Should You Hire an Agent to Find You a Rental Home?


Should You Hire an Agent to Find You a Rental Home?

locating detroit area rentalsMany of the calls we get on our rental properties are a dead-end for us and the interested party as we don’t manage something that fits their needs or budget.  A decent number of these callers tell us how difficult a time they’re having finding a home and complain about the time they’re investing in their search.

Surprisingly though, when we asked these people if they’d like to hire us to find them a rental home (a service we sadly no longer offer), 100% of them told us no.

We’ve always found this to be odd.

A majority of people looking to buy a home hire a real estate agent to assist them.

The opposite seems to be the case with people looking for a home to rent.

Logically, there isn’t much difference between looking for a home to rent versus buy.  In fact, it should be easier for an agent to find someone a rental home because most tenants aren’t as picky as buyers.  Put another way, a person renting a home puts nothing into the deal and can easily move at the end of their lease if they don’t like the home.  Those buying a home make a bigger and longer commitment, so you’d expect them to be more discerning.

Let’s take a look at the pro’s and cons of using an agent to find a home to rent:

Reasons FOR using a Real Estate Agent Reasons AGAINST using a Real Estate Agent
Agents have access to the MLS list of rentals Agents typically do not search websites for rentals
Agents save you time by sifting through available properties and setting showings for you Unless they ask enough good questions, they may not understand what you want
You don’t typically pay agents anything for finding a property, the property owner pays them Agents typically only earn ½ month’s rent as commission and may not work very hard
Agents should protect you from signing a bad lease agreement Agents aren’t attorneys and may have limited experience with leases
Agents make sure your deposit to hold a property doesn’t “disappear” Your deposit may still be stuck in escrow if you have a dispute with a landlord or agent
Agents typically have more experience at negotiating than you They may also negotiate against you unless they’re a buyer’s agent

Of all the issues above, the two biggest in our opinion are:

  1. Most agents don’t look at Craig’s List, RentLinx or other websites for rental properties.
  2. Agents make a lot less in commissions on rentals so won’t be willing to show as many homes to a renting client as to a buying client.

If you do decide to work with an agent, don’t be surprised if they charge you a small upfront fee to make sure you’re committed to them.

Also, be sure to find one that will send you not only MLS listings, but will also search other websites for you and send you those results also.

By the way, we have a significant stock of properties across the Metro Detroit area; if you’re thinking of moving, we likely have a home that is right for you.  Give us a call, send an email, or click on over to our listings page and search for yourself!

31 thoughts on “Should You Hire an Agent to Find You a Rental Home?

  1. Hey there, I hopped over to your web page via Pinterest. Not some thing I frequently read, yet I enjoy your thoughts nonetheless. Thanks for creating some thing worthy of reading through!

  2. After reading your blog post, I was sold on the fact that even though your company did not have a home to fit my needs, I figured someone at your real estate company would be able to assist me with finding a rental since the last line of you post stated, “we’d be more than happy to assist you in your search for a rental home in the metropolitan Detroit area. Just give us a call or send an email.”

    So, I sent our an email detailing what I was looking for and the next day I received a reply of, “We cannot assist with this request, but thank you for contacting us.” There was no offer of to assist nor was there a referral to another rental agent. Could you do those of us who trying to find a rental home a favor by removing the blog post since you have no intentions of assisting people with finding a rental who do not fit the criteria for your existing rental properties.

    1. We appreciate your attempt to engage our services. Did you complete the Tenant Retainer Application on our website on the right side of the Available Properties screen? Please note that it is not cost effective for us to show rental properties to someone not fully committed to us. The industry standard in the Metro Detroit marketplace is for an owner to pay one month of rent to whatever agent finds them a tenant. That is not a lot of compensation to justify showing someone 5-10 houses (or more) only to have them lease something on their own and get paid absolutely zero. We hope this adequately addresses your post.

    2. I have been looking for at least seven years ended up buying a mobile home now I’m going to sell it to the property I live at so I can move because the lot rent will not cap it goes up $180 every year so I really need a nice place to rent and I don’t have time anymore or the patience to look I get heartbroken a lot I have good credit very good job and excellent rental. I need some place and Burton or Flint Township close to Maple Road because I take care of an elderly lady also on top of my 40 hour week job so I hope this isn’t only in the Detroit area in which I would never live in to begin with thank you 4 your help.

  3. Technology development makes the the real estate market faster and more efficient. As far as I know many landlords don’t hire real estate agents anymore and rent out homes on the their own. So why renters can’t find a property by themselves? Tenants can easily search for rentals on the Internet. There’re a bunch of great services. The first step you need to do is simply registration. After that you can start to search property. Some sites don’t even charge application fees. Here you can find more detailed description of online rental process
    However, I should notice, that if your rental market is so slow and you manage to find only a few properties online, you should probably seek the help of real estate professional. Anyway the commission is paid by landlord.

    1. @Ellen: thanks for your comment.

      In our opinion someone’s available time should also be a consideration. Someone without a lot of time may need assistance finding a rental, particularly in “Hot” markets.

      Also, as we understand it, in several markets tenants are charged agent fees.

