Yes, the rental market is on fire! We’ve been hearing all over the country that rental inventory is low, and prices are on the rise. Everyone is focusing on this, while we should be looking at something far more important; tips to rent a condo in this market.
Before this rental boom, the old rental market was like the pace in Ottawa, slow and steady. You could afford to be 10 minutes late because most people would not notice. Now, the new rental market is like New York City: a city that never sleeps and moves at a breakneck pace… don’t be late.
Here are 4 Tips to Rent the Condo of Your Dreams:
- Know what you want, but be flexible
Knowing is half the battle, the other half is doing. The same goes for the rental market. Far too often, we meet with clients who don’t know what they want. All they say is, “I want to rent a 1-bedroom condo”. Great, I’ll go find a needle out of a haystack while I’m at it. Point being, before you start looking for a condo, know exactly which neighbourhood you want to call home, have a short-list of buildings you like, get a good sense of what units rent for, and know when you need to move. Now that you’re all organized to start your search, you need to be flexible like a Slinky (click here if you don’t know what it is, you’ll thank me later). It’s super contradictory, but it’s the market we live in. A unit in your dream building may not be available for April 1st, or it may be available; just at a higher price, or it may not be available at all. Worst case, you may have to rent something that’s not perfect, but it’s only for 1 year. When it comes down to it, stick to what’s most important for your condo and for the rest, be like a Slinky!
- Be Prepared
We’ve seen too many instances where clients have lost deals because they weren’t prepared. I know what you’re thinking, “Zev, it’s a rental. I don’t have to be prepared. We go see a unit and put an offer in, it’s simple”! And are right, it is simple. It is also simple to have a 6 pack, live an Instagram worthy life, and live on the beach for the rest of your life; it’s just not easy (ok fine, maybe beach life would be easy). It’s not easy because it takes a tremendous amount of work to east the right food consistently, do your hair and make up and find the perfect scene, lighting, and timing for that photo, and find the perfect spot to put your beach chair to enjoy the ocean sunset with your favorite cocktail (That one’s not hard).
Now apply the “It’s simple, but not easy” principle to finding a rental. Before you go looking at condos, ask your boss for your letter of employment (with your salary), get a copy of your full credit report, make sure you have enough for your first and last months deposit, and fill out the rental application. Do the hard work now and enjoy the sunset on the beach later.
- Move like the Flash, Fast!
Remember when your parents told you the story of the tortoise and the hare? I can still hear my dad telling me “Zev, be the tortoise”. Let’s recreate the tortoise and the hare story in the context of the condo rental market. The tortoise is someone who looks on realtor.ca and ottawascondominiums.com periodically to find the perfect condo. They look at a new unit from time to time, ask to see a unit they like at their convenience, take a few days to figure out when to see the unit and think about putting an offer in for days. Fast forward to the hare. They are constantly checking new rental inventory through the internet, OC building alerts (shameless self-plug, but they really work), auto-searches, and hounding their agent for new units. When they see something they like, they book a showing same day and make a decision on the spot. Guess who wins? Finally, the hare!
All jokes aside, we hate when people put pressure on us, let alone our clients. This is a stressful process. There are units in certain buildings (TriBeCa) that get listed and rented in a matter of hours. We want you to have the full picture of the market so you can make the most informed decision. No one wants to lose their perfect condo by not knowing how fast the market moves. Fortunately, there are times when being the hare actually works, thank you Ottawa Rental Market!
Full price offers don’t matter in this rental market. Chances are if you have followed the advice in this post, and you’re preparing an offer; someone else is too. Yay, multiple offers on rentals! When your fortunate (not really) enough to be in this situation, the Landlord has all the control in the world. They choose which offer they want. Now, before I go into details on incentives, I want you to debunk one myth. Myth: because my offer is exactly what the Landlord wants, I have perfect credit, and a great paying job; the Landlord will pick me. I had a client that had to learn this the hard way. We got into a multiple offer scenario and advised him on which incentive to use to get him the unit. He flat out refused to offer anything else. I asked him how come and he said, “Because I’m me and I’m a great tenant”. I don’t know if there is an emoji that can effectively sum up how I felt when he said that. Anyways, his offer didn’t get accepted. But, as it turns out, the advice I gave him was right and it was the exact same advice the other agent gave to their client who won the unit.
Ok, now that you have hopefully felt the excruciating pain of that story, here are my quick thoughts on what incentives to use.
First, move in date. If you are competing with someone else, chances are you can get a quick win by moving in as soon as the unit is available (especially if the move in date is in the middle of the month).
Second, add an extra few months or a year on to your lease term. This works well between November and February and when you find a sought-after unit in a popular building. No one likes looking for a condo rental or renting a condo in the winter. Inventory is low, tenant selection is lower, and you have to move in the snow. It’s a win-win for both parties.
Finally, money. I’ll save you listening to the theme song from the apprentice. Bottom line, every Landlord likes more money. Typically, a 1.5%-3.5% over ask offer should do the trick. You can mix and match these incentives as you please to get the unit you want. Sometimes it’s better to pay a little more for what you want. As one of my client’s famously said, “I’ve seen enough condos to know, that I don’t want to keep looking. I’m happy to do what it takes to get this condo”.
Overall, the rental market is going gangbusters and we don’t expect it to stop anytime soon. Please use this as a guide to help you navigate your search. Should you need any assistance finding a condo rental in Ottawa, feel free to reach out to one of our Condo Pros.