You probably know this by now, but starting a search for an apartment is no small task. Add to that fact that you’ll be entrusting a majority of the search to be guided by someone you only met recently and you’ll begin to understand why choosing a good rental agent is key. But what qualities make up a good rental agent?
Honesty is important in any facet of life, but especially when you trust someone else to find you a place to live. How do you tell if an agent is honest? Ask questions! Ask them as many questions as you have about any apartments they plan on showing you. That way when you get to the showing you have the evidence to prove whether they’ve been honest with you or not. Just don’t try to play a “got ya!” game. If they say the apartment is two blocks from the nearest T stop and it’s actually three, let it slide.
You’re probably a busy person, whether it’s with work or your studies. So when you take time out of your schedule to look at apartments you expect your agent to be on time. When you call them you expect a timely response. These kinds of things indicate the reliability of an agent. The apartment search is time consuming enough without being left hanging by an agent. If you’re constantly being stood up it may be time to move on and find someone else, hopefully they won’t be too heart-broken.
Knowledge of the law
Real estate law can be tricky business. There are policies about pets, rent, types of occupants, and more. It’s dense and can be confusing to newcomers, so having someone who is knowledgeable can really make the apartment search go much smoother. Once you’ve determined you can trust your agent they will be able to help you interpret the law and avoid situations that could cause a legal conundrum. Ask them to clarify any confusion you may have about the lease or anything else pertinent to your rental.
Exclusivity is king when it comes to negotiations. If the agent you are working with has exclusive listings you have a better chance to negotiate fees because they represent that property rather than working through a property manager. It will always be more valuable to have an agent that controls listings rather than one who simply posts open listings provided by property managers. You may still have to pay a fee, but at least you have the freedom to negotiate down which is always preferable to having no say whatsoever as to the amount.
Rental market expertise
Rental agents exist for a reason. If you knew everything about real estate law and the market within your city then you wouldn’t need much help looking for a place to live. Unfortunately most of us do not have an in-depth knowledge of these areas, but good agents do. Give them your price range, size preference, and the areas you want to live in and they’ll know plenty of properties that fit your specifications. They even may help you rule out some places that don’t suit your needs. Keep in mind, if an agent suggests looking in another area they’re most likely doing it for your own good, unless you’re set on finding a 3-bed in the South End for $500, then good luck and god speed.
Unless you have friends in the business you probably don’t know the reputation of each individual rental agent within the Boston area. That’s where PadMatcher comes in. We provide our users with the ability to review their agents, whether it’s positive or negative, and have it show up on that broker’s page. So before you start working with an agent, check what other people have said about them. This will help avoid anyone that doesn’t have the qualities listed above and will put you on the right track to find your new home.