Should you have a real estate agent when renting?
People rent for a lot of different reasons. Maybe you’re in college and want more autonomy than a dorm can offer. You could be a young professional willing to relocate at a moment’s notice for a great job opportunity. Perhaps you and your family are saving up for a down payment towards a three-bedroom ranch style home. Or maybe you have a very busy lifestyle and you just like the ease and convenience of having a landlord to take care of household issues as they arise. Whatever the reason, you would most likely benefit from having a real estate agent by your side.
Understanding the Housing Market
First and foremost, a real estate agent knows the housing market in which you’re looking to rent. That means that they are familiar with the communities and the types of properties in the area, allowing them to suggest good fits based on your wants and needs. Spotting a place online that looks promising may end up being next to a dumpster that gets emptied every morning at 4 a.m., and surrounded by construction that adds 30 minutes onto your commute.
Searching the Inventory
Speaking of online searches, there are plenty of sites where you can find rentals yourself. But be warned: some of these sites tend to be quite relaxed in terms of updating their inventory. I’ve personally called the number on online listings only to be told that the property is no longer available. A real estate agent, however, will be able to conduct a search through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and other avenues to provide you with active rental options.
Determining a Fair Price
A real estate agent also comes in handy as you compare monthly rental prices. An agent can conduct a comparative market analysis (CMA) and show you what other similar rental properties in the area are listed at. A CMA is not an appraisal, but rather an estimate of a reasonable rental price based on the property’s features compared to like properties in the area. Depending on multiple factors, a property listed at $1,800/month could be extremely overpriced or an amazing find. Without a real estate agent, it’s difficult to assess the appropriate cost.
Navigating the Lease
And let’s not forget about the lease. Although a lease for a rental property is not nearly as daunting as one to buy or sell a home, it will still contain some very important details that you don’t want to miss that could potentially stick you with added costs. An agent will be able to walk you through the lease, explaining the up front costs, who is responsible for what amenities, how and when you pay rent, etc. A real estate agent will also make you aware of the steps you’ll need to take before, during, and after your lease to be sure everything goes smoothly.
Finding Your Agent
Finally, it’s a good idea to find a real estate agent while you rent that you trust so you can turn to them if and when you decide to purchase a home. If your rental agent has earned your business through hard work, good communication, and trustworthiness, you’ll be one step closer to finding your home when the time is right.