A Step-by-step Guide to Finding a Rental Home Quickly and Easily (Part 3)

by Chris Lang on October 28, 2011

How to find a rental property

Today you are getting the final steps (7 to 11) of my system to find a rental home with no hassle. If you’ve missed the beginning, steps 1 – 3 are here, and steps 4 – 6 are here.

Step 7. Organize your information.

To be efficient in your search for a rental house you must have an orderly way to save information on the properties you’ve short-listed. To keep track of all the properties you will inspect and apply for, and to plan your inspections well, fill their details in a table.

If you’re OK with Microsoft Word – you can use the same table that I use (download it here), if not – it’s easy to draw such table by hand on a sheet of paper. You need to draw 8 columns as follows: “Property address”, “No. bedrooms”, “Weekly rent”, “Available Date”, “Inspection Date”, “Features” “Applied”,” Agency/phone”.

Now go over the properties you’ve selected (click on your browser tabs one by one) and fill their details in this table. If this seems like too much work – trust me, you will thank yourself later. When you have nothing in writing it’s very easy to forget whether you’ve inspected or applied for a particular property or not, during the 2-3 weeks of search that are ahead. To stay sane and in control you need to have it all written down.

Step 8. Plan your inspections.

Now that you have all the details filled in the table, you can plan your inspections. Begin with the ones that have an OFI (Open For Inspection) date advertised – see how you can fit them in your day. If there are 2 or more dates when you can inspect a certain property, pick the earliest date. It happens quite often that the property manager finds a good applicant on the first inspection, and cancels the rest of OFI times. So if you have 2 inspections, one on a Tuesday, and one on a Wednesday – try to make it on a Tuesday.

Properties that have no inspection date advertised require a phone call. Ring the agency and ask when you can inspect the property. Very often the receptionist will take your name and phone number, and will promise to notify you by phone/text when an inspection is scheduled. When you receive such notification, update the OFI date in the table.

Step 9. Apply for properties

As soon as you’ve inspected a property and found it suitable, it’s time to apply. Most of the real estate agencies are accepting online application forms through 1Form system.

1Form, if you’ve never heard of it, is a way for you to fill an application form online. This is very helpful, because you can save on photocopying the same ID documents, payslips, bills and bank statements. Now you can scan all the necessary documentation and upload it to the 1Form system. Do it once and it will remain there, for you to use it with your next application. You also save a trip to the agency to submit the paperwork – 1Form sends it online to the agent’s email.

Some real estate agencies insist of remaining dinosaurs and will only accept paper application – I’ve met a few of this kind, but the vast majority are using 1Form and therefore are making things simple for everybody.

To submit an application, click on the “Apply Online” button located on the property listing in realestate.com.au (as below)

Apply online for a rental property

Now it’s worth saying a few words about the documents you submit with your rental application. The most important rule is – show everything that portrays you in a positive light (even if they don’t explicitly ask for it).

If you have savings in the bank – show them, it will prove you have control of your financial situation. If you are self employed and can’t show payslips – get a letter from your accountant stating how much you are making annually. If you have written references from your previous landlord or their real estate agent – include them with your application. Think what sort of evidence of financial stability and good character you have, and show it off – because this is what the property manager is looking for to choose YOU.

Step 10. Update property info as soon as possible.

Bring the table you’ve created in Step 7 with you to all inspections and update it. Write down the date when you’ve attended an inspection, and the date you’ve applied for a property. Write down any notes you may have about the property (can be anything from “awful dump”, to “no air-con”, to “great location”). If you are using my downloadable table, circle the existing features of the house, as you move from one room to another. Circling takes less time than writing, and it will help you remember after a few days whether that particular property had carpets or floorboards, or any other meaningful details.

Step 11. Repeat until successful.

To make sure you don’t miss new properties that come on the market, you should run a search of rental properties once a day. And here is a trick that will save you going over the whole list every time (as I promised in Step 4). Sort your search results by “Newest to Oldest” and the new results will always come on top. If you do a search once a day, you probably will never have to look past the first page.

Now repeat steps 5 – 11 (short-list new properties that just came on the market, fill their details in the table, inspect, apply, update the table) and you are guaranteed to have a rental home soon.

If you are using this system, or have your own, I would love to hear from you. Please comment on this article and tell me what you think.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Hughan September 18, 2012 at 7:45 pm

This has literally taught me nothing, and I’m an 18 year old who knows absolutely nothing about real estate. This is basically telling people how to follow the prompts on a real estate website.
You should have gone into more about what makes an applicant seem more successful, and what makes an owner more willing to choose you as a tenant. That’s what people really need to know, when there is so much competition to apply successfully for a rental.
1/5 stars.


Chris September 18, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Hi Tony – thanks for the comment, now that I know what sort of info you’re looking for I can steer you towards a few posts you may find useful. Check out this post for a few tips how to make them choose you over the competition, especially if your personal finances don’t look too good. Have a look at this article to see how you can stop wasting so much time applying for properties. Read here how to write a reference letter that will show what a good tenant you are. And finally here you can read about the types of rental contracts – you want to know this before signing a lease.

Hope this helps. If you’ve got any questions – here’s the place to ask.


Jay August 31, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Hi, where can I find help in Sydney to find a 2 bedroom apartment to live in as I am currently paying $1300 a month in rent for a studio apartment for my husband and myself. We lost our beautiful luxury home due to some miscalculated risks. We are both in our early 60’s and now on a pension of $600 each a fortnight. We also do some parttime work that gives us some extra cash. So we can afford to buy a home but the banks won’t help us. How can we find a decent place to rent to own rather than live in a poky little flat with no room to move. Please help us in Sydney.


Chris September 1, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Hi Jay,

Sorry to hear about your rental situation. The best places to look are these websites: http://www.realestate.com.au and http://www.domain.com. Literally all homes for rent are listed in these two websites. You’ll just need to choose which area you’re looking in, or the budget, and you’ll get all the listings available for rent. You can also ring or visit your local real estate agents, but from my experience this hasn’t been very effective. You’re better off doing your own searching online.


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