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Some condo owners are crazy….

So Girl Ninja and I continued “Operation Don’t Be Homeless” yesterday. We looked at two different rentals. They both had great potential, but one of them really won our hearts. It is a 1br/1bath condo 100ft from the ocean. It has brand new stainless steel appliances, granite counters, a great layout, a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer (which is pretty rare in small rentals here).

The asking price for the unit is $1,500, which as you know, is the maximum rent amount I’m comfortable with. For those of you who just pooped your pants ’cause $1,500 for a one bedroom seems crazy expensive, please read this article. The condo has been available since April 1st, which means it’s been vacant for almost two months.

Most of the places we have looked at become occupied within a week of being advertised. It seems a little odd that this place hasn’t followed suit. It concerned me so I called my Realtor friend who is familiar with the area. She looked at the place and thought it was about $100/month overpriced.

I gave the property manager a call and told her Girl Ninja and I would be happy to fill out an application if we could rent the unit for $1,400/month. The manager basically said the price is firm and the owners aren’t willing to reduce the rent. I left the conversation frustrated. This lady must be crazy. It has sat vacant for two months and she’s not even willing to negotiate a little? WTF?

Well, being the PF dork that I am, I came home and started crunching the numbers. I’m convinced our offer was completely fair and needed to be reconsidered. You all know I’m a huge advocate of “putting yourself out there” so I decided to send the property manager an email asking her to reconsider our offer. Here’s that email…


This is Ninja. I talked with you a few times today about the condo you have for rent. I know when we spoke earlier, you indicated the condo owners are not willing to negotiate. Girl Ninja and I are hoping you will reconsider our offer.

We both graduated from (insert college here) and have lived in San Diego for the last six years. I’ve worked for the Federal Government as a Special Agent for the last 2.5 years and Girl Ninja is an elementary school teacher. We would be the perfect tenants as we both have extremely stable careers and would never have a problem paying the rent on time. We take our financial situation very seriously and have excellent credit (mine is 760 and Girl Ninja’s is over 700 as well). We will be debt free on July 1st, when I send in my last student loan payment. Neither of us smoke, drink, or even party. We are extremely clean and quiet. Furthermore, we have excellent track records as far as renting is concerned. I have lived in my current apartment (which is a month-to-month lease) for the last 31 months and Girl Ninja has never lived in one place for less than a year.

The condo has been available since April 1st which means next week it will have sat vacant for 2 months. That’s a $3,000 loss of rental income for the owners. Sure, our $1,400/month offer may sound low at first, but if you run the numbers it really isn’t.

If the owners rented to us at $1,400 for a 6 month lease, they would be agreeing to take a $600 loss during that time. Again that may seem like a big loss, but it is a lot better than remaining vacant.

If you multiply $1,500/month by six months you get a total rental cost of $9,000. If you divide the total cost ($9,000) by the total number of days in those six months (182) the condo’s daily cost is $50.

I’m breaking the numbers down to make this point: If the condo goes unrented for another 12 days ($50/day x 12 days) the owners would incur a $600 loss of rental income, and potentially much more. With our offer they guarantee only a $600 loss. By waiting for a full price offer they risk losing thousands in rental income.

If they think they can get the condo rented within 12 days, then that is in their best interest, but if it remains on the market any longer, it would have been better financially for them to rent to us. The question is not “Is our offer too low”, but really “How long until they will find someone willing to pay full price?”

Girl Ninja and I would be more than happy to help minimize their losses by becoming the tenants, but we have to do it at a value that we feel comfortable with.

If you could at least look over the numbers and speak to the condo owners about our offer, GN and I would be forever grateful.

I’d love to talk this over with you.



There you have it peeps. It’s really hard trying to communicate financial information in an email without sounding condescending and/or redundant. How do you business folks do it?

If the condo had only been vacant for one or two weeks, I would totally understand why they’re not interested in negotiating, but it’s been available for 2 months now. I don’t expect them to accept our offer, but I personally think they would be CRAZY not to? Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask…right?

If you were the landlord how would you handle the situation? Am I overlooking something here? Or are they as stubborn as I think they are? Any advice? Do you have any negotiating stories (good or bad)?

I’ll be sure to let you know if I get a response 🙂



  1. You might be overlooking at the fact that they probably don’t NEED to rent it out. Many people refuse to lower their standards the same reasons many people rather be unemployed than work a demeaning job. I do think your email was pretty damn good though, you would have convinced me to rent to you.

    • Hmm, maybe send a smiling picture of you two in the email also. Pretty people can sometimes use their looks to their advantage 🙂

  2. Some LLs are indeed stubborn. Love the letter, agree it’s hard to strike the right tone! I might have to use yours as a template should I ever need to write anything similar.

  3. I reanted a house once and they wanted $895 a month. I told them I was really good at painting and would trade services for a $45 decrease in rent per month. The only thing they asked me to do was to fix and paint the bathroom ceiling. Well worth $540 to me considering it only took me about 4 hours and they paid for supplies 🙂

    I think your offer is very reasonable!

