While real estate agents often exclusively service those in the market to buy or sell a home, some can also be excellent resources for assisting renters in finding their dream apartments, condos, or rental homes. 

In fact, having a real estate agent in a large, highly competitive market such as New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago can give a renter a huge advantage in his or her search. In addition to listings that can easily be uncovered with simple Internet searches, these agents also have access to rental listings included in the multiple listing service (MLS) database and unlisted units coming on the market.

Real Estate Agents Offer Negotiating Advantages 

Beyond giving renters a leg-up in their search, real estate agents can also be a powerful asset when negotiating terms with future landlords. Agents can work with you to ensure you're getting the best monthly cost for your rental, as well as help you obtain better terms, including reduced security deposits or credits for work that may need to be completed prior to your move-in.

Key Takeaways

  • Real estate agents can be a major help when looking for a rental property, especially in competitive markets like New York or Chicago.  
  • Agents offer key advantages to renters, such as access to rentals in the MLS database and units that are soon to come to market. 
  • Real estate agents can also provide assistance with negotiating with landlords, including terms and security deposits.
  • Fees for using real estate agents to find rentals may be covered by the property owner or by the renter.

Finding Real Estate Agents 

The easiest way to find a real estate agent who also services renters is to check local rental listings online or in your community newspaper. Keep an eye out for listings posted by real estate firms rather than property management companies or individual landlords. Once you find a real estate agent who has posted a listing that appeals to you, get in touch with him or her via phone or email, and ask about the listing and comparable listings they may also be aware of. From there you can have your agent set up showings for you just as you would for a sale property.

While agents can be amazing assets for future renters, be sure to discuss fees up front. In some markets, the renter is responsible for covering agent fees, while in others, fees are covered by the entity listing the property.