There was an old 1960’s song that had the line “nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide…” It was done by Martha Reeves and the Vandelas (click here to hear and see the song on YouTube). I thought of that song as I was thinking about the current tight real estate market. There’s almost literally nowhere to go if you are forced out of your home through foreclosure or because of a short sale. The rental market is extremely tight right now; or at least it looks that way.
As a Realtor®, I get calls all the time from people looking for a place to lease or rent. Usually these are people who’ve just gone through an event that forces them to rent for a few years, which they repair their credit. I try to help, but often I have to advise them to get in the car and start driving the streets. That’s because, with the market so tight, landlords are just throwing a “for rent” sign in the yard or window and attracting renters within days (if not hours). The landlord avoids having to pay any commission on those rentals.
One issue that would-be renters don’t realize is that they will need to provide financial information, including a credit check, to the landlord, so that he/she can make a decision on whether to rent to them or not. Landlords are looking for good renters whom they can count on to be there with the rent every month. They don’t want deadbeats in the place that they later have to evict.
Quite often I will have the would-be renters write a letter to the landlord explaining the situation that brought them to this point and also explaining why they are now a good rental risk. This usually applies to someone who may have had a temporary setback in life that caused them to lose their house, but who still has steady employment and a reasonable current debt load.
Things that landlords generally don’t like to see include bankruptcies, someone with temporary or part-time employment only or people whose current debt load is more than 50% of their monthly take-home pay. Those are red flags for a landlord and may point towards problems ahead. People with those things in their lives may be best off in an apartment setting for a while.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you need a place to live for a couple of years as you get your life back on track you can’t be too picky in the current market. You may also have to make some hard choices, especially as far as pets are concerned. Trying to find a place that will accept your 100lb Great Dane along with you is a BIG challenge. Some landlords will also accept small to medium dogs but not cats. You just have to live with that, it’s their right to refuse to rent to you on that basis alone.
So, it’s not that there’s absolutely nowhere to run to, but temporary places are harder to find. Call me and let me know what area you need to be in and I’ll look for you. In the meantime, do some driving through the neighborhoods and watch for those little “For Rent” signs that the landlord may have put out in the yard or in the window, if it’s a condo complex. Get your credit report ready and write that letter to the landlord explaining why you’re a good risk for him/her to take.