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Rentals: Time Donation or Client Base Builder?

Laura Rubinchuk

Laura Rubinchuk

By Laura Rubinchuk

All of the tag lines we hear somehow incorporate the following: Who do you know who’s looking to buy or sell in the next 30 days? Notice we never hear “rent” in those scenarios. Well as REALTORS®, how do you know when to focus your time on a rental, versus a bigger money maker like a buyer or seller? Where do you draw the line?

After a recent experience with a renter where I showed 16 houses and counting, I started to wonder – would my efforts be better focused elsewhere? Am I just donating my time at this point?

I’ve had some wonderful experiences with renters in the past, as I generally do about 6-8 per year (both landlord rep and tenant rep). I’ve had some old renters turn into listings, buyers, and referrals, and then I’ve had some turn into nothing at all. So I tried to come up with a way to evaluate whether to take on a rental client:

1. Is their price range realistic for the market? If they’re looking for a diamond in the rough, I may decide to refer them to an agent who only deals with rentals.

2. Do I have more “A” clients who need my time? I like to devote as much time as necessary to each client to make them feel they’re getting the level of service they require. Taking on too many things will only spread you thin and not make anyone happy.

3. What is their level of commitment to my services? Are they looking at Craigslist too? Would they be willing to pay a retainer fee to assure their commitment to me?

4. What is their prospective outline for the next 2-3 years for buying and/or selling?

5. Are they qualified renters?

You may have your own standard by which you evaluate tenants and landlords, and I’d love to hear them. I find I have a hard time saying no, when I know I should.

Laura Rubinchuk, GRI, is a real estate practitioner with Keller Williams Realty in McLean, Va. Visit her blog at www.ArlingtonRealEstateNews.com or her Web site at www.TheLJRGroup.com.

Comments
  1. Great post! As a full time property manager I would love to see more post about rentals and how agents work with tenants. Good job!

  2. I agree with Mark. I, too, am a Property Manager and love to see posts like this. Nicely written, Laura!

    I think REALTORS don’t see the benefits of Property Management. It can be a steady stream of income (monthly management fees, leasing fees, late fees, etc) for when the real estate sales are running thin. I just don’t represent Tenants, if I don’t have something they can rent, then I just refer them to another property management company in town.

  3. A potential renter wanting to utilize my service, contacts, and knowhow, should and is expected to pay a small consultation fee in advance. The short agreement basicly says I will assist in finding them a potential place to rent in lets say, 20 days. Fee-$300.
    Fee from agent on rental side would still be accepted if available also.
    I don’t do rentals. But even if I call and get data from those that do, (my assistant), i am providing a service that is useful to them. We also give then a renters “check list”.
    This saves them time and helps keep them away from flim flammers.

  4. Laura
    I enjoyed your article and my sentiments exactly! You put into words what I am feeling!
    You motivated me now to take all my satisfied tenants and send them a reminder if they are now in the buyers mArket! So often I look forward to the next client the next sale the next listing or rental- but it’s time to look back in deed. Not time wasted at all when you serve your clients well! I hope to come back to you with my ‘reaching out’ mailing with perhaps new prospective buyers of the future & likewise contact the home owners I have served so well for they may be my listings to sell in the future- thanks its so clear now! Pat Caltabiano, Agent Piazza Realty serving Bay Ridge- Dylker Heights – Bensonhurst – Sheepshead Bay – Gravesend Top Brooklyn Realtor!

  5. Queen

    I really enjoyed the article and the comments. I’m new to real estate and I’ve been wondering how if at all does a realtor make money of rentals aside from actually managing the property. Any articles or books that anyone could suggest for “fresh realtors”?

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