A rental service is your worst move when moving to Chicago

If you’re moving to New York, you’ll need a rental service broker to gain access to some of that city’s best apartments.

If you’re moving to Chicago, working with a rental service is a guarantee that you won’t see some of this city’s best and best-priced apartments. And, at some properties, you’ll be shut out of offers of a month’s free rent when you work with a “free” rental broker.

Many Chicago properties don’t pay broker commissions and don’t allow brokers to show their apartments. A number of properties that do cooperate with brokers don’t allow brokers to show their best-priced, easiest-to-rent apartments.

Quite a few Chicago properties pay brokers less than the “standard” month’s rent in commission, while others pay them 150% of a month’s rent. If you’re renting for $2,000 a month, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that a broker is more likely to see “your best apartment” as the one that pays a $3,000 commission rather than a $1,000 commission. It’s especially likely if you’ve played rental service roulette and are working with one of the many desperate rookies who’ve been suckered into a stint in the high-turnover rental service industry.

Finding a great apartment in Chicago’s popular near-lakefront neighborhoods can be very easy if you start with our list of Chicago’s best landlords and our apartment reviews and at-a-glance lists. Finding many of the best apartment deals is impossible if you work with a rental service broker.

It’s also worth noting that rentals in condo buildings sometimes offer a better deal than renting in managed apartment buildings. Traditional full-service brokerage firms typically have exclusive listings on those units and split a month’s commission with the renter’s broker. Rental services generally steer renters away from condo rentals. If you’re interested in condo rentals, search the MLS-listed properties at a brand-name full-service broker’s website.

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