If you’re apartment hunting in the prime near-lakefront areas of Lincoln Park or Lakeview, working with one of Chicago’s apartment finders (a/k/a rental services, locators or brokers) is a guarantee that you won’t see some of the best apartments in these neighborhoods. You also won’t get the best deal on the apartments you do see, and a part of your rent check every month will pay for what you were told was a “free” service.
The first thing you need to know is that a number of landlords and management companies who have great apartments don’t cooperate with finders and don’t allow them to show apartments. There are also landlords and management companies that only cooperate with brokers on their hard-to-rent apartments. Work with a finder / broker and you can be certain that you won’t see some of the best apartments in Lincoln Park and Lakeview.
Landlords who work with brokers typically pay them a month’s rent (or more) as a commission. Your rent covers that cost. Your finder / broker has likely agreed, in writing, not to negotiate rent or fees on your behalf. Work with a “free” rental service and you’re not only paying for it, you’re surrendering your ability to negotiate a better deal on your own.
There are lots of additional pitfalls in working with a rental service, and we’ve outlined 25 of them for you.
The smart way to find a great apartment is to start with our linked Lincoln Park and Lakeview guides. They list scores of buildings from professional management firms, link to the building websites and near real-time rent and availability checks, and to review pages that provide objective information about the properties and their immediate surroundings. Our Lincoln Park and Lakeview guides also link to video tours of many of the properties.