While working with an agent isn’t right for every rental unit, they can help you with pricing, finding great tenants, and even help decide on property upgrades.
Benefits of Working With An Agent
Even though many choose to DIY renting out their home, there are plenty of benefits to using a real estate agent who specializes in rentals:
- A highly qualified local agent can offer insight into rental prices
- Experienced agents can help get more eyes on your property due to their advertising and marketing expertise
- Agents can help you sift through applicants faster
- Agents can help you avoid property vacancies
- An agent can help you focus on the duties of being a landlord, especially if you have multiple properties
- Agents are typically only paid if they help you find a tenant
10 Steps to Renting Your House With An Agent
Here are the steps needed to help rent your house with an agent:
- Identify Rentability
- Find a Qualified Agent
- Run A Rental Market Analysis Report
- Complete Property Repairs and Upgrades
- Hire a Cleaning Professional
- Set Your Rental Price
- List and Advertise Your Property
- Discuss Rental Applications and Tenant Screening
- Sign the Lease Agreement
- Determine Next Steps
1. Identify Rentability
The first step in any rental process is to determine if your home can legally be rented. You are required to adhere to lender policies, insurance rules, and all local and federal renting and zoning laws.
A chat with your lender will help you determine if you can rent out a house with a mortgage. Many lenders restrict property usage with certain loans. For example, USDA loans do not allow rentals of any kind.
In addition, most government-backed loans do not allow you to buy a house and rent it out immediately. Several loan types have owner occupancy requirements that require you to live in your primary residence for at least one year before renting.
Your real estate agent can help you understand general loan information, but be sure to have a chat with your lender to discuss your specific loan type and what requirements must be met to rent out your property.
Local Laws and Zoning
Landlords must also be knowledgeable about local laws and zoning. Many states and local areas have specific rules to understand. For example, if your home is part of an HOA, there are specific rules and restrictions (CC&Rs) just for your community.
An experienced local agent may be knowledgeable about your community, but it is still your responsibility to adhere to landlord laws and policies.
If you are planning to rent your whole house, you will likely need to update your insurance coverage. Most landlords need landlord insurance to ensure they and their property are protected.
While talking with your insurance carrier, it’s also a good idea to discuss the benefits of requiring renters insurance from your tenant. This helps to ensure the tenant’s belongings have protection while they are living on your property and you aren’t held liable.
2. Find a Qualified Agent
All real estate agents are not created equally. If you want to get the most value for your money, you need to do a little homework. Just because an agent has paid for a space on Zillow doesn’t mean they are the most qualified for the job.
Questions to Ask a Potential Rental Agent
Interview a few agents and ask them about their rental experience. Here are some questions to ask to find your best match:
- What is your experience with rental properties and advertising them?
- Are you knowledgeable about lease agreements?
- Do you have a standard lease agreement you use?
- Are you a local agent with experience in this community?
- Do you have recommendations for local handymen, landscapers, or house cleaners?
- Do you offer services for property management?
After a short interview, you can also get a sense of whether or not your personalities will work well together.
3. Run A Rental Market Analysis Report
If they haven’t already, ask your agent to run a Rental Market Analysis report (RMA) on your property. This can help you to identify what similar properties are listing for and help you determine your potential rental price.
Be sure to make comparisons beyond just the square footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Here is a list of features to consider when matching your property to a comp:
- Quality of nearby schools
- Community amenities (gym, pool)
- Garage or designated parking space
- Walkability score
- Neighborhood safety
- Home security features
- Upgrades in the house
4. Complete Property Repairs and Upgrades
Ask your agent to come view your property. Go through each area with a fine-tooth comb. Ask them what repairs are required to ensure warranty of habitability and what upgrades would add the most value as a rental.
Check to see if they have a move-in checklist or other tools to help ensure your property is “rental ready.”
Based on your RMA, you can discuss your general budget and how much money you have to work with for upgrades. Ask them to help you prioritize which upgrades will produce the best long-term ROI for your property.
A fresh coat of paint is often the best money you can spend on a rental.
Be realistic with your DIY abilities as your rental property is a long-term investment. Paying a handyman to have something done right will save you money and headaches in the future.
5. Hire a Cleaning Professional
One of the best things you can do to attract highly qualified tenants is to hire a cleaning professional for a deep clean of your property. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and a clean space makes a good one.
Ask your real estate agent if they have a contact for a fantastic cleaning professional. Many agents use the same services frequently and may be able to help you get a discounted rate.
6. Set Your Rental Price
Ask your real estate agent to help you determine how much to charge for rent. Setting a fair rental price is a balancing act.
You must first determine a rent minimum to ensure you are making enough to cover your expenses. The cost of your mortgage, property taxes, insurance, licensing, and fees can add up quickly.
Your agent can also discuss the tools and techniques they use to help set rental prices.
Make sure you are clear about your rental price budget. Sometimes agents are ready to make a deal and may not always consider your number a hard line. Discuss how much you are willing (if at all) to negotiate your price for a highly qualified tenant.
Don’t forget that your location and the time of year can affect your rental price. Ask your agent if postponing a month would affect your price enough to counterbalance a month of vacancy.
7. List and Advertise Your Property
Your agent’s expertise in advertising will really come into play in this step. Many real estate agents partner with professional photographers to get high-quality photos of the property. They should also offer you several advertising tools such as flyers and social media posts.
Discuss their advertising strategy, where they plan to list your property, and how you can help.
Agents also typically attend weekly meetings to share upcoming properties. They may ask you to add your home to the tour list, so make sure your property is ready for showings.
Keep in mind that advertising is a big part of what you are paying for with an agent. Be clear about your expectations and ensure they are taking an active lead in representing and advertising your property effectively.
8. Discuss Rental Applications and Tenant Screening
Many rental real estate agents have access to generalized forms (applications, lease agreements, and screening tools) that they will tailor to your property. It’s a good idea to ask questions about what is included in the application to be sure that you can appropriately screen tenants and that they will match your qualifications.
All landlords have a specific set of federal, state, and local rules they must follow. However, you still have a say in certain things such as your smoking and pet policy. Be sure that these restrictions are listed in the application.
As potential tenant applications come in, discuss your agents’ screening process. Many will have a specific system they use for screening applications and a procedure for denying rental applications.
9. Sign the Lease Agreement
Once you have found a high-quality tenant it’s time to set the terms and sign the lease agreement. As a master at contracts, your agent will likely help you with this process including creating the lease agreement with the specified terms and requirements including information about the eviction process, how to pay rent, and what the tenant is responsible for.
Be sure that you as the landlord also sign the lease agreement.
10. Determine Next Steps
Most real estate agents do not take on the role of property management. So, you will need to decide your next steps as a landlord. You can hire a property manager or opt to do it yourself.
Property managers typically charge between 8% and 12% of the monthly rent. If this expense falls within your budget, it may not be a bad idea.
Do I Need a Real Estate Agent To Rent My Property?
It is not a requirement to rent your house using an agent. Many landlords opt to rent without an agent. However, using an agent may help you to save time, avoid vacancies, and ease your workload.
How Do Real Estate Agents Get Paid for Rentals?
Payment for finding a renter varies. Agents may charge the landlord a flat fee of 50% of the monthly lease amount, 10% percent of the yearly lease amount, or an entire month’s rent.
For example, if your home rents for $1,200 a month, an agent would typically charge between $600 – $1,200 based on your agreement.
While this may seem like a significant expense, agents can help get your property rented faster, which saves you the cost of a vacancy.