Author Topic: Looking to rent short-term (1yr lease) in HCOL... negotiating and red flags?  (Read 2188 times)

jeromedawg

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Hey guys,

Was curious about negotiating rent in a HCOL for short-term leases and perhaps what we should be expecting as far as the landlord's perspective on why they might be extremely stubborn about dropping their pricing.

DISCLAIMER:  this is SoCal so the numbers are naturally unmustachian (lol) but it is intended for the short-term (1yr to 15-16mos)

Facts: The place we're looking at is in South OC and listed by a private owner (it's a 3bed/2.5bath detached single family home in a small community/association). It was first listed on 11/29/19 at $3500. They cut the price down to $3300 on 12/16/19 and we just viewed the place this past week and are working with our realtor to try to convince them to lower it by $100.
(It rented for $3200 on a 1-year lease before this and same/similar history of events according to Zillow (was listed at $3500 before they dropped the price to $3300 and finally lowered the price a month and a half later to $3200 where it finally rented out a couple weeks later. I realize we can't expect for history to repeat itself, but the other factor too is how long this has been on the market and how badly they would like for it to be rented out).
We've gone back and forth with the owners and at first they were demanding a 2 year lease to get it down to $3200/mo. We're not looking to stay that long. We offered 18mos initially at $3200 but they refused. And they're very adamant on their $3300 price, claiming they've spent a lot on repairs, paint, etc. He's unwilling to meet in person to discuss it verbally and all of this is occurring over text (with our realtor).

I'm inclined to think that, already, there is a red flag with him avoiding meeting in person as well as being completely unwilling to negotiate on price or offer concessions (considering how long it's been out there) in any way, shape or form (e.g. how does this translate to if we did enter a lease agreement with him and later down the road something goes wrong, repairs are needed, etc and if he'll be responsive/helpful to resolve the problems?)
Anyway, I'd get it if he had just listed the place and had dozens of people interested. But if that were the case, I don't think it would still be on the rental market for this long. Several similar places I've seen go to market in the past couple months have gotten rented out within a few weeks at most.

Thoughts? Any suggestions on other things we can try? Or should we just quit wasting our time with them? It's in a decent location but we're not in a huge rush to move. We do want to move within the next 2 months though.

« Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 09:42:29 AM by jeromedawg »

Omy

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It's unusual for landlord and tenant to meet prior to lease signing in my market area when the parties are represented by agents, so I don't see that as a red flag. The landlord is not interested in taking your offer, so your options are to accept the $3300, sweeten your offer, or move on. Or wait a couple of weeks and try again.

Omy

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Also, short term rentals are a headache for landlords for obvious reasons. Its not surprising that he is unwilling to negotiate.

jeromedawg

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It's unusual for landlord and tenant to meet prior to lease signing in my market area when the parties are represented by agents, so I don't see that as a red flag. The landlord is not interested in taking your offer, so your options are to accept the $3300, sweeten your offer, or move on. Or wait a couple of weeks and try again.

I see... what does "sweeten your offer" mean exactly? Also, he's private so no agent representing him. It's just my realtor representing/helping us as far as that's concerned. Initially, they said they'd be willing to meet us face to face with our realtor this weekend. But we were not available so my realtor threw out some other dates - they became more unresponsive after that.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2020, 08:27:19 PM by jeromedawg »

Omy

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Either give him the longer term that he wants or try $3250.

jeromedawg

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Either give him the longer term that he wants or try $3250.

We're trying to time a home purchase to coincide with when we would end the lease. And would be renting out the current place we're living mostly at the same time we'd be renting the new place to offset some of the cost. So a longer term wouldn't be a good option. We have considered the $3250 route but I think my realtor wants to try to avoid that if at all possible

minimustache1985

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Rental rates are based on the market demand, not what the owner spends on repairs, and that itís still empty suggests the current asking is indeed overpriced.  If you do manage to get it lowered Iíd expect them to delay anything you may need fixed with their attitude, and would suggest moving on in your search.  If the place is in good condition and they drop rates on their own before you commit to something else you can always come back to it.

I may be a bit biased in the repair citing, but that to me reads as a small time landlord who owns 1-2 properties and may not have the cash flow for needed maintenance.  The last place I rented in SoCal the A/C didnít work and they never fixed it, same with the dishwasher (they did offer us a portable but there was no space for one- SoCal and all) because the owner had moved away and didnít want to short sell so kept a place they couldnít afford and rented it out.

jeromedawg

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Rental rates are based on the market demand, not what the owner spends on repairs, and that itís still empty suggests the current asking is indeed overpriced.  If you do manage to get it lowered Iíd expect them to delay anything you may need fixed with their attitude, and would suggest moving on in your search.  If the place is in good condition and they drop rates on their own before you commit to something else you can always come back to it.