  4. The most important part of the letter was the fact that you’d be good tenants that wouldn’t trash the place. The other thing I would have wanted to see as a landlord is how long you’d intend on staying. It’s a big hassle and expense to rent out places, and saying you have the potential to be a long term tenant is important.

    You also don’t know what the landlord’s past history is. Who knows, the last person that they may have negotiated with them may have gotten evicted for not paying rent. They may now associate negotiators with swindlers. I’ve learned from experience that someone who asks for flexibility with first and last month’s rent has an issue with cash flow that will eventually catch up to them.

    I’m glad you sent the letter. Good Luck.

  5. Ninja, the numbers don’t lie. The landlord should be smart enough to want it rented now and coming down $100 after 2 months is most certainly resonable. I hope you get the place it sounds wonderful for you guys. Question: if the landlord won’t budge, will you buck up and pay the $1500 a month? Will you kick yourself to let this one go over $100 a month?

  6. Nice letter, sounds very professional. Mary makes a great point. Is 100/mo or 1200/year worth the cost, given how much you like the place? It’s just something to think about as you continue on your condo search.

  7. Here in DC, some landlords won’t negotiate down because they’re subject to rent control laws that dictate how much they can raise their rent each year. If they give even a penny, it compounds each year in the future and ultimately affects the long-term earning potential of the property.

    Sometimes, they’ll be willing to give a month free (or something like that) if you sign a longer lease. Have you considered that?

  8. great letter, and i think the landlord will come to your side, unless as posted earlier, they are in no rush to rent it at a lower price. if they dont need to rent it for income, then i dont think you will see them budge. if thats the case, and you love the condo, spend the extra 100 a month and cut out 100 from your expenses somewhere, or just earn an extra 100 from your blog each month =) hope you get the place!

    Preferred Financial Services

    • I’ve thought about the “what do I do if they don’t accept my offer” It is only a $100 bucks difference which Girl Ninja and I could afford. But I’m kind of stubborn and it will be a cold day in hell before I pay above market value on a place. The landlords clearly have the right to deny our offer, but I think the fact that it has gone unrented for 2 months makes it pretty obvious they are overpriced. If the place was a great value for the money it would have rented long ago. I’ll still keep my eyes on it, but GN and I still have 6 weeks to browse.

      • You want to be certain that that’s the sole or primary reason it’s not being rented. Are there any other issues that might steer people away? I wrote a lengthy comment on this very issue 1-2 months ago if you can dig it up.

  9. 100 feet from the ocean -sweeeet!

    I was watching one of those property shows on HGTV last week and they featured this single woman who really wanted a certain condo but couldn’t afford the high price. This woman then wrote a letter to the owner along with her offer and explained her situation as a single woman who just moved to California, blah blah. Well, they had several offers on the home, but the owner went with her because of the personal touch. (her offer was not the highest either.)

    So, your letter definitely cannot hurt.

    Good luck!!!

    • @Everyday: We did something similar — when we made the offer on our current home, as our Realtor knew the owner was sentimental about it because it was his childhood home. We were newly married, had roots in the community AND the home was located very close to our parents’ houses. That gave us the edge, and our offer was accepted.

      @Ninja: I think you absolutely did the right thing. Does the apartment include utilities in the rent? I do find it strange that being 100 feet from the beach that it’s still not rented out. I would be suspicious.

      • We did this too – our current landlord was selling, so she recommended us as tenants to a friend across the street. The friend was so glad that we were recommended, but it was $100 too much. DH is a great talker & went to meet her; they had some good conversations and as details about our lives came out she liked us & agreed to drop the rent. DH didn’t plate a story, he was just matter of fact like Ninja’s letter. It’s hard to say no to someone you kind of know!!!

  10. I’m also curious is san deigo has rent control? I have a nagging feeling your email won’t work, but I hope that I’m wrong!

    Our budget was 1500 too, but we are paying 1595 to be right near the beach in a 1 bdrm too. Don’t you love california rent prices?

    • Baby Ninja’s aren’t in our near future (still 2 years out), but if for some reason we have a honeymoon baby, we will be okay. The lease is only six months, so even if she got pregnant we could move out and find a bigger place before we had to worry about that financial burden….oops I mean bundle of joy 🙂

  11. Great idea! The only thing they can do is say no. I always feel like we should be open to negotiate everything. The landlord has all the power. They can say no. They can list it for more. They can offer deals. Why cant the future renter do the same?

    All they can do is say no. And if they say yes- BEACHFRONT!!!

  12. The only problem I see is that if you’re getting married in August, the place is still vacant until then – unless you move in by yourself starting in June. And if they consent to your offer, you’ve pretty much locked yourself in, which means you might have a problem if you found something nicer in the new few weeks. Still, new appliances, a dishwasher, *and* a washer/dryer in the unit? I’d go for that, even at $1500.

