How it Works
Once you hire a real estate agent to help you find rental properties, they will first help you to find the right neighborhood, unit size, as well as price range, among other details. With that information, they will then present you with a list of available properties and take you to view them.
If you've already chosen the neighborhood that you want to live and your preferred property size, your real estate rental agent will send you some listings that align with what you are looking for. Also, the agent may offer to take you to view the properties, depending on the agreement.
The number of available rental properties will determine how fast you find a place that you like. If there are numerous available properties for rent, then you will find a place that you will like within a few days. And you may not even need to hire a real estate rental agent.
On the other hand, if there is a limited supply of available rental units, then you may end up spending weeks or even months. In such a situation, a real estate agent who understands the neighborhood will come in handy.
Pros of Working with a Realtor
You may be probably asking yourself whether to do house hunting on your own or hire a real estate rental agent. Well, hiring a realtor to help you find a rental property will save you a significant amount of time and stress. Here are some situations that may require you to hire a realtor when looking for rental property.
- You live in a large city or area: If you are looking for a rental property or apartment to rent in large cities like San Francisco and New York, hiring a realtor is paramount. In these large cities, you will have to dig through thousands of units and then book appointments for unit tours. As you can see, the entire process can be tiring and time-consuming. Furthermore, there is a high number of renters in these cities, which translates to high competition for the available units. Real estate rental agents already know where the best available units are, since they have access to multiple listings. So, when you hire them to help you find available rental properties, you will save yourself a great deal of time, stress, and energy.
- You are moving to a new city: When you relocate to a new city, you will have to find a place to live or start a business. However, the entire process of finding the right property can be overwhelming and challenging, since you are not familiar with the surroundings. In such a situation, hiring a real estate rental agent who already knows the available houses, homes, apartments and other rental properties can come in handy.
- You are finding it difficult to schedule a property tour: You might sometimes find it difficult to schedule a property tour, due to various reasons. For instance, your work schedule may be tight or you may be engaged to other commitments, making it hard to create time for a property tour. A real estate rental agent can negotiate with the property manager and help you to schedule a property tour. Having a renowned realtor representing you helps to add some credibility while presenting you as a serious client.
- You are a first-time renter: While most people can find a rental property on their own and go through the paperwork without any problems, the process can feel overwhelming, especially for first-time renters. So, if you are renting an apartment, a house or business premises for the first time, you should engage the services of a real estate rental agent. The agent will help you to understand the lease details. They will explain the terms in detail and the risks involved. Also, they will help you to acquire and draw the documents you will need such as bank statements, W-2s, photo ID and pay stubs, among others.
- You are looking for a single-family home: Single-family homes tend to have a higher demand, compared to other rental properties. Once they become available, they are snapped up quite fast. So, if you are looking for a single-family home, you may find it extremely hard to find them or even schedule a tour or showing, compared to apartment buildings. But with a real estate rental agent, you will find it easier and faster to land one, since these agents have access to numerous multiple listing services. Therefore, they will know immediately a single-family house becomes available and they will even help you to schedule a tour faster.
A realtor may also help you to negotiate the rent. If you are not conversant with current market rates, you may end up paying more rent than you should. And this is where a real estate rental agent comes in. They already know the market rates for the different areas and neighborhoods. So, they will guide you through the entire process and cushion you against greedy property managers. Also, they will help you to avoid rental scams.
Cons of Working with a Realtor
Real estate agents will save you a significant amount of time and stress when you are looking for rental properties. However, they also have their downside, just like everything else.
First, you will have to pay for their services. And the fees vary from one location to the other. In competitive markets like New York, real estate brokers usually charge approximately 10% of a property's annual rent.
And this cost is usually passed down to the tenant or renter. So, if you are looking for a rental property in Boston or New York, you may end up spending approximately $2,000 or even more on broker fees. You may be asked to pay this fee upfront or it may be deducted from your monthly rent.
In some areas, the real estate agent will split the cost with the tenant. Whichever the case, you will end up spending more than you would have if you had looked for the rental property on your own.
