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Renting a home... any suggestions? UPDATED with Bonus Question! (Any electricians handy?)

urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
edited March 2013 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello!

My wife and I are looking into renting a house. We don't want to buy just yet because we have student loans and stuff so we don't want to get in even more debt.

So here we are. Are there any sites you guys suggest for us to look through? We are in the Dayton Ohio area. We are looking for around 1100 a month, preferably less. Looking for 4 bedrooms 2 baths. At least.

Forgive any spelling mistakes because I am on my phone. Thanks!

BONUS Question: So we saw a house that we liked yesterday, but the problem that I noticed is that each of the rooms only had the two prong outlets, and not the three prong. This is a problem because every surge protector I have in my current place is 3 pronged... I guess my question is that is there such thing as a two prong surge protector that has 3 prong plugs on it? Will I have to rebuy all of the surge protectors in the house?F

urahonky on
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Posts

  • ElfWordElfWord Registered User regular
    There's rarely a better bet than Craigslist. I'd also check out Trulia, which has a houses-for-rent section: http://www.trulia.com/for_rent/SINGLE-FAMILY_HOME_type/Dayton,OH/

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  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    padmapper was pretty great for finding apartments in seattle. Not sure if you can restrict it to houses, but 4 beds/2 baths will probably be pretty much houses anyway.

    edit - I should probably add that padmapper is basically just pulling from other sites like craigslist and putting all of the listings on a google map. Makes it great for searching around area's you like. And all of the links lead back to the original site the listing was pulled from.

    Jebus314 on
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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Zillow does rental as well.

    If you don't mind pink, this seemed nice.

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    also make sure you get renters insurance

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  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    Buy a real lawn mower, not one of those crappy old fashion ones. The environment can suck it.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Zillow and Trulia are my typical uses for renting a house. Some things I've learned over the years:

    -Find a rental with yard service included. This varies by region, in Florida it is fairly common.
    -Ask about the previous utility bill average, you may not get it but it is useful to know (sometimes your utility company can provide this).
    -Photograph everything before move in. If something was broken or off seeming at move in you don't want to be blamed for it later.

  • jungleroomxjungleroomx It's never too many graves, it's always not enough shovels Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    We just managed to find a place to rent as our dream house (A house a friend of hers has that is actually... well, our dream house) won't be going on the market for another 9-10 months as the current owners build their new house. I have learned, however, the following from looking at numerous places:

    #1 - Always, always, always assume the pictures are old or, in the case of an apartment or condo complex, nothing like what you are going to get. Also, the single most important things to check are the ceiling, kitchen cabinets, and bathrooms because water damage, pest infestation, and mold are going to be the hardest things to get rid of (and if you have a crappy landlord, hardest to prove you didn't do). If you enter a house and see dead bugs anywhere but right inside the main entrances, there's your red flag that the place has an infestation.

    #2 - Private renters will be reliably cheaper than real estate businesses for equal properties. Craigslist is probably the best way to find private renters as most of the For Rent By Owner sites are ghost towns. That's not to say that private renters are reliably BETTER landlords, however. We managed to find a duplex for rent from a set of landlords with glowing reviews online and from people who we knew lived in the complex, and this was after we got shafted by two private owners who rented their properties right out from underneath us. Which brings me to...

    #3 - Have the deposit money either on hand or available in your account. If you live in a competitive area for mid-ranged housing (typically the hardest thing to get is a decent mid-ranged middle class house in a good-to-decent neighborhood) and find something, put the deposit down immediately. You may not get another shot at something.

    Good luck to you! Finding a place to live, especially with a family, is a stressful and time-consuming process that can really piss you off, but the end result of finally finding a place is such a rewarding feeling.

    jungleroomx on
  • jungleroomxjungleroomx It's never too many graves, it's always not enough shovels Registered User regular
    Also, keep in mind that rent for a house is typically going to be quite a bit higher per month than a mortgage. A friend of the family just recently bought out their rental house from the landlord and their monthly payment dropped from $1350 to $900.

    If you're worried about incurring debt on your credit report, a mortgage is probably the one of the few kinds of debts you very much want on it due to the higher credit score that getting it will afford you. If you're worried about making your monthlies, then a mortgage will cost you less overall than a rental (after initial costs).

