How Realtors Can Help You Find Rentals

A Realtor or real estate agent helps renters find suitable property to rent. How much an agent will do for you will depend on their service agreement and the amount you're willing to pay for the service.

April 9, 2024

4 min read


If you’re looking for a new rental, working with the right real estate professional can make your search a smooth experience. While you’ve likely heard the terms “real estate agent” and “Realtor” used interchangeably, you might not be aware that there’s a clear distinction between the two. 

Both can help you find a rental but each brings a different set of resources to the table. For example, one advantage of working with a Realtor is they belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and have access to a wider range of resources. With advantages like these and more, you can have confidence in their guidance which can make a huge difference in your search for your next home. 

What’s the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor?

Understanding what distinguishes a real estate agent  from a Realtor can help you make a more informed decision about which one is most suitable for your needs. 

Real estate agents

A real estate agent does much more than just send you relevant listings and show apartments. In fact, they have a wide array of responsibilities to ensure your rental transactions are successful, including:

  • Required education: Real estate agents are required to pass a state-specific exam after 100+ hours of approved real estate coursework. Once they earn their license, they need to take additional classes so they can renew it every few years. 
  • Fiduciary responsibility: Real estate agents have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of their clients, disclosing all relevant information about a property and being completely transparent throughout the entire leasing process.  
  • Staying informed about real estate market trends: Real estate agents have to stay on top of market trends and neighborhood dynamics so they can guide you toward properties that align with your preferences and budget. Given their familiarity with market trends, real estate agents can also negotiate favorable lease terms and navigate any challenges that may arise during the rental process.
  • Understanding relevant laws and regulations: Agents are required to stay up to date with local and federal laws so they can provide accurate and up-to-date information for renters regarding their rights. This knowledge allows agents to guide you through the leasing process, ensuring compliance with fair housing laws, lease agreements, and other legal requirements.
  • Marketing properties: As part of their responsibilities, agents have to market rental properties by creating compelling property listings with detailed descriptions, high-quality photos, and, in some cases, virtual tours to showcase features of the rental. Marketing properties, in addition to building their own personal brand, is what enables them to grow their clientele.
  • Scheduling showings: Real estate agents need to coordinate with property owners or landlords and prospective tenants to find a suitable time that works for both of them to show ae rental. 
  • Negotiating contracts: Real estate agents are qualified to handle contract negotiations involving everything from assisting in drafting lease agreements, negotiating terms, and addressing any concerns or conditions related to the rental property. 
  • Building and maintaining a client base: Agents are continuously looking for and building new client relationships to power their business. This involves engaging in networking events, marketing their successes, and prioritizing client satisfaction in addition to their other responsibilities.


While real estate agents and Realtor share many of the same responsibilities listed above, Realtors bring several additional resources to the table that real estate agents don't have access to, including: 

  • NAR membership: The NAR is one of the largest trade associations in the country that provides a range of resources, education, and support services for real estate agents and brokers. Those that become members pledge to uphold the NAR's Code of Ethics which often exceeds those required by law. This means when you work with a Realtor, they’re committed to a higher standard of professional conduct and responsibilities. 
  • Trademarked title: You may have noticed that the term Realtor always has the capital R or is stylized in all caps. And there’s a good reason why. Only members of the NAR, who adhere to the NAR Code of Ethics and meet certain criteria, can use the term "Realtor" to describe themselves. The capitalization helps distinguish them from other real estate professionals who aren’t affiliated with the association. To earn the “Realtor” title, members need to:some text
    • Participate in local and national real estate associations, events, and activities
    • Have no record of pending bankruptcy
    • Have no record of official sanctions for unprofessional conduct
    • Pay a membership fee
  • Access to exclusive resources: As NAR members, REALTOR have access to a wealth of information such as market data, educational programs, and industry insights that non-member agents may not have at their disposal. Armed with these resources, REALTOR can offer renters valuable information, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of market dynamics, property values, and any relevant regulatory updates. 

What to know about working with a Realtor

If you decide that working with a Realtor is the route you want to take, here’s how to go about finding one and what you need to know about what fees you can expect. 

Finding a Realtor

  • Search online platforms: Real estate platforms like, Zillow, or Redfin, can help you filter your search based on REALTOR who work with rentals.
  • Ask for referrals: Personal referrals can be valuable. Ask friends, family, or colleagues if they have recommendations for REALTOR who they’ve previously worked with. 
  • Visit or contact real estate offices: Real estate offices often have recommendations of REALTOR who specialize in rentals.  
  • Use the NAR website: Visit the official NAR website and use their "Find a Realtor" tool. You can specify your criteria, including a focus on rental properties.
  • Attend local real estate events: These in-person and digital events, seminars, or workshops provide an opportunity to meet REALTOR face-to-face and discuss your rental needs.
  • Explore social media platforms: Social media platforms, especially professional networks like LinkedIn, can help you find REALTOR.
  • Ask property managers: If you're in contact with property management companies or landlords, ask for recommendations on REALTOR who assist with rental transactions.
  • Check with your local Chambers of Commerce: Your local Chamber of Commerce will have a list of accredited REALTOR.
  • Look for online reviews: Read reviews and testimonials to gauge the experiences of others who have worked with REALTOR.
  • Interview multiple Realtors: Once you have shortlisted potential REALTOR, always conduct interviews to discuss their experience with rental properties, their approach to the rental search, and any specific services they offer.

Realtor fees to be aware of

Realtors and real estate agents can both charge fees for their services, but the specific details can vary due to location, legal regulations, and if they work on a commission basis. In some situations, the landlord pays for an agent to help them find a tenant. On the other hand, if the renter hires an agent, they may be responsible for paying the fee or split it between them and the landlord. 

These fees can equal one month's rent or a percentage of the annual rent. Either way, it’s wise to ask an agent or Realtor how they calculate their fee and who is responsible for paying it. Doing so helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures a mutually beneficial working relationship. 

Pro tip: While you can negotiate the commission fee, it’s helpful to research the average commission rates in your area so you know what you’re getting into.

How to decide if you should work with a Realtor to find your rental

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should work with a Realtor or look for your rental on your own, here’s a few questions you can ask yourself that will clarify the decision-making process: 

Do I have time to conduct a thorough search?

Consider your schedule and whether you have the time to search for rentals independently. If you aren’t prepared to commit hours to the search, a Realtor can streamline the process.

How familiar am I with the local rental market?

If you're not familiar with the local rental market, a Realtor's expertise can be invaluable in providing insights into neighborhoods, prices, and available properties.

Am I able to negotiate lease agreements?

Negotiating terms with landlords or property managers can be challenging. If you're not comfortable or experienced in negotiation, a Realtor can handle this aspect for you.

Am I willing to pay Realtor fees? 

Consider your budget and whether you can afford any potential fees associated with working with a Realtor.

Do I want access to exclusive listings?

Some REALTOR have access to exclusive listings that may not be widely advertised. If you want access to a broader range of options, it’s worth working with a Realtor.

Take the next step with RentSpree

Ultimately, whether you choose to work with a real estate professional to find your rental, or pursue the search on your own will depend on your preferences, the local real estate market dynamics, and your specific needs and priorities. 

Once you've found your next home, it's time to get your application in order and put your best foot forward. If you're ready to apply to the home of your dreams, consider using RentSpree's easy and online Rental Application to get started. Apply now.


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