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Renting a Home: Apartment vs House - Who Will Win!

The first thing most prospective renters have to decide is fundamental – the decision to decide whether to look at apartments for rent, condos for rent, or finally, homes for rent. There are a number of important considerations in making this decision, and today we will outline a few.
1. Cost: In many areas, including the area I live, houses are significantly more expensive to rent. Houses for rent are available, as are condos for rent, however for most people apartments for rent are typically the most cost effective option. In large cities, houses are very expensive, and as a result houses for rent are expensive as well. The exception would be in inner cities, where often the homes for rent are cheaper given the lower demand for homes in the area. Houses are very expensive to maintain, especially when the homes for rent are older (the housing stock in large cities often is), and this cost is passed along to a prospective renter. Condos for rent offer many advantages over apartments for rent, however, few if any are cheaper. You pay more for the conveniences and amenities of a condo for rent, and in many cases, they are newer buildings in better condition. The location is also often better, because condos for rent are found in places that are popular areas to live very recently. However, in many places, there simply is not much availability of apartments for rent (Talk to an apartment finder if you are unsure of whether there is a building with an apartment for rent in your area), and you will only have the option of a condo for rent. This is not bad news, though, because in these (often small cities or towns), both condos for rent and homes for rent are much cheaper than in a big city. Although, you may not enjoy the location very much … which brings us to our next point:
2. Location: If there is one thing that realtors and property management firms stress, it is indeed the old adage, LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION! The best predictor of long term value is indeed the location of property. Property management companies know this, as do savvy investors. While this plays only a small role in the decision of renters, you may find more landlords and interesting deals in desirable locations. Many of these property management firms work for investors who are simply trying to maximize the long term value of a property, and sell for a profit. In the meantime, it makes sense to use the services of a property management company to make homes for rent or apartments for rent available to a wide range of potential tenant. You are also better off looking at a good location, or more accurately a popular location, because at some point you may need or want to sub let your property. Let’s say you have signed a twelve month lease on an apartment for rent, and then are transferred to a different city. You find a new condo for rent, and are ready to move, and find your landlord or the property management will not let you out of your lease, even with a couple of months notice. In this case, you must become a temporary landlord, and sublet your apartment for rent. Believe me, in this case you will be very happy you picked the trendy location next to the city center, rather than the quieter home for rent in the country. Liquidity is much better, by that I mean you will find a much larger stock of potential renters for condos for rent or apartments for rent in the city center rather than homes for rent out in the country. Condos for rent, in particular, more very easily in a good market – the reason is that (aside from a trendy location) is that condos for rent are easily compared, have many similarities, and appeal to the same kind of renters … the result is that they are like a commodity. The market is large, liquidity is large, and if you must become a landlord in a hurry, you can unload your condos for rent by simply lowering your price to below the market. Not perfect, but a good hedge in an emergency. Remember, you are a reluctant landlord! You may also find that property management firms have lower rates and are easier to find, because they will often have many clients in areas where there are lots of apartments for rent or condos for rent. Finding a property management firm for homes for rent can be more difficult and more costly because of the time and transportation cost required for the property manager to visit your property.
3. Landlord: Never under estimate the importance of a good landlord … or more accurately, the terrible fate of having a bad landlord! A bad landlord will make your life a living night mare. Imagine … your refrigerator breaks, and instead of calling a repair man, your landlord tries to fix it him (or her) self. All seems well for a few days, and it breaks again. Your landlord decides to try again. Remember, you really have no say at all in this decision, it is the responsibility of the landlord to make sure your apartment for rent is working properly, but they decide how. After five or six different attempts, maybe eventually he or she will decide to replace it. But imagine the grief! I use this example because this happened to me on one occasion.
As the tenant in an apartment for rent, you are often able to claim damages against your landlord, but is it worth going to court over thirty dollars in spoiled food? Probably not, but the grief and hassle and frustration can be intense. Condos for rent often work better than apartments for rent (or homes for rent) in this regard – since much of the maintenance and work is done by an approved contractor, and since many repairs are covered by your condo fees, you are less at the mercy of the landlord to fix your stuff. When you are in a condo for rent, you can also run for the condo board and have influence over how repairs are carried out, which items are covered, and more importantly, who does the actual work. In some cases (depending on the agreement), renters are not allowed to be on the condo board (only the landlord or property management representative), so this is a question worth asking before you sign on the dotted line. If you are looking at apartments for rent or homes for rent, you may also want to enquire into the property management. Never be afraid to ask for (and check!) references. Talk to people who live in the building. Have they dealt with the landlord or property manager? What were their experiences like? Did they find the landlord or property management to be responsive and considerate in dealing with their tenants? Many landlords can be good salespeople, but you are definitely better off talking to some tenants or checking some references so you can avoid the kinds of problems that come from a bad landlord or bad property management.
4. The last major factor … whether you are looking at condos for rent, apartments for rent or homes for rent is very important: Do you see yourself living there a long time? Many people think they will live in their apartments for rent for only a few months, only to find a good job, maybe a significant other, and wind up in the same place for years. If you see yourself living there for a good period of time, you will be on the right track! As an aside, lofts make an interesting alternative. Many people are surprised to learn that condos for rent and apartments for rent are typically the same price range as are lofts. Often people think that given that the lofts are in old buildings, and often are decorated and styled to be very minimalist, that the loft will be cheaper.
Often, this is not the case. The reason is that there is a finite number of conversion lofts in any given city, and lofts are very desirable at the present, so the laws of supply and demand push the price of lofts above that of apartments for rent. The other reason is that lofts are often found in popular locations. Good lofts are often found in downtown cores, and as cities grow, this becomes a prime location. People may also find condos for rent in these areas, but lofts are a very poplar option for many people who want a trendy, inspiring, and historically significant place to live. Another thing to consider as you ponder the market of homes for rent, condos for rent and apartments for rent, is to employ the services of an apartment finder.
Many property management companies and major landlords list with apartment finders to help ensure the stock of apartments for rent under their management find a wide audience. It is the job of the apartment finder to be well versed in the range of condos for rent and apartments for rent in a given market. Well, that’s my advice, best of luck!