It’s anecdotal data only, but what I’ve been hearing during the past month is that a number of major landlords have been reducing or completely eliminating their reliance on apartment finders / rental services to bring them tenants.
Several large landlords will no longer pay commissions to any of the rental services. Others have become more selective in the services they’ll do business with, and / or will cooperate with rental services only on a limited number of their buildings or only on their most difficult-to-rent apartments.
Commission-cutting also appears to be becoming more prevalent. The “standard” commission was historically a month’s rent, but half- and three-quarter month’s rent payments have become more common, while other landlords are offering a flat-fee based on unit type. In some cases that flat fee has been less than half a month’s rent and is, in effect, a way of telling rental services “we’d rather not do business with you.”
The major impetus for the changing approach to rental services is the fact that it’s been a landlords’ market lately, with high occupancy rates and rising rents in most large apartment complexes in Chicago’s near-downtown lakefront neighborhoods.
What this means for tenants is that using a rental service is making a conscious decision to have only a limited exposure to what’s available in the market. Don’t expect rental services to be honest about that. There are many more things they won’t tell you about the reality of working with them.
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