Real Estate Lessons from Lisa Orme, Realtor®: April 2011

When to Use a Real Estate Agent to find a Rental

Looking to find an apartment in the Greater Hartford area of Connecticut? Wondering if you should use a Realtor®??

Here are some thoughts to help you make the best choice.

How to Find the Best Rental Property in Greater Hartford, CTAFFORDABILITY. First and foremost, determine your budget. There's a huge range of housing from the city of Hartford to the immediately outlying suburbs and even to some of the areas more rural towns. Knowing exactly what you can afford will help determine the best place for your lifestyle.

UTILITIES. Make sure you know what is going to be included in your monthly payment. While renters can always expect to pay their electric and phone bills, gas or oil heat and/or hot water may or may not be included in the rental payment. Some condo and apartment complexes will also include a cable TV package in your rental fees, while providing water and trash removal are usually the responsibility of the landlord.

Heating system costsHEATING COSTS: When you're determining your housing budget, make sure you consider heating costs. If you're not from New England, the weather can be quite variable and heating costs can easily exceed a couple hundred dollars per month during the heating season. If heat and hot water are not included in your monthly rent, make sure you know how much they will cost you additionally. Beware that electric heat can be quite expensive, especially in some older buildings with less insulation.  It's always a good idea to ask to see previous utility bills, but keep in mind the building structure, family structure, and habits of people can vary greatly, and so can their expenses for heating and cooling. You can also use the calculator at if the previous occupant's utility bills are not available.


Public Transportation - BusAir Transportation - PlaneTransportation: Are you a city dweller dependent on public transportation? Hartford has great bus service in the city and commuter runs to many communities outside of Hartford. Check out Connecticut Transit Company at for route and fare information. You can also travel by Amtrak north and south with stations in Windsor Locks, Windsor, Hartford, Berlin, Meriden, Wallingford, and New Haven. And with a switch in New Haven, you can get to New York City by rail in about 90 minutes more. Hartford is also located only 15 minutes to Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Windsor Locks.

Schools:Are schools important? Make sure you check out public and private schools in the Greater Hartford area. Try It's a great place to get started for statistical, demographic and other comparison information. Also make sure you explore local parks & town recreation services.

Mark Twain House, Hartford CTAttractions: Are you a metropolitan or a suburbanite? Either way you'll want to check out the historical and entertainment attractions in the Greater Hartford metropolitan area. Hartford itself offers the Hartford Symphony, The Bushnell, Hartford Stage, Theater Works, Wadsworth Atheneum and Museum of Art, the XL Center in Hartford, the Old State House, the Mark Twain House, and the Harriet Beecher Stowe center. Trinity College, the University of Connecticut (home of the UConn Huskies), the Hartt School of Music Dance & Theater, and the University of Hartford are all located here with many other education opportunities close by. Consider how far you want to travel for your favorite cultural pursuits, sporting activities, entertainment venues and other leisure interests.

FINDING AN APARTMENT. Your budget can greatly impact which search methods will be most effective in finding your new apartment. Lower cost apartments are more likely to be found listed in local newspapers and on Moderate cost apartments, which will include most apartment complexes, can be found in various publications, local classifieds, and on-line ads as well. In the Hartford area, consider the following websites and publications:,,,,   Print publications: Look for the free Apartment Finder or Apartment Guide at your local supermarkets. Also, check out The Hartford Courant, the Journal Inquirer, or the Reminder Press. If you're relocating, see if your new employer has a bulletin board for accessible or affordable housing close to work. Referral from co-workers and friends are always invaluable.

WHEN TO USE A REALTOR®. Generally speaking, real estate agents are most likely to be able to help with listings of the middle to upper tier of rental properties. Overall, if you are looking for a rental unit under $800/month, a real estate agent in the Hartford area is less likely to be willing to spend the time, because you are much more likely to find something on your own and they are less likely to get paid for their time. The rental market in the Hartford area has been competitive enough that most property owners do not use real estate agents to market their rental properties; because it's much more cost effective to do it themselves. Apartment communities usually have their own rental agents and many do not pay real estate agents a fee.

That being said, there are many real estate agents who will be willing to give you helpful direction in your search for rental housing. And there are a few real estate companies and agents that specialize in rental property.

SHOP AROUND. With the current economy, there are more vacancies than usual, and this can be to your benefit. Don't be afraid to negotiate for a slightly lower monthly payment, or your first month free, or a partial waiver on the security deposit. You never know where you can save some money!

LOCATION: If you're looking for the Hartford area, but don't want to be in the city itself, there is a wider choice of housing available. You'll want to consider the impact of your work commute. Major travel routes and traffic times may impact your choice of community almost as much as school systems, parks and other town amenities. East and west travelers, travel route I-84 during traffic hours and make note of whether you want to tolerate driving directly into the sun every day. School systems and town amenities vary greatly from one community to another. You have your choice of public schools, specialized "magnet" schools, as well as private and religious schools and academies.

Lease documentFINALLY! When you've found that apartment that you want to call home (at least for the next 12 months), make sure you read your tenancy agreements carefully. The agreement should include the length of the lease, payment amount and due date, penalties for late payments, and rules regarding use, occupants, pets and noise, as well as information on what happens at the end of the lease. It's a legal document, so read it carefully. And welcome to your new home!


Serving the North Central Connecticut region, Hartford County, and the communities of Windsor, Bloomfield, Hartford, East Hartford, South Windsor, Manchester, Windsor Locks, Suffield, Enfield, East Windsor, Somers and the Granbys...

Opening Doors to Home Ownership . . . The Master's Key . . .

Residential Sales, Short Sales and Foreclosure Prevention, Multi-Family and Investment Properties, Condominium and Property Management

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Licensed in the State of Connecticut, ABR, CRS, GRI, PSCS, SFR, Notary Public, Lic. #REB.755648

 Broker/Owner of The Master's Key Realty LLC, 340 Broad Street, #320, Windsor, Connecticut 06095

To contact Lisa, call 860-688-1400 or send an e-mail to

Copyright, Lisa Orme, 2010.  All rights reserved.

Comment balloon 6 commentsLisa Orme • April 21 2011 05:37PM
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