If you’ve contacted a leasing agent to help find your next apartment, you’ll want to be certain that the agent has access to all the listings in MRED, the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
Why? You’ll find 1,000s of apartments listed for rent in the MLS that you won’t find on Craigslist. And it’s often the case that those apartments will turn out to be the best value in the area you want to live in. You can search MLS-listed rentals at major brokerage sites and see actual rents, addresses, and data that’s generally accurate. We suggest using one of our clients’ sites, e.g. Koenig & Strey or Prudential Rubloff for your search.
Almost all of the agents at reputable brokerage firms are fully-licensed MLS members. At Chicago rental services a/k/a apartment finders a/k/a apartment locators, many of the agents haven’t received their licenses and most are not MLS members.
All of the rental services will tell you that their agents have access to the largest database of available apartments. If they don’t have MLS access, that statement is untrue. Even if the firm is an MLS member, there’s no guarantee that the agent you’re working with has MLS access. The MLS allows member firms to exempt some of its leasing agents from membership and payment of fees, and many agents skimp on paying those fees. If they’re not paying MLS fees, they’re unable to access the MLS without cheating the system by using someone else’s user name and password.
You don’t want to work with an unlicensed, inexperienced agent, and you don’t want to work with a licensed one who’s cheating the MLS out of fees. Fortunately, there’s an easy online way for you to check whether your agent is an MLS member with access to the listings.
Ask to see your agent’s real estate license, and a picture ID that matches the name on the license, then search that name in the MLS database. In an ideal world you wouldn’t have to be this cautious. In the snake-pit world of Chicago rental services, you’re running unacceptable risks if you don’t.