F*%$ing agent
June 18, 2009 12:14 PM   Subscribe

ChicagoApartmentFilter: What leasing agent/company/broker/other should we use for finding an apartment in Chicago? Any other tips or tricks we should be aware of? What we're looking for below the jump.

So we are currently looking for an apartment in Chicago and we just got really screwed over by an independent agent. So we are going to start again, and I want to do a better job this time. We are looking for a 2 bed/2 bath higher-end place (with laundry in-unit, for example), in the Ravenswood/Andersonville area. My questions:

Are there any agents or brokers that you know or have worked with that are especially good and will have things to show us in that area?

Are any of the free services worthwhile? We looked at Apartment Finders, but they didn't have the kind of place we are looking for.

What should we expect in that area? What should we expect from an agent?

Any other relevant advice would be appreciated! Thanks!
posted by ohio to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I found an awesome (clean, bright, big... to the extent a studio can be big) studio in Ravenswood through Apartment People, as did a friend of mine. Neither of us looked at places bigger/pricier than a just-out-of-college studio, so I can't say definitively that they'll be able to accommodate you--but it couldn't hurt to give them a quick call and have them run a search based on your specs.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:35 PM on June 18, 2009

I went through Chicago Apartment Finders, and found the amount of documentation they needed to be a little ridiculous. A bank statement for everyone who was renting, plus a co-signer and their bank statement. Maybe it's normal in Chicago, but I've never had a landlord do more than run a credit check and ask if I had a job. It was a week of constant faxes back and forth. YMMV, but I personally would rather not go through them again.
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:39 PM on June 18, 2009

I rented from Andco Management for a few years and found them helpful and nice. They also let me out of my lease when I needed to move to Washington, DC in a hurry. They have a ton of properties and my building was very clean and well maintained. In fact, from the looks of their site, my unit that I left in January is still available.
posted by fancypants at 12:55 PM on June 18, 2009

There's a townhouse in my complex (I'm in the loft building next door) that's a very nice 2/2 for $1800/mo.

I'm at Ravenswood & Berwyn, me-mail me and I'll get your their contact info.
posted by Oktober at 12:56 PM on June 18, 2009

Walk around looking for For Rent signs. In the areas you're looking (especially Andersonville) often landlords will put up signs instead of listing in order to (a) avoid paying additional fees to the agencies and (b) attract people who have enough of an interest in the neighborhood to do some legwork and walking around to find the "right" place (aka somewhere they'll want to stay for the long term.)
posted by davejay at 1:10 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and my experiences with A.P.Gold management were not on the whole positive, and so I would not personally recommend them.
posted by davejay at 1:10 PM on June 18, 2009

Oh yeah, definitely stay the hell away from Andco managment on Lincoln. They never fix anything and their buildings are full of code violations. Our heat was shut off in december because the gas company came out and told us that our furnaces were improperly installed, and that if the pilot went out, we'd be killed by carbon monoxide.
posted by Oktober at 1:18 PM on June 18, 2009

What davejay said above. If you've the time, go where you want to live and walk around. I have never found *any* service worth a bucket of toad spit. On the other hand, i like the older, owner-occupied, 2-3 flats the best. With you looking for things like Laundry In-Unit definitely skew towards the things that agencies would be more likely to show...ie Condos for rent. But with the state of the economy, they advertise out front too. I've seen several in my neighborhood (Rogers Park).
posted by Wink Ricketts at 1:47 PM on June 18, 2009

After six months of placing ads, flyers and signs, I couldn't find a tenant for my place (a vintage condo in a building, not a six-flat), so I handed the tenant search over to Chicago Apartment Professionals, who found me three attractive tenants in one week. I have no experience with them from the tenant side, but the landlord pays the fee.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:08 PM on June 18, 2009

The Apartment People can be hit-or-miss. I found a fantastic apartment through them three years ago, but it was sort of serendipitous - the first apartment we applied for via AP fell through because the landlord found a tenant on his own, kind of behind our backs. The opposite can happen, too: I found an awesome studio by contacting the management company directly, and when I called back to tell them I'd take it, it turns out someone from the Apartment People showed the place and already nabbed it. So there's that risk. Apartment People tend to also have a greater variety of places available in the yuppier neighborhoods - they'll definitely have stuff in Ravenswood, but they always have a lot more stuff in Lakeview/Lincoln Park, and I kind of didn't like that.

I've heard good things about the Apartment Guys and Apartment Savvy, but have no firsthand experience with either. Chicago Apartment Finders does seem to be one of the weaker services.

They're not bad, especially if you don't have a lot of time or don't already live in Chicago, and they're free anyway, but I agree that you will definitely have a better selection if you walk around the neighborhood you want to live in and keep an eye out for For Rent signs.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:17 PM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! We have some good ideas.

Oktober: thanks for the offer! We would like to commute via Metra though, so that's a bit too far north for us.
posted by ohio at 3:45 PM on June 18, 2009

I commute on the Metra every day, it's a healthy 10-15 minute walk to the Ravenswood stop. I'm not going to lie, I wish I lived a couple blocks closer, but we got an exceptional deal on our condo.
posted by Oktober at 3:59 PM on June 18, 2009

We also used Apartment People to find our apartment in Chicago. Got a decent place*, but I did feel pressured to an uncomfortable extent. If I had to do it again, I'd skip that part and walk around the neighborhoods.

* - The apartment itself was what we wanted, but as a tenant, Kass Management was a terrible property management company.
posted by WowLookStars at 6:49 PM on June 18, 2009

I also came here to say just walk it. You'll find lots of signs. Call when you see them, likely the landlord lives nearby. I have tried apartment finding agencies and never had success (they always brought me to too-expensive places in locations too far from public transit). Walking is easier than it seems and I bet you'll find a place in 1-2 weekends.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 8:00 PM on June 21, 2009

We recently had to find an apartment within a short time frame (a couple of weeks) since we had some funds held up until right before our lease expired. We tried the Apartment People, and they seriously couldn't find a single thing that met our criteria (1 bedroom, available before June 1, off-street parking, 3 cats OK, heat included, near a north side Brown or Red Line stop, under $1000).

Feeling dejected, we went to visit my wife's friend on the far north side; for the hell of it, we called a couple of For Rent signs on the street. The very first one was absolutely perfect; it had everything we wanted for a fantastic price, and we're a 60 second walk from the beach. ^_^ The landlord wasn't surprised that we had such a night-and-day experience with the free agencies vs. for-rent signs; friends in the area have concurred that walking around and calling posted numbers is the best way to go. Beyond that, we found our previous apartment in Oak Park via Craigslist, which tends to work well if you have a couple of months in advance to sort through all the listings.
posted by korpios at 9:23 PM on June 21, 2009

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