I’m looking to rent an apartment in Toronto and I’m not having much luck. Can a real estate salesperson help me find a place?

First of all, I’m sorry to hear that – finding a vacant apartment in the city can be difficult, so it’s great that you’re thinking outside the box and considering the advantages of using the services of a registered real estate salesperson or broker. These advantages include the knowledge and experience they bring to the table, the ethical standards they are required by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) to uphold, and their ability to locate properties that suit your needs. Working with a salesperson to find a rental can also provide you with valuable perspective for when you’re ready to buy a home.

Apartment hunters typically look for available units by scanning newspaper classified ads and certain websites. They may also check for available rentals through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) at Realtor.ca, but that may not capture the status of all the available units, or the ones that are not actively posted yet. Salespeople, however, are able to access MLS listings on the fly. When you work with one, they can examine the available options and possibly even arrange appointments with potential landlords for you before other apartment hunters are even aware of the listing’s existence.

Keep in mind that you probably won’t find a lot of lower-priced rental options on the MLS. Some brokerages choose not to handle rentals, and some of the ones that do may not advertise the fact.

It’s important to perform some due diligence ahead of time. For starters: figure out a realistic budget and get your financial ducks in a row (such as obtaining a letter from your employer that confirms your income, a reference from your current landlord and a copy of your credit score) before you approach a real estate brokerage. Once you have a salesperson working on your behalf, you may have to act quickly so it’s a good idea to have these resources already available.

You might be asked to sign a buyer representation agreement that covers lease agreements by the salesperson’s brokerage. Take the time to read it and understand it thoroughly before you apply your signature. In most cases, using a real estate salesperson is at no cost for the future renter because the landlord pays all of the commissions, but you’ll want to be sure this is the case and there aren’t any fees involved that you would have to cover directly. Remember that you could find yourself on the hook to pay your salesperson’s commission if you attempt to back out of a rental agreement or rent a different property without their knowledge or assistance.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email askjoe@reco.on.ca.

 

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Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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