Where Can I find a Rental

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Finding the perfect rental can be a daunting task for many reasons. Unlike purchasing a home, renting a home is not as centralized of a process. Not all rentals are in the MLS so having a Realtor® may or may not help a potential tenant find a property like it would for a home buyer. There are many different places a tenant can look to find a rental including third party aggregator websites, MLS, paid advertising websites or word of mouth from owners (including yard signs) or property management companies. But what is a third party aggregator? Why is the MLS not the best place to look for a rental? Paid advertising includes what?

Third party aggregators (TPA) would include websites such as hotpads.com, rentalhomepros.com, oodle.com, apartments.com, rentalhomesplus.com, zillow.com and more. Third party aggregators take information from multiple sources and aggregate the information into their site for you. For example, the Multiple Listing Service sometimes known as the MLS is where Realtors® enter their listings for sale and for rent. A website such as hotpads.com (or any of the other third party aggregators) have systems in place that log into the MLS and search it for new or updated properties. The aggregator’s system then gathers this information and re-posts the very same information to their site.  The biggest problem with third party aggregators is that the information found on their sites can sometimes be outdated. Since they pull their information from others they usually only update their systems every 24-72 hours (every site is different). Because they usually don’t update information but every couple of days their information could be outdated and the property you found could already be rented (or sold if you are searching for a property to buy). TPA’s can be great tools because sometimes the interfaces that they have created are much more user friendly than the sites that they aggregate from.

The infamous Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is truly the most central “hub” of information regarding real estate sales. Although it is the central hub for sales it falls a bit short in the search for rental properties and I will explain why.  Real estate sales truly fall into two categories; either property is sold by owner or by a real estate professional. When sold by a real estate professional the key marketing tool available to Realtors® is the MLS service. The MLS service is how Realtors® communicate with each other. By placing a property on the MLS it then becomes open season for other Realtors® to bring their buyers to view the new listing. The reason that the MLS is so popular is because in the real estate community MLS listings offer a commission to bring a buyer. The commission offered to the buyer’s Realtor® on the MLS is a contract between the two agents and is how Realtors® make a living. Realtors® who use the MLS are members of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) the Florida Association of  Realtors® (FAR) and in the case of Central Florida the Orlando Regional Realtor® Association (ORRA). Since it is supported by all of the Realtor® Associations it is where all Realtors® place their listings for sale.

Now, why doesn’t the MLS work the same for rental properties? When working with a buyer a Realtor® is typically offered 3% of the purchase price as a commission. On the sale of a $100,000 property this would be $3,000 in commission. Now this sounds like it is a lot of money but sometimes an agent might show 25-50 homes and spend months with their buyers not to mention the many hours on the phone and the cost of gas. After all of that the agent then has to split the final commission with their brokers so it ends up being a wage that provides an incentive to the agent, but not one that they are getting rich on. This doesn’t even take into account the buyers who don’t end up buying or the buyers who buy through another agent after you have showed them 25 homes or buyers who get denied for their loan in the 24th hour. However, at the end of the day the financial incentive is enough to cover all of the odds and ends involved in the sales process.

However, the rental business for Realtors® is a bit different. When an investment property owner lists their property for rent they typically are charged anywhere from 1/2 month rent to 1 full month rent to find a tenant plus 10% of the monthly rent to manage a property (by the property manager). This can be anywhere from $400-$3,000 (anything above 1,500 is pretty rare as tenants who can afford rent in excess of 1,500 typically buy) with the average commissions landing anywhere from $500-$1,200 range. Now, at least in Central Florida (it varies by region, south Florida is very different) the average commission offered to the tenants agent (who shows the property to a potential tenant) is somewhere around $100 with one of the larger companies in Central Florida only offering $40 to Realtors® for leasing a property. Now, most Realtors® show fewer properties to tenants than they do to potential buyers most likely because renting is temporary and buying is such a permanent decision. However, on average a Realtor® will show 5-10 rental properties to potential renters and about 50% of the time they will end up renting a property they found somewhere else. If you do the math for every 6 potential renters that a Realtor® works with they will likely place 3 tenants after showing around 35 rental properties. At an average commission of $150 (on the high end) times 3 tenants is $450. Now that agent needs to split that commission with their broker and at an average of 70% commission split (some are lower 50% and some as high as 90%) the agent is making $315 minus just 15% taxes (and let’s be honest 15% is on the low end because likely it only covers the agents social security and Medicare taxes) and the agent ends up netting $267.75.  But wait! The agent drove around and showed 35 houses to 6 tenants. Let’s say on average the houses are 3 miles apart * 35 houses. This adds up close to 105 miles driven in a car that gets fair gas mileage 20 miles per gallon. The agent has used 5.25 gallons of gas at an average cost of $3.60 a gallon or another $18.90. So the agents $267.75 is now $248.85. On average it takes about 30 minutes per property between driving, viewing and showing the property and that’s assuming that they showed all properties in one viewing. That’s about 20 hours of work so if an agent is lucky they will net around $12.44 an hour in this situation. Most likely the fee offered will be 30%-60% less than what’s offered in this situation. Therefore making the $12.44 in this scenario is best case and less than minimum wage being the more likely scenario. Not to mention they might have to wait 30-60 days to get paid for the work.

BrokeRealEstateAgentI guess after all that what I am trying to get at is that there is no financial incentive for a Realtor® to show these rental properties and therefore they typically don’t. This is why the MLS doesn’t work the same for Rentals as it does for sales. As a real estate agent that has showed many rental properties, I always offer a minimum of $250 as a referral fee. This is at least enough to make it worth it for the agent even if that means less for me in the end. I feel it is an injustice that some of the local companies even put their rental listings on the MLS and offer $40 as a leasing fee. In fact I find it insulting. Quite a few of the rentals I manage have been rented out by other Realtors®. In my opinion, I don’t care who rents it as long as it is rented fast and for top dollar for the investment property owner.

Last on our list is paid advertising which can be used either by owners or property managers.  Paid advertising mostly includes either online or print forms of advertising. Print advertising is anything that could be found in a physical piece of printed advertising from billboards to postcards to newspapers. These ads can be found in your local classified ads or a ‘for rent’ magazine or even ‘apartments’ magazine’. Online advertising can include websites such as rent.com, google.com and even in some cases zillow.com and trulia.com where paid advertising will appear above the free advertising of properties they gathered from third party aggregators. Renters or buyers for that matter can just go do a google search or check the exit at their local grocery stores to locate properties that are found in these mediums.
Lastly word of mouth can either be from a friend of a friend who saw the sign or even social media can be used as word of mouth for a new rental. From time to time I will post a property that might be available in my inventory and I sometimes get inquires that way.

Below is a list of great websites that a tenant can sort through to try to find the perfect rental for themselves.
Of course, you can check out my website at www.TheRentalFactor.com and check on any of our vacancies.

You can also check out my website that is directly connected to the MLS at www.DeniseAdkins.com or you can check out any of the below websites that listed above 🙂