As a long time resident of Chicago and a former real estate agent I have a major love for the city’s alleyways. I will freely admit to joining the many drivers who break the law by using the alleys as a sort of alternate to the city’s often overcrowded grid of actual streets. I have a parking space in an alley too. Most of the time I can come and go as I please, but during the last week of April each year I must forego my parking space and park on the street, lest I get trapped by the hordes of moving trucks that arrive to block the alley for May 1, Chicago’s busiest moving day of the year.
The May 1 renter moving day in Chicago is well-known throughout the real estate industry. Landlords sculpt their leases around it, along with the lesser peak of October 1. In fact, if you look at Google’s search trends, shown below, the search term “Chicago apartments” surges to double its winter popularity annually between March and April as renters search for new homes.
When I worked as an agent I always accepted that May 1 would be busy, but until now I’ve never really questioned why. It doesn’t make much sense when you look at how modern Chicagoans live their lives. Local colleges usually don’t end their spring terms until late May or even June. Public schools end their terms even later, well into June. There are no known work holidays near May 1 that would allow workers to take time off for moving without losing pay. But still, May 1 remains the explosive starter pistol bang of the city’s moving season. As it turns out, the reason why May 1 is so popular has no foundation in modern life. Instead, it’s a relic of a legally enforced system dating back centuries, codified in leases until 1918, and still permanently ingrained in our lives a century after Chicago’s “Moving Day” vanished from the historical record. Continue reading Why Do So Many Chicago Renters Move in May?
If you’re in the market for a new apartment this spring you will probably be subject to a background check. Landlords tend to screen tenants by checking their credit reports, verifying their income and calling previous landlords. But when I was working for local landlords as an agent I would also plug tenants’ names into search engines and social media sites as part of my standard background check procedure.
While not every landlord screens their tenants as thoroughly, I can definitely say I was not alone in using social media as a way of getting the full picture of an applicant. In a tight market, questionable content on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or even your Reddit account can mean you lose out on your apartment of choice.
Today I’m going to go over precautions you should take with your social media accounts to make sure you are safe from the prying eyes of picky landlords. Continue reading How to Clean Up your Social Media for Apartment Hunting
It’s been 4 months since we last ran a quiz here at the RentConfident blog. We’re in the middle of an enormous data mining project though, so we thought it was time to do another one. Today we’ve pulled some facts and figures about Chicago renters from the 2015 American Community Survey, the 2013 American Housing Survey and the 2016 Annual Report of the Chicago Housing Authority. We’ll give you a selection of answers to choose from, then let you know which was actually the truth.
Continue reading [QUIZ] Challenge your assumptions about Chicago renters
The US Census Bureau keeps data from several other national statistical surveys besides the actual census itself. Included in its vast trove of data are the results from the American Housing Survey (AHS), conducted by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in odd-numbered years. The data from the 2015 survey is just starting to become available now, but the data from 2013 is available in full. When browsing through the AHS 2013 data I came across a unique set of information regarding community involvement for the Chicago area. The survey asked respondents about not only their own involvement in their local community, but also their opinions of their neighbor’s involvement in the community, making this a rare opinion poll buried within the normal counting of noses and bathtubs.
The original tallies can be found found here, broken down by owners and renters among other segments. However, there were definitely more owners who replied than renters, making it difficult to get a real comparison of owners vs renters community involvement without converting all the data to percentages. I’ve done so and embedded the results below. (If the embedded version doesn’t show up right for you, here’s the full screen version.) Continue reading Here’s Why Chicago Renters Keep Getting Shafted
I’ve always wanted to get a handle on the demographics of Chicago landlords. I’m sure a lot of real estate agents, mortgage lenders and insurance salespersons would want to know them too. Unfortunately this is not the article where I’ll provide those numbers, but I did manage to find one interesting tidbit: since 2002, Chicago has seen the landlord industry shrink at a rate nearly 3 times the national average. You’d better believe I want to know why. Continue reading Why Do Landlords Avoid Entering the Chicago Market?