How Online Rental Applications Differ: Realtors vs. Property Managers

If you’re looking for your next rental, you may be wondering whether to work directly with the property manager or whether to find a real estate agent to represent you. Learn more about the process with each, including the differences you’ll find in the rental application, then decide whether renting from a Realtor vs. a property manager is the right move for you.

March 29, 2017

3 min read


When you are looking to rent an apartment, chances are you will either go through a property management company or a real estate agent. But what are the differences between the two? What benefits do each provide? Because they work in similar fields and often perform similar tasks (e.g. tenant verification and collecting online rental applications), it is easy to get a property management group confused with Realtors. Here are the basics of each so you can make the best decision when you’re renting your next apartment.

What’s the Difference?


When dealing with a rental property, real estate listing agents are usually hired by landlords to find renters for their property. This includes listing and marketing the property as well as open houses and showings. The agent is mainly responsible for finding a suitable tenant for the landlord’s property. In turn, the landlord will deal with the management of the property, which includes maintenance, rent collection, and policies. Agents get their income from commission fees from the deal.

The agent is in charge of collecting online rental applications, and will occasionally conduct their own tenant verification. However, they can also put the burden of screening tenants on the landlord.

In addition, it is important to know that the landlord hired the Realtor in order to get the best possible deal for their property. Because they work for the landlord, the listing agent will not necessarily have your best interests in mind. We would recommend you hire a Realtor to fight for your side. You will not have to pay for the agent, as they get a portion of the commission from the landlord as well.

Property Management

tenant verification

Property owners that do not wish to act as a landlord will hire a property management company. The property manager serves as a middleman between owner and tenant. In comparison to a landlord, a property management group will usually market their own properties and have their own listings while also collecting rent and performing property maintenance. In exchange for these services they will take a portion of the rent from the owner.

While landlords are sometimes flexible regarding policies, property management groups usually have a strict set of uniform guidelines for all of the properties they manage. Sometimes they can manage entire apartment or condominium complexes. Additionally, a property management company will employ its own tenant verification along with collecting online rental applications.

What Is Best for You?

tenant verification

Renting through a real estate agent will create a personal relationship between you and the landlord. This can be helpful in negotiating rent prices and policies (pets, adding roommates, etc.). A property management company will tend to be more rigid in these categories, although sometimes they will run promotions to save tenants money.

You can also create a relationship with the listing agent as well, which will be useful when you are ready to move out and become a buyer. Realtors have extensive knowledge of the real estate market and can provide sage advice about when/where to buy, as well as helping you with the transaction as well.

When it comes to repairs and services, a property management company will tend to be more professional and provide more reliable service than a single landlord would. This is particularly useful for those who aren’t as handy as others (even if they won’t admit it). While a landlord may be more personable and understanding, you can’t expect them to be available for repairs 24/7.

While taking all these factors in consideration is necessary, the best way to get to know a property management company or landlord is to get reviews from current/previous customers. You can ask your landlord for their previous tenant’s contact information, and you can look on sites like Yelp to see reviews on a property management company as well.


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