Maybe you’ve been happy in your apartment, maybe you’ve just not needed to look for a new place for a while, but wow, the search for a new rental has changed! Read on to find out the main ways things have changed…
1. Craigslist No More
I remember looking for a new rental in 2013, and it was 100% clear to me that Craigslist was the way to do it. Yeah, it was awful to use and hard to search, but pretty much everything was on there, so if you wanted to find a place, that’s where you went.
Today, that’s no longer the case. Because of the well-publicized issues with the platform, most landlords have abandoned Craigslist, and so there are now very few listings on there. And if you’re looking at one of the few that are there – BE CAREFUL. Rental scams are common and there are far too many stories of renters getting ripped off, unfortunately.
2. Yard Signs are Back. Not joking – Yard Signs.
So, what’s replaced Craigslist? Well, here at Dwellsy, we’re working to fill that gap for online apartment search, but before we came along, landlords were increasingly using yard signs, window signs and other local signage to advertise availability. It’s like 1972 all over again!
What does this mean for the renter searching for a new place? Sorry to be the one to tell you, but it probably makes sense to go to the neighborhoods you’re looking in, walk the streets and look for signs in windows and in front of properties. Or use Dwellsy, but again, we might be biased :).
3. Google Is Your Online Source
Yard signs and walking neighborhoods not your thing? Well, join the masses and search Google for options. Since there’s no one online resource that has everything (Dwellsy is not quite there yet), and the “big brand” listing sites don’t have much inventory, be ready to go through a lot of individual sites – dozens, perhaps hundreds. Just another way the apartment search has changed.
4. Beware Pay-to-Play!
They’re pretty much the first results that come up when you search Google, and the photos sure do look great, but beware! Those “big brand” sites are something called “lead gen” platforms and they are not there to help you.. You’re the product on those sites, not the customer.
Here’s how it works: Landlords pay those sites to carry their ads. The more they pay, the more you get shown that ad – whether or not it’s what you’re looking for. But, unlike Google results or other types of sites, they don’t tell you it’s an advertisement (I know – how is that allowed?!?). So, if you’re wondering why they’re showing you places that you aren’t looking for, that’s why. They’re showing you the listing that paid the most to be shown to you – not what you’re looking for.
5. Apartment Community Websites Can Be Awesome
Way back in 2013, only the biggest, most corporate landlords had websites – and they generally pretty much sucked. If a small landlord had a website, you could be sure it was terrible. Fast forward a few years, and apartment search sure has changed.
Today, a wide range of landlords have websites and many of them are actually quite good. At minimum, they have good information about their rentals, and some of them can actually allow you to make online appointment bookings, see video tours and more. Plus, if you’re looking to fact check another source about an apartment community, their own site is a great place to confirm the details.
6. Single Family Home Rentals are BIG
Used to be that if you wanted a rental, you were generally looking at an apartment.
Would you have guessed that today, about one in every three U.S. rentals is a single family home? Single family home rentals have become widely available with a host of different price points, a wide variety of locations, and every finish you can imagine. Of course, the team at Dwellsy has worked hard to have a good inventory of single family homes for rent, so you can always find plenty of options available.
7. Leases Have Gotten Complicated
Congrats! You’ve found the place you want – now on to the lease. Back in my day, a lease was a pretty straightforward thing. Usually just a couple of pages laying out what the landlord was responsible for and what you were responsible for.
Well, as in so many other places, these have gotten more complicated. Between new regulations, lawyers getting involved and more, I’ve seen leases that are more than 80 pages long! Before you sign any lease ask some key questions and be prepared to put some study time aside for when you get that lease. It’s not going to be easy, but it is going to be important to read it. Sorry – I know that sucks.