The 2014 Chicago rental service do-not-call list

by Joe Zekas on 3/6/14

Lincoln Park, Chicago IL

New renters in Chicago are often confused or misled by Craigslist and other ads into believing that they’re contacting a landlord or management company when they respond to an ad by one of the many apartment locators / finders / rental services.

Many of the 1,000s of rental service ads on Craigslist are for non-existent apartments or apartments only available at a higher or lower price. When an ad does represent an actual apartment, it’s likely to be advertised repeatedly by scores of rental services, none of whom have any control over the property and some of whom aren’t allowed to set foot on the property.

The apartment locators advertise their service as “free,” and that’s an appealing argument to renters naive enough to believe that they’re not ultimately paying the one month’s rent they receive as a commission and not foregoing discounts offered to renters who book an appointment directly rather than through a rental service.

Rental services won’t show you some of the best deals in Chicago – sometimes because the properties don’t cooperate with brokers, sometimes because they’re paying brokers a lower commission than other properties.

Finding a good apartment in Chicago is relatively easy – unless you’re using a locator service to find one. In that case, you’ll often be shown the difficult-to-rent dogs that landlords can’t rent on their own. As a bonus, you’ll be pressured into believing that these leftovers are the best available or steered into neighborhoods you’d rather avoid.

If you’re looking to rent along Chicago’s lakefront, YoChicago’s at-a-glance apartment lists make it easy to see what’s available from all the major buildings and management companies. Searching MLS-listed rentals at a reputable broker site and walking around your preferred area on the lookout for rental signs will expose you to almost everything else.

If Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow or HotPads is your preferred source, we’ve prepared an updated list of the rental services / locators / finders you should avoid, and a list of the twenty-five things rental services won’t tell you.

A number of the companies on the prevous version of this list have gone out of business.

  • Access Chicago Realty
  • American Realty / American Realty Pros
  • Apartment and Condo Center
  • Apartment and Home Seekers
  • Apartment Connection
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Apartment Group, The
  • Apartment Guys
  • Apartment Locators
  • Apartment People
  • Apartment Savvy
  • Apartment Source
  • Blue City
  • Buzzer Real Estate
  • Chicago Apartment Finders
  • Chicago Apartment Renters
  • Chicago Apartment Seekers
  • Chicago Apartment Solutions
  • Chicago Property Finders
  • Chicago Real Estate LLC
  • Chicago Real Estate Services
  • Chicago Rent Finders
  • Chicago Signature Properties
  • Chicago Residential Experts
  • Chicagoland Property Group
  • Chicago’s Property Shop
  • Ciddy of Chicago
  • Continuum Brokers
  • Core Luxury Real Estate / Core Group
  • Crazy Steve
  • Downtown Apartment Company
  • Downtown Apartment Finders
  • Dream Spots
  • Drennen Realty Group
  • Dwell Chicago Rentals
  • Elan Leasing
  • Elite Chicago Properties
  • Exchange Apartment Finders
  • Exit Realty, Jerome Bressert a/k/a Jerome B
  • FairGreen Real Estate
  • Fulton Grace Realty
  • Gold Coast Realty
  • GoldMark Realty
  • Green Ivy Realty
  • Homescout
  • Homestead Group
  • HotSpot Rentals
  • HP Realty
  • Hybrid Realty
  • iKahnGroup / American Realty
  • iMove Chicago
  • iQrentals
  • Just Rent Chicago / Just Realty
  • Kale Realty
  • Lakeside Living
  • Live Here Chicago
  • Live Well Chicago Realty
  • Loop Apartments
  • Luxury Living Chicago
  • My Chicago Flats
  • My Place Apartments
  • My Town Realty
  • New City Rentals
  • New Urban Property Services
  • North Star Real Estate
  • Open Path Realty
  • Premier Chicago Rentals
  • Prospect Equities
  • Quantum Apartments
  • Red Door Realty
  • Rent Apartment Leasing
  • Rent Here Chicago
  • Rent Here Realty
  • The Rent Pros
  • Renters Refuge
  • Rentology
  • Shaw Real Estate Group
  • Spaces Property Group
  • State Street Properties
  • T-Rock Enterprises
  • Tricap
  • Trudo Realty
  • Urban Apartment Locators
  • Urban Domain
  • Urban Lux
  • Vesta Preferred Realty
  • VibeRent Real Estate
  • X Plus Real Estate
  • Your New Address Chicago

New rental services are constantly being spawned, so we’ve doubtless missed some. Add a comment to help us update the list.

