This Is the Best Way to Save Money on Rent, According to a Leasing Agent

published Jun 2, 2022
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It’s no secret that the housing market is weathering a volatile time of supply limits and unprecedented inflation. Whether owning or renting — or trying to decide between the two — prices continue to climb. According to reports, the national average rent increased over 20 percent year over year in 2021.

“Even with mortgage rates rising rapidly, real estate remains competitive, partly because homeowners… were generally less affected, monetarily speaking, by the pandemic than renters,” reports finance site Bankrate.

Apartment Therapy sat down with Carolyn W., a property manager overseeing a luxury complex in Dallas-Fort Worth, to learn how her industry is evolving with the times — and her advice for renters looking to save in a competitive market.

“The market has obviously grown significantly, especially in the rental market,” she says. “It starts with legislation. Soon enough, when buyers aren’t able to secure a home, renting is affected… The studios that were previously $1,250 are now $1,550.” 

And with no signs of slowing down, I asked Carolyn for her best tips and hacks for saving hundreds of dollars per year on rental costs.

Tour new construction properties.

We’ve heard it all before: location, location, location. And the first location renters should look at newly developed complexes and neighborhoods. Carolyn shares, “Brand new construction is the best way to get a great discount. [Property managers and developers] want to get people [to sign leases and move in] to get that cash flow. That’s where you’re going to see the six-weeks-free specials.” 

Inquire about ‘look and lease’ specials.

If you’re not looking at newly renovated spaces or new construction builds, you can still stand to enjoy a discount. Carolyn talked about one of her favorite saving hacks: “look and lease” specials. With ‘look and lease’ specials, prospective tenants are given the opportunity to tour the exact unit they could live in and given a shorter turnaround time to make a decision to lease. “Typically, the timeframe is 24- or 48-hours,” explains Carolyn. “And typically, we’ll waive administrative fees, like an application fee.” 

Ask about upfront costs and efficiency. 

Carolyn advises budget-conscious renters to ask the right questions and inquire about the upfront costs. “It never hurts to ask. Ask, ‘What are the monthly fees? What will I pay every month for pets, the parking garage, valet trash, etc.?'” 

Carolyn shares an added hack: “Ask if you can cancel services once you realize you’re no longer using it. For example, if you realize reserved parking isn’t helping you, see if you can cancel it in the middle of your lease before you sign. Similarly, find out if you add on services like parking or storage later, once you realize you need it.”

Another great question: Is the apartment energy efficient? “Being on the top floor or in a corner apartment will be more expensive, but knowing about the efficiency can give you a better idea of the most costs you could incur,” she says.

Get a great apartment locator. 

“The best advice I can give for anyone looking for an apartment: find a great apartment locator,” Carolyn says. An apartment locator is a professional who helps renters find their next home, often at no cost to the tenant.

“Many property managers work with apartment locators. And the locators are the first to know about upcoming deals, specials, or promotions… These Realtors are working for a commission, and when you find a great apartment locator, they will stop at nothing to get you into an amazing apartment. It’s the number one tip I give all of my friends.”