If you have ever looked for an apartment and wondered what separates one experience from another, it might be more than the apartments themselves— it might be your leasing agent! Here’s a look at some simple, but important skills that separate the good agents from the rest. Keep these in mind when hiring your Chicago rental agent, and you’ll be off to a great start.
Not convinced you need a leasing agent? Here’s a breakdown of what we do at HotSpot Rentals, and the benefit to you.
1. They respond to your communication promptly
A good 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. The agent asks you questions—maybe even a ton of questions
No matter how many details about your search that you initially provide, a good agent will continue to ask questions based off your input and responses. Imagine that you see a beautiful ad for a Gold Coast apartment for rent that looks perfect for you. Your agent responds and you set up a showing, but when you arrive for the tour, you find out the building isn’t dog friendly, but you were hoping to get a puppy soon. That would have been super helpful to know before hand!
3. 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. Do you want to feel like you’re chatting with a robot, or getting guidance from an old friend who happens to know a ton about downtown Chicago rental properties?
4. Knowledge galore
A good leasing agent should just ooze knowledge about leasing and property management, working as your “personal shopper” to guide you through Chicago’s rental properties and neighborhoods. 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. It might sound a little crazy, but a great agent is kind of like a concierge who just knows the little details, saving you a ton of time in the rental process.
5. Your agent can think for you
Sometimes I can’t even think for myself! Many apartment seekers start their search focused on just a few things. Typically, they are budget, neighborhoods and square footage. While they are important, they don’t always tell the whole story, so the best leasing agents have a clever way of politely challenging the “requirements” and thinking outside the box. Take space, for example. They can explain why a 690 sq. ft. unit with no wasted space and larger room dimensions might be a better option than the 825 sq. ft. unit with a long hallway. That kind of insight is hard to get when searching Chicago rentals endlessly on the internet.
Fun fact: 60% of the time, our customers end up signing on a different apartment than the one that they originally inquired about!
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 and a well-organized leasing agent is invaluable here.
If you’re relocating to Chicago, booking showings correctly is particularly important. Chat with us about our relocation expertise.
7. Professionalism & dependability
A no-brainer. A good 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). You shouldn’t have to worry about no-shows, and last minute cancellations or changes should come with valid reasons. This is a good place for the “Golden Rule”.
8. Showings are a good use of everyone’s time
Every customer is different, just like every agent is different. I like to get as much information as possible before a showing any Chicago apartment for rent. For me, it helps narrow down the selection and show the best properties, saving everybody time. However, sometimes it’s hard for a customer to describe what they are looking for until they see something in person. In these cases, the first showing is a great opportunity to learn everything I can about the person. Either way, the property showings should be engaging, filled with feedback and an opportunity to narrow down the rental requirements.
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 is something to be said if an agent can make it look easy.
We’ve got solid connections with the buildings in Chicago, which help us adapt quickly. It also means that we work for free.
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 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 a place doesn’t mean the work is done. There is still the approval process, move-in questions and just “stuff” you need help with or are confused about. At the least, a friendly text or email between signing and move-in should be made in case something in the process isn’t going right or you have a question.
There you have it! It’s time for me to help some customers and you to start your search. If you are looking to check out some cool hotspots in Chicago, start with our neighborhoods.