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Renter Tip: Use a Decision Matrix

Some might argue that there are few choices more personal than the selection of a new home. Personal matters are typically charged with a great deal of emotion. The heart can, at times, lead to impulse decisions that you may look back on and regret. How can you approach the critical process of determining where to live next, in a way that is grounded in sound logic? One strategy might be to use a decision matrix to pick your next apartment or rental home.

What is a decision matrix?

According to Wikipedia, “A decision matrix is a list of values in rows and columns that allows an analyst to systematically identify, analyze, and rate the performance of relationships between sets of values and information. Elements of a decision matrix show decisions based on certain decision criteria. The matrix is useful for looking at large masses of decision factors and assessing each factor’s relative significance.”

Let’s now translate this into how we might use this from a rental search perspective.

The 3 bolded terms above are: analyst, values, and information.

Analyst = prospective renter(s).
Values = the weight you assign to rental evaluation categories.
Information = the criteria you want to consider when deciding which rental to make your own.

A decision matrix typically takes the form of a spreadsheet and can be complex, or simple. There are weighted versions, and ones that focus on streamlined calculations.

What factors might you include in your decision matrix when evaluating rentals?

No two renters have the same priorities.

For one, the monthly cost of rent might be paramount. For another, the commute to work might outweigh other factors. And for others, amenities that provided with the property are a priority. Then there’s the renter who unwinds every evening at home by cooking incredible meals — a gas stove and high quality built-in appliances may be what that aspiring chef is looking for.

Here are a collection of factors you might consider (in no particular order).

decision matrix categories

To get started, brainstorm a list of things important to you.

A Sample Rental Decision Matrix

Here’s an example of a matrix we created.

decision matrix template

A. In the dark purple row is the decision, “Which rental do we want to make our own?”

B. In the medium blue column are the factors considered.

C. In the lighter blue column directly to the right are the weight factors applied.

D. The lightest purple row contains fictional names of apartments visited.

E. The grey columns represent the unweighted values they could have assigned to each factor.

Then — the magic happens!

The white weighted score columns automatically calculate as a result of a formula, as do the cells in the medium purple total score row.

We’ve denoted “the winner” in our decision matrix with a red star.

A Template from Dwellsy

Deciding which rental to make your own can be overwhelming; especially if you are doing so with a partner. By taking the time to talk through your priorities, ranking them, and analyzing them in a systematic way, you will be more likely to choose a home that works for you both.

Download this Dwellsy template in Google sheets of a weighted matrix to help you decide which of the rentals you’re evaluating is best for you.

decision matrix file structure

The first tab contains the example shown above. The second will accommodate 5 properties, the third — up to 10, and the fourth — up to 20.

While we’ve created space for you to enter 40 factors to consider, we recommend that you stick to approximately 20 and whittle down what you value most in considering your next rental.

Happy rental searching!

Visit Dwellsy.com to find a rental and make it your home.

Check out these additional renter tips!

Check out this episode of our podcast Rent Matters for more tips on how to find a new rental.

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