We all know that one part of the scary movie: the innocent girl walks slowly into that dark house, alone and unarmed. “Don’t go in there! What are you doing?!” everyone screams at the television. She’s about to make a terrible mistake, and all you can do is watch (well, and shove popcorn in your mouth).
Sometimes, this is exactly how we feel when we see innocent renters fall into common pitfalls, scams, and oversights. Because whatever your reason for renting, we’re sure, “losing hard-earned cash” and “getting swindled” aren’t among them.
Don’t fear! In order to keep you from walking into that dark house all alone, we’ve created a list of the most common rental mistakes that can end in a “scary” situation (plus a few properties for rent on the current market that we think you’ll just die over...can we make Halloween puns all year, please?)
Mistake #1: Renting Sight Unseen
Given San Antonio’s recent popularity, many new residents are tempted to jump the gun on a property they haven't seen. But, no matter how enticing the online listing appears...please, please do not sign a lease without physically visiting the property. These photos can be outdated or downright deceiving. A unit may look fantastic online, yet appear completely different in person (not to mention the potential for scary odors).
Mistake #2: Forgetting To Check the Details.
In the excitement of finding a place you love, it's easy to gloss over the details. However, several seemingly smaller factors might actually make a huge difference in the long run. Don’t overrule “small inconveniences” too quickly. A long commute, malfunctioning appliances, or nonexistent storage space might just end up driving you insane down the road.
Mistake #3: No Chemistry with the Landlord
Some landlords care about their properties and their tenants. They are quick to take calls, fix leaking toilets, and send out pest control. Unfortunately, other landlords see their tenants as “just another cash source” and treat them as such. We suggest doing some detective work before you sign a rental agreement. Conduct a Google search, contact previous tenants, and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been made against the landlord or property management company. After all, the last thing you want is to be in a long-term fight with your landlord for the duration of your rental.
Mistake #4: Failing To Get Everything In Writing
As with most financial transactions, if anything is agreed upon, make sure it's documented in writing and becomes part of your rental agreement. Similarly, if something in the lease seems wrong, ask for it to be amended. Leases are legal documents and are binding for both parties, hence the importance of having accurate information and terms on it. By appointing a licensed real estate agent to help you with the transaction, these legal documents are more likely to be filled out correctly (and with your best interest in mind!).
Mistake #5: Allowing Yourself To Be Enticed By Staging
Real estate experts know that staging works, and (depending on the rental property), staging may include adding “fancy” upgrades (hardwood floors, granite countertops, etc). However, these aesthetics will quickly lose their appeal if the actual property fails to meet your needs in fundamental ways. And besides...properties in less desirable locations or condition often get the best cosmetic upgrades in an attempt to entice renters!
Mistake #6: Overstretching Your Budget
It almost goes without saying (though, obviously, we’re going to say it anyway): take a good, hard, honest look at your budget before you start looking at properties. While financial experts recommend you spend no more than 30% of your post-tax income on housing, you may want to spend even less, depending on your personal goals and other financial obligations. Although you may be tempted to push the ceiling for your “dream apartment,” those dreams probably aren’t worth breaking the bank.
Mistake #7: Ignoring Existing Damage
The majority of rental leases include a security deposit that the landlord holds in order to pay for any damage the tenant may cause during the duration of their stay on the property. Generally, at the beginning of the least, you will fill out a checklist of items within the property so you can record the condition of the property before you move in. Don’t skimp on the details here, folks. Moving can be hectic, but failing to properly assess the rental can mean losing money when it’s eventually time to move out.
Mistake #8: Falling for Rental Scams
Do we even need to say it? Rental scams are everywhere these days. Even reputable sites like Zillow have reported incidents of scamming, leading to would-be renters losing thousands of dollars. Watch out for “landlords” being “out of the country” (and thereby requesting a check or cash by mail). Always visit the rental property and meet the landlord in person (or their licensed real estate agent). You’ll be glad you did.
Tired of renting but don't know if you are prepared to buy a home? Talk to a lender about your mortgage possibilities (and a KW agent to see what’s out there). Or if you just want to store up your knowledge of the homebuying process for the future, download a FREE copy of our exclusive Buyer’s Guide (created specifically for the SA-area buyer)!