Whether you’re a local or your coming in from out of state, here are 5 Helpful Home-Hunting Hints you should think about when you are looking in Los Angeles!
The time has come! Either you are looking for a change in locale, or a new job is taking you on a new adventure – whatever it is, you find it’s time to look for a new place to call home. This exciting journey can pose some questions when it comes to finding exactly what you are looking for. Here’s some helpful home-hunting advice, courtesy of The Rental Girl!
1. WHICH NEIGHBORHOOD DO YOU WANT TO LIVE IN?
Some people are intimidated by the thought of moving to LA. Those of us who live here know that LA is a vast urban sprawl of diverse neighborhoods and small cities. In fact, when people say “I live in LA”, it’s used as more of a general term to cover a large area; we know that most people outside of our amazing city don’t realize how varied LA is. How many neighborhoods would you say LA had? 20? 30?
How about 272? Yup, that’s right, a whole 272 neighborhoods!
A little overwhelmed? Don’t be. According to a very in-depth and helpful peek into LA neighborhoods, the LA Times has compiled a very comprehensive list called the LA Mapping Project (Which you can find here: http://maps.latimes.com/neighborhoods)
Some things to think about as you peruse:
Do you have kids who go to school? (Education is very important after all.) How walkable to do you want it to be? Do you want to live next to the ocean, or next to the mountains? (Luckily, here in LA you can live in close proximity to both if you want.) Do you need to be close to a studio? Do you want a short commute? Do you need more city or nature around you?
You get the gist.
2. WHAT’S YOUR PRICE RANGE?
This is a very important factor. The rule of the thumb when renting an apartment, is that your income should cover at least 3 times the amount of what you would be spending in rent. So make sure you are looking in the correct price range for your budget. This means that you’ll need to be realistic with your expectations. If you are moving into a highly sought after area, be prepared to pay rents that will match that popularity respectively. Be ready with your first month’s rent and any deposits that may be needed. Bear in mind, if you have little to poor credit, offering extra deposit will be a consideration. Also having a pet will incur more of a deposit as well. By being realistic with your budget, you will have a much easier time finding your neighborhood and your dream home.
3. WHEN CAN YOU MOVE?
One of the main things to know about the rental market here in LA: landlords are looking for immediate move-in – ie…people who can move in 30 days or less. This is a high-demand market. Some properties move faster than others. And occasionally, sure, you get a landlord who is looking to fill a vacancy before their current tenant has actually even moved out — but those are rare. So, this may sound counter-intuitive to all of you Type-As out there, (we feel your pain here at The Rental Girl) but give your 30 day notice before you actually start looking for a place. Now this leads us to our next tip.
4. ARE YOU MOVING FROM OUT OF STATE? DON’T STRESS!
This is always a fun question for us because we get to hear all about where you’re coming from and what’s bringing you to LA.
Aside from that though, there’s always a strategy. First, we recommend a scouting trip, so that you can come out and see places and neighborhoods in person. This is a vital part of the process. Partly because you need to make sure you are not getting scammed by someone who’s taking advantage of the fact that you are from out of town (unfortunately, this does happen to a lot of good people). Also, a majority of landlords prefer that you see the property before you sign a lease. They have a pool of people to pick from that are already local, so you’ll want to remain competitive by being here to see the property.
Another thing that we also suggest, is that if you can’t make a scouting trip, then consider going through a service like Air BnB to find a short term rental. This way, you can get to LA, you have a place to stay when you get here, and you can find the area that best suits you. This alleviates the pressure of trying to find a place from somewhere out of state and buys you some time to find a place you really love!
Also, there are places that offer relocation services. It’s also worth it to look into that option if you are moving due to your job. Often times work places will assist you by providing you temp housing when you first arrive, and help you find a more long term option.
And lastly, if you have a trusted family member or friend that knows your taste, have them check out the place for you. In this day and age of technology, have them Skype/FaceTime you in on the viewing. Some landlords are fine with this alternative; they see how serious you are and feel better about the potential match.
5. ARE YOU READY TO SIGN A LEASE?
Most landlords in LA are looking to sign a year lease at minimum. Sometimes you may come across some short term leases here and there. But most of the time, landlords are looking for that sweet spot – to not have to look for a tenant again right away, but to also have time to see how you guys get along as tenant and landlord. So how do you nurture the best landlord/tenant relationship?
Here’s some things to thing about:
Make sure you are okay with your “make or breaks”. Know what you can compromise on. This is important – you don’t want to miss out on a good thing if you know that there are some things that you’d be willing to overlook. Can you live without parking? Washer/Dryer? Dishwasher? What are the things that you can’t compromise on? What is the idea of the perfect place for YOU? Not what a stereotypical place is, but the place that fits your lifestyle and personality? What kind of a landlord would be ideal for you? Keeping in mind that most places, the cosmetics of a place is usually “as is”. Of course a landlord is responsible for any kind of maintenance issues that you may come across. Some things can be negotiated, like painting and fixtures – those things are usually listed right up front in the ad or by the landlord. The important thing is to ask as many questions as you can. Be a fully informed consumer.
This should help ease your transition as you make your way to your next home! And welcome to LA!