DIY Landlord - Renting Properties out...

Q. We purchased our first home some years ago, and are about to move to another home. We are considering to keep our first home as an income property. We heard of the free ads on CRAIGSLIST, but some landlord friends told us it could be a challenge to find qualified tenants through CRAIGSLIST. Is there any way to rent our property out quicker and safer with minimum cost? We are the kind of persons who like to try things ourselves, and have some spare time.

A. You may have already done the initial research and have figured out the range of monthly rent of your property.

If the monthly rent is low such as $1200.00 or below, you may want to do it through CRAIGSLIST,, or similar web sites. The renters interested in the low-priced rentals may not go to the Realtors community for assistance.  

If the monthly rent is $1200.00 or above, you may want to consider listing your rental on (Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, online real estate information service for real estate professionals in MD, DC, Northern VA, and parts of WV and PA) for the Realtors community to market it for you. Dozens of public real estate websites (such as:,,, etc.) pull data from MRIS through syndication. In a few hours, your listing will show up on dozens of websites and will get the maximum exposure. It is a lot quicker and safer finding qualified tenants than doing it through CRAIGSLIST. You may talk with a Realtor. Please be aware some Realtors take rental jobs, some don't.

I have helped some landlords in the community renting their properties out with very low costs. If you need minimum service, I can help you 'DIY':
1. I provide CMA, list your rental on MRIS, put a realtor's lockbox at the front door, provide the access log, support you through the whole process.
I charge a flat fee for the minimum service.

2. If you need me to prepare the lease or review the lease, there is another reasonable flat fee. This service is optional.

3. You answer phone calls, work with the tenant (if the tenant doesn't have an agent) or the tenant's agent, run credit check, verify employment, check references, etc.. You pay the tenant's agent (if there is one) directly on the move-in date - usually 25% of first-month rent.
If you need full-service, the commission is first-month rent - which includes the commission to be paid to the tenant's agent.
If you need any customized service (between minimum service and full-service), we can work out an agreement.

Some information:
CMA stands for Comparable (some called Competitive) Market Analysis, that will help you determine the market value of your property for sale or for rent.

I use Sentry-key lockbox. Any Realtor with membership of NVAR (Northern Virginia Association of Realtors) or any other VA Realtors association can access and show the property.

The access log tells when the agents enter the property and their contact info. which can help you follow up with the agents.

If you like the DIY experience, I would recommend you to use the minimum service.

Please feel free to reach me if you need any assistance.

David Chen
Realtor (Licensed in VA) | Neighborhood Specialist (McLean, Falls Church)
Libra Realty, LLC
WeChat ID: dchenj2015

Last updated: 01/20/2018

Follow up

Thank you for contacting me. Please see below:

Q: How much is the flat fee for the minimum service, such as provide CMA, list my rental on MRIS, put a Realtor's 
Lock-box at the front door, provide the access log, etc.? 

A - David: The flat fee is $280.00 for rentals no more than a 30-minute drive from Falls Church (ZIP: 22043) such as 
Herndon, Reston, Vienna, Sterling, Fairfax, Great Falls, McLean. 

The flat fee is $300.00 for rentals more than a 30-minute and less than a 50-minute drive from Falls Church 
(ZIP: 22043) such as Ashburn, Chantilly, Centreville.

For full service, the fee is 1st-month rent. 

Hope this helps.

(Last updated on 2/1/2015 by David Chen)



Yvonne (CA)
Rating: 5.0/5.0

Happy Holidays and please accept my heart felt thanks for your kind help last year. You went extra miles. You found very nice tenants for me on my rental in Herndon, VA. There are no issues at all since they moved in. 

You took care of my business like your own. I highly recommend you to my friends in that area.


Cathy (Herndon, VA)
Rating: 5.0/5.0

David was helping me lately for a rental property. His service is very excellent. He is a very responsible and knowledge real estate agent. He provided very detail information when I have questions. I highly recommend him as a real estate agent. Thanks David for your excellent service and help!