Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold, Finding the Realtor Who’s Just Right-By Melanie GreenTo quickly find the best tenants for a rental property, it’s imperative to find the right realtor to list the rental. They may not have the largest number of clients or be the same one that was previously hired. Rather, this experienced realtor has a solid level of service and reach to rent condominiums, apartments and single-family homes in a particular area. Choosing the wrong realtor can mean a higher vacancy rate, and less profitable rentals for landlords and property managers.Here are some important considerations to remember when selecting a suitable realtor:• Choose a likeable realtor who is open to honest conversations.• Focus on realtors who will screen tenants.• Ask for referrals from other landlords and property managers.• Confirm that the realtors know the local market well.• Research their experience with rental and investment properties.• Prioritize realtors that put the property owner’s interests first.• Ensure the realtor will market the listing.• Understand what support services they offer.• Ensure they communicate effectively on the property owner’s behalf.• Read about their online reputation.The Likeable RealtorProperty owners spend a considerable amount of time with a realtor each time they have a vacancy in their portfolios. Chemistry is key in an ongoing business relationship. Transparency, integrity and honesty are values that foster chemistry. Plus, tenants should trust and want to work with the realtor. If the first impression from a realtor feels uncomfortable, they probably aren’t a good fit. Gut instincts are usually true.Screening TenantsScreening potential tenants is a big part of what a realtor will need to do to find the best fit. Landlords often have requirements, including limiting the number of pets or requiring a certain credit score for all applicants. Based on those requirements, potential applicants should not be encouraged to pursue unsuitable rentals.According to Kathy Schilling, a Platinum Agent with Abby Realty based out of North Houston, Texas, one of the most important aspects of a realtor’s job is to make sure the needs of landlords and potential applicants are compatible.“By gathering all of the requirements upfront, I can avoid having tenants pay application fees for rentals they won’t get approved for,” said Schilling. “I can also present only the best options to landlords, saving them time.”In cases where there is a minor factor preventing an applicant from meeting the requirements, the realtor can act as a mediator and matchmaker. For instance, they can ask for letters of explanation from otherwise qualified tenants that might suffer from a low credit score due to medical debt or divorce.Once a realtor is confirmed to work on these properties, property owners can continue to forge a strong, long-term relationship.“When three former clients started to grow their investment portfolio of rental properties, they called me to help them find tenants,” said Schilling. “Whenever tenants say they’re moving, landlords will call me to list their vacancy.”Ask for ReferralsOther landlords and property managers can be a useful starting point for referrals. Keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for another. Pay attention to what types of property the landlords and property managers partnered with the realtor on, what the turnaround time was for sales and rentals, and ask about any pitfalls along the way.Local Market ExpertiseWhen purchasing real estate, avoid becoming too hung up on realtors who only sell to a small area in the local market. For example, a realtor who sells commercial properties downtown can sell a warehouse property in the industrial side of town with little trouble.However, when it comes to rental properties, the realtor must have local market expertise. They’ll need to know:• The types of tenants that live in this area• Employers and schools• Demographic information and crime rates• Local laws related to renters• Seasonal market trendsSome tenants will have very little knowledge of the area, as many people rent homes in a new area before they buy a house. They may need a realtor who can make informed recommendations about where to live.Experience With Rental Properties OverallRental properties are very different from selling single-family homes or commercial buildings. Choose a realtor with experience renting out the property owner’s specific property type. This can make a big difference in how the process goes, as nobody wants to be someone’s first rental listing.“While some realtors may not work with tenants and may instead focus on selling single family homes, everybody needs a place to live,” said Schilling.Having a qualified realtor to list, sell or rent this type of property faster also reduces the number of days it sits unoccupied and maintains its value. When the right realtor becomes a partner, this is an opportunity to maximize business potential.Go4Rent helped increase the rental market by allowing realtors and landlords to dig deeper into getting all the information we need to make a good decision,” Schilling continued.Instead of simply reading through a score or report, the extra screening information helps realtors pick a solid tenant and ensure owners have a good experience.Realtor’s Interests Come Second to Property OwnerAlways gauge whether a realtor will put the property owner’s interests ahead of their own. Perhaps a tenant shows interest in property that isn’t the best fit. A suitable realtor puts the property owner’s need to find a quality tenant over the realtor’s need to get their commission as quickly as possible.Marketing the Rental PropertyFor interested tenants to find a rental property, online marketing is important. This can include listing it on social media and the Multiple Listing Network (MLS). Some realtors operate websites that showcase available rentals within a certain area. This could include all available condo rentals within a high-rise or investment properties spanning a larger area. Without proper marketing, a rental property will sit vacant for a longer period of time.Ongoing Support ServicesSome realtors have relationships with property management companies or other vendors who can provide ongoing support services for a rental property. If this is important, discuss top picks. For out-of-town landlords, having access to ongoing support services might be among the most decisive factors in choosing a realtor for rentals.CommunicationBefore signing any contracts and listing any property, ask about the realtor’s communication style— during the listing process and after finding new tenants. Will the realtor provide regular updates by email?Can the property owner reach the realtor by phone on weekends if there are questions? Establish communication expectations at the start of the relationship to prevent miscommunications.Seek Online ReviewsConducting online research about a potential realtor is integral to avoiding challenges later on. See what kind of online reviews past clients post and whether there are any news articles about the realtor. Unfortunately, not all clients leave online reviews but still pay attention to patterns from those who do. If there’s a consistent theme of cons like poor communication, slow listing times or unprofessional behavior, this is a red flag.Finding the right realtor is an important step in connecting with the best tenants for rental properties. These tenants pass background, credit and employment checks, and are more likely to pay their rent on time. Realtors can make the process of finding reliable tenants quick and stress-free. However, as with any industry, not all of them will provide the exact service needed.Sometimes choosing the best realtor is a trial-by-error decision. Just as tenants are vetted, so are realtors. Asking for referrals, searching online reviews and confirming their past work experience can increase the likelihood of a good fit.Sources: Forbes, InvestopediaUpnest
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