Greg Pekarsky, in a blog post (screen cap) at Vesta Preferred, serves up some of the silliest advice imaginable for renters interested in learning about actual rent prices in Chicago. Pekarsky’s blog identifies him as Vesta’s “Managing Principle” [sic]. He advocates the following.
Step one – start with online research at Zillow and Rentometer.
Step two – contact multiple agents and get their opinions of rent ranges.
Step three – write down the price ranges you’ve heard from the different sources on a sheet of paper.
Bring this paper with you as you begin apartment hunting. If a price seems you [sic] high, you no longer have to second guess yourself. You’ll have a convenient way of comparing the landlord’s asking prices to what people are actually paying.
If Pekarsky doesn’t know full well that steps two and three are so laughably useless that renters will ignore them, he ought to. He may be hoping that they stop at step one – Zillow – where they’ll encounter the nearly 1,000 garbage ads placed by agents from his firm, and 1,000s more garbage ads placed by other rental services.
I’m using the term “garbage ads” as a shorthand way of referring to ads with incorrect rent amounts, misstated features, and links that mislead renters into thinking they’re contacting a property manager rather than a rental agent.
The screen cap above illustrates the problems: available 1-bedrooms at Columbus Plaza rented for at least $70 a month more than the advertised price, and did not include in-unit washer /dryers. Clicking on the “Contact Property Manager” button would take you to the rental agent who provided misleading information rather than to the property manager, who would give you accurate information.
Vesta Preferred is also advertising properties on Zillow without the express written authorization required by the Illinois Real Estate License Act.
Want to know what real rental prices are, and what’s really available for rent? If you’re looking in one of the areas covered by YoChicago’s at-a-glance apartment lists, you’ll find links to near real-time price and availability information for almost all of the larger buildings.
If you’re looking to rent a single-family home or condo, you’ll find virtually all of them listed in the local MLS. Why would anyone, as Pekarsky suggests, contact brokers for rent range estimates when they can get accurate rents and availabilities by doing a rental search for MLS-listing properties at reputable broker sites? You’ll find links to several of those sites, clients of our parent firm, in our at-a-glance lists.
If you appreciate the light we’re shedding on Chicago’s rental services, show your support by liking our Craigslist Apartment Cleanup page at Facebook.
ADDED: I’ve had it with the troll commenters on this post and have closed comments on it. I will publish comments, anonymously if requested, from anyone who emails their comment to yojoe at yochicago dot com with a verifiable identity and phone number.