Tag Archives: pets

What Are You Looking For in an Apartment?

These are the questions I ask my clients. These questions may seem obvious, but having something to point to is the best way to get over ambivalence. I find it helps clarify our goals, and is a great way to focus our search efforts. When you’re looking for a place, ask yourself these questions.

1. Number of bedrooms you need

2. What pets do you have?

3. Do you need parking or to be near public transit?

4. Price range

5. Where do you live now? (neighborhood)

6. Desired neighborhoods (your top two)

7. Move in date

8. Anything else that you think may be helpful

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If You’re From Out Of Town: Weirdness About Looking for an Apartment in Chicago

I get a lot of calls from people out of town. They don’t understand the rental market in Chicago- how could they? They’re from out of town.

Here are some scenarios I’ve come across a few times. Maybe they’ll be beneficial to you.

1. I had a client looking for a place in Wicker Park- two to three bedrooms, dining room, lots of space, close to the train, parking spot included. For $1100. I absolutely did not laugh. I tried to let her down gently. She didn’t know how expensive Wicker Park was compared to other neighborhoods, but she had heard good things about it. If you’re not familiar with Wicker Park, a rehabbed, nicer vintage 1 bedroom will be about $1450 in a prime spot (pictured below.) I told her if she wanted to stay at that price and still have space and amenities, she might be better off looking further north or west, as Wicker Park is a very popular (read: expensive) neighborhood. We worked together to find a place that could accommodate her budget and preferred amenities.

Click on the picture. It's available for a move in on 6/1/12.

2. I had someone looking for a place in “West Chicago.” Turns out that that’s actually a suburb north and west of Chicago. In the city where he was from, searching for the major city also included apartment options in the suburbs. Google searching for “apartments in Chicago” will not turn up suburban options. A suburb of Chicago is not Chicago. Be specific in your Google searches.

3. Dogs are harder to find an apartment for. This surprises people who are downsizing from a house and moving into the city. Some have even been surprised that an extra deposit and/or fee is required. Everyone who has a dog insists that they don’t bark, and that they’re well behaved and trained. Landlords have heard it all. It only takes one tenant to let a dog ruin a place for the landlord to say “never again,” unfortunately. And if your dog doesn’t bark when you’re home, it surely barks when you’re out. Other tenants will have a problem with that.

At the end of the day, you get to pick two out of three:

(a) cheap price

(b) upgraded loveliness and amenities

(c) prime location

Part of the fun of the hunt is seeing where you can get the most for your money. We can help you with that. Give us a call (773) 697-5100.

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Local’s Eye View: Bucktown with Bucktown Music

I stopped by Bucktown Music to chat with Jessica and Luis Solares about their music studio. (They have lessons for everyone, and even have special brain development classes for babies! (It’s called “Kindermusic.”)

They’re the perfect people to ask about what makes Bucktown a great neighborhood since they’ve been living in Bucktown for 5 years and have been doing business here for 3.

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Featured Listing Friday: Exposed Brick, Pets, Parking

This apartment has plenty of room. The Blue Line, yoga class, the library, tons of restaurants and bars within a 10 minute walk.

Lovely exposed brick.

Island kitchen.

A bathroom you’d want to hang out in.

A great, pet friendly place to come home to and relax.

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Featured Listing Friday: Stainless Granite Island with Unique Floor Plan

This is a new listing that’s rentable right now!

South Facing Front Room with Fireplace

I first went to get pictures a little before noon, and the south facing windows really let all the light in.

The floor plan is open, and yet the living room curves to the left a bit where the fire place is.

The powder room/first bathroom is convenient and inviting, and has a door to the other bathroom. The second bathroom is bright and spacious, with marble tiles and fresh grout.

Marble, white, bright

The carpeting in the bedrooms is plush, new, and nice. Awesomely, it’s made of recycled plastic. This means that it’s easily cleanable, and green.

The second bedroom has pull down stairs that lead to the roof. In the summer, the former tenants enjoyed the 360 views and watched fireworks, the Air and Water Show, and tranquil picnics.

The kitchen has an island over which you can hang your pots on the provided rack, and has lots of granite counterspace. The dishwasher and fridge are stainless steel, and the cabinets are modern looking.

