SACRAMENTO (CBS) — A one-bedroom in Midtown Sacramento can cost as much as $1,600 a month, while in Elk Grove and Folsom, it can cost $1,300.

With fewer homes on the market in our region, finding a place to call home in California can cost a fortune.

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Sacramento has plenty of potential places to live, but in today’s competitive renters market, one should be savvy. It takes more than just a phone call to land the perfect place.

For an advantage, Tami Pardee, owner of Santa Monica-based Pardee Properties, says rental hunters need to cast a narrow net and focus on a specific area.

Her first tip: Go old school.

“You need to walk through the neighborhood you want to live in. There are still a lot of people that just put a sign up in front of their house and that is all they do. The reason that they do that is they are probably living in one of the units and they want to hand select their tenant. So, get out there and go old school and see what is going on,” Pardee said.

Once the search has been narrowed down to a neighborhood, Pardee’s second rental tip is to treat the rental search like a job search.

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“You need to do a cover letter; you need to tell them about yourself. They want to know who will be living in their place,” Pardee said. “Have some emotion in it. Have something funny in it about your family, about who you are, where you grew up.”

Like a job search, meet the landlord in person and make sure the application is complete. And just like a job interview, follow up with a thank you note, Pardee said.

“There is a lot to say about people that do go in and they tell the story about them and there is a personal aspect to it, people want that,” Pardee said.

“Having that relationship is really important.”

Finally, Pardee’s third tip is to not be afraid to check out different areas.

“A house and where you live is so important. And sometimes it’s life that takes you on a different journey,” Pardee said. “So, you have to be really open to that.”

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Some sites that help rental hunters in the Los Angeles area include Westside Rentals, Zumper and Craigslist.