Article written by Dani Vanderboegh from Homelight
When people think ‘realtor’, they often think of the home-buying or home-selling process, but real estate agents do so much more, including help clients secure rentals in the best location at the best price.
If you live in a largely rental-based market or are planning to move to one, a realtor might be just what you need to find your next dream apartment or townhouse. Below, we offer a snapshot of what the rental market looks like overall and we discuss the advantages of using an agent to find a rental.
A snapshot of the rental market
In December 2018, the average rent for a multifamily building (a typical rented apartment) reached $1,419, according to RENTCafé’s year-end report.
Overall, multifamily rent prices have gone up 31% since 2011. Factors in that increase include rising home values (home prices hit an all time high in June 2018), strong economy and growing demand for rentals.
Prices for single-family rentals also surged throughout 2018 due to those same factors. And with economic growth expected to slow down, interest rates expected to rise several times this year, and a seller’s market setting in, renters will likely stay put, meaning they will continue renting rather than becoming homeowners.
Licensed New York real estate broker Dylan Hildreth-Hoffman said that, since the housing crisis in 2008, the rental market in New York City has ebbed and flowed like no other. Because the city is so densely populated and residents so varied, you can almost use it as a microcosm for the rental market across the United States.
A place like New York City has renters of all kinds, including families, empty-nesters, college students, young professionals, and singles. “Rentals, in general, can be very appealing to many different types of consumers looking for the perfect place to live in NYC,” Hildreth-Hoffman said. He also believes that the city has the ability to accommodate all of their needs because it offers a range of options, from short-term furnished sublets, to five-bedroom apartments to studios.
Cities across the country are following suit. Rents keep climbing as millennials continue to migrate into urban areas and cities like Dallas, Miami, Austin, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver are seeing the same trend: more renters and fewer homeowners.
How a realtor can help
With lots of options and as much competition for the “perfect apartment,” it can become a full-time job trying to stay on top of all the listings. That’s where Hildreth-Hoffman says a realtor can step in and provide an invaluable piece of the puzzle.
When asked what advantages renters have when working with a realtor, Hildreth-Hoffman simply said: “Access to more apartments.” He explained that, if you have an agent or broker, 30% of the apartment rental pool can be found in one simple, easy-to-use platform — the multiple listing service (MLS).
When looking for rentals, in addition to searching online websites like Rentcafe.com, a licensed professional also has access to MLS, which is where agents list virtually all of their rentals and homes for sale (with a few exceptions such as celebrity homes) for all other real estate professionals to see. It’s the main tool agents use to find homes for their buyers and renters.
Having more choices via the MLS can help get renters a better price and location and also help find the perfect features. “A strong real estate agent pushing for your price will save you money in the long run,” Hildreth-Hoffman said.
One of a realtor’s greatest strengths is his or her ability to know the market and leverage his or her tools to get the net price down. “A realtor advocating for the renter can also access past rental information and can use that leverage in negotiations too,” Hildreth-Hoffman elaborated.
Similarly, to getting a better price by tapping into a realtor’s negotiation expertise and market knowledge, renters can also get upgraded amenities. From free gym memberships to having the landlord pick up the application fee to a free month’s rent, the list goes on and on. There are contracts, applications, fees and sometimes requirements involved with renting, and a realtor can save renters headaches and time on top of cash in the long run.
“Having a savvy real estate agent can also help you in navigating the application process, which can be extremely time-consuming and overwhelming in New York City,” Hildreth-Hoffman said.