The Property Management/Apartment Industry has an immense amount of opportunity for job seekers. If you are a people person with experience (or an interest) in sales or customer service, then you’re in the right place. If you get bored easily with the standard desk job and truly enjoy entertaining, problem-solving, and the idea of showing property, this may be a great career choice for you. Residential property management allows you to work alongside a variety of people with different backgrounds, wear multiple hats, and to get out of the cubicle jungle and into the exciting field of real estate. Another perk? You’re not required to have a real estate license to get started!
Property management and the entire apartment industry can be extremely rewarding for those who love connecting with their customers and pride themselves on providing a superb customer experience. Most people start this career path as a Leasing Consultant: Imagine learning all about a prospective resident, helping them find the perfect apartment, sign a lease, and then continuing that relationship with them as they live happily in their new community. With a variety of property sizes, you could be helping not just one person or family, but many. The opportunities for job fulfillment are endless.
So you’re interested in becoming a Leasing Consultant, but are not sure where to begin? After many years of helping property management and leasing professionals launch their careers, we have found a path that can lead to your success. Here is our insight on how to land a job in the multi-family property management industry.
Property management companies are more competitive than ever when it comes to identifying the perfect leasing consultant to take on the day-to-day responsibilities of their communities. Each community has their own story, tribulations, and goals. From varying amounts of foot traffic to distinctive cultural values, apartment communities can be very different. Property Management companies are always on the look-out for leasing consultants with cross-over experience who can take on whatever comes their way and adapt to the ever-changing needs of an apartment community. Gaining experience is a matter of time and devotion to your budding career.
The best way to get your foot in the door with property management & become qualified enough for a full-time position is to start in a part-time or temporary leasing role. Agencies like JWilliams Staffing give you the education and first-hand experience necessary to gain a strong foothold in the property management industry and secure that full-time leasing consultant position.
When you go through a staffing agency to get placed as a leasing consultant at apartment communities, you get the opportunity to work with local property management companies and gain hands-on experience. Working temporary assignments in the leasing office gives you the opportunity to shadow the on-site leasing agent and other property management team members who can help you adjust to the, often times, fast-paced environment. Being exposed to the various problems that arise at apartment communities gives you the chance to learn how to handle diverse scenarios. Temporary assignments will provide you with valuable experience and an understanding of the customer service, rental, and maintenance processes, helping you eventually obtain a full-time leasing position.
Since every company is different, working temporary assignments also allows you to “shop” for your dream property management company. In other words, working hands on at a variety of apartment communities will help you understand which types of management companies are right for you and where you might feel the most comfortable.
Every small thing you do while on a temporary leasing assignment counts. Your attitude and ability to provide the best customer experience will be what makes or breaks your career. As intimidating as that sounds, it’s important to remember that if you enjoy helping people, you will naturally shine in property management.
The property management industry is customer-centric, which is why it’s so important for you to show that you can provide customers with extraordinary service. This means being highly attentive to residents and prospective renters. Understand who you are helping and value their time as you would value your own time. Every resident, visitor, and potential renter is different. The key is to listen to their needs and take notes on your conversations so you can easily refer back to them later.
First impressions are critical when you’re working on a temporary assignment, not only to prospective renters but other staff and management as well. First impressions set the stage for successful leasing, so make sure that you are friendly and authentic. Inauthentic customer service can come off as rude and change a customer’s perspective on the property and its staff.
There are a variety of factors that go into being a customer service extraordinaire. As said in another JWilliams Staffing article on Great leasing Consultants, “There are so many important traits that go into being a great leasing consultant, but when it comes down to it, in sales, communication is key. You can have an amazing product or a fancy leasing office, but without that personal connection, you won't see results.” The best way to get the results you need – and the recognition necessary to land that full-time position – is to perfect your customer service skills.
Dressing conservatively and appearing well-polished will show your employer and customers that you are serious about your job and will give you the confidence needed to make a good impression in the leasing office. You never know who could walk through the door, whether it be a regional VP or potential renter, it’s important that you are always looking your best. The popular saying, “Dress for the job you want.” is exactly right. When you dress and act like a professional leasing or property management representative, you increase the likelihood of becoming one.
When picking out pieces for your professional wardrobe, remember that quality is more important than quantity. Select a few professional essentials such as a blazer or sports coat with matching dress pants in a dark, neutral shade. Keeping high quality essentials on hand will make it easier for you to mix and match your attire without requiring you to have an excessively large professional wardrobe. Never wear any casual clothing. This includes: jeans, leggings, graphic t-shirts, sandals, or anything you would wear to the gym.
Learning which attire is both comfortable and professional can take time. However, with our guide on How to Dress for Property Management , you can quickly become an expert on professional wardrobe for property management.
In order to stay relevant in a constantly evolving environment, top leasing and property management professionals are those individuals who continuously expand their knowledge. If you’re striving to advance in your career, you should also be striving to continually learn new information.
