Rental Basics in Seattle>Question Details

Penny, Other/Just Looking in Seattle, WA

Do we need or should we get a real estate agent to show us houses, condos & townhomes in Seattle if we are looking to rent instead of buy?

Asked by Penny, Seattle, WA Tue Feb 2, 2010

Also, is early June a good time to look for rental homes if we're looking to move in by July 1st? We are not from Seattle...moving from Richmond, Virginia.

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Answers

17
Hi Penny! You are going to love living here! Here are my thoughts on your questions. Just my opinion :)

I would start investigating areas now! About half of my clients are relocation and I like to start working with them as soon as possible. Even if you are renting, it's your home and you need to be happy. In the Seattle area, one of the main "influences" of your search is your maximum commute time from your job. There are several software programs that can help with that (MS Streets and Trips is the one I use). Then you can let your fingers do the walking on the keyboard to get a feel of the different communities. Nowadays, almost every Realtor has a blog and many times they are about the agent's community. Great resource to get the feel of the different areas. You can check crime rates, look at satellite pictures on Google Maps, check school information (if that is applicable, check out the Seattle Times School Guide), find parks, leashless dog parks, etc. Check out the walk-score at http://www.walkscore.com!

Secondly, if your husband's company is allowing a homefinding trip, I'd suggest the 31st of May through the 2nd or 3rd of June. That's the time that people will be moving out and the most will be available.

Lastly, there are some nice rentals listed with the MLS in Seattle area and you can get that information from a Realtor. Craig's List is a resource as well but be very careful as there are a plethora of scammers on there right now for rentals. DO NOT believe anything that seems too good to be true. It is. No money prior to seeing the home with either their agent or the owner...check the tax records to make sure the county shows the same owner's name as the landlord if it's not an apartment complex. Many people from out of town (or the country) are trying to take advantage (scam) of potential renters by "renting" a home they don't even own using Craig's List.

Hope that helps! If you have any questions, give me a call at 206-216-3440! I don't "work" rentals but am always glad to help point you in the right direction!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
Penny,
Years ago my wife and I felt like we found a secret stash of rentals when we went through an agent. We found some great deals that weren't available via the newspaper, and Craiglist didn't exist then. I would suggest you find an agent to at least send you rental options and discuss with them what your goals are. You may also find a valuable resource for a future purchase in that agent, and or consider lease options rather than just straight rentals. A lease option would lock up today's prices which may seem like a bargain in a few months if things finally rebound.
An agent can also help guide you through the various communities so you can decide which area suits your requirements. I would also start your online search early so you can gain a sense of this market.
Welcome to Washington.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
If I were you, I would just go straight to Craig's list and see what was available in the area. And yes, early June would be a great time to start looking for July. If you are not sure where you want to rent, it might be helpful to you to talk with a real estate agent about the different neighborhoods, schools, etc. We know a lot about where we live because of our profession. I would be happy to have a conversation with you if you would like. Feel free to call me at 425-483-6849. Good luck to you in your move. I work with a lot of relocation clients, so I would be happy to help.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
In Seattle, Craig's list is likely the #1 place people look for rentals. Some are in the mls, but not many and those are likely in Craigslist too.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
No, the overwhelming majority of rentals are handled either by owner or property managers.
Early June is a fine time.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
No, Penny, they represent the landlord. They're fine with showing - on their schedule!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 7, 2010
Thanks again to everyone who has responded. Your responses have been helpful. Just wondering...is there a fee that we need to pay for agents that show around rentals? If so, how much is the fee typically?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 7, 2010
Good luck on your move! Craigslist is a nice place to start as long as you are "renter beware" - I find that you can pretty much accomplish most of what you are looking for on Craigslist, but many rentals are listed in the MLS now. We actually put a rental page up on our site so people could look around and see what is available. You are welcome to look around and we do have an agent here that does rentals so they could tour you:)

Hope your move is smooth!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 7, 2010
Penny, I would take a two prong approach. Choose and agent to send you rental listings and show you some. We can do this generally without the property manager for most rentals. Then, on your own, check out other sites for non-mls listed rentals and set up separate times to see any of these that appeal to you. Let the agent know your strategy so there is no confusion.
An agent will also help you understand some of the character of the areas you are considering. We have lots of interesting neighborhoods in and around Seattle, depending on your priorities.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 3, 2010
Thanks everyone for your responses. They've all been very helpful. It looks like the best dates for us to go look for a rental in Seattle will be around June 3 - June 8th (due to husband's job constraints). Do you think that rental managers/owners will be willing to show us their place over the weekend in addition to the weekdays? I would hate to have a day wasted (e.g. Sunday) in case they wouldn't be willing to show us their rentals on a weekend.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 3, 2010
In WA, unless otherwise provided in the lease, a tenant needs to notify the landlord that he is leaving, 20 days before the end of the lease period which is usually the end of the month. So tenants leaving by June 30 have to notify their landlord by June 10.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
Laurie, that's a great point!

Craigslist scams are few and far between, but so are auto accidents. The link below will take you to a site that illuminates the most common ones.

Realistically, Penny, you really shouldn't waste time on anything where somebody isn't willing to meet you at the property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
Yes, that's a good time to start. Most landlords won't hold a property longer than a few weeks, unless you're willing to pay rent in the interim. When June rolls around, look on craigslist but also find a realtor here to email you listings since that's a good way to find quality inventory.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
VIP - Usually Property Management Offices are Mon- Fri operations, though they will show on weekends if you call for a showing Mon - Fri. Many people expect to find a rental over the weekend like they do homes for sale, and often that is not a good plan.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
There are 260 rental listings in the NWMLS for Seattle, compared to over 2000 sale listings.

Those 260 can be viewed from the websites of most major companies, if you so desire.

Property managers are real estate agents too, Penny, and they are quite willing to show their listings, although they often do not co-broker them, so other agents do not have access.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
I would suggest calling the owners directly, and setting up appointments with them, so you can go and view the property.

If you contact a Real Estate agent, they can send you a list of rentals available, but will not spend the time with you driving you around the city, unless you are willing to pay them some kind of up front fee. But everyone works differently when it comes to rentals.

You can look up rentals that are available on diffrent rental sites, and craiglist as well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
Some real estate agents do assist with rentals, as there are some rentals posted in our local NW Multiple Listing Service database. I would recommend a rental professional - like Cassie (info below) - who only does rentals:

Cassie Walker Johnson
Windermere
(206) 999-9820 cell
cpjohnson@windermere.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 2, 2010
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