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Guest March 6, 2014 at 10:34 AM

So any competition to this website.


Joe Zekas March 6, 2014 at 3:50 PM

You don’t find any of the established full-service brokerage firms on our list, and they also compete for the attention of renters.

Unlike rental services and cowardly anonymice, we compete honestly and openly. We don’t spam renters with 1,000s of illegal, repetitive bait-and-switch ads each day.

We don’t, like you, hide behind half a dozen different screen names backed by phony email addresses.


Guest March 6, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Yochicago is in the business of real estate advertising. The idea that it is simply acting as a good Samaritan for the benefit of tenants everywhere is preposterous. While some of these agencies are certainly problematic, the conflict of interest here is fairly obvious. As for my own personal anonymity, I don’t see how it is relevant, nor do I see the need to disclose my identity to the entire internet. I can assure you though that unlike Yochicago, I don’t have a financial stake in people choosing one rental advertising service over another.


Joe Zekas March 6, 2014 at 8:44 PM

Does your assurance hold true for all six of your anonymous screen names or only for this one?

Renters can judge the value of our information and compare it with your lame attempts at disinformation.


Misha July 25, 2014 at 2:22 AM

Hi, Why is Hybrid Realty on this list?


Joe Zekas July 25, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Advertising properties without the legally required authorization.


Jessica August 7, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Why is Hot Spot Rentals on your list?


Joe Zekas August 7, 2014 at 1:13 PM


Does your company have written permission, as required by law, to advertise the properties you’re advertising? No.

Are you spamming Craigslist in violation of its terms of service? Yes.

I could go on, but that’s enough to earn you a place on the list.

In another comment you stated that you work for Hot Spot Rentals. You should also have disclosed that in this one.


Jessica August 9, 2014 at 10:44 AM

whatever you say Joe :)


Nick August 27, 2014 at 8:16 PM

I would like to get into leasing apartments and eventually into real estate sales. Any companies you can recommend? Thanks.


Joe Zekas August 27, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Start with one of the major management companies rather than with a rental service. You’ll be trained well and, more important, will learn how to act ethically and professionally.


David April 2, 2015 at 11:44 AM


Whats your info on Downtown Apartments Company? thanks


Joe Zekas April 2, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Craigslist spam and ads run without authorization.


christine April 8, 2015 at 9:27 PM

What is the problem(s) with Renters Refuge? Thanks.


Joe Zekas April 8, 2015 at 9:41 PM

The company had been advertising properties without the legally-required permission. I haven’t checked on it in well over a year.


christine April 9, 2015 at 10:18 AM

Thank you.


Laura B. April 9, 2015 at 9:31 AM


Have you viewed the listing agreements from all of these apartment locators? If they are advertising illegally, why do these management companies continue to work with these violators of the law? Several of your advertisers cooperate with many of these locators and continue to send hot sheets on a weekly basis.

Also, you claim that landlord only send their “hard to rent” units to locators. How does Planned Property feel about you speaking so poorly about their units. The availability they send you is the same they send to locators.



Joe Zekas April 9, 2015 at 3:41 PM

Laura B,

I’ve seen the listing agreements that management companies use – they don’t use the ones from the locators. I’ve only seen one that authorizes Craigslist, etc ads, subject to specific conditions. Some properties have authorized locators to advertise on a limited basis and case-by-case basis.

Sending hot sheets is not – repeat NOT – authorization to advertise, although locators are often dense enough or deceptive enough to think / claim it is. I see the hot sheets also and they do not contain any authorization to run ads.

I didn’t say anything negative about Planned Property and did not suggest in any way that they only give locators their hard-to-rent units. I said that’s true of some landlords – and you know that it is.


Nicole April 11, 2015 at 10:07 AM

Thanks for this list. I was about to reach out to several of these companies before I saw this. My husband and I are relocating to Chicago this June. What advice or recommendations do you have for finding a rental property? Part of the reason I entertained using these services is because of the convenience and services offered for someone relocating to a new city. I might only have a weekend in town to look at places and make a decision. It’s almost impossible to coordinate everything on my own. Talk about stress!


