The Rental Process

When deciding to rent a home, townhome or condo, you have three options.  The first is to go to a typical apartment complex.  Generally, these apartments are small and high priced.  But you have the stability of knowing that it is available for as long as you want to stay.  The second is to rent a condo, townhome or single family home through a realtor. This is a great option for people needing more space than what a typical apartment rental can offer.  The third is to go directly through an owner via craigslist or other local listing service. There are advantages and disadvantages to all three.

A Realtor can assist you if you choose to rent through a typical apartment complex.  For people that are new to the area, the advise of the agent can be very valuable.  Information on traffic, area amenities and schools change frequently throughout the DMV.  So choosing the right location is very important.  One of the advantages of moving into a typical apartment complex is stability.  Knowing that you will not have to move out until YOU are ready.  You can extend your lease for as long as you need, or give notice and move with a pre-determined penalty.  If anything goes wrong, there are usually maintenance personnel on site.  The rental process is very simple at an apartment complex.  You fill out a basic application and they pull your credit and verify employment.   Depending on your credit score and income, you will be approved right away, approved with a higher security deposit or denied. The disadvantage is that all of this comes at a pretty high price.  Apartments are generally priced higher than other rental options.  And they typically have less square footage than other rental options.  All Realtor fees are paid directly through the apartment complex at no cost to the Tenant.

The most widely used option is using a Realtor to locate a condo, townhome or single family home.  These homes are listed in the MLS and generally follow a thorough application process and are professionally managed.  This is important to ensure that the owner’s mortgage is paid on time and any repairs that are needed are done in a timely manner.  The application process generally requires verification of employment, paycheck stubs, W2 verification and requires a credit score above 600.  The square footage and true “neighborhood” feel is something that you could never achieve in an apartment complex.  But, the main disadvantage is that there is no guarantee that your lease will be renewed past its initial term.  All Realtor fees are paid directly by the owner.
The last option for those needing to rent is to look in local ads such as Craigslist or newspaper listings.  This is only recommended for Tenants who feel they do not meet the credit or income requirements necessary for the above options. Many problems can occur when dealing directly with an owner.  There is no guarantee that their mortgage is being paid and you could face a situation where the home is foreclosed on during your lease term.  There is no management to ensure repairs are made professionally or in a timely manner.  Since the owner pays no Realtor fees, if you require the assistance of an agent, the Tenant would pay the fees.

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