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Donna "Sunshine" Smith

We Make Home Buying
& Selling Easy!

Office: 760-436-0087 
Cell/Text: 760-212-8225

How to Find a Rental in a Hot Rental Market!


I do not usually do rentals but I have some helpful hints for you. 

Rentals are hard to find since the vacancy rate is about 2%.  You will need to make this a full time search.  I can check the MLS but those rental listings are usually limited. Call me with your criteria.

The local newspapers are an obvious source but check their website each night to get a jump on the competition. and Also check the local newspapers and throwaways like the Beach News, Pennysaver and the supermarket freebies.

On the internet, you can search Start by clicking on the city (San Diego)

Two sites for apartment rentals are and

When you go through the newspapers, make a list of all the rental and property management companies and their phone numbers, even those who do not have the exact rental you want.  If they are advertising in the general area you want, call them. They might have something they are not advertising or that they just got in. Call them back every 2-4 days.  There are so many renters and not enough rentals, you have to go after them.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Post notices and check on all bulletin boards: work, school, all the churches in the area, grocery stores etc.

Drive around the areas you would like.  The signs that go up don't last so that is a lot of work. That is why you should ask everyone you talk to.  Get your network going for you.

When you find an address you like, check it out on You can tilt and rotate the view to see 3D terrain and buildings. It is a free download.

Check my site at for some good general info on renting along with several online rental sites. It is near the end of the Real Estate section.

I hope this helps in your search. 

Of course you may be able to buy a home and get a great tax advantage.  Uncle Sam is willing to pay up to 30% of your mortgage and property taxes.  With the market rents being high and interest rates so reasonable, many people can buy for the same amount as they pay in rent.  There are some great financing programs available so that almost anyone can buy a home: even up to 103% of the home price!!!  Yes, you can even borrow your closing costs!

Call me to discuss your options at 760-436-0087.

Article:  Searching for Shelter
How Landlords Screen Tenants

By Leta Herman

It’s not just the credit report anymore
Anyone who’s tried to buy something on credit has heard the horror stories about credit report errors. Smart consumers make sure their credit reports are accurate by ordering from at least one or more of the major credit reporting systems, Experian (formerly TRW), Equifax, or Trans Union. But if you’re shopping for an apartment instead of a car, you need to understand that there’s more to tenant screening than just the standard credit report, which folks in the consumer-reporting industry call the "retail" report. Recently a reader asked the following question, which gets to the heart of the matter.

"I am unable to rent an apartment mainly due to an eviction on my record. I was evicted due to a family illness and major surgery. I recently received copies of my credit report from all three credit bureaus. I was surprised to not find any record of an eviction. One landlord also told me that I owed my former landlord money. But I didn’t see this on my credit report either. Where do landlords see this information, and how can I get an apartment with the eviction on my record?"

Whether you like it or not, when you fill out your next rental application, your landlord is probably going to run a credit check on you. In the old days, your landlord might have been satisfied with your retail credit report, which usually contains information about your credit cards and car loans but nothing about your rental history.

But times have changed. Nowadays, landlords work with consumer-reporting agencies that specialize in "resident screening," which is a much more in-depth probing of a tenant’s personal history. It might include prior evictions or even negative landlord references.

"Our reports contain your history as a tenant, just like a credit report shows your history as a borrower," says Edward Byczynski, president and general counsel for the National Tenant Network, Inc., a nationwide tenant-screening agency based in Oregon ( "They contain public record data on evictions as well as lease violation information." Your prospective landlord can even pay an agency to search for any possible criminal history in your background, though few landlords do this because it is costly and more difficult from a legal standpoint.

Little White Lies

Why are landlords paying more money for all this information? "There’s a lot of creative writing on applications," says Gene Gayda, landlord and president of the New Hampshire Property Owners Association, which maintains a helpful landlord/tenant law web site ( "In the past tenants could float a good story and most landlords weren’t sophisticated enough to check up on it. Now, as more and more landlords are getting on the bandwagon and using these services, it’s changing the rules."

Tenant-screening services give landlords access to information that they couldn’t practically obtain themselves. "A lot of times tenants provide false information to landlords," says William Stergios, a landlord and co-owner of The Landlord Connection, Inc. (, which provides tenant screening for landlords in New Hampshire. "Now if a tenant puts down his mother’s phone number, the landlord can verify that phone number."

All this information can be faxed over to your landlord within an hour after the order is placed. And most landlords pass on the cost of the reports to tenants by charging application fees. "Landlords are doing a lot more screening," says Jennifer Strawn, staff vice president of member services, California Apartment Association. "We recommend that landlords get a combined report that includes a search for evictions and not just a retail credit report."

But what does this mean for renters? If you’re the type who always pays your rent on time and has never had a dispute with your landlord, you’re probably going to pass your credit check. But what if there’s a mistake on your report? We, as tenants, can’t be satisfied with a review of our retail credit reports anymore. With local agencies in every part of the country, it’s nearly impossible to review our records in every database in the nation. Even locally we may have five or more of these agencies keeping different sets of data - a credit-reporting nightmare if a mistake turns up somewhere.

A recent trend in the industry is making it even harder for tenants. Reporting agencies that provide resident screening are consolidating across the nation, says Norm Magnuson, vice president of public affairs for the Associated Credit Bureaus, Inc., the credit-reporting industry group in Washington, DC. "It’s similar to where retail credit reporting was in the late 60s," says Magnuson. "The industry was dominated by regional bureaus. But they needed a more comprehensive nationwide system. That’s the movement in the tenant-screening area. If a tenant has worked his way across the country by skipping out on landlords and not paying rent, landlords want to know that."

Companies like the National Tenant Network have always worked on a national scope. Others, like First American Registry based in San Diego, are in the process of buying regional companies throughout the country to provide nationwide service.

As more companies like First American Registry expand their databases nationwide, tenants will find it increasingly more difficult to cover up a bad rental history by moving to a new region of the country. Luckily for renters though, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires landlords to tell you which consumer-reporting agency they used if they rejected you due to something on the report. You then have the right to get a free copy of the report, if you request one within 60 days of the rejection. Getting a free copy probably won’t help you get back the apartment you just lost. But at least you’ll be better informed the next time you apply for an apartment. And if there are any mistakes on the report, you can make sure they get corrected so you won’t have the same problem in the future.

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Donna "Sunshine" Smith  SFR, Realtor

Dennis Smith, ABR, SRES, e-PRO, CDPE, Realtor

Local  760-436-0087    Cell/Text:  760-212-8225

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