Q: I love your show and your advice is always so helpful! My current lease is up at the end of September, and I really want to lease a single family home or townhome. I’ve also considered using a real estate agent/broker to search for me, but I’m not sure how that works. Would I be required to pay a fee? What is an acceptable fee? Where would I be able to find an agent or more information?
Thanks so much!
A: Real estate agents who are somewhat hurting for homebuyers have turned to renting apartments to pay the bills until the housing market turns.
The commissions earned by leasing an apartment for an investor don’t come close to the commissions paid for a sale (about one months’ rent versus up to 6 percent of the sales price), but it’s enough to keep some real estate agents in the business.
Many real estate companies have agents who specialize in leasing rather than selling. You can find rental agents by calling real estate firms that do a lot of business in your neighborhood of choice (identified by the number of “for sale” signs that are up in the area) and asking to speak to the agents who service the rental units in the area.
You can also look for rental properties online and call the agents who are listed in the ads.
Many investors prefer to do the leasing work themselves and would rather you just call them directly. There’s nothing wrong with that strategy, as signing a bad one-year lease is rarely as bad a move as making an offer for a completely inappropriate home, at too high a price point.
The best rental agents know what are the best homes available for rent (because they make it their business to know that kind of information) and they do all of the legwork in terms of setting up appointments, chauffeuring you around to showings, getting a copy of the property rules and regulations, and helping you manage the process. The fee is typically paid entirely by the property owner, which leaves you free to save your money for the move.
But if you have a good experience, be sure to say thank you – and then recommend the agent to all of your friends. Leasing agents make their money on volume.