The 2014 Chicago rental service do-not-call list

by Joe Zekas on 3/6/14

Lakeshore East and Streeterville, 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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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Guest March 6, 2014 at 10:34 AM

So any competition to this website.

Reply

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.

Reply

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.

Reply

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.

Reply

Misha July 25, 2014 at 2:22 AM

Hi, Why is Hybrid Realty on this list?

Reply

Joe Zekas July 25, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Advertising properties without the legally required authorization.

Reply

Jessica August 7, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Why is Hot Spot Rentals on your list?

Reply

Joe Zekas August 7, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Jessica,

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.

Reply

Jessica August 9, 2014 at 10:44 AM

whatever you say Joe :)

Reply

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.

Reply

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.

Reply

David April 2, 2015 at 11:44 AM

Hi,

Whats your info on Downtown Apartments Company? thanks

Reply

Joe Zekas April 2, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Craigslist spam and ads run without authorization.

Reply

christine April 8, 2015 at 9:27 PM

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

Reply

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.

Reply

christine April 9, 2015 at 10:18 AM

Thank you.

Reply

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

Joe-

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.

LB

Reply

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.

Reply

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!

Reply

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.

Reply

Nicole April 13, 2015 at 8:03 AM

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

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Joe Zekas April 13, 2015 at 4:14 PM

Nicole,

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.

Reply

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.

Reply

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)

Reply

Joe Zekas April 22, 2015 at 4:07 PM

Alex,

Unauthorized ads, bait-and-switch ads …

Reply

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 :http://www.trulia.com/rental/3185849665-1069-S-Park-Ter-Chicago-IL-60605, 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.

Reply

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