How to turn one month’s free rent into two

This morning’s email included the “hot sheet” from a newer high-rise offering renters a month’s free rent and their brokers / finders a month-and-a-half’s rent in commission.

If you’re working with a rental service broker / apartment finder, you should always ask what commission is being paid by each of the buildings you visit. Your agent is legally obligated to disclose that information to you.

You should establish at the outset of any relationship with a rental service that you expect that any commission in excess of a half-month’s rent will be rebated to you. That’s the amount of commission paid by some rental buildings, and the amount your agent would typically receive if you rented a condo listed by another broker. If a building is offering ai month’s free rent and paying 150% commission to brokers, a rebate of a month’s rent gets you two months free.

Rentals in condo buildings often prove a better value for renters. Agents who do not show renters units in those buildings are doing their “clients” a disservice if suitable rentals are available. Rentals in buildings that don’t pay commissions to rental services, or pay less than a month’s rent in commission, may also be a better value for renters.

It’s trivially easy to find high-rise rentals in Chicago using YoChicago’s at-a-glance lists and reviews, and easy to search MLS-listed condo rentals at the websites of major traditional brokerage firms.

If you’re going to use an agent, you should only work with one who has several years’ experience – there are too many hungry, ignorant, unlicensed rookies in the business. Insist that the agent show you all relevant properties and communicate your willingness to pay a half-month’s rent as commission if you rent in a building that doesn’t cooperate with brokers.