Are you starting to feel cramped in your apartment? Are you ready to start a family but not ready for homeownership? Did the housing crash leave you skeptical about buying a home?

If so, you might want to consider renting a single-family home. The single-family rental market has exploded since the housing crash—many of these homes were bought as foreclosures or short sales and converted to rentals.

Renting a single-family home is similar to renting an apartment. Landlords will conduct a credit check and a background check, and they will also typically ask for a security deposit. Often, though, your lease will require you to do more maintenance than you would need to do in an apartment, such as keeping the yard neat and shoveling snow.

A single-family rental home usually commands a higher rent than a comparable apartment of the same size because of extra space it provides.

Where can I find a single-family rental?

According to the National Association of Home Builders, single-family detached homes make up 29 percent of the nation’s rental housing stock, but most single-family rentals are concentrated in markets where there have been a large number of foreclosures.

In addition, a recent USA Today analysis of census data found that at least one-fifth of all occupied single-family homes were rentals last year in 32 of the nation’s top real estate markets.

The data shows that California offers the most opportunity for consumers looking to rent single-family homes, as seven out of the top 10 single-family markets are in the state, including Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield, San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Sacramento. These markets have the largest shares of occupied single-family homes that are rented.

Cities outside of California that made the list include Honolulu, Las Vegas, and Cape Coral, Fla.

How should I shop for a single-family rental home?

If your city didn’t make the top 10, don’t worry—most cities and suburbs have some single-family rentals available. Drive through neighborhoods where you would like to live and keep an eye peeled for “For Rent” signs. Often, you can find an available property before it’s advertised online.

You can also check out your local newspaper’s website and your local Craigslist ads. Both places will feature listings for a large selection of single-family homes for rent, varying widely by size, price, and location.

If you want to find a rental home that is just being rehabbed to go on the market, contact leading real estate investment companies in your area that buy, rehab, and rent out former foreclosures. You can find these investors and investment companies by reviewing recent foreclosure sales registered with your county. Learn the names of local real estate investors and the neighborhoods in which they are active. Then, find out if they have any properties for rent or if they expect to have any soon.

By indicating an interest and committing to rent a property before it’s advertised, you can save the owner some marketing costs, and he or she might pass the savings along to you in the form of a discounted first month’s rent.

Property management companies that manage and advertise rentals for property owners are another good place to look. Some advertise solely on their websites, while others advertise on major rental sites like Rent Jungle,, and

No matter where you look, be sure to do your due diligence. Research the neighborhood to ensure it’s where you want to live, and compare available rentals so you know you’re getting a fair deal.

Steve Cook is executive vice president of Reecon Advisors and covers government and industry news for the Reecon Advisory Report. He is a member of the National Press Club, the Public Relations Society of America, and the National Association of Real Estate Editors, where he served as second vice president. Twice he has been named one of the 100 most influential people in real estate. In addition to serving as managing editor of the Report, Cook provides public relations consulting services to real estate companies, financial services companies, and trade associations, including some of the leading companies in online residential real estate.

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