So, if you intend to hire a real estate rental agent, make sure you discuss the fees first before signing any agreement. Also, ensure you understand all the details of the arrangement such as how they are going to help you find a rental property as well as how much they expect to be paid for the service.
Second, some real estate agents tend to take up one too many clients, in an attempt to earn as much commission as possible. If you are unfortunate enough to hire such an agent, their attention will be divided among the several clients, which means you may not get value for your money.
Third, some real estate rental agents tend to engage in unscrupulous behaviors like offering a rental unit to several clients and then offering it to the person who will pay first, as opposed to one who is best suited for it. Some employ another underhand tactic known as "bait and switch", where they advertise a "no-fee" property in an attempt to lure potential clients, only to reverse this provision later on and blame it on the landlord. So, if you hire such a broker, the chances of landing a good rental property will be slim.
Choosing the Right Agent
Hiring a local real estate rental agent to help you find rental properties makes sense, especially if you are a first-time renter, you live in a large city, you are relocating to a new time or you are looking for a single-family home. Also, the pros of hiring a real estate agent outweigh the cons by far.
Real estate rental agents have access to MLS databases, which provide up-to-date information on available units. Also, they have the experience and skills needed to navigate this process.
However, you need to ensure that you choose the right agent. But with thousands of real estate rental agents out there, how do you ensure that you choose someone who will offer value for money? Well, here are some steps that can help you to find a reliable, experienced and trustworthy real estate rental agent.
- Ask around: If you are looking for a rental property in your city, then you can ask your friends, colleagues, family members or anyone within your network to recommend a reliable real estate rental agent. In case you've just moved to a new city or area, then you can use the internet to search for local real estate agents.
- Dig deeper: After creating a list of potential real estate agents, you should then go a step further and evaluate them, to determine whether they are the right fit for your needs. The National Association of Realtors maintains a database of all the registered real estate agents. So, you simply need to visit their website and check your area code. From there, you can then check their reviews.
- Choose one: After narrowing down your choices, you will be left with two to three potential candidates, whom you may want to work with. At this point, you should then go a step further and conduct a simple interview. You can call them and arrange a physical meeting. You should then use the meeting to assess their level of experience, their expertise, the success rate as well as their communication skills.
A great real estate rental agent should take the time to ask questions and listen to you. They should also be willing to match your needs and expectations, to the available units. Also, a good real estate rental agent should know their area of operation well, the neighborhood, rental rates and any other relevant information, so that they can guide you accordingly.
Working With the Real Estate Agent
After hiring your preferred real estate agent, you should not expect them to do everything. Your input will also be required, regardless of how experienced the realtor is or how much you are paying for the services. If you want the entire process to be smooth and fast, then you should consider the following tips:
- Communicate your expectations clearly: Your real estate agent or broker will only help you to find the property you are looking for if you are clear about your expectations. Expecting your realtor to accurately figure out what you are looking for without any input from your end is not realistic. So, ensure you clarify everything from the start.
- Communicate your timelines early enough: If you are planning to move into your next rental unit within a month, you should ensure you hire a real estate agent who can accomplish that. You also need to communicate those timelines to them, to eliminate any confusion.
- Be professional: As much as you are paying for the service, it doesn't mean you should treat your realtor as you want. You need to remain professional and courteous all through. So, make sure you show up for meetings on time, reply emails and texts promptly and communicate professionally.
- Clarify the fees: Before you hire a realtor to help you search for a rental house, you first need to clarify how much you will pay them and when. And you should insist the pricing structure be presented in a signed document.
- Put your paperwork in order: If your real estate rental agent will be handling all the paperwork, then should ensure that all the relevant copies are available when needed. Doing this will save time for everyone.
Whether you decide to work with real estate rental agents or you do the house hunting alone is all a matter of personal choice. Each method comes with its fair share of pros and cons. But if you are moving to a new city or neighborhood, then it will be highly advisable to hire one.