By Bruce Cathcart

Your parents are finally kicking you out of the family nest or your apartment is busting at the seams with kids, pets and the “stuff” you have collected over the past few years; either way the time has come for you to find a home to rent with extra bedrooms, a big backyard, a two car garage and a lot more space! So the first thing you do is go online and search “homes for rent” and about 102 million hits pop up (yes really, I checked!). Sometimes technology can be a little overwhelming. So before you start your search here are a few ideas that will hopefully make finding a home to rent a lot easier and with a lot less stress.

First things first, before you go shopping for the perfect home you need to determine how much you can afford to spend on rent. If this is your first house you will need to budget not just for rent but also utilities like gas, electric, water, cable or satellite, maybe even trash pick-up. And don’t forget about yard maintenance and possibly even pool maintenance (if you want one). A good rule of thumb is to budget approximately one third of your take home pay for just the rent amount. Once you have a pretty good idea of how much you want to pay in rent you will then want to make a list of features that you would like to have in your home.

I always recommend starting with the basics of the “must haves” and add the “nice to haves”.


Start with the bedrooms. You must have three, but it would be nice to have four. You get the idea. The number 1 & 2 reasons given for wanting to rent a house instead of an apartment are a two car garage and a private yard so they should likely be on your list too as well as any other features of a home that are really important to you. Don’t forget about proximity to your job, schools, churches, shopping, and neighborhood features like parks, community/senior centers, libraries, hiking trails, etc. Sometimes these features can be more important than the actual home itself! Having a budget and making a list of these items will help organize and limit your search making it easier to locate the right home in the right area.

Now are you ready to go online? No, not quite yet. Not even Craig’s List! You do not have to do this on your own. My advice to you at this point is to contact a real estate agent to help you through the rental process. Not all real estate agents assist clients with rental homes but most do. Finding the right real estate agent starts with referrals from family members, friends, and friends of friends. Jump on your favorite form of social media and put the word out that you are looking to rent a home and are looking for a good real estate agent to assist you. Once you have the name of an agent that has been highly recommended to you from a trusted source you can go on the internet and check them out before scheduling an appointment to meet with them. Many people are surprised to learn that quite a few Coachella Valley Real Estate companies have a property management division that specializes exclusively in managing homes for rent.

Of course you can find a rental home on your own. By why run the risk of a Craig’s List scammer or take on the responsibility of negotiating with an owner directly when professional help is readily available and best of all it is FREE! That’s right, just like buying a home, when you rent a home your real estate agent’s fee is paid for by the property owner.

Once you figure out your budget and make your list of home and neighborhood features take advantage of the professional services available to you from a licensed real estate agent. They have the skills, experience and knowledge necessary to guide you through the rental process while saving you time and effort.

This week’s real estate tip: When possible rent a home through a licensed, professional, property management company. In addition to saving you from having to deal directly with the landlord, the management company generally holds themselves to a higher standard when it comes to making repairs in a quality and timely manner.

Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, “Your Friendly Professionals” and can be reached by email at or visit his website at