The arrival of March officially marks the beginning of house-hunting season, a process that can produce Elmer Fudd-like results for the most well-prepared prospective renter.

With the ever-growing student population, there is a larger exodus of students from the dorms and apartments each year, which makes finding affordable, conveniently located residences more and more like “hunting wabbits.”

San Luis Obispo Realty property manager Dawn Bell said 95 percent of her business is with students.

So be very, very quiet as the Mustang Daily gives you its guide to making the ordeal as painless as possible.

Get on it

The early bird gets the worm. This sentiment holds true for the housing market. As competitive as things can get in San Luis Obispo, it’s important to be in that first flood of applications.

Most real estate agents in the area agreed that renting was not a first-come, first-serve business, but extra credence is given to applications that are turned in earlier. With agencies getting a better idea of what houses will be available in the fall, students should begin their due diligence now. Rushing into a housing situation can result in any number of dire situations.

The biggest issue, according to San Luis Obispo Realty, is students not checking out the property in person. Online descriptions accompanied with a small photo can only show so much. The needs and wants of each household are unique and can best be addressed by actually seeing the property.

Be professional

The most important thing to remember is to be as organized as possible in dealings with real estate agencies.

“It goes a long way when the application is turned in with everything complete, the fees and all taken care of,” Bell said.

Penmanship may seem like a trivial matter, but an illegible or scribbled application is a warning sign for evaluators, and the same goes with face-to-face meetings.

Terry Leigan of JDR Real Estate says attitude is important when potential renters come into the office.

“I don’t care about piercings or tattoos but when someone comes in looking like they rolled out of bed, I take notice. A friendly attitude and an ironed shirt always make a good impression,” Leigan said.

Another red flag renters want to avoid is filling out rental history with roommates rather than landlords.

“Incomplete, or rental history that isn’t solid, is fishy,” Leigan explained.

Go the extra mile

A complete, early application separates the contenders from the pretenders, but what does it take to stand out from the rest of the field?

Making the bid unique rather than just another name on paper was the most common sentiment among real estate agencies. Applications with cover letters and short tenant biographies were the most memorable applications, Leigan and Bell said.

“When (applicants) take that much effort in the process, it stands to reason that they’ll take good care of the property,” Leigan said.

“Our first responsibility is to protect the homeowner. Finding responsible, mature tenants makes things that much easier,” Bell said.

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