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Getting value for money

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When you are renting for the first time, or in an area that you don't know very well, it can be difficult to tell whether or not you are getting good value for money. What may seem like an expensive flat to you may be cheap compared to what else is on offer and that bargain basement flat you think you've found may prove to be an absolute rip off.

There are two important things you can do to find out whether the price that is being asked of you is a fair one:

Shop around
Find out how much other properties are going for in the area. Try to look at as many sources of adverts as you can - online websites, newspapers, free ads, and in the windows of lettings agents. Certain advertisements will have marked up rental prices to appeal to a different market. Go and have a look at a few different homes in the same price bracket. Comparison is key.

Find out how long it has been available
This will help you assess the overall level of rental prices at the time. Theoretically, prices should be market driven, and should be roughly equivalent to the amount people are prepared to pay. In practice there is always some variation. If a property has been available for any length of time, it could mean that it is overpriced. Of course, it could also mean that there are lots of other similar properties available, or that it is a particularly unusual property.

If you think a property is overpriced, try making an offer for below the asking price. You can sometimes get a little bit knocked off the asking price, regardless of whether it is too high or not. We suggest offering about 5 less per week per 100 of rent that you will be paying n the property. The rest of the time, much depends on the condition of the property and the length of time it has been on the vacant list. Sometimes you can barter a landlord down by as much as 10, 15 or even 25 percent. If you do manage to get a reduction, make sure that you get it agreed and documented on paper, otherwise they may agree and then later change their mind.

Finally, when you are thinking about getting good value for money, don't forget to factor in any other costs that may be particular to the property. Things like being in a higher band for council tax, additional commuting or travel costs caused by the location and extra insurance premiums. Factors like these could end up swinging your decision if you are faced with two evenly matched evenly priced properties in different areas.

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