As you embark on the search for housing in the Seattle area, it is important to understand what you will need in your environment for you to be successful in your plans to live and work in Seattle.
Here are some questions that can assist in your off-campus housing search:
Before you start a serious search for places to live, it’s smart to figure out how much rent you can really afford. Setting a realistic rental budget now can save you disappointment later by preventing you from falling for the “perfect” place that costs more than you should spend.
Start determining your target rent now by downloading the Monthly Income and Target Rent worksheet.
If your rental range comes up short of your expectations, you might consider living with roommates. Splitting costs two, three, even four ways will give you a lot more financial breathing room. Just make sure the roommates you pick are people you will be able to live with for the length of the lease.
If you plan to rent with your significant other, take a good, hard look at their financial habits before signing a lease together. Discuss and agree on a firm, specific financial plan and put it on paper. It’s important that the power of love doesn’t blind you to the financial red flags waving over your partner.
And even if you’re lucky enough to have no car or school loan payments and no credit card debt, you may still want to cap your rental spending and use any extra money to save for a down payment to buy, instead of rent, your next home.
One of the first steps to finding a roommate that is right for you is to determine your own style of living and compare it to the style of living of your potential roommate. Have an open conversation with your potential roommate to get to know each other better and share lifestyle preferences.
Have your personal information ready for an application such as:
Landlords must make clear in advance the criteria they use to screen your application and what reasons might result in denying you the rental unit. You are entitled to a copy of the screening report.
Landlords can only charge you the actual cost of screening your application. The customary cost in Seattle ranges from $25-$45 per adult. See more in Move-in Costs.
Tip: Sometimes landlords accept a reusable screening report generated by an established consumer reporting agency.
A credit report is a document that lists a person's debts and history of borrowing and repayment. A credit score is a measure of the person's overall creditworthiness. A credit report and/or score are used by a landlord to judge a tenant's financial reliability in making monthly payments. Therefore, having a good credit report and score is very important in securing a property.
Find an independently-owned property. Most real estate agencies will judge you heavily based on your credit score. Independent owners are often more flexible.
A credit report and credit score are established by incurring and repaying debt. For example, opening a credit card account, buying a car, or receiving a student loan are all ways to start building your credit history.
Because many students do not have any credit accounts (e.g. credit cards, mortgages, loans), they do not yet have a credit history or credit score. In this case, you should consider preparing a Renter's Resume and Supplemental Packet to optimize your chance of securing a property.
A part of the application process is that the landlord will ask for your rental history and to contact them for verification. Housing and Residence Life will provide rental verification to the landlord and students will only need to provide the Housing and Residence Life Central Office information to the landlord.
Housing & Residence Life
914 E. Jefferson Street, Campion 100
Seattle, WA 98122