management companies may have several properties and typically, the rental process and terms are uniform across all of them.

In terms of amenities and resources, property managers tend to have a more concrete system including maintenance, security and other staff on-site or on-call.

Landlords

Landlord is a term reserved for the sole owner of a property. They typically own individual rental houses but many also operate multi-family homes or small apartment complexes.

Because you’re dealing with one person, there’s typically more flexibility to waive certain fees, handle tenant requests or deal with disputes on a case-by-case basis as opposed to referring to a blanket policy.

Since the landlord-tenant relationship is more personal than the property management model, you may even be able to negotiate a reduced rate when renting directly from the landlord.

However, landlords typically don’t have the same resources as a full-fledged property management company. On top of that, landlords are responsible for knowing a ton of information on rental law enforcement. So much so, that occasionally a landlord could be misinformed about the law.

Which is right for you?

It all depends on what you’re looking for in your apartment hunt. Renting from a property management company offers the benefits of uniform policies and guaranteed services and amenities. Landlords offer a more flexible rental setup, but you also have no guarantees as all landlords handle renter situations differently.

Both have pros and cons, but hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the differences between the two.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Millennials: Ready to Buy a Second Home and Rent Out Your First?

You’re ready to move on, but that doesn’t mean you have to let go of your first property.

There comes a time in many homeowners’ lives when it’s just time to move on to the next home. Maybe it’s because of a job change, the arrival of a kid (or more kids), a marriage or divorce, or you just don’t like where you live anymore.

Many millennial homeowners — who represent half of all home buyers these days, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report  — are ready for that next home purchase. Maybe that describes you.

So, now you have a decision to make: Do you sell your first home, or hang on to it and rent it out?

Kate Currett, a millennial homeowner, rented out her first home in Utah for three years while living in her second home in Ohio. Her goal, like most who rent out a property, was to earn additional income.

Sounds simple enough, but there are many factors that you should weigh when making this big decision.

Financial perks and considerations

In addition to having the potential to make some money on renting a house, buying a second home and renting the first is one way to build a real estate investment portfolio.

Millennials, in particular, are typically in a good position to do this: You can convert your primary residence into a rental and “leave your owner-occupied mortgage intact, which was likely (and hopefully) obtained with a down payment and the most favorable mortgage interest rate, as low as 3.5 percent,” says Kelly Hannah, a certified residential specialist at Eightline Real Estate.

Purchasing a non-owner-occupied property (that is, a house that you’re purchasing specifically to rent out) generally requires a 20- to 25-percent down payment and has an interest rate .375 percent to .75 percent higher than you’d get for an owner-occupied property.

Bottom line, it will likely cost less to convert the house you live in now into a rental and buy a second home to use as your primary residence than to purchase a second home to use as a rental property.

The financial hurdle you will have to leap is qualifying for a second mortgage. “In the beginning, [it was difficult] making sure we could qualify for a dual loan,” Currett admits.

But if you have a lease in place on your first home prior to closing on your second home, “your lender may allow a portion of those future rents to count as income in their calculation of your debt-to-income ratios,” Hannah says.

However, lenders “prefer to see that you have property management experience in order to count those future rents as income,” he warns.

Tax advantages

As for tax advantages to renting out one of your properties, Leigh Anne Bernal, a property consultant with cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, advises making it a priority to speak with an accountant, as tax rules can be complicated when renting out a property.

Generally, “the most substantial tax advantages to converting your current home into a rental come in the form of depreciating that property, the deduction of maintenance expenses, and the deduction of your mortgage interest,” Hannah explains.

The ideal rental property

Before you make any moves toward converting your home into a rental, you need to assess whether or not your home is  rentable.

Generally speaking, a “one- to three-bedroom home is going to be easier [to rent] than a larger home,” Bernal notes.

She suggests researching who the renters are in your city and the types of properties they rent. “The broader the appeal, the more luck you will have,” Bernal says.

Hannah adds that the best way to determine whether your home is an ideal rental property is to meet with a professional and “create a comprehensive strategy tailored to your individual situation and specific market.”

How to assess rental fees

Needless to say, rental rates vary greatly, “especially with respect to single-family homes and condominiums,” Hannah says, as rental rates for privately owned homes are not easily tracked.

Currett agrees, and notes that a tough part of owning a home while renting out another was balancing having a competitive rental rate and still making a profit.

However, a reliable way to determine the rent for your first home is to search the rental market for homes similar to yours.

“This will allow you to see what rental rates are in real time and space, and price your rental competitively,” Hannah notes.

“Do your homework,” Bernal says. “Take all of the costs into consideration, including property taxes and insurance.”

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of renting a property is being a landlord for the first time. Costs can come at you from all sides, from repairs to late or unpaid rent from tenants to property damage. Go in planning on incurring expenses beyond the mortgage payment.

“Some of this can be handled with a property management company, but that comes at a price, so make sure you have that included in your math,” Bernal advises.

