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What do you consider a penthouse?

1500 LSD

It’s common for real estate agents to refer to the top floor of any residential building as a penthouse. It may be even more common for real estate buyers and renters to sneer at referring to the top floor of a 2- or 3-story building as a penthouse. Fifteen years ago, real estate agent Janet ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on August 27, 2014

Will luxury high-rise dwellers be shivering in September?

100 E Huron

Chicagoans experienced cooler than normal temperatures in July, and the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a cold winter. Anyone who’s lived in Chicago for any length of time is keenly aware of how volatile temperatures can be. New residents of “luxury” high-rises, however, are often unaware that may not be able turn on the heat when ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on August 26, 2014

Rental service lies – the largest database of apartments

Aerial view downtown

If you scan help wanted ads for Chicago rental services at Craigslist, or visit their websites, you’ll find a number of them claiming to have the largest database of apartments. For all but one, it’s an untruth. Almost all of the rental service do have access to the largest database of rentals – the local ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on August 26, 2014
ChicagoDowntown / Loop

The distinct sub-neighborhoods of River North

River North

River North is bounded by Michigan Ave, Chicago Ave and the Chicago River. It’s a sub-neighborhood of the Near North Side community area. Unlike most neighborhoods its size, River North has no sub-neighborhoods of its own. One possible exception, recognized by some, is the Cathedral District – the area bounded by Michigan Ave, Ontario St, ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on August 25, 2014

Has condo pricing gone off the rails again?

Shoemaker Lofts

Lately I’ve been seeing nearly identical new condominiums – in some cases from the same developer – selling for similar prices in locations that I consider to differ widely in value. It’s possible, of course, that I’m misjudging the appeal and underlying value of the locations I’m comparing. I don’t think that’s the case. It’s ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on August 20, 2014

Don’t play rookie roulette with a random rental service

Lakeview

Chicago’s rental services are high-turnover operations. New agents are suckered in by promises of high pay, a fun working environment and a clear career path. Almost all of them quickly learn that the business offers little compensation, is no fun and is a dead-end career that very few persevere in. High turnover means that many ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on August 19, 2014

Call a time-wasting lawbreaker for your next apartment

Aerial downtown

All of the rental services a/k/a apartment finders a/k/a apartment locators on YoChicago’s do-not-call list have earned a spot on the list by engaging in illegal or abusive behavior. The most common form of law-breaking is advertising properties for rent without the written consent of the owner that’s required by the Illinois Real Estate License ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on August 12, 2014

Have you visited Crain’s and Curbed today?

Dennis Rodkin

If you want to stay abreast of what’s happening in Chicago real estate you’ll have to venture beyond YoChicago and our Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr accounts. We keep a steady focus on homes and apartments for sale and for rent, but can’t report on every development in a city the size of Chicago. You’ll ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on August 12, 2014

Why is the under-35 generation renting rather than owning?

K2 pool

The US Census Bureau recently released data showing that the rate of homeownership among people under the age of 35 has been in a steady decline in the past half-dozen years. The ownership rate stood at 41.3% in the first quarter of 2008 and dipped to 35.9% in the second quarter of this year. That ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on August 6, 2014

YoChicago at YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter

Boiler room

More than two-thirds of the more than 85,000 unique visitors to YoChicago each month are new to the site, and only 14% of our visitors come directly to the site. Seventy-seven percent of our visitors come here via organic search. What those numbers tell us is that we’re meeting our objective of providing information about ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on August 5, 2014

The first step in finding your first Chicago apartment

West Loop aerial view

Perhaps the biggest mistake that first-time Chicago renters make is not focusing on exactly where they want to live. That’s an easy pit to fall into if you’re new to the city and unfamiliar with rental costs and locations, but it’s one that should be avoided. Your first and most important step in finding your ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 29, 2014

Free Chicago rental services and great apartment deals

Belmont Harbor aerial

Chicago’s piratical rental services would like renters to believe that their services are free. There are renters gullible enough to believe that, just as there are renters who are naïve enough to believe the claim that rental services will negotiate the best deal for them. Chicago’s rental services aren’t that naïve. They’re fully aware that ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 24, 2014
Downtown / LoopTips & adviceRenting

Should renters claim the broker bonus at 73 East Lake?

73 East Lake Chicago

Not all Chicago landlords cooperate with rental service brokers, but the ones that do typically pay a commission equal to a month’s rent. Several of the newer buildings have rented up successfully while paying rental services a flat fee per unit that’s well under a month’s rent. The new Loop apartment tower at 73 East ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 21, 2014

Calling ex-rental service agents to speak out

Craigslist screen cap

Recruiting ads for new rental service leasing agents on Craigslist lure the naïve into thinking they’ll join a fast-growing elite firm, be trained for a career with high earnings potential, and be supported with the latest technology. The reality is that working at a rental service is a miserable experience for many new recruits, who ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 15, 2014

Chicago condo smoking bans and more

2626

The smoking ban at the 2626 N Lakeview condominiums is old news by now, but you’ll get an expanded look at some of the legal backdrop in the latest issue of the Chicagoland Cooperator. The publication focuses on issues relevant to local condos and co-ops. The June issue of the publication has a roundup of ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 14, 2014

Are Flats Chicago’s Short Stay apartments properly licensed?

Airbnb Flats Chicago

Chicago’s vacation rental licensing ordinance (“Ordinance”) imposes a number of restrictions and requirements on short-term rentals for transient occupancy. For starters, it requires licensing and a payment of a fee of $500 per unit every two years. Flats Chicago’s Short Stay units at 4875 N Magnolia in Uptown are clearly subject to the ordinance, but ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 8, 2014

Some amusing Yelp reviews for Vesta Preferred’s Joe Rush

Yelp screen cap

A new agent starts at a Chicago rental service and, within a matter of days, is receiving five-star reviews at Yelp from people writing their first-ever review, and writing in a way that doesn’t seem to reflect an actual apartment renting experience. That’s a pattern you’ll see repeated time after time in Yelp reviews for ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 1, 2014

Bypass 1,000s of Craigslist apartment spam ads with a single click

Kardas aerial

Chicago’s rental services promise to make your apartment search swift and painless. To encourage you to use their services they attempt to make your Craigslist search time-consuming and painful. We’ve singled out the 10 worst Craigslist apartment ad spammers and find it difficult to understand why anyone would work with a company that’s so flagrantly ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on July 1, 2014

A rental service agent trashes his former rental service

Gold Coast view

Live Here Chicago is a rental service that’s on our our do-not-call list and our list of the top 10 Craigslist apartment ad spammers. We’ve also written about the company in connection with fraudulent reviews at Yelp. A comment was added to that post yesterday from someone representing himself as someone who had worked at ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on June 24, 2014

Stay in a new Streeterville high-rise with Airbnb

Streeterville aerial

Airbnb has been around long enough, been the conduit for enough rentals, and refined its policies and checks often enough that you might not have any qualms about signing up for a short-term rental through Airbnb. You should be wary. I recently saw listings for short-term rentals through Airbnb at 500 Lake Shore Drive and ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on June 23, 2014