October 12th, 2017 at 11:00 am


We’ve noticed an uptick in houses and condos for rent lately, and wondered not only who is offering these places for rent or lease, but also how and why our agents are obtaining these listings.

Of course, there are plenty of companies besides our full-service brokerage that list rentals online or in print. But situations sometimes occur in life when someone needs a place to rent in a hurry, and a property owner needs to fill a vacancy. Hence, the need to use a REALTOR®.

Why should you use a real estate agent to rent?

We asked Ron Goldhammer, an agent and property owner in our Beverly Hills office, to weigh in on why renters rely on real estate agents to help them find their perfect rental home.

“They’ll definitely have a better experience with one-stop shopping, and won’t have to be going through all the various websites only to find out that properties are no longer available, which happens very frequently,” Ron said.

“There’s so much homework an agent can do quickly and efficiently. And another benefit of using an agent is that it’s free to the home seeker.”

In Southern California, where rents have steadily risen in most regions the past few years (except where rent control is in place), competition is fierce for rentals as soon as they come on the market. Renters who seek a place on their own are pretty much left to fend for themselves, Ron said. But in the higher price ranges, it’s not uncommon for landlords to employ an agent’s services to find a tenant or lessee.

“Above $3,500 a month, the inventory of lessors who use real estate agents increases dramatically, as it should, because it’s worth it to have an agent take over all the hassles, all the inquiries, all the showings, how best to describe and publicize the property,” Ron said.

Another benefit of using an agent is that it’s free to the home seeker. Click To Tweet

So who uses an agent? It all depends on the price someone is willing to pay.

“If they’re looking for something above say, $3,000 to $3,500 a month, it’s by far to their advantage to use an agent, because most landlords list with agents in those price ranges and higher. They’ll certainly have more inventory to choose from, and easier accessibility with an agent.”

Is demand for rentals really rising?

We asked Ron if, judging by the number of rental listings appearing online, the demand for such homes is really on the upswing.

“Inventory isn’t necessarily larger, but is pretty consistent,” he said. “I’ve been a property manager for many years so I know what’s available in areas like Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, L.A., and Santa Monica. I had two leases come up this year in a property I manage in Beverly Hills. So it’s good to work with an agent who knows the markets you’re interested in.”

What can a renter expect to pay in up-front costs once that prized rental is within reach? In today’s market, Ron said, it’s first month’s rent and two months’ rent as security deposit, which is the maximum a landlord is allowed to take. In some instances, a cleaning or pet deposit is required, but landlords can’t charge a cleaning fee.

What happened to leasing a house with an option to buy, a situation that was fairly prevalent not that many years ago?

“You usually only see lease with option to buy in a down market, because it’s basically predicting a future price when you exercise the option,” Ron said. “The reality is, if the value has changed upward, the lessee isn’t going to exercise their option. In my 25 years in the business, I’ve only done a handful of lease options that just happened to work out that way.”

Competition is even tougher elsewhere

If you think it’s tough to find a rental in Southern California, it can be absolutely brutal in other areas. So, not unexpectedly, technology has come to the aid of would-be renters through mobile apps for Android and IOS.

The latest one, Cribitt, guarantees that you’ll get a tour of the place you want to see within 25 minutes. The company is working to get agents onboard early: It will cover the licensing fee for any new agents signing on, while offering them flexible work schedules, and a generous broker-fee split. All this in an effort to get consumers to search Cribitt’s extensive database of rental apartment listings, most with no fee. You apply online, request a showing, and are guaranteed a participating agent will meet you there within 25 minutes. If you want to schedule a  later showing, Cribitt makes the appointment available one hour prior so nearby agents can snap it up. The service is currently available only in New Your City but should spread to other areas if it proves to be a success.

Are you renting with the hopes of owning one day? For first-time homebuyers, it might not be as far out of your reach as you think.

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