I fell into the world of multi-family housing by chance, a string of bad luck, and a great personal connection. Prior to renting and managing apartments, I was teaching musical theater and substitute teaching at the high school I attended in my hometown. I hadn’t finished my degree, didn’t have a five year plan, and wasn’t eligible for any sort of health insurance or benefits. I was struggling to figure out who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and how to navigate life in your early twenties while still living at home with Mom and Dad. While I knew I wasn’t alone in this challenge, it still wasn’t fulfilling enough for me. I was very fortunate when my older brother suggested I apply for an open Leasing Consultant position that was open at his company. After applying, interviewing, and finally getting hired, I was excited to start the next part in my professional journey, but to be honest, I had no idea what to expect.
I was hired on as a full-time Leasing Consultant at a busy property in Cambridge, MA. On my first day, I was given floor plans, pricing, and taught how to read an availability report which would show any vacant apartments, upcoming move outs, and pending move ins. When I realized I was going to need to sell tiny, 500 square foot studios at $1565 per month, I started panicking. How could I convince people to spend this much money a month on something so tiny, outdated, and with no utilities included? It seemed like an impossible task, but I’d soon find it was one I loved.
When I shadowed my first tour with the Assistant Property Manager, he briefly met with the prospects, took their Photo ID, and then just opened the apartment door and let them look around. To date, I hadn’t searched for my own apartment, so I didn’t know quite what to expect, but I knew that I was underwhelmed. All he did was open the door! He didn’t describe anything, point out any features, or ask the prospects what they wanted. It was all very matter of fact and lackluster and I think it was in that moment I knew I could do this so much better. And so I did.
I learned to work every angle, talk with the prospects, get to know their wants and needs, and then become a leasing rock star. I have a very high level of enthusiasm to begin with, but I kicked it into high gear with every tour I gave. I convinced myself that $1565 for a studio, $1800 for a one bedroom, and $2450 for a two bedroom was a STEAL and the best deal in town!
Now it may sound like I was all about the gimmicks or the glitz and glamour, but it went so much deeper than that. I truly fell in love with leasing and everything about it. Maybe it was my background in theater that made me feel like I was constantly putting on a show, but I think it had more to do with the fact that I was responsible for finding someone a home. It’s one of the basic needs in life and I was helping people discover that. Whether it was a couple’s first apartment together, a couple looking for a short lease while they built a house, or the elderly couple looking to downsize, every rental was special and meaningful to me. How often do we really get to say that we love our jobs? Yes, we all have bad days, but I want other people to love what they do as much as I do.
As the months and rentals passed by, I learned that there are few greater things than a prospect saying, “You know what, I really wasn’t ready to rent today, but you made me feel so comfortable and that I’d be taken care of if I live here. I will definitely leave a deposit today”. They were renting because of me! It was such a powerful and validating feeling that it became the fuel that has kept me going for the past four years. There have been times over the years that residents have sent me very appreciative thank you cards, flowers, or e-mails to my bosses. While I don’t do this job for those kind of accolades, it still is a rewarding feeling that I made a difference, no matter how small or large, in someone’s life. This is exactly why I’m leasing, and loving it.