You don't necessarily have go thru an agent (which can be expensive or only have access to expensive apts). If the owner says they were called out of town or out of the country suddenly, due to an emergency, a job change, or a church mission trip, and that they cannot trust anyone locally to show the place, and that they want you to wire money to them in order to get the key. Also beware if the rent is significantly lower than than the usual rent locally. And unfortunately, also be wary if the "owner" quotes a lot of scripture ;-(. It's a bad sign.