Leasing 101: What You Missed

Posted By: Carina Pfeiffer Education Corner,

Leasing 101: January 31, 2017

If you haven’t taken a class taught by Desiree Starr, you are seriously missing out!

This is a guest post by Carina Miles, one of your Market Director’s for 407apartments, a local search for apartments in Orlando.

As a class sponsor, I have had the opportunity to observe this class many times. In fact, during my second week at 407apartments I sat through this class. I quickly learned one should never use the terms “unit” or “complex” – Desiree certainly saved me from some embarrassing moments as I stepping into leasing offices for the first time!

Since then, I’ve witnessed quiet and reserved leasing agents with less than a week of experience end their day exuding confidence and sounding like a leasing pro! Below are a few highlights of the class that no one forgets and has a way of bringing people back for more.


Have you ever been told to make eye contact with a stranger, say nothing at all, and simply stare at them for 30 seconds? Desiree had a group of 26 class attendees do this shortly after kicking off the class. After about 3-4 seconds we were squirming in our chairs desperately hoping the 30 seconds were almost up. Her point to this madness? It actually takes much less than 30 seconds for someone to create an image of you – make it a good one!

When it comes to the “what to wear” question. One sentence sums it up: Dress how you want to be addressed.


Are there certain words that sound like nails on a chalkboard to you? For professionals in the apartment world, the list below just about sums them up! The more, suggested friendly term is also listed.

  • Tenant - Resident
  • Unit - Apartment Home
  • Complex - Community
  • 2 by 2 - 2 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom
  • Handicap Unit - Accessible or Barrier Free
  • Maintenance Man - Maintenance Technician/Manager
  • Leasing Agent - Leasing Professional
  • Make ready - Your New Apartment Home (or apartment home ready for you to move into)
  • Model - Show/Furnished Apartment
  • Tax credit - Affordable Housing Community
  • TIC - Tenant Income Certification

The above terms are similar to the word “moist.” There’s nothing wrong with it (and in legal documents the term may be necessary) but we just feel icky after hearing it. A prospect or resident should feel warm and fuzzy, like they’re at home, and these cold terms don’t help get them in the move-in mood!

Telephone Techniques

First Desiree pulled out her mirror and then she pulled out her lipstick. What do you need to do before you make a phone call or pick up the phone? Desiree told the class that lipstick makes her feel complete for a conversation. This may not be the case for everyone – each person is different. The mirror, however, is a trick everyone can use. It doesn’t take long after customer hears your voice to know your attitude so before answering, look at yourself and smile. You’ll notice that even a forced smile makes you sound happier and more personable.

There are some key questions you want to make sure you’re asking your prospect on the phone to help qualify them and determine if you have an apartment home to fit their needs.

Here a few questions you don’t want to forget to ask:

  • When are you looking to move?
  • Are you flexible with date?
  • What lease term are you looking for?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • What is your price range?
  • Can you provide me with your contact information in case we get disconnected?
  • What are your must-haves?


Remember the CHEER method and you’ll be sure to up your closing game!

  • Concentrate… and focus on prospect
  • Hear totally… they are telling you what they need. You just have to listen. Be sure to pay attention to inflection in voice to differentiate their strong needs.
  • Empathize… feel, felt, found: I understand how you might feel, others have felt that way and here’s what they found.
  • Exhibit Interest… ask questions, practice active listening, nod your head and use body language to show you’re interested and listening
  • Remember… don’t forget what they’re telling you. Be sure not to ask questions they’ve already answered.

There’s no way to put into words all the great take-aways you or your leasing team will leave this class with. From the basics of terminology to closing a prospect during an interactive tour demonstration in the AAGO model, you will leave with a renewed since of confidence that will radiate at the office. Be sure to check out the AAGO calendar to find out when the next Leasing 101 class is scheduled.