Several times a year, people want to find rental housing phone me (or sometimes email me), asking for help with rentals of various sorts. When I explain that most Santa Clara County real estate agents do not work with rentals, myself included, only buyers or sellers, the reaction runs from surprise or even disbelief to anger. In many areas of the U.S., real estate agents routinely handle leases or month to month rentals. Why not here?
In the Silicon Valley or San Jose area, most leases or rentals are offered “by owner”. The owners choose not to hire realty professionals to represent them, and they elect not to want to pay commissions. So while in many areas of the country, landlords employ real estate licensees to help them to rent properties, here that is seldom the case – at least in terms of offerings made available to the public. (Owners may hire agents to manage properties, but don’t want to pay commissions to the Realtors or sales people working with people trying to locate rental housing.)
Most homes for rent can be found on Craigslist, but there are a very, very few offered on our local MLS (MLSListings.com). How few is few? Just now I ran ALL of the rentals available in all of Santa Clara County – apartments, condos, townhouses, attached homes, detached houses. In a population of 1.8 million people, can you guess how many rental homes are on the MLS this moment? It’s 64. Just houses = 46.
Why this problem? With our inventory shortage, most landlords feel that they don’t have to pay $500 or whatever the fee would be to locate a tenant. Not only that, but many full time agents wouldn’t be too excited about spending weeks with a rental client only to get $500 and then split that with their company! It’s just not worthwhile.
So when you call your local real estate licensee asking about rentals available, please understand that this isn’t part of what is usually done in the Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga or nearby areas in general. Yes, there are some exceptions. But for the most part, the owners of those properties don’t want us involved.
For related reading:
What do Silicon Valley Real Estate Agents Do? (how their time is spent)