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How to Be a Successful Apartment Locator

Sydney began her real estate career in 2006 and is a born and raised Texan.


What Is an Apartment Locator?

An Apartment Locator is a licensed real estate agent that specializes in apartments, short-term rentals, and rental houses. This is a free service to renters. The Apartment Locator gets paid by the complex to which their client signs a lease and moves in. This can also be applied to rental home cases.

Why Is Apartment Locating a Good Way to Start?

Apartment Locating allows an agent to immediately get started in the real estate industry without having to join the expensive boards required to be called a Realtor®. We are going to touch a little more on this profession in real estate because it is the best way to get started to begin generating an income.

The sole purpose of an apartment locator is to find an apartment for a prospective tenant. Your services are always free to the prospect since the apartment complex will pay you for the referral. Typically, one month’s rent.

When first starting out in real estate, as an apartment locator, it may seem a little overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be if you follow these simple tips.

How to Become an Apartment Locator

1. Find a Broker that Specializes in Locating

Finding a broker is fairly easy to do once you are licensed, but if you are looking to specialize in apartment locating as a way to get started in real estate, you will want to find a brokerage company that has a dedicated apartment locating service within the organization.

In other words, one half of the company may specialize in home sales where the other half will focus on apartment locating. The benefit here is that one broker is typically a member of your local real estate board and the other may not be. Which ever you choose will determine if you are required to join that same board or not.

Eventually, the goal will be to move into home sales if that's what you want to do but overall apartment locating helps you build a pipeline, a list of resources, and helps you to learn the city.

TIP: Create a contact list of all the people you help move into an apartment because at some point, those clients will be interested in buying a home. Since you have built a rapport with them while searching for their perfect apartment, they are more likely to work with you in the future.

2. Build Your Own Resource List

Your lists will be as important to you as your clients. As you begin working with prospects you will build your own resource lists so that you'll be able to answer any questions your client may throw at you.

You'll find that your client's expect you to be knowledgeable of the area they are moving to or they'll want your advice for the best places to get utilities through. They will even ask where they can get a moving truck.

Having all of this information will make them feel more comfortable because they feel like you care. That's the point to being prepared; because you care. It isn't just about finding them an apartment, it's about building a relationship.

Compile those lists into your own resource bank and have ready for each and every appointment. Perhaps, create a cheat sheet for your client to have of the area and always make it a point to let them know you happily accept referrals. Set up a small referral fee (no more than $50) to entice them to send people your way.

TIP: A happy customer will tell others about you so keep in mind that how you treat them will be what they tell their friends.

How Do Apartment Locators Get Paid?

Apartment Locators provide a free service to their clients and are paid by the apartment complex or rental complex they refer a client to. Upon approval and move in, it can take up to 90 days to receive commission from the move in.

Take Advantage of Mentoring and Training

If you are with a reputable brokerage, they will offer training and ongoing mentorship to help make sure you are building your real estate business into the direction you want to head.

Keep in mind that it benefits them as well so they will want to make sure you are successful. Every chance you get, meet with your mentor. Ask questions that arise while you are out in the field. They are there to help.

TIP: When you take classes once a year to renew your license; take a class that will expand your knowledge in your current position. For instance, property management or residential classes will be important.

In Real Estate, Networking Is Key

Meeting new people and networking is perhaps the most important aspect of your real estate career, even in apartment locating. What better way to build your pipeline than with those you have helped get into their very first apartment? Eventually, they may look to buy a home and who better to call than you? You've already established a relationship with them after all.

How to start and expand your network:

  1. Carry business cards to every destination when you leave the house, even if it's only to the grocery store. You never know who you will come across that may be in need of a Realtor®, apartment locator or property manager.
  2. Update your social networks with your new position. Many referrals are generated online because that is where everyone is looking now.
  3. Create a website*. Even if it is only a one-page starter site, it's better than nothing. Once you've set it up be sure to add your information to the Google, Bing and Yahoo directories for your area.

Tip: Be sure to look at TREC's regulations on having your own website.


Be an Honest and Reliable Locator

This point can't be stressed enough. Do what you say you are going to do, meet when you are scheduled to and don't blow smoke. Client's don't appreciate it in the long run.

The best practice in apartment locating is not to make a client think you can help them when you really can't. Some things to be completely honest with up front is whether or not you can get them approved based on the information they are telling you.

The biggest complaint about an apartment locator is that they drop off the face of the earth if they see they can't assist someone. Be realistic in knowing that every person that comes across your desk will qualify for an apartment. If this is the case, don't waste their time or yours, let them know upfront that you can't find anything that they would qualify for.

If you aren't sure what qualifications each complex has, no worries, here is a resource for you that at least gives you the basics of what the apartment complex needs to have from someone to qualify.

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

You'll soon learn that the core foundation of real estate is location, location, location. When it comes to building your brand to appeal to ready buyers and anxious sellers, your sole mission needs to be marketing, marketing, marketing.

Other Real Estate Careers

There are so many paths available to new agents in the real estate industry. I cover this in more depth in my article Careers in Real Estate but, here's an overview:

  • Apartment Locating
  • Buyer's Agent
  • Seller's Agent
  • Investing
  • Property Management
  • Leasing
  • And More

What Do You Feel Is Most Important?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Sydney Spence


Jasmine White on October 31, 2019:

Great article! I get most of my apartment locating advice from Real Estate Duck Hunters on YouTube! May be a good resource for others interested in locating as well.

Sheryl Silver on January 16, 2019:

What is the best way to Market? As an apartment locator.

Tyler Mahan on July 05, 2017:

Great article! Would you suggest going in-person to an apartment locator or reaching out through their website in order to get on with one?

Saba Chaudhry on February 24, 2017:

Hello, I'm a realtor in Texas, I'm trying to find out how to become/start an apartment locating business? I'll appreciate your help. thank you

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