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leasing agent

Apartment Leasing Agent

May 31, 2020 by Lena Katz

At property management firms and corporate apartment complexes, an apartment leasing agent is the first person potential new renters deal with when they inquire about a unit. This person is ideally friendly, responsive, organized, and a good judge of character. They are responsible for making sure that quality tenants get matched up with available units as smoothly as possible to minimize vacancies and keep rents coming in steadily.

Apartment leasing agents usually work for only one property management company or corporate apartment building. Some work as leasing specialists in real estate agencies and follow the same professional practices as real estate agents: That is, they work on commission, they don't usually represent the properties they're showing, and their concern is more to make money for themselves than to represent any one building. If you get stressed out around the real estate agent hustle, then look for corporate-managed apartments that have dedicated apartment leasing agents. And if you're coming up in a real estate career and coming to realize that you hate the hustle, then perhaps consider a job as an in-house apartment leasing agent.

What does an apartment leasing agent do?

The job duties of an apartment leasing agent can be, at entry level, very basic:

  • Answering phone and email inquiries
  • Setting appointments to view available apartments
  • Showing apartments
  • Collecting applications

Apartment leasing agents that either train or get experience on the job take on many more responsibilities, including:

  • Marketing and social media
  • Maintaining broker relationships
  • Processing lease applications
  • Running background and credit checks
  • Processing lease paperwork and deposits
  • Supervising walk-throughs at move-in and move-out

How much money do apartment leasing agents make?

Starting pay for apartment leasing agents is on the low side of average -- perhaps $12-17/hour with a median salary of $30k, according to Glassdoor. However, with bonuses or as the base salary increases with additional duties, it can climb to $75k or more at busy companies in major cities.

Do apartment leasing agents live rent-free?

Apartment leasing agents for the most part don't get to live completely rent-free, though they certainly can get reduced rent as part of their compensation package. Some employers will offer incentives like one month free rent for every X number of leases signed that month. It varies according to the company, and usually a company that bonuses generously will not also reduce rent by a lot.

Pros and cons of the job

Pros of being an apartment leasing agent include:

  • Lots of in-person interaction
  • Typically your desk is in a nice environment -- the part of the front office that prospective tenants see when they first walk in
  • Guaranteed compensation, plus some opportunity for bonuses
  • Reduced rent
  • College education and/or specialized training not always necessary
  • Can be an evening and weekend job

Cons of being an apartment leasing agent:

  • Lots of in-person interaction -- can be stressful!
  • Immediate responses required when there are inquiries
  • Low base pay
  • Need to be onsite to greet walk-ins and give tours
  • At busy times, it necessitates lots of time standing and walking around the complex
  • Evenings and weekends are often required
  • People confuse you for the property manager and try to file complaints or ask for repairs

How do you become an apartment leasing agent?

You don't necessarily need any training to do this job part-time or at a support level when there are more experienced people supervising. However, apartment leasing agents that move up the ladder of property management companies or large corporate complexes are often encouraged to get some specialized training and even become certified by the National Apartment Association. People who get this NALP (National Apartment Leasing Professionals) certification are on track to move into a more managerial role that involves some marketing and community management.

Can a Realtor be an apartment leasing agent?

Yes, Realtors can be apartment leasing agents, and in fact, a real estate background generally helps a person become a better apartment leasing agent. Some companies actually require their senior leasing agents to be NALP or real estate licensed. The latter license, though, is generally only a requirement for leasing agents working at real estate brokerages. And even in that situation, usually it's enough if the person managing the office has that license and trains the rest of the team.

Apartment leasing agent compared with similar jobs

If this line of work appeals to you, here are other job titles to know, as they are often advertised together.

Apartment rental agent

This term is interchangeable with apartment leasing agent.

Leasing consultant

This term is also pretty much interchangeable with apartment leasing agent, but some companies use it in job descriptions when they want to be clear that no managerial functions will be required.

Apartment property manager

The property manager works for the same management company or complex, but they are responsible for looking after the complex and its residents. Their duties include overseeing vendor and community relations, ordering supplies, and solving current tenant issues. There is such a thing as a property manager/leasing agent hybrid role -- you have to be very well rounded in your professional skill set to handle both.

Apartment leasing agents in the real estate universe

Of the various careers in real estate, apartment leasing agent is a good one for folks who are personable and outgoing, high-energy, and good at client service. After a year or two as a junior leasing agent, one can decide whether a related career in real estate is the goal -- the two most closely related being property management or real estate sales.

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