Working with a real estate agent is a reliable alternative way for newcomers to Canada to find their first long-term rental accommodation.
Why should newcomers consider working with a real estate agent (also known as a realtor) to find a rental?
Demand, competition, expertise, and access to landlords are four obvious reasons (also, doing it by yourself in a new country can create a lot of stress, delay, and wasted effort).
Immigration helps drive rental demand
In Canada’s red-hot rental market, the demand for all types of rental accommodation has never been higher.
The country’s ambitious immigration targets are absolutely fuelling rental demand as prices rise each month. And that demand will only get stronger across the country, but particularly in Toronto, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and Ontario.
Canada intends to welcome 465,000 new immigrants this year after admitting a record-breaking 431,000 newcomers in 2022 (mostly from India, the Philippines and China).
In 2024 that number will rise to 485,000 newcomers, and then to 500,000 in 2025.
Competition for rentals is fierce
Canada has also welcomed a record number of international students. These numbers are forecast to continue to rise, again increasing the demand for rental housing.
With so many newcomers arriving in Canada, the competition for available rental accommodation continues to escalate. Typically, rental listings in Canada (particularly those with choice locations) receive multiple offers from newcomers and those already living in Canada. And many of those applicants have done their research and are prepared to act quickly.
Real estate agents have expertise
Real estate agents have the expertise that many newcomers can use to get exactly the kind of rental accommodation they want, where they want it, and when they want it.
According to the Real Estate Council of Ontario, in which membership is mandatory for all real estate professionals in Ontario, there are more than 86,000 real estate agents in the province.
Accommodation in Canada & Options for Newcomers
Key reasons for using a real estate agent in Canada
Using a real estate agent to help you find your ideal rental property typically costs nothing. Your future landlord (the actual owner of the property) covers the realtor commissions.
In Ontario and the GTA, more and more renters are using real estate agents because realtors:
- Know the market and have access to all listings and can quickly sift through them. They can access tools such as the multiple listing service (MLS) to find listings quickly and easily.
- Are members of a regulated profession in Ontario. So all salespersons and brokers must be registered with the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), which regulates the trade of real estate on behalf of the Ontario government.
- Constantly check for new rental listings. This will enable you to be among the first to see any new rentals available.
- Understand the types of housing (apartment, condo, duplex, etc.) that will work for you.
- Understand the neighbourhoods that best suit your needs (schools, transportation, etc.). They can recommend areas that might best suit your needs.
- Have longstanding relationships with landlords.
- Can more easily get you multiple viewings of the rentals in your price range, thus speeding up your search and the rental process.
- Can cut down the number of viewings, thus freeing you to concentrate on work, school, and adjusting to life in Canada.
- Understand leases and can often negotiate terms with the landlord.
- Can introduce you to the landlord.
- Will explain the terms and conditions of your rental agreement and make sure you understand your obligations and responsibilities as a tenant (for example, renter’s insurance).
- Work to ensure that your deposit, monthly rental cheques, tenant insurance, utilities, and key exchange are organized before you take possession.
- Ensure your rental is in good condition and will record and document any existing damage in advance.
- Will keep in touch with you to make sure everything is running smoothly. Smart agents know that you may eventually buy a home, and they’d obviously like to have you as a client.
Finally, the realtor’s access to landlords and listings cannot be overstated. Because of this access, realtors know about rental properties that aren’t listed on rental sites, or that are about to be listed. So, you get a head start on the competition. This is particularly true regarding Toronto/GTA condo owners who often work only through real estate agents.
These are just some of the advantages that come with working with a real estate agent.
Other factors to consider
While real estate agents in Ontario are licensed, there are still some other things newcomers should consider when deciding to work with one to find a rental:
- You will be working with a second party (the realtor). If you are the type of person who likes to have total control over every step in the rental process, this arrangement might not be for you.
- Realtors have multiple clients, and their main focus is obviously on selling houses, so at times, they may be busy with other clients. Be sure to discuss this with the agent.
- Try to ensure that the realtor knows the market where you’re hoping to live. Good two-way communication helps.
- While the owner of the rental property typically covers the agent’s fees, some agents MIGHT ask you for a fee upfront to begin the process. Ensure you discuss ALL fees and how they are paid (again, in Ontario, typically by the property owner) upfront with your realtor to avoid surprises.
- Showing up late for an arranged viewing or cancelling at the last minute is not acceptable and will show disrespect to the realtor and the landlord, so be sure to communicate effectively.
- The agent will ask for proof of employment, proof of funds, proper documentation, proof of banking, etc. Be sure you have these things in order before engaging.
Finding a real estate agent in Canada
So how do you find the real estate agent that’s right for you?
Prepare for Canada and Rentals for Newcomers has teamed up with Souqh, a real estate fintech solutions company, to make it easy for newcomers and international students to work with a licensed real estate agent to find suitable rental accommodation.
Souqh is a Canadian real estate and home services marketplace whose goal is to simplify every step of the home buying, ownership, and rental journey.
Connecting newcomers with realtors
Ahmer Rafiq, Souqh’s CEO, says his company partnered with Prepare for Canada and Rentals for Newcomers in order “to connect immigrants with realtors and assist with finding rentals across Ontario.”
“We have onboard 3,000+ real estate/home services professionals onto our marketplace across Ontario and … we have partnered with ten real estate boards and associations across Ontario.”
Dave Frattini, the managing partner of Prepare for Canada and Rentals for Newcomers, is excited about working with Souqh to help newcomers access real estate agents.
“Prepare for Canada has been helping newcomers make connections that simplify the immigration journey for over 12 years, said Frattini, “and Souqh is Canada’s real estate and home services marketplace. Together we’re on a mission to help newcomers enter the rental market faster and easier than ever before by connecting newcomers with real estate agents who can assist in finding the rental property that’s right for our newcomer audience needs.”
How to register
So, if working with a real estate agent to find accommodation in Ontario appeals to you, simply click here to register with Souqh, and a real estate agent in the city where you wish to rent will respond.
And remember: If you’re not in Canada or Ontario yet, but are arriving soon, please register for our Renting in Canada webinar to learn all about working with a real estate agent, finding your own rental, renting a room in a home, and all the other options for finding rental accommodation in Ontario and Canada.
*No AI-generated content was used in creating this article, and all sources are cited and linked where possible.