Aaron Galvin is the CEO & Founder of Luxury Living Chicago Realty, a multifamily consulting, marketing, branding and strategy brokerage.
For those who love sales, apartment leasing is a great career with minimal barriers to entry — you just need a leasing certificate. And for those who have been in the real estate industry, who love a fast-paced environment with a new challenge every day, I don’t think there is anything better than working on an apartment lease-up. Whether you are on a college campus, in a small town or living in an urban big-city environment, there are always new apartments that need to be leased-up.
A lease-up is the first time an apartment building is being leased and often comes with expectations of quickly renting all the apartments in varying construction environments. With the number of new apartment buildings built since the recession, there are significantly more lease-up assignments coming. The following details the characteristics that make a great lease-up specialist.
Thriving Under Pressure
Lease-up specialists thrive in a fast-paced and ever-evolving landscape. These real estate professionals have the opportunity to lease multiple apartments on a given day and typically log long hours during the lease-up assignment.
While developers and investors have been spending significant amounts of money on building an apartment property, the lease-up is the first opportunity for the apartment to start earning revenue. This creates an added pressure on lease-up specialists to deliver results. But with pressure comes opportunity. With an entire building or apartment community to fill, lease-up specialists have increased compensation potential, often making two to three times more than other leasing agents in the industry.
Selling The Dream
An additional skill needed of the lease-up specialists is to be able sell in preleasing. This includes leasing an apartment prior to it being ready for occupancy. Many developers have a goal of leasing 25% of the units before the apartments are move-in ready. To achieve this goal, it takes a seasoned and well-trained leasing agent who knows how to “sell the dream.”
From showing renderings to highlighting the neighborhood where the apartment is located, lease-up agents need to build excitement for their clients. At each stage of a lease-up, the showing path changes, the challenges adjust and the skills needed to excel vary. These buildings are active construction sites, so clients may be required to wear a hard hat while on a leasing tour.
From the client’s point of view, being an early adopter at a new apartment community can save them a lot of money on rent because developers often discount the rent to those who move in before construction is entirely complete. It’s important for the lease-up agent to set realistic expectations for lease-up clients, such as noting what construction is still ongoing and what amenities will be available upon move-in. Once construction is completed, it’s arguably easier to sell. However, the inventory (available units) will be limited, and pricing (rent) is typically higher.
One of the benefits of being a lease-up specialist is always having something new to sell. In a given year, you may have the opportunity to work on multiple projects in different neighborhoods or even a different city.
As people continue to rent longer, relocate for work, downsize from their suburban homes and more apartments are being built every day, being a lease-up agent is a job with staying power.
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