You might think it makes no difference when you rent an apartment, but the truth is that it actually matters quite a bit. There are deals during certain times of the year, and then there's the question of the market, as well as supply and demand.
You could safely say that the apartment rental market is cyclical in nature, as well as seasonal, so you can work on planning your next rental in order to maximize opportunity, as well as keeping costs down. So, based on your need, you have to make the choice that prioritizes your budget or your rental space desires. Here's our advice on the best time to look for a rental.
For the Best Selection
For some renters, the budget is not the first priority. You may have some spending flexibility, and you want to capitalize on that by finding your ideal living quarters. For those renters, it's best to start looking in March or April and begin the rental process in May, all the way through September.
Why these months? Well, the best selection occurs during this time period largely because many leases expire during this time. What's more, full-time workers tend to take more vacation during the summer and have more freedom to move. Kids are also out of school, which provides flexibility when getting your stuff together to move. Finally, warm weather means it's generally more desirable to move. Keep in mind, however, that because of the high level of demand for the bigger selection of apartments, rental rates are typically much higher during these months. So, with more demand comes higher prices, even though the supply is also higher.
For the Best Rental Rates
The flipside of the equation is renting based on your budget and looking for the best prices you can find. You have to wait through the summer and start looking in October all the way through the winter and into the spring. As we mentioned above, most folks prefer to move during the warmer months, and once the temperatures start to drop, everyone wants to stay put. This could mean great rates for you if you're willing to move when everyone else prefers to hibernate.
Kids are in school, calendars get filled with obligations, and the availability of rentals drops during these months. Renters who want the best prices due to low turnover and low rental activity need to start actively looking in the fall, but the lower rental rates are more likely to occur once the holidays pass (December). If you're willing to get organized and move when it's cold and there's snow on the ground, you can save thousands compared to those who signed leases during the busier rental season. But keep in mind that with lower rental rates comes more competition in the low supply season. Be prepared to sign quickly and make concessions on amenities you might otherwise want. Make that list of wants/needs before you start shopping.
How to Hunt for a Rental
Once you've figured out what rental shopping season you are going to use, pick an actual month that you'll hunt and sign. Start your search about two weeks before you plan to sign, and then document all of your potential choices. Do it quickly because things change fast. If you find something you're interested in, make an appointment to see the rental as soon as you can.
Keep in mind that most renters have leases that expire at the end of a month or within the first few days of the following month. Renters give 30-day notices, so you should jump on it before they actually move out (it's usually too late by the time they're gone because the landlord wants to secure the next tenant with no gaps in income).
If you have more flexibility, you can wait until week #2 of the target move month because that means there could be vacancies that haven't been filled, and you could benefit in negotiation. Landlords will want to secure the next tenant as quickly as possible, and it could be in your favor, financially speaking.
The best time to rent has to be determined based on your wants, needs, and your budget. Keep these factors in mind when it's time for you to start thinking about moving, and you'll find yourself less stressed and more ready to make the transition. Of course, if you get a great deal during the warmer months, you'll be resting content that you planned well.