This one might seem obvious. According to News Center Maine, the Maine rental market is one of the least affordable in the US. The average rent in Portland is $1,463(RentCafe.com). In 2018, CBS News reported that the average rent in the United States was $1,405. Those numbers don’t seem all that different, but we have to consider how much of one’s paycheck is going towards that $1,400-ish rent payment.
“The report found that the typical renter household in Maine makes $11.82 per hour -- $8.09 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest, two-bedroom rental home”(News Center Maine). This means that annually, renters in Maine are making $23,640 per year. According to WalletHacks.com and the Social Security Administration, the average wage income in the U.S is $48,251. So considering these two incomes, rent in Portland is going to take about twice as much of a renter’s monthly income than elsewhere in the United States.
They go fast, even the “bad” ones.
If you are house hunting, your buyer’s agent will likely advise you to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan before you start searching so you know exactly what you can afford. Plus, when you find “the one” you are ready to make an offer!
It is similar for rentals. Most rentals go fast because people need places to live. Because of this, you need to be prepared. This means you will likely have to fill out an application on the same day you see the rental in order to be considered. If you haven’t done the proper research and budgeting, you may miss out on the rental to someone else. And don’t assume that just because an apartment wasn’t in the best condition that it will be available.
You need to know what to ask and look out for
You have to remember that landlords are renting these properties as an investment. Their main purpose is to make money. It’s your job as a renter to ask questions like:
"What’s included in the rent?”
“May I see the lead paint disclosure and radon air tests?”
“Who is responsible for lawn and snow maintenance?”
“How do you handle maintenance requests?”
“Are there designated parking spots?”
These are questions to ask before your lease is signed, not after. If utilities aren’t included in the rent, you need to know beforehand so you can budget accordingly. Knowing whether or not you have a designated parking spot is important if the unit is on a busy street or you work late and don’t want to be driving around and walking a long distance to get home.
You may be wondering why people hire buyer’s agents to purchase a home but not to rent? They are both significant financial decisions. At Gray Fox Real Estate, we provide services for renters. If you are overwhelmed by the process, contact us to help you find properties, ask the right questions, and protect you in the process.