We keep hearing that 80-100 people are moving to Nashville on average every day. People are moving here from all parts of the country for different reasons. Some are young and looking for opportunity. Some have grown kids and want to be close to their grandchildren. Some have a job lined up, while some do not.
If this is you, here are 5 tips when finding a home to rent:
1) Rent for 1 year even if you can buy a home:
A few years ago a family moved here from another state. They came into town about 1 month before the new job started, looked at homes to buy in 1 weekend, found a home they liked, and made an offer. They purchased the home and moved in. Within 1 year of living in Nashville they realized they did not like the house, they did not like the schools their kids were attending, and they preferred another area. So, they sold that home & moved and lost over $10,000. Lesson to learn: Rent first, get acquainted with Nashville and the areas of town, then depending on your job, schools, and local amenities look at purchasing a home.
2) Where to look:
Before you start looking on Zillow or craigslist, narrow down what areas of town you want to live in by making a list of questions to ask yourself. Some questions could be, how far do I want to drive, walk, or ride my bike to the grocery store, shops & restaurants? How far do I want to be from friends or family? Drive around the neighborhood and if you see someone in their yard, ask them what they like and dislike about the neighborhood. Also, if you are new to town talk to friends, family or co-workers about different neighborhoods. Get multiple opinions. A good online site to read & ask questions is: http://www.city-data.com/forum/nashville/ . If you have a job lined up look for places within a 30-minute drive (including rush hour). That sounds obvious, but I used to work with people that drove over 1 hour (not including rush hour) to get to work one-way. When you find a house your interested in, try driving your work day commute from that location before applying.
3) Where to look part 2: Once you have narrowed down your areas of town, figure out your rent budget. Our criteria for applicants is you must have proven gross income of at least 3 times the monthly rent. Some places criteria is 4 times monthly rent. I would recommend 4 times especially if you have some student loans you need to pay off.
There are numerous websites to view homes such as Zillow & Craigslist. Beware of scams on craigslist. We post our homes for rent there as well as numerous other sites but scammers will repost our rentals for a much lower rent. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
4) Act fast/Be Organized: Nice affordable rentals go fast so if you see one you like, be ready to apply. Did you know property managers are suppose to process applications in order that they are received? All applications are going to ask for your current and past rental history, Social security # to pull credit and criminal background, and current & past job history. So, have all that information ready. Proof of income, such as check stubs for the last 2 months, will also speed up the process.
As property managers, we pay special attention to the rental history and what the previous landlords say about you. As for credit score, if you have zero credit that is better than having bad credit.
5) Interview the property manager: This step is often skipped when perspective residents are looking to rent a home. Most of the time they are only looking at the home itself. You really need to do some research and ask questions to the property management company. We get a lot of new residents because they are unhappy with their current landlord situation. Most times it is because the landlord will not do repairs or they overpromise before someone moves in and do not deliver. If they do not run an application or have a written lease that is also a bad sign they are not professional and you could run into disagreements in the future.
Most professional companies have a website or some form of social media (Facebook page, etc.). Look at online reviews. Ask them how they handle maintenance requests? How quickly they respond if there is an issue. Ask for a copy of the lease to read over before you sign it. Ask how they take rent payments. Try to ask the current tenant if they are still living there about maintenance issues and why they are moving. If your gut tells you it doesn't feel right, go with your gut.
We hope you have learned a little about the renting process and this helps you find your new home soon.