Rental Hacks: How to find a place in a tough market

We’re moving from Washington DC to Flagstaff AZ, and needed to rent a place while we figured out what we might buy.

The rentals tend to be aimed at students, but the huge student population (1/3 of the town’s people are students) pushes prices up and quality down. There’s nothing we’d like to rent.

We had an idea, and it worked, so I’m writing it up here in case it’s useful to someone.

We looked at houses that were for SALE, wrote them nice letters in the mail (11 letters sent, only to houses we liked) and asked them if they’d rent to us.

11 sent
4 letters bounced
7 got read
3 replies
2 nos
1 yes.


So now we’re in a great house, at a reasonable price. A few advantages to this approach:

* no competition from other renters
* not dealing with professional rental agencies
* opens up a totally new market for places to rent
* houses for sale are usually in good shape
* houses for sale have extensive pictures, unlike rentals

One tip: This works best with houses that are for sale where the house is empty. Otherwise, you’re dealing with a very unpredictable timeline – they can’t move out until they find a new house.


16 Comments on “Rental Hacks: How to find a place in a tough market

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