What Real Estate Agents Wont Tell You and Don't Want You To Know

28 Replies

I'm a renter and I see the rental application process very differently than what the Agents tell you. The Agents that I have contacted, tell you to go to their website fill out an online application, pay the application fees online… etc. I think we all know since the housing bubble burst, the rental market has skyrocketed, hence monthly rental prices are overinflated due to the demand. It's ridiculous! and then on top of that the application fee is unethical! Why should a renter have to pay for something that the Agent wants? PlUS the property management fee included in the rent? – it doesn't make sense… It would be like me telling the Agent that he has to discount the monthly rent because I'm an outstanding renter! I'm never late on my payments, I don't have any criminal background, etc. The other thing that the Agent doesn't tell you is what your chance of getting the property is - This is like Gambling - it's like rolling the dice that you will get the home you are applying for. Goodbye $150.00 or more of application fees. Do you know how many Agents have the same MLS home for rent? MUCHO - it's a SCAM - Legal yes Ethical NO!!!

I can provide the proof myself. It’s very easy to obtain a credit report and a criminal background investigation, eviction notices etc. I can get that information and give copies to all the homes I apply for. Why should I be forced to pay for something that I may not get anything for? There is no guaranty that I will get the home if I apply. The Agent can tell me anything he or she wants without providing anything to back it up, even if the Agent doesn’t like the way I tie my shoes… Why, because there is very little Anti-Discrimination Laws that protects the rental consumer. I’m sorry but Agents have found a way to make a quick buck from innocent people.

LOL – Every digital research tool is prone to errors and mistakes. What is most disheartening is that the real estate agencies are taking advantage of renters by charging much more than they are paying for these credit reports and making a sizable profit from these application fees i.e. A Real Estate Agent may get 50 (or more) applications for one home i.e. : 50 x $50.00 = $2,500.00 – $1,147.50 (Average tenant screening package) = $1,352.50 to the Real Estate Agency. Then if you multiply this times 50 homes per year = $67,625.00 in money that the Real Estate Agency has made on top of it’s property management fees. It’s a money making scam! The rules are Agency slanted! I hope that the people renting homes will wise up and report these unfair practices that the GREEDY real estate market has imposed.

I’d like to add some other variables to the Renter’s point of view. Every time a personal credit report is requested it lowers their credit score. That’s why Transunion created SmartMove. If a renter creates a Transunion mysmartmove account, which is free for renters, then this account will prevent a renter from having his or her credit score lowered by Agents or Owners requesting his or her credit history. It will also keep your Social Security number private. Besides when I lease or rent a house, I’m not requesting credit am I? So why does the the Agent need my credit report… An eviction report is all that is needed and that is a very inexpensive report to obtain.

  • People can have bad credit and still pay their rent every month.
  • People can have past criminal records and still pay their rent every month.
  • People with a prior eviction could still pay their rent every month.
  • Plus, an eviction report is the only report that’s specific to the rental industry.

To me, requesting a Credit Report to Lease a home is just a scam to make extra money for the Agent. The housing market is trying to climb out of a hole and finding it very difficult. What happened to a signed Lease, a handshake, a person’s word? Today everything is based on “Nickel and Dimed” strategy. There are ulterior motives behind this credit report request as well. The Agents are prying into your personal financial history to see if you may be a candidate to buy a home, or to see if they can “up-sell” you into a more expensive rental. I see many low priced rental homes listed but when you call the agent, that home is rented, and of course they have more that are higher priced. My advice is get a Transunion or Experian renter’s account - these are free and don’t require you to give your Social Security number to Agents or owners and if the Agent insists on needing a credit report, ask why, Don’t give your Social Security info to anybody unless they can prove how it will be protected, never put your Social Security number in a risk for compromise. You don’t know who has access to this information. There is just to much identity theft happening today. This information is free advice, copy it share it, put an end to this.

I feel like this is just a post made to ignite an argument. 90% of it is so incorrect that I'm just going to assume you are a troll and not waste time addressing any point you've attempted at making.

Okay as a landlord who self manages I will add a few points! 

1) I  DO NOT accept anyone else's report but my own. Way to easy to fabricate and its my security. Its the same reason why a bank uses THEIR appraisal company

2) Doing the work to "check" someone cost money! While you are tired of putting an application fee down for a roll of the dice, it drives me much to spend 1-2 hours getting someone qualified, going through the lease. only to have them not interested! Lets just say I am VERY tempted to charge a $50 fee per person JUST to get interested only parties!

