How to Find Your Dream Apartment in a Hot Rental Market: 5 Tips

Apartment Hunting in a Competitive Market? Here’s How to Get the Upper Hand.

Renting an apartment can get stressful FAST when you’re in an ultra-popular area, with tons of eligible renters and inventory that seems to disappear overnight.

You can get ahead of the competition, however, with these helpful tips from experienced apartment locators.

Tip #1: Time your search for the “off” season.

Winter tends to be the off season for renting in many areas, but that is NOT always the case in competitive rental markets.

Take, for example, the areas around colleges and universities. Those neighborhoods tend to see tons of renters on apartment hunts during the fall and, sometimes, even the winter while spring and summer can be the off seasons.

So, don’t assume you know when the off season is for your target rental area. Do a little research, and whenever possible, try to time your apartment search for that area’s off season.

If you can do that, you could have more options to choose from, more time to make a decision, and fewer other prospective renters to compete with.

Tip #2: Prioritize your needs.

From budget and location to in-unit and community amenities, figure out exactly what your needs are and where you may be willing (or unwilling) to compromise. As you do, you can start to get a much clearer idea of:

  • Precisely where you want to be
  • Any wiggle room you do or don’t have with your budget
  • Your dream apartment and what won’t make the cut

Why does this matter?

Because as soon as you do spot a fabulous rental that fits the bill, you can act fast and avoid letting the ideal place slip away.

On the other hand, you don’t have to waste your time running all over town to try to view the latest rentals on the market if you know from the listing that it’s just not going to work for you.

Tip #3: Bring a few key items with you.

Prepare these items ahead of time, and bring them with you when you check out apartments or you visit landlords to fill out an application:

  • Recommendation letters from former landlords: Show that you’re a great choice as a tenant by giving a prospective landlord 2 or 3 recommendation letters if possible. If you’re a first-time renter, then the last point on this list can work in place of these letters.
  • Copies of bank statements, recent paystubs, and/or tax records: Demonstrate your ability to satisfy the financial obligations that come with renting the apartment. Ideally, bring two of these options, and try to provide records that go back roughly 3 to 6 months (to show longevity and financial stability).
  • A list of references: Provide the names and contact information of at least three people who can be your references. Even if the landlord never contacts these people, your move to provide this information upfront can speak volumes about how responsible you are. And that could give you an edge over unprepared renters who aren’t showing up with references (or anything else).

If you’re planning to rent with a dog, a cat, or another pet, it’s also smart to have your pet references ready to go too.

Tip #4: Be ready to put money down.

If you fall in love with a rental and you want to move forward with an application or the lease, you need to be prepared to:

  1. Pay for application fees and credit checks on the spot. Many landlords are OK with personal checks, but some are not. So, ask before you go, so you can pay these fees immediately (and so you’re application doesn’t get delayed or sidelined).
  2. Cover the security deposit and first month’s rent, at least. Some landlords may want the last month’s rent, and offering to pay a couple of months’ rent upfront (if you can afford it) could be a persuasive bargaining chip if you’re neck and neck with another renter who wants the same unit. Here, it’s also important to know that, for these payments, you may need a cashier’s check or a money order, instead of a personal check.

Tip #5: Work with an experienced apartment locator.

You don’t have to do all of the legwork by yourself when you’re looking for your next apartment. And you could have a much easier time finding your dream apartment faster — even in competitive markets — when you work with an experienced apartment locator at Apartment Gurus.


Because at Apartment Gurus, we have access to exclusive listings of extraordinary luxury apartments and high-end rentals in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and beyond — and we’ll send you curated listings, perfectly matched to all your search criteria, so you don’t have to waste time sifting through endless options. Plus, we’ll put CASH in your pocket because we share our commission with you when you sign a lease.

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Backed by more than 10 years’ experience, Apartment Gurus finds the best options while putting money back in renters’ pockets.

Check out our excellent reviews to see how we’ve helped thousands in their apartment searches — and to see how our program can benefit you. We look forward to helping you find your next Texas apartment to call home! 

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