Thinking of making a career change to enter the world of real estate? Becoming a leasing agent can be a great way to do it. If you enjoy working with prospective tenants, have an entrepreneurial streak, and want to kickstart your real estate career, leasing could be the perfect starting point. This comprehensive guide will walk you through how to become a successful leasing agent.
What’s a Leasing Agent’s Job All About?
A leasing agent, also known as a rental agent, works for property management companies and landlords to rent out available properties. As an agent, you’ll be the face of the rental process for tenants. Here are some of your key responsibilities:
- Giving property tours and answering questions for interested tenants
- Helping tenants figure out what neighborhoods and amenities are a good fit for their needs
- Collecting tenant applications and paperwork
- Running background checks and submitting applications to managers for approval
- Preparing lease paperwork and guiding tenants through signing
- Coordinating move-in details like security deposits and inspections
- Maintaining up-to-date info on vacancies and listings
- Promoting rental properties through advertising and outreach
- Building relationships with tenants to support lease renewals
It’s a split role requiring office time to handle showings and paperwork as well as visiting properties to give tours. Hours are usually standard weekday hours but expect to work some evenings and weekends to fit tenant schedules.
Key Skills That Make a Stellar Leasing Agent
To be really successful as a leasing agent, there are some natural abilities that will serve you well.
Communication skills – Talking and listening are huge parts of the job when meeting potential tenants, explaining lease terms, answering questions, and handling any issues. Strong communication skills are a must.
Sales abilities – Leasing has a sales element, so you need persuasion skills to sell tenants on choosing your rentals over others. Thinking quickly helps you close more deals.
Organized – There’s lots of paperwork and data tracking involved, so staying organized helps things run more smoothly when juggling many properties.
Time management – Careful scheduling and time management are essential to balance showings, open houses, appointments, and administrative tasks while meeting tight deadlines.
People person – Tenants have unique needs, so if you enjoy working with all types of people, it makes for much more positive interactions. Having patience and understanding goes a long way.
Market savvy – Knowing factors like school districts, neighborhoods, and amenities help you find the ideal match for each tenant’s search. Familiarity with the local rental market is crucial.
How to Get Started as a Leasing Agent
If exploring the leasing agent career path sounds appealing, here are some typical steps to get started:
Get the Basics Covered
Having at least a high school diploma or GED is required for most leasing roles and helps you build a solid foundation. Coursework in business, marketing, or economics is a plus.
Consider a Real Estate License
It’s not legally required in most states, but getting licensed shows you are serious about the field. Typical requirements are real estate courses, exams, and other state-specific prerequisites. The education gives you helpful knowledge right off the bat as well.
Build Some Related Experience
Many landlords want candidates with customer service, sales, retail or hospitality experience interacting with the public. Concrete examples of hitting sales targets, resolving customer issues, and upselling make a resume stand out.
Learn Fair Housing Laws
Federal fair housing laws protect tenants from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, and disability. Know these cold. Some states add protections for age, marital status or sexual orientation.
Dive Into the Local Rental Market
Visit open houses, browse listings online, and get familiar with prices for different units in each neighborhood. The more insider knowledge you gain, the better prepared you’ll be to find the ideal matches.
Consider Earning Leasing Certifications
Industry associations like the National Apartment Association offer certifications in Apartment Leasing Professional or Certified Apartment Leasing Specialist after taking some courses. These credentials can give you a nice advantage.
Start Applying for Leasing Jobs
Search company websites, and online job boards, and tap your personal network for openings. Property management companies, real estate firms with rental divisions, and large apartment communities are good places to look.
Tips for Acing the Interview
When you land an interview for a leasing agent role, shining in person can help seal the deal. Keep these tips in mind.
- Have sales stories ready – Quantify your track record of negotiating deals, hitting targets, and closing sales. Provide numbers.
- Give examples of great customer service – Share specific stories of times you calmed upset customers or solved tricky problems.
- Show off your market knowledge – Discuss details on specific neighborhoods, amenities, and price ranges based on your rental research.
- Ask smart questions – Asking about training programs, advancement opportunities, and productivity goals demonstrates initiative.
- Discuss your strengths – Explain what parts of the leasing agent role best match your abilities so the fit is clear. Use examples.
- Be prepared to explain any credit/background issues – Many landlords will check, so have a plan to highlight steps you’re taking to improve.
- Highlight your work ethic – Since many roles require evenings and weekends, convey your motivation and willingness to work hard.
Crafting a Stellar Leasing Agent Resume
Your resume is key to getting your foot in the door, so creating one that highlights your fit is crucial:
- Lead with a Career Summary – A short overview showing how your background fits with leasing roles grabs attention.
- Showcase Communication Skills – In your experience section, point out responsibilities relying on verbal and written communication abilities.
- Highlight Relevant Sales Figures – Feature metrics like sales quotas surpassed, increased average purchases, new signups generated, etc.
- Put Property Management Experience Up Front – Any past rental property roles, even assisting, should be prominent on the resume.
- List Applicable Licenses – Include any real estate, leasing or sales certifications you’ve earned.
- Customize for Each Job – Update your resume with keywords and duties from each specific job ad.
- Triple Check for Errors – Typos or mistakes could cost you, so proofread closely.
With this strategy, landlords will quickly see you have what it takes to excel as a leasing agent.
Moving Up the Ladder as a Leasing Agent
Once you get that crucial first leasing agent job, there are plenty of ways to advance your career over time:
- Take on leasing for more high-end properties as you gain experience. Bigger rents equal bigger commissions.
- Consider specializing in a niche area like corporate rentals, student housing, or 55+ communities. Become an expert.
- Take on additional office duties like preparing reports or overseeing marketing.
- Earn more certifications to stand out, like a Certified Property Manager (CPM) credential.
- Establish yourself as a thought leader by speaking at industry conferences or publishing articles.
- Transition into an assistant property manager role, then property manager, taking on more responsibility.
- Leverage your network and track record to advance at a larger real estate firm or start your own.
With the right motivation and performance, the opportunities in this field really open up once you get that initial leasing agent experience.
Is Leasing Agent a Good Career Move for You?
If you’re outgoing, coachable, and like helping people find housing solutions, leasing could be a great way to launch your real estate career. You get to tap into your sales abilities and people skills daily. Plus, it beats being stuck in an office.
Just know success requires discipline to juggle a lot of balls, patience for paperwork, and a willingness to work some nights and weekends. But if you want variety and human interaction during your workday and enjoy kickstarting your real estate journey, I’d say give the leasing agent a shot. With preparation and hard work, you can find great rewards in this growing field.
Hopefully, this guide gave you a helpful overview of how to break into this career. Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments