How to Rent a Home in Northwest Houston

How to Rent a Home in Northwest Houston

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How to rent a home and mistakes to avoid
The relatively strong Northwest Houston economy combined with more stringent qualifying requirements by lending institutions for those seeking to buy a home has led to a significant change in the real estate landscape for Northwest Houston and surrounding areas. Some families and individuals that want to buy a home have found that lenders are hesitant to lend them the funds required, and, thus need to rent a home while they strengthen their position to enable them to meet lender requirements. Others have lost homes to foreclosure and find they need to rent a home. In addition to this, the economy of Houston has proved more resilient and vibrant than in other areas of the nation, thus leading to a huge influx of families moving here from other states. These factors, in addition to others, have led to a situation in which demand exceeds supply for the available rental homes on the market. 
Regardless of the present state of your circumstances, recent or impending foreclosure, challenging credit etc. you can still rent a home.
A systematized approach to renting your home coupled with good information can help you avoid many common mistakes renters seeking a home typically make, and enable you to rent the ideal home in a timely fashion without a massive deal of frustration.‚Äčl.

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STEPS YOU NEED TO TAKE   

1) Gather all documentation the homeowner, Landlord or management Company will need BEFORE you start your search. Remember, you will most likely be involved in a competitive situation so having all documentation immediately available once you find the home may save you a lot of heartache. Many a renter has lost a home because, in the short time it took to get their paperwork together, another better prepared applicant was accepted by the Landlord.                       

Most Landlords will need:                                          

(A) Identification- State/Government issued ID. Typically a driver’s license or passport. 
(B) A copy of your social security card. This is required in most cases; however some Landlords do forgo the need for this and just require your social security number.                                                                                  
(C) Proof of Income. Two most recent paycheck stubs are required by most Landlords and management companies. In instances of self-employment, recent bank statements with reserves (4-6 times rental amount) will be accepted by most Landlords. Prior tax returns may also be used. If you have a new job or job transfer, a letter from your employer on company letterhead stating your income, position and start date may suffice for the Landlord in most cases.
(D) Application. Make sure your application is completely filled out. Clearly and legibly. Provide all contact numbers and references. Assume the Landlord will call. Test and ensure all numbers are in working order.             
(E) A recent copy of your credit report (30 days or less). In most cases Landlords or their agents will need a copy of your credit report before you may rent their home. Having one already will be beneficial in some cases. The landlord/ their agent may still want to obtain your credit themselves however as they may also do background checks. Most charges range between $30-$100 per applicant. You can see how this can add up as you apply for homes.
(F) Funds. You will need the first month’s rent and a security deposit of equal amount. If the lease amount for instance is $1500 you will need $3000.This is to be in certified funds, Money order or cashier’s check. Personal checks will subsequently be accepted during the rental term in most cases. Additional deposits are typically charged for pets. This is usually done by a onetime nonrefundable fee or by an increase in the monthly rent. Note also that in many cases of tenants with challenged credit a landlord is likely to ask for a larger security deposit to alleviate his risk.
(G) Other - Place yourself in the Landlords shoes. Gather any other additional documentation that will strengthen your cause. Remember you can’t give the Landlord too much information. Only too little.

2)  Area & Home. In most cases you’ll already know where you want to live. In the case of renters that are relocating, it is highly recommended to narrow your focus to a particular geographic area. This will enable you to better understand the rental prices in the chosen area and  better understand and discern value,i.e. How much home you are getting in exchange for the rent compared to other area homes. It will also put you in a position to hear about and more speedily respond to properties that are new to the market in the selected area. 
          With regard to the home itself, it is good to know know beforehand factors like the size, year built, style (one story or two story) etc. Knowing this BEFORE you commence your search will most likely curb procrastination on your part when you do find the home. This is especially important for joint tenants where the decision for the home is to be made together. All parties should carve out time to see the home together or in instances where this is not possible, discuss clearly beforehand with one another what is desired in the home and empower one party to make the decision.
          Never forget you will most likely be competing with others to rent the home. The better prepared you are and ready to act the higher your chances for success.

