Complete Guide to House Hunting – What You Need to Know About Picking Out a Rental Property
Finding the perfect property to let can become a daunting task. No matter where your search starts, you will find a host of properties available for you to choose from. So how do you know which is the perfect home for you?
Rental property deadline
We’ve all been there, that moment where you have spent hours upon hours looking for a great rental property only to realise your deadline and moving-out date are right around the corner and you might soon be homeless if you don’t get your search into high-gear fast.
Regardless of whether you are a student looking for accommodation close to university or even newlyweds looking for your first home together, if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for you might find yourself running in circles without actually finding anything remotely suitable to your needs.
Rental properties are a lot easier to find in our current economic climate, however you will need a comprehensive plan before you commit to any property that might end up not working out for you. But what can you do to narrow down your search and stop wasting time on unnecessary viewings?
Top 10 tips to find a house to let
When you are looking for a rental, be sure to start your search early enough so that you don’t have to rush the process, 2letnow.co.za have compiled a handy list for you to use.
Property Priority List
- Know how long you have – knowing when your moving-out date is and how long you have available to find an alternative, will ensure that you know what your deadline is and make you stick within those timelines.
- Where do you want to go – location is everything, even more so when it comes to a rental. Are you looking to move to another town or province? Perhaps you will stay in your area but you just want to move closer to work. Knowing the area you want to live in will help you to narrow your search to only properties within those parameters.
- The cost of living – Are you moving because you recently received a raise and can afford better? Perhaps your reason for moving is to save some money. Knowing what your available budget is and what costs you will need to cover monthly. Check what is included in your rental fee. Are all levies and utilities already included in the price or will some of those be over and above?
- Size does matter – How much space do you need? Is it just you or are you house-sharing with a friend? Are you part of a small family that needs a new place to stay? Knowing how large a space you need is a vital part of finding your next home.
- Be prepared – Have your plan and deposit ready before you even start your property search. Before even viewing the first option, have all the pieces of the application puzzle ready – copies of identity documents, bank statements, credit reports as well as your deposit. You never know, the first viewing might be your next home.
- The gut feel – It’s okay to walk away. If your instincts are not happy with after viewing, then walk away, listen to your gut.
- Be curious – Inspect the unit, you know what you want, so make sure that the property offers you all those things.
- Play around – Measure key pieces of furniture and take those measurements with you when viewing. Play around with placement ideas to ensure that your furniture will actually fit into the available space.
- Neighbourhood – If you don’t know the are very well, it is worth looking into finding out about things like public transport routes, crime rate, grocery stores, hospitals and schools.
- More than words – Every agreement between you and the landlord should be in writing, regardless of whether it is the deposit amount or his commitment to fixing the leaking sink.
Rental Property Hunting
Now that we’ve established an actionable checklist for your rental house hunt, here are a few points to consider when viewing a property:
- Cell phone coverage
- Interior condition of the unit
- Floors, windows and ceiling – note age and condition.
- Walls – check for stains and cracks.
- Bathrooms and kitchen – test taps and check for leaks.
- Rooms – are the floors even?
- Stairs – do the stairs creak or show damage of any kind?
- Doors – test to see that they open and close properly and that all locks are working.
- Systems – this includes systems like smoke detectors, security systems and air conditioning units. Check that these are all working.
- Exterior condition of the unit
- Roof – check for sagging or discoloration.
- Foundation – make sure there is no damage to the foundation.
- Walls – any peeling paint or cracks?
- Make the viewing as comprehensive as possible
- Take photos.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Find out about the property’s history.
- Remember your budget.
- Keep your expectations realistic.
- Be sure to take the landlord or agent’s contact details and do some research if you aren’t sure. Rather be safe than get caught in a rental property scam.
- Review the lease agreement and know your tenant rights.
As daunting as a house hunt may be, it can also be very liberating, so make sure you know what you want and what your and your family’s needs are in terms of your home.
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*Article updated 03/04/2020 to include images and additional information.