Expats: Finding a bargain house or apartment

Editor’s Note — This article was originally published on May 18, 2011. Dear Ernie, Have you ever rented a place in the US without a deposit? If so, have you ever heard of an…

Expats: Finding a bargain house or apartment

Editor’s Note — This article was originally published on May 18, 2011.

Dear Ernie,

Have you ever rented a place in the US without a deposit? If so, have you ever heard of an advertised percentage of the rent?

Rental rates of houses and apartments vary widely. I’ve also heard that some areas like Seattle, New York, and San Francisco charge a percentage of the rent. (This sounds just like an “as-is” charge, but it means you’ve got to pay rent regardless of whether your space is rented out.)

I’ve been asked what to do when I want to rent my apartment at a discount that’s substantially below the listed price. What should I charge?

Best regards,

Randy

Dear Randy,

Many places with listed prices have an “as-is” or a “room-by-room” clause. The percentage you get is based on the size of the apartment — not on the actual rental charge. The dealer could end up with 50% of the rent based on the size of the apartment, even if only the kitchen was listed. Your job is to make sure you find a place with a percentage of rent that is lower than you paid the night before.

There are some sites that specialize in advertising apartments that are “under advertised.” To find these, check out sites like Patricks Apartment Hunting and Wantapurpose.

One of my partners, Martin Koon will take you through some of the websites and even meet with guys (one of the reasons we started the company) to teach you some tricks of the trade. Martin has just published his book Finding a Perfect Room in 6 Easy Steps . Martin will email me at [email protected] or message me on Twitter .

Congratulations,

Randy

Dear Expat,

I just rented a nice two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco for $3,000 a month. I have to fork over a deposit of about $600. Was that fair?

Randy

Dear Expat,

Yes, most places will accept a deposit in exchange for a higher rent and a 30-day marketing period. The agent usually recommends not spending more than about 20% of the lease amount.

I have been told that some places charge a 30-day marketing period fee. But beware! The place might have a different price than listed, or they might have only rented the first and second floors and not the entire ground floor. And you don’t know for sure if they had an open house or not.

Dear Ernie,

My rent in London is more than in New York but my budget is far smaller. How can I afford to rent a flat here? How much should I ask for?

Randy

Dear Randy,

Your flat in New York is worth far more than the one you are looking at in London. If you can live with not just the rent, but the travel to and from London, you’ll be perfectly fine.

There is something called the congestion charge, but that’s really only a pain if you’re doing business or visiting family. I’ve even seen parents get a discount.

As for how much you should ask for, that depends on your comfort level. Before you start approaching renters, you have to know how much your place is worth. That’s the basis for comparing rentals and in some cases getting a better deal on your next place.

Perhaps the best place to start is with a local landlord. Tell him what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to pay for it.

You can also call your bank and see if they have any interest in hiring you to put a little piece of their house on the market.

Get an agent

Ernie,

I realize you are busy, but I have to ask you a question.

What do you think of agents?

Randy

Dear Ernie,

I’ve always thought that agents were a step above brokers. But my landlord is angry because I didn’t pay my full deposit. How can I get to the bottom of this?

Randy

Dear Ernie,

My rent didn’t come with a deposit. I didn’t overpay either. So what’s really happening here?

Randy

Dear Ernie,

Based on what I can tell from your email, it appears that a mix of mutual misunderstanding and misunderstandings are at play. I’m not sure how to fix it without having the landlord’s sympathy.

Leave a Comment