Most agents should have a good grasp on the rental market in their area. In Portland we do not have access to pull rental comps via the MLS. I am not sure if this varies but I believe your realtor would know best. Due to our experience realtors are typically good at running rental comps from different sources though. You can also utilize Rentometer and Hotpads to help get an idea of average rents in your area.
In some states rentals are listed in the regional MLS. Realtors are then able to pull comps that way. Other states the MLS does not allow For Rent listings.
@Michael Pendleton Rentometer is pretty hit or miss. There needs to be high inventory of rentals with similar criteria for those sites to be accurate. I would usually say it is a good start but you have to pay for a subscription if you are using it daily.
If I were you I would just give a good property manager a call and they should be able to give you accurate numbers for specific neighborhoods within their area of expertise.
@Jacob Wathen - Thanks for your insight on Rentometer. I have already used up my "trial" look ups and am at the point that I would need to subscribe in order to continue using the service, so I am trying to justify if it is worth the cost.
@Michael Pendleton I would explore other options prior to paying for it but it does work fairly well in most markets I have used it.
@Jacob Wathen - Thank you sir!
even in areas where we can pull the MLS, only about 25% (My estimate) of rentals are actually posted on the MLS. We, as a company, rately post on the MLS, since we get enough traction with the other web sites and really dont need other agents to bring potential tenants to us.
Our property management software has a buiilt in system that can show us the comps of all the property managers using that software. There are just a few big software companies and I have found the comps to be pretty accurate.
That and zillow actually does a fair job in high volume areas.
That's surprising that your local MLS doesn't have rentals. Our MLS is a great place to pull comps for rentals.
It's better for single-family homes than apartments. So for apartments, I'll check MLS first. And then I'll go on sites like Apartments.com and even Craigslist to check for apartments in the area. Those sites won't tell you the sold price, but at least you can see what the rental rates in the area are.