I may be a bit biased in the repair citing, but that to me reads as a small time landlord who owns 1-2 properties and may not have the cash flow for needed maintenance.  The last place I rented in SoCal the A/C didnít work and they never fixed it, same with the dishwasher (they did offer us a portable but there was no space for one- SoCal and all) because the owner had moved away and didnít want to short sell so kept a place they couldnít afford and rented it out.

Thanks for the info - that's the feeling I get from them. What bothers me is that even if we were to accept it at $3300, it already seems like they're not *that* motivated to really help or fix anything with urgency. Maybe they're jaded from past renters and just want an "easy rental" ? In any case, the current owner I believe lives and works locally. We met the wife and she seemed nice. I think the husband is the stubborn one based on my realtor's interactions with him.

Freedomin5

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I'd move on with the search while keeping an eye on the place. If the rates drop, I'd restart negotiations. I'd just let them know that $3200 is at the top of my budget.

As a landlord, if I really wanted you as a tenant, I'd be more willing to negotiate. If he is holding to his higher price, it could also be related to you as a potential tenant and how much wear and tear he feels your family unit would cause (given number of occupants, age of occupants, presence of pets, etc.).

jeromedawg

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I'd move on with the search while keeping an eye on the place. If the rates drop, I'd restart negotiations. I'd just let them know that $3200 is at the top of my budget.

As a landlord, if I really wanted you as a tenant, I'd be more willing to negotiate. If he is holding to his higher price, it could also be related to you as a potential tenant and how much wear and tear he feels your family unit would cause (given number of occupants, age of occupants, presence of pets, etc.).

Good points. We have strong credit but to your point on wear and tear we have two small kids. Although, to my kids' credit, they don't write on walls, scratch floors or destroy furniture... for the most part. LOL. No pets either. I'm thinking they're possibly stubborn on their pricing AND picky about their applicants. Perhaps they feel like they're not in a rush to rent and can take as long as they want.

affordablehousing

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Find somewhere else to rent. Just seems easier. Losing one month of rent of $3300 to dispute $100 would take almost 3 years to recoup. Maybe he's just trying to substantiate a high leased amount to help with a sale of the home to investors. But in your situation, drop the agent (they are just blood suckers) and find a new apartment by yourself.

Laserjet3051

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i live in south oc in a 3/2.5 and unless theres something grossly wrong with the property, he is going to get 3200 or 3300 from either you or some other renter. bidding wars between prospective tenants in the area are common. not meeting in person is not a red flag. if you cant reach an agreement just move on. there are a LOT of nice 3/2.5s in the area. For clarification,  are we talking about SC, DP, LN, MV, LF, or IRV?

jeromedawg

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i live in south oc in a 3/2.5 and unless theres something grossly wrong with the property, he is going to get 3200 or 3300 from either you or some other renter. bidding wars between prospective tenants in the area are common. not meeting in person is not a red flag. if you cant reach an agreement just move on. there are a LOT of nice 3/2.5s in the area. For clarification,  are we talking about SC, DP, LN, MV, LF, or IRV?

Thanks! Good to get some local insight. This is LN btw. Trying to find something inside the Bergeson neighborhood.

jeromedawg

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Find somewhere else to rent. Just seems easier. Losing one month of rent of $3300 to dispute $100 would take almost 3 years to recoup. Maybe he's just trying to substantiate a high leased amount to help with a sale of the home to investors. But in your situation, drop the agent (they are just blood suckers) and find a new apartment by yourself.

Our realtor is a friend of ours (lol never do business with friends right?) and he has helped us immensely since 2010 in looking at homes to buy etc - we've not bought a single home with him to-date due to constantly shifting priorities and circumstances. So I feel we owe him our business based on all the time, effort and miles he has put into helping us whether with buying or renting. Unless we move out of the area completely, he will be helping us with finding a rental, renting our current place out, and selling it in the future. After that, we likely won't be buying for a long time.

In any case, we are planning to move along with our search. Will keep an eye on this one in case it's still on the market in another week or two, then revisit our inquiry. For now, the guy seems to have 'shut-off' all communication from our realtor. Our realtor is pretty straightforward about stuff and doesn't like to beat around the bush, so the guy is probably just holding out trying to wait for the "next one"

waltworks

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It sounds like you are both nickel-and-diming this a bit much. $100 a month either way on a $3k+ rental is not a big thing, and while I understand you'd love to save the money - trying to negotiate over that small of an amount would set off alarm bells for me as a landlord OR as a renter.

Move on to something else.

-W

Omy

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This^

jeromedawg

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It sounds like you are both nickel-and-diming this a bit much. $100 a month either way on a $3k+ rental is not a big thing, and while I understand you'd love to save the money - trying to negotiate over that small of an amount would set off alarm bells for me as a landlord OR as a renter.

