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Buying a rental property, how can I determine realistic rent?


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I am about to buy a rental property that is currently inhabited by the owner, how can I determine what rent I will be able to get?


  1. In some states e.g. Nevada, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) will show you rental information as well. My real estate agent in Las Vegas was able to show me a list of rental properties in the vicinity of my property with this information: asking rent ('listing rent'), DOM (days on market), actual rent that they got in the end (compares to sales price). It's important to know that asking rent is one thing, what they get is not always the same.
  2. You can drive around the area and call phone numbers that you see on 'for rent' signs. I usually do that while I'm touring the area with the real estate agent.
  3. Buy a local paper (preferably the weekend issue) and look in the classifieds (probably the best way to go if #1 does not work for your area). You might even be able to find that paper's ads online!
  4. check if it applies to your area. The listings on craigslist are to be taken with a grain of salt since you can post anything there for free. Some landlords post ads asking for rather high rents just to come back a week later and lower their rate. I would look at craigslist listings and consider those rates the high end.

I have found that working with property management companies can lead to random results. For one property I talked to 4 different management companies and their estimates ranged from $895 (possibly even $795) to $1300. A property management company is not interested in getting the maximum rent for you if they have to show the place to many renters. They rather show it only to one person and rent it right away and collect their lease bonus (ranging from $200 to 50% of the rent!).

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