Uncategorized January 17, 2018

Leasing 101: A Guide to Finding Rental Properties

  • Leasing 101


    Here is a quick guide I’ve put together for the leasing process. I hope it’s helpful! Please call or write me with any questions.

    Steps to a successful home search:

    • Have a realtor set you up a custom search for homes on the MLS. Select homes that look promising and let them know you’ve picked some favorites.
    • Gather your supporting documents – Picture of your ID, a copy of a couple recent paystubs, pet records if applicable.
    • Make arrangements with your realtor to meet up and tour your favorites homes.
    • With your realtor’s help, put in an application at your chosen home. Pay the application fee and refundable security deposit.
    • Wait for approval… (usually 2-4 days)
    • Get approved! Sign the lease, get the key, do a walk-through, and move on in.

    Taking a closer look at the steps…

    Setting Up an MLS Search

    During your real estate hunt, you should treat yourself to a link to the MLS (The Multiple Listing Service.) It’s the site Realtors use to list homes for sale and for lease, and where all the other popular websites like Zillow and Trulia get their information. While some other websites have nice features, they aren’t updated nearly as often often, so they will still show homes that have been sold or leased for several weeks… not at all helpful in a market that moves as fast as Austin!

    A few questions to begin your search:

    -How many beds/baths would you like?
    -Maximum Price you’d like to include?
    -Preferred part(s) of town?
    -Move in date range?
    -Any Pets? If so,what kind and how much do they weight?
    -Type of home? Single-family house, duplex, fourplex, condo, apartment, or all the above?
    -Any other preferences? (Need a washer/dryer, refrigerator, 1st floor only, using a guarantor, etc…)

    Mark your favorite homes

    Open the MLS link and mark any promising options with the heart or lightbulb icons to indicate they’re either a favorite or possible candidate. If you have any questions… like there is no picture of the backyard, or you want to make sure they include a refrigerator, I can call the listing agents to clarify and then we can make arrangements to go see whichever homes you’d like.

    Supporting documents

    After our tour, whichever home you end up deciding 0n will ask for a few things, most commonly a picture of the front of your drivers license, and pictures of at least two recent paystubs for every working adult. If you don’t receive paystubs, you can use another other form of income verification like screenshots of bank statements, a recent tax form. If you’re just starting your job an employment letter will do the trick.

    Preview Properties

    Some homes are vacant and available for us to drop-by pretty much anytime, while others are still occupied and will require anywhere from a couple hours up to a entire day’s notice, so be sure to mark every property you want to see or communicate them to me in advance, so I can make whichever appointments are necessary.


    Depending who represents the home you choose, I’ll either send you an online application which you can fill out from your computer, or a link to the companies website. Their leasing company will charge an Application fee– usually around $50 each, and will usually ask that you bring a certified check to their office, unless they have the option to pay it online.

    Many leasing companies will wait until after you’re approved to ask for the Security deposit, but some require it in advance along with the app fee. The security deposit is typically equal to one months rent, and it will be refunded at the end of your lease, minus any damages. Unless they have an online payment system, they’ll want both the app fee and security deposit as  money order or cashier checks.

    The Waiting Game

    It usually takes 2-4 business days for companies to run your applications and get us an answer once we’ve delivered everything. The most common reason for delays are if they are unable to get a hold of your employer or current landlord, so give your boss and landlord a heads up that they may be getting in touch.


    -Income requirements.

    Most homes for lease require 3x the gross combined household income as the rent amount. So, if the home is renting for $1500, the combined income of all the tenants needs to be $4,500 or more a month. 

    Credit and background check.

    If your credit score has been damaged or has fallen below 600, they may decline you or ask for an extra security deposit. Some places are stricter than others, so it’s good to know where your score is in advance so we can double check to make sure they don’t have a minimum score policy, and will at least accept an extra security deposit. If you’re unsure of your score, check one of the free governmental credit sites for an update.

    -Rental verification.

    They may call your current and past landlords and see if there were any issues. -Background checks. This is what the app fee pays for, in addition to the credit check.

    -Employment verification.

    They may contact your employer to confirm your salary, and that you actually work there.

    None of these issues are dead ends, but it’s always better for us to ask about any issues you may have before you pay the non-refundable app fees. If you think any of these factors may come up, please let me know so I can run it by them in advance. My job is to get you approved.


    Home owners typically only accept applications for a start date within two weeks of the application date, or the day the home becomes vacant. (Owners don’t want their property to sit empty, waiting for someone to move in a couple months when they might find someone else to lease it right away.) This makes it tricky to look too far in advance, but occasionally homes will be listed several months out, so it’s always good to start looking sooner rather than later.

    If you’re looking to move several months down the line, we can set your MLS portal to send updates as seldom as once a week or even once a month, so it doesn’t clog up your inbox too much. That’ll keep you in the loop until the time is right, at which point we can increase the frequency of the updates.

    How do Realtors get Paid?

    It doesn’t cost you anything to have a Realtor help you with your home search, so there’s no reason to not use the service. The home owner who is renting their home pays their broker to list and market their home, and part of that money goes to the agent who ends up representing the tenant they approve. It works the same at apartments, so if you end up finding an apartment or home on your own, please put our name on your application so we can get some compensation if we helped!

    Wesley James Steck, JB Goodwin Realtors — 512-571-3180 — WesleySteck@JBGoodwin.com