Rents that change by the day

sienaApril 11, 2010

I'm looking for an apartment now, and I'm running into some complexes that won't quote you a firm rent. It's "if you want to move in today, it's $XXX" vs. "but if you don't want to move in until next week (or month), it's $YYY." They are going by market demand.

It's making me crazy. I've been unemployed for a long time and just got a job that pays less than half what my last job did. I have to move because the new job is two hours away from where I live now. So I can only afford so much, and when I call these places, they all want to sell the amenities to me before they'll even give me a range for the rent. It's no good to tell me the amentities if I can't afford their rent. Grrrr! Had to vent.

I'd also like to hear from anyone who has run up against this and has any knowledge or advice about it.

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My take: it's a marketing ploy to get you to rent now. (And a goofy way to turn off prospective tenants in this economy. A lot of people bolt at high pressure tactics. I would. ) Just like a TV infomercial, "act in the next ten minutes and you'll get our special discount". Only the same infomercial runs for months on end with those "act in the next 10 minutes" terms.

If complexes were going by "market demand", they would be charging (and getting) the higher price now. That's just good, common sense business practice. They wouldn't need to offer a reduction this week as incentive to rent. IOW, if the market says they can get price $YYY for rent next week, they have no need to offer discounted rated of $XXX today.

And no one can realistically predict the market demand "next week". The economic ebb and flow within the housing market happens over a much longer period of time. The current real estate sales slump we're in didn't happen in a week and we're not going to pull out of it in a week.

If they are pushing amenities on you first, they are using that to pump up the positives so that when the asking rent price is then given to you, the amenities help substantiate their asking price. That is a sound way to present a unit, but a lot of people do just want to hear the bottom dollar first.

If I get a call, I typically provide basics: # of BRs, baths, has a basement, garage, no pets permitted and then give the rate. If it meets their criteria, the majority always want to hear about amenities next. But if there is something that won't work for them, such as not enough bedrooms, or they have a pet, we end the call there. Time saved for everyone.

I've rented properties (houses) in good times and bad. My first time renting in the economic down turn came up a year ago. Times are especially tough in this area, where construction and manufacturing jobs are prevalent. It was tricky and I found myself making a small concession on rent on one house in order to get it occupied. But better occupied than vacant. Every month vacant is a huge hit to the budget.

If you're running into complexes offering a discount if people act fast, it sounds like they're feeling the pinch too and want to to pressure prospective tenants from doing any further looking elsewhere. If that's the case, it just might give you the upper hand.

Next time you're presented with that scenario, call them on it. You might reply with something like this, in a professional, even, business-like tone: "I'm definitely in the market for a place and shopping around. I'd like to look at your place too. Then if it suits my needs and is within my budget, I'd certainly like to submit an application. But like many people, I'm very uncomfortable making a hasty decision, particularly with a long-term contract involved. If you're able to assure me the rate you quote me today will still apply next week, after I've had time to give it some thought, I'd like to schedule an appointment. Otherwise, I'm afraid I'll have to move on down my list of other locations available."

Don't let them know you've been looking for awhile. Let them think you've just started. Don't mention you're in a pinch and need to shorten your commute. IOW, don't give them any inkling that you need to act fast, because they'll just continue to pressure you to act fast. If they're serious about getting their place rented, they'll want to do what they can to get you in there to see it and not lose you to another complex or house in the area. Just make sure to let them know you're not willing to pay more because you need a few days to think it over.

Just my humble .02, FWIW. ;)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 5:01PM
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Thanks for your answer!

The apartment complexes that do this tend to follow a similar pattern. They are high-end, they usually offer flexible leases (3, 6 12 or 14 months), they have toll-free numbers answered by automation and wanting to call you back, and they have to look up their rents on the computer. I suspect they all belong to come kind of apartment association.

I agree, it does pressure people to decide, but it's not about when they decide but about when they want to move in.
So deciding today won't help if the move-in date isn't until next month.

Anyway, I think the practice of setting rent the way airlines set plane fares is unfair, but if the market will bear it...

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 9:02PM
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