Words of wisdom

When it comes to renting out your extra home, “Do it,” is Hannah’s advice. “Buy and hold is almost always a good idea.”

But Bernal recommends really analyzing your situation before making a leap: “If you’re in a seller’s market, that can make it tougher to get into your new home without cashing out the equity in your first home. You may be able to refinance your first home to get some of that equity out.”

Get more Landlord Resources or check out our Guide to Rental Property Management.

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Source: zillow.com

Technology Revolution Calls Multi-Family Home

Speaker at Optech conferenceOne of the great proving grounds for technology lies within the apartment industry. In an effort to offer greater amenities for their residents, while staying one step ahead of the local competition, property management companies have been on the forefront of lifestyle-based technology. And, as society’s craving for technological offerings have steadily increased along with the preference for the apartment lifestyle, apartment communities that do not evolve with the times are doomed to fall into obscurity within their marketplace. This week, apartment industry professional meet for the annual Optech Conference to focus on the present and future of the technology that proliferates today’s apartment communities. Here are a few of the exciting new developments they will discuss:

Smart Technology in Apartments

The news today is frequented with discussions of the Internet of Things and the evolution of smart technology around the home. The smart phones that are in the hands of two-thirds of Americans have initiated a new era in connectivity, and that technology is having a profound impact on people who enjoy the apartment lifestyle. Keyless entry via smartphone and appliances that send alerts to your phone are just a few of the technology items that were once considered sci-fi, but are now becoming mainstream amenities. Amazon Dash Buttons, smart lightbulbs, and countertops that can wirelessly charge digital devices are also prolific. As smart technology continues to evolve into the centerpiece of household life, you are sure to see more technology available – both inside your apartment and inside your apartment community’s office.

Package Delivery to Apartments

The increased technology available to apartment management teams has done much more than enabled maintenance teams to complete your requests faster and create a world where rent can be paid online. Property management teams are becoming almost extensions of the family with their increased ability to assist renters in a variety of ways. One in particular that has come under scrutiny recently is the ability for community staff to accept package delivery on a resident’s behalf. In the past, that was a no-brainer for delivery companies such as UPS and FedEx. Packages were to be delivered at the community office in order to guarantee safety against weather and possible theft.

However, the significant increases in package delivery – thanks to more of us buying products online – have caused some communities to discontinue this policy in favor of other alternatives. However, technologically-advanced solutions are available for management teams to make sure your package deliveries still successfully arrive in your hands. Package notification systems can send text and email alerts about a parcel’s arrival. In some communities, package lockers take the place of leasing office storage for deliveries. In either case, tomorrow’s technology is available today for apartment communities, to help ensure you get your deliveries in time for the holidays.

Digital Connectivity for Apartments

Two things that are essential to modern apartment life are quality cellular connectivity and access to high speed internet. The challenges to find both of these are not new to apartment shoppers. Many communities have begun to add cell signal booster stations to buildings and are partnering with service providers to increase internet speeds. Instead of free premium internet offered in solely common area, many communities are offering it throughout the entire community. Google Fiber, AT&T GigaPower and other such services are bringing internet speeds to new heights, to ensure that you will always be connected.

As you shop for your next apartment, the technology that is important to you is available at many apartments in your city. All the things you want and need for your lifestyle can be found when you search for your next apartment using www.apartmentsearch.com. Sort by amenity, location and price and, when you find the apartment of your dreams, be sure to tell them how you found the community. When you mention ApartmentSearch, you can earn up to $200 in rewards. That bonus goes a long way to help you get ready for the holiday shopping season.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

Can You Pay Rent With a Credit Card?

Charge! From everyday purchases to splurges, consumers often turn to credit cards. Some Americans even reach for the plastic to pay the rent. But is paying rent by credit card a good idea? Is it even allowed? The answer to both questions: It depends.

By late 2020, there had been as much as a 70% increase in the number of people paying rent by credit card, compared with the year before, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

And in light of pandemic pressures, landlords around the country had begun waiving or reducing fees for using credit cards to pay rent.

Let’s address questions and look at pros and cons of charging the rent in any economic climate.

Do Landlords Allow Payment by Credit Card?

For renters tempted to reach for the plastic, the first likely question is whether this mode of payment is even accepted. The answer will depend on the landlord, though many do not allow it.

The reason: Accepting credit card payments incurs fees for the merchant.

When people make a purchase on a credit card—whether they’re buying household items, a car, or paying the rent—they are essentially taking out a loan from their credit card company, which advances the money to the merchant (or in the case of rent, the landlord or property management company).

credit score.

As such, individuals may want to leverage credit cards for flexibility only if they are sure they’ll have the money available when their credit card payment becomes due.

Benefits, Including Cash Back

While there are many basic credit cards on the market, there are also credit card products that reward people for spending—in the form of cash back, points that can be redeemed toward travel and other perks, and other benefits.

