Love it, Lease it: Need a Home to Rent? Where’s The Best Place to Look?

Looking for a rental and don’t want to waste your time? Skip Craigslist and check out local brokers.

If you want to rent a single-family home, sometimes the best way to find one is to drive around in the neighborhood you want to move to and look for a “For Lease” sign with a hand-written telephone number.

Sure, it’s time consuming and uses a ton of gas, but it’s better than combing through the crappy pictures on Craigslist, right? But what if you’re looking to rent in an area where “For Lease” signs are shunned. What if you don’t have time to tote a kid around while you drive up and down blocks looking for your next lease? What if you’re looking in a very specific area for very specific reasons, such as a school district? Where can you look?

I took my hypothetical family and their school-age child and decided to find them the perfect rental in Highland Park ISD using nothing other than my MacBook and coffee.

My first stop was Craigslist. That didn’t last too long. No matter what kind of search terms you plug in, you could end up looking at rentals in Allen or Southlake, which are both good communities, but alas, they are not in the Highland Park ISD attendance zone.

Next, I decided to try Zillow. Yes, it’s a national website, but the mapping feature makes it easy to find a home inside Highland Park or University Park. It doesn’t allow you to search for homes in specific school districts, which would be much more helpful. But, with the map feature, you get to see where the rentals are in relation to one another, which does help to identify more desirable areas.

After that, I decided to try some local brokerages. First stop was Clay Stapp & Co. I love the clean design of the site, and while you can narrow your search by Zip Code, you still can’t search by school district, which would be much easier for our hypothetical home renters.

Next I tried Keller Williams Elite and Allie Beth Allman & Associates. These two brokerages specialize in the Park Cities, so I was kind of surprised that they both use the same MLS info you can get from NTREIS rather than something a bit more custom. However, you can search for homes inside the Highland Park ISD attendance area, which is an excellent feature! No time wasted whatsoever!

Still, I wanted to see if I could push the envelope. Not only did I want our hypothetical family to live inside Highland Park ISD, I wanted them to live inside the Bradfield Elementary attendance zone. Lucky for them, the Ebby Halliday site lets you search not only by school district, but by school, too.

It was on their site that I found 3414 Asbury. It’s a two-story duplex with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and a great backyard. It’s practically new on the inside and rents, appliances included, for $2,900 a month, which, considering the cost of private schools, is a great price. I hope our family likes it!

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  • Hi Joanna: Good post on finding a rental within a certain school district. If you have the Zillow iPhone or iPad App, you can draw your own search within the boundaries you desire. For example, if you're trying to stay within a certain school district or you want to live in a certain x block square of homes, you can search that way using those Zillow apps and drawing it right on the screen. Here's more about the feature: http://www.zillow.com/blog/2011-11-29/draw-your-own-search-on-zillow-iphone-and-ipad-apps/

    Thanks for including Zillow in your search!

  • Hi Joanna: Good post on finding a rental within a certain school district. If you have the Zillow iPhone or iPad App, you can draw your own search within the boundaries you desire. For example, if you're trying to stay within a certain school district or you want to live in a certain x block square of homes, you can search that way using those Zillow apps and drawing it right on the screen. Here's more about the feature: http://www.zillow.com/blog/2011-11-29/draw-your-own-search-on-zillow-iphone-and-ipad-apps/

    Thanks for including Zillow in your search!

  • Allie Beth and Virginia Cook have good listing features with good information and pictures, but Ebby's website seems to be the best especially when you are looking with very specific and narrow parameters.

  • Allie Beth and Virginia Cook have good listing features with good information and pictures, but Ebby's website seems to be the best especially when you are looking with very specific and narrow parameters.

  • That house is a beer garden/pizza parlor for frat boys walking to SMU. Nasty. Rocks instead of grass in the back with outdated everything inside. Internet pics are deceiving. Get a Realtor. Unless you are into slumming.

  • That house is a beer garden/pizza parlor for frat boys walking to SMU. Nasty. Rocks instead of grass in the back with outdated everything inside. Internet pics are deceiving. Get a Realtor. Unless you are into slumming.

  • We have been seeing lots of families opt for apartments too. you can always search our apartment database for free! http://www.uptownlocators.com Our business is nothing but rentals and we don't limit ourselves just to apartments. All of our agents are licensed Realtors so you get a little bit more bang for you buck from to talking to an agent who is specialises in rentals and see everything in the amrket and not just what our local MLS has.

  • We have been seeing lots of families opt for apartments too. you can always search our apartment database for free! http://www.uptownlocators.com Our business is nothing but rentals and we don't limit ourselves just to apartments. All of our agents are licensed Realtors so you get a little bit more bang for you buck from to talking to an agent who is specialises in rentals and see everything in the amrket and not just what our local MLS has.