Move on to something else.

-W

We weren't really pushing as hard as the landlord was pushing to maintain his $3300 asking price. Given the rental landscape in this area, I don't think it's unreasonable asking for the price reduction given the time it's been on the market. And we're not being overly aggressive about it - my realtor was calling to check in maybe once a day and stopped doing that a day in after the landlord dropped communication (this was after the same landlord agreed to meet up to discuss all this too). This was only a few days btw. I get that it's not a big amount but it's more the principal of being responsive and maintaining the communication. It's a private listing, so I would have hoped for more. If that's not what he wants to do then he should just tell us and not lead us on by saying "We can discuss this in person" never to be heard from again (I forgot that soon after I posted, he changed his initial response to the point of agreeing to meet to discuss further). Even if he did come down on price, I'd be hesitant to rent from him at this point because he seems pretty unresponsive and this could be for the worse if there are future repairs (particularly not self-induced) during our time there. I'd rather deal with a landlord who is responsive and straightforward about things rather than one who appears (especially at this point) to avoid having discussions.

In any case, we've moved on at this point and have other properties we're looking at.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 04:55:30 PM by jeromedawg »

rothwem

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In my part of the US, we donít use realtors for rentals. Who pays the realtor in a rental scenario?

Also, Iíll third the notion that being to aggressive in negotiations would make me not want you as a tenant. Youíre not buying an item like a house or a car, youíre entering a partnership agreement of sorts. If youíre trying to steamroll me as a landlord, whoís to say you wonít try to steamroll me when you move in? Thatís not a tenant I want to deal with for the term of a lease.

waltworks

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Yeah, where I live (UT) if your *realtor* (WTF?) is harassing me to save $100 on a rental property, no way in hell am I renting to you - that's got "nightmare tenant" written all over it.

-W

Omy

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Agreed.

jeromedawg

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Yeah, where I live (UT) if your *realtor* (WTF?) is harassing me to save $100 on a rental property, no way in hell am I renting to you - that's got "nightmare tenant" written all over it.

-W


If you agreed to meet with someone to discuss terms of the rental/negotiations (or anything really where you put the last communication out and it was to the tone of "sure, let's talk some more"), then subsequently drop all communication and are unresponsive, is it unreasonable for you to expect that they might call you again once or twice to follow-up on that?
 
We went back and forth with them a few times on this - it's not like we've put them on auto-dial at 7am every day asking if they would change their minds. Like I said, this communication occurred over the course of 3-4 days max. If they don't want to rent it out to us, fine. We are looking elsewhere. All I'm saying is they could have just said "no thanks" up front... unless they're trying to make us feel so desperate that we would call back and tell them we'll rent for their asking price.


In my part of the US, we don’t use realtors for rentals. Who pays the realtor in a rental scenario?

Also, I’ll third the notion that being to aggressive in negotiations would make me not want you as a tenant. You’re not buying an item like a house or a car, you’re entering a partnership agreement of sorts. If you’re trying to steamroll me as a landlord, who’s to say you won’t try to steamroll me when you move in? That’s not a tenant I want to deal with for the term of a lease.

I asked my realtor if finding rentals is something he can help with and he said yes. So that's how we got here. He has access to rental listings on MLS (maybe you can find these publicly too? It's been a long-time since we've rented and actually never from a private landlord) but a lot of people at least in our area use agents to rent out their properties - why would it be different the other way? Also, some properties are vacant with lockboxes, so he is able to access them without having to schedule for the listing agent or landlord to come meet us, etc. It seems to offer more flexibility in terms of visiting places on our own schedule. As far as getting paid, I think he's banking on the fact that we'll be using him as our realtor for future transactions. Also, he's a friend, so he could also be doing it part-in-parcel as a favor.
From the perspective of not wanting to rent a place for just a year and targeting renting it for longer makes sense so I can see someone holding out to wait for a tenant who would commit longer. BTW: what do you mean by "steamroll when you move in"? That a tenant would cause major property damage, break a bunch of the landlord's rules, and not pay rent? Something else? As signs of what could happen because they tried to negotiate down their rent initially?
« Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 10:28:47 AM by jeromedawg »

Laserjet3051

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For many years I have, and do still live, in LN. Love it!!  As you probably already know, different LN neighborhoods/developments can have radically different character/culture/demographics. Pick carefully.

waltworks

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We went back and forth with them a few times on this - it's not like we've put them on auto-dial at 7am every day asking if they would change their minds.

Look, that's not how you presented it *at all* in the OP. The OP sounded as if this process had been going on for a while (negotiations on terms, checked out property, explained why he wanted the amount of rent he does, etc). And via 3rd party text, no less? You're doing it wrong.