The cost of housing consistently ranks as Americans’ greatest annual expenditure (based on percentage of total annual spending), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For those with reward cards, this means paying rent by credit card can represent the greatest opportunity to rack up spending and earn those perks.

But it’s important to do the math. Third-party fees or credit card payment surcharges can cancel out any benefit a cardholder may earn, or even ultimately cost more if fees are greater than the reward offering.

Cons of Paying Rent With a Credit Card

Charging the rent can be a risky proposition. Regularly paying the rent by credit card because of a lack of money on hand can be a sign something is wrong financially, whether because of emergency circumstances or poor budgeting.

If you regularly charge the rent out of necessity, it merits taking a closer look into the root causes and how they may be addressed in your monthly budget.

But there are additional reasons why paying rent with a credit card may not be a good idea.

It May Cost More

As discussed, some landlords and third-party payment companies may tack on a surcharge for credit card payments.

Let’s say the surcharge is 3%, or an extra $30 on $1,000 in monthly rent. While that may not sound like much, it adds up to $360 a year, money some individuals may prefer to spend elsewhere.

Landlord surcharges are not the only thing that can make it more expensive to pay rent by credit card. When cardholders pay by the due date, they are only on the hook for the amount they agreed to pay. But making a credit card payment even a day late can increase the total amount due, thanks to interest charges. And the later the debt—in this case rent—is paid, the greater the interest charges will be.

Though interest rates vary by credit card, they are often higher than other lending products like personal loans.

The average credit card annual percentage rate exceeded 20% in early 2021. Worse, the interest compounds, so each month that cardholders do not pay off the rent in full, they will incur interest on both the balance and interest that has accrued.

It Can Affect Credit Score

Your credit score reflects your creditworthiness, or the risk you pose to lenders. The number (300 to 850 for the FICO® Score and VantageScore models) affects how likely it is for you to be approved for another credit card, or a mortgage or other loan, and the interest rate you will have to pay.

Regularly missing credit card payments will negatively affect your score. Because rent tends to be a significant expenditure, you’ll want to ensure that you will have the funds on hand to pay the balance in full if you choose to charge the rent.

But even on-time payments can affect a credit score. Scores are based in part on an individual’s credit utilization ratio—the proportion of credit being used relative to the total available amount.

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Source: sofi.com

Top 5 Qualities to Look for in a Landlord

Smiling young apartment landlord, reaching out with apartment keysLooking for an apartment that fits your needs doesn’t have to be a headache, and neither does finding a landlord that you can get along with. Developing a positive working relationship with your landlord can make a huge difference when it comes to negotiating the terms of your lease or requesting maintenance. When visiting any prospective apartment, look for these qualities in your next landlord.

#1: Good Communication

Good communication is the key to any healthy professional (or personal) relationship. Does the landlord listen to your questions and give thoughtful, direct answers? Are they transparent and clear in communicating their expectations for you and for themselves? Do they seem approachable and respectful?

If you sense any hostility, ambivalence, or if the landlord seems reluctant to answer your questions, it could be a red flag. You might be dealing with someone who sees tenants as expendable and interchangeable, someone who isn’t interested in working with you to build a long-term partnership.

#2: Organization

You took the effort to fully prepare for the meeting with your landlord, arriving with your ID, bank statements, and reference letters in tow. Can the same be said for them? Are the lease documents ready to sign? Do they appear to have a well organized system for signing new tenants? Does it look like they’ve done this before? If the initial meeting seems disorganized, it could be a sign that your experience with the complex’s staff could be too…think lost receipts, forgotten maintenance appointments, and overlooked tenant messages.

#3: Reliability

You should be able to rely on your landlord to follow through with their commitments. Did they arrive on time to your meeting? Do they return your phone calls promptly? Do they make excuses or change their story? A landlord who deals fairly and plainly with you during the application process will likely continue to be reliable in the future.

4: Professionalism

Are the landlord and their employees courteous and respectful? Is the apartment, its grounds, and the leasing office tidy, well-organized, and inviting? Does the office staff seem to take pride in their complex’s brand and their overall appearance? A landlord who maintains a respected, well-run business is likely someone who has a knack for building and maintaining positive working relationships with their tenants as well.

#5: Reputation

It’s worth looking up your landlord or their property management firm online to see what kind of reputation they have. You can even ask the landlord for the contact information of current or past tenants. If they are forthcoming, that’s a good sign. There are also online resources such as WhoseYourLandlord.com where you can search for landlord reviews by name and location. (Only bummer is that it’s limited to Philly, NYC, and DC right now.) While it’s good information to know, take anything you find on the internet with a grain of salt. One bad review from a disgruntled tenant doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dealing with a slumlord.

Ready to put your landlord know-how to good use? Browse recently listed apartments in your area on ApartmentSearch.com and schedule a few tours today! With our landlord tips in hand, you’ll be able to pick the apartment that’s right for you in no time.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com