Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hunting leases

Been engaged in a ton of purchase hunting and blogging about that market being inflated and competitive.

Unfortunately, from looking around, I'm starting to believe that the rental market is hot on the RE market's heals.

Here's the sites we are using to find places:
  1. UVIC off-campus housing so far, in my 12 years of renting in this town, this has been the best resource for good suites and good landlords.
  2. UsedVictoria.com
  3. Craig'slist.com
  4. renting.ca online version of the TC's classifieds.

There are definitely more; many firms like Brown Brother's and Dutton's and Co, have online listings for the buildings they manage. We're looking for a suite in a house, so we're not using them so much as they tend to manage either apartment buildings or whole houses.

The rise in free online classifieds leads me to believe that paid newspaper classifieds may not be the best way to find a suite anymore.

I have even rented a place in Fairfield several years ago that wasn't advertised anywhere. I was wandering around, coffee in hand, looking at houses and sure enough, for rent signs were found; a quick call on the cell, a walk through 2 minutes later and within 20 minutes I had signed a 1-year lease. It was a great place, a great neighbourhood, a great landlord and a really easy hunt. I was lucky, the suite had just been cleaned and the sign just put up within hours. I was the 4th call, but because I didn't go home and wanted to walk through right away, the place was mine.

Things I look for in a Landlord:

  • I want a landlord to check my references. If they don't, they don't care about their property and therefore they don't care about the issues I may have with it.
  • I want a landlord to have a lease, at least 6 months, but preferably a year. A lease helps me and it helps them. Without a lease, I don't have any guarantees that they won't sell the place or evict me in the short term. A landlord has to give you at least two months notice, and the second month is a 'free' month for the tenant. That's an economic consequence that is potentially painful to swallow, I don't expect them to take it lightly.
  • I want to see a place empty. This goes against the realtor's credo of showing a house with furniture in it because then buyers can get a better idea of size and layout. As a renter, I don't want to see beat-up furniture and messy dishes, I want to see that the place was cleaned by the landlord or a professional and that the potential one month of letting a place sit empty isn't overly crippling to a landlord; if they can't take that as part of being a landlord, then they may not get around to replacing a broken fridge or hot water heater too quickly either. ( I rarely get this wish granted though)

Fundamentals:

The vacancy rate in Victoria is 0.5% apparently... maybe its 1%. For the past two weeks I've been calling prospects. Calls go like this: "Hi, calling about your suite..." "sorry, its gone."

Long story short: no viewings scheduled at all this week. It's ok, we have a back-up plan, and don't have to move before May-June so plenty of time. No animals, no kids, non-smokers, both have professional jobs, we're quiet, don't party: confident we'll be ok.

Rent amounts: $800-900/month, we think is fair for a decent suite with light and a bit of space. We'd prefer 2-beds but we'll be ok with a bigger one bed suite. Laundry in unit preferable, but shared ok. Won't even look at a place that doesn't have access to laundry. Neighbourhoods for renting: Oak Bay, Gordon Head, Fairfield, Downtown, and Cadboro Bay. ( I think there are less slum lords in these neighbourhoods.) We may end up paying closer to $1000-1100/month the way it looks now.

5 comments:

Osiris_Vic said...

You could try rent bc as well.

The pay service I used was home finders

Village said...

Anyone noticing the disparity between suites priced the same. $1000 will get me a new reno including utilities + in suite laundry. Or $1000 will get me a whole in some persons basement with shared coin-op laundry.

I wonder if landlords of the worst places have a high turn over rate and losing a month or two of rent per year. Some that I've seen at that price would definitely be a temporary stay and I would be jumping at the next best place.

HHV said...

I've noticed huge disparities in pricing. I figure it's due to purchase price of the home the suite is in. Tons of new suites and new landlords due to economics of the market.

$800/month for a two bed suite used to pay half your mortgage, $1200 for that same suite now barely covers 1/3rd... I've seen some suites where people went to home depot, spent three hundred bucks on new luxury items like above counter bathroom sinks and fancy looking light fixtures, new paint etc, to try and convince tenants that their 'luxury' basement suite is worth $1400.

Village said...

The definition of luxury sure has lost it's meaning over the last few years. To me, it is more then granite counter tops and stainless steal appliances.

Jacuzzi tub, speakers throughout the house, structured wiring, automated shades, heated flooring and items like that. It isn't a fresh coat of paint.

Start adding those features and you might see $1400/mo.

HHV said...

Luxury to me is concierge service on the 2nd floor for my penthouse suite... location, location, location. Not dark basement suite situated on a quiet cul-de-sac a fifteen minute walk away from Mt.Doug Park in a 25 year old suburbia.