The move-right-in deals
As if on opposite ends of a seesaw, rental rates have been rising while housing prices seem anchored at bottom. All things real estate-related are local, but on a national basis, residential rents rose 2.3 percent at the end of last year from 2009, according to the New York research firm Reis Inc. Moreover, through 2014, Reis forecasts national rental rises of 2 percent to 3 percent annually.
For landlords, vacancies mean lost revenue. That's why units that are available now might be had at a lower rate than one that is occupied and will be for a few weeks or months more.
It's risky to wait until you absolutely need to move to secure an apartment, because there are no guarantees you will find what you want then, Johnsey says. Still, the lease price on a vacant unit that's been on the market for a while may be lower than a similar unit, he says.
Moreover, the higher the number of vacancies in a building, "the more likely that there will be specials and concessions," says Mark Moran, vice president of MyNewPlace.com, a rental finder website.
Indeed, Moran adds that while rents have risen nationally, there are markets such as Las Vegas where vacancies abound and discounts and concessions like free parking are offered to fill the oversupply.
The midmonth, midweek advantage
If you were managing a building, would you want your staff overtaxed with many tenants moving in and out on the same day?
Of course not, says Tammy Farley, principal of Rainmaker, an Atlanta firm that develops apartment revenue management systems.
That's why there may be a slight rate advantage for move-in during the middle of the month, rather than at the busy beginning.
What's more, calling leasing agents midweek, rather than on busy Mondays and weekends, should allow you more time to talk -- and express your willingness to be flexible on lease length and other saving tactics, says Moran.
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