Who’s Lease is it Anyway?

OMG, the dreaded question. I’ll be honest, this is one of my biggest pet peeves as a property manager is complaints about leasing commissions. And trust me, I get it, its $$$$ in your pocket. Or out of it.

But here’s the thing, all of us are legitimately 18 years or older in our offices, meaning we are all adults. And while I don’t presume all adults have common sense (I know they don’t), but we do have an ounce of kindness in most of us. (On a side note here, I do only try to hire people who reflect common sense….although it has failed me in the past).

Anyhow, I digress. Here’s the thing, I despise this age old argument in the leasing office. I’m going to tell you my personal opinion on it, then my company’s policy, then I’m going to beg for you all to get active on my blog and post your own perceptions of the same.

Okay, here’s my outlook on leasing commissions:
I believe first point of contact, despite who shows the prospect, is the person who receives commission on it. Why?
Because if I have worked that lead to be able to solidify an appointment and have sold them visually over the phone or via email, and followed up as I should have and really the only thing left is for them to physically see it in person, even if I’m not there, then its my lease. I think we can all say that getting an appointment out of the prospect is one of the largest battles, we know once we get the appointment that we are confident in our ability to close in person.

And I use “my” and “I” as example only, I am aware of how bratty it sounds, but that applies to anyone in my office. If you have worked the lead, properly, I don’t care who showed it, it is your commission.

Now, my company’s policy is that the lease belongs to the individual that showed the apartment. Now, here is my issue with that. One, you may be working a walk in prospect when your appointment shows up, and I’m not going to let a prospect sit and wait upwards of an hour while you tour and close another prospect, unless they choose to. Two, you may be off due to unforeseen circumstances on the day of their appointment because lets face it, emergencies happen. Three, our prospects don’t always want to make an appointment, they’ll ask you if they can just drop by, and of course they can. See the dilemma there? So if any of that occurs and you have legitimately made an appointment but I wind up showing them, does that make it my commission? I think not. And obviously there would have to be wiggle room on the policy, but still, first point of contact seems easiest in getting around this issue.

But then another perspective was given to me today by a very young, but I have to say very wise, leasing consultant. “All that does it make it easy for someone to be lazy and not feel like they have to show to get a lease, just email or call and it’s their commission.”

Ah, what a great point. I think as managers, it is our duty to ease this entire predicament as easily as possible. And while she brought up a great point, I expect none of my staff to think that first contact and simply three follow-ups is going to get you anything without showing. When I say work your leads, I mean really work your leads, answer their questions and concerns, talk to them as regularly as you can during their search/decision making process. Dig into it. I don’t just expect anyone to do their job, I expect above and beyond. Lease up or not.

And that’s exactly what I said in the email I sent out today:
Based on a conversation that occured earlier today about leasing commissions, I need to ensure that everyone is on the same page in regards to this.
Leasing commissions belong to the individual that shows the apartment. When working your leads, please, ensure that when making the appointment that you are, one, writing the appointment down in your planner, and two, making sure that the appointment occurs on a day that you are in the office.
However, because there are going to be times when we are:
A) out of the office, beyond our control/schedules
B) our prospects will show up without an appointment
C) show up when we are working a walk in prospect
We will not always be the one showing someone that we may have necessarily been working with an extended period of time (circumstances above apply and I will be checking notes under each prospect to see who actually has been working the lead – so make sure notes are being made). I think in these given scenarios that we need to be gracious to one another because unfortunately, if one of you are with a customer when your prospect walks in, our job is to help them, not make them wait on the person who has been speaking with them (unless they choose to wait) – in that circumstance, it does still belong to the person who has been working it. Discussions can be had in regards to the same. But again, gracious and fair to one another.
On another note, this does not give anyone leeway to simply email, call and do three follow ups and think that you don’t have to show an apartment and it be your lease. That is not working your lead, that’s doing your job. We can all do that, I mean truly speaking to your prospect regularly, answering questions, making the appointment but being unavoidably detained for the appointment with yourself.

So, basically both sides, have legitimate arguments. If you pay commission to the individual that provides first point of contact, you run the risk of laziness occurring and proper work on your lead not being done. If you choose to pay commission to the one who shows the apartment, well how can you 100% guarantee that you’re going to be the one showing?

Here’s an opportunity for feedback, I would love to hear other’s opinions on the entire “Who’s Lease is it Anyway?” arguement…….


2 thoughts on “Who’s Lease is it Anyway?

  1. Waaaaaaay back in my leasing days…..you know the days when you had to type your leases on a typewriter. There were NO commissions. I know times have changed and I move with them, but I was paid an hourly rate to lease. Why would I be paid extra to do my job. Sorry I know not the question being asked, had to state my honest opinion though. Now moving on…..my company’s policy is. The one that shows is the ones who receives $$. However as a manager my company affords me the power to alter every situation as I need to. When there seems to be a dispute, or the unexpected occurs and there is indisputable evidence of more then one person working a lead. I split the commission. Yes for fairness but more because I want my team to feel like a team. I have learned over the years that when you have three plus full time leasing agents there can be many issues with all the different personalities. My number one is for them to care more about finding someone there home then worrying about extra $$ in there pocket and when they come together as a team I have found them giving commission’s to each other or saying “hey lets split this one”. My personal opinion in today’s leasing times. Who worked the lead the most receives the bonus. So if your leasing person is doing their job correctly it should be a no brainer. If they fail to complete the notes on the follow up or keep their paper trail in order do they really deserve extra $$

    1. Lol, as far as the being paid additionally to do a job you’re already hired to do, I agree. But, just like you, it is what it is. And while they do provide leeway for me to make that call, and even split commissions if necessary, there is always one situation where someone will leave out of it disgruntled, despite all of the above. I’m a huge advocate of ensuring all notes and follow ups are in the system and remind them all of the same. I think with an entirely new team right now, and the issue having just come up today, it concerns me that it may not end up like you mention above, “hey, let’s split this one” or “this is more yours than mine, here”. I think at the end of the day, your advice is right on point. If there’s a dispute, split it. End of story.

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