While real estate agents often exclusively service those in the market to buy or sell a home, some can also be excellent resources for assisting renters in finding their dream apartments, condos or rental homes. In fact, having a real estate agent in a large, highly competitive market such as New York, Los Angeles or Chicago can give a renter a huge advantage in his or her search.
In addition to listings that can easily be uncovered in simple Internet searches, these agents also have access to rental listings included in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database, as well as unlisted units coming on the market.
Beyond giving renters a leg up in their search, real estate agents can also be a powerful asset when negotiating terms with future landlords. Agents can work with you to ensure that you’re getting the best price for your rental, as well as help you obtain better terms, including reduced security deposits or credits for work that may need to be completed prior to your move-in.
The easiest way to find a real estate agent who also services renters is to check local rental listings online or in your community newspaper. Keep an eye out for listings posted by real estate firms rather than property management companies or individual landlords. Once you find a real estate agent who has posted a listing that appeals to you, get in touch with him or her via phone or email, and ask about the listing that you’ve found, as well as comparable listings that they may also be aware of. From there you can have your agent set up showings for you just as you would for a sale property.
While agents can be amazing assets for future renters, be sure to discuss fees up front. In some markets, the renter is responsible for covering agent fees, while in others, fees are covered by the entity listing the property.