3) Use a competent REALTOR®. Most renters do not realize that hiring a REALTOR® to assist them will not, in most cases, cost them. REALTOR® fees in Houston are typically paid by the owner (landlord or Management Company). A good REALTOR® will have access to information that in all likelihood cannot be obtained elsewhere and will greatly assist you in making a good decision for your home i.e. Supply and demand in an area, what prices homes in the area have been leased for, access to the homes etc.                                                                                                  Say for instance you have done your due diligence (prepared your application, selected the type of home and area, etc.)  You select four homes you want to see. Without a REALTOR® you would need to make 4 different calls to the agents and landlords as opposed to one call to your REALTOR® who will schedule all appointments on your behalf, thereby saving you time and money. The other agents are sole representatives of the Landlord, not you; thus they look out for the interests of the Landlord, not yours. Additionally your REALTOR® will have access to updated information on the home(s). A HUGE frustration for Renters in this market is finding the ideal home and although it is still showing to be available, it no longer is. The landlord may have already selected an applicant and is just verifying the submitted information. This information will not likely be shared with you by the other REALTOR® as it is in his client’s (landlord) best interest to have you as a backup if anything goes awry with the current applicant.
             Furthermore your REALTOR® has a large network of other Realtors he/she deals with on a daily basis. In many cases the REALTOR® knows of homes or has homes that are scheduled to be introduced to the marketplace and not yet available to the public. 
             Finally, your REALTOR® will know how best to present your particularly unique situation to the other REALTOR® (whom he might have worked with in many cases) and to the Landlord. These are just some of the ways a good REALTOR® may be indispensable in assisting you rent a home in this market..

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COSTLY MISTAKES TO AVOID
1) Starting your search too early. This is a common mistake many renters make that leads to a lot of frustration. In the quest to secure a home, they start the search for the home too soon. Although very understandable, it actually winds up working against them. This is best clarified with an analogy. 
(a) Say for instance your lease is coming up in 60 days. You decide at this point it is best to find another home so you have a place to live when your current lease expires.
(b) You do your due diligence (see steps to take above) and commence your search.
(c) You find a lovely home after 15 days that suits all your needs, and most of your wants, and decide to apply to get it with 45 days left on your lease, stating on your application you want the lease to commence in 45 days.
                   Keep in mind you’ll very likely be competing with other applicants. In most cases the Landlord will have other applicants ready to move in sooner than you and is most likely to go with another applicant. Many a renter has lost a home they really like because of starting the search too early. Some have opted to pay rent in two places just to get the home. It is best to search 21-30 days prior to the desired move in date to be very effective. 
2) Not getting professional Help. Hiring a REALTOR® as discussed above is in your best interest. Many renters seeking a home have fallen victim to scams of individuals posing as landlords. Among the many services Realtors perform for their client(s) is helping protect them from unsavory characters.
3Negotiating. In the current market this is another big mistake many make when seeking a rental home. It is all based on supply and demand and good rental properties are gone quickly. Offering less than the asking rent will usually have the Landlord pass you by. This is meant to apply to homes priced at fair market value. Your REALTOR® can help you evaluate each neighborhood to ensure the price is in line with market conditions.
4) Falsifying your application. It’s always best to be truthful. If you have pets, disclose so. If you have had a prior foreclosure state so. Many a renter has lost a home based on inconsistencies in their credit reports, applications and income statements. Don’t assume you know what the landlord is looking for. Some Landlords may prefer people with credit challenges as the likelihood of them being longer term tenants is stronger. On the other hand some landlords want renters with good credit. It just depends. Your REALTOR® will help you sift through the preferences of the different landlords and Management companies
5) Being too picky. Remember you are renting the home as opposed to buying the home. When you are buying a home you are obligating yourself to substantially more than when you are renting. Asking the landlord to deal with excessive minor cosmetic items may cause them to be hesitant in renting to you. The thinking is that you could prove to be a tenant with excessive demands. The more Landlords perceive you to be a worry-free tenant, the better the odds of them leasing to you. However structural items or items that compromise safety are those that should be brought to the Landlord's attention.

 

This information was prepared & provided to you by Kufre "Robert" Udoh REALTOR® of REMAX Professional Group. Call 713-305-8007 to schedule a FREE phone consultation regarding renting your home

Contact Information

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Robert Udoh
RE/MAX Professional Group
10547 Fry Road
Cypress TX 77433
Direct: (713)305-8007
Office: (281)894-1000
Fax: (281)897-2729