Planning on moving soon? Based on where you live and the time of year, you might be better off waiting. Just like home buying real estate, where distinct buyer’s and seller’s markets drive price trends and availability, the rental market is subject to variability throughout the year that makes some months a better time to snag an apartment than others. If you want to get a great apartment at a great price then, it’s worth doing some research on the best time of year to rent.
In a recent report, rental search website Renthop dove into the data for 10 major cities around seasonal and monthly trends in demand and prices. What they found may be useful as you do your own apartment hunt, especially if you’ve got some flexibility in when you can move.
So what’s the best time of year to rent an apartment? Here are some of the key findings from Renthop’s report that will help you figure it out.
Rents Are Lowest in the Winter
Winter has long been considered the best time of year to rent, since less people are prone to relocating in the colder months and college student leases are generally clustered in the summer. Aside from conventional wisdom though, there are some real numbers suggesting that winter is the cheapest month to rent an apartment—and thus possibly the ideal month to do your search.
The cheapest months to rent are between December and March, or early winter to early spring. Compared to peak months, rental prices during this period tend to be 3.4% lower, with dollar savings coming in at $38 to $139 less for one bedroom apartments and $47 to $176 less for two bedroom apartments. Even at the lower end of savings, that can mean nearly $500 off your total rental cost over the course of the year.
As for how your location affects your savings, Renthop found that the more steep the rental prices in general, the more money you’ll save by renting in the winter.
Rents Are Highest in the Summer and Fall
Across all 10 metro areas in the report, May through October (early summer to early fall) are the most expensive months for rental prices, perhaps making them not the best time to rent an apartment.
To understand why this is, it helps to look at the correlation between the rental market and the buying market. The same logic that drives prices in a buyer’s market versus a seller’s market also apply to rentals, with higher buyer demand equating to higher prices. In the rental market, inventory and demand tend to be highest from early summer to early fall, which means that landlords and management companies can get away with asking for more money on their units.
This high demand can be traced to a couple of different factors, key among them an influx of college student renters (at least in the metro areas including in the Renthop report) as well as the greatest degree of turnover. Since more people rent in these months and most leases are in one to two year increments, that means a surge of renters who are considering making their move once the warmer weather hits.
So What’s The Best Time of Year to Rent?
Looking at prices alone, it’s clear that winter is the best time of year to rent an apartment. However, there are a lot of considerations that you need to keep in mind when you’re on the hunt for a rental, and while price is obviously at the top, it’s not the only factor. Other things that most renters are looking for include amenities, location, and lease flexibility, and for those, you’re best off when the inventory is highest.
To decide when the best time of year to rent is for you, start by figuring out what your highest priority is in an apartment. If you care the most about price and are less concerned about having a slew of options from which to choose, then rent during the winter, when buyer demand is low and so are the prices. If you’re more focused on the apartment itself, rent during the summer and early fall, when inventory is at its peak.
How to Find a Great Deal on an Apartment
Time of year aside, there are some things that you should always do in order to get the best price on an apartment. Here are six of them.
Diversify your search
Don’t center your apartment hunt all in one place. There are lots of websites that list apartments, and you won’t always find the same units on all of them. To make sure that you see the widest possible inventory—and thus the widest range of prices—browse through at least four or five.
Tip: Check out apartments on realtor.com
Work with a rental agent
A rental agent is free to use (they get paid by the landlords and management companies who they find renters for) and can work within your budget to find you an ideal apartment for your price range. Since there’s nothing to lose, it makes sense to have a rental agent scouring their own resources for your next apartment.
Get a roommate
When you split your space you also split the cost of living there. A roommate isn’t for everyone, but getting one can greatly increase your chances of finding a good apartment in a workable budget. For example, you’ll save $1,200 a year if you get a two bedroom apartment for $1,800 a month versus a one bedroom apartment for $1,000 a month, and you’ll also get to cut your utility bills in half. As for where to find one, here are 10 online roommate findersto help you find a roomie fast.
Rent prices aren’t always negotiable, but it can’t hurt to ask. Talk to your potential landlord to see if there is any flexibility on cost, making sure to highlight some reasons that you would be an ideal tenant. Some selling points to have in your favor would be if you’re willing to rent for an extended lease period, or if you’re willing to pay a few months rent in advance. While there are no guarantees you’ll be able to get the price down, many landlords will be willing to hear you out—especially if you’re apartment hunting during periods of lower demand.
Know what you can live without
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to compromise on amenities to get a good deal on an apartment. In the real world though, you often have to make at least some sacrifices. They key is deciding what really matters and what you can be flexible with. You might be able to get a nice apartment for a cheaper price if you forego in-unit or in-building laundry, for example, or if you expand your location preference. Do a cost-benefit analysis with every single unit that you consider to decide whether the price is worth what you do and don’t get for it.
Even in lower-demand months a great apartment at a great price isn’t likely to last for long. If you find somewhere that you’re interested in renting and that fits in your budget, go ahead and apply instead of waiting to see if anything else pops up.
If you have flexibility in your move date, opt for the best time of year to rent an apartment in regards to your own needs, whether that’s cost or other factors. Often, it’s worth waiting a few more months if it means decreasing your rent or increasing your options. Coupled with the advice above, you should be able to find a unit that you really like and that aligns with your budget.
Original Article – https://www.moving.com/tips/the-best-time-of-year-to-rent-an-apartment/