    If you could manage to live outside the city, the USDA has a rural development program that will get you a home loan/mortgage with no down payment simply for picking a house in less developed areas.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Buying a house for the sake of a lower monthly cost is really really short sighted, especially in this market. Also: not possible for per the OP.

    Even in high volume places, you do not want to put money down during your first walking of the property. Always always always see the property at night on weekends to see what your neighbors are really like and what the environment is after hours. You could find a perfect place and discover the first Friday night that you are living between two unofficial night clubs.

    Also: re private rentals versus corporate rentals, while typically you can find cheaper properties on private, they are usually not better properties if they are substantially below the regional average. Look for the regional average of corporate properties to figure out the average per square-foot you are looking to rent, then look into properties +/- $100 of that. You should find a wide range of properties in private or corporate managed that will have fairly consistent quality per square-foot.

    I current rent private, which has been great because I get along with my landlord and have more ability to lobby to keep the rent stable year to year. However, it has been constantly more difficult to get repairs than in a corporate. Most experiences will agree that this is your dicotomy: more consistent support versus rent cost stability (corporate will typically raise your rent a bit each year where possible).

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    A shitty landlord is shitty whether their private or a company, but the idea is you'll have a better response and a legal recourse when things go wrong when renting from an agency.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest the couple jungeroomx is renting from is not reporting that income. Now that usually doesn't matter to you, except if things go bad, there's no proof you're in a rental agreement - if for example, a buyer pops up and wants to buy that house now.

    Again, no guaranteeing it will be fine with a company, just more legal options if things don't.

  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    Thank you for the responses so far guys. I really appreciate them! I am looking at one on Zillow that is $1200 a month (a little more than we were wanting to pay) but it has 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, and is like 2300 sq ft. Right now, for an apartment, we are paying $1100 a month for 1550 sq ft.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Something to ask yourself: will you use/do you need the extra square feet?

    Our current townhouse is 2.5 beds, 3 baths, and 1700 square feet. For my wife and I it is a bit more room than we actually use, and the loft, second master, and half-bedroom are mostly just storage that get visited during cleaning and when the cats are looking for a place to nap. Bigger is always nice for long term, and a must have for home ownership, but if you are looking for a bigger rental without a real need you are usually just paying for a really expensive storage locker after utility costs.

    Also, if it includes a Garage/external storage, often the square-feet of the peripheral areas will be included in the total so those sizes can be misleading.

  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    Yeah, currently the house is occupied by 3 adults (my wife and I + our roommate), and my wife will be having a child late June. Right now the only problem is the lack of space... There isn't a good location to put the nursery in our current apartment. We could use the office, but then we'd have to move 3 large desks down to the dining room... And there isn't enough space for 3 desks.

  • zepherinzepherin Russian warship, go fuck yourself Registered User regular
    Also if you are a handy fellow, you can sometimes offer to make improvements for a decrease in your rent, or some other consideration. I know a guy who rented a fixer upper, and fixed a lot of crap in there, and I think it took him 2 years before he started actually having to pay rent, but apparently the place needed a lot of work.

  • jungleroomxjungleroomx It's never too many graves, it's always not enough shovels Registered User regular
    MichaelLC wrote: »
    A shitty landlord is shitty whether their private or a company, but the idea is you'll have a better response and a legal recourse when things go wrong when renting from an agency.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest the couple jungeroomx is renting from is not reporting that income. Now that usually doesn't matter to you, except if things go bad, there's no proof you're in a rental agreement - if for example, a buyer pops up and wants to buy that house now.

    Again, no guaranteeing it will be fine with a company, just more legal options if things don't.

    I'm renting from a professional office, not a private renter. So, its not an undocumented kind of thing.

    Before living in the military housing we do now, my then girlfriend (now wife) rented from a private landlord. The house was great and the services to the place came promptly and the only reason we moved is that the military housing was a better deal (or so we thought at the time).

    Its a mixed bag, really. I can't advocate waiting once you find a place, however, but only based on my experience. We did the waiting game with our first three candidate properties and did what you said, found out they were great and also found out that while we did our observations of the neighborhood that someone else went ahead and slapped down the deposit.

