Here's everything I did wrong...
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Looking for a Florida apartment has been one of the biggest nightmares of my adult life thus far.
I'd say it's a bit dramatic since I finally found the perfect rental for me, but it took six rejections (it was only five at the time of publishing the linked article) to finally get a "yes".
I wiped the sweat off my forehead after a long rental hunt and finally grabbed the keys to my new home earlier this month. After much reflection, there were so many things I wish I knew that would have reduced so much stress.
So, I'm giving you a foolproof guide to the process, that way you don't have to worry.
Time And Patience
...is something I never had. I wanted to move out and didn't realize the process would take me about three to four months. Luckily, I wasn't on a deadline. However, a lot of people, along with my realtor, expressed to me how so many don't look far enough in advance.
In order to not get stuck in a bad rental situation, make sure you are giving yourself at least four months to look for a place.
Give Your Budget Wiggle Room
The apartment I landed on is $1,750/month. My budget was $1,700/month. I knew I could afford a little more, so I put my cap a little below. My realtor then only showed me places that really were worth going to if they happened to be over budget.
I should have extended my range a little bit to weigh out the pros and cons of my rent, as I went over my asking price as is.
On the flip side, don't give yourself too much wiggle room where you fall in love with places you can't afford. If you get attached to a rental, it's just as quick for applications to get denied due to the fact that the market is so saturated.
Understand What Fees Are Refundable & What You Need To Pay
Sometimes, you get charged just to fill out the application, however, you don't always have to pay the fee. There were so many applications that had value only after the contract was approved. Some were refundable if you got denied, and others, you just flat out needed to cough up the money.
I used to only apply to corporate complexes, so I wasn't aware that moving into a privately owned building meant paying first, last and a security check once accepted.
This also was something to factor into your budget upon looking because it's normally the price of one month times three.
Skip The Mainstream Listing Services & Get An Expert's Help
Typically, I would find a large complex on my own where you just sign a lease and fill an empty room, but this isn't the case if you're looking for affordability in South Florida. So, I hired an expert to help me on my quest.
Even though I had a realtor but I constantly was looking at mainstream listing services and they were always old properties that were off the market.
It was once I stopped looking and put all of my trust into what the professional I was working with sent me that I found my place.
When You Like A Place Make A Decision Fast
A lot of listings I didn't get because I didn't want to emotionally say "yes", and while that was a smart decision, I also got passed up on so many opportunities because of the number of applicants.
My advice is to be super sure of what you want by also understanding what you can work with along with what you don't want. Make a list if you have to, and when you see a place that checks most of your boxes make the decision.
So many properties, especially affordable ones, are in such high demand.
I am very lucky to have found a great place, but it wasn't easy. If you are in the same position I was in four months ago... happy hunting! I wish you all the best.