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.
There's an excitement that comes along 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 are 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 are 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.
There can also be anxiety or worry as a move date looms, though. Stress and feeling overwhelmed are two common emotions that renters reported experiencing during their apartment search. What do they say they worried about the most? Half of the renters say they were concerned they wouldn't find anything in their price range.
The two most significant factors renters cite when looking for a rental are price and location. Most people say they are 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 are moving to a place they feel is familiar to them.
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.
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 after that one.
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 are 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:
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. They are most willing to compromise on size/square footage (29 percent).
Other modern amenities that 30 percent or more of renters were most interested in include hardwood floors, a rooftop terrace, a coffee or cafe, Amazon lockers and shuttle service to public transportation.
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.
Almost 1/3 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.
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.
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 also help you with your move out inspection so you can avoid getting stuck with any potential charges or lose any of your security deposit.
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.
The data referenced in this article include the results of surveys conducted by RentPath between 2017 and 2018: