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How to Find a Place to Rent Without a Realtor

Finding a new apartment to rent can be a time-consuming, stressful affair. Some people opt to pay for a rental real estate agent to help them secure a location and avoid the hassle, but working with an agent has its drawbacks too.

Before deciding whether you would like to work with a realtor or not, you should weigh the pros and cons of using the service. If you decide to lead your own apartment search without the help of a real estate agent, there are plenty of ways you can still find and view several available properties in your chosen area.

You can begin your solo search online, browsing your social media connections for any offers and checking through rental sites and real estate agent listings on no-fee websites. If the web is not turning up the types of properties you want and you live nearby the area you intend to move to, you can hit the pavement and start checking out the neighborhood for any available apartment units. Read on to learn more about the drawbacks and benefits of working without a realtor and what you can do to make your independent apartment search a fruitful one.

The Pros and Cons of Using a Realtor

If you are on the fence about whether or not you should use a rental real estate agent to find your next property, the best thing you can do to help you decide is consider both what you will gain from working with a realtor and what it will cost you, literally and figuratively.

For many people, one of the biggest benefits of using a rental realtor is the amount of time that can be saved. You can work with a realtor who will trudge through all the listings, make viewing appointments, organize leasing documents and more, saving you time and energy. They also may have exclusive access to some available properties in the area or connections with property owners that could work to your benefit and expand your list of potential properties.

This can be especially helpful when moving to a new city or region

Rental real estate agents are generally paid on a commission or fee-based plan, meaning they will earn a percentage of your annual rent for the services they provide or they will receive one to three months of rent costs as payment. If you are uncomfortable paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to a real estate agent, you will probably want to skip on hiring a rental agent. Despite the benefits mentioned above, working with real estate agents can sometimes make finding the right apartment more difficult.

Trying to save a few bucks by going for a cheaper agent or an agent from an unreliable company can easily backfire. The wrong real estate agent may not show you the sort of apartments you requested, wasting your time and making you feel increasingly desperate to find a place. Some rental real estate agents run “bait and switch” scams whereby they reel you in with advertisements of an apartment you like but later tell you the apartment is no longer free but that there are other similar apartments available nearby. In all of these cases, the real estate agent is not working in your best interest and may even be trying to scam more money out of you than they need to.

Take Advantage of the Internet for Solo Home Hunting

If you decide to find an apartment on your own, there are plenty of resources online to help you on your way. In most cases, doing online research is the best way to start looking for a new home, whether in your neighborhood or in a new area. Consider following these steps to using the internet for your online apartment search:

  1. Narrow down where you want to live : If you do not already know where you plan on moving, this is the first thing you should figure out. Blindly looking for homes in a large region will end up costing you even more time and resources. If you are having trouble narrowing down where you want to live, start making some pros and cons lists for each area and prioritizing your options. Ideally, you will not be looking at more than a couple of areas at a time. Depending on the housing density, searching for homes in similar areas is more likely to give you the results you are looking for in a timely manner.
  2. Know what you are looking for : Knowing where you want to live is great, but you also need to know how you want to live. Are you looking to rent a studio apartment, a two-bedroom with a balcony or something else? Start making your list of home qualifications that you are looking for and be as specific as possible. While you may not be able to meet all of your ideal apartment standards, knowing what you are looking for is the first step to understanding what you are willing to compromise on.
  3. Do a blanket search for no-fee rental real estate in your chosen area : Once you know where you plan on living, you should so a basic internet search for no-fee or free real estate listing websites in the area. In doing this, the major national real estate listing websites should appear, along with any local listings that may not be as commonly known. Take note of a couple of the national sites and especially a few of the local listings sites that seem to be offering properties in your price range.
  4. Start searching : When you know what you are looking for and how you plan on looking for it, you can begin your search. Start with the most specific searches you can on the websites you have gathered and evaluate the apartments that appear. If you come up with too few results or homes that are not what you had in mind, start making your search terms progressively more vague until you have hit a number of options that you are comfortable sifting through. If any listings are linked out to other real estate websites, you should check those connected websites as well. They may be smaller or more local agencies that offer rental properties you will not find anywhere else.

How to Find an Apartment in Person

Believe it or not, plenty of people still find their apartments through word of mouth and physical signs posted in neighborhoods. If you would like a more face-to-face approach to finding your next apartment or you have yet to turn up anything useful through your online research, consider using a few of these ideas to finally find the home you have been looking for:

  • Take a walk : If you can, you should go take a walk in the area you are planning on moving to. This will give you a good idea of what the neighborhood is like and give you a chance to talk with locals.
  • Ask around : Once you are in the neighborhood, people living there can be your best resource for leads on open apartments. Try to strike up a conversation with someone who lives nearby, initially about how long they have lived in the area and how they feel about it. If the conversation is going well, you should let them know that you are on an apartment hunt. They may be able to provide you with insider information on an open place or at least point you in the direction of other local resources.
  • Visit local hangouts : If talking to the locals is not possible or did not work out, try to figure out where the local hangouts are. Not only will this give you another opportunity to consider the neighborhood and look for potential local inhabitants to speak to, but it may also put you in front of a local notice board or something similar where people from the area post listings.

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