Get the rental you want
The home should be the treasure chest of living. Le Corbusier
The place where you live isn’t just the place where you sleep and occasionally eat, it needs to be a place where you feel safe, comfortable and at peace. When you have a rough day in the office (and they happen to everyone), the last thing you want to do is dread going home because your housemate is unclean or creating problems for you.
House hunting in Sydney at the moment is a nightmare. Pick a weekend and hope to God it rains so it washes out about a quarter of the competition! But this particular weekend I went house hunting with a mission. I chose one property to inspect. It was the only property that ticked all the boxes for a reasonable price. I walked in with about fifty people. I didn’t have a rental history to refer the agent to. Here’s how I got it:
Step 1 – Look at properties
Know what’s in the market for your budget. Look online at as many properties as you can and compare them to each other. Be ruthless. What do you need to survive in your everyday life? One of the things I noticed is none of the properties had a laundry. There were shared laundries or mentions of nearby laundry mats, but that’s just one of those luxuries I don’t want to do without.
Step 2 – Choose the property
For those who don’t know, property inspecting and house hunting is EXHAUSTING! Aim to go for one weekend and make it the only weekend you go. Spend this weekend wisely. Choose the property you want and make that your preference. You may want to inspect one or two other properties that day. Make sure you make a note of which order you want them in. You will also need to remind yourself of: Property address, rent cost, best features, and draw backs, real estate agent and real estate agent’s name.
Step 3 – Dress the part
Today is the one day where I highly recommend marketing yourself. Think of it like a job interview. At the risk of sounding like a snob, I was shocked at the amount of people queuing up to see the property that looked as though they’d just come from collecting their welfare payment. You’re trying to convince the agent that you have the money to afford the property you’re inspecting … why not dress to reflect that. Wear a business suit or at least smart casual. Don’t wear ugg boots, thongs or nightclub attire. Consider who the owners may want in their property and dress to reflect that.
Step 4 – Introduce yourself
Before you go, you need to spend a little time preparing. Print the application form from the real estate agent’s website. Organise a photocopy of 100 points of ID (a payslip, your driver’s license and your passport). With this, insert a copy of a little introduction of who you are. Not everyone is a professional writer, so some things you may want to include in this will be: Start by thanking the agent for the opportunity to inspect the property. About me – this includes where you work, what you’re like as a person (e.g. honest, reliable etc) and how previous arrangements have found you to be (e.g. pay rent on time). How I live – what are you like at home? Are you neat and tidy? What do you do on weekends? What are your hobbies? What do you do after work? Past house history – this is particularly important if you don’t have a rental history, and part of the reason you’re putting this introduction together. Explain why you’re looking for something new, how it will compare to your current arrangement. What I can offer – offer to pay rent in advance if you can, offer to pay a slightly higher rent if you think it’s very sought after. Put your contact details and sign off. I use sub-headings to make it easier to follow, and I also put a picture of myself in the top left corner so the real estate agent will remember me. Make it a good picture, this document is like your resume for a job! Again, finish by thanking the agent for the opportunity to inspect the property and say you look forward to hearing from them soon. Use the most positive and upbeat tone that you can.
Step 4 – Make the decision
When you get there, make your decision quickly. Once you decide the property is yours, you will put the right vibes out to those around you. Use visualisation – see yourself living there. See yourself using the entries and exits as you go through. Look for anything that may annoy you. Remind yourself of all the reasons that you think this property is perfect for you.
Step 5 – Be early to the inspection
Be early to the inspection and try to be the first person to have a look around and leave. Get the main check boxes in your head ticked before leaving. You don’t need to spend a lot of time, remember it’s a rental property – you’re not buying it. As long as it ticks the main boxes it should serve you well for the next 6 to 12 months.
Step 6 – Don’t look at the competition
Singles will always be up against couples. Remember, there is always someone out there that’s pretty, smarter, thinner, happier than you. That’s life. Don’t psych yourself out! I was standing on my own, looking at the property with a job I’d had for only a month, I didn’t have a rental history … there were many factors that I thought may work against me. Particularly when I saw how many people were going through the property. Instead of looking at everything I didn’t have, I thought about everything I did have. I was responsible, I’m reliable, I’m honest … it’s in the best interest of the owners to take me in. These thoughts gave me confidence to move forward.
Step 7 – Meet the Real Estate Agent
Introduce yourself to the real estate agent. Say how excited you are about the property and that it has everything you’re looking for. Hand over the information you have prepared and say you’re happy to go back to the office and pay the deposit that day (if you are!). Try to get on well with the agent – this is your best chance at being put forward and accepted. Smile lots, make conversation, be confident and find a hook to stand out. (My hook to stand out was that the agent said I had a nice self-portrait, which I giggled off at the time, but I made mention of it again in my follow up email to help him remember me.) Towards the end of this conversation, which is a bit of a meet and greet and they’ll probably ask all the questions you’ve answered on your introduction page, he or she should give you their card.
Step 8 – Follow up
As soon as you get home send an email to the agent for your most preferred property. Thank them for their time and the opportunity to view the place. Say how enthusiastic you are and that you would love to organise a move for the date they need someone to move in (don’t panic, you can make it all happen later). They will probably say thank you and tell you they will follow up in a couple of days some agents are so speedy they’ll get back to you that same day (even if it’s a Saturday).
The trick is to be friendly and enthusiastic! You can’t lose.
Got some tips to add? Make sure you leave your suggestions for house hunting advice below.