Austin tech professional looking for housing - excellent credit.

9 Replies

Hi BiggerPockets landlords,

Not sure if this is the right place to post, but I'm a 26 y/o Fortune 500 software developer who is moving to Austin, TX.

I have:

- a senior engineering position at my company that I've held for the last few years
- a 6 figure income
- excellent credit
- excellent references
- no pets

My one problem is that 6 years ago, when I was a teenager in college, I was charged with possession of Xanax without a prescription. I was not prosecuted for it and I have a letter from my lawyer backing this up.

I have absolutely no other background issues.

Despite this, apartment complexes in Austin won't rent to me. 

I just want a studio or a 1BR in a decent area in central Austin (near my workplace), between Hyde Park and SoCo, or anywhere along the river. I have attached a screenshot of the zip codes I am interested in living in.

Can anyone help me? 

My only options seem to be very far out of town or otherwise in disrepair. I can provide documentation for everything I have stated here, and even several months of rent upfront. 

My record is currently up for absolute pardon and will be sealed in the next 8-12 months, so I just need somewhere to live for that period until I can apply for housing through normal avenues again.

Any help is very much appreciated. I had no idea that as a young girl such a stupid indiscretion would land me in this situation.

Thanks for your understanding. 

Hey Rama! I think your best place to start is renting directly from a landlord/homeowner so you can work with a real person rather than deal with corporate protocol. How do feel about garage apartments or condos? I’m happy to ask around for you. Another option might be reaching out to Airbnb hosts to see if someone would rent monthly for 8-12 months for a reasonable rate, until you can get your record sealed.

Hi Brooke!

Thanks for your response. I can't seem to find any private owners who are renting in the zone I desire, it all seems to be property management companies, which is why I came to this forum. 

I don't mind the type of place, as long as its safe, clean and in relatively good repair with some amount of sunlight being the only hard requirement. I am in the process of reaching out to Airbnb hosts as well, but the ones I've spoken to so far seem to be averse to renting their places out for a fixed rate for 8-12 months. The demand is too high to give up on potential income for them.

Any leads would be very much appreciated. I've come to a dead end on Google and the usual private owner sites (Craigslist, Realtor, Sublets, etc). They either don't respond or there's a tenant without a background issue competing. Granted, I have only been searching for a month, but came here in the hopes of making a human connection and being efficient.

@Rama N. a couple of things.  Absolutely look for a private landlord as they are not bound to corporate policy and can use judgement.  Just a couple thoughts I want to pass on to you as you look for housing.

1.  Don't be too picky about the place or the exact location as to where you want to be in Austin. The housing market is the craziest I have ever witnessed.  I own or mange for my kids 14 units in and about the Austin metro.  I would have no problem taking you but I am full up.  I just listed 2 months ago two units, one in east Austin and one in Round Rock and inside of 3 days I had over 50 applicants for each property.  So again I say to you DON"T BE PICKY.  You are not making a 10 year decision as to where you are going to live.  Worst case is 1year and if your willing to lose your deposit you can leave any day you want.  I can have any of my tenants leave in the middle of the week unannounced and I can have the unit re-rented in 3 days.  Just find a place any acceptable safe place and take it.   You then can get your feet on the ground and make a better decision going forward.

2.  This is my real question.  Even though you are 27 you seem to have matured nicely since your brain fart of old.  You should absolutely kick the rental desire out the window and become a property owner and start building wealth.  At 27 and making six figures makes me believe that you might think this is normal and will last forever.  IT WON"T.  Life throws curve balls ALL THE TIME!  Your experiencing one now but I assure you there are more coming you way.  However, you are in a position to make smart moves toward building your wealth and financial security, but renting does nothing to advance those goals.  

3.  Lastly, should you start to think about owning, DO NOT BUY A HOUSE or A CONDO!!!!   DON"T!  But do buy a DUPLEX! They are not as sexy and for a young person who wants to live for today it may not make much sense but if we have coffee and spend 45 mins I absolutely know I will convince you to buy a duplex.  I am neither a realtor or lender, just an old fart 66 yr man that enjoys talking real estate and setting young people or old on the path of building wealth and financial independence.  Good luck and Cheers! 

Hi @Joe Scaparra ! What a heartwarming comment to read, thank you so much for all that wisdom!

I have learned to not be too picky, I know that despite being a perfectly adequate tenant with preferences like any other, that this is a temporary situation. Like I said, the only hard requirement is sunlight, since I spend all of my time programming in a room and if it's dark all the time my mental health suffers.

As for home ownership, it's in the plan. The only thing stopping me from buying a home right now is the crazy inflation. I've already got enough for a down payment, but I plan on waiting it out for a year or so and saving up an even bigger one for a 700-800k place in the next 12 months. I am currently a crowdfund real estate investor on Fundrise, so it's definitely been on my mind :)

I would absolutely love to set up a 10 minute call and hear your pitch for a duplex! Never heard that one before. I suppose since you'll have more ownership, the investment is worth more? I had my heart set on a nice little condo in Austin, but a duplex sounds a lot more profitable now that you mention it.

Ideally, if I could find someone who would sell me a nice condo or duplex in central Austin in that budget range and within my preferences in this crazy market, I'd go for it. Let me know if you have leads (even for a landlord willing to offer me a temporary sublease/lease until next year)!

Thanks for your advice, really means a lot that there are still landlords who see the human behind the circumstances :)

@Rama N. @Joe Scaparra is 100% right. Why rent? Buy and rent to others. Inflation isn't going to slow down I don't believe and most likely that will only push home prices and especially rents higher. I'm buying as much as I can right now and am also under contract on my next duplex to househack in Austin that I will cover most of the mortgage with by doing a monthly rental on the other side while I live there. I've been househacking since 2016 and have made out well. I don't need to, but I like the lower expenses and money I make!

@Rama N. I agree with everyone's comments and buying is definitely the route to go. While the market is hot, owning the property will pay off long term with equity AND provide you cash flow opportunities as well. If you purchase a duplex, just be willing to do some sweat equity to improve the properties and make them even more valuable. Glad you are taking action!