The housing market in the St. Petersburg-Tampa area continues its rebound, resulting in more competition for the “perfect” home. As a result, we’re seeing a trend toward an increase in the demand for rentals. While renting a home may have been a viable option before the housing market began its recovery, now may not be the best time to sign that lease. Rentals often come with hidden costs that can really add up. Be sure to compare all the costs before deciding whether to rent or buy.
Here are some things to consider in the current Tampa, St. Pete rental market:
- Landlords often charge application, administrative and pet fees. With the market heating up, resulting in increased competition, some landlords may increase these fees. While these may not technically be hidden fees, they do add up. Be sure to schedule an in depth review of the lease before signing.
- Security deposits have been around since the rental market was born and are usually refunded following move-out. But some landlords are dropping security deposits and replacing them with “move-in fees.” Like security deposits, they’re charged to cover potential damages, but unlike security deposits, they may be non-refundable. Make sure you know where you’re money is going, and whether you’ll be getting it back when you move.
- Utilities may be included in your rent, but there are plenty of landlords out there who expect you to either shoulder some or all of the costs for water, sewer, electricity, garbage, Internet, cable TV, etc. Don’t sign the lease until you know exactly what you’re expected to pay.
- So too parking. Does your lease include one or two spots, and are they included in the rental cost or will you pay to park?
- If your family includes a pet, you may plan on paying an additional monthly fee or deposit, refundable or not, to cover any problems left by Fido.
- If you sign a one-year lease, assume that if you sign-on to renew there will be rental increase. You may be able to negotiate a cap on any increase when you sign your first lease. But either way, plan ahead, and assume there will be a 3% to 5% increase when you renew.
- As with buying a home, there will be additional expenses that some renters do not anticipate. You may need the services of a moving company. If you’re moving into larger digs you’ll probably want to buy some new furniture, drapes, linens, etc.
- Lastly, don’t forget to thank the friends you strong-armed to help with your move. Take them out to lunch or dinner, or gift them a nice bottle of wine. Whatever you decide, be sure to include the costs in your budget.
Chris Hounchell & Associates is the leader in general real estate, pre-foreclosure, short sale and foreclosure markets in the Pinellas County area. For more information on buying vs. renting, contact Chris today at 727-642-9107.