Whether you're a renter looking for the perfect rental property or a landlord looking to market a rental property, going through a real estate agent can help you achieve your goals. Real estate agents are often familiar with the various properties available in a given area and can help renters find exactly what they're looking for--and give them valuable advice about what areas to steer clear of. Equally importantly, real estate agents often have a connection to new potential renters as they come into town, which means they can help connect property owners with those individuals. Before deciding to work with an agent directly, however, you may want to be sure that you have a full understanding of what it costs.
Real Estate Agent Fees: How Much Should You Expect to Pay?
When it comes to the fees real estate agents charge, they may vary based on the agent and the area. While some charge as much as a month's rent, others may charge only a percentage of that fee: 25%, 50%, 75%, or some amount that makes sense based on the services the real estate agent offers. For example, an experienced agent may:
Assist with marketing an open property. That real estate agent may take photos, put together listings, and help the property owner get the word out about the open property. They may even take prospects on a virtual tour through the open unit or units, giving them an online look at exactly what they can expect from the property if they choose to rent it. This process is often time-consuming, especially if you have multiple units or properties, and many real estate agents will ask for more compensation if they handle many of your marketing responsibilities.
Working with the owner to make the property more marketable. Real estate agents often have a solid understanding of what rental rates really look like in your area. They may be able to help set those rental rates at an appropriate level, both to help you bring in your target renter and to prevent you from leaving your units open for too long. Real estate agents can also provide you with valuable advice about what repairs need to be handled on the property before you can rent it out and what amenities are most likely to appeal to local renters, which can help raise your tenancy rates and, in many cases, allow you to bring in more rent.
Real estate agents can arrange and handle showings. You may not have the luxury of being present every time your property is shown--and most renters want to at least take a walk through the property before deciding to rent from you. When a real estate agent takes care of the showings, you do not have to be present. A real estate agent can take over the showing, walk potential renters through your property, and answer many of the questions they have, both about the property and about you as a landlord.
Real estate agents may take on finding the ideal renter for a given property. In some cases, real estate agents will take over for the property owner and take on the responsibility of choosing the ideal renter. They may look through applications, perform credit checks, contact references, and help property owners find the renter who is most likely to remain in the property for a reasonable term and take care of it while living there. The tenant screening process is often one of the most difficult faced by property owners, and having a real estate agent to help can make it much easier to choose the right tenant.
Narrow down the properties that are the best fit for a renter. When a renter contacts a real estate agent, that agent will take steps to find the ideal property for that renter and their family. In some cases, that takes some effort. The agent may need to sift through the family's needs and wants: not just their budget and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they expect in a unit, but also features like what school system the rental sits in, what amenities are offered by the rental property, and what fees are associated with the property. A real estate agent with a strong understanding of exactly what the renter wants can save a lot of time in avoiding properties that just aren't a good fit for the renter's needs--and often find the ideal property in a pool of prospects that fall short of the mark.
Who Pays the Real Estate Agent?
Who pays the real estate agent may depend on who contacts the agent to ask for their services. Sometimes, property owners choose to pay a realtor to get the words out about their properties. In other cases, an interested renter may get in touch with the real estate agent, provide a list of expectations and desires related to the property they want to rent. Whether the renter or the property owner pays may depend on which one requires services from the real estate agent--and in some cases, both parties may face some fees associated with using a real estate agent to get a property rented out.
Real estate agents cannot only show properties listed through them or through their companies. They may, however, have better access to those properties and information about them. Savvy renters, therefore, do their own research before deciding to pay a real estate agent to locate the ideal property--or at least do their own research alongside that done by the real estate agent. Even if you choose an apartment or property to rent on your own, however, you may still owe the real estate agent that fee.
If you're a property owner looking to get the word out about your rental property--or looking for a company that will help with tenant screening, advertising, rent collection, and more--contact us. We'll work with you to streamline many of your tenant management concerns, making it easier than ever to handle managing your properties.
About the author
Matt Angerer is the Founder and President of VerticalRent. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics that help Landlords, Property Managers, and Renters across America. He is particularly interested in helping renters understand their local marketplace, pick the best places to live, and find an awesome roommate. Since 2011, VerticalRent has grown to service over 100,000 landlords and renters across America.