This article originally appeared on the Apartment Guide Blog.
By Brian Carberry
With a growing number of Americans renting, Apartment Guide conducted research to help uncover what renters really think is important and what they learned while going through the process of finding a home to rent. These findings provide insights to renters who are just getting started by learning from others who have already signed a lease, as well as provide tips on what to consider when your lease is up for renewal.
Most Renters Are Excited to Look for a New Place
There's an excitement that comes with renting a new apartment—finding it, signing the lease and finally moving in (aside from the whole having to move furniture and boxes part).
Overall, most people say they're excited throughout their search for a rental. The feeling wanes a little after signing a lease, but is still high, as 76 percent say they're excited or very excited after renting their new place (based on those surveyed who have rented a new place in the last six months). Relief and satisfaction spike as top emotions felt after signing a lease, as well.
However, there can also be anxiety or worry as a move date looms. Stress and feeling overwhelmed are two common emotions that renters reported experiencing during their apartment search. What do they say worried them the most? Half of the renters say they were concerned they wouldn't find anything in their price range.
What's Most Important in a Rental?
The two most significant factors renters cite when looking for a rental are price and location. Most people say they're moving to save money (37 percent) or to be closer to work (32 percent).
How exactly does location factor into a rental decision? Over half of renters (62 percent) place more importance on the location rather than the unit itself. Also, 74 percent say they're moving to a place they feel is familiar to them.
When searching online for rentals, 44 percent of renters online are seeking a place that fits their budget and 29 percent are looking for something that fits location needs.
Lifestyle needs come into play as well, with 19 percent seeking a pet-friendly place, 18 percent looking for something accessible for seniors or someone with disabilities and 13 percent wanting something family-appropriate.
What Do Renters Think About While Apartment Hunting?
Most renters are practical, desiring basic conveniences and wanting to feel safe and secure. The most often cited "top-of-mind desire" among survey respondents is to have a washer/dryer in unit, with gym and swimming pool being the next most commonly mentioned amenities desired.
As for what renters take note of during their search, nothing is more important than price, but many are also thinking about the neighborhood, utilities, square footage and specific amenities.
When asked to choose between a variety of rental offerings, 35 percent of the time, renters said they're most interested in having gated access. Beyond security and convenience, renters also frequently cite a desire for health and wellness-based apartment amenities such as gyms, classes and personal trainers.
Here's what renters say they took note of during their search:
Compromising on a Rental
The reality is that most renters (67 percent) also feel they have to sacrifice some wants to fit their budget. But, they're willing to compromise on some things more than others.
Renters are least willing to compromise on location and price—only 14 percent say they'll compromise on location and 15 percent say they'll compromise on price, which makes sense since these are the most important factors when renting. However, they're most willing to compromise on size/square footage (29 percent).
Other modern amenities that 30 percent or more of renters were most interested in are hardwood floors, a rooftop terrace, a cafe, Amazon lockers and shuttles to public transportation.
What Renters Wish They Knew Before Signing Their Lease
Here are four things that stand out when Apartment Guide asked renters what they wish they knew or did before signing the paperwork on their new rental:
1. Check out more places in person.
Almost one-third of renters (31 percent) said they wish they toured more properties before deciding on one. Most people tour an average of three to four properties before submitting an application, and 40 percent submit an application within the day of touring. So, while you may feel rushed to make a move-out date or feel like the competition is hot, you may want to visit another one or two places and think through your rental decision a bit more before committing to one. Ask plenty of questions when you visit a rental as well, so you leave feeling informed.
2. Find out more about the neighbors.
Another key area renters said they wish they knew more about includes their neighbors–30 percent mentioned it. This can be a tough one, as you likely won't be able to find out a lot about them. You can drive by or visit the property at different times during the day. Additionally, if you see someone there when you're visiting, you could ask them questions about the property or neighborhood. Online reviews may also provide some insights, though neighbors can change, and people living in different units may have different experiences.
3. Inspect their property more thoroughly.
It's important to know the details of your property and understand any potential downsides ahead of time, and 29 percent of renters say they wish they'd done a better job of this before getting their new place. Don't be afraid to ask for additional visits and take photographs to document the property the day you move in. This can help you with your move-out inspection so you can avoid getting stuck with any potential charges or lose any of your security deposit.
4. Know more about the property management or landlord.
Also, 27 percent of renters didn't think they found out enough about who they're renting from ahead of time. Speaking directly with the landlord or any property management staff you'll be communicating with when you rent is essential so you feel comfortable with the support you'll receive and have confidence that any issues will be handled promptly and appropriately.
There's obviously a lot to think about before renting. By leveraging the resources and tools on ApartmentGuide.com, you can find the rental you're looking for at the right price in the right location. To check out the article and for a full breakdown of the site's methodology, click here.
Brian Carberry is the managing editor of Apartment Guide and rent.com and has more than 10 years' experience as a content creator and award-winning journalist. His work has been featured on CNN, Search Engine Land, Randstad and a number of other organizations around the world.