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What About Using the MLS for Rentals?

by Doug Pitorak

What weight does the MLS have with agents who deal extensively with rentals? According to one industry professional, the MLS is neither obsolete nor crucial to the rental market, but a vast majority of rentals are marketed on websites such as Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, Domu.com and Hotpads.com.

T.J. Rubin, the managing broker of Fulton Grace Realty, a firm that rents from several hundred to thousands of units annually, said about 50 percent of those units are not rented through the MLS.

“As a listing agent, we want to advertise where the renters are looking,” Rubin said. “I think more renters are not necessarily represented by a Realtor [and they’re not] searching on the MLS. Historically, most clients for rent – most tenants – are searching other websites.”

When hopeful renters do turn to the MLS, they’re usually looking to rent private condos or perhaps desire a more expensive unit with monthly rent exceeding $1,200, Rubin said; agents are more inclined to list higher priced rental units on the MLS because they are worth their time and effort. Less expensive units – mostly studios and one-bedroom units – are typically the type of apartments not listed on the MLS.

The obvious benefit of non-MLS sites, Rubin says, is that they provide a platform for a plethora of available units that would otherwise receive little exposure.

“The MLS is only as good as the agent listing the property,” Rubin said. “It’s important if you’re a listing agent to put in all of the correct data and make sure you have accurate pictures. If an MLS agent is not as responsive or their pictures aren’t as accurate, it stunts the apartment search and may lose precious, valuable searching time of finding an apartment.”

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