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Should I use an real estate agent for a rental? Check out this Maplewood scam...

As you may or may not know, rental transactions are a marginal business for real estate agents.  They require many hours, uncertain payoff and a very small commission.  However, many agents handle rentals with the knowledge that renters often become buyers at a later date and therefore view it as an investment in a relationship rather than a source of revenue.

It is typical in rental transactions for the tenant to pay the commission or fee (although occasionally, the landlord will pay if the there is much competition or if the property is difficult to rent).  Many prospective tenants look for ways to avoid  the fee - who doesn't want to save a buck, right?  My approach has always been to tell my rental  clients about the many ways to rent without paying a commission.  I figure that my good advice is as valuable to the relationship as anything else.  Here are my strategies for the D-I-Y renter:

  • Knock on the door of the superintendent  in large rental buildings.
  • Call the management company of rental buildings, usually listed in the lobby.
  • Drive around looking for "For Rent" signs put out by the owner or manager.
  • Craigslist.org

If you have more time than money, these strategies may work well for you.  One caveat for craigslist : Be certain that you are dealing with the owner/landlord or a bonafide agent for the landlord.  In this recent craigslist post, a person posing as the owner of a Maplewood NJ house has advertised it for rent (at a below market-rate price).  The house is not, in fact for rentbut it is for sale.

"Hello      I can see you are interested in the ad I have pasted, I am currently in West Africa where I work as a volunteer with the RAFIKI FOUNDATION,here is the site for more detail about why I am here in Africa.( http://www.rafiki-foundation.org/). So I need a tenant to take care of it but since  I am out of the state now, I have received some proposals regarding the rent because it is located in a very good area of Maplewood, but I still have to make sure it is rented out to someone who can take good care of it. It includes facilities such as water and heat laundry facilities,  air condition, internet and telephone access and a car park and other necessary facilities, also comes with trash collection,pets are allowed as well as long as they are not destructive. so if you know you are capable of the task, get back to me so that I can provide you with some questions that I would want you to answer.below is the location.  101 Parker Ave, Maplewood, NJ."

Sounds vaguely like the Nigerian prince scam.  Renter beware.

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  1. Austin on

    I just got the exact, word for word, response for a rental in Florida. I was looking to see if it was a scam. It is clear that it is now. Stay away. I certainly will. What was incredible for me was that the house actually existed. You can visit the "supposed" rental and it DOES have a sign in the yard. They must prey on renter's and rentee's
    • D. DeMattia on

      I just got the email from Robert Mock (supposedly), telling me to send $1400 to him in west Africa where he is volunteering for the Rafiki Foundation. I suspected the ad was odd, so I went looking. The exact same wording was used for a home here in Leesburg, the for sale sign out front. They are using a home that is for sale, and use the name of the owner too. Thank you for having this on the web...
      • RENT a CAR on

        Thanks for every other excellent article. Where else may just anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect method of writing? I've a presentation subsequent week, and I'm on the search for such information.