| Finding the Perfect Rental Home

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Make sure you're looking for the right attributes.

Know Your Needs

Seeking for a place to call "home" is more than just finding a place with enough bedrooms and bathrooms within your budget. There are amenities that vary in importance from person to person.

The process of finding a home is similar to purchasing a bicycle. Every bicycle has a frame, handlebars, and two wheels. However, some customers may want a basket and streamers included on the bicycles, while others want a full, carbon fiber frame with racing handle bars. Both are bicycles, but both are very different according to an individual’s needs and wants.

When searching for the perfect rental home, do not waste time looking at the "baskets" and "streamers", when what you really want is a "carbon fiber frame." Consider these tips when deciding what amenities are necessary in your future rental and how to find those amenities amongst thousands of listings.

Amenity vs. Must-Have?

Amenities in a home can include, but are not be limited to, several things: a backyard (compared to shared outdoor space), patio/deck, gas stove, stairs, street parking vs. garage, home office, fireplace, location, central air conditioning, full bathroom with a tub or just a shower, tile floors, wood floors, granite countertops, renovations, storage, and appliances like stove, microwave, oven, or washer and dryer, and more.

Take the time to brainstorm different amenities that would be most important to you during your house hunt. Make a list and mark the ones that you consider "Deal-breakers" (Amenities you MUST have or else you will not go forward in renting.) A common "Deal Breaker" is location. If there is a neighborhood you are set on living in, don't waste your time looking anywhere else. Next, mark amenities that you are willing to compromise. For example, you may give up not having a tub in the bathroom so that you can have central air in your rental home.

Now that you have your list, you're ready to start your house hunt! If you're still having trouble thinking of amenities, consider these two lists of common amenities:

- 11 Overlooked Amenities

- Looking for a Property?

Search for what you Want!

Technology is a tool. Many sites have online filters and "Advance Searches" to help you narrow down your listings according to the base amenities you want in a home. This will help quickly narrow down which listings match your general interests. Here is an example of the "Advance Search" available with a subscription with

advanced home search widget

Second, reach out to local realtors. They have the resources to know of listings that may not be online. They are also more familiar with the properties. Realtors are a great source to narrow down possible homes that include more specific amenities such as fireplace, patios, etc.

Third, don’t be afraid to chat. Word of mouth and networking can be a powerful tool. Talking to neighbors in a desired neighborhood or talking to friends can help you find leads to homes that are perfect for you. Friends especially already know you and your preferences. Word of mouth sometimes leads to finding the perfect home that may not even be formally listed yet. This could give you quite the “leg-up” in finding the perfect rental.

Last, hit the pavement. Drive around. Investigate the "for rent" signs you see in neighborhoods you like. Also check houses that may not have sold in the past year. Often they have been listed a long time or their prices have been reduced. Contact the real estate agents for those homes and see if their owners are willing to rent. Sometimes the owners already own another home and cannot afford the two mortgages. Renting or rent-to-owning may be an option to relieve an owner's mortgage payments, which would also be a benefit to you as well.

Remember, don’t waste time looking at listings that will not match your lifestyle and needs. Just like the bike analogy, you will not be satisfied with your rental home if you are looking for the wrong "model" for you. These tips will help you organize your search and propel you towards a successful renting experience.

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