The number of rental properties in the Phoenix area continues to climb as investors show no signs of slowing down their acquisition appetites. A combination of strict lender requirements and ongoing trustee sales have decreased homeownership percentages.

Investors are, in many cases paying cash for these real properties and then leasing them back to residents in the area. With the market constantly changing, it is important to know the fair market rental rate for your investment. Here are four tools to help you determine how much rent to charge.

1. rentometer.com This tool bases rents off of the local area. It will ask you for an address, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and then give a range of acceptable rents for that area. Green indicates the low end of the rental rates, red indicates the high end of the rates.  While the process is quick and easy, it does not account for amenities, square footage of the home, or lease terms. This tool is a good starting point to put your figures in the right direction.

2.  zillow.com This is not strictly used to determine rents like rentometer.com, but it does use the same criteria to find homes that are advertised on the web for rent. The disadvantage is that it does not show a range like rentometer.com.  The advantage is that it actually shows details for each home pulled up so you can obtain qualitative data to help you decide what rental price to advertise.

3.  Drive the Neighborhood With an increasing number of rental homes, many private individuals do not advertise on the internet and even big companies may not have their information up to date. Viewing the neighborhood and calling on other rentals for pricing and property details gives you a direct idea of the competition you are dealing with. This includes neighboring apartment complexes for those who own condominiums.

4.  Multiple Listing Service This is the best tool to use, the downside is it is not open to the public. Only realtors can access this portal, however it provides great information. You can check rental rates based on neighborhood, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and amenities. More importantly, you can compare photos and see how many days a home took to rent out and if the price was ever reduced.

While there may be other tools available, using all or combination of these tools help you plan for how much rent income to anticipate. One word of caution: Market changes can take place rapidly so it is best to have a range of acceptable rent so if you need to drop the price you are prepared to do so.