This unit comes with a gated parking spot. And if you hate driving, you’re a 1 minute walk to Chicago Avenue with buses that’ll take you east to Michigan Avenue, Navy Pier and the Brown and Red Lines. A 5 minute walk will get you to the Blue Line Stop.  Call me to set up a showing!

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Bad Rental Advice

Sometimes I think I’m too exacting or specific when giving advice a client about how to find a place that’s right for them.

Then I meet someone who I have to remind that the goal of looking is to find something. Any activity without a defined goal is pointless. You’re just going to waste your time.

If you’re not an expert (and if this isn’t your job, you’re probably not an expert) it’s important that you find someone you can trust to educate you about what’s available.

That’s my job. For example, radiator heating will be in older buildings, new construction usually has granite and stainless steel, and if a place is pet friendly it might not be as nice.

granite, stainless kitchen

This unit is not pet friendly

Examples of bad advice:

1. Take your time: Once I showed a guy and his roommate a place in a very popular neighborhood for a great price during high season. I rented it the next day. Two weeks later, they decided they wanted to take it.

2. Assume that once you get in to the apartment, all the things you didn’t like from the listing will fade away: If you need an apartment at a lower price but can’t stand garden apartments, the apartment will not un-garden itself once you’re in. This is a hard one to face.

3. Say you don’t have pets when making an appointment to see a unit that doesn’t allow pets, then after the showing admit that you have a 60lb dog: Your agent should know how serious about pets the landlord is. It’s best to be up front with their agent so they can do some negotiating for you. Some have a $2000 fee if you bring an animal into a building.

4. Assume you’re going to find a place outside your preferred neighborhood. I think I’ve beat this topic to death.

5. Don’t tell the agent you have Section 8: This is bad advice because the buildings have to be certified for Section 8 compliance. A landlord doesn’t have to certify their building. Even if you like the place, you can’t use your vouchers.

Getting into a place and looking at an apartment will not help you if you don’t know what you want. Talking about needs and wants always helps my clients get a clearer visions of what their needs are, and brings us closer to finding a solution that works for them. Have a vision first. Then start looking.

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How to Get a Landlord to Accept a Dog

Chicagoans love dogs, and Chicago is pretty dog friendly. Stores have water dishes and treats outside their entrances, and loving owners parade their dogs around the neighborhood and bring their dogs to brunch. Dogs provide companionship, give their humans a reason to leave the house, and make it easier to get social with people.

And yet, landlords are wary of having dogs in their buildings. They can be dirty, stinky, slobbery, make your apartment smell like them, and somehow generate enough fur to coat every surface. Their bark can always be heard through walls, and annoy other tenants. They chew on everything and urinate on floors. But your dog is awesome: its barking is under control; you walk it regularly; it won’t destroy the apartment.  How can you make a landlord see how awesome your dog is, and that it will be okay dog in his or her building?

Sadie, our office mascott

Sadie, our office mascott

1. Have the landlord meet the dog. If the dog is sweet and eager to please, that will make the landlord like the dog and visualize it being a good tenant. (Hint: take it to the dog park to wear it out. A tired dog is less likely to be obnoxious.)

2. Show the landlord that you are a responsible pet owner. Provide a reference from the last landlord, stating that the dog, like you, was an awesome tenant. Tell the landlord that you walk your dog twice a day at least (because you do, right?) If you work long hours away from home, however, you shouldn’t have a dog. Get a roommate that has the opposite schedule who can take your dog for a walk and burn off its energy. Dogs have co-evolved with us and need us around to look after their needs.

3. Have the right kind of dog. Landlords are more likely to accept dogs under 20lbs. Bigger dogs usually need room to roam. (Weirdly, greyhounds are great apartment dogs.) Choose your breed wisely- some dogs are just not meant for city living. Aggressive dogs that haven’t been trained, dogs that were bred to herd animals, and dogs that need a lot of room to run around should not be kept in an apartment. Puppies are usually not welcome under any circumstances.

4. Offer a larger security deposit. This good faith gesture assures the landlord that you are betting against the dog destroying the apartment. If it does, the landlord protected financially and can use that money to repair any damage done to their investment. Some landlords ask for pet rent or a flat fee instead because they’ve been burned by other dogs.

