Rentals are Moving Fast, You Have to Move Faster
I do a lot of processing of applications for rental properties for our office. In doing them, I see the same mistakes being made time and time again that wind up costing people the home they had hoped to rent. Some of it is due to applicants who don’t qualify, but some of it falls back on proper preparation and follow through by the agents those applicants chose to work with. I’ve seen a lot of applications that might have been approved, but because of a few key items, they weren’t even considered. Here are four things your agent needs to be doing when you’re looking for rentals.
Search the MLS and show you properties. This one is easy. This is what real estate agents do for a living. I mention it, even though it sounds rather basic, mostly because I know a lot of tenants do searches on their own and then call around to see how to apply. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as there is a wealth of information online about rentals, but I do worry about the rental scams out there. I’ve received many emails over the years from people asking me about a rental situation that they thought smelled a little fishy. Each time, I dug deep enough to uncover them as a scam. There are so many rental scams out there it is scary. The basic premise of most of them is that “I’m out of town, fill out this application, send me the money, and I’ll send you the keys.” Don’t do it. If you can’t meet someone face-to-face, 99% of the time it’s a scam. Real estate agents get paid to do this for a living. Let them help you. Best part? Their services are free to you because the listing agent pays them to find the tenant.
A good agent will help you fill out the application. Whether it’s answering questions or making sure you filled in everything, they are there to assist you. I always get applications that get turned in that are incomplete or filled in incorrectly. Things like your boss’ fax number or email address are important. Your social security number? Also important. Really important. Each of the items on the application are there for a reason – it is all data we use when processing the application and tracking down information – employment verification, criminal background, credit info, rental history – these are all part of what goes into approving your application. Many offices, like Kimberly Howell Properties, run applications on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you turn in a partial application, it will not be considered until it is complete. In the meantime, if someone drops off a completed application while I’m waiting for the rest of yours, they’re going to move to the front of the line. My advice? Don’t leave anything blank on the application. Do your homework before hand and know the fax, email, address of places you’ve lived and worked. Those are the two biggest impediments to me getting your application approved. More often than not, it is what slows down the process of applying for a rental, often because I’m trying to track down how to contact the right person.
They need to provide you with any additional documents that need signed. Most of the reputable property management companies in San Antonio provide a document we call the rental criteria that they will require you to sign. In our office, not turning this in with your application will have your application considered as incomplete. The rental criteria we provide outlines the basics of our policies on how we process your application. It includes info on what we look for and also has important information about things that will cause a rejection. Agents who don’t give this to you in advance of turning in the application are doing you a huge disservice. Like I said, if you don’t turn that in, your application won’t be processed. We also require a few other things – each of which is outlined in our rental criteria, having those prepped and ready will help get you approved faster.
Your agent should deliver the application to the leasing office. Many agents will just give you the address and tell you to go apply yourself. While this is possible and they aren’t required to deliver the paperwork, it typically is a lot faster than you waiting for your work day to end or trying to make it to the office on the weekend. Agents deliver them faster every time. And fast delivery could be the difference between there being one application on my desk or ten. First-come, first-serve, remember? Your agent is getting paid to help you with this rental and they should take the time to help you make it happen. If they won’t, you might want to reconsider who your agent is.
The rental market is always fast paced, but knowing a few key elements can make all the difference. Your agent should be working for you to move the process along quickly so that you can get approved and move-in. There are plenty of amazing real estate agents out there that will go the extra mile for you.