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What?! You can negotiate rentals?!

Real Estate Agent with Weichert, Realtors nj0998123547

What? You can negotiate rentals?!

I had no idea you could negotiate a rental until I learned the almost hard way.

I was a newbie real estate agent when I got a rental lead from sitting opportunity time at the front desk at my office.

woman on phoneWhat is opportunity time? For those of you who don’t know…agents in my office essentially do the job that a receptionist would do for a shift of 3 hours. And this is something required of all agents in my office about 3 times per month. I had just been trained on the phones and this was my second time sitting alone.

It is nerve wracking when you are a new agent. You sit there anxiously waiting for that “big fish” to call wanting to see a million dollar home. And then panic sets in because you realize you actually have to answer the phone and hope you don’t fumble the whole thing.

Most of the time, nothing happens. You sit there and answer the phones for 3 hours fielding the majority of calls from other agents. And you sigh as you look at the clock and see there are only 10 minutes left on your shift and think… “Well, there’s always next time.”

And then it happened…someone walked through the front door. I was waiting for a phone call and I got a live person instead.

I heard agents who had been in the business for a long time speaking fondly about the legend of a walk in, but was told in this new technological real estate era, they were rare--mythical even…like seeing a Unicorn or a Leprechaun.

Boy, oh boy, was I a lucky, lucky girl! He looked to be in his mid fifties—tall, and well... to me, he was like a model from a Ralph Lauren magazine advertisement (Ruggedly handsome). He was so good-looking to me, in fact, that I think he distracted my anxiety. (or was it just the fact that he was an actual person!?) 

With a big smile, I said, “hello!” and asked, “How may I help you?”

He responded in an English accent, “I am searching for a rental in town.  Do you know of any?”

woman smiling at man shaking hand

I asked him a few questions about what he was looking for and it just so happened that one of my colleagues told me about her re-listed rental property at our sales meeting the day before.  I had the perfect rental for him!!!

Since my shift was over, I was able to take him over to the property right away and he thought it was perfect. 

We went back to the office and wrote up a contract. 

I called my colleague and told her the good news—that I had a contract for her. 

She asked what the offer was and I replied, “Full price.”  

But as I was saying that, my heart sank.  Why was she asking how much the offer was for?  It occurred to me that I hadn’t done any research on this listing for my client—everything happened so fast.

Could I have negotiated the rental for my client?—the question was swirling in my head as I was having a conversation with her. 

I decided the best thing to do was to play a little dumb and say, let me get back to you with the details; I am still working on it with my client.

Boy, am I glad I did that!

I did a property search in our multiple listing database for the history on this house and found that it was rented just last year for a few hundred dollars less per month.  OH CRAP! Now what?

I knew the market had not changed that much in a year to make the house worth that much more, so I decided to talk to my client.  I explained to him that I would like to TRY to get the house for less than what he was asking.  I told him I couldn’t make any promises, but I would try my best.

I had him come down to the office to sign the amended contract to reflect the same monthly rate the landlord was getting for the property the year before.

And now I had to tell my colleague that we weren’t offering full price. CRAP.  I was nervous. But I had to bite the bullet.

I called her up and told her that I did in fact still have an offer, but it was not full price.  I told her what the new offer was and the lease term, etc.  She was irate~! She wanted to know what happened—she had already told her client, the landlord, that a full price offer was coming.

I apologized and told her that the client found out that the house had been rented the prior year for a much lower monthly payment and that is what he felt was a fair price to offer.

There was a lot of yelling on the other end of the phone, but she agreed to take it to her client.  In the end, they accepted the offer and my client moved in the following week. And at least I was his hero.

We kept in touch for the first few months.  I sent him follow up emails just to make sure everything was going well.  And his replies were always the same, “Yup, doing fine here, Sara.  Thanks for asking.”

And then it happened…a month before his lease was up a got a phone call.  I knew who it was as soon I heard the distinct English accent.

“Sara,” he said. “I need to buy a house.”

3 months later, I was at the closing table passing him the keys to his $560,000 home.


house on hand


So, the moral of the story is...YES, you can negotiate a rental!









And that is how my greatest failure to date turned out to be the greatest lesson I've learned about rentals!!

Posted by

~Sara Miniman

"Opening Doors to New Possibilities"

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Weichert Realtors 
55 Stirling Road, Watchung, NJ, 07069

(Cell)   908-405-5539

(EFax) 908-292-1041

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Dena Smith
DSmith Realtors - Irving, TX

Good job. This is an avenue that has worked well for me in procuring new buyers. Funny how you don't realize how much yelling is in real estate until you get into it and then you don't talk about it. If our clients knew what we really go through....

Jun 30, 2013 12:37 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Everything in real estate is negotiable, even rentals.  Glad your client got a deal and a you got a repeat client that bought.

Jul 01, 2013 04:21 AM
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
HomeSmart - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Many people do not realize that rental prices can be negotiated.  It's typically much easier in a buyer's market to negotiate rental price, but as long as you can justify your offer, I would always present the lower price.  Like Chris mentioned, everything in real estate is negotiable.

Sep 13, 2013 07:00 AM