    Its gotten so bad for homes in the 800-1200 range out here because of the distinct lack of them in comparison to the population. There's tons of really pricey homes and even more shanty houses around the middle of town, but the mid range ones in decent neighborhoods that present themselves as good houses are swept up in a matter of hours around here.

  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    It's not just because of the mortgage either... We just don't want to be tied to one location right now. Once the child is a little older my wife would like to get back to school to get her Master's degree and we aren't sure where she is going to apply yet.

  • jungleroomxjungleroomx It's never too many graves, it's always not enough shovels Registered User regular
    urahonky wrote: »
    It's not just because of the mortgage either... We just don't want to be tied to one location right now. Once the child is a little older my wife would like to get back to school to get her Master's degree and we aren't sure where she is going to apply yet.

    Unwillingness to commit to the largest investment you may ever do because of uncertainty?

    Yeah, well, probably a good idea.

  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    I agree that it's good to be able to commit immediately if you find the perfect place. The last two places we've rented, we committed the day we saw it. You will have to use your best judgement regarding property management though. It's worked out both times for me; also in both cases the prices were significantly lower than others in the area ($400 to $1000), found through craigslist, and managed by private owners.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    I will add that more expensive is not necessarily better. Most small-time landlords I know underprice their properties so they have a better selection of tenants, as the primary thing they want is for the place to be well cared for and to not be bothered about stupid shit.

  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    If your wife plans to go back to school, you should get a cheaper, smaller place. Save the money for schooling.

    2 adults and a baby can easily fit in a 2 bedroom 1.5 bath apartment. Just sell off your large furniture and stuff you never use anymore.

    In addition, get a place close to work. Your baby is going to demand a lot of time from you, even if your wife stays home, so being closer is better.

    iTNdmYl.png
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    hsu wrote: »
    If your wife plans to go back to school, you should get a cheaper, smaller place. Save the money for schooling.

    2 adults and a baby can easily fit in a 2 bedroom 1.5 bath apartment. Just sell off your large furniture and stuff you never use anymore.

    In addition, get a place close to work. Your baby is going to demand a lot of time from you, even if your wife stays home, so being closer is better.

    This is probably less of a concern with the aforementioned roommate eating costs. Probably not your intention, but saying "Oh it's totally easy to ditch the lifestyle you are used to for some extra dough" without any knowledge of their finances seems a bit silly to me.

  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Enc wrote: »
    This is probably less of a concern with the aforementioned roommate eating costs. Probably not your intention, but saying "Oh it's totally easy to ditch the lifestyle you are used to for some extra dough" without any knowledge of their finances seems a bit silly to me.
    My assumption is that he's moving without the roommate. Maybe that's a wrong assumption, but that's what I assume most couples about to have a baby would do.

    In addition, he's having a *baby*, and babies are expensive. Also, his wife wants a master's degree, which is also expensive. His lifestyle will have to change, no matter what, because he'll need to save all the money he can.

    hsu on
    iTNdmYl.png
  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    Sorry I wasn't clear: the Roommate is coming with us so 2 bedrooms won't really work out. Our minimum is 3 bedrooms 2 baths. A room for us, a room for the baby, and a room for the roommate. I was looking for 4 bedrooms so we had a home office, but if there is enough space then we can do with 3 bedrooms/2 baths and have our computers in the dining room or something.

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    urahonky wrote: »
    Sorry I wasn't clear: the Roommate is coming with us so 2 bedrooms won't really work out.

    It could... :winky:

    Be sure to ask about parking in the neighborhood too - guessing there's at least two cars, maybe three?

  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    BONUS Question: So we saw a house that we liked yesterday, but the problem that I noticed is that each of the rooms only had the two prong outlets, and not the three prong. This is a problem because every surge protector I have in my current place is 3 pronged... I guess my question is that is there such thing as a two prong surge protector that has 3 prong plugs on it? Will I have to rebuy all of the surge protectors in the house?

    Also we found a bunch of good houses on militarybyowner.com... Since we're near an airbase.

  • zepherinzepherin Russian warship, go fuck yourself Registered User regular
    There is an adapter that is pretty cheap. My dad has a few, and you get power just fine, however I'm not sure if that limits the surge protection effectiveness. I don't think that it would since it still grounds.

