A Realtor can help you, as a renter, find a suitable property to rent. How much an agent will do for you—and what you can reasonably expect them to do—will depend on their service agreement as well as norms in the location where you are looking and the amount you're willing to pay for the service. If you're asking, "Who can help me find an apartment for rent?" you can call a local Realtor or real estate agent.
By definition, a Realtor is a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors.
A Realtor can provide five essential services when helping renters find rentals:
Search available rentals and schedule showings
A Realtor can guide your search for an apartment, townhouse, home, or condo to rent. Realtors can point you toward neighborhoods that fit your criteria or apartments that meet your needs and price range. The agent will set up showings so you can view the property. If you already have details about rentals you'd like to see, the agent can send you information about new listings that meet your rental criteria.
In cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, or New York with large renter populations, renters often hire a real estate agent to find a rental. Working with a specialist such as a rental agent, also known as a leasing agent or apartment locator, can save you time and may be the only way to locate an available rental in a competitive big-city market.
Landlords list their properties with agents because they have access to large numbers of renters and can help lease properties to quality tenants. Tenants recommended by rental agents are often not qualified to purchase at the time and may need time to save or fix credit issues to get financing. As a result, they will need to rent in the meantime. This allows agents to still be of service by getting them qualified for an apartment.
In smaller cities with less demand for rental properties, leasing agents are less common. However, property owners with rentals in a community with an HOA often engage a real estate agent to help them find qualified renters. An HOA community often has specific requirements that need to be met before an individual can live in the home. A Realtor can help renters get qualified to move into an HOA community just as they would help get a buyer pre-qualified to purchase a home.
Negotiate lease terms
Beyond giving the renter a leg-up in their search, a Realtor's expertise and experience can be an asset when negotiating terms with a prospective landlord. Real estate agents know the norms in the marketplace and may have connections with many property managers who trust their judgment about a prospective tenant.
The agent can represent the tenant to ask for concessions, such as allowing a pet for a small fee, a reduced security deposit, or offering a larger deposit if the renter has credit issues. An agent can also help negotiate month-to-month rent after the initial lease term has expired or extend the lease from the beginning.
Review the small print in the lease
Once approved as a tenant, you'll need to understand all your responsibilities as a renter. A Realtor can help ensure you understand your responsibilities and those of the landlord. Your agent can help you understand these responsibilities, any penalties you may incur if you fail to meet them, the terms for your security deposit, and what happens if you break the lease. It's also best to know what to expect from the landlord.
Streamline your relocation to a new area
If you are unfamiliar with a city's neighborhoods or layout, you could be disadvantaged when searching for a rental. A local real estate agent can save you time by helping you search for areas that fit your price range and transportation needs and find the type of neighborhood that fits your lifestyle.
Protect you from rental scams
Rental scams happen in cities across the U.S., large and small. Hiring a Realtor to help you find a legitimate rental can be beneficial. A leasing agent can help you spot a potential scam and put on the brakes before issues arise. You should never be required to pay a deposit before seeing the property, which is a common scam, especially in hyper-competitive markets. Another example of a scam is when the renter is moving from a different city and has limited time to find a rental.
A real estate agent will only show you available properties listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This system assures the agent that the owner or landlord has contracted with an agent to find a qualified tenant for their property and will follow all appropriate standards and procedures involving showings, deposits, and complete the lease process to the satisfaction of both parties. With an agent involved, you can rest assured that the property is legitimate and available for rent, and you won't get scammed.
How do you find a Realtor who works with a rental property?
Start with an online search to identify properties that might be available in your price range—look at the agent's profile and check reviews. Online listings like RentSpree are 100% reliable as only Realtors with active listings on the MLS can post.
You can also find an excellent local Realtor by talking with coworkers, family, friends, or other reliable people in the area. Even if they haven't personally worked with a real estate agent, they may be able to connect you with someone who can provide a solid recommendation.
How much does a Realtor charge to help you find a rental?
Leasing agent fees vary by location.
In some situations, the landlord pays for an agent to help them find a tenant. If the renter hires an agent, they may be responsible for paying the fee, or it may be split between the two parties.
A real estate agent's fee can be equal to one month's rent or a percentage of the annual rent. If you're working with a Realtor to help find a rental, ask them how their fee is charged and who is responsible for paying.
Should you use a Realtor to help you find your next rental?
Suppose you are an experienced renter and are comfortable searching for available properties, examining the lease and understanding its terms, and working directly with the owner or property management company. In that case, you can likely navigate the rental process alone, especially if you have time.
- Are you able to locate properties in a highly competitive area? - If you're looking for a single-family home to rent, you will more than likely be working directly with the owner or a property management company and not a Realtor.
- Are you able to negotiate effectively? - If you are only looking within your price range and know the terms you want in the lease. If you don't plan on negotiating and feel comfortable signing the lease, you can find a rental yourself.
- Are you willing to pay an agent's fees - It is common to pay real estate agents a fee for helping you find a rental. If you have a tight budget and can't afford or refuse to pay a fee, you'll want to search for a rental without a real estate agent.
Working with a Realtor to find a rental can be very beneficial. At RentSpree, you can review real estate agent profiles and see what listings they have for rental properties. Through RentSpree, you also have access to a secure platform for applying to a rental property that can help you avoid rental scams. RentSpree also lets you run a credit report and review your credit score before beginning your search. This can help you understand if you qualify for an apartment or if you need to fix issues or answer questions a landlord may ask.
In addition, RentSpree conducts a soft credit pull, meaning it won't negatively impact the person's credit score. You can also acquire renter's insurance required by many landlords and property managers to ensure your belongings are covered in a disaster.