Is Chicagoland Property Group Craigslist’s worst apartment spammer?

by Joe Zekas on 3/31/14

Craigslist doesn’t allow ads to be posted more than once every 48 hours and prohibits keyword spam, i.e. the use of irrelevant terms in ads to draw attention to them. Over-posted ads stuffed with irrelevant keywords are spam.

We haven’t completed our research, so we don’t know whether Chicagoland Property Group is Craigslist’s most prolific spammer. We are, however, highly confident that it ranks among the worst offenders.

Here’s a list of some of the firm’s agents and the number of ads, totaling more than 4,500, that they had active on Craigslist as of midday yesterday:

  • Andy / Andrew Hasdal , 677
  • Collin Walker, 675
  • Jon Zolecki, 623
  • Brian Serva, 451
  • Mike Britton, 438
  • Alli / Ali Rozina, 396
  • Michael / Micheal Hawks , 371
  • Steven Schuldt, 245
  • Ryan McCool, 240
  • Jim Salvatori, 170
  • Erin Harper, 174
  • Lauren Monaco, 73
  • According to the IDFPR database, Schuldt is a month-old rookie at the firm and Harper has been there for just a few days. Salvatori and Monaco haven’t yet made an appearance in the state database.

    Chicagoland Property Group advertises a limited number of properties over and over and over and over again in clear violation of Craigslist’s rules. The same properties are advertised over and over and over again by dozens of other rental agency spammers.


    Many of the firm’s ads are for apartments that are unavailable for rent, available only at a higher price or not described accurately. The repetitive ads illustrated above, for example, show the floor plan for a 3-bedroom, 2-bath (not 2.5 as stated) at The Chicagoan, which doesn’t have any 3-bedrooms available for rent. The ads were first posted nearly a month ago and appear to have been renewed without checking availability. The Chicagoan has near real-time availability info online, so there’s no excuse for not checking.

    The apparent goal of the ads is to frustrate, confuse or bait-and-switch you into contacting one of its agents instead of going directly to the properties, almost all of which (and a lot more) you’ll find on YoChicago’s at-a-glance apartment lists.

    Chicagoland Property Group has been in business for more than 4 years, and has advertised in bulk on Craigslist for some time. When a company devotes so much sustained effort to breaking rules and wasting your time, why would you believe that contacting it will save you time? Why would you contact a newly-minted agent who isn’t icensed yet but has been schooled in time-wasting and rule-breaking?

    Oddly enough the firm was not listed on Yelp. I added a listing for Chicagoland Property Group, and encourage you to chime in at Yelp with your thoughts on the company’s behavior, both on and offline.

    When you see repeated ads on Craigslist, flag them as prohibited. It only takes a second and will save other renters time when Craigslist removes them.

    Craigslist spam is just one of the obnoxious and illegal behaviors that earn rental services a/k/a apartment locators a/k/a apartment finders a spot on our do-not-call list.

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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    Matt April 1, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    I actually use these guys all the time and have sent them dozens of referrals. I’ve never heard a complaint from anyone. They’re all very professional, smart, and attentive, unlike most of the other jamokes you see working for many of the other leasing agent companies. I guess they post a lot of listings but they’re 10x better than any other company I’ve dealt with. My guess is whoever wrote this article has never worked with them, because if he/she had, they wouldn’t be writing this.

    Reply

    Joe Zekas April 1, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    Matt,

    I don’t work with these companies but I talk to property managers, management company leasing agents and renters who do work with them.

    Funny thing, but they don’t report the same positive experience you say you’ve had.

    You can bet that people who have to wade through the 1,000s of abusively repetitive ads they post on Craigslist don’t share your enthusiasm.

    Another funny thing. None of the people now raving about CPG at Yelp were ever motivated to do so until I posted an article questioning their business practices and added them to Yelp.

    And the final funny thing – you don’t address any of the substantive points I made in the post. Are bait-and-switch ads or stale ads OK in your book? Trashing Craigslist?

    Reply

    Matt April 1, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    Obviously no company can have 100% positive feedback, but from the dozens of positive experiences I’ve had with them, I guess your response surprises me.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that many of their employees have been around for quite some time, which I also find to be rare with these leasing companies. It seems like many of them will hire just about anybody to try to pump out a few contracts.

    Reply

    Matt April 1, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    I didn’t see your whole reply at first:

    No. Stale ads, incorrect postings, or false advertising is not OK in my book. I haven’t experienced that, however so I suppose I cannot comment on it yet.

    Reply

    Joe Zekas April 1, 2014 at 11:29 PM

    See my comment below.

    You don’t say how you’ve “used these guys.” If you used them as a landlord, are you OK with their running the kind of ads they do to get the attention of tenants that they bring to you?

    I’m an old-school kind of guy whose experience has led him to believe that any business that behaves this way isn’t to be trusted in any capacity.

    The threading’s getting a little deep. Please post a comment rather than a reply.

    Joe Zekas April 1, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    Added 4/1: Kellen Walker and his mom Joi and dad James were recently added to CPG under 120-day leasing permits. The IDFPR database lists them in Channahon.

    A 2-year old Patch article reported that Kellen didn’t drive and was spending his days at a family business in Morris, more than an hour’s drive from the downtown properties in the 235 ads he and his mom have active on Craigslist today. The business was sold last year, according to its website due to the owner’s continuing health problems.

    Mom Joi has quickly become an accomplished spammer, dishing out 8 ads for an $1,899 one-bedroom at Oakwood 200 Squared and 15 ads for a $1,990 Jr 1-bedroom at K2 in just one day.

    Curiously enough, CPG’s Collin Walker is from Channahon and his mom and dad are named James and Joi.

    Added: Collin and Kellen serve up 5 different takes on the “best priced” Gold Coast one-bedroom on the same day. Hoping to reach a bunch of April fools, I guess.

    Reply

    Matt April 1, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    I’ve become quite close with them through my experience with them, and to inform you: the reason he can’t drive is because he has epilepsy and his mom quit her job as a teacher in order to help him, his wife, and his two children open a family business and now a real estate business so that he can continue to work and make money despite his limitations. That would be why he does his part for the business and posts from an hour away.

    Reply

    Joe Zekas April 2, 2014 at 12:08 AM

    Matt,

    Epilepsy was mentioned in the Patch article I linked. I worked in a hospital for 4 years and know how debilitating it can be. The family has my sympathy for that, and my contempt for its advertising practices.

    Reply

    Matt April 1, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    I own and run a real estate business that has bought, sold, and rented every single unit consistently for 4 years with 0 days of vacancy and 1 late payment in that time. Every single tenant has provided glowing reviews to me of their experience front to back, so I’d say I’m quite satisfied.

    I don’t know that I like the back and forth between us here, but I felt it necessary to respond after I read the article.

    Reply

    Joe Zekas April 4, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Matt,

    I’ll note, for the record, that you advertised one of your apartments 3 times yesterday on Craigslist and another once – and Chicagoland Property Group isn’t advertising either apartment.

    Also note that your last comment doesn’t specifically attribute your experiences to CPG.

    Reply

    Matt April 10, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    For clarification the comment above was directed at CPG. I have 3 units that I rent out myself because they are so easy to rent. CPG helps me with all the others, every time.

    I’ll note, for the record, that it is impossible that I listed the same apartment 3 times, because I only had 4 active listings, 2 for each apartment, and I renew only those 4.

    But good work. I’m happy to hear that you spend so much time snooping around on the internet. It seems to be time well spent.

    Reply

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