Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education

Earn Money and Grow Your Real Estate Lead List by Showing Rentals

Growing Your Real estate business through rentals

Posted by: Jan Carlisle, REALTOR®
Updated: January 15, 2019

As a newly licensed agent, you face a lot of challenges. You are eager to grow your business, and your motivation is at an all-time high. But networking to get leads and signing your first clients can prove to be a challenge. When I first got started in real estate in July 2013, I was in that situation. I was sitting around with nothing to do in my $75 per month cubicle. I was having trouble getting my business off the ground, and the hardest decision I had to make every day was whether to watch Snapped or Wives with Knives when I got home that night. My broker-in-charge approached me and asked me if I wanted to show some rentals. I found out I could earn around $200 to $300 per rental if the tenant I was showing it to signed a lease. Given my situation, I had nothing to lose.

Looking to sharpen your negotiation skills? Download 17 Essential Tips for Real Estate Negotiation!

I began showing rentals and recognized a real opportunity. I started out making around $500 to $750 per week, which was considerably more than my other newly-licensed real estate friends were making. Two years later, I had developed relationships with property owners who still call on me to manage their properties and find them additional renters. But more importantly, my renters are now becoming buyers. As the trusted agent who helped them find their rental, they’re again turning to me to find their new home.

If you’re struggling to carve out a niche in your marketplace, and you’re willing to do the work, there’s a real opportunity in serving the renter community. Here are some tips to help you grow your real estate brand through rentals.

1. Let your colleagues know you'd be glad to show rental listings for them.

I have had numerous free leads from other real estate agents who did not want to show their own rentals. Later, when that client was ready to buy a home, they called me, not the other agent who they paid their rent to every month.

2. Call "celebrity real estate agents" and let them know you are available to show their rentals. 

Every market has that well-known real estate agent with a full client roster and a seemingly endless marketing budget. By letting them know you can show their rentals at the last minute or any time on weekends, you're helping them and yourself. I once had a celebrity real estate agent call me when it was pouring rain one night. He wanted me to show his rental home on the lake. The client I showed the home to didn't rent it, but kept calling me. Eventually, I found them a lease-to-own home that they loved. And it all started with a free, warm lead from the celebrity real estate agent who didn't want to venture out on a rainy night.

3. Establish boundaries in the beginning with your rental clients.

In my first year, I let the clients run my life. I’d show 25 rentals in one day, knowing if they chose one, there was only a $100 commission check waiting for me at the finish line. I was making decisions that didn't benefit my business. Now I set boundaries. I charge an hourly or daily retainer fee to show rentals, and I treat this like a business. I make them sign a contract and help them realize how valuable I can be in finding the perfect rental for their needs in a tough rental market.

4. Visit the upscale apartment complexes in your area.

Let them know that you will bring your rental clients to see their apartments. Apartment complexes pay real estate agents anywhere from $200 to $1,000 to bring someone to their apartment complex who ultimately signs a lease. In return, ask that they send leads to you if they do not have the particular type of property that meets the renter’s needs. There are never enough 3-bedroom apartments available. Property managers will give you leads for 3-bedroom rentals, and you have another free lead source to build your database.

5. Add everyone you meet to your database and reach out to them.

Put their names, email addresses, phone numbers, and details in your database. I use a postcard mailing service that has a restaurant coupon on the postcard, as well as my information. Even if they are not thinking of renting now, I consistently get thank you calls from recipients for saving them $10 on a meal. As is the case with all real estate specialties, your database is your most valuable asset. Anything you can do to build and maintain a strong database, and keep in touch with your clients, is going to help you down the road.

6. Contact the property management companies in your area and tell them you would like to be a showing agent.

Keep in mind, you may be on a waiting list. But once you do a good job, you will become one of their preferred leasing agents. Whenever their regular leasing staff is busy, doesn't make appointments after 5 pm, or doesn’t show rentals on weekends, the calls will go to you. On the weekends, you can see 8 to 10 clients per day, showing move in-ready rental homes. Many of them will sign the lease on Monday. Plus, you are meeting people who will be ready to start looking for homes to buy in 6 to 7 months because their lease will be up in 12 months. You will be the agent that helped them at night or on the weekend, and they will remember that.

7. Hold rental open houses.

If you have a move in-ready rental home in a great school district, an open house can be incredibly effective. I recently had a 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath townhome for $1,800 per month in a great school district. Roughly 20 people came to see the rental home. Everyone wanted it, but only one of them got it. That left me with 19 qualified leads looking to rent, or possibly even buy. That one rental open house was more successful than I ever imagined, all because of the school district.


Jan Carlisle is a licensed REALTOR® in Tega Cay, South Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina. She has worked in general brokerage since July 2013, and attributes her success to providing exceptional service to renters and lease to own clients. Jan loves coaching newly licensed agents. Feel free to call her at 803.627.7751 or visit her website at www.Lease2OwnFortMill.com for more information.

If you don't have your license yet, but you're interested in sales and rentals, check out our real estate education packages. Just select your state to learn more.