In your case November 12 seems reasonable. Continue looking for a place on the web sites and call them when you see something interesting. You never know what the conversation may bring up.
I myself may have a rental in Palo Alto available around that time but it is too early to tell...
â€œWhen should I plan a trip to look at house rentals in Palo Alto/ Los Altos for a late December lease start?â€
I completely agree with Terri regarding current demand; rental property throughout most of the Bay Area is a hot commodity these days and the recent modest uptick of jobs growth activity is further stoking demand. I would start immediately as soon as you are able.
â€œI would ideally like start date between December 22 - Jan 5, but I don't imagine many people move so close to holiday time, so I could start a little earlier if necessary.â€
With former owners being displaced due to distressed situations rental rates have increased and so has the use of lease contracts. From your search perspective this is not a bad thing because Landlords will be notifying tenants of any lease increases, which should lead to some additional availability that might be advertised well in advance of the lease expiration.
â€œI was hoping to come look at places the week of Nov 12, but I notice most of the stuff on Craigs list says it's available immediately.â€
Actually, I would still call these contacts, they may have other property available or may know of another Landlord that does!
â€œDoes anyone start looking for a tenant more than a month in advance?â€
Yes, the â€œword-of-mouth marketingâ€ many times comes before an ad is ever created.
â€œWhen would be the best time to come look?â€
I would say once you have a â€œleadâ€; however, I suppose it depends on whether you are local to the area or not. If you are out of area with the possibility of multiple plane trips a possibility, you might consider negotiating a mo-to-mo agreement with an "extended stay" hotel to reduce overall search expenses. See: http://san-jose-extended-stay.biz-stay.com/home.cfm?subcity=
Unfortunately, rental scams are rather prevalent these days. You have to be careful; many would-be Renters have provided deposits only to find the person who placed the ad did not even own the property and their deposit has vanished.
If you find yourself interested in a property where the owner/Landlord cannot meet in person I have a few suggestions before you provide a deposit:
a) See if you can find the property using the â€œownersâ€ name at http://www.blockshopper.com
b) Check the Countyâ€™s online public tax records to confirm the property's ownership https://www.sccassessor.org/index.php/online-services/proper
c) Drive by the property for clues regarding the propertyâ€™s habitation.
d) Contact a RealtorÂ® and ask if they can confirm any recent transaction history by the "owner".
If you do meet the "owner" in person ask to "take a quick peek" at their Driver's License to confirm identity (although, if they are a "Scammer" they might have fake one!)
In addition, you may want to also ask â€œyour Realtor friendâ€ from above to research whether a Notice of Default or Trustee Sale has been recorded, which would indicate the owner may lose the property to foreclosure. Regarding this last point see, you would have some protections via:
CA's "Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act" - need to know info!
These sites may be of help in finding a rental:
These links might also prove useful:
â€œYour Realtor friendâ€ can also perform a MLS search; however, many Landlords/Owners got straight to the web these days.
Finally, and most importantly, stay safe and don't let the need for finding a rental overpower you gut intuition!
Best of luck with your search and subsequent move.
Keller Williams Realty
And be warned that Craigslist has a lot of scammers on it so do not send them any information until you know it to be a real person and real rental.
All the best to you.