6-Month Leases And You

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In my time working as a Real Estate Agent for Housing Scout, I have come across many clients interested in 6-month leases. Their reasons and situations vary, but there are three common reasons for people to get a 6-month lease:

  • Study Abroad – “I am going to be studying abroad in either the Fall/Spring, and I need a one-semester lease.”
  • Graduation – “I am graduating in December, and I will be moving back to Dallas/Houston/San Antonio afterward.”
  • Personal issues – “My roommate and I are about to axe murder each other. I need to find a new place for next semester.”

All of these are understandable. If I were graduating in December and immediately taking a job out of state, I wouldn’t want to have to deal with sub-leasing an apartment on top of everything else.

So, to try and dispel some misinformation–and also to try and offer some solutions–for my clients and for my fellow agents, I will try to paint you a realistic picture of what a short-term lease will mean around the University of Texas, and the City of Austin.

6-month leases in West Campus are non-existent

Six-month leases in West Campus do not exist. And this is not an exaggeration. (I have searched far and wide.) The demand for property in West Campus is so high–from students and non-students alike–that properties have little incentive to offer them anymore. Let me explain why:

Longer leases are better for the leasing companies because they ensure revenue going their way for longer period of time. If there is enough demand, there would be little reason for a company to offer shorter leases and have to deal with the hassle of filling another six-month lease. It just wouldn’t make any sense. If they did offer any six-month leases, it would almost certainly come with a significant markup in price–to compensate for the shorter lease and potential loss of money. (I’ll touch more on this later.)

But yeah, basically, there are only 12-month leases in West Campus. If you absolutely need a shorter lease, then you have two options available to you.

Option #1 – Subleasing

Because Austin is such a growing city, and because the University of Austin is so enormous, there will always be people looking for shorter leases. Sometimes, the easiest solution is to find your sub-leasing Cinderella–so to speak. Find the person who will be willing to take on the second-half of your year-long lease. Find that person who is coming back from Spain in the Spring right around your December graduation. It’s just a matter of finding that special person.

I encourage clients to search Facebook groups and to ask their friends and acquaintances for potential matches. But be careful, your name is still on the lease! Be judicious when selecting potential sublessees.

Option 2 – Don’t live in West Campus

While North Campus isn’t much better, there are a few properties that offer six-month leases. The Mint Urban on Red River, for example, offers six-month leases, but with an additional $200/month rent increase. So far, that is the best deal I have found in the surrounding area. Other apartments like the Gables on 38th offer six-month leases as well, but they are marked-up about 100% from the 12-month leases. For most students, this financial up-charge is a deal-breaker.

The Ballpark over in Riverside offers six-month leases, but only to tenants who are re-signing to live there. Even over there in South Austin, shorter leases are becoming rarer and rarer.

The Far West area has been the best area I have found for UT students to find affordable 6-month leases. Three of my favorite complexes: Acacia Cliffs, Wood Hollow Apartments, and The Ridge, all offer six-month leases for free, $10/month, and $15/month respectively.

To give you an idea of what this means: a typical 2 bed/2 bath unit in Far West goes for about $1100-1200/month. In my opinion, an extra $10 or $15 per month is well worth the peace of mind of not dealing with a sub-lease.

Unfortunately, I have seen many clients be resistant to moving out to Far West because they see it as being too far from campus. And, while I see their point, I really want to insist that it is the best deal available for the time being. There is a great shuttle that picks up around the Far West apartments, and it is a quick 15-minute ride to campus. Use that commute time to reflect on how much money you’re saving on, and how much peace of mind you have with your new six-month lease.

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