    • I’m glad you picked up on that. You’re right. I would be moving in before our August wedding. Girl Ninja would move in after. We definitely don’t want to jump the gun, sign a lease, and then find something even better a week from now. But at the same rate, we don’t want to pass this place up only to find crappier options.

  13. In our last place we wanted to get a 2nd dog, but our lease had a limit of 1. We called our landlord (management company) and asked if we could get a 2nd one, the answer came back no.

    So we did a little stalking. We found the name of the owners of our property on our county auditor’s website. (An uneeded but interesting Google of the name, turns out it was a local juvie court judge and his wife). So we wrote a letter addressed directly to them, and basically said, “Look, we’re good tenants, we have already picked out the dog and it’s a good dog, and we’re stubborn as hell, which you can tell because we tracked you down on the Interwebz” and asked the management company to send it to them. (We had their home address but felt that would be a little TOO forward).

    It worked, they called back and said we could have the second dog. Turns out they were unaware our lease even included any pets at all.

    Unfortunately the adoption of the 2nd dog fell through. It was through mutual friends who were fostering him, not a shelter, and the original owners decided they wanted him back before we could finalize things.

    But point being, letter writing can work! Living proof, people!

  14. I hope the property manager isn’t the one holding firm. Since they usually make their money as a percentage of the rent, they might just be being greedy and not even telling the property owners about lower offers. I hope the letter makes it through though.

    I thought your offer was more than reasonable! As someone who rented out the spare bedroom for 2 years, I would totally appreciate a personal letter! That would have sealed the deal for me. Good luck!

  15. Why would you not be eager to get money? Even if you honestly don’t need it you could set it aside. I don’t see why they wouldn’t rent to you. I agree the letter is a great idea. On a personal note I recently spoke with someone about making a purchase. I had purchased from his person before ( on ETSY)and bought something at a reasonable price about 43.00 (with shipping) and I go to buy the same thing for a friend’s birthday and find the price has gone up to 50.00 for the item so 53.00 with shipping! Eek was my though so I asked and since I had been a previous customer the owner lowered it back to what I paid! Yippie. I thought Ninja would be proud. 🙂

  16. After a psycho landlord experience, I would never give out that much information about yourself, particularly where you work. Yikes!

    They ask for those references and for your work so they can harass them if there is a (perceived) problem. Last thing you need is some crazy landlord calling your boss every day.

  17. Just a thought, but could it be that the owner needs the $1500 to cover a mortgage on it? They already are out $3000 but the $1500 might be a slim margin for them. It could be they can’t rent it for less.

  18. Some people are just stubborn even when it doesn’t make sense and even makes them look stupid. Good luck, I hope they reconsider!

  19. I agree, it never hurts to ask. I think your letter has some good points in it (but is also massively long). If your max is $1500 though, why hold out for $1400? Assumming it has good parking along with it 🙂

    • Yeah I’m known to be a little wordy. The parking situation isn’t the best, just one spot reserved in a pretty busy area. And the storage situation is pretty lame as well. Those are the two negatives. I’m holding out ’cause our realtor said it is overpriced and I don’t want to be charged more than the place is worth.

  20. I think it was a great letter. As a landlord, I would snatch you guys in a heartbeat. If my property has been vacant for 2 months and someone was offering me $100 less than asking, I’d be happy. Maybe they aren’t in a hurry to rent it but I think it is ridiculous they are refusing to accept $100 less. You aren’t even asking for a 10% discount. Hey, if you guys decide to move to Atlanta, I have a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse will full basement that I’ll rent to you for $1200. 🙂

  21. I have to add, as a landlord myself, I wouldn’t necessarily be over eager to sign a tennant to a 6 month lease. In Florida, such a short term is usually a reason to ask $100 more a month, not give a $100 discount. It is a PITA to find a new tennant, and expensive. From the landlord perspective, you want a good tennant, but you want someone to stay a lonnng time.

  22. What a short lease! I agree with the other comments, that the landlord would be crazy not to accept your offer. There’s a show on HGTV about home owners who cannot accept that their home is worth less than their asking price. Some people are just overly attached to what they think their place SHOULD sell or rent for. But I do hope you get it! Keep us posted!

  23. […] Some condo owners are crazy…. – Punch Debt in the Face […]

  24. I was asking for $1400 for the rental I own. The tenant offered less but the realtor also said she wanted a two year lease.
    I offered 2yr with a right to renew for 2 more at same price.
    Last tenant was there 10 years, at $1200. If over that time I lost $100/mo on average (if increases were linear) it was well worth the $1200/yr loss to not have turnover, not to mention he was older with grown kids.
    All landlords have different approaches depending on their own situation. Some with multiple units just push rents to max and average it out. I prefer the long term tenant. By the time her kids are off to college, the mortgage will be paid. I hope the market rate is up enough so she can choose between $1400 for this 3Br, or not much less$ for very small place.

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