When looking for a rental home in Toronto, the expectations tend to start dreamily high. With plenty of trendy neighbourhoods and sleek condo buildings going up every year, the choices can seem abundant.
After sending my fiftieth unanswered message to yet another online listing, though, it became obvious that what the headlines are saying is true: Toronto’s rental market is more competitive than it’s ever been, and finding an affordable home on your own is an uphill battle.
Related Read: 5 Tips for Getting Ahead in Toronto’s Rental Market
Gain a Competitive Edge
Tired of spending hours looking online and getting my hopes up with each carefully crafted inquiry into a place, I discovered a little-known secret that made virtually all of my headaches in finding a home go away: a real estate agent can do this work for me, for free.
“I think there’s a big misconception that clients looking for a rental home have to pay out of pocket for our services,” explains Emma Pace, a Zoocasa sales agent. “It is actually the landlord who pays both commissions.”
In other words, the real estate agent helping you find your next home is still getting paid for the hours of work they do – just not by you. Win-win!
How My Real Estate Agent Helped Me Get a Toronto Rental
Ultimately, there are three key issues in trying to secure a rental home on your own that agents can help with.
Standing out to the landlord
When messaging a landlord as a prospective tenant, I ended up drafting anywhere from full cover letters, outlining my stable job and lack of pets, to snappy short posts asking if the unit was even available. Eventually, I found that the only sure-fire way to get ahead was simply by being one of the first responses (hence the need to set Kijiji as your homepage).
Real estate agents, however, have the experience required to really sell you to a landlord and their respective agent. They are able to speak to your qualifications from a position of relative authority and have a better idea of what landlords are looking for in a tenant.
Ensure favourable lease terms
Emma also adds, perhaps more importantly, that they review the lease agreement carefully and “can ensure the most favourable lease terms” for clients. Once an agreement is signed, it can be difficult if not impossible to alter the clauses included in the lease. An agent can make sure that you not only understand what you’re signing, but can negotiate on your behalf to make sure any problematic clauses are addressed.
Finding the time to look
The amount of time it takes to find an apartment that looks reasonably good online is significant, to say the least. As mentioned earlier, the pressure to be one of the earlier replies means that you continuously visit websites for updated listings. This can easily turn into several hours per week of often fruitless searching.
With an agent, though, you provide your criteria and they spend the time looking for you so that you can go back to the IKEA catalogue strategizing your new home décor. (This is much more fun.)
You also gain indirect access to the Toronto Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This database includes hundreds of rental homes that only licensed real estate agents can search through, and enables them to find homes that meet your exact criteria thanks to the extensively detailed search options.
All in all, working with an agent actually made the stressful process of finding a new home enjoyable, rather than feeling like a second full-time job. Who can’t get behind that?