Whether you are a life-long resident of the Greater Boston area or new to the city, here are some helpful hints to assist you with your apartment search:
- Good apartments rent quickly! Largely because of its enormous student population, the greater Boston rental market explodes beginning mid-January and continues until August 31st. Unless a real estate office has exclusive rights to rent a particular apartment, showings for the units are shared by MANY Real Estate offices. Competition, therefore, can be fierce and apartment availability is an ever-changing process, often hour to hour. The best strategy is to look at as many apartments as possible during a short period of time and be prepared to put down applications and a check for one month’s rent to take the best off the market.
- Many landlords require 24 hours notice to show an apartment so try to call your agent at least a day or two before you want to see places and plan around your work/school schedule, accordingly.
- Narrow your search to 2 or 3 areas at most. It’s helpful to physically explore, and speak with others about the neighborhoods you intend to rent prior to viewing apartments there, especially if you’re from outside of Boston. This will help your agent to do a more detailed search of only the apartments in your top areas. The following is a link to an informative Boston Neighborhoods descriptive site: www.bosarchitecture.com/neighborhoods.html
- Learn the price range you should expect to spend in the areas you are considering. If you are considering areas outside of Boston you will always get a better deal there, so eliminate those areas first before looking in the city. See the Boston area rental chart below as a good guideline to what you should expect to spend. If you are on the lower end of the price range you probably aren’t going to see newly renovated places, so if you need a really nice place it’s important to know that you will need to spend a bit more.
- Pets: Almost all landlords will permit cats. Your rental options, however, will be dramatically reduced if you have, or plan to get, a dog. About 85% of landlords do not allow dogs. Some buildings are “Pet Friendly” and may require an extra monthly or annual fee, while others may exclude certain breeds (e.g., Pit Bull) or dogs over a certain size (e.g., 40 lbs).
- Communication and staying connected with your agent is paramount in helping your agent to serve you best. Phone responders, especially early in the process, will have a better chance of getting updated information on apartments, communicating your changing needs, and being served in real time amid a long queue of apartment seekers with whom the agent may be working.
- Financials: If you are a student you will be required to get a co-signer/guarantor. If you are professional you will have to show good credit and the rent cannot exceed 40% of your income for most apartments. Boston area landlords generally require 2-3 months rent (first, last, and security deposit) prior to moving into the apartment. Occasionally, a small key deposit and/or lock change fee may apply. The first month’s rent, applications, credit reports, copy of ID’s, Fee Disclosure, and co-signer forms might be required to take an apartment off the market. Once you are approved, the lease and any required paperwork are submitted along with the remaining funds
- Broker’s Fee: Some landlords will pay a full months brokers fee, some will pay a portion (½ paid by landlord ½ by tenant), but most won’t pay any especially during the busy season from mid-January – end of August. In other cases, a landlord may be willing to negotiate. Always ask your agent what the fee arrangement is for each apartment you see.
Finally, as a courtesy, let your agent know if you’ve suspended your search for any reason (found an apartment on your own, via another real estate office, or have postponed your move/search plans).
Best of luck! We look forward to helping you find a great place!
Still have questions? Want to know what rental listings are available in your area? Contact Carol Parker at CParker@MandrellCo.com