Each community uses a variety of software to conduct their day-to-day, so companies will expect you to have fluent computer skills. The most commonly used software in property management includes: Yardi, Appfolio, Onesite, or Rent Roll. Working temporary positions gives you the perfect opportunity to gain experience with that software. You can also go the extra mile and take courses to learn more about these programs. Many software companies have information on training you can find by visiting their website. For example, here’s Yardi’s.
Another way to expand your property management knowledge is to read. Reading is scientifically proven to make you smarter and will enhance your skills and expertise. There are plenty of online and print resources out there to help you learn and grow. Seek out industry articles, webinars, sales books, podcasts, and more to stay at the top of your game. Here are some examples of books you could read to expand your knowledge of the property management industry and leasing role:
As you grow in the property management industry, it is also important to gain the proper certifications. Most formal certifications, such as CPM, CAM, or a Real Estate License would not be necessary until you are closer to advancing into a Property Manager role (a real estate license is typically only necessary in an advanced role with the management of a larger volume of units), but beginning your education in these areas below is always a good idea.
All property management professionals should be experts in fair housing. If you work with JWilliams Staffing, you’ll receive a fair housing and discrimination overview and certification, a highly valued certification by our property management clients. There are also more in-depth, nationally recognized certifications such as Fair Housing Specialist (FHS) that can be obtained through the National Center for Housing Management (here).
Tax Credit properties require that their leasing representatives have Tax Credit/HUD experience and/or training. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) provides a tax incentive to construct or rehabilitate affordable rental housing for low-income households. Tax credit properties operate on an entirely different set of guidelines when it comes to leasing an apartment, so experience is required. These certifications can be earned in person or online and will help you increase your value to potential employers.
Lastly, some companies will require their middle and upper management to be real estate licensed. While a license isn’t required to get started as a leasing consultant, it is good to start thinking about the eventuality of getting your license so when the opportunity to take a property manager position comes along, you’ll be ready.
One of the best parts about following a career in property management is having a clear career path outlined for you. When you have a clear idea about where you can go with a career, it’s a lot easier to understand where you should place your effort in order to advance.
Starting as a part-time or Temporary Leasing Consultant with JWilliams Staffing is the best first step to start you on your way to a fulfilling career in property management. Working temporary assignments will give you that hands-on experience property management companies are looking for in their candidates. Once a property management company brings you in for an interview and decides to hire you, you’ll likely start in a full-time Leasing Consultant position. After gaining more experience and proving yourself as a capable and adaptable customer-centric leasing representative, you may get advanced into an Assistant Manager or Leasing Manager position. After that, if you prove yourself a strong enough leader, you would then get the opportunity to grow into a Property Manager role.
Some choose to stay on track to a middle or upper management role such as a Regional Property Manager or Regional Vice President, while others follow opportunities outside of the property manager and sales career path. Those who are more inclined to the customer service part of the role can grow into a Resident Relations Manager. Some also branch off into other parts of the property management industry and take on positions in marketing, training, bookkeeping, and in some cases even take on a role with an industry partner (such as an advertising, flooring, or furniture rental company).
If you’re interested in learning more, the list below summarizes the responsibilities of some of the possible property management roles you can grow into.
Ready to jump-start your career today? Apply online with JWilliams Staffing! Click here to get started.
Provides customer support for current residents, greets and tours prospective residents, and maintains property value through maintenance and service requests. Consultants are experts on their community’s policies, procedures, and rental lease agreements as well as the local community features and amenities.
Supervises and manages all leasing staff while overseeing all leasing operations and activities related to apartment rentals. Maintains positive customer relationships with current and prospective residents and lease administration. Demonstrates superior sales, leadership, customer service, and problem-solving skills.
Ensures compliance with all community policies including resident notices, rent collection, and so on. Generates weekly reports and maintains property value through scheduled maintenance. Processes payment of invoices for the community manager and acts as manager in their absence.
Responsible for directing the daily operations and achieving the financial goals of the property. Oversees the complete day-to-day operations of the community and ensures the community is compliant with safety and legal regulations within budgeted parameters.
This individual is responsible for the overall performance of multiple communities, or a “portfolio”. Duties include managing all on-site personnel, leasing and marketing activities, market analysis, and community budgets. Responsible for implementing the policies, procedures, and practices that enable each property to meet and exceed budgeted financial goals and performance objectives. This position includes working with the property owners to identify financial property goals and create/implement strategic action plans.
Oversees all multi-family properties and ensures that the communities are properly managed and achieving the financial performance goals. Ensures the properties are well-maintained through personnel hiring. Works with other executive team members to prepare budgets and operating plans.
Addresses the concerns of current and future residents. Reviews new applications and responds to resident’s requests in a timely manner. Acts as an interface between the residents and the property management company, attending to their inquiries and handling complaints in a timely manner.
Supervises the functions of accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll. Reviews reports related to rental income, security deposits, and delinquencies for each property site. Ensures timely and accurate payments of mortgages, taxes, insurance, utilities, and vendor invoices. Regularly evaluates the performance of office staff, provides training and guidance as needed.