Many of us are under the impression that an apartment’s list price is the only price. Although this may be at times true, a savvy apartment hunter may be surprised to get great bargains out there. After all, everything is negotiable, and this is especially true in real estate. All it takes is a bit of audacity, research, and great people skills. So make sure to do your homework and pack up plenty of courage before you head for your first viewing.
1. Do Your Research
Know your real estate market thoroughly. Is it a tight or loose market? In the former, it’s unlikely that a potential landlord will negotiate because there are other people out there willing to pay the list price for the apartment. This gives the landlord little motivation to lower the rent price for you.
A loose market in contrast gives you plenty of benefits. As supply outstrips demand in a loose market, there are plenty of vacant properties out there vying for limited number of potential renter. Take advantage of the situation by putting forward your negotiation skills. A landlord will be more willing to rent out his property for a slightly lower price than not to get a renter at all.
But how do you determine your market’s current situation? A good way is to browse apartment listings in the area for a few days. How many are there in each building, and how quickly do they disappear? The longer the listings are on the market and the more listings per building, the looser the market.
2. Demonstrate That You’re Committed and Responsible
Although a tight market may lessen your chance of getting a lower price, it doesn’t mean that a discount is out of the question.
Many landlords would take predictability and security anytime. Therefore, if you can promise your potential landlord commitment to rent the property for 2 years or more, they could be persuaded to give you discount. Landlords, after all, spend money on transaction costs (repainting, brokers fees, professional cleaning fees) whenever there’s a change in tenant, so some of them may be willing to lower the rent down a bit in exchange for a longer period of lease.
In addition, if you can demonstrate to your future landlord that you have good credit standing and a steady job—two primary attributes he’s looking for in future tenants—you may get him to knock a bit off your rent or to make other concessions. So if you’re planning on staying a while, highlight this when discussing what makes you a great potential renter.
Further, you may also seek recommendation from your previous landlords (that is, if you’re in a good relationship with them). Looking for an apartment is like looking for a job; a good record earns you extra brownie points.
3. Negotiate from Your Strength
Business people attest that the key to a successful negotiation is to be confident and calm. Know your stuff. Research the average apartment rents within the area you’re looking at and compare the amenities in the apartment to those available in nearby properties.
In addition, have a price in mind you think is fair for the potential place and reasons why. The reasons may range from the size of kitchen, availability of a parking space, or simply it may just be too expensive compared to other similar properties in the neighborhood. Don’t forget to emphasize your leverage: that you’re responsible and looking into a long-term lease.
When negotiating, ask for an even lower (but still reasonable) price than you’re hoping to get. You might end getting it or the landlord may be willing to meet halfway between your initial offer and the list price. In this case everyone walks away happy. After all, you don’t want to strain your budding relationship with your future landlord.
In the end, successful negotiating is all about knowing the market, doing research about the specific apartment in your sight, and negotiating calmly and rationally. If you do all this, you have a good chance of paying lower monthly rent.