We previously gathered rent pricing information from a few sources including the newspaper, Craigslist, various websites, MLS, and primarily from talking to people who rent in the area. One website I found very useful was Zilpy. However, that site seems to have been taken over and no longer provides the same kind of information for rents. Zilpy would provide a list of houses and apartments rented on a map and in list format for a specific zipcode. It would show the rent, date of the lease, and the number of bedrooms. I found it to be very useful in getting a general idea of what rents were for an area that we weren’t familiar with. Is there anything else out there that provides this information?
You can drive around the area and call on any “For Rent” signs that you see, as if you were a prospective tenant. There’s nothing that will give you a better feel for the area than driving around at all times. Sometimes you discover that there is a weekend problem–loud bunches of people hanging out, etc.
I mapped out all the newspaper “For Rent” ads’ addresses with the price when I first moved to this town. That’s how I discovered that the north end carried way higher rents than the southern end of town.
Know your area to prevent expensive mistakes.
Don’t lie and pretend to be a tenant. Simply call, identify yourself as another landlord who is trying to figure out the local market.
I do market surveys fairly frequently and I’ve never had another landlord refuse to talk to me. So far, every one of them has enjoyed talking to another local landlord (me) and comparing our experiences.
Good point, Tatertot. We can usually tell in our office when locals are “shopping” our furnished rental rates. And I don’t mind talking to the competition either.