By Joy Axelson of Axelson Realty LLC

FINDING A HOME TO RENT:

In these trying economic times, many people either do not want the burden of owning and maintaining a home or they are unable to afford a down payment. Whatever your situation, Axelson Realty is proud to say that we care enough to help tenants find the perfect home. Instead of searching through newspapers and websites, your Axelson Realty agent can set up a rental search for you that e­mails you listings that meet your criteria. Along with the number of bedrooms and other typical criteria, you can specify the school district, garage type, and whether pets are allowed, for example. Just let your Realtor know what you want and he/she will show you properties in which you are interested without the inconvenience of waiting for an open house or calling the owners directly. Make sure you tell your agent if you smoke or have pets so he or she can accommodate you.

Having a Realtor help you find a home to rent is free of charge to the tenant in most cases. If a property is listed for rent by a real estate brokerage on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), they must offer cooperating compensation to the brokerage that finds a tenant. While there is no standard commission, the brokerage for whom the buyer’s agent works often receives around one half of one month’s rent. Then the broker gives the buyer’s agent whatever percentage (for example, 50­80%) of the commission previously agreed upon.

Before having your agent show you properties for rent, you should discuss with your agent your timetable and what you are looking for and have a good idea of what your credit score is. Be honest with your agent about finances so he/she can vouch for you and explain any past credit problems. You are allowed to pull your own credit report (this does not usually include the actual FICO score) once a year for free. However, most landlords want to see your credit report and FICO score. You can go to myfico.com and pay $19.95 to get this (if the landlord does not pull it for you and charge a fee). This is almost always the cheapest way to get your report and score without signing up for anything. You are strongly encouraged to do this before you begin your search. Also, keep in mind that only one agent can represent you at a time. Instead of calling the number on a “For Rent” sign, give the address and phone number to your agent so they can help you. Your agent may even be able to negotiate a lower rental rate or a lower security deposit. Finally, ask your agent for a blank rental application that you can fill out to be ready when you find your next home.