After we have transportation sorted out, where do we go to look for houses? There are a few options. Newspapers have sections for rental ads, real estate agencies have rental property lists and, of course, Internet has it all – the sites I like and use all the time are in the right sidebar under “Useful resources”.
So the information is there, but what is the quickest and easiest way to get it? Newspapers are good, but not good enough – they are not easy to search when you’re looking for a house in a specific area. You have to go through all the list of ads to choose one or two houses you might be interested in.
Going to real estate agencies has its good and bad sides. The good side is that you do get an updated list of houses for rent in the area that agency covers (usually it is the same suburb the agency is located in).The bad side is that you won’t get too much help from the agents (you will probably get to see the receptionist that doesn’t know much), so this list is all you get after you’ve left work early to go there.
If you have questions about a specific house, always ask who the property manager is (if they are not there – get the mobile number) and speak to that person (not the receptionist) – they will have the answers for you. I was surprised at first about how little real estate agencies do to help you find a house for rent (read about it here).
I find Internet to be the most convenient, quick and effective tool in the house hunting process. Any of the biggest real estate sites have the most recent information, it is updated every day, it is easy to search because you can define what suburbs you need, the amount of rent you’d like to pay, the type of property, etc. You can see there when the house becomes available, when the inspection is scheduled and who the “listing agent” is – name and number of the person you need to contact about the house.
What you should know is that sometimes different Internet sites have different rent prices for the same property (which is confusing), so make sure you ask the agent exactly how much is the rent.
The problem with Internet is that it is not cheap in Australia so not many people have broadband Internet access. Dial-up is painfully slow and makes the whole search process a nightmare. The solution is to use public libraries that offer free internet access for their members (and it costs nothing to join). Use this library locator to find your nearest library.
To be continued…