The rental market is insane in Sydney at the moment.
On the weekend, I looked at nine properties that were open for inspection. Nine. And if that physical feat wasn’t enough in itself, I completed nine separate applications before my visit.
But what starts off as fun (kind of) soon descends into a race from one illegal park and tightly-timed look around to the next. Then there’s the familiar faces of competition at each cramped unit, forcing you to exchange pleasantries in the bathrooms at 15-minute intervals.
Not to forget the photo editing professionals who put even the most advanced air-brushing Photoshopper to shame. Exciting, light, spacious lounge room photos online are a world away from the dank, rat-infested nest of reality.
Here’s how to scrape through the Saturday morning battle alive.
The big picture
I was told (by all the real estate agents I had to appear responsible, stable and mature to) that most websites update their rental properties on a Tuesday. Properties will continue to be added right up until Friday night for Saturday morning inspections.
So create a shortlist of the places you want to check out. Compare cost, features and location and know this up front so there’s benchmarks to work off. Get acquainted with streets and map out a general path between inspections before you get into the car.
The small stuff
There’s nothing worse than getting a new place and realising your bed doesn’t fit in the bedroom. Ask for a floor plan beforehand, and if you’re serious about a place, take a tape measure to determine sizes of spaces like doorways, room width and the fridge spot.
Don’t be afraid to open cupboards, turn on the shower (if bad water pressure is a dealbreaker), look at the size of the hot water unit, and scope out things like shared laundries, car spots and the building entrance. There’s no point going in, glancing around and giving it the thumbs up. Use the time to really scrutinise the place.
Use your imagination
It’s hard to imagine a place decked out with your own furniture when it’s covered in other people’s moving boxes, when there are painters giving a new coat to the living room, or when the current tenants are actually sitting there on the couch at inspection time (all of which have happened to me).
But it’s important to try and picture what can be done to utilise space and storage and make a place your own. And just think, renting a place that’s well within, or even under budget means there’s more cash left to spend on décor.
Be memorable (the good kind)
Real estate agents deal with hundreds of people, particularly on busy Saturday mornings, so there’s no way they’re going to remember you unless you stand out (on paper and in person).
Make a point of introducing yourself and asking a question or two in person, and on paper, prepare to show your dedication. Offer to pay one or two months’ rent upfront and have reliable references.
Uploading the application and identification documents only needs to be done once, so do it properly and you’ll be ready to go.