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Working in Retirement: Becoming an Apartment Rental Agent

3 things to know before taking this part-time job


If you want to earn extra money in retirement, enjoy working independently in a laid-back environment and want to connect with a variety of personalities, becoming an apartment rental agent could well be a great part-time job for you. I know it will be for me.

But you’ll want to know what you’re getting into first.

Years ago, I knew I’d love seeing how residents decorated their homes. That’s what led me to answer an ad for a part-time rental agent at a luxury apartment complex in my hometown of Rochester, N.Y. I soon found out there were plenty of other perks that I enjoyed. And they’re also ones I will enjoy when I transition into retirement and do this again.

Benefits of Being an Apartment Rental Agent

The first was working independently, with no pressure to sell. Basically, that meant as long as I arrived at the scheduled time, spent most of the day in the model apartment and answered the phone, I was golden. Other duties included showing empty apartments to potential renters and collecting their leasing applications and security deposits. A bonus: I always knew which apartments were available and was able to nab one for 25 percent less than the going rate — an “employee discount.”

“You’ll be killed by some crazy person,” my dad warned, the first time my parents came to see me in the model apartment. “This is just taking your life in your hands.”

Now that I’m a bit older, I understand his concerns. But I never had a problem. And I doubt I would now if the setup was the same, now.

Where I worked, the maintenance people were always outside their facility, across the street. I always left the main door open so anyone walking by could see through. And I had a walkie-talkie to summon the maintenance people.

The only problems I had, if you can call them that, were with picky potential renters who returned time and again to photograph, measure and show units to other family members.

3 Things to Know

Three caveats about the job of an apartment rental agent:

1. Not all rental agent jobs are the same. In New York and other large cities, many earn only commission and the job is highly competitive.

2. Some rental agents have no downtime. If they aren’t showing apartments or answering phones, they’re cleaning the model apartment, running credit checks or ordering supplies for the maintenance people.

3. If you do take a job, ask about security. Many apartment complexes, even those in low-key areas, now have on-site security officers that patrol 24/7.

Nancy Dunham
By Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham is an award-winning freelance journalist.

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