VOLUME 2RNot Too Hot, Not Too Cold, Finding the Realtor Who’s Just RightBy Melanie GreenTo quickly find the best rental property, it’s imperative to find the right Realtor. They may not have the largest number of clients. Rather, this experienced Realtor has a solid level of service and reach to access rental condominiums and single-family homes in a particular area.

Here are some important considerations to remember when selecting a suitable Realtor:
  • Choose a likable Realtor who is open to honest conversations.
  • Ask for referrals from peers.
  • Confirm that the Realtors know the local market well.
  • Research their savviness with rental properties.
  • Prioritize Realtors that put the renter’s interests first.
  • Ensure the Realtor shows quality listings.
  • Understand what support services they offer.
  • Ensure they communicate effectively on the property owner’s behalf.
  • Read about their online reputation.

Let’s explore why these points matter so much in the home-shopping process.

The Likable RealtorRenters spend a considerable amount of time perusing vacant units that they can call home. Chemistry is key in an ongoing business relationship with any Realtor who can show them these units. Transparency, integrity and honesty are values that foster chemistry. Plus, tenants should trust and want to work with the Realtor. If the first impression from a Realtor feels uncomfortable, this person probably isn’t a good fit.

Ask for ReferralsOther renters can be a useful starting point for referrals. Keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for another. Pay attention to what types of property the Realtor partnered with other peers on and what the turnaround time was for rentals. Ask about any pitfalls along the way.

A Realtor’s role is beneficial to all—renters, landlords, sellers and buyers. Realtors are members of the National Association of REALTORS and work under a specific Code of Ethics. These guidelines confirm that they will use their expertise to provide objective opinions and advice, as needed, throughout the process. While landlords are responsible for paying for their commission, renters can experience a Realtor’s specialty services free of charge. Quality referrals will confirm these Realtors as both a tour guide and a reliable negotiator.

Local Market ExpertiseWhen it comes to rental properties, the Realtor must have local market expertise. They’ll need to know:

  • The types of tenants that live in this area
  • Employers and schools
  • Demographic information and crime rates
  • Local laws related to renters
  • Seasonal market trends

Some tenants will have very little knowledge of the area, as many people rent homes in a new area before they buy a house. They may need a Realtor who can make informed recommendations about where to live.

Savviness With Rental Properties OverallRental properties are very different from selling single-family homes or commercial buildings. Choose a Realtor with experience renting out the property owner’s specific property type. This can make a big difference in how the process goes. Generally speaking, nobody wants to be someone’s first rental listing.

“While some Realtors may not work with tenants and may instead focus on selling single-family homes, everybody needs a place to live,” said Kathy Schilling, a Platinum Agent with Abby Realty based out of North Houston, Texas.

Realtor’s Interests Come Second to RentersAlways gauge whether a Realtor will prioritize commission versus a tenant’s best fit. A suitable Realtor wants the tenant to match the landlord’s needs and vice versa. By prioritizing rentals where the tenant and property owner align, this also reduces time and background check funds wasted on the rental shopping side. The tenant can focus on realistic options as opposed to seeing homes that would not be ideal for financial, location and/or amenity reasons.

Marketing the Rental PropertyFor interested tenants to find a rental property, online marketing is important. This can include listing it on social media and the Multiple Listing Network (MLS). Some Realtors operate websites that showcase available rentals within a certain area. This could include all available condo rentals within a high-rise or investment properties spanning a larger area. Without proper marketing, a rental property will sit vacant for a longer period of time.

A vacant unit may also raise eyebrows with the tenants. Why has this unit been vacant for so long? Are there loud tenants? Smelly pets? Is there ongoing repair work needed that’s not being completed? Are appliances not being updated or maintained properly, even when not in use?

CommunicationBefore signing any contracts, ask about the Realtor’s communication style—during the showing process and after tenants have moved in. Will the Realtor provide regular updates by email, text, video chat or phone call? Can the tenant reach the Realtor by phone on weekends if there are questions? Establish communication expectations at the start of the relationship to prevent miscommunications.

Button TextSeek Online ReviewsConducting online research about a potential Realtor is integral to avoiding challenges later on. See what kind of online reviews past renters post and whether there are any news articles about the Realtor. Unfortunately, not all renters leave online reviews. Still, pay attention to patterns from those who do. If there’s a consistent theme of cons like poor communication, slow listing times or unprofessional behavior, this is a red flag.

Finding the right Realtor is an important step in connecting with the best landlords for rental properties. Of course, tenants must pass background, credit and employment checks, and should pay their rent on time. But tenants also want to find landlords who hold themselves to the same professional standards. Sometimes choosing the best Realtor is a trial-by-error decision. Just as landlords are vetted, so are Realtors. Asking for referrals, searching online reviews and confirming their past work experience can increase the likelihood of a good fit.