Not sure whether you're hiring a property manager or a rental agent? You're not alone in your confusion. Most people use both terms to describe a professional who leases rental units, manages the ongoing tenant relationship, and maintains the properties under his or her care.
However, as Rental Agent Guide points out, many rental property owners hire someone to manage "leasing only" and it makes sense to refer to that person as rental agent or leasing agent rather than as a property manager.
While most property managers do both, and have the flexibility to create a unique contract for you based on the specific services you need, some agents do specialize in leasing. These individuals are particularly adept at marketing properties, showing them, and working with prospective tenants to get vacancies filled. Other property managers may excel more at other aspects of rental management, such as establishing a rapport with tenants, building relationships with vendors, being proactive with maintenance, and working to quickly resolve any issues.
A rental agent who specializes in leasing can generally get a property rented within 30 to 60 days, depending on the market. Particularly talented rental agents can generally fill vacancies twice as fast as their counterparts. Meanwhile, a property manager who's more expert at maintenance can often get projects done for about half the going market rate.
When renting your house, it's important to understand rental market conditions in your area, as well as what your personal priorities are, in order to hire the professional whose strengths best suit your needs.