In metros across the nation, renters are seeing a common trend: skyrocketing demand and diminishing supply. Even in cities where housing hasn’t traditionally been so cutthroat, it’s a new game today. Take Texas, for example: Today, apartments in Dallas turn over at the speed of light. The vacancy rate has fallen 5 percent since 2006, while the share of population renting in the metro area has risen the same amount. More Texans are choosing to rent than ever, meaning you don’t have unlimited days to make a decision on your new home. If you don’t sign on the dotted line today, the price may change or someone else will snatch the unit. If you’re feeling pressured to lock in a lease in a hurry, we have some proven tips to help you secure the home you love.
5 Proven Tips For Renting Apartments in Dallas
If you’ve shopped for apartments in Dallas, Texas, you know the drill: Tour a handful of complexes or units until they all feel the same and you have no idea how to make a decision. Luckily, this Texas city is friendly on the bargains, and it’s almost always possible to find a deal like a free month’s rent or waived application fee! But as the city rapidly grows, there’s more pressure to make a snap choice to snatch up the deal and the apartment while it’s still available.
We talked to Robby Swiech from Smart City Locating in Dallas. He helps potential renters find apartments in Dallas and ultimately make the right decision on where to live. He’s seen the good, the bad and the indecisive. It’s an overwhelming process, yes, but it’s all about knowing when to act, says Swiech. He shares his expertise on how you know when the place is right, especially when you’re on a time crunch.
1. Make a List
Decide what is most important to you before you start looking. Do you need to be close to work or the bar scene? Can you live in a studio or do you need a true one-bedroom? Is an in-unit washer/dryer an absolute must?
“With a snap decision, accept that [you] don’t always have time to weed out and wait for that one unit in town that checks all 10 or 15 or 20 boxes you have for a place,” Swiech explains. “If we can figure out [your] top two or three priorities — location, rent price, finish requirements, etc. — [you] can find the best couple options within just a few hours.”
Remember to separate your “must-have” list from your “would-like”, otherwise you risk going around in circles when presented with your options. Similarly, figure out what your absolute deal-breakers are before browsing to avoid being disappointed and wasting your time. Of course, your price range is the natural place to start.
2. Ask the Experts
If you’re working on a short time frame, don’t hesitate to call in the folks who know the business. Every city has their own locating services, so find the one in the area you’re looking to live, schedule a time when you and your housemates can all attend viewings, and let them do all the leg work. Even if you don’t plan on using a broker, a real estate pro can help you narrow down your options and understand the rental landscape so you can set realistic expectations.
“We are the best at what we do. Tell us you need a place NOW, and we’ll figure out who in our office is most fit to take care of someone right away,” Swiech explains. “Then we’ll be on the horn helping to sort out your top priorities immediately. If you’ve seen a place or two you like already, we’ll pull out all of our comparable [options] and call them to see what kind of pricing/deals we can get.”
Another great source is Yelp!. Browse the pages of places you’re looking into to see what past and present residents have to say about the property management or landlord. They will give unfiltered advice and point out things your tour might hide. Swiech also recommends hanging out at the neighborhood watering hole and ask people where they live and how they like the neighborhood. It’s like Yelp! but IRL.
3. Prep the Paperwork
Whether you’re making a last-minute move or not, you’re better off having the mindset of someone who is in competitive rental markets. If you want the apartment, don’t assume you have time to wait. Prep your paperwork before you even start browsing, and be sure you’re ready with the info your landlord will want. Walking in empty-handed will only slow down the process, and you may risk losing out on the perfect place. Paperwork requirements vary by rental market, and they may even vary by landlord. Find out what the norm is for renting apartments in Dallas.
“Most places do applications and processing online now. So, whether you apply at home or on-site, just having your credit card on-hand for application fees and the [security] deposit will usually get it done. Fewer places do still require payment with check or money order though. Within the first day of application, apartments will also need income verification (pay stubs, W2, 1099, offer letter, etc), and then finally electric utility and renters insurance set up to pick up keys,” Swiech says.
Luckily, when it comes to apartments in Dallas, most landlords require the same info, so pack your ID, checkbook, a credit card and your income docs to be on the safe side. It’s worth calling before your tour, as well, so you know for sure if there’s anything else you should bring.
4. Score It
After touring a complex or two, they will all start to feel the same. You’ll say to your housemate, “You know, that one… with the extra closet?” Even if you have an elephant’s memory, you should avoid relying on your working memory to make a crucial decision like this. Take a page out of Swiech’s book and take some notes as you go instead.
“I like to have my clients assign an ‘out of 10’ number score as we leave each apartment,” advises Swiech. “That way they pretty much explain to themselves which is their favorite over the course of the day without overthinking.”
Then it feels like a show on HGTV if there’s a scoring system involved. You can remember what you like and don’t like about each place, as well as how it compares to your other stops. By the end of the touring process, there will hopefully be one clear front runner or two, at the most.
5. Trust Yourself
It sounds too simple, but Swiech may have a point here. He’s helped hundreds of people find the right fit, so he’s seen folks mull over their options and give away to worry instead of looking at the amazing potential for a cool apartment.
“It’s a big decision, so it’s going to feel natural to beat yourself up if you don’t give the decision enough respect or incubation time,” he says. “But honestly, it’s just like anything else in life. You know more about what YOU want than anyone. Make a call, move forward, and enjoy the new adventure in that awesome new apartment!”
He’s right: It’s only a lease. No one’s asking you to sign a mortgage for a homestead in a weekend. It’s a lease to an apartment and, quite honestly, the beginning of a new adventure. Whether you’re looking for apartments in Dallas or another city with quick turnarounds, trust your gut and get ready to move into that new place with confidence.