Beginning my career in real estate and then transitioning to spend nearly a decade in the rental industry has offered me some interesting insights and observations. The most obvious has been that when the real estate market declines you will predictably notice an upswing in the performance of multifamily and single-family rentals. What has been most fascinating over the boom, burst and again burgeoning real estate industry over the last 10 years is the effect millennials have had on altering the cycle.
If I learned anything from my time in real estate, it’s that the most common personality trait I spotted was amazing social skills. The entire industry revolves around networking and maintaining relationships; today’s homebuyer often brags (or laments) their experience, and passes their opinions onto those around them. The curveball that is millennials (born after about 1980) is they oftentimes have a vocal online presence and an inclination to break the mold. This could be one of the greatest and least exploited business opportunities for real estate agents with a drive for success wherever there is potential.
The idea of finding a safe 9-5 job with benefits and settling down to buy a home is not the mindset of the younger half of the country. Based on a recently conducted nationwide study, 50% of the millennials in the U.S. are renting as opposed to only 37% merely five years ago. This kind of growth is being facilitated by your friends, colleagues, children of friends who have grown up, family members and anyone else who fits that age demographic. Whoever they might be I am willing to bet that you have several of them actively in your life.
When you consider this from a business perspective you should start by asking yourself “what resources do I have readily available to work with?” For starters as real estate agent who has made a career of selling, you will have naturally amassed a hefty database of connections. They might be stored in your phone, Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, Twitter or Instagram followers, or maybe they are just one of the many regular faces you see around town. Whoever they are they undoubtedly need a place to live, and who is better qualified to help them than someone who has dedicated their life to finding the right home. By simply offering a backup option for renters to assist in locating the temporary abode of their dreams you are opening the door to a world of potential.
The internet is the most abundant resource for information that the world has ever had access to. Finding rental properties are no exception, however it comes with an abundance of perils. Many sites require a fee, or an account to be created when applicants want to learn more about a property. Oftentimes sites will sell leads to their partners and applicants end up with an explosion of phone calls and emails making the process instantly overwhelming. Even worse is when a renter goes to a more simplistic site such as Craigslist which has been known to offer deals too good to be true on rental properties that end up with a scam. What the average renter does not have access to though is an account with the local MLS that most real estate agents use daily. A renter who has one contact they can trust that thoroughly knows the local housing market is a valuable asset that they will appreciate. Even better is when a renter is fixed up with a landlord that comes with a positive review – such as one from the agent who sold them their home.
“The highest compliment I can receive is a referral.” I have always loved this quote that I ran into frequently when I was involved in real estate. It speaks a world of truth for any situation, but in an industry with an essential commodity like housing it can provide peace of mind that is priceless. Many parts of the U.S. have been growing with homeowners who see the potential in creating an investment portfolio, and look to rent out their current home. While it can be unnerving for a renter to find a new rental, it can be even worse for a homeowner who is trying their hand at letting strangers’ takeover the house they once called home. Offering to lend a hand using the experience of a real estate agent who frequently deals with people, and who knows how to properly check an applicant’s credibility is something many homeowners would likely be glad to accept. The average homeowner entering landlord territory will likely have little knowledge of how to properly screen applicants to better protect their investment. It becomes a win-win situation as the homeowner will find a more qualified renter while you, the real estate agent, are free from liabilities associated with managing a property.
If I can say one thing about the majority of real estate agents I have met over the years, it is that they are always on the lookout for ways to boost their income. While I have made my home on the rental end of the spectrum, I have seen the potential available to property specialists. An opportunity to enhance your business, expand your networking portfolio and earn extra money with a ”finder’s fee”, all for lending some advice with the resources you have at your disposal is the new best step!