    1. Finding the best agent to help you find a home to rent is pretty tricky.

      In our post we mention several pro’s & con’s of hiring an agent in general.

      When comparing agents you might want to consider: how much experience they have with rentals, how much experience they have in the neighborhood(s) where you are looking, what specific plan they have to work with you, and finally how your personalities match.

  4. I liked when you talked bout finding a realtor that will send you information from several websites where you can find a house. It makes sense that doing this can help you find what ou are looking for faster and at a great deal. I can see how following this advice can help you make sure you get the best results and are satisfied with your care.

  5. That’s a good point that agents can save you from signing a bad lease. They’ve seen a lot of contracts because of their job. I’m trying to buy my first house, so I’ll keep that in mind.

  6. I thought it was interesting to learn that there isn’t much difference between looking for a home to rent versus one to buy. My wife and I are looking at renting a home since we aren’t ready to commit to buying one yet, so this is good to know. We’ll use a lot of the same considerations and tactics associated with buying a home when we get our rental.

    1. John, we’re glad you liked our opinion on this.

      There is one difference though, to take into account — an agent showing homes for sale is anticipating making a commission of about 3% or so of the sales price. An agent showing homes for rent, is typically only going to get a commission of 50% of one month of rent.

      So, a smart agent will limit the number of homes they show to a rental client, to a number far less than they would show to a buying client. Otherwise, their effective “earnings/hour” may put them below minimum wage.

  7. I am happy to learn that real estate agents have access to the MLS list of rentals. It would also be nice to work with one of these agents because they have more experience at negotiating than you. Asking friends and family for recommendations would be a successful way of finding a realtor who can best help you with your specific needs.

  8. Basically, as you have stated, renting a home is not that different from purchasing one just easier as there’s less commitment to the home. That is a great thing to learn as I was thinking about whether to risk my finance purchasing a home or go with renting one until I have enough to purchase for myself. I’ll try to read more about how to rent a house so that I can get myself the best deals and avoid potential mistakes. Thanks!

  9. I appreciate you helping me learn more about hiring an agent. My sister is trying to find a new apartment wherein she could stay while working in the nearby place. I agree that there are more reasons to seek their help based on what you have listed here. Thanks a lot!

  10. I found it really surprising to learn that realtor is usually paid from a property manager, so no money comes out of your pocket. My wife and I have been considering moving for the past couple of weeks, but we are hesitant to hire a realtor because we don’t have a big budget. I will be sure to tell my wife that we don’t have to worry about our budget with a realtor!

  11. I appreciate what you said about there not being much difference in terms of the real estate process when it comes to either buying a home or renting one. I think no matter what the case, people should contact real estate agents to assist in the buying/renting process. My wife and I are looking to move to a new area and we’ll be sure to contact an agency with the best real estate knowledge and the best client reviews.

  12. Thanks for explaining that one good reason to hire a real estate agent when looking for a rental home is because they’ll save you time by setting up the showings for you. My husband and I will be moving soon; it won’t be permanent, so we think we’d like to rent instead of buy. We’re pretty busy with work and family, so I think we’ll hire a real estate agent for the time-saving benefit you mentioned.

  13. That’s a good point that you would want to have an agent who would look at all of the available options for you. I wouldn’t want to miss out on an awesome rental home because I didn’t know it was an option. If I decide to use a realtor for a rental home I’ll have to make sure they look at all of the different websites and other options for me.

  14. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I
    stumbleupon every day. It’s always exciting to
    read through articles from other authors and practice something from other web sites.

  15. I like how you said that agents can protect you from signing a poor lease. My 20-year-old daughter is wanting to rent her very first home and was worried she would do it wrong. I’ll make sure to pass this information along to her so she can know how a real estate agent can benefit her.

  16. It’s interesting when you said that a majority of people looking to buy a home hire a real estate agent to assist them. My sister told me that she has been saving money to buy a house so that she can have a place for her son and her. I will recommend her to hire a real estate agent so that she can have better options of houses to choose from.

  17. I was recently offered a job that would end up taking me to another state. Because of that, I need to sell my home quickly in order to be able to move sooner rather than later. Thanks to your article, I now know to hire an agent because they will help me avoid signing a bad lease agreement.

  18. I think it’s cool how a real estate agent can save you time by setting up showing and going through all the available properties for you. This can make renting a home go by so much faster. I feel like people who are renting a home need to find one relatively quickly so this could help them find a place to stay as soon as possible.

  19. I was not aware that working with a real estate agent can provide you with access to the MLS list of rentals. My boyfriend and I are thinking about living together, and we are looking for advice about how to find an apartment. I will let him know about your recommendations to choose the right apartment for us.

  20. I like that you said that real estate agents save you time by sifting through available properties and setting showings for you. My girlfriend and I want to move in together. We want to find an apartment for us, but right now we are busy with our jobs. That’s why I think hiring a real estate agent could help us. Thanks for your information on the advantages of hiring a real estate agent for renting a property.

  21. Looking for July 1st Occupancy. $2,500 a month in Columbia Maryland or Owing Mills Maryland

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