3) Somone's word! HAHA, sorry but i just burst out laughing. Lets just say I have a 14 PAGE lease because of all the **** tenants have put me through!

4) Credit pull- is a soft pull. it does not affect your credit score.

I could go on and on and on. I respect your point of view as a tenant, but I can tell you as a landlord. The only thing that protects me are these things and a lease. I started out very "Friendly" like and I have NEVER been burned more in my life. Once I treated this as a business, my life got much better.

As a landlord we are trusting our tenant with hundreds of thousands of dollars of property! In tenant friendly states it could cost THOUSANDS of dollars to evict and months! If a tenant doesn't have the money to go after its lost.

I'm glad that you took the time to read it. At least, you got 10%.


It's a shame, that a few bad Landlords and a few bad Tenants make the entire rental industry bad...

"Lets just say I am VERY tempted to charge a $50 fee per person JUST to get interested only parties!" This is the type of business practice that I am trying to bring to light. Application fees created on a whim and not on principle. If you don't like being a Landlord find a different job that doesn't involve people.

A Lease is good protection for both parties. I wouldn't lease without one as long as it isn't owner slanted and most are. I'll bet that your 14 page lease is all about your rights. and very little about the tenant's. 

@Elizabeth Colegrove - the ironic thing about Mar's post is he is in FL, where I am.  This is a state where you (the Landlord not the tenant) pays a realtor a full month's rent (bye bye $1500) to to vet out and place a tenant for you.  I wish I could just pay a $150 application fee for that....lol.

Clearly his frustration lies with the Realtors.  I don't blame you for finding tenants yourself. Also, your 14 page lease.  Is there any way I can get a copy if that's cool? No big if not, but I'm sure there is alot I can learn from it. 

@Mitchell Jaworski are you required to use a realtor? I know in the states i operated yes, if you use a realtor you have to pay the fee not the tenants. I just don't use a realtor :)

I can't provide my "exact" lease put i put together a list of all the "items" i put in my lease. I am happy to send you the link if you pm me!

@MAR DOUDAN , I feel for you.  Here the rental market is crazy as well, and I feel bad for the good tenants who need a place and have to submit and re-submit apps all over again at different places because rentals are scooped up so quickly. If someone submits an app with me and are in second (back-up) I refund their app and fee back to them if the 1sr applicant qualifies.  Immediately.   If I were you, I would try private party landlords if you can. Change tactics from the agency realtors who don't know you from squat.  Network with co-workers, church folks, gym buddies, golfing buddies, whatever to see if something's coming open.  If you were in my area, I would try and get you with someone like me that actually gives a rip.  Been to Orlando once, beautiful place! Keep your head up and hang in there! 

Elizabeth Colegrove not to intrude -- but I'll take a copy of your lease terms, I'm going to be new to land lording and very curious on how it looks --

We shouldn't stereotype real estate agents, landlords, or renters... it is different everywhere and with everyone.

I think it is unfair to speculate how much $ each party is "scamming" for... there could be a lot of extra and/or unforseen expenses involved for anybody... and nobody is in business to LOSE money! A renter is looking for a good deal, and a realtor or agent or landlord has to make a profit.

Also, everyone has the right to protect their rights and property, and if they are not doing it in YOUR best interest - just go somewhere else!

It all depends on what works for you and how much you can put up with as a renter, agent, or landlord.

Hello Mar,

I will take the bait!

I am a property owner and as such I see the application process differently than what the Renters tell you. So here is the other side of the coin.

I will agree that an application fee in excess of $100 may seem excessive in some areas of the country.  However, as you stated it is legal and nobody is making you pay it. You can choose to look at other properties with out the "high" application fee. The fee is for more than pulling reports though it takes time and resources to properly vet an application and with out a fee in my area I would get 10 tire kickers for every 1 real applicant with out charging a marginal fee for the application. 

  • People can have bad credit and still pay their rent every month.

Very true BUT if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.

  • People can have past criminal records and still pay their rent every month.

See above: People with criminal records tend to make poor decisions and increase the property owners risk / cost in the long run.

  • People with a prior eviction could still pay their rent every month.

See above. Prior evictions also show poor decision making and increase the property owners risk and cost in the long run.

  • Plus, an eviction report is the only report that’s specific to the rental industry.

