A common misconception I find is that many people do not realize that real estate agents can help clients not only when they’re looking to buy or sell a property, but when they’re looking to rent, as well. Not all agents will work with rentals, but I do!
How does a real estate agent help when working with renters?
The process is similar to buying a home, except for the financing factor and the length of time the transaction takes. First, I learn what my clients are looking for in a home and set up a search in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that will send them listings that meet their criteria as soon as they hit the market. This is a great advantage, as the MLS is what feeds out to third-party sites, such as RedFin, Zillow and Trulia, but is updated in real time. Often, clients will come to me with properties they’ve found, but when I search for them in the MLS, it turns out they were rented months prior. So the MLS gives clients the most accurate listings of properties available at that moment.
Next, my clients let me know which listings they’re interested, I set up appointments for us to view the properties and then off we go! Once they find one they’d like to apply for, I help with the application process, lease negotiation and the initial walk-thru. The walk-thru allows us to document the state of the home upon move-in so that they aren’t found at fault for any damage to the home that was already there.
The cost of doing this?
Nothing to my clients if they select a home from the MLS, in which the company offering the home for rent pays my company. If my clients find something outside of the MLS — either something rented by an individual or from a development that has its own leasing office — then they are responsible for my compensation, which is a percentage of one month’s rent.
Why don’t all agents help renters?
The payout from rental properties is usually in the hundreds of dollars, compared to the sale or purchase of a home, which offer commissions in the thousands. For me, it wasn’t long ago that I was a renter, so I remember what it’s like moving to a new city and not know much about the area. Additionally, working with renters is a business decision for me; having not grown up in the metro D.C. area and, therefore, not having a large local network, renters present me an opportunity to grow my network and to see a large volume of properties in a short period of time. Also, renters become buyers eventually, and clients remember that you helped them when they needed your guidance the most.
A quick story: When Smowmaggendon hit the metro D.C. area in early 2016, I took a young couple out to view properties. We spent two days walking though the piles of snow in D.C., sliding on the sidewalks, etc. They ended up finding a place to rent on their own without my help. BUT! About a year later, I received an email, asking me to help them purchase a home. We closed on their new place a little more than two weeks ago.
And that’s why I help renters.
If you or someone you know is looking for a rental property in Washington, D.C. or Virginia, I would be delighted to serve them. Get in touch with me here.