Renting a Place to Call Home in the Metroplex

hand holding keys home sweet home

Much to my chagrin, I am now an expert on renting a place to call home in the metroplex.

We moved to Texas at the beginning of May after putting our house on the market in Pennsylvania.   Hoping for a quick sale (ha!), we left most of our belongings in PA.   We have experienced several types of renting so I will share the ins and outs with you in the event you find yourself in my position.

You poor, poor, soul ¦

Option 1 – Rent a furnished apartment.

started on Rent.com.  They are almost always running a special deal to get a $100 Visa Gift Card when you sign a lease…added bonus.  A month-to-month lease can run 25-40% higher than a 12 month lease. A furnished month-to-month lease can run 300% higher than a 12 month lease. Ouch. If your company is paying the tab, no worries ¦my husband’s was not.

Option 2 – Rent an apartment and the furniture separately.

This can be more economical, but most furniture rental companies rent for a minimum of 3 months.   From their perspective, they don’t want to drag furniture out, put it through the stress of moving it into a location and then move it back out again in a month.

Just when I was about to admit my failure to come anywhere near the budget, I came across an apartment search company called Apartment Wiz. They took my list of requirements and found complexes that met our needs.  They did all the research and made all the phone calls.   We rented the first apartment we viewed. We had no idea how long we would rent, but we were still hoping the house would sell during the summer so we could be in a bigger place by the time our son started school.   July began with absolutely no prospects on our house, so we started to consider our options for the next year.

Option 3 – Rent a bigger apartment.

After having lived in a house for 11 years, apartment life just didn’t hold the glamor of our younger days. We skipped to option 4.

Option 4 – Rent a townhouse.

I searched Realtor.com and HouseRentals.com and got a list of potential units for rent.   The prices were in the same ballpark as similar square footage in an apartment.   I called the listing agents and scheduled 4 showings.   At the end of the day, we found a unit we loved.   It had just gone on the market and it was in really good shape.   We paid the application fee and sailed through.

We got the lease and stopped short.   The lease said we were responsible for paying the home warranty calls if they came up.   Huh?   I own a house that I pay to maintain, I shouldn’t have to do it with a rental property.   I questioned the leasing agent and they subsequently turned us down.   Now what?

One of the agents was super-nice and  offered to help us find a unit.   He did some research and made phone calls.   Sadly, of the 5 units I liked, 1 wouldn’t take pets, 3 were gone and 1 wanted the entire security deposit with the application.

Are you serious??  

There was no way we were turning that much money over to someone without having seen the lease.

Back to option 3 – Rent a bigger apartment.

This time I was looking for a 12 month lease and had better luck when I searched Rent.com. I found 15 complexes that met our needs, called them, and was left with 5 complexes that had units available in our time frame.

When I arrived at the last complex on my list, Somerset on Spring Creek, I knew I had found our home for the next year. The leasing agents were friendly, the property was well-maintained and they had all the extras ¦bark park for our dogs, play ground for our son, pool, exercise room, and much lower density living.   They had a unit available and we grabbed it.   End of story!   We moved in on August 17th and will be there for the next year.

Whew!

Option 5 – Rent a house.

Once we finish out our lease, we are considering renting a house rather than purchasing.   From what I have seen and heard, it is just as difficult to rent a house as a townhouse.   They go like crazy and some of them have weird lease terms.   Take the good with the bad.   Is it attractive to not pay for maintenance for awhile?   Heck yea!

So what things should you keep in mind when renting a place to call home in the metroplex?

1. Need a small place? Decide if you want a townhouse or apartment.   Townhouses offer more of a “home” atmosphere, but they go like hotcakes in this area.   Deposit = 1 month rent.   Be prepared to slap an application down and don’t question the terms unless you can afford to lose it. Apartments are also in short supply, but the sheer volume makes it more likely you will find what you need. Deposit = $100-300.

2. Use a real estate agent if you are looking for townhouses.   They get paid a commission by the landlord and their hope is that you will use them when you eventually buy. Be aware that not all real estate agents will jump to help you, however.   If they are limited in time, they would rather use their time to get 3% on the sale price of a house than 50% of 1 month rent.  I highly recommend  Jeremy Whiteker with Ellen Terry Realtors  he had no qualms about helping us find a rental unit.

3. Use a rental agent if you are looking for apartments.   Let them do the work for you.   They get paid by the property manager when you rent.   Don’t forget to put their name on the application so they get paid. Jose Ovalle with  Apartment Wiz  was great and took care of things in a matter of a couple days.

4. Expect weird lease terms especially with a landlord.   Properties are moving so fast, they can (and will) put in hokey things knowing that most people will just sign so they don’t don’t lose the property.   After talking to people, expect things like paying for the home warranty calls, watering the lawn once a week, paying an alarm monitoring fee, paying a lawn care company, etc.

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