Renting your Real Estate Vacancy
Are you a homeowner or real estate investor trying to find tenants for your property?
Finding and screening tenants for your rental property is very time-consuming and at times stressful. Using a real estate agent does make the process a lot easier, convenient and efficient at many different levels. Here are the major reasons for hiring me as a professional to fill a vacancy at your rental property:
1) Finding the Right Tenant
If you are a real estate investor with 2 units or more, you already know how time consuming the process of getting the right tenant is. You most likely have experienced how dreadful it is getting the wrong tenant as well. The process of screening prospective tenants requires time and effort but it also requires skills understanding and recognizing good character. These are specific skills that we developed as real estate agents.
We, as agents, do take the time to meet renters, analyse their character, review applicant's information and verify that the information is accurate. Tenants that play the system, sooner or later, run afoul with the court system. Finding a good tenant that will pay the rent on time, takes good care of your rental unit and will stay for a few years are our primary goals. This takes experience and I have that as a realtor and rental property owner.
As realtors we often subscribe to tenant screening services. That is the easy part. If you have run background checks on tenants, you probably noticed that there are law requirements that you need to follow. Many investors and property managers believe that these laws do not apply to them. If you are renting the units personally, it is important to educate yourself on federal and state discrimination laws, city and state rental laws, security deposit requirements, disclosures and what it is that you can and cannot do as a landlord. The law applies to everyone regardless if you are a licensed realtor, a real estate lawyer, a property manager or a property owner. Penalties for violations to discrimination laws, for example, are very high. Same for violations on security deposits not properly handled.
As a rule, I run background checks and credit reports on potential tenants. That is the easy part. Many times evictions, criminal cases and bankruptcies do not appear on background checks as prospective tenant’s names/DOB/SSN do not match requirements for bureau reporting. I always suggest finding out the cities where prospective tenants have lived and directly searching the public records for any criminal and court cases in that particular city/state. In most cases this is a free search. You will be surprised by what you find. Many tenants know that some evictions do not show in their background checks due to loopholes and proceed to misrepresent on the rental application “no evictions” in the past. I once denied an application for one of my rental properties from an applicant that had 3 evictions in the past 4 years. Yet, the fee-based background report presented on the tenant’s behalf did not show any evictions. I have turned down many applications as a result of this free background search. Of course, you need to document the information to protect yourself on the reason for your denial.
It is also important to mention that with so many rental scams going on the internet, it is no surprise that prospective tenants are reaching out to us, realtors, to find a place to live. Most tenants are afraid of going through the rental process alone. Most tenants know that licensed realtors are insured and must follow a code of conduct in all real estate transactions. This gives them security and confidence in the rental process.
If you search google for real estate scams, you soon realize how out of control this real estate scamming issue is. Craigslist for example, allows anyone to post an apartment or home for rent without much vetting of the listing person - for free. The scam starts with the phony ad, with a price typically below market price to entice renters, has a story for an owner that is out of town, a paypal or so account and the sense of urgency in renting the place by the scammer. The scammer collects security deposit money and rents from the victim and then the scammer vanishes, with the tenant's money. Keep in mind that these sneaky scam artists are placing you at risk as the victims most likely will be knocking on your door for keys for a rental that you did not authorize. In some cases, the tenants show up to the house with their moving truck and break into the house thinking they have the right to be there - simply unaware of the scam.
2) We Market your Rental Property for You
We, as realtors, have access to the MLS, the Multiple Listing Service. Once a rental is listed in the MLS, the information propagates to other key real estate rental sites such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes, RedfIn and the list goes on and on. In areas where the rental market is hot, realtors have a list of clients and contacts that are always looking for a place to rent. These markets sometimes do not need major advertising but instead an agent that is in contact with other agents.
As a rental property owner I always stay in contact with agents that helped me rent my properties in the past. I always get calls from other realtors at different real estate brokers to find out if I have any vacancies in my units. This speeds up the rental process for me as all background checks and interactions are done beforehand even when the current tenant has not moved out yet. It also reduces my cost in advertising and other real estate broker fees.
3) Scheduling Viewings with Prospective Tenants
Showings are part of screening prospective tenants during the rental process. It is typical to go through 10 or more home showings for a rental listing. This requires time, scheduling and coordination with all parties involved. As a real estate agent, I schedule showings with prospective tenants and manage all the back-and-forth communications. Having this responsibility off your plate will allow you to use your time on other productive tasks. Of course my time is wasted, not yours, if the prospective tenant doesn't show up or turns out to be an undesirable tenant.
4) Rental Property Pricing Analysis
As real estate professionals we help you determine the best price for your rental property based on current rental market closings, trends, location and competing listings in your area.
We look at the size, condition of the property, amenities, location of your property and compare them with three or four other rental units in the area. This comparable market analysis forms a basis as to what I believe your rental property is worth. My goal is to get you the highest rent possible with the best tenant but not to price your property so out of the market value that your rental sits on the market for months.
5) Negotiating and Lease Agreement
We normally use the real estate agents agreements approved by the board of realtors. Some commercial and more advanced leasing agreements do require the review of an attorney. Lease agreements shall include all necessary clauses of a lease such as duration, amount of monthly rent, parties involved, utilities covered, included appliances, maintenance expectations, when the rent must be paid, late payment stipulations, security deposit, pets policies, smoking policies, all real estate disclosures required by law and how the tenant can and can't use the property.
We normally do a final walk-through inspection when the tenant takes possession of the property to document with photos the property condition. Having good documentation ensures that the tenant is responsible for any damages during the lease. Oftentimes tenants claim the damage was there before they took possession until they see the photos in our property condition report I generated at the beginning of the lease.