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Negotiate Rent

If you’re moving to Miami for the first time and looking for an apartment, chances are the prices are a bit higher than you’re used to. This is especially true if you’re dead set on living in Miami Downtown/Brickell or South Beach which has some of the highest rents. (Don’t worry… we more than make up for the high prices with excellent public transportation—weather— amenities and overall Miami excellent-ness.)

While we cannot guarantee that every apartment is negotiable, there are cases where you can get a lower rent. As in every other sort of business transaction, there is often room for rent negotiation for Miami apartments, even in the city’s most sought-after neighborhoods.

First Things First: Know the Market
One of the most obvious foundations to successful rent negotiations is knowing the market. Just a little bit of online research (such as on Trulia or with your Broker ) can often tell you such valuable pieces of information as the price of similar units, in the same or similar neighborhoods; the price landlords are charging for the same-sized apartment in a nearby building, or in another part of town; and sometimes how long a specific apartment has been empty before you came along. For obvious reasons, all of the above can give you a good indication of your future landlord’s willingness to negotiate the rent.

Another factor can be if number of brand new buildings in a neighborhood that are doing their initial lease-up. One new building in a large neighborhood may not mean as much, but several large towers (all with 300+ units to fill at the same time) can mean temporarily lower rents as the market is flooded with similar units in the area. However, a temporary glut of brand new, gleaming luxury buildings doesn’t necessarily equate to lower rents in older, walk-up buildings. They are serving, in most cases, two different markets.

Keep in mind that, aside from some down markets here and there, the vacancy rate for apartments in Miami is generally around 3-5%. Compare that to a nationwide average of 10%, and you can see that frequently the property managers and owners have the upper hand. In the neighborhoods (Coral Gables, Kendall, etc.) as well as part of Broward and Ft Lauderdale the vacancy rates do tend to be a little higher, but can vary wildly depending on the neighborhood.

Making Rent Negotiation a Win-Win Situation
The key to any successful negotiation is ensuring that both parties are getting something from the deal. For example, landlords would much rather sign a qualified tenant to a longer term lease.

Other win-win Miami apartment rent negotiation techniques we’ve seen work in the past include offering a larger security deposit (say, the equivalent of two-months’ rent instead of the usual one-month) in exchange for a lower rent; a willingness, if the timing is right, to move in—and start paying rent—immediately, in mid-month, rather than waiting until the first of the next month or longer.

When Should I Negotiate the Rent?
Ask if the landlord has, or is accepting, other applications or offers. You may not always get a straight answer, but if they tell you you’re the only one (at that moment), you may try giving them an lower offer with the application, if you wish.

However if the landlord has numerous applications or offers, all other things being equal (income, credit, the impression you create), the owner will most likely give the apartment to the tenant who isn’t asking for a lower rent.

If there are multiple offers, there’s a chance another similarly qualified applicant is waiting to take your place. Use your judgment, and if you really want the apartment and the landlord gives you a lot of pushback, you’re probably better to drop the negotiating and take it as offered.

An exception to this would be if you are offering something other applicants may not be, e.g. to move in immediately and start paying rent (vs. the first of the next month). In that case, placing the offer to do this in exchange for a lower rent (or free month later) with your application, may give you the edge you need in getting approved over the other candidates.

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Juan Leal