Rental Agencies

Archived Responses: 

March 2005

Re: Finding a rental in the East Bay
Sorry, Homefinders recently went out of business, thanks to Craigslist and the sluggish rental market. UC Berkeley's housing office has a listing service that might cater more to the faculty/staff population, but you might have to be a UC affiliate to use it. David

Jan 2000

I'm looking for feedback regarding the various rental agencies in the East Bay, particularly Homefinders, the Berkeley Connection, the Rental Solution and Ehousing. Is one better than the other? We will be looking for housing in 2 or 3 months and considering our two (wonderful, well behaved, well-trained ) dogs, the need for a yard, and our limited budget, I know it will be tough to find. I've looked for housing here before, and am not looking forward to the hunt again. We're looking specifically in the El Cerrito-Albany-Berkeley-North Oakland area. Thanks very much. Karen

We used Homefinders to find our house in Berkeley. The fee is pretty steep ( I think $60), but the market is such that it is unavoidable to use one of these services. We did not subscribe to more than 2: Homefinders and the University's less expensive service ( $35 I think). We found the university's service had more or less the same listings as Homefinders, but Homefinders had additional ones. However, the advice at the UNiversity's office was very helpful. I have not heard anything in particular about the other listing services. In addition, we did not have pets. I can only imagine how much more difficult that makes the search, so good luck. Caroline
As a landlord I've listed apartments with Homefinders and eHousing (both free for me). I didn't get any response from the eHousing listing and haven't bothered to use it with subsequent vacancies. I've always gotten more than enough qualified applicants from Homefinders. I'm assuming most landlords gravitate to free listing services that bring them the most qualified referrals and over time that service will end up having the most listings. I'm not familiar with the other two services you listed. Kathy
When we moved to the Bay Area we used Rental Solutions and were quite happy with the results. This was about five years ago, but at the time they charged us 1/2 of the first month's rent for their services. In return, we had an agent who took our requirements quite seriously and didn't waste our time. Rental Solutions provided the landlord with a complete reference file, and believe me they checked out everything!!, which made us look like great prospective tenants. Our former landlord told us he would use their services again and, when we moved out, he did in fact.

You pay a lot up front, but the advantage is that if you plan on staying someplace for awhile, getting into a great rental is worth the cost in the long run. Our rental would not have been available to us if we hadn't used this particular service since it was never listed in the open market. Also, since we were moving from outside the Bay Area, getting up here to look at housing was expensive (a plane ride plus hotels) and a big nightmare. We did that twice and just about gave up. I honestly don't know if we could have done it any other way given the time crunch we were under. I hope this helps. Griffin

I have used home finders to find my house, and it was worth the money. You can check them out by doing a free preview, and sign up only if you see something that you like. Check their web site on: Yoram
December 1998

It is very difficult to find housing in Berkeley. If you are not affilitated with the University, the best thing you can do is to pay an agency for listings. The cost is $50-$60 for one month of listings and there are new listings every day.

I've lived in Berkeley for nearly 20 years and have had to search for housing five times. I always use an agency and most people I know use these agencies too - here are two places I've used that are reputable:

  • Berkeley Connection 2840 College Ave 510 845-7821 \t
  • Homefinders 2158 University Ave 510 549-6450
    From: Claire (5/98)

    Two weeks ago I posted a request for housing in this newsletter and am happy to say that my search has been successful--after only two weeks of looking! I found a nice 3 bedroom house in El Cerrito at a very reasonable rent. I would like to pass on what I think helped me. Because things are so competitive now I prepared a Renters Resume to include with my application, as well as a cover letter highlighting why I was a good prospect which I tailored for each application. I found my house through Homefinders in Berkeley, as I did three years ago too. You have to call any new listing immediately--they often go in a day or two. Also we are a family of four, which my new landlord said worked in our favor since the owner preferred a family. Be persistent and visualize success!