Being a Realtor in Melbourne Florida, you come across very diverse communities, ecosystems and types of housing. I rarely "do" rentals but I seem to have stumbled across a wave of them this month. I began helping one single mom that needed assistance getting into a rental she desired. I help her get into a rental and so far she has sent me three QUALITY referrals.
I have two other clients that are looking for rentals as well. As with my buyers, I sat with them and reviewed their desires and created a web-based listing cart tailored to their needs. I can do that from my iPhone via a LogMeIn Ignition while sitting in their living room or at a Starbucks.
After sitting with the first client, I realized they had the capacity to purchase. I teach a First-Time Home Buyer Class once a month and they will be attending. I've connected her with a local reputable lender and I'm certain we can get them at least $7500 in downpayment assistance via US Bank Corp and possible much more with County or the City of Melbourne Purchase Assistance Program.
The last "renter" is completing an app today. She told me, "I've worked with Realtors before. They treated me like a second class citizen. Thanks for not being a Realtor snob." Six months from now, her credit will be solid and she'll begin looking to purchase a home. I think she may just call me.
Unless your Real Estate business is focused on property management, you're probably not going to make a killing on rentals. Yes, my family has to eat as well. You just may want to consider others that may need assistance. Good seed sown is good seed reaped.
Since posting I've had questions on my process with renters. In general, I only show rentals that are advertised on the MLS. As you know, it would be too difficult to research all non-MLS rental opportunities. Before I move forward, I educate them on buying vs. renting and see if I can convert them to a buyer. Our FTHB programs can provide $7k - $25k of downpayment assistance. If they can convince me that rental is the best route for them, we'll move forward.
The typical rental on our MLS tends to pay around 25% of the first month lease. I'll meet with the renter first and get a "feel" for whether this person is truly ready to get moving. I set them up with an automated listing cart through our MLS system where they are magically notified of rentals (meeting their criteria) as they hit the MLS. The potential renter receives an email each time a new property is added to their listing cart. At that point I advise the renter to 1) drive by properties they are interested in and 2) narrow the list to 4 homes. Then we'll schedule the appointment and view the properties.
We'll pick one and fill out the application together, I scan the pages on the iPhone and email the app on the spot to the listing office. The client will get a certified check one of us will take it to the office as well. We'll see what happens from there.