It’s the wrong the time of year to become a leasing agent

It’s that time of the year. You’re seeing the ads on Craigslist. Chicago rental services are starting to staff up for the upcoming rental season, which begins in mid-March and ramps up in April and May.

The recruiting ads for Chicago rental services typically promise easy entry into a fun, exciting career with unlimited earning potential. The reality is starkly different. It’s not much fun, quite a few new rental agents lose money overall before giving up on leasing apartments on commission, and very few ever make that pie-in-the-sky six-figure income.

The rental service business in Chicago is highly seasonal. At this time of the year the number of apartments turning over is limited, the number of people looking for them is limited, and hungry agents are fiercely scrambling after what little business is out there. It’s not a good time to be a rookie.

My educated guess is that the average bicycle messenger, barista or pizza delivery driver will substantially out-earn the average rental service newbie over the next several months, and will have a lot more fun.

If you’re determined to work for one of Chicago’s rental services, interview with half a dozen of them before making a decision. Talk to their non-management veteran agents – if they have any. Read the reviews at Yelp and the reviews from ex-agents at Glassdoor. Read what YoChicago has had to say about individual companies and the things rental services won’t tell renters. Consider a leasing agent position with an established management firm as an alternative – the real pay is likely to be much better.

Stay tuned for more posts on the reality of working for a Chicago rental service. Like our Craigslist Apartment Cleanup Facebook page as an easy way to follow our campaign to eliminate illegal rental service advertising.


  • Jon 5 years

    With 5,000 new units coming online 2013 promises to be one of the most lucrative leasing years ever.

    The average full time leasing agent earns $4,000 per month as a 1099 agent and they can write off their car, laptop and phone.

    Considering the options these days, for the right person, this is a nice opportunity.

    • Bad numbers all around.

      The actual number of units coming online this year is under 3,000 – a number of the buildings only beginning to deliver some of their units late in the year.

      If it were a fact that the average rental service leasing agent earned $48K you wouldn’t see the massive fallout and turnover that you do.

      Leasing agents can’t “write off their car.” Some of their car expenses are deductible if properly documented. And out-of-pocket expenses reduce earnings.

      Note that “Jon” doesn’t have a verifiable identity he’s willing to put behind his claims.