Yes, because you cant evict a person from a car.

Your funny! This is a business not a "scam" where people invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to collect application fees.

Yeah I'm funny... here is another laugh for you. I emailed a RE Agent this morning that I have been in contact with for the last few months helping me find a home. I had to email him twice the same questions, because he didn't reply to my first email. This is what I asked him: Can you tell me what are the requirements to lease a home? I see that there is an application process. What is required and what is the determining factors like Credit Score range, income verification, letters of recommendation, etc? What is the application fee cost? How long does the process take? 

His reply was: "Call me to discuss xxx-xxx-xxx. Thanks." 

Ok, I called him - he said that "I have to be careful what I say (wrote) in an email because he could lose his license". He went on to say that the application process is challenging, that there is no guarantee that you will get a home that I apply for. That undoubtedly, I would have to make multiple applications. That some homes can get as many as 50 and more applications. So it's a gamble. I had to pry this information out of him. 

My point here is, that when an industry that you are doing business with doesn't want to offer transparancy of what they are providing, then something is fishy. It also supports my claim that the "Rental/Lease Application" process that has been crafted to protect owners, has been turned into a cash cow for Agents. And is being milked for every penny...

All of your questions were very open ended and in my mind impossible to answer with any really accuracy. You must also understand Agents are held to an impossible standard by the board of realtors and are open to huge liability issues for even giving a "leading" opinion. In this day and age of I will sue you if you sneeze in my direction how would you answer open ended question. 

It's a competitive market, that's life. Open up craigslist and start looking on your own if you don't like using an agent. I have never rented a property in over 20 years with a RE Agent.

Again, reviewing and vetting applications takes both time and money. Should the agent bare the cost for you? I think not. Look at it this way, if 50 people are willing to go threw the process with a fee think how many he would have to go through with no fee.

If none of this is getting through I understand. Why don't you open a business where you take, process, store, and reply to rental applications for free. I am sure you would have a line out the door.

The current Rental/Lease Application process and fee is a recent development, it wasn't always a requirement. The problems that prompted it's creation was the mishandling of personal information i.e. Social Security numbers resulting in the number of identity thefts associated with that process. The Credit Reporting agencies like Experian, Transunion, and Equifax tightened the requirements to allow access to personal credit reports, things like having to have a commercial business address as opposed to working out of a bedroom or a garage and other reasons. That put information access restrictions on many landlords, hence forcing many of them to acquire a property manager company or RE Agent. This increase of Agents and lack of industry management has created a boondoggle in the lease and rental process. It has also created a very easy way to make a lot of money for Agencies that want to take advantage of the system. And many are. All you have to do is the math. Sure I can find alternate ways to lease like CL etc. But I am also going to continue to expose the corruption that I see developing. I have contacted the Florida Consumer Affairs about this situation. Let's see what can be changed to make this an equitable process for all involved. I'm sure there is a solution. The main thing is to shed light on it and make people aware of what is actually going on.

Hi Mar,

"Lets just say I am VERY tempted to charge a $50 fee per person JUST to get interested only parties!" This is the type of business practice that I am trying to bring to light. Application fees created on a whim and not on principle. If you don't like being a Landlord find a different job that doesn't involve people.

You did not read what @Elizabeth Colegrove wrote and you took the time to respond to it. She is not considering a $50 application fee on a "whim" it to weed out the people that aren't really interested as vetting applications cost time and money. 

While I don't know Elizabeth personally she seems very friendly and helpful on this board, so I would say she probably does like people.  

@thomas b

I must have missed  mar's comment when multi-tasking last night! Thank you for your kind words!!


As a landlord I have been burned more times and have more stories I can't talk about in polite conversation because I get so riled up. I would like to mention! I consider myself a great landlord but this is a business!  I understand that your frustrated, renting in a hot area is difficult! It's actually why we bought our first house! Than the bug just bitt us! Plus it doesn't hurt that turning real estate into a busienss means we don't have to rent as often!

I can say that we have walked in both parties shoes! We have been renters and landlords. 

