Hunting for an apartment to rent without using property agents might sound like a fun thing to do; especially since it would save you the extra money you would have spent hiring real estate agents. However, while this might save you money, it leaves you prone to mistakes and regrets.
Like a human body without white blood cells, trying to rent an apartment without using property agents makes you vulnerable. Homeowners are largely men/women who expect to cash in on their property by making as much money as they can regardless of the condition of the house, its location, facilities and other details that a real estate agent would naturally be on the lookout for.
You should, however, bear in mind that using property agents has both advantages and disadvantages for you as a renter. We have highlighted them in detail in this piece and will start with the disadvantages of using real estate agents.
Disadvantages of Using Property Agents
Working with real estate agents when hunting for an apartment to rent comes with a wealth of benefits. However, before you hire one, ensure you are very clear on your budget as well as your preferences. Below are the cons of using property agents:
1. The Looming Feeling of Distrust
As someone looking to rent an apartment, it’s perfectly okay if you have a feeling that a real estate agent doesn’t have your interest at heart. This is a perfectly natural; especially when you consider the fact that the same agent might be protecting the interest of the landlord/homeowner more.
In many cases, you are likely to find yourself not trusting the real estate agents 100%. This is not necessarily your fault especially when you realise that the agent also has his/her own interest to protect. Even when you get a good deal from the agent, you might be reluctant to commit entirely to it simply because you just don’t trust him/her. This is a huge disadvantage when using property agents to hunt for an apartment.
2. Missing Out on Information
Using property agents means you have to rely on them as a middleman between you and the seller. In many cases, you will not be contacting the homeowner directly since you are working with an agent.
The disadvantage of this is that you are likely to miss out on information that you would have had access to if you were in direct communication with the landlord. In several cases, such information is not disclosed to you until you ask questions. This is why it is supremely important to ask questions when renting an apartment.
Before a real estate agent approaches homeowners on your behalf, you should provide the agent with a breakdown of precisely what you want. Such details would include your preferred location, the number of bedrooms, the amenities that sit on top of your list of priorities and many more. It then becomes the responsibility of the agent to represent you when speaking to landlords.
The danger of this is that if you become desperate to rent any particular apartment, this can end up working against you. For instance, if you are working with a really fat budget, real estate agents could exploit this to the point where you end up overpaying for the property.
It is quite easy for a property agent to convince a homeowner to make you pay more as rent by increasing what he/she is asking for. Such anomalies can only happen when working with a property agent.
Renting an apartment might be really high on your priority, which is why you’re probably trying to dedicate time to it. This, however, does not mean that a property agent would push you to the top of his/her list of ‘priority client.’ Most times, you would have to work with the timelines communicated to you by the agent. If your personal timelines are not flexible, this could be a snag.
Advantages of Using Property Agents
Despite the challenges of working with real estate agents, they can save you a truckload of trouble and situations that have the potential to leave you biting your nails in regret. Below are some of the advantages of using property agents:
1. More Options
A real estate agent will ensure that you get a richer pool of alternative apartments to choose from as opposed to searching by yourself. Regardless of your preferences, an agent has a strong network of property owners who are looking to rent out their homes and you can always rely on this to get several apartments to choose from.
2. You Can Buy Experience
Using property agents does not give you a deeper pool of apartments to choose from, you also get to enjoy the benefits that come with working with someone whose experience is strong enough to give you a reliable history of the apartments under consideration.
The agent will also be on the lookout for anything that can constitute a red flag and ensure you’re making informed decisions. When it comes to pricing, the value of an agent cannot be overemphasised. Instead of guessing or falling into the traps of greedy homeowners, the agent will let you know what you typically should be paying for an apartment.
3. Absorbing Pressure
Instead of finding yourself in a situation where you have to meet a property owner to negotiate how much you are expected to pay as rent, the property agent takes this pressure off you.
Going back and forth with a property owner can be very demanding especially if you are dealing with an aggressive landlord who is highly skilled in the art of negotiation. Remember that an agent knows the market and what is generally obtainable.
The agent also ensures that emotions are kept under check as a direct involvement with an emotional landlord could stand in the way of what could be a good deal for you.
4. Market Knowledge
There is a clear difference between a sellers’ market and a buyers’ market. In a buyers’ market, what you have is a situation in which supply exceeds demand, giving purchasers an advantage over sellers in price negotiations.
In a sellers’ market on the other hand, what you have is quite the opposite of a buyers’ market. Here, what you have is a situation in which demand far exceeds supply and owners have an advantage over buyers in price negotiations. Real estate agents understand this and how it works, which is why working with them puts you at an advantage.
An agent is also likely to share market insights and knowledge with you, which could help you get a better deal from the property owner. Remember how this can be a disadvantage if the information is shared with the seller? This time, it works to your advantage, which is why it’s important to work with an agent you can trust.
5. Saves Time
How much time would you have to sacrifice if you were to visit several neighbourhoods to check out the homes and to assess the cost of renting them? That would require an awful amount of time. One way to avoid dedicating so much time to such a search is to work with a real estate agent.
You can save even more time by ensuring that you are very clear on what you want. When the agent asks you for what you want, don’t start by saying: “Maybe a 2 bedroom flat, a 4-bedroom flat or a self-contained apartment.” Such an answer just shows that you have not decided on what you want.
In a case you have not made up your mind, tell the agent what your budget is and provide additional details; like whether you will be living alone or moving in with your significant half. This puts the agent in a position where he/she can guide you based on your needs.
Renting an apartment has a legal side to it. It is not enough to simply pay for an apartment and move in 2 days after. There are vital documents and charges involved in renting an apartment. For instance, before you rent an apartment, you need to sign a lease agreement.
Going through the entire process of renting an apartment by yourself puts you in a situation where the landlord has room to have the upper hand. This might not really matter if the homeowner is a straightforward person. However, in a case where the landlord is shady, you might get burnt.
Final Thoughts on Using Property Agents
From the pros and cons, you can see that using real estate agents has both advantages and disadvantages but the as you might have guessed, the pros clearly outweigh the cons.