When To Start Your Apartment Search

Question from user:  Hello, my lease is up October 1st.  Should I start looking for rentals now or should I wait until Sept?

– Matthew C, Washington, DC

The key to being successful on your hunt for a new hotpad is to know when to start looking. Timing is everything, especially when shopping in the real estate market. RentMe

Generally speaking: It is best to start inquiring on properties 30-45 days (rule of thumb if your looking for place in the city) before you would like to move. Some sources recommend apartment shopping 45-60 days before you would like to settle in since usually landlords know if their tenants are renewing their lease at 60 days. 

However, it differs based on your situation:  Those who have lower credit scores or incomes may want to start looking earlier because other people may be chosen by the landlord first.  While frustrating, it is best to inquire early and at numerous different places.  Give yourself enough time so that you aren't panicked at the end of your lease.

Do prep work year round: Even before you begin to take apartment hunting seriously it is best to narrow down your search. Get an idea of what neighborhoods fall in your price range and what places have other attributes that interest you like attractions, metro accessibility, etc. 

It's a good idea to keep notes throughout the year when you see a particular neighborhood or apartment building that you are interested in.  Whenever I happen to be in a building that I am impressed with, I always ask for more information and for rental prices just so I know whether to revisit them when my lease is up.  Likewise, if I see a townhouse for rent in an area I like, I'll get the rental information to get an idea of whether it fits my budget.

Common "Renters" Sense:

  • Summertime- usually a lot of places are on the market but in high demand (they disappear fast)
  • Most leases begin on the 1st of the month
  • When people like you, then they'll like to help you, so be nice to the brokers and landlords

Have more questions about renting?  Check out our renters guide or find apartments for rent now!

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