The majority of agents who join Rental Beast have multiple years of real estate experience, but they almost always have exclusively worked with for-sale transactions.
The good news: these agents are comfortable working with clients and have a strong understanding of how to generate business, progress a deal, and close.
The not-so-good news: the rental transaction is just different enough that we often see veterans trip up on avoidable mistakes.
Here’s a list of the top 6 things we want experienced agents to know when it comes to rentals.
1. Client Exclusivity is Rare
Clients who are looking for a rental property almost never enter into any sort of agreement with their agent. In fact, we have heard stories of clients working with multiple agents at once. So, how does an agent adjust for this?
- Act with urgency. When a lead inquiry comes in, jump on it with speed! If a renter doesn’t respond to your outreach, keep at it! Try, try, and try again!
- Establish your value from the first interaction. To do this, make sure you present yourself as a local expert. The best agents will do this without bragging. Convey your value is a relaxed and optimistic way that focuses on your experience. For example, “I’m looking forward to helping you; I love this area of town and it is where I have done most of my deals over the years.” That line says a lot about your experience.
Also, make sure the lead knows that you have access to both MLS and off-MLS rentals. If you do, your client will know that you have access to all the rentals on the market, and won’t need to search for another agent.
Note: if you are representing the owner/landlord, you should absolutely get an agreement in place that gives you exclusivity! The above advice is for representing a renter, not a landlord.
2. Protect Your Position
As mentioned, it is unlikely you will have any sort of exclusive agreement with someone looking to rent. Make sure you are not cut out of the transaction by another agent, AND, make sure you are not cut out by the landlord. See our advice above for establishing your value to a client.
As for preventing a landlord from poaching your client, you want to make sure your client knows that you are for them. A landlord is just trying to get a vacancy filled and it is unlikely they would have the best interest of your client in mind in the same way that you will. You should also be mindful of staying between the landlord and the renter. Always act as the intermediary. You should not facilitate any sort of direct connection between these parties.
3. Location Is Fluid
When representing a buyer, you’ll know what part of town they want to live in, perhaps even what street they want to live on, and you are unlikely to change their mind. Renters are different. You need to figure out what is truly important: distance from work/school, affordability, access to amenities, and so on. Renters are much more likely to be open to living in different parts of town. Think of that as another, highly important, “lever” you can pull to find your client a home and get the deal done.
4. It’s Only Sort Of About the Commission
When you close a rental deal, the commission is certainly nice. However, the rental transaction lends itself particularly well to acting as a stepping stone for other business opportunities. Here’s why:
- You may find yourself working directly with both the landlord and the renter. Make sure all parties know you can help them in the future, regardless of who your actual client was during the deal.
- Renters move frequently. On average, a renter relocates every couple of years. Stay in touch and you will have a nice recurring deal flow.
- Renters often have roommates. This means that one transaction may end up being two or three.
- Renters are future buyers, so make sure you incubate the relationship! Our agents report converting around 30% of their renters into buyers if they have a nurture plan in place.
5. Rapidly Changing Inventory
Rentals move fast. A rental that was available in the morning may be gone in the afternoon. Even a rental that sits on the market for weeks may have important changes happen without notice. Some management companies adjust rent continuously in response to changing vacancies levels throughout the building/community. An owner’s willingness to provide a concession may also change without notice. This is quite different than the for-sale market!
Successful rental agents handle this in two ways.
1. They are ready to pivot to a new unit if the one their client initially was interested in gets rented.
2. The agents are continually confirming, and reconfirming, that they have the most up-to-date information.
6. Financial Requirements
When dealing with renters, the deal can get pretty far along before the agent realizes that their client’s income and credit history may pose an issue. The agent must abide by any laws and regulations, and it is important to get a dialogue started early. If your rental client is unlikely to be able to secure their desired home due to financial blockers, there are options including roommates, co-signers, and additional deposits. Also, depending on the owner and any pressure to get a unit rented, there may be additional ways to get the deal done.
Note: Try to find out if a co-signer or parent will be involved ASAP! You may also want to have them tag along “virtually” to any showings to keep the deal moving along.