Careers in Real Estate: Commercial Vs. Residential Rental Markets 

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Our expert Apartment Locator, Stephanie Dybel, has worked in both commercial and residential real estate. Hear her insider’s take on how the two compare, then learn her tips for how to market yourself successfully.

2 Real Estate Markets to Consider

Have you thought about starting in or transitioning your career into real estate? Most people envision a real estate role like what they see on HGTV’s buy/sell reality shows. But, the truth is that you can pursue many career paths in real estate, including many that rarely (or never) appear on your favorite streaming app. To provide more clarity on a few of these options, I dive into my experience working in both commercial and residential real estate below.

Which Market Should I Pursue a Real Estate Career in?

Congratulations on passing your state licensing exam! Now it’s time to find a job – you learned about commercial and residential real estate in class, but how do you know which market is the right fit for you? My advice is to tap into your larger network and start conversations with your real estate connections. If you don’t have any direct connections yet, ask your friends and contacts to introduce you to folks in their circles. When first starting off your career, pursuing internships in both residential and commercial real estate can help you decide which market fits better.

Before I launched my career in commercial real estate, I worked in a PR role at a communications agency. A friend of mine made a career switch from advertising to a leasing agent position at a commercial brokerage, and her firm needed to hire another leasing agent. Because of our similar backgrounds, she thought I would be a great fit and that piqued my interest. After many discussions, I decided to take the plunge and interview for the role. To make a long story short, I accepted the offer and never looked back!

No matter which market you land in, take this quick word of advice under serious consideration: In order to be successful in any real estate role, you have to enjoy the thrill of sales and know how to effectively market yourself to build up your lead pipeline. 

I offered several tips about how to market yourself in a previous blog post in case you want to learn more about those strategies.

The Lowdown on Commercial Vs. Residential Rental Markets

The biggest difference between commercial and residential real estate is the lead-to-close time. It takes deals longer to close on the commercial side. For example, a potential tenant’s current lease might not expire for 1-2 years from the time that you begin working with them. Leases are also more complex with multiple iterations that pass between lawyers on both the tenant and landlord sides. Depending on the size of the deal, commercial lease negotiations can take 6 months (or even longer). 

However, as an Apartment Locator, working on the residential side of rentals, you can close a deal with a client in one day. The average locator hits 10-15+ deals every month because of the quicker turnaround, which gives you the bandwidth to pursue more leads. After a client applies for a unit, the client transitions to the building’s leasing team where they begin the background and credit check process. This process typically takes 2-3 days, depending on the building, but overall it goes much faster than commercial deals since it requires no negotiation due to Fair Housing Laws. 

Begin a Residential Real Estate Career by Becoming an Apartment Locator

Now, how did I end up in my current position as an apartment locator for AptAmigo after working in a commercial setting? Commercial real estate is a corporate 9-5 role, and, personally, I thrive in the fast-paced apartment locating environment. More importantly, I prefer the flexibility to build my own schedule and personal business. This ability might mean working an occasional weekend, but I enjoy that no two days are ever the same in my work week. Moreover, after going through the buy and sell process when I purchased my first home, I realized that I wanted the faster lead turnaround time that apartment locating provides. Lastly, the pandemic turned corporate office culture upside down, and I enjoy working for a real estate tech startup that challenges the status quo of the real estate industry in positive ways.

I hope this personal account of my journey helps you to learn more about commercial and residential real estate jobs. Are you interested in becoming an Apartment Locator and building a residential real estate career? Read up on what it takes to become an Apartment Locator and check out AptAmigo’s Careers page with the buttons below to see all open positions.

AptAmigo is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and does not discriminate based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, genetic information, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law, in connection with any aspect of employment at AptAmigo.

About the Author: Stephanie Dybel is a Leasing Agent in AptAmigo’s Chicago office. She started off her real estate career leasing commercial office space, transitioned into coworking, and now she loves helping clients find their dream apartment. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys a good psychological thriller, exploring Chicago’s restaurant scene, and spending time with her Catahoula-mix, Nola.

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