Make Money Faster with Your Real Estate License

If you are considering a career in real estate but don't have a ton of money to throw at the new position, consider starting out as an apartment locator to earn an immediate income and build your way up.

What Is an Apartment Locator?

Section Subtitle

Why Is Apartment Locating a Good Way to Start?

The rental market gets you paid faster

Send vs. Escort

How you refer a client can impact your commission

How to Become an Apartment Locator

Find a Broker Specializing in Locating

Getting Paid as an Apartment Locator

Keep Track of Your Compensation

Take Advantage of Mentoring and Training

Make the most of mentoring and training opportunities.

Other Real Estate Careers

Learn about other careers in real estate

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

Become a Successful Apartment Locator covers many marketing tips that are free to inexpensive

An Apartment Locator is a licensed real estate agent that specializes in apartments, short-term rentals, and rental houses. This is a free service to their clients. We’ll cover more on compensation later.

Apartment Locating enables you to get started in real estate right away, WITHOUT having to pay the costly board fees that are required to call yourself a Realtor®. Once you have passed your license exam, you are officially a licensed real estate agent! Even without the board memberships! While apartment locating requires a license, you can earn money right away!

This is my top pick for getting started in the real estate market. Especially if you are not financially able to rely on zero income for at least your first six months.

Being an apartment locator is a great way to build your pipeline, especially if you see yourself becoming a buyer's or seller's agent in the future. Each and every client you help move into a rental property will remember who got them there.

Gather contact information for every client and be sure to stay up on marketing to them. (Marketing tips are covered at the end of this book.)

Just so you're aware upfront, some of the benefits of becoming an Apartment Locator include:

  • You are NOT required to join an expensive board

  • You are legally a licensed real estate agent

  • Dedicated to rental market

  • Flexible schedule

  • Referrals create a pipeline

  • You are your own boss and create your own schedule




Apartment Locating allows an agent to immediately get started in the real estate industry without having to join the expensive boards required to be called a Realtor®.


We are going to touch a little more on this profession in real estate because it is the best way to get started to begin generating an income.

The sole purpose of an apartment locator is to find an apartment for a prospective tenant. Your services are always free to the prospect since the apartment complex will pay you for the referral. Typically, one month’s rent.

When first starting out in real estate, as an apartment locator, it may seem a little overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be.

Apartment communities and property management companies set commissions based on rent rates, typically set as a % of the rent. However, there is another exception to your pay ... whether you send or escort your client.

To SEND a client means you are not escorting them to the property, you are simply referring them to it. This can be tricky but very lucrative at the same time.

To ESCORT a client means you are physically meeting them at the property and walking through the tour with them. You are there to ensure your name is written on the application form as the referral to the property.

TIP: Call every complex you are referring a client to and ASK what their commission rate is (the % of rent they pay YOU in commission) AND if that varies based on Sending the client or Escorting the client to the property.

Your Name MUST Appear on Application as Referring Agent in Order to Get Paid!

This point cannot be stressed enough. ENSURE your name appears on the application as the referring agent BEFORE the application is turned in. It's also a good idea to send a guest card to the property beforehand so that you have record of your client and where you referred them.

If you are licensed, finding a broker is relatively simple, but if you want to specialize in apartment locating as a way to get started in real estate, you should look for a brokerage firm that has a dedicated apartment locating service.

To put it another way, one half of the business could specialize in home sales while the other focuses on apartment placement. The advantage is that one broker is usually a member of your local real estate board, while the other is not. Whichever option you choose will decide whether or not you are expected to join the same board.

If that's what you want to do, the target will eventually be to move into home sales, but for now, apartment hunting will help you create a pipeline, a list of resources, and learn the city.

TIP: Keep a contact list of those you support move into an apartment because you never know when those people would want to buy a house. They are more likely to work with you in the future because you developed a relationship with them when looking for their ideal apartment.

Do not send an invoice to your client. They will not be the one to pay you. Apartment Locators are paid by the apartment complex or property management firm to whom they refer a customer. After approval and move in, it can take up to 90 days to receive commission from the move in.

It is a good idea to ask what the compensation is when contacting a property management representative. You will hear 50%, 75%, 100%, and sometimes more than that. What does that mean? It means that is the amount of asking rent that they will pay you.

For example, You’ve found a rental that meets all of your client’s needs. You contact the apartment complex to learn the rent is $1200 per month and they are paying agents 75%. You escort or send your client to the property. Your client accepts the rent, qualifies for the property, and signs a lease.

You will then submit an invoice to the apartment complex or property management company for $900 (which is 75% of $1200). This does NOT include your broker fees, traditionally 90/10 split which means you would retain 90% of the $900 invoice ($810).

Also, be aware that your commission can hinge on whether or not you personally escort the client to the property. In some cases, the commission is not as high if you simply send them.

Important Note: If you send clients to properties, be sure they are putting your name on the application or else you may not get paid. If possible, get a copy of the lease application and show clients where to write your name. This is where rebates come in handy. It almost ensures they remember to write your name on the application as the referring agent.

Another thing to consider is emailing or faxing a guest card to the complex prior to your client touring the property.

If you work with a reputable brokerage, they will provide you with training and regular mentoring to ensure that you are building your real estate business in the right direction.

Keep in mind that it is in their best interests as well, because they would want to see you succeed. Meet with your mentor whenever possible. When you're out in the field, ask any questions that come up.

TIP: Take a class that will broaden your experience in your current job as you take classes once a year to upgrade your license. Land management and residential groups, for example, will be crucial.

Networking is crucial in real estate.

Even in apartment hunting, meeting new people and networking is maybe the most critical aspect of your real estate career. What better way to expand your funnel than by working with people you've assisted in getting their first apartment? They will eventually want to buy a house, and who better to call than you? After all, you've already formed a rapport with them.



There are so many paths available to new agents in the real estate industry. I cover this in more depth in my article Careers in Real Estate but, here's an overview:

  • Apartment Locating

  • Buyer's Agent

  • Seller's Agent

  • Investing

  • Property Management

  • Leasing

  • And More

Whether you are a seasoned real estate agent with years under your belt or you just recently passed the real estate licensing exam, marketing should be your best friend.

Becoming an established real estate agent takes time and patience. Unless you've already created a pipeline that will keep you busy for the first six months, there’s a lot of work ahead of you and it all starts with marketing.

Believe it or not, there are many platforms online to advertise your real estate service that will take some of the stress out of your marketing campaign, save you money, and help bring those clients in.

You want to set yourself apart from the competition while at the same time conveying your message that your service is worth the consumer's time. By growing your online presence, establishing proven marketing practices, and consistently getting your brand out there, you stand a better chance of people finding you. Even more important, you have a better chance of people wanting to work with you.


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So, you are thinking about entering the world of real estate.

You may be nervous, have a lot of questions, or be ecstatic about the new opportunity. You're not alone, in any event. For the right individual, real estate can be a lucrative career.

When it comes to the real estate industry, there are so many options that new agents don't consider. The majority of agents believe that having a real estate license restricts them to helping buyers buy a home or helping a homeowner sell theirs. That isn’t the case at all. Apartment locating is one of the most underrated career opportunities in real estate.

Here you will find the ins and outs you need to begin a career in apartment locating. PLUS, some bonus marketing tips to help you get started.

"Become an Apartment Locator" is for anyone looking to make money in the real estate industry without all of those out-of-pocket expenses you would find when pursuing another profession in this industry.

First published on in 2013 and updated in 2021.


Everything you need to know about starting a career in apartment locating is just a click away. 

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© 2022 by Sydney Spence, Agent in the State of Texas. Author of "How to Become a Successful Apartment Locator.