Six months ago, Massachusetts landlord Matthew Quirk of Rehoboth listed a Warren duplex apartment with the real estate agent who handles his commercial properties and found it rented quickly.
His Realtor, Holly McCombs of Re/Max Right Choice Real Estate in Fall River, used the usual array of leads from Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow and the Re/Max website to search for tenants for her client, but she also used a tool available only in the past year: a Rhode Island Multiple Listing Service database for rentals.
The MLS for rentals only lists properties where there is an exclusive contract between the landlord and a single Realtor or broker, said Donna McGuinn, administrator, and Michael Letendre, chief information officer, at Rhode Island State-Wide MLS Inc. in Warwick. That exclusivity ensures that rules and ethics codes are followed.
Then, in addition to putting the property in the database, the property is searchable on an associated website, RILiving.com.
While McCombs couldn’t say which tool ultimately produced the tenant for Quirk’s Warren duplex, she said she managed a total of 21 rental properties in 2013 and is relying on the Rhode Island MLS rental listings with increasing frequency.
“The other tools I’ve used have always given me more business,” said McCombs, “but I’m seeing an increase in people coming through because of this change. I’m seeing more real estate agents using this, and it’s nice because the goal is to get the right tenant into the right rental. It doesn’t matter where they come from, as long as it’s the right fit.”
In addition to McCombs, Realtors and brokers in East Greenwich, Newport and Cumberland say they are embracing the MLS rental listings as another means in the marketplace for matching landlords and tenants.
One of the chief benefits, besides having reliable data from the landlord, is that contracting with a broker or Realtor through the MLS ensures commission income, though that income can be any amount, even $1, brokers said.
“It has been profitable,” said Marissa Tafuri, a Realtor with Prudential Gammons Realty of East Greenwich.
Tafuri has been a Realtor with the outlet for 10 years and is one of two in the office whose commission income is driven substantially by rentals, said broker/owner Allen Gammons Jr. She estimated 40 percent of her work involves rentals, while about 60 percent involves home sales.
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