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What are Rent Specials? How to Find Move-In Specials

By: Susan Finch
June 18, 2020

Even during a pandemic, summer is apartment-hunting season. There are scores of renters looking to make a move to a new neighborhood or across the country.

This year will likely bring frugal-minded renters looking to pinch pennies after dealing with the fallout from COVID-19. Fortunately, more property managers are offering move-in specials, even in amenity-rich luxury complexes.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to score a deal while taking a step up in your rental situation, the time to look is now. You could end up with your dream apartment and save lots of money in the process.

What are Move-in Specials?

Move-in specials are common when properties are looking to increase demand and attract new renters. They’re usually a one-time, limited-time offer. Move-in specials usually are offered during the first month of your lease.

Some renters feel like there’s so much competition, a move-in special must be too good to be true. However, when demand for apartments is low, move-in specials pop up more often. The coronavirus pandemic or an economic downturn might be lowering demand for apartments, especially luxury communities. Move-in specials give landlords leverage to attract the best tenants and fill occupancies.

Types of Move-in Specials

Move-in specials can differ depending on your city, the apartment complexes, and the state of your market. There are several types of specials you may encounter while apartment-hunting.

Here are a few of the most common move-in specials:

1. Waived Application Fees

Application fees tend to be around $50-$75. They can add up, especially if you live in a competitive market and want to apply for multiple apartments.

Waiving the application fees are a common move-in special. This is nice, but they’re typically not the best savings you can find. Instead of a one-off $100 discount, you can scour the market for more competitive deals.

If you are new to renting, be sure to learn about the apartment application process and associated fees.

2. Reduced or Waived Security Deposit

Security deposits can add a big expense to your apartment hunt. One-month’s rent is a typical security deposit, but they can even cost up to three-months rent. This can be a massive chunk of your savings, especially in pricey rental markets.

A fully waived security deposit move-in special is rare. However, you might see a half-off option or other discounted security deposits. Some apartment complexes will also waive a security deposit in favor of a smaller one-time fee.

3. First Month Free

Yes, it’s possible to get discounted rent with a move-in special. Keep an eye out for apartments with move-in specials offering six weeks to two months free. There could be even larger discounts, depending on the area.

It’s tempting to allocate the savings towards a more expensive apartment. However, you should only rent what you can afford for the long-term.

The discount is usually prorated across the length of the lease, which we’ll cover below.

4. Look-and-Lease Deals

During a sluggish rental market, landlords are eager to get leases signed as quickly as possible. You may discover discounts on rent or other specials when you tour and lease an apartment on the same day.

Although the deal may be tempting, be sure to have your bases covered. There are 12 crucial questions to ask before renting an apartment.

5. Deals on Longer Lease Lengths

Landlords prefer the security and ease of securing long-term tenants. Signing a longer lease will usually cut down the cost of the monthly rent. On the flip side, month-to-month leases and short-term leases will usually be the most expensive.

How Are Move-in Specials Factored Into your Rent?

Although eight weeks free of rent payments is wonderful, you aren’t really living for “free” for two months. These move-in specials are usually prorated into your overall monthly rent.

If you sign a 12-month lease on an apartment that costs $1,500 per month, and you get two months free rent, that’s $3,000 knocked off of your lease. This will bring your new monthly rent rate to $1,250.

Any move-in special that results in a nice rent reduction will come in handy. You’ll have more money left over for things like savings, groceries, and utility bills.

How Do You Find Move-in Specials?

If you’re sold on the idea of snagging an apartment with move-in specials for yourself, finding one online isn’t always straightforward. Fortunately, Apartment List makes it easy to find move-in specials near you. While scrolling through our app or searching our website, keep an eye out for these red move-in special alerts.

Final Thoughts

Moving isn’t always pleasant. However, you can sweeten the deal by finding a move-in special that saves you tons of money. From months of free rent to look-and-lease deals, find the best for your situation and start packing for your dream apartment.

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