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TC, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

Is rent.com legitimate?

Asked by TC, San Francisco, CA Fri Jan 2, 2009

I've been using rent.com to post my rental unit but they leads I'm getting don't seem legitimate. Not one of the prospects has ever followed through. They all inquire with the same story - they are looking to move in 2-3 months. They e-mail, I answer their questions and never hear from them again. The questions they ask are things that were already in the ad. I had one phone call but they sounded like they were in India, the connection was horrible! I pay per lead so I'm starting to think they have people inquire just to charge me for the lead. Has anyone else experienced this?

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BEST ANSWER
Hi Tonie,

It's definitely legit, but I wouldn't spend the money on it personally. I've actually rented a place as a result of the site in the past and received a discounted rental rate, but yes it was a big complex. Rent.com is an option for renters only if they have exhausted craigslist and yahoo. Even agents who specialize in rentals primarily use craigslist and not really any other marketing tools.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 2, 2009
I definately found the same issues with Rent.com. The leads from other sites always emailed me back after I answered their questions. From this site I paid for six "leads" and not a single person ever asked a question that was not already in the add and they NEVER emailed me back or phoned. People naturally email back even if your place isn't for them. This was an odd experience and I cancelled the service moments ago. I do not think it is legitimate.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 18, 2010
I have to echo what's been said here.

Craigslist is akin to an everyday mans MLS for rental properties in the Bay Area. This is not the case everywhere, but within San Francisco Craigslist is where you want to focus your efforts.

Sites like rent.com generate some leads, but they pale in comparison to the attention your property will likely receive on craigslist.

A rule of thumb that I use, is that if you're not attracting 3 to 5 legitimate leads per week, you've priced your property too high, and it's time to lower it.

San Francisco renters are a savvy bunch, and they are not generally known for paying above market for a particular rental property.

Give craigslist.com a try, and make sure to keep your post active. Rent.com will also generate leads, but if you're only obtaining fraudulent leads, it sounds as if you may have priced your rental unit too high.

Keep in mind that rental rates are down substantially from where they were 16 to 20 months ago, so keep that in mind if you've not rented your unit for some time. You may have to settle for less rent than your former tenant was paying, no matter how much you spend on advertising.

It's simply a weak rental market and there is more rental inventory than we, as real estate professionals, have seen in decades.

As a side note, you can always hire a real estate agent to assist you. I handle quite a few rentals, as do many of my colleagues, and that takes much of the hassle out of the process.

Either way, good luck,
Eric Abrams
CA Broker
DRE 01862927
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 13, 2010
Hi Tonie,

As mentioned below, CL is the best resource and it's free!!! I've been using CL for 10 years to rent my units and client's units. If you want to expand marketing exposure, there is also Hotpads: http://hotpads.com/
& Postlets: http://www.postlets.com/home.php

Both also free.

If you're having trouble renting your unit, it may be that the rent is set too high, along with the time of year. I highly recommend going the pet friendly route since you will expand your group of applicants. Pet friendly inventory in general is very limited. I've been leasing my units to dog/cat owners for 10 years problem free.

Visit my blog for additional rental tips: http://sanfranciscoinvestmentproperty.activerain.com/

or contact me if you have any questions about this approach.

Cheryl A. Bower
Realtor , GRI, ABR
Zephyr Real Estate
Cell 415.999.3450
Cheryl@cbower.com
Web Reference: http://www.cbower.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 2, 2009
Just to clarify… I was also using Craig’s List but I was listing during the holidays which is a lousy time to find a tenant. My pricing was very fair (actually a bit low) and I was getting lots of inquiries but most of them had bad credit and/or odd income situations. The unit was in excellent shape in a great neighborhood so I expected to find a quality tenant. I did find a stable, responsible tenant through Craig’s List. BTW, I am in SF but that unit is in the East Bay.

I still do think that there is something fishy about rent.com. It isn’t just that people asked dumb questions, but that they were so completely out of left field that I truly felt they were false inquiries. I was being charged per inquiry so it’s obvious that they could make money that way. Craig’s List has it’s percentage of flakes, but on rent.com it was 100% flakes. I didn’t get one single genuine inquiry from rent.com where as Craig’s List was giving me several per week. Doesn’t that seem odd?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 13, 2010
Good advice below already.

Just a couple of quick observations.

First, I've found that no matter where I advertise, people ask the same questions that are already answered in the ad. Interestingly, though, my worst experiences along those lines was years ago when I was advertising in the Washington Post. Some questions over and over, all answered in the ads. The price. The location. Number of bedrooms. And so on. I couldn't (and still can't) figure out why people did that. Maybe they're trying to confirm the information. Maybe they've written down phone numbers from the ad, but don't have the ad in front of them. I don't know. It's a mystery.

I'll admit, though, that it's gotten better. I've used Craigslist and VFlyer, among others, and the questions I've gotten recently are pretty specific and often not answered in the ad. Or people weren't familiar with a concept (such as ground rent for a manufactured home), even though I tried to explain it in the ad.

Also, many renters are very flaky. Many change their minds from day to day about what they want, where they want to live, and so on. So they'll e-mail and you'll answer. In the intervening few hours, they've decided they want to live on the North side of town, not the South. Or they've broken up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Or their mom or dad has advised them to do something else. The only thing to do is to follow up with them regularly--say once a week. If you have their e-mail address, e-mail them once a week, cordially, and let them know that the property is available, and remind them which one yours is. I've also found that sometimes people will call 20-30 different places and have no idea who they've called or e-mailed.

Very good advice from Cheryl and Eric, especially. If you aren't getting the quality of leads you're paying for, then stop using the service. It might work for others, but seems not to be working for you. And just double-check your rental price to make sure it's competitive.

But, overall, your experience isn't all that unusual.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 13, 2010
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
MVP'08
Contact
Yes I am also facing same problem here in michigan. I have asked to enquire about two recent leads I got from rent.com. Waiting for reply from rent.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 26, 2009
Been using Craigslist to post apartments for rent but recently dicovered another great free site http://www.iPoste.org
They even allow for free video classifieds of your listing through Youtube, It is easy to use and not as crowded as CL, so your ads get lots of exposure....
Good Luck in this market!
Web Reference: http://www.iPoste.org
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
I've been using Craigslist, I just wanted some other options and rent.com was recommended. It does seem to cater to large complexes rather than individual landlords. I wondered if anyone else had a similar experience.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 2, 2009
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 2, 2009
Tonie,

Have you previewed http://www.craigslist.com for your rental needs. It may be worth a visit to see what they can do for you.

Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 2, 2009
Tonie, I think a lot of property managers (large corporate property managers) use rent.com. If you're not getting any useful leads, discontinue use of the service. I will tell you that craigslist is the best resource for putting your property up for rent. Hopefully, you may have tried that route. If you have an upper valued property, you may want to look for a property manager to help you out.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 2, 2009
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