I know what you mean. The ones that offer a phone number rarely return calls, or answer info requests, and when they do, it'll be a bait and switch like, the rent or deposit is more than listed, or, they have a specific date they are showing the property, and to multiple people, so now you're in something of a "bidding war" and better have money in hand, which is ridiculous, of course, because they want an instant commitment. That, in my opinion, is suspicious. In California, anyway, they have restriction limits on how much landlords and others can charge if the fee is for a credit check. Pretty sure it was put into place because people were collecting quite a bit of money just charging credit check fees to multiple people, INCLUDING all the individuals in a single household over 18, THEN not renting to any of them. All I can say is there are plenty of places that are don't involve real estate agents. I know that often the listing is not forthcoming with that info, but as soon as you realize that's what you'd be dealing with, move on. Might want to look for private owner : lots of people are looking to rent a property they've outgrown, or they are downsizing because the kids are gone, or parents are not longer living or unable to live on their own.