What’s the Best Time of Year to Sign a Lease?
If you’re planning to move to a new apartment, you may be wondering if it makes a difference what time of year you sign a lease. Prices and availability of rentals often vary throughout the year. Depending on what you’re looking for — more apartments to choose from or potentially lower rent — there are certain months when you may have better luck.
Here are some things to consider about signing a lease at different times of the year:
Understand the Demand in Your Area
It is important to understand the rental market you’re looking to move into since rental patterns can vary based on where you live. Just like most things, supply and demand determines prices in the rental market. Therefore, you may get a better deal on renting when demand for condos or apartments is at its lowest, according to Rent.com.
It may be helpful to contact a local real estate professional and get their perspective on the rental market in your area of interest. U.S. News and World Report notes that a real estate professional can also help you with your search, but they may charge a fee for their service or receive a commission from the landlord once you sign the lease. Working with a professional can be especially helpful in a tight rental market, as they can help with the search (instead of you spending hours looking for listings online) and set up appointments with landlords.
Potential Savings in the Colder Months
If you’re hoping to save some money, you may have the best luck from October through April, according to Rent.com. Fewer people move during the winter, so a landlord may be more willing to negotiate with you during this time since demand for rentals is lower. RentHop says the lowest rents tend to be on leases signed between December and March — in the 10 major cities they looked at, rent was an average of 3.9 percent lower during these winter months.
The flip side to the potentially lower prices is that you may have fewer rental options to choose from. Apartment Guide also notes that a landlord or property manager may ask you to sign a lease that is either shorter (perhaps even month-to-month) or longer than usual, so that the apartment goes back on the market during high-demand months. Before signing, consider when you’d have to be looking for a new place again and whether that time frame works for you.
More Availability in the Warmer Months
Most people move between May and September, says Rent.com, which means you may have a wider selection of rentals to choose from during those months as current tenants move out. The downside to this, though, is that you’ll likely have more competition when applying for an apartment — and this demand may mean the rent is higher than it would have been in the winter, according to Apartment Guide.
Price Comparison and Negotiation
Even during the winter months, most landlords are not going to simply hand over a discount. Be prepared to negotiate with your prospective landlord. Before you broach the subject of price, do your homework by researching the cost of similar apartments on the market.
While there may never be an ideal time for a move, each season has its pros and cons for renters. You may be able to save some money by taking advantage of lower demand in the winter, but have more apartments to choose from if you wait until the spring or summer.
Originally published on February 16, 2016.