Ten tips to get you ahead of the pack when applying for a rental property

January 04, 2016
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A man’s home is his castle and a woman’s is hers. So when you’re looking for a new abode, it’s important to ensure you obtain a site of Versailles-esque splendour rather than a crumbling, overpriced ruin. Hijacked spoke to Position Realty's Deborah Terley about impressing those who hold the keys to the palace.

Arrive early to the property viewing

This isn’t a Friday night house party. You shouldn’t wait until the early arrivals have scooped their way through half of the pineapple, orange and goon punch before you show up.

Most property inspections only last for 15 minutes, and you’ll want to spend each of those 900 seconds available exploring your potential new home. Getting there early will also give you a chance to speak to the agent and make a good impression. “It’s important that the agent remembers who you are,” says Terley.

Have your application filled in and ready to submit

If you’re interested in the property, get your application into the mitts of the agent as soon as possible. The turnaround can be remarkably quick. “If the application’s ready to go, we can have them approved within two hours and the stress of them having to wait is all over,” says Terley.

Show attention to detail

Terley says writing a cover note to preface your application will certainly help impress an agent. You don’t need to write a treatise on your suitability for the property – keep things short and simple, with some generic property praise and a sentence or two on what you do and whether you’re looking to stay short-term or long-term.

Also be careful to keep things neat. “If people hand in screwed-up applications that have coffee stains, we’re immediately thinking ‘they don’t take a lot of pride’,’” she says.

State that you’re interested in the property

When you hand in those forms, don’t be afraid of a little bit of sucking up – the moment of handover is another opportunity to leave a good impression on the agent.

Dress to impress

You don’t need to dress like a princess to pin down your property, but you shouldn’t turn up in a state of complete disarray. “No one wants to lease your property out to someone that’s dirty, drunk or high as a kite,” says Terley. So it’s bad news for Ke$ha.

Let the agent know if you have a pet

Terley estimates that between 20 to 30 per cent of apartment blocks are pet friendly. Despite this, honesty is always the best policy. Failing to mention your kitten could have disastrous consequences.

“You’ve been approved without a cat, so you either have to give your cat to a friend or you’ve got a problem, because you’ve already paid your deposit,” she says. “We’ve taken down the advertising – who’s going to now pay to re-advertise it? We’ve lost time, and everybody’s pretty angry."

Be flexible with your move in date

Do your best to meet the start date stipulated by the agent. There’s some room for negotiation and compromise, but remember that by pushing the date back, you’re effectively withholding rent from the owner – and that’s unlikely to make them happy.

Terley says that if you refuse to budge, “you may not be chosen, because you’re asking for everything to be on your terms”.

Thank the agent for their time

If an agent has a lot of applications – the most Terley’s ever had is 14 – then it’s the little things that can make all the difference.

Channel your grandparents and remember your manners. But don’t get too overexcited – the deal won’t be sealed the second you leave the property.

Ask if the property price is negotiable

Figuring out price details is easiest when all parties are upfront, and Terley believes that there’s room for negotiation in about 50 per cent of cases. Of course, if demand is high, then the prospect of bargaining is unlikely.

Interestingly, Terley says that winter months are likely to offer more room for movement. The market’s softer, fewer people are starting new jobs, and “people hate to move when it’s cold and raining”.

Don’t be late!

It’s pretty common for an agent to host 10 inspections on a Saturday. Terley says “the worst thing for an agent is when someone comes in two minutes before you’re closing. We’ve cut our time so sharply that we actually can’t go back and open up”.

If parking proves hellish or some other roadblock prevents your timely arrival, then also remember not to “be rude and say every word under the sun," she says.

If you play your cards right, you could net your ultimate crib.

John Rowley

John Rowley studies a Bachelor of Arts (Media & Communications) at the University of Sydney. Between eating pistachios, writing, tweeting from @JohnLRowley and watching Girls Aloud videos on YouTube, he doesn’t have time for much else.

Image: Flickr Creative Commons