How do I find a real estate agent for rental purposes?

10 Replies

When I decided to live/work abroad, I needed to rent out my home. A friend recommended a realtor. I've worked with her twice to rent my home when I needed to find a new tenant. She was great! However, she can no longer work with me and I need to find a new tenant. What's the best way to find another realtor? I just need them to provide the service of finding a new tenant.

Well if you are on good terms your current agent I would ask her. Or you can call the managing brokers of companies you're interested in working with and they can point you in the right direction. A hire is a hire regardless so interview a couple before handing them the job. Real Estate Agents (as I am one) have an 80-15-5 Rule. 80% suck, 15% do enough to get by, usually part timers, 5% Sell/Rent everything. You can reasearch this by hoping on your preferred home search site and you'll see the same names pop up over and over.

What part of California are you in? Another option is to find a good property management company. Most will find a screen you a tenant for a reasonable price even if you don't use their management services. 

Given you will be living abroad, I would also recommend a property management company. A realtor that just lists your house will not typically be the point of contact for issues/problems. A property manager will handle everything related to house, include dealing with the tenants issues and rent collection.

I agree with Anthony and Mike in this case, (full disclosure, I'm REALLY biased, I own a property management company in the Sacramento region).  

If you're going to be living abroad, making sure that you have a local entity that is focused on management services with the know-how and resources to bring to bear in case anything goes wrong will be invaluable.  

You can look at management companies like fire departments, (to a degree).  It's not a perfect analogy, but it gives the flavor of what happens in a rental: the vast majority of houses don't burn and most people don't need emergency medical attention every day.  

In the same way, chances are that your tenants will likely pay their rent, take reasonable care of your property and will simply want to be left alone. 

However, we have decided as a society that it is worthwhile to maintain fire departments because the downside of something going wrong, (as rare as it is), is bad enough that it's worth the additional expense.  That is the same cost/benefit analysis that every property owner needs to step through as they decide if they need to engage management services and from who?

To carry the analogy further, fire departments are usually better positioned to engage in various prophylactic measures as well: inspections, prevention, education.  Property managers do that too, though we don't have the cool uniforms and we don't usually run into burning buildings, (like I said, its not a perfect analogy).

Your decision to engage ongoing management is very dependent on the property and the tenants.  If the home is newer and in a more upscale community, the likelihood of drama is lower, (though never eliminated), simply because common life events, (car issues for instance), are less likely to financially derail a tenant with a higher income; they are simply more, (financially), resilient.

An alternative, if you don't want to engage ongoing management services, is to  simply hire a PM to get it leased.  In our market, it is common for property managers to provide "Lease-Up" or "Tenant Placement" services where they do all the showings and screenings then hand the tenant back and deposits back to you to manage yourself.  Those typically cost between 75% and 100% of one month's rent in our market, but YMMV.

I hope that helps.  Good luck in your travels.

If you will be long distance, ask the realtor for a property management recommendation - probably outside the firm, so it is unbiased.  If you just need a listing and will self-manage then a referral to an agent could be the way to go.