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Posts: 6
Reply with quote  #1 
Can anybody recommend a real estate agent that can find new renters for me?  Screen them, credit check.  Last time I did it myself it was a nightmare and my hope is an agency will do it and save me a lot of headache, hopefully find me a "good" tenant.  I don't mind paying them a months rent or whatever if it's worth it.

Posts: 45
Reply with quote  #2 
I prefer to do it myself and I've been very lucky so far with screening, though not without headache.

Still preferable to using a realtor which was a mistake.

In 2004 I was deployed to Iraq and a friend suggested I have a realtor manage my property (2br 2 1/2 bath townhouse) and get a renter.

I got a local big name real estate agency, we'll call "W".  They assigned me an agent who had good references, she had sold multi-million-dollar homes all over NJ.

They charged $250 a month plus a monthly commission if they got a tenant based on the rent.  The average rents in my area at the time were around $1700.  My cost of operation (mortgage and utilities, taxes, etc. was around $1500 - before their $250 fee).  Their expert advice was to put the property for rent at $1950.  They said they could get a renter within a month.  I was pleased at that statement.

What did they offer for service?  Rent collection and showing the property.  

All my bills were paid via automatic debit.  Grounds keeping and maintenance was by the HOA.  My parents checked on the property from time to time for security.

6 months later, the property had still not been rented.  The realtor could not understand why the property could not be rented.  

Keep in mind, I'm thousands of miles away in a combat zone.  I did some simple internet research and found - four new real estate developments within a stones throw of my area. (during the peak of the housing boom in 2004-2005)  The local university had also build a new dorm with student and graduate housing for 2500 students.  A local investor had bought 10 units of the development across the street and was trying to rent them out for $1800 unsuccessfully.

the agent suggested I rent to Section 8.  I told them I did not want to do that at this time.

I told the agent I would like to lower the rent to get some movement.  They argued against it (I guess it cut into their potential commission).  Reluctantly they dropped it to $1800.

I watched all the properties in the area including my own that were up for rent via  Nothing was moving.  The guy with 10 brand new condos must have been sweating.  there was a glut of similar properties in the area.

I concluded the agent was not doing anything because she was busy making commissions off multi-million dollar homes.  The agency was happy to collect $250 a month to do nothing.  There was a glut of property in the area that they were unaware of.  My friend, an attorney who also owns and rents property said there was no reason my home could not be rented and suggested legal action.

I concluded the rent was too high and told them I wanted to drop it to $1600.  The agent and her manager were strongly against it.  I then threatened the agent and her manager with legal action and told them they failed to account for changes to the market due to local supply and what the market would bear at the rent they suggested.

They conceded to drop the rent to $1600.  Within a week, they had several tenants lined up, but still pushed Section 8.  Two of the tenants had bad credit and default histories.  I told her no.  

Finally, she got me two brothers who just barely made the threshold of income.  I always read that housing should not cost more than 40 percent of income.  The brothers combined income would make the rent about 50 percent of their income.  The agent argued that the rule of thumb is housing should not cost more than 70 percent of income.

I decided to go ahead with renting to them.

Incidentally, after I dropped the rent to $1600 and my property was rented within a week, all the other people on also dropped their rents to $1600-$1650 and within a month 70 percent of the properties had been rented.  I was influencing the real estate market in NJ from my post in Iraq!

The realtor then became a pain in the butt demanding things for me to provide the Tenants - Tenants wanted a new storm door because they did not like the design of the current one.  Tenant wanted a month's free rent, for moving in so fast.  Tenants wanted furniture included in the rental.  Tenants wanted hardwood floors because they did not like the carpet..... I told her "are you representing me?  or them?" and she backed off.

Their lease ended just as I was coming back from Iraq.  She told me they wanted to buy the property off me for about 20 percent lower than the current market.  Or to go on a month to month lease.  I told her no to selling and that a month to month would have to be a higher rent if they wanted to continue, as I was planning to move back in.

They moved out and I moved back in.  I told "W" I no longer needed their services.  She made a point to tell me that if I planned to rent out the property on my own, I was bound by contract to continue paying them a commission for one year after our agreement was dissolved.  Also, if I planned to sell the property they were entitled to a commission even if I used another realtor.

I told her I just wanted "W" out of my life.

Within a few months, I was assigned to post at the Pentagon and I moved out again.  I let my brother use the property for free as he was in the middle of moving.

After the year, I put out ads to rent out and had tenants within a week.  I use a credit checking service that charges $24 and also checks for legal activity.  For serious tenants, I charge $30 non-refundable for the background checks, but roll it into the first months rent if they sign a lease.

My property has never been vacant for more than two weeks and I now rent at $2000 a month.


Posts: 3,794
Reply with quote  #3 
You got a bad company.  Rentals are a specialty in real estate.  Just because they have a big name doesn't mean they know what they are doing. For other owners:
-Look for a company that specializes in rentals.  Not all agents can do this properly, just as all agents cannot sell multi-million dollar listings.
-Ask for references of other owners.  Call them.
-Ask for tenant references.  Call them.
-Interview the agent.  How do they handle: failure to rent, bad applicants, screening tenants, problems in the rental, demanding tenants, non=payment of rent, etc.
-Check their advertising and types of ads.
-Check their fees.  There shouldn't be a fee if the place isn't rented.  Average rate for finding a tenant is 1/2 to one month's rent.  Management fees range from 8-15% per month.
- What do they require in tenant qualifications?
- Don't cave into demanding tenant or agents.  The place is rented as is.  That doesn't mean you don't do necessary repairs.  But you don't improve a property after it is rented (new storm door, removing carpet for hardwood, etc.) 
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