A tight rental market in Spokane can make it challenging to find the perfect place to rent, but it’s not impossible.

As of 2019, the apartment vacancy rate across the state was 4.3%. The market is considered tight when the rate falls below 5%.

In the Spokane area, new apartments coming into the area are helping the vacancy rates rise. That’s good news for tenants who are apartment hunting in Spokane.

But you still might have a long search before you find the perfect place.

Use these tips to make the search for a Spokane rental easier.

Set Your Budget

Even when the rental market is tight, you want to set a realistic budget for your rent.

It’s tempting to bump up your budget to have more options. But if you can’t afford the monthly payment, you could face eviction.

The general recommendation is to stick with a housing payment that’s no more than 30% of your gross income. If your monthly gross salary is $5,000, you should probably stick around $1,500 on rent.

Some landlords require you to make a certain amount compared to the rent. They might require that your income is three or four times the rent, for example.

Everyone’s situation is different, so calculate your housing budget based on your overall expenses. You also want to feel comfortable with what you’re spending.

Define Your Needs

Before you start your search, know what you need from your Spokane rental.

The number of bedrooms is usually the first decision apartment hunters make. If you have a family or roommates, consider how many bedrooms you need to keep things comfortable.

If you’ll have other people living with you, additional bathrooms might also be a priority.

Consider other features or spaces you want to have in your rental.

Once you create the list of things you want, prioritize them to help you narrow down the rentals. There’s a good chance you’ll have to compromise on some of your wish-list items.

Choose Your Apartment Hunting Area

Your next step is narrowing down your search area. Many of the up-and-coming Spokane neighborhoods are top picks, but the best area for you depends largely on your lifestyle.

Consider proximity to your workplace to make your commute as easy as possible. Think about the other places you go to often.

Do you like to shop, dine out, or visit local attractions?

Consider your preference on the general area. Do you prefer a busier area with lots of options nearby, or do you prefer a quiet residential area?

Zone in on a general area you want to live, but keep your options flexible. Being willing to go slightly outside of your preferred area might help you find a better apartment with more features or space.

Inspect the Rental

When you find a place that fits your budget and neighborhood preferences, it’s easy to convince yourself that it’s perfect. You might even overlook red flags.

Try to contain your excitement and look at the rental critically before you sign a lease. Will it meet your needs, or are you convincing yourself it’s fine?

Does it appear to have water damage, outdated electrical, or other issues that could make it unsafe? If you notice issues, ask the landlord if those issues will be repaired before you move in.

Open doors, test faucets, flush toilets, test the heating and cooling system, and look into other mechanical issues. You want to know these things work well.

What is the neighborhood like? It’s a good idea to check out the rental during the day and at night to get a sense of how safe the neighborhood is.

Evaluate the Landlord

You don’t have to find a landlord that’s going to be your new best friend, but you do want one you can live with.

Use your best judgment to evaluate the honesty of the landlord or property manager when you view the rental. If they seem pushy or want you to sign a lease right away, it could be a sign that there’s something wrong with the rental.

Consider if there’s on-site property management to handle issues quickly. You can’t always tell, but try to gauge how responsive the landlord is based on your interactions up to this point.

If the landlord seems dismissive, slow to return calls, or unwilling to answer questions, that could be a bad sign. If you rent the property, you want someone who will be responsive when issues come up.

Review the Terms

Once you’ve found what seems like the perfect place, you might be tempted to sign the lease right away. Before you do, read over the lease to understand all of the terms. Ask any questions before you agree to rent the place.

Make sure you know these things:

  • Deposit amount
  • Monthly rent and any additional fees
  • What’s included in the rent
  • Fees if rent is late
  • What utilities and extras you’re responsible for paying
  • Whether or not pets are allowed
  • Parking availability
  • Duties you need to handle, such as mowing or snow removal
  • Length of the lease
  • What happens if you break the lease

If the landlord avoids answering your questions or the terms aren’t well-defined in the lease, it could be a red flag. Anything that’s not in writing is up for debate and could end up costing you down the road.

Know When to Act

When rental options are limited, you don’t want to miss out on the perfect place. But you also don’t want to jump too soon if the property isn’t right for you.

Having some patience is important in a tight rental market. You might now have the time to wait if you need to move quickly. But if you have a more flexible schedule, keep yourself open to waiting.

When you find something that checks all of the important boxes, don’t be afraid to sign a lease. If you think about it for too long, someone else might slide in and take the place you love.

Find Your Perfect Spokane Apartment

Whether you’re new to Spokane or just need a new place to live, these tips can make the search easier. Being realistic and patient can help you find an option that fits your needs and budget.

Are you ready to start apartment hunting in Spokane? Check out our available rentals to explore the options.