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Tips to Bargaining for a Lower Apartment Rental

by Guest Author on October 6, 2012

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Apartment prices aren’t set in stone. Much like buying any other high ticket item, there’s almost always some wiggle room. In very hot real estate markets where apartments are flying off the shelf, you might not be able to negotiate too much – but you’ll still be able to get them to budge a little. In most standard markets or in buyers’ markets, you’ll be able to get a lot of concessions with a bit of smart negotiating.

The Starting Point: Market Rates and Vacancies

The most powerful place to start your negotiations is from market rates. What are other people charging for similar apartments? If you can walk into your landlord’s office and demonstrate that you could get a better rate for a comparable apartment elsewhere, then you have a good chance of being able to get a better deal.

The second part of the equation is vacancies. How often are apartments filling up? Are apartments getting booked quickly, or are a lot of them sitting empty? If your landlord has several empty units, they’re going to be a lot more likely to want to rent to you even at a discount.

Be Open to Other Options

If you ask for a lower price or for other concessions, your landlord might come around and make you a counter offer. The counter offer might not be exactly what you were looking for, but if you keep an open mind you might be able to find a great deal.

For example, you might ask for $700 a month for an apartment that’s going for $800 a month. The landlord knows that they typically lose about 10% to vacancies. They’re willing to have you pay only $720 a month, but instead of signing a one year lease they want you to sign an 18 month lease.

If you’re a student who’s going to be staying for four years anyway, signing an extra 6 months doesn’t really affect you. So you walk out with a cheaper lease because you had an open mind.

Your landlord also might offer you a different room. For example, the $800 a month room might be the room with a view. If you’re willing to take the room that faces the parking lot instead, you might be able to get $50 to $100 a month off.

Ask for a Move-In Bonus

Sometimes it just won’t be possible to negotiate on the monthly rate. When that’s the case, try to negotiate a move in bonus instead.

For example, let’s say you’re moving in on August 17th. One good trick would be to ask your landlord to start charging you only on September 1st. That way, you get 13 days of free rent. If the unit was going to sit vacant for those 13 days anyway, the landlord will most likely say yes.

You might try to get the landlord to assume some of your move in costs. For example, if wireless internet isn’t already installed in your house, you might try to get the landlord to also throw in the internet’s installation.

You could also try to get a free coat of paint. If the walls of your apartment look off grey or look like they’ve been dirtied, try to have your landlord paint it before moving in.

Negotiate Credit Card Payments

Sometimes landlords will let you put your rent on your credit card. Why would you want to do this? Because of miles and benefits. Some credit cards will give you as much as 5% cash back on everything you spend. On an $800 a month apartment, that’s an extra $40 a month in free cash. You can use credit cards that give you miles, that give you points or that give you straight cash back.

This can be an easy and simple way to negotiate a slight discount from your landlord without them even knowing you got a discount.

Offer to Take on a Role

Finally, if you really want to cut down the price of your rent, try offering to help in some way. Be responsible for taking out the garbage for the building. Or help fix up the fence that’s broken. Or help them advertise their apartments by posting flyers at your school. Offering them free help is a great way to get yourself a sweetheart deal.

About the Author: Sameer Panjwani, author of this article, is the founder of ChoiceofHomes.com. His site offers a vast choice of rental listings of homes and apartments available across all cities in the United States.

Sundaybell is an online service allowing homebuyers and home sellers the opportunity of learning more about real estate and meeting and interviewing real estate agents in their area while remaining anonymous.

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