Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bay view Monterey, CA becomes renters' market

The troubled housing market has spawned a rush to rent at a time when rents are flat or falling, but Monterey County renters can't rest on their laurels.

Monterey County is a renters' market.
by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
Enter The Deadline Newsroom

Unauthorized use of this story is a copyright violation -- a federal crime

Deadline Newsroom - The troubled housing market has spawned a rush to rent at a time when rents are flat or falling, but Monterey County renters can't rest on their laurels.

Finding the best rental deal still requires market savvy and attention to the details of the rental home search.

"It's a great time to be a renter. There are lots of choices. You get more bang for your buck than in past times," says Jan Leasure, managing broker of Monterey Bay Property Management which specializes in managing single-family homes, condos, and apartment buildings in Monterey County.

Leasure says rents have been squeezed by the growing supply of new rentals stemming from foreclosures, unsold new homes and homes left behind by those moving out of the area.

In December, the median price of single-family homes in the area was $255,000, down a whopping 56.4 percent from a year ago, according to the Caliornia Association of Realtors (CAR).

Leasure says the oversupply of rental housing has pushed rents down five to 10 percent in the past year.

Leasure's data is based on anecdotal evidence from owners of single-family homes, condos and smaller rental complexes, which make up the bulk of the residential rental home supply in the county.

On the other hand, Novato-based RealFacts says as of the last quarter of 2008, the average rent for the county, $1,220 a month, rose nearly 8 percent, up from the average $1,131 monthly rent during the last quarter of 2007. The average rent in Salinas, $1,180 during the last quarter of 2008 was up 8.4 percent.

However, RealFacts' data is based only on larger apartment complexes -- those with an average 255 units per complex. There were only 28 properties throughout the county (17 of them in Salinas) that fit that data point. RealFacts' average rent data also includes a wide range of individual rental unit sizes from studios to three-bedroom townhomes.

Leasure says larger properties don't feel market pressures as quickly as smaller units, but you can expect those rents to soon soften. Occupancy rates fell nearly 1 percent in the past year in Salinas.

"If all of a sudden there's one vacancy in a smaller complex for three or four weeks, the impact on the owner is a lot more than one vacancy out of 255 units," Leasure explained.

"We manage in Salinas as well as on the Peninsula and the trends we se are much the same," she added.

Even with trends pointing to ever more favorable conditions for renters, that doesn't mean its time to shirk hard bargaining. Given the current credit squeeze, a rental home, for many, could be the shelter of choice for some time.

Renters need to negotiate for the most affordable housing they can find.

Here's how.

• Approach your rental-housing search like a job search. Be organized, serious, and professional in both actions and appearance so that you stand out as the best applicant.

• Tell everyone you know you are looking for an affordable rental home and what you want in a rental home. Use newspaper classified ads, renter magazines, and the Internet for listings. Check listings first thing every day. Call early. Leave a cell or other number where you can be quickly reached. Respond quickly when a landlord calls you back.

• Know what you really want and don't want in square footage, rooms, housing type and shop that market. Be flexible when it comes to amenities and concessions. Be prepared to decide on the spot and be prepared to leave a deposit and/or credit check fee.

"Most landlords and managers want cash or a cashier's check for the deposit/credit check fee, so they know they have good funds," Leasure said.

• Carefully vet and contact your references ahead of time to be sure your information on them is current and that you have their permission to use them as a reference.

• Keep your credit and finances in good standing. Obtain a free copy of your credit report from the one and only federally-sanctioned Examine it, correct any errors, and make sure what you say in the rental application is consistent with what the landlord will see on the credit report.

• Likewise, any data compiling agency, including major rental screening operations regulated by Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) are required to give you free access to your data. If a report isn't free, purchase it.

• Be prepared with all the information you need to complete a rental application. That includes, full, prior addresses, bank account and credit card numbers, and references. A pre-completed rental application form may be acceptable. If not, it is a good way to compile your information for on-the-spot easy transfer to the landlord's application.

"The most commonly missing information on an application to rent is the contact information for past landlords. That is one of the most crucial pieces of info needed to process the application," Leasure said.

• Consider preparing a renter's resume. Like a job resume, a renter's resume is a chronology of your rental life and helps you stand out as well-organized and prepared.

"Prepare a written explanation of anything that needs explaining, bad credit, a foreclosure, a bankruptcy, an unlawful detainer action. Attach it to your resume. Landlords and property managers respect honesty," Leasure said.

• Lock in your rental costs by negotiating for the longest rental contract your lifestyle permits. Don't rent long-term if you know you soon could be relocated or will have to move. Any savings you hoped to enjoy from a long term contract could be lost in costs to break the contract.

• Before signing on the dotted line, understand the terms of the contract, the monthly rent, due date, deposits, required care and upkeep, community or house rules and any other details. Get help with anything you don't understand.

• Learn more about rental screening from's "Behind The Screen Door" series.

Buy a vacation rental!
President Obama's 'career renter' moves

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Advertise on DeadlineNews.Com

Shop DeadlineNews.Com

Get news that really hits home for your Web site or blog from DeadlineNews.Com.

Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group -- DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. Perkins is also a National Real Estate Examiner. All the news that really hits home from three locations -- that's location, location, location!

DeadlineNews.Com's Editorial Content Is Intellectual Property • Unauthorized Use Is A Federal Crime

No comments: