Would you let a stranger into your home? Of course not. Yet, every day well meaning landlords place their property at risk by failing to do their homework before listing their property for rent with an apartment broker. When you list a property and give that person keys or access to your property you are bestowing a great deal of trust in the individual or company. Have you made sure that they are worthy of that trust? Here are some basic questions you should ask:
1. What is the company or individual's experience? Delve deep here. Ask how long they have been in the business, where they have rented properties and how many deals have they closed. Ask for references from prior landlord clients and call them. Is the company and the agent a member of a professional association of realtors?
2. What is the Company's name and how long have they been in the brokerage business? You would be amazed by the number of rental brokers that have emerged over the last year. Its fairly easy for any inexperienced broker to pass and exam, throw an add on Craigslist and starting calling landlord's for listings. Does the company have a real office (as opposed to the trunk of their car or a "virtual" office).
3. Is the Company insured for liability against accidents? Demand liability coverage and ask for a copy of the policy. A reputable broker will take no offense. Consider the fact that it is you that can be named as a defendant if there is an accident at a showing.
4. Is the company properly licensed? Ask to see a copy of the agent's "pocket card". All licensed real estate agents are required to carry a pocket card showing that they are licensed. Check with the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation to verify the agent's license. Again, no reputable agent will take offense.
5. Is the agent covered by errors and omissions insurance? Ask for a copy of the policy. If they do not carry coverage, do not list your property with that agent. Errors and omissions can offer protection should the agent make a mistake in his representation of you in a leasing transaction. Don't underestimate what the potential liability can be. For example, many landlords are shocked to learn that tenants can recover two times the security deposit amount, plus the deposit, plus attorney's fees for simple errors like failing to properly create a receipt or lease.
Following these simple steps will go a long way toward protecting yourself and your property. If you have questions or concerns ask for additional information from your iMove Chicago agent. iMove Chicago is a licensed Illinois real estate broker corporation with five locations located throughout Chicago and 150 properly trained and licensed agents. All Rent Smart agents are covered by liability and errors & omission insurance policies.