If you want to negotiate price with a landlord, what you *don't* do is say something like "this place is overpriced, you'll never get that much for it". That's (for better or worse) insulting to lots of people, even if it's true.

Instead you say something like "Your house is amazing! We have amazing credit and wonderful references, I'm super handy and won't bug you when the toilet is clogged, here's a cute picture of my daughter - she'd love to play on that swing in the backyard. But we can only afford $3100."

You call in person. None of this having a realtor buddy text the landlord stuff.

More flies with honey, right? It's dated and corny but it might be worth going and checking out "How to Win Friends and Influence People" from your local library.

Good luck!

-W
« Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 11:20:54 AM by waltworks »

jeromedawg

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We went back and forth with them a few times on this - it's not like we've put them on auto-dial at 7am every day asking if they would change their minds.

Look, that's not how you presented it *at all* in the OP. The OP sounded as if this process had been going on for a while (negotiations on terms, checked out property, explained why he wanted the amount of rent he does, etc). And via 3rd party text, no less? You're doing it wrong.

If you want to negotiate price with a landlord, what you *don't* do is say something like "this place is overpriced, you'll never get that much for it". That's (for better or worse) insulting to lots of people, even if it's true.

Instead you say something like "Your house is amazing! We have amazing credit and wonderful references, I'm super handy and won't bug you when the toilet is clogged, here's a cute picture of my daughter - she'd love to play on that swing in the backyard. But we can only afford $3100."

You call in person. None of this having a realtor buddy text the landlord stuff.

More flies with honey, right? It's dated and corny but it might be worth going and checking out "How to Win Friends and Influence People" from your local library.

Good luck!

-W

Maybe because I discussed the history of this particular and was talking about how it was listed in Nov and the price cut in Dec made it seem like we were negotiating with him since it was first listed?

In fact, all of this literally started last week.. the house was listed for a couple months but we didn't actually find it and communicate until this past Thursday. So this wasn't going on for that long of a period.

Here's the timeline:
1/16 - checked out a handful of homes including the one I posted about. Started communications with landlord
1/16-1/18 - followed-up communications and negotiations - said nothing to him about how his place is overpriced or way too much. Did say how we like the place, it's very nice and we are very interested but asked if he'd be willing to negotiate a lower price. Went from there and he would not budge. Offered to discuss more in person again at some point and he said "sure" then never got back.
1/19-1/20 - followed-up again and didn't hear back. Actually, looking again through my texts (from the realtor keeping me posted on things) it sounds like he got back and asked "can you do $3300 on an 18mo lease?" lol. It sounds like they'd be fine with us as renters but the plain fact is that we couldn't agree on pricing and he simply wants a longer term if we want the lower price. We tried negotiating lower rent on an 18mo lease BTW



In any case, sorry if I misrepresented the facts - I have the tendency to convey things poorly at times in writing. I think this may have happened before between you and I on another thread (or maybe that was someone else lol)

Either way, thanks for the advice!
« Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 01:30:20 PM by jeromedawg »

waltworks

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Wait, so you were texting him? Or your realtor?

I'm confused again.

I guess it doesn't matter, find something else. In the future, try to put yourself in the landlord's shoes a bit when starting negotiations. You can charm yourself into a discount, but you usually can't bargain your way to one - at least when it comes to rental homes.

-W

jeromedawg

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Wait, so you were texting him? Or your realtor?

I'm confused again.

I guess it doesn't matter, find something else. In the future, try to put yourself in the landlord's shoes a bit when starting negotiations. You can charm yourself into a discount, but you usually can't bargain your way to one - at least when it comes to rental homes.

-W

Our realtor is the one communicating (texting and phone calls) on our behalf - when I was talking about looking through my texts that was in the context of my realtor keeping me posted on the discussion. I think he's doing the "sweet-talking" in either case - we're really just leaning on him to help do the negotiations - he told us everything he was planning to tell the landlord and it didn't sound rude or trying to lowball/undercut/steamroll. I trust what our realtor would say - he doesn't have low EQ. And honestly, in our area, it seems like a lot more realtors out there are helping clients find rentals. But anyway, the landlord ultimately just didn't want to settle for anything lower. Meeting in person might have helped with our kids there (haha or not, if they acted poorly) but we would have just shown up at the rental house and discussed there - I think they live down the street from rental but probably just didn't want to bother and would rather wait.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2020, 01:30:49 PM by jeromedawg »

ePalmtrees

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He isn't negotiating because that's what he wants to rent it for. He doesn't owe you anything. It's not a red flag on his end that you don't get what you want because you asked for it and you think he should because of your analysis of his situation. If you were my potential tenant and you were doggedly trying to negotiate non-negotiable rent I'd see it as a huge red flag and you as a potential problem tenant.