It's a tough question nearly every renter will ask themselves before signing a lease: "Is this a fair price?" With rent prices rising dramatically across the country the last few years, it can be especially difficult to definitively answer the question.
Here are three easy ways to search online to find whether a rental unit is appropriately priced for the area.
Check the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Annual Fair Market Rents Data: HUD publishes an annual report with fair market rents for every state, every year. The "fair market rent" is the average of what 40 to 50 percent of people living in a specific area paid the previous calendar year. Their online system allows users to select a state and county OR a metropolitan area and see average prices, so it may not be unit specific, but at least renters have context for their area.
Search Rent-0-Meter: There's nothing easier than putting in an address, a rentfigure, and a number of bedrooms for rent analysis. Rent-O-Meter also maps out properties around the unit, so it's easy to see how the rent compares to the rest of the neighborhood.
Check Google Reviews for Property Management Companies:
Most people think of Google reviews as a useful way to find good restaurants, stores, or hotels - but it's also incredibly helpful for comparison shopping multi-unit apartment buildings.
Many reviewers will give an assessment of whether the rent itself is too high, but it's often the hidden costs of a unit that can make or break it's value as potential tenant. A search of a building near my place turned up quite a few unhappy renters who were quoted utility bills in the $40 to $60 range, but who ended up paying double. These type of hidden costs can dramatically throw off even the most affordable of rents.
(Photo Credits: Elizabeth Giorgi and resources listed above)