What Is a Reasonable Price for Renting a House?

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Renting a house is a big step for a lot of people.
Renting a house is a big step for a lot of people. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

When you are used to apartment living, renting a house can be a big change in your lifestyle. If you are not familiar with the process of renting a house, or unsure of rental rates, hunting for the right property can be intimidating. Housing rental rates vary greatly across the U.S. and Canada. Even getting to know your own local market can take time because monthly rates fluctuate widely within metropolitan areas.

Study Your Local House Rental Market

Use multiple sources to learn the range of rental rates in your local market. Keep a record by neighborhood, address, asking price, bedrooms, baths, square feet, parking spaces and other features. Online classified websites, daily newspapers, neighborhood weeklies or free advertising papers found in the supermarket are good sources as well as bulletin-boards in stores. Driving neighborhoods looking for rental signs and calling the landlords is time-consuming but effective. Rent-o-meter (rent-o-meter.com) and Realtor (Realtor.com) are good websites to start.

Determining a Reasonable Rate

Determining the range of rental rates in your local market for similar properties is the only way to determine what is reasonable. The rental range for a three-bedroom two-bath home in San DIego is going to be considerably higher than similar homes in Pueblo, Colo. A same reasonable rate for a two-bedroom condo on the slopes of Aspen would be an outlandish price to pay for a two-bedroom condo in suburban Kansas City.

Speak with a Local Real Estate Broker

If you are new to an area and short on time, make an appointment with a local real estate agent and let her know what type of rental home you want. Based on the proximity to your work, the size of the property and your budget, she can provide useful information, if not specific recommendations. If you ask her what a reasonable rate is in the market, be sure to ask for specifics.

The Upfront Epenses of Renting a House and Your Lease

Landlords traditionally ask for first and last months' rent and a security deposit close to one month's rent at the signing of the lease. Pet deposits are negotiable. The longer the lease, the better your chance of reducing the monthly rent. Remember that everything is negotiable, but you will probably be responsible for gas, electric, water, sewage, trash, cable, Internet, phone and possibly HOA fees if the community has a recreation center.

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