How to Become a Leasing Agent in Virginia

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Interested in becoming a leasing agent in Virginia? There are a few different ways to make that happen. Some involve getting a Virginia real estate license, while some do not. Let’s talk through your options.

Three Kinds of Leasing Agent

The term “leasing agent” can mean different things to different people, and when you’re talking about license law, it’s important to be precise about what exactly you mean. Can leasing agents show the property? Collect rent? Make keys? It depends!

The three primary jobs that full under the leasing agent umbrella are:

  1. Property managers
  2. Owners and their employees
  3. Rental listing agents

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Property Managers

Property managers in Virginia must hold a real estate license if they’re going to do things like show property, collect rent, and process lease applications. A license holder that works as a property manager must either have a broker license or be supervised by a broker, just like license holders who sell houses or do other real estate activities.

What Property Managers Do

Property managers take care of all the things property owners don’t have time or the interest to do themselves for their rental properties. While property managers work with tenants to fill vacancies and resolve issues, they work for property owners. A property manager’s primary role is to ensure that property owners make money.

That means taking care of things like: Marketing Tenant relationships Rent setting and collection Lease agreements Facility maintenance Facility finances * Risk management and safety

How Property Managers Get Paid

Property managers can be paid two different ways.

They can be paid a set fee, generally paid monthly, agreed upon between the property owner and the property management firm’s sponsoring broker (the broker would then pay the agent part of the fee, just like with a commission).

The other option is that property manager can make a percentage commission of the total rent roll of the building they are managing, and/or a percentage or bonus for the number of units they rent out. If the property manager is not a broker, the commission is split with their managing broker.

How to Get a Job as a Property Manager

To go into property management, you’ll need to get a Virginia real estate license. Getting a license means taking a 60-hour pre-licensing education course, passing the state licensing exam, paying the application fee, and passing a background check.

Once you’ve got that license, you can apply for open positions with property management companies or find a sponsoring broker that specializes in property management.

Owners and Their Employees

Property owners can perform all of the duties of a property management without a real estate license, so long as they’re only property managing their own property. Often, owners with just one or two investment properties choose to manage them themselves. In other words, they’re landlords.

This is one of the exemptions to Virginia license law: That a person does not need a real estate license to buy, sell, or manage their own property.

That exemption extends to an owner’s employees as well, so long as they are paid a set salary instead of a commission.

What Owners and Their Employees Can Do

Salaried employees of property owners can legally do everything a licensed property manager can do, but only for the properties owned by their bosses, and only for a salary, not on commission. It’s important for property owners to understand this includes bonuses for finding tenants: Unlicensed employees can’t be paid that way.

Otherwise, unlicensed, salaried employees can: Show units Process leases Collect rents and security deposits Do or supervise building maintenance * Market units and find tenants

How to Get a Job With a Building Owner

Since you don’t need a real estate license, you get this job like you get any other: Write a killer resume and cover letter and apply! You will vastly improve your chances if you have any background in real estate or property management.

One way to get a foot in the door without a license is to get a job as an unlicensed assistant at a real estate brokerage. You’re not allowed to do real estate activities, but you can answer the phone, schedule appointments, and learn more about the field.

Rental Listing Agents

Rental listing agents help renters find properties. Unlike property managers, they don’t work for a specific property. Instead, they collect listings and show properties to interested renters. Rental listing agents are also required to have real estate licenses.

How Rental Listing Agents Get Paid

Some rental listing agents charge their clients, the tenants, a fee for finding them an apartment. Others are paid a referral fee or commission by the owner of the property being rented. Think of it as a seller’s agent and a buyer’s agent splitting a commission in a sale.

How to Get a Job as a Rental Listing Agent

First, you have to get a real estate license. The process is the same for rental listing agents as for property managers: It’s the same license, a Virginia salesperson license. The only difference is instead of finding a managing broker who specializes in property management, you’ll want to find one who runs a rental listing agency.

Rental listing agencies are much more common in cities than in suburban or rural areas. Cities are denser and more likely to appeal to renters, so the market is more competitive. Rental listing agents should have a good sense of their city, so they can guide clients toward neighborhoods and properties that would be a good fit for them.

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