If you have any other hints, please write them in the comments.

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New to the City Culture Shock

New to Chicago? Here’s some cultural stuff:

The Work Ethic: Chicagoans work hard and play hard. This translates to drinking. A lot. Every activity must have a drink break or you can drink throughout the activity. Even the CSO has intermissions where you can belly up to the bar and grab a cocktail. Brew and View, anyone? You will pay $7 beer for an Old Style at Cubs games, which might drive you to drink even more.

The Baseball: So, I guess lots of people care about baseball? But I don’t. So ask someone else.

The Weather: Summer is awesome, and it seems even more awesome because the winter is so horrible. Some days it may be excessively hot, but citizens are just grateful not to need 3 layers. The North Face does very well here. During the winter, the city can seem to be populated exclusively by homeless people because everyone just wears all the layers they have.

The Dogs: Dogs are everywhere. There’re dog beaches, dog parks, dog costume contests, dog owner meetups. It’s harder to rent an apartment with a dog, but getting a dog will help you make friends.

The Yoga: Lots of studios everywhere.

The Bikes: There is a strong contingent of slightly sweaty people bike everywhere. Among the many bike oriented activities or organizations are: Bike the Drive; the irritating but also great bike parades to “raise awareness” and stop traffic; dangerous, foolhardy idiots who bike wearing earbuds (DON’T be that guy); Working Bikes; intense bikers who bike even through the winter. (A note on biking everywhere: this may be a reaction to being annoyed with the expenses of having a car or an urge to leave a smaller carbon footprint, but mostly I think it’s addiction to feeling smug of passing a long line of cars in the bike lane, judiciously ignoring traffic signals, and living outside the law.)

The Low Down: Gapers Block, the Reader, and Metromix will keep you in the loop, but not the Loop. Oh, and the Trib.

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How to Pick the Right Neighborhood for You

This can make or break your enjoyment of the city- big cities are made up of little neighborhoods.

How can you really know a place without having lived there? Well, you can’t. But here’s how to learn as much as you can:

-Go here to read about Chicago neighborhoods.

-Use Google Maps to check your commute times. This is easy even if you don’t have an exact address of the apartment. Type the intersection of the apartment you’re considering and use an ampersand. (Ex: Fullerton & N Western Ave). Then click “Get Directions” and type the address of your workplace. Make sure you’ve clicked the bus/train thing symbol. A long commute diminishes happiness, so make this a priority.

-Walk, run, bike, or drive through, at all times of the day, on weekdays and weekends. Bonus points if you can borrow a cute dog and casually grill people as they pet it.

-Do a twitter hashtag search (Ex: #logansquare)

-Use Google Maps to check out businesses from various levels (zoom in and out). Also watch my videos about neighborhoods.

-Talk to people who like what you like who’ve lived there.

Where you live is who you are. You are the average of the five people you hang with the most. “What’s the best neighborhood in Chicago?” is a meaningless question. “Who am I?” or “What do I want to be?” is a better question to ask.

But no pressure; you’ll probably be happy anywhere if you’re first moving here because Chicago is awesome.

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You’re Really Not That Open Minded, and That’s Okay

Granite, stainless steel.

In unit washer dryer.

Balcony or deck.

Close to the train.

Parking spot.

This Bucktownoble Square has all of these things.

These are the things that my clients want. They want a comfortable environment so they can relax when they come home, and great food, drink, and shopping options when they’re ready to go out and have a good time.

Most of all, they want to be in a location with which they’re comfortable and familiar. If you’re feeling stagnated in the neighborhood you live in now, try to visit other neighborhoods more often, not look for an apartment in a new neighborhood.

No one will take an apartment that has everything they want and more if it’s not in the neighborhood they prefer.

No one is really “open to anywhere, really.” And that’s okay.

Please, please, don’t look outside of where you want to live. You’re just wasting your time. There is no apartment good enough to make you want to live in an area you’re not familiar with. You will always be thinking of the other area where you wish you were living. You won’t even be able to consider living in an apartment even if it is perfect for you in every single way. The only perfect apartment for you is in your preferred neighborhoods. Nowhere else.

There just isn’t. Don’t even bother looking. They don’t exist.

I mean it. Just don’t.

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