P.s. Have you ever been a landlord? Have you had a tenant walk from a house 2 days before move in after holding the house for 2 months because they decided they weren't going to move! Have you had another person sign a 12 month lease and leave on month 3. I could go on! There is no such thing as a handshake or a gentlemans agreement! I can't even get people to fulfill there written word enforced by a lease ;)

She probably is very friendly and helpful. However, it costs a renter time and money to look for a home as well plus add the expense of moving, etc. Who pays for all that? To me the comment is narcissistic and frankly reinforces my concerns. Although, it would be helpful if she could provide some verifiable data about how many applications she gets when she rents a property, what percentage of evictions vs good stable renters she has had. This would be helpful data. 

@MAR DOUDAN , I just have to ask . . . did you join this forum to learn how to become a real estate investor? If so, then you've come to the right place, it's chock full of information that will save you hours of time and money. One other thing you can do is look for a Real Estate Investment Association (REIA) in your area and start attending their meetings, you'll find a lot of knowledgeable investors willing to share their experiences.

If your purpose for joining the group was to get more information on the rental application process, then you should ask, in a non-disparaging post, for input about the process from the accumulated knowledge represented on this board. You will get plenty of responses from real estate agents and landlords about how they run their businesses and they will be more willing to offer viable solutions to you.

If your only reason for joining this group was to air your grievances about real estate agents and landlords . . . I would say that you've come to the wrong place. The people on this board take valuable time and effort out of their day to respond to requests for assistance, experiences, and knowledge. 

I manage my own properties. I don't charge an application fee because I live practically next door. If I had to spend my time and money to drive over, not be productive, then listen to someone whine that the carpet isn't the same shade as the advertisement and try and reduce the rent, I would likely charge as well. I have my applicants that I want to offer the property to go online for the screening. It's $35, but I give them a discount code for $5. That money never shows up in my pocket; it goes straight to the screening company. Additionally, the credit check they run is a "soft" check, which doesn't impact your score.

Given the lack of understanding of the business evident in your post, I can only assume the property manager you spoke with wants you to take your business elsewhere. Ignorance is not bad, but refusing to educate yourself is. Let's play the math game you enjoyed since I just finished renting a property:

30 minutes per interested party that actually bothers to show up x15 people: 7hr 30min

15 minutes per interested party that didn't bother to show up x10 people: 2hr 30min

Income from fees: $0

Lost wages: 10hr x $25/hr = $250 (I actually make FAR more than that, but trying to be fair)

Let's assume that my 3 properties do this twice a year (the trend so far): -$250 x2 x3: $1,500/year loss

Let's say I don't screen and I get "that guy" that I trusted to tell me how amazing he was like you claim about yourself. I now have a potential for loss equal to the value of my home. Smart move? Not so much. As the landlord, the ONLY thing I know about you comes from a very quick first impression AND THE REPORT I GET FROM SCREENING. Back in the old day, you could trust a tenant with a handshake but now they lie about their credit, they lie about their ability to pay, they lie about their criminal background. Some of these things (state dependent) are not searchable by the public, or if so much be done in person. This is more expensive than $30.

It was an interesting rant and I had hoped to learn something from it. Unfortunately, it was full of little more than empty pixels. Speak from a position of knowledge rather than spite at no one wanting to rent to the squeaky wheel.

I have learned a lot from the replies that I have recieved on biggerpockets.com It's a very informative website and a great place to meet people and share information. Thanks for your help. Now I am ready to go buy some HUD foreclosures and make some real money.

I found an identical post by Mark D on rentprep dot com.

I'm not going to put anytime in responding to a rant.

I doubt he is here to benefit from our experience, and his point of view adds nothing to my knowledge, other than pointing out what a bad tenant might sound like in a chatroom.

@WAYNE G. I'm glad someone else saw that rant on rentprep lol. I spent too long responding thoughtfully only to have him nay-say everything I said. He clearly has something against real estate agents, or the real estate industry in general.

Having a thorough application process is important especially for high-demand rentals because the owner would like the best possible tenants.  

I can see how a high application fee can be perceived as a waste of money to applicants if the property manager accepts multiple applications and would simply provide additional income to the property manager or Realtor handling the transaction.

In an ideal world, you would want to have all of the information for all applicants immediately and at little or no cost to the applicant in order to have the largest pool of applicants to choose from.

To do this, I usually will just check public records and also for proof of income.  There are several websites that will aggregate public records for a small fee and also free credit report websites (beenverified, creditkarma, etc).

This also means that my properties will typically not sit vacant for more than a week or two because I will only ask them to fill out a short application at no cost.

@Stephen White

Would you mind PMing me the link I would like to see what our buddy had to say. Thanks!

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here