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That apartment was rented before you applied

Kardas photo

Applying for an apartment that’s already been rented – or was never available – is just one of the very many pitfalls you’ll encounter when you work with a Chicago rental service / apartment locator / apartment finder. Many landlords allow multiple rental services to advertise and show their apartments while retaining the right to ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on January 19, 2015
ChicagoNorth Side

Start your Lakeview apartment hunt with landlords

Belmont Harbor

When you’re searching for an apartment in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, Craigslist and rental services are likely to prove a time-consuming, frustrating and risky dead end. Most Lakeview landlords advertise on Craigslist, but their ads are drowned out by a flood of bait-and-switch rental service ads. One critical thing – among many – the rental services ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on January 14, 2015
ChicagoDowntown / Loop

New downtown apartments lowering rents – but not really

Aerial view of downtown

A number of new downtown apartment buildings have recently lowered their rents while simultaneously discontinuing free rent offers. Almost all of the free rent offers required payment of the full stated rent and no payment in select months. New renters were not allowed to amortize the free months over the term of the lease and ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on January 14, 2015

For YoChicago, 2014 was a very good year

Aerial downtown

We’ve just finished crunching the numbers from our server logs for 2014. We’re pleased to report that YoChicago reached more than 753,000 unique visitors in 2014, a 36% increase over 2013. Our December 2014 visitor count nearly doubled from 2013 and exceeded 100K, the second time we’ve passed that benchmark,. Our audience reach extends beyond ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on January 14, 2015

Short-term furnished rentals in Chicago high-rises

Grand Plaza duplex

Almost all of downtown Chicago’s rental high-rises have furnished apartments available for short-term stays, either directly from the building or from a third-party company. If you’re relocating to Chicago, a furnished rental enables you to “test-drive” a building you’re considering moving into, or take some time finding your permanent home without the pressure of making ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on January 12, 2015

How fraudulent Yelp reviews help Chicago renters

Yelp

We’ve written previously about apparently fraudulent Yelp reviews for Live Here Chicago, a local rental service / apartment locator / apartment finder. Company agents and former agents have reportedly been encouraged to create positive reviews for themselves at Yelp. Read the recent reviews pictured above from a single Yelper. It’s obvious that both can’t be ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on January 9, 2015

Will 2015 be a year of apartment deals and discounts?

Aerial view of downtown Chicago

The downtown Chicago apartment market added more than 2,000 new rental apartments in 2014. The rental market showed surprising strength last year, but all of the new units haven’t been filled despite discounts and incentive offers that ranged as high as three free months’ rent. Nearly 4,000 new apartments will be added in downtown Chicago ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on January 5, 2015

Be wary of Evanston apartment hype

Aerial view of AMLI Evanston

Evanston, home to Northwestern University, is an affluent, highly-educated North Shore suburb. It’s the kind of place where you’d expect landlords to avoid making inflated claims about their properties and locations. My conclusion from visiting dozens of Evanston apartment websites is that they’re typically far less factually accurate than you’d expect or like. The eBrochure ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on December 31, 2014

Apartments Management Group racks up negative reviews at Yelp

Uptown aerial

It’s not unusual for property management companies to receive negative reviews at Yelp. Apartments Management Group, a successor to Beal Properties, stands out for the near-unanimity of its negative reviews. Yelpers who claim to have rented from the company have panned it in great detail. A five-star reviewer amusingly reports being “always so beyond well ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on December 17, 2014

Should you take your home off the market for the holidays?

Joanne Nemerovski

If you have your home listed for sale you might have a variety of personal or family reasons for sitting out the holiday season and returning to market after the first of the year. Berkshire Hathaway’s Joanne Nemerovski has been one of the top-tier Chicago agents for several decades, and has presided over nearly $1 ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on December 8, 2014

Sign a longer lease and save on rent

Aerial view of Gold Coast

The Chicago apartment market typically slows down in the winter season, one reason why local landlords don’t like to have leases expiring during the winter months. Some landlords offer incentives to winter renters who are willing to sign a lease that expires during the more active spring and summer seasons. One building, for example, is ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on December 8, 2014

Is Flats Chicago a vacation rental scofflaw?

Flats Chicago

Chicago’s Vacation Rental Ordinance (“Ordinance”) has been on the books for several years, but a quick scan of Airbnb provides evidence that it’s being routinely ignored. Back in July we questioned whether Flats Chicago had the licenses required by the Ordinance for its Airbnb listings at 4875 N Magnolia. We also questioned whether Flats Chicago ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on December 5, 2014

Is Jerome Bressler Chicago’s sleaziest rental agent?

Jerome Bressler

A year ago in October we questioned whether Jerome Bressert was Chicago’s sleaziest rental agent. We didn’t receive any nominations for that award, but we did just receive a comment on our post wondering whether Bressert was doing business under the name of Jerome Bressler. We checked Bressert’s website and his profile at Exit Strategy ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on December 5, 2014

Apartment People CEO slams Yelp, slimes self

Yelp screen cap

Ilene Collins, CEO of Apartment People, replied to a hyper-positive Yelp review by suggesting that the review might be taken down from the site “since we are not advertisers.” As I read the review, the first from a new Yelper, I found myself unable to believe that it reflected an actual consumer experience with Apartment ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on December 3, 2014

How to get an edge on renting the best apartments

Astoria Tower

If you’re working with a rental service, the odds are high that you’re not going to able to rent some of Chicago’s most desirable apartments. Some of the companies that own and manage sought-after apartments either don’t cooperate with rental services or only allow them access to their hard-to-rent units. If you want to rent ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on December 1, 2014

Prowling Chicago’s alleys with Google

Google alley view

Prowling the alleys can be a great way to learn about a new neighborhood. If a neighborhood’s alleys are strewn with trash and the garage doors and garbage receptacles are covered in gang graffiti, you might have second thoughts about moving there. You might be enamored of the idea of having a car repair shop ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on December 1, 2014

How fast your agent gets paid may bias which apartments you see

Aerial Grant Park

A recent comment at YoChicago: I am hearing thru the grapevine that some agents are actually quietly boycotting some buildings and management companies. The management companies that have been boycotted have been super late on paying out commissions and have clearly made demands about advertising and marketing that clearly makes agents feel that it’s a ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on November 24, 2014

Should you respond to a blind real estate employment ad?

Hancock

You’ll see quite a few ads at Craigslist for apartment leasing openings with leasing and management companies that go unnamed in the ad. You’ll also see ads from unnamed brokerage firms seeking to hire brokers. The Illinois Real Estate License Act requires licensed rental services and brokers to disclose their name in that type of ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on November 17, 2014

A flood of bait-and-switch apartment ads at Craigslist

Craigslist

As winter approaches and the number of apartment-hunting renters drops, Chicago rental services typically ramp up their year-round efforts to flood Craigslist with bait-and-switch ads. This year I’m seeing what appears to be a tidal wave of misleading and unauthorized ads. Many of those ads tout much higher rents than are actually available at the ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on November 13, 2014

Save on rent by referring a friend

Grant Park

Many of Chicago’s managed apartment buildings offer “resident referral programs.” The concept is simple: refer a friend who rents an apartment in your building, and receive a discount on your rent. The amount of the discount varies by company and building. The most lucrative we’ve seen is $1,000. The Illinois Real Estate License Act makes ...

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Posted by Joe Zekas on November 11, 2014