Slim pickings on an East Village apartment hunt

I drove part of the East Village neighborhood yesterday looking for FOR RENT signs, and found only three. One was from a known scammer, another had already been rented and I didn’t inquire about the third because I’d seen it advertised at domu for $2,950 a month.

The area I surveyed, Chicago Ave (800 N) north to Division St (1200 N) and Ashland Ave (1600 W) west to Damen Ave (2000 W), is the most attractive part of the East Village. The streets are tree-lined and the housing stock is almost entirely single-family homes, condominiums and 2- to 4-unit rentals, many of them owner-occupied. The area has been substantially transformed over the past 10 years by renovation and new construction, driven in part by proximity to the Blue Line and in part by the thriving retail, restaurant and bar scene along Division between Ashland and Damen.

A search of MLS-listed rentals turned up only five in the area, apart from the pricey new apartment building at 1611 W Division St. None of the MLS-listed properties had on-site signage, in part a reflection of Chicago brokers’ myopic and low-effort approach to marketing their rental listings.

Five properties in the area were advertised for rent at domu, which proved to be one of the better and easier-to-use sources.

An often-useful strategy is to keep an eye out for management company signs, as above, on the exterior of buildings and contact them to inquire about available apartments. I scanned the websites of the companies that have them and didn’t find anything available for rent in East Village at those sites.

Craigslist is the go-to source for many apartment hunters and, as you’d expect, there are 100s of ads for East Village apartments. Also as you’d expect, almost all of those ads are placed by Chicago rental services on our do-not-call list and most of them are for out-of-area properties or just repetitiously advertise properties you’ll find in the MLS and on domu.

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