If you’ve ever taken on the monumental task of looking for a new apartment in Chicago, you know it’s crazy-overwhelming. We’ve already covered how working with an amazing leasing agent takes your stress level down a few (er, thousand!) notches. But, what exactly makes an agent amazing?
I’ve been a leasing agent in Chicago for 7 years and have learned a lot along the way! I’m a fixer by nature and love connecting with people. So, helping Chicagoans and soon-to-be Chicagoans find an apartment they love is my dream job.
Here’s a look at the 11 things you want your leasing agent to nail. These important skills separate the incredible agents from the rest and will make your apartment-finding experience a joy (yes, for real!).
1. They Have a Sense of Urgency
A great agent will respond to you with a sense of urgency, from the time of your initial inquiry (my goal is within an hour) until you’re applying for a unit. The best agents know that this separates them from the pack, so don’t be surprised if your late night email gets a reply before morning.
2. Your Agent Asks You Questions – Maybe Even a Ton of Questions
No matter how many details about your search you initially provide, your agent should continue to ask questions based on your input and responses.
Our agent, Amy, was fantastic. She researched and made certain that only the places she presented as options were going to work for us. She also knew the city like the back of her hand so that she suggested the absolute perfect neighborhood for the lifestyle that brought us here in the first place.– Elizabeth, HotSpot Customer, May 2020
For instance – imagine that you see a beautiful ad for a luxury apartment and it looks perfect for you. But…while you’re touring the building, you find out it isn’t dog friendly, and you were hoping to get a puppy soon.
Because your agent asks the right questions upfront, you’ll only tour dog-friendly apartments, saving you time and disappointment.
3. Listens (Really Listens) to Your Feedback
Every customer is different, just like every agent is different. If I ask a customer “what are you looking for in your new apartment?”, I hear a lot of “ummm”s and “uhhhh”s. But, once I dig a bit deeper, the feedback comes pouring out.
Of course, if you’ve already seen an apartment or two (or more) I’ll want to hear your take on what you liked and what you didn’t. There’s probably a reason you are still looking!
I also love watching video tours together. Because let me tell you – I am not interested in wasting your time on tour after tour only to come up short and start all over again. Instead, we’ll start with a few fun video tours so I can better understand what it is that piques your interest. I listen for comments like…
“Wait…is that the only closet? You should see my shoe collection.”
“Was there a washer and dryer in there? I don’t think I can live without in-unit laundry…”
“My Corgi is going to freak out over that dog run!”
“I have GOT to see that view in person”
“Did I just see an indoor basketball court?! That would make winter more bearable.”
It’s my job to pick up on all those pieces of feedback, focus on what’s most important and then take you on in person tours of the apartments that meet your needs to a T.
4. Knowledge Galore
An awesome leasing agent should ooze knowledge about leasing and property management. Think of us as your personal shopper, guiding you through Chicago’s neighborhoods and rental properties. But there’s so much more: building policies, market trends, public transit options, and, oh yeah, that sneaky place to park your car for free in River North while attending a spin class.
Basically, I’m your apartment hunting concierge. I know and share all the little details about what it’s like living in particular properties and neighborhoods, giving you the knowledge you need to make the right choice.
5. Your Agent Can Think With You
Many apartment seekers start their search focused on just a few things. Typically – price, photos and neighborhood. While those are important, they don’t always tell the whole story, so the best leasing agents have a clever way of helping you think and talk through your specific priorities. We’re complex creatures folks!
Take square footage, for example. Your agent can explain why a 690 square foot unit with no wasted space and larger room dimensions might be a better option than the 825 square foot unit with a long hallway.
Stephanie was absolutely amazing and such a pleasure to work with. There’s a calmness to her that makes the whole searching process stress-free. She was quick to provide options with details, videos, pictures and what I appreciated the most was that she LISTENED to me and took into account all the things that were important to me.Hobbs, HotSpot Customer, May 2020
Case in point: 79% of the time, our customers end up signing on a different apartment than the one that they originally inquired about! Trust us to help you find the right apartment for your wants and needs.
6. Smart Scheduling When it Comes to Showings
Leave the scheduling of showings to a competent agent and your stress will be minimized. You’ll get in to see the hot-priced units ASAP, avoid burning out from seeing too many places in one day, and you’ll be in a better position to take advantage of building specials, like look-and-lease discounts.
Remember, it’s not about seeing a lot of places, it’s about seeing the right places for you. A well-organized leasing agent is invaluable here.
If you’re relocating to Chicago, booking showings correctly is particularly important. And yup, we’ll happily take you on virtual appointments or send video tours if you’re not able to be with us in person.
7. Professionalism & Dependability
A no-brainer. A great agent will confirm your appointments with you the day of, provide parking guidance if you need, and maintain strong communication in case someone is running late or lost (we’ve all gotten turned around a time or two on Lower Wacker Drive).
8. A Likeable Personality
You should enjoy talking with your agent. Really! Choosing the next place you live is an important decision, so don’t be afraid to get on the phone and see if you like the person.
You shouldn’t feel like you’re chatting with a robot, but with a friend who’s looking out for your best interest.
9. Your Agent Can Adapt to Changes on the Fly
During those unpredictable moments in the apartment search, (you’ve decided that a balcony IS a must-have after all!) the best agents are able to roll with it and adjust accordingly.
You probably won’t even notice the behind-the-scenes calls/emails to move showing times around and find alternate options. There’s something to be said if an agent can make it look easy.
We’ve got solid connections with the best luxury apartments in Chicago, which helps us adapt quickly. It also means that they pay us for our service, you don’t. That right – working with a leasing agent won’t cost you a dime.
10. Support During Decision Time
When you’ve seen all of your options but might be struggling to decide on “the one”, a good rental agent will gladly step in and talk things through with you. They should help you weigh the pros and cons based on your needs and wants (including all those great amenities!), and might even make up a nifty cost comparison spreadsheet for you.
But most importantly, they need to have earned your trust. I talk with hundreds of customers a year and it’s interesting how their non-verbal clues and secondary comments help me guide them to finding their right place. This is where it gets fun!
11. Your Agent Follows up Between Application and Move-In
Just because you apply for an apartment doesn’t mean the work is done. There’s still the approval process, move-in questions and just “stuff” you need help with or are confused about.
I’m always communicating with my customers between signing and move-in to make sure everything is going according to plan. The work isn’t done until you have found the right place for you.
There you have it! Time for me to get back to doing what I love – helping! If you’re looking for a great place in Chicago, my team and I are here to help!