Joe Zekas April 11, 2015 at 10:10 AM

I can’t give you any intelligent feedback without knowing what your budget is and where you want to live.


Nicole April 13, 2015 at 8:03 AM

Fair enough. $3000 per month for rent. We’re leaning towards West Loop or Lincoln Park.


Joe Zekas April 13, 2015 at 4:14 PM


Lincoln Park has only one full-amenity building, Eugenie Terrace, and one recent high-amenity renovation, Webster Square. Both will have units in your price range.

You’ll find all of the managed buildings in the West Loop on our list. All will have apartments in your price range, and all have online availability checks. All of the new buildings are excellent and professionally managed. You can even feel comfortable renting “sight unseen” at any of the new buildings.

You’ll find that rentals in condo buildings in your target neighborhoods are often very competitive with rents at the managed buildings, but those buildings typically won’t have competitive amenities packages. Work with a full-service brokerage firm rather than a rental service if you’re interested in condo building rentals.


q April 20, 2015 at 10:34 AM

I’d also encourage Craigslist users to flag any postings as “prohibited” that are repetitive, deceptive, expired, etc., whether they’re on a list provided here or otherwise.

Craigslist doesn’t seem terribly concerned about fixing this (common) problem, but it’s easy enough to vote on listings like these with a single click.


Alex Strzelecki April 22, 2015 at 3:47 PM

What is Buzzer Real Estate on the list for? (asking as a person searching for an apartment, and they are one group that responded)


Joe Zekas April 22, 2015 at 4:07 PM


Unauthorized ads, bait-and-switch ads …


Vera Perner April 24, 2015 at 9:53 AM

Joe, this rental scam is getting everywhere now. I just caught it on Trulia – one of my listings, 1235 S. Prairie unit 3209 was listed by another agent as hers without my permission, then I noticed this one :, listed by Centurion Realty, Ola Sanny, and when I checked it on MLS, it had been listed by Terri Buseman 4 months ago and rented already, so this agent was just using it as a bait with Terri’s photos and description and presented it as his own. It is getting out of control.


MS May 11, 2015 at 12:28 PM

Why is FairGreen Real Estate on your list?


Joe Zekas May 11, 2015 at 2:11 PM

Deceptive advertising. My personal favorite is the Lakeview studio “a block from the beach.”


Phyllis May 26, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Hi Joe,

Is there any apartment locator service that help people with a cha voucher find a quality apartment without being scamed….looking for a 2 bd/2 bth apartment in hyde park chicago…


Joe Zekas May 26, 2015 at 1:06 PM

None that I’m aware of.


Diana May 30, 2015 at 10:10 AM

Joe, what is a person with a budget of $1500 max
to do if she wants to live in a clean, safe & decent place? leave Chicago??


Joe Zekas May 30, 2015 at 10:28 AM


There are a lot of options in your price range in great parts of Lincoln Park and Lakeview, Roscoe Village / North Center, Lincoln Square, Ravenswood and more. There are also very attractive neighborhoods on the far northwest side where you can find rentals.

I always tell people to go for the best neighborhood they can afford and be willing to accept a small apartment with fewer creature comforts in that neighborhood. You can easily find studios in Lakeview, for example, at around $1,000.

Think how much enjoyment you can get out of the city with an extra $500 a month that you’re not spending on rent to go out and do things near where you live.

Decide where you’d most like to live and then walk / bike / drive the streets looking for rental signs. You’ll find some bargains that way. Also look at MLS-listed condo rentals, which are frequently lower than what you’ll find in the managed apartment buildings.


Juli June 19, 2015 at 12:15 PM

Any opinion about Best Chicago Properties, LLC?


Joe Zekas June 19, 2015 at 4:50 PM


I don’t know the company. I took a brief look at their website and they appear to be a traditional brokerage rather than a rental service. I didn’t look in depth, but all the listings I saw on their site were from the MLS, not from the apartment buildings the rental services feature.


Emily Jones July 11, 2015 at 8:58 PM

Hi Joe,

Do you have any recommendations for renting condos? I am really looking to rent a condo in bronzeville preferably on 40th and Oakenwald or Lake park and am unaware of how to get in contact with anyone.



Joe Zekas July 11, 2015 at 9:26 PM


Contact a major full-service brokerage firm that has an office in Bronzeville, Hyde Park or the South Loop. You’ll find several local candidates among the clients of our parent firm.