    Here is a link.
    http://www.amazon.com/Prong-prong-grounding-converter/dp/B000I96AUM

  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    Oh, if that's all then I won't have a problem with this place. Has 3 bedrooms, a dining room, a living room, and an office area. Two car garage and a HUGE backyard.

    The guy leasing it to us was really, really nice too.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    It's a lack of ground that's the problem. Generally you'd tie a wire to those 2->3 prong adapters, and ground them properly.

    Other than that your option is to turn off power, pull of the plate, and hope to hope there's grounding on those outlets so you can just convert it to 3 prong.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    There isn't. I asked him about that and he said the electrician would've had to rewire the entire house to lay the ground wire.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    You can still use the 3 prong adapters, keep in mind they're not grounded so a surge is going to fuck your equipment pretty hard usually.

    He should consider rewiring the house though.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    Unless I'm mistaken... The converters above say they are grounded. Is that not correct?

  • zepherinzepherin Russian warship, go fuck yourself Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    [quote="bowen;26178432"]It's a lack of ground that's the problem. Generally you'd tie a wire to those 2->3 prong adapters, and ground them properly.

    Other than that your option is to turn off power, pull of the plate, and hope to hope there's grounding on those outlets so you can just convert it to 3 prong.[/quote]
    My pops never did it, he said it was touching the screw so it was fine, however he wasn't an electrician. I can only tell you what I've done. The other options are to not get the place, redo the wiring, put in a GFI or buy new surge protectors. If it makes you feal safer you can do a GFI. I think they are like 13 bucks at walmart, and they work without grounds.

    zepherin on
  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheater_plug#Alternatives

    Apparently the only thing safe is setting up a GFCI outlet? But it really doesn't mention if it is actually safe for the equipment, just says it prevents electric shock.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    urahonky wrote: »
    Unless I'm mistaken... The converters above say they are grounded. Is that not correct?

    That prong that comes out at the bottom of them is the "ground." Typically, you screw it into the outlet itself. That is, if your outlet is grounded, if the outlet is grounded, you are better off, in the long run, converting them over.

    Since there's no grounding wire in the outlet (the electrician would have to rewire the house), the chances of that screw being grounded is almost nill.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Ground-an-Outlet

    This would be a deal breaker in a rented house to me, no ground wires = rewire your shit. Also it's pretty obvious there's going to be issues with the house in general if they don't want to invest in up to date electrical work! Imagine the furnace or windows, going to be drafty as all fuck.

    I'd probably avoid renting that specific house if I were you, unless no better options present themselves. Hope to hope those boxes are grounded, because if they are, changing the outlet is the easiest thing you'll ever fix in a house, short of a light bulb.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    Yeah GFCI doesn't fix your lack of ground issue, it'll still surge.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    Well he replaced a lot of the things in the house. New Furnace new washer/dryer hookups, new lights in each room, and such. He had an electrician out there to replace all the wiring and he said that it would cost a fortune to rewire it with the grounding wire... And the guy renting the place said he just wanted it at least safe, which is why he went with the two prong outlets.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    If it had an attic or basement to make it easy to snake wires, probably $4000 to rewire a small house. Also depending on if it had aluminium wire too, then you'd need to replace all the fixtures and all that. Probably a new panel too. It's not so much expensive as "I can't make these kinds of costs up in rent for the next 10 years" sort of thing.

    Are you still renting or are you purchasing? (Rent to own?)

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    Just renting for now. Not rent to own.

    He said the electrician cost him about $2k to get it up and running (apparently his mother in law lived there for 40 years and had no lights in any of the rooms so he had to get ceiling lights installed and wired). Not to mention redoing the kitchen and stuff.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Sounds about right. A lot of places don't have ceiling lights except in hallways.

    I'd still avoid the house because the only other option is running a grounding wire from the outlet, out the window, into a grounding rod.

    I mean you can still use your equipment with a cheater plug, but, if a surge happens to work its way into that house, you're fucked. With wiring like that, too, it's probably going to happen when you vacuum. He's going to have a hard time even renting it, most people won't deal with two prong anymore. The only thing that's two pronged that I own is my toaster. Fuck getting cheaters for everything. Also fuck risking all my stuff because he wants to save a little money.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    Yeah that's what I'm thinking too.

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