It’s rental service recruiting season – be very wary

Chicago’s rental services a/k/a apartment locators a/k/a apartment finders are looking forward to the annual seasonal uptick in rental activity, and advertising to fill positions with “unlimited earning potential.”

All of the firms boast that they have the largest number of listings, lead all the others in technology, offer the best commission split in the industry, invest heavily in hands-on training and provide a career path into a lucrative sales career. If you believe any of that, you’re an ideal candidate – and likely a perfect pigeon.

The firms will tell you that their average agent earned, say, $45K in the first year and top agents earn over $100K. They won’t tell you what percentage of their hires survived the first 90 days, or how many of those earned enough to pay for their cab fares or gas during that period. There’s lots more they won’t tell you: if you understood the reality of the business, you’d be unlikely to enter it. You’d be even less likely if you have a strong sense of personal ethics and knew how your future employer conducts his business.

What does it take for you to qualify? A smart phone and a GED and, as one self-described “elite brokerage” phrases it “No Felony Convictions.” Translation: we don’t care how many felony arrests you’ve had as long as they were dismissed on technicalities or pled down to misdemeanors.

If you’re determined to pursue that “unlimited earning potential,” do the following before deciding on a firm. Ask to speak with at least 3 agents at the firm, other than the owners, who have 5 or more years’ experience in the rental service business with that firm and have earned $100,000 or more for the past 3 years.


  • John G 5 years

    The comical part about your crusade against Chicago locator services is that at the end of the day you aren’t even making a positive impact. Regardless of the real estate laws that we do not follow (and it’s not like we are stealing money), the vast majority of clients that we service, have a positive experience. And at the end of the day, that is whats matters most. I know this by the referrals we generate and from all the feedback that I ask for and receive from renters that do and do NOT end up renting from us. So if you think that Chicago would be better off with us, you’re just flat out wrong and have probably never worked in our business. And anyone who agrees with you is either:

    A) Part of a minority of people that had a negative experience. Understandable.

    B) Ignorant like yourself

    C) Stupid like yourself

    In lieu of this wasteful cause by you, we left messages for 4 building managers to ask them if they would like us to STOP posting their units because we did not have a written agreement (such a huge offense by the way) with them. Only 2 of them returned our calls. Go figure. If they cared so much about the “Zekas Movement”, you would think they would actually call back.

    If you actually spent a day in the field doing what we do, then maybe you would somewhat understand. Chicago locator services are 100% necessary and here to stay. Sorry Joe. Your crusade is a complete waste of time. Go start some other movement, where you are actually making a positive impact on society.

    Oh, and yes I will keep myself anonymous because you can cause much more damage to me and my business then I can to you and your business. I would think you are smart enough to understand that, given the amount of followers you have on your website.

  • John G 5 years

    * So if you think that Chicago would be better off WITHOUT us, you’re just flat out wrong and have probably never worked in our business.

  • John G,

    I’d like to see anyone who says “regardless of the real estate laws that we do not follow” and mocks and minimizes their importance put out of business. Anyone who takes that approach is stealing money – from renters who overpay, from landlords whose expenses are inflated, and from honest brokers.

    I find your reason for being anonymous amusing – and note that you’ve called some major landlords ignorant and stupid.

  • Megan R 5 years

    Mr. Zekas,

    Those of us Realtors who pay for MLS, follow the rules, and earn a living in the real estate profession sincerely appreciate your effort.

    These renegade leasing firms should be fined and have their licenses revoked as we would if we engaged in such practices.

    I sincerely hope IDFPR follows through and does an audit of all of the leasing companies and hopefully many of them will encounter stiff fines. $25,000 per incident in keeping with the law.

    Any word on IF the IDFPR will engage these jerks??



  • Megan R,

    I’ve spoken directly with several members of the Illinois Real Estate Administration and Disciplinary Board, and with IDFPR staff. There’s a keen awareness there of the scope of the problem in Chicago, and a willingness to address it. IDFPR’s problem is a lack of investigative resources. I’m trying to supplement those resources with my efforts to document the problems.

    IDFPR recently levied substantial fines against two rental agents.