How to Work with a Realtor to Find an Apartment

Finding a new rental apartment takes time and causes unwanted stress. You may wish to take the weight off your shoulders by working with a realtor.

Working with a realtor, commonly referred to as a rental broker, is helpful if you are moving to a new place you are not exceptionally familiar with, as the realtor provides insight and recommendations.

Many people associate realtors with the process of purchasing property, but many large cities have real estate agents who assist you in searching for a rental home. In many cases, realtors receive either a commission or a fee based on the price of the apartment rental.

The cost is usually paid for by the renter, although it is sometimes paid by the property owner in cities with a high rate of vacancies. You may be dissuaded from working with a realtor if you know you are going to pay a fee for this service.

Using a realtor to find a rental has many advantages, but it has its disadvantages as well. Consider these pros and cons before you determine whether a realtor is right for you. Review the following sections to find out if you could benefit from using a realtor.

Learn About the Pros and Cons of Using a Real Estate Agent to Rent

The pros and cons of using a realtor depend on your own circumstances and needs. Before you work with a realtor, weigh up the pros and cons for your situation. If you are completely new to an area you want to move to, using a realtor is your best way of finding an apartment ticking all your boxes.

A realtor more easily identifies the right neighborhood for you and makes sure it includes your requirements, such as good transport links or a family-friendly area. Another advantage of using a realtor is he or she is privy to more property listings, such as currently unlisted properties. You are not usually able to find such apartments yourself.

One of the greatest advantages of using a realtor is the time it saves you. Do not underestimate how much time it takes to sift through hundreds of property listings and visit apartments you are interested in renting. A realtor takes care of most time-consuming elements that come with searching for a new apartment. In addition, some realtors do all the lease paperwork for you.

Unfortunately, disadvantages of using realtors exist as well. Although it is not always the case, you may be asked to cover the realtor’s commission fee. Depending on the type of apartment you are renting and its location, you could end up spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on your realtor’s fee.

Other than the cost of using a realtor, other disadvantages present themselves during the process. Your realtor could have more influence in your choice of apartments and the renting process than you would like.

One realtor is often not as good as another. If you choose the wrong person for the job, he or she ends up wasting your time with apartments that do not fit your specifications. He or she may cajole you into signing shady rental agreements in some circumstances.

If you are especially unlucky, you may find a realtor who is trying to scam you. Advertising an apartment, informing you it has been taken off the market and then offering other properties for you to check out is referred to as a switch scam. Switch scams help the realtor earn more money for his or her own pockets. Do not fall for such tricks.

What Should You Look for in a Rental Broker?

Once you decide you want to use a realtor, take time to find the right one. To do so, research the realtor you are considering working with to determine if he or she is a good option. Do an online search for his or her online reputation and history.

When looking at agency websites, make sure it is up to date and is not cluttered with broken links. This can be a sign of an unreliable rental broker.

A good realtor provides an abundance of available property listings on his or her website. In addition, by making sure you get the answers to the following questions, you ensure you are using a reputable rental broker:

  • Is the realtor showing you apartments that do not fit the requirements you gave? Make sure you only use a realtor who follows your instructions and makes you feel comfortable.
  • Does the realtor respond to your questions and requests promptly? Communication is vital to find a new apartment in a timely manner.
  • Has the realtor been clear about all the fees you must pay? If you feel your realtor is not telling you everything, go with another rental broker.
  • Is your realtor telling you to sign more documents than you were expecting? Make sure you know what you are signing and why.
  • Is your realtor asking you to sign an exclusive agreement? If so, this is usually a bad sign. Go with another realtor.

What is Your Role When Renting with a Real Estate Agent?

Unfortunately, even if you do decide to use a realtor, you have some work to do yourself. Check out these tips on how to work with a rental broker:

  • Be as clear as possible with your instructions. If you do not want an apartment with north-facing windows but you do not mention it to your realtor, he or she is most likely going to show you some apartments with north-facing windows. This wastes the realtor’s time and your own. If you want your realtor to pick you up for each property viewing, clarify this at the start. The clearer you are in your instructions, the smoother the ride is for both of you.
  • Ensure you are both working to meet the same timeline. Oftentimes, you have a time limit on the date in which you must move out of your current home and into a new apartment. Ensure your realtor knows this and understands how important the timeline you have given is before you begin your search. If your realtor is not pulling his or her weight to find you a new home within the designated timeline, switch realtors.
  • Make sure you are professional. If you want your realtor to act in a professional manner, you must act professionally yourself. This means replying to texts and emails promptly and being on time for appointments. By being professional throughout the process, you are protected if anything goes wrong and you must take legal action.
  • Understand the pricing structure. Make sure you know how the realtor expects to be paid his or her fee and when the fee is due. You must know whether the fee is payable to the realtor or the owner of the property. The realtor typically provides you with this information in a signed document. If you are not given this, ask for it.
  • Do not ask your realtor for legal advice. A rental broker is not a lawyer. If you have legal questions, do not rely on your realtor to give you accurate and reliable answers.
  • Do not contact a property listing yourself. If you start making your own inquiries about apartments, you undo the benefits of having a realtor. Things become complicated when the two of you are inquiring about apartments. Let the realtor do the work.
  • Find out about the open-house protocol from your realtor. When approaching open-house properties, different realtors have different methods they employ. Some realtors prefer to view an apartment before showing it to you, while others ask you to look at an apartment before the realtor contacts the owner of the apartment. Make sure you know how the rental broker usually works and clarify how you would prefer the situation to be handled.
  • Get copies of all documents. Even though it is great that your realtor is handling all the paperwork for you, it is vital you obtain copies of all documents you have been asked to sign. In addition, ensure everything you have agreed to verbally has been put into writing. If you are unclear about anything, get a witness to participate in the process.