There are agents that are experienced in helping renters here in the Twin Cities. The difficulty arises in that any rental listings that are NOT listed on our MLS do not necessarily pay anything to the agent for such assistance. That's why the leasing agents can't help you, because their job is to help the owners with specific properties, not helping you, the renter, find properties that may not be listed on their roster.
So, since this is our profession, it's counter productive for us to be spending time with a prospective renter with a good possibility that the owner won't want to pay us for our time. In that case, the responsibility would fall on the renter to pay the agent's fee, and many times, the renters don't want to do that.
Does that make sense? It's difficult to actually tell people that. Some would perceive that as agents only being concerned about the money. When someone says things like that to us, I try to clarify by asking that person if they would want to go to their job, work for days, sometimes weeks, only to be told at the end of that work that they wouldn't be paid? So far, nobody has answered yes to that question!!! :D
Good luck, Katieh!