Condo – a dirty word for apartment rental services

by Joe Zekas on 4/20/12

A while back we wrote about 2-bedroom, 2-bath units in a full-amenity condo high-rise renting for the same price ($1,950 a month) as a convertible studio directly across the street in a full-amenity rental building.

If you were working with one of Chicago’s parasitical rental services you would not have been offered the choice between the two buildings. The primary reason is simple: the rental service would have had to split the traditional one-month commission 50/50 with the agent who listed the condo for rent, but would receive a full month’s commission from the rental building.

If you’re considering working with a rental service, ask whether they’ll show you MLS-listed homes and condos in addition to managed rental properties. If the answer is “no” or equivocal or “yes” and later proves to be untrue, move on quickly unless you’ve already found your ideal apartment through the rental service.

The flip side of this scenario is that you’ll often find that traditional MLS-oriented agents won’t show renters units in managed rental buildings, but that’s a topic for another day.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Harrison April 23, 2012 at 9:28 AM

I am coming to Chicago in early May to look at apartments. How can I find a MLS-oriented agent?


Joe Zekas April 23, 2012 at 3:18 PM


Contact a local office of one of the major brokerage firms that are our parent firm’s clients: Coldwell Banker, Jameson, Koenig & Strey or Prudential Rubloff. Ask the manager to refer you to an experienced agent who works with rentals.

Sorry, but given the number of people we work with we can’t make specific recommendations.


Pete April 23, 2012 at 10:50 PM

I highly recommend renting in full-amenity condo buildings. I’ve been doing it for 7 years and its a better experience all around.


Joe Zekas April 23, 2012 at 11:59 PM


Same building or different ones? How about offering some of the pluses and minuses of buildings you’ve lived in?


Pete April 24, 2012 at 11:04 PM

2 different buildings. Both with door staff, onsite maintenance, fitness room, etc. They offer all of the same amenities as most apartment buildings but the staff is more responsive. They have to be – as the owners are their boss.

Typically, individual landlords are less likely to raise rent from year to year on good tenants as they don’t want to make the tenant move out and take the chance of leaving the place empty or getting a deadbeat to move in.

As for the minuses of renting in a condo building vs. all rental apartment building, I can’t think of any.


SheridanB April 27, 2012 at 1:00 PM

You will be a second class citizen in a condo building – rental buildings are set up for renters and their different needs than a condo building is (or should be). One of the reasons I chose to buy a co-op, no investors.


Joe Zekas April 27, 2012 at 1:17 PM


You raise a very good point as to second-class status.

Some buildings are extremely hostile to renters and go out of their way to annoy them and treat them with disdain.


Pete April 27, 2012 at 10:47 PM

Luckily I never lived in any such building. Most people in a condo building don’t know or care who rents vs owns. If someone is really giving you crap about being a renter, Chicago and Cook County ordinances are generally in your favor.


Kat May 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM

i know surely not all condos are like this but yes, I have to concur with SheridanB about being treated like 2nd class citizens in the building


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