How to Search Online for the Right Rental Property

by Steffi Cook | Updated: Jan 6, 2020

When looking for a rental home, you have many choices. Too many, in fact. Trying to search online for the right rental will show you so many that it’s nearly impossible to get through it all. It’s not impossible, but it takes some work to run a good search and find the right rental home for you. So, before you get started on your search, perhaps with us here at, follow these steps to make the process go smoothly.

Know what you want

Sit down and write out the things that you want in a home. The location, the amenities, the rooms, the space, anything else you can think of. These are the things that you want to have, and it serves as the starting point for your search. You may have a lot of things, but eventually, the list will be trimmed down.

Separate your needs and wants

The most common mistake when starting your search online for the right rental is getting your needs and wants confused. Once you know what you want, separate the things that would be nice to have from the things you absolutely need to have. Don’t reject somewhere because it doesn’t have a feature that’s just something you want but don’t need. Also, don’t take somewhere that doesn’t have exactly what you need because it has other features that you’re not going to take full advantage of. Make the list of needs especially concise, with only the things that you really can’t do without; if you make that list too long, you’ll make things much more difficult down the line.

Narrow down based on those criteria

Every online search tool lets you filter by a home’s features and amenities, so take advantage of that. Use those tools to filter the available homes to only show ones that meet as many of your criteria as possible. This gives you a solid starting point for the homes that you want to look at more closely.

Adjust priorities as you find what’s available

If you’re lucky, your needs and wants list is going to be perfectly stable and you’ll find exactly what you want when you search online for the right rental. But, let's face it — you’re probably not going to be that lucky. As you see what homes are available, you may need to adjust what you need and what you want. Don’t compromise too much, but also don’t set yourself up for failure for refusing to compromise on an impossible list of priorities.

Start looking at least 60 days ahead of time

You need time to search online for the right rental. Time to search, time to make inquiries, time to go for tours and time for applications to process all need to be accounted for. Start looking at least 60 days ahead of when you need to move so you don’t end up having to rush.

Look for rentals early in the month

Most leases end at the end of the month, so new rentals should be going up at the beginning of the month. Searching then will give you as many options as possible, as they’re just now being put on the market and haven’t yet been snapped up by other rental hunters.

Make sure you have money and know your credit

Moving, putting down a deposit, paying application fees and paying the first month’s rent are big expenses. Making sure you have the money keeps you from running into trouble later on. Your credit will also be used to determine if you’re eligible to rent a place. Knowing your credit will help you know what you’re in the market for and give you an opportunity to explain any of the issues you’ve had in the past. It’s not impossible to rent with bad credit, but it may take some extra effort.

Searching for a new home is a long and stressful process. Using the right tools and taking the right approach will make it much less of an ordeal.

Categories: Renters

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