5 Tips to Find the Perfect Rental in the Columbus, Ohio Area
5 Tips to Find the Perfect Rental in the Columbus, Ohio Area
We moved our family back to Columbus in June of 2016 from Knoxville, Tennessee. It had been over ten years since we had lived in the area. My wife and I were both excited at the progress that the City of Columbus had made with it’s greenways and the evolution of the entrepreneurial culture. We were also very interested in the increased multi-cultural influences the city was experiencing.
We stayed with a friend temporarily until we decided whether we were going to purchase a home or rent. After weighing our options and running the numbers we decided to rent for one year and return to the market to buy at the end of our lease.
In 2016 the Central Ohio Real Estate Market was on fire. Prices were up, inventory was down and homes were selling in just days in many of the places we were interested in. We turned our attention to finding a place to rent for the next year.
My wife and I quickly learned that the rental market was just as hot. We called on dozens of houses and apartments to find most of them were already rented. We also learned Craigslist is no longer a valuable tool for finding a rental. Consistently when calling on rentals listed on the site we would have the worst experiences with the person who answered the phone.
We turned our attention to Zillow and Trulia’s rental apps and sites. Within a few days of doing this, we signed a lease on a duplex in Westerville at the top end of our budget. Now we are walking distance to Uptown Deli & Brew and two coffee shops as well as the Westerville Library and multiple restaurants.
The rental market in Central Ohio is still very competitive. The better the school system or the safer the neighborhood, the shorter time they are available and the more money you will pay. Even in some areas that don’t have either of these two attributes, rents are skyrocketing.
Note: The following list of tips is for those who have at least decent credit and have never been evicted. Those two things are crucial in being able to find the perfect rental in a market like we currently are experiencing in the Central Ohio Area.
Here are 5 Tips to Find the Perfect Rental in the Columbus, Ohio Area
Know what you want in your rental
Figure out your living priorities. What are those? Think of them of as the most important features of a living space that impact your quality of your life. After all, you are not going to be working to your full potential in your career if your quality of life at home is not optimal, right? Retired, well then quality of life is even more important.
Here are some things to consider when figuring out how to rate the rentals you have found online. Consider neighborhood safety, convenience to gas stations, grocery stores and retail, mobile phone reception, utility service provider availability (including tv/high speed internet services), commute times to work/school, recreation, laundry set-up, nearby nightlife and parking. Also consider environmental aspects such as; traffic density (affects air quality), traffic noise, nearby airport flight paths, hospital helicopter pad noise, greenway access or even waterway proximity. Many, if not all of these things will have an impact on your quality of life.
Community Crime Maps provides a map of the crimes reported around a specific address. If safety is paramount to you, consider looking at this map.
Understand Market Rates
Ok, you know how many bedrooms, baths and the approximate square footage you want in your rental, right? You also should have an idea what you can afford based on your own personal past housing expenses. Now it’s time to price the markets where you want to live. The aforementioned rental sites are a good place to check. Using them to determine the market rate on a rental that meets your needs helps you get a more realistic idea where to concentrate your search.
Get the Ground Truth
If you are interested in a neighborhood, go walk it. Do it when you would be walking normally where you live now. If you plan on living alone, get some friends to go with you on this walk. They will let you know how they feel and see things you don’t when out on the walk. Remember, these are also people you want to feel comfortable when they come to see you at your new place.
Also drive the neighborhood at night. During the course of living somewhere you are going to come and go at all hours. It is important to know what the neighborhood is like at all hours. If you have only visited a neighborhood at 2pm, you may find that everyone was at work or school and it changes dramatically when all those folks come home at night. I suggest a dinner time drive through and an after bar hours drive through ifyou really want to find out just how quiet that neighborhood really is.
Getting a feeling for how long your target types of rentals are lasting on the market is a good idea. If you have been considering renting for some time you likely already have an idea of this. If not, keep a list of the places that caught your eye and met your requirements. Then after a few days, go back and see if they are still listed. This can help you form an idea of how much time you have to act when a rental you like the neighborhood of your choice becomes available. For my wife and I, we found that number to be 48 hours during our search.
It is very important to know that you don’t have much time here. That is the key to finding the perfect place. This means you are really looking for a place that has been for rent for just hours or days, not months or weeks. The places that meet all of your needs are likely going to go very quickly.
Be Ready to Pounce
We have already established that you don’t have much time. Even the brand new apartment buildings are filling up with renters within weeks of opening. So make sure your funds are available in your account for first and last months rent and deposit (yes, some places require all three) and be ready to convert them into certified check or money order depending on which your landlord prefers. Don’t go on your rental hunt with a pocket full of cash, please. This should go without saying.
Sidenote: The scam still exists on Craigslist where folks are asking you to Western Union or Moneygram them the deposit and first months rent. Don’t fall for this please. Meet and get the keys at the time that you present a check or money order to the person you sign a lease with.
It’s hard to find a place to live while you are working a 9-5. This is the biggest challenge there is. Folks who work for themselves have the advantage all day because they can make themselves available to see a rental in hours notice much more easily than folks who have to request time off at their job. That said, you are likely might have to call off work if you want to find the perfect place to live. At minimum be willing to sacrifice your lunch break.
The opportunities come and go in the blink of an eye. Be ready to act, do your research and know what you want and are willing to pay and you are in the best position overall to find the perfect rental in the Columbus, Ohio area and beyond.