What Factors Should You Consider when Renting a Home in Austin?
You’ve made the decision to rent. You’ve poured through numerous listings, looked at hundreds, maybe even thousands of photos of the houses and apartments available for rent in Austin…and you’re now ready to see them in person.
As a renter, you should be aware that sometimes the pictures you see online may not be a straightforward representation of what the property actually looks like. It may look great on the outside, there may be new paint, new siding, new appliances and more, but all that may actually be masking unforeseen problems with your promising Austin rental home. Although your due diligence may not be as imperative as when you’re buying a home in Austin, the last thing you want is to have to up and move or get tied into a lease you can’t get out of for a year, when you’re renting a house either.
While it’s a no-brainer to check out a home before you rent it, here are a few important things you should investigate before you sign a lease, and things to keep in mind when you’re looking for any type of Austin realty.
1. Air Conditioning and Heat
With Austin’s sweltering summers, temperatures regularly reach above 100 degrees here. In a city like Austin, it would be extremely difficult to live without air conditioning. Having a good working HVAC unit in the home you’re planning to rent is crucial.
Keeping any home cool often tends to be the most costly part of your electric bill, so you’ll want to check the condition of the home or apartment’s unit. Make sure that it’s in good condition, that it’s being maintained and that the filters are clean.
Ideally look for a home that has had its A/C unit replaced in the last few years; that way you will likely be getting an energy efficient unit in the home you’re planning to rent. Ask your Realtor® and/or future landlord if monthly electric bill estimates are accessible. If you can get a hold of one, it will help you to determine how much you’ll possibly pay in electricity down the road.
If you’re relocating to Austin, it’s likely you’re aware of the sweltering summers, but you may not be aware that Austin also gets fairly cool in winter. Heating your home will be a common practice during cooler months. Look for a rental home in Austin that uses gas as the main heating source, as that tends to be more cost-efficient than electricity.
2. Floors in Your Rental Home
Many rental homes in Austin have either wood, concrete, tile, carpet or laminate floors. Many of these finishes are very durable, but if not properly managed, they can deteriorate over time. Tile can crack over the years, wood can get scratched and laminate can peel. Carpeting can help muffle sound, but it can also get worn out over time and if not cleaned properly, it can become extremely dirty as dirt and dust get trapped within the fibers. Check the status of the floors in any potential Austin rental property.
If the house you’re renting is in a flood area in Austin, concrete and tile floors are typically your best bet. You don’t want to end up having to be re-homed if your house gets flooded.
The problem you may face if you’re renting an older home, is that the windows may not be as efficient as they should. If you have your HVAC unit running, and you notice drafts by the windows, valuable cold air and heat can escape.
Also, in the event that you open windows for fresh air and cross ventilation, make sure that the external screens are in good shape, and that the window frames outside show no signs of rot. Any screens with rips or tears should be replaced as they can allow for bugs to come in…and there are quite a few insects in Austin. If you’re looking at an older home and there’s difficulty in opening any windows, a structural issue with the house may be underway.
4. Kitchen Appliances
One thing that can be a deal breaker is the quality of home appliances. While older appliances may still work, they aren’t as energy efficient as today’s models.
A 40-year-old fridge may still keep your food cold, but it’s working hard to do so. Older appliances will also be in need of more frequent repairs. Always check if the appliances in a rental property are up to date and at least fairly modern. Older appliances will cost you more in electricity, compared to current ones.
5. Vaulted Ceilings in Your Rental Home
A vaulted ceiling adds dramatic flair to any home, but did you know that aside from giving off a grand impression that you’re actually paying more to keep your Austin rental home warm and cool? Heat rises, so any vaulted ceiling will allow for heat or cold air to rise upward and evaporate. The same goes for a home with a second floor.
If you’re thinking of renting, and you have concerns about cost-efficiency, go for a one story house or apartment with ceilings that are no higher than 9 to 10 feet. That height helps retain the heat and cool air and will save you money over time.
If you love the vaulted look and don’t want to budget on that, consider these tips for helping keep your energy bill more cost efficient with vaulted ceilings.
6. Washing Machines
One particular thing to look for is if your Austin rental home has a hookup for a washer and dryer. If so, do you have your own washer and dryer, does the house you’re renting come with one, or will you need to get a pair?
If neither are installed, check for the nearest laundromat and whether it’s within a reasonable distance. Of course, it’s easier to do your laundry at home, but if there are no hookups, or you’re not planning to get your own initially, then you may have to go the laundromat route. If a rental property has both a washer and dryer installed, and they’re in good condition, then this is a positive sign for the type of maintenance that your landlord or property management company will provide.
Of course, these are just a few things to investigate during your Austin home or apartment search, but if you notice that something’s not right, this can cause problems for you down the road. Take the time to go through every rental property you look at with a fine tooth comb.
Having a qualified Realtor® with you as you’re searching for your next rental home can be extremely helpful in helping you to locate potential problems down the road. If you need a Realtor® that specializes in rental homes and apartment locating, Celebrate Austin Realty. Our 5 star team of Austin TX real estate agents have a longstanding history of finding the right homes that fit your needs. Questions? Concerns? Just ask us…we’re here to help you through the entire rental process.
Let’s get you in your next rental home! Contact Us Today!