A. Ryder July 15, 2015 at 8:51 AM


I see several members of your do not call list have made Chicago Agents Who’s Who of 2015. Does this change their status on your list?


Joe Zekas July 15, 2015 at 8:56 AM



Unkown July 15, 2015 at 1:56 PM

Hi Joe,

Just would like to back up your analysis on Spaces Property Group LLC. Disorganized and unintelligent. Head Manager Bentley Phillips was extremely rude on the phone. Glad that I only had to deal with them for the first month… They cashed a postdated check 9 days early. Highly illegal under FDCPA rules. They smile in your face until you pay them, then they are no where to be found. Find a different company


Emily July 16, 2015 at 4:45 PM

Thank you so much! I was working with several companies on this list and didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. Where do you recommend I look for a rental in Woodlawn, Bronzeville, Hyde Park and north of Hyde Park. Budget is $2500. Looking for a 3 bedroom unit. Thank you for this resource!


Joe Zekas July 16, 2015 at 5:37 PM


One of our advertisers, Mac Properties, has many renovated buildings in Hyde Park /Kenwood.

I’d also suggest getting in touch with one of the brand-name brokerages in the area and seeing what condos / homes are listed for rent in the Multiple Listing Service.


Eric July 22, 2015 at 11:16 AM

Hi Joe,

Thanks for putting this together. As someone looking for good agencies in Chicago, I’m curious how you see Yelp reviews fitting into this mix?

Some of the companies you list above have fantastic Yelp reviews (i.e. Vesta Preferred, Downtown Apartment Company to name a couple), while some of the ones you suggest as being better have horrendous Yelp reviews (i.e. Mac Properties).

From an objective standpoint, Yelp, being crowd-sourced, seems to say a lot more about a given agency than the a (potentially biased) list created by one person. Not a criticism – just genuinely curious what kind of value you place on Yelp reviews?


Joe Zekas July 22, 2015 at 12:00 PM


The vast majority of positive Yelp reviews for rental services are transparently fraudulent works of utter fiction posted by the companies or their agents. I place a high value on these reviews because they clarify the extent to which the companies involved have dishonesty at the core of their business model. Be very wary of any rental service that brags about its positive reviews.

I’m also highly skeptical of negative Yelp reviews. Rental services trash their competitors on Yelp and slam buildings that don’t pay them a commission.

I don’t know what to make of the negative reviews of Mac Properties on Yelp. Mac is not a rental service, but owns and manages 1,000s of apartments in Hyde Park. It has done beautiful renovations of a number of buildings there.

Mac is an advertiser and I’ve spent a fair amount of time in a half-dozen of their high-rise buildings. I’d give a very positive review of Mac based on everything I saw, the staff I met, and the feedback I got from dozens of renters. I make it a point to approach renters at random to get their take on the property and management. The renters I spoke with had positive things to say about Mac.


Saul August 31, 2015 at 12:56 AM

What are your thoughts on Miller Chicago LLC in Wicker Park?


Joe Zekas August 31, 2015 at 1:06 AM

I don’t know anything about the company.


Inez October 9, 2015 at 8:10 PM

Hey Joe! I’m new to the area and highly interested in living in Edgewater. I’ve seen a couple high-rises condo units on Sheridan and Hollywood but through the people on your do-not-call list. Any suggestions on how to rent from these high-rises properties but avoid the “deposit scams” of the middle-man companies showing me the property? I’d also take any suggestions of who to contact for rentals in the Edgewater area. My price range is $900-1100. Thanks for your wonderful list!!


Joe Zekas October 9, 2015 at 8:19 PM


Visit a traditional brokerage site, e.g. Berkshire Hathaway Koenig Rubloff, and search rentals. Contact the listing firm directly. You’ll see it referenced on the listing.


Caroline October 20, 2015 at 4:59 PM

Why are trudo and imove on this list?


Joe Zekas October 20, 2015 at 5:07 PM

There’s a reason, I suppose, why you were unable to follow the link on iMove and get an answer to your question.

Every firm on this list has, at a minimum, engaged in illegal advertising.


yelrac October 20, 2015 at 9:09 PM

All these places are garbage! Who is actually questioning their position on the list? iMove, Trudo, Vesta, Grace, CAF have all earned their status on this list.


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