The term "alternative truth" has seen a lot of use in the media lately as a way to describe information put forth as true by the White House Administration despite considerable photographic and financial evidence to the contrary. The techniques of spinning the truth, downplaying negative facts in favor of positive ones and outright lying to sell an idea or object to the public are not new. Top performers in a wide variety of professions use "alternative truth" every day to make a ton of cash.
But this is, of course, a blog about real estate: the profession that makes it legal to exaggerate, spin the truth and obscure the facts. For a real estate agent, a tiny sliver of pond becomes a "waterfront view" and a house that's about to collapse into the ground is "fixer upper in need of some TLC." It's called "puffing" and it is actually legal. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) bans puffing in the Code of Ethics that governs its members, but your average rental agent in Chicago is not a member of NAR and not bound by their Code.
Today we're going to take apart some of the techniques used by leasing agents to guide your housing decisions. Not all of them are used to mislead or deceive you: sometimes an agent could be using propaganda to keep you from making a dangerous choice. However, when you see an agent laying it on too thick or using psychological shenanigans to distract you from major problems, we think you'll be grateful for this crash course in real estate "alternative truth." Continue reading Alternative Truth, Propaganda and Real Estate
When something breaks in your apartment and it isn't your fault, who is to blame: the landlord who didn't fix it before you moved in, or the tenants who came before you and broke it in the first place? After all, the prior tenants have certainly spent more time in the space than your landlord has. In a best case scenario the landlord might have had a month to make repairs between occupants. In a more normal situation, he or she had a few hours to put on a fresh coat of paint and do some basic cleaning.
Given the average age of rental housing in Chicago, you're probably not the first occupant. Sometimes when tenants move out they may take all their belongings but leave behind their baggage. Landlords are under no obligation to tell you anything about prior residents, and you may not be able to dig up anything about them. Even so you need to protect yourself from any problems they may have created. Today we'll be going over some preventive measures you can take to minimize potential risks left behind from those who lived there before you, and talking a bit about how to respond to unexpected consequences of prior tenants' behavior. Continue reading Don’t Get Stuck Carrying Prior Tenants’ Baggage! Protect Yourself With This Guide.
When most outsiders think of living in Chicago rentals they think of skyscrapers with sleek elevators and revolving doors, lakefront views and rooftop decks. But all it takes is a glance at the city with Google Maps in satellite view to show you that most of the city is not chock-a-block with 80-story structures. Newcomers to the city may get a little culture shock when they realize that their new rental housing will probably be in a short, squat walk-up constructed over a century ago.
To save those moving to town from a little disappointment, we decided to take a look at what the statistics have to say about the average Chicago rental housing. We paid a visit to our favorite source of statistical data, the American Fact Finder provided by the Census Bureau, which we hope will be one of the few sites to survive the coming change of federal government relatively intact.
According to the American Housing Survey last conducted in 2013, the average Chicago renter lives in a building that is 2-3 stories tall (72.5%). It has 2-4 units (29.5%) and was constructed either between 1950-1969 (24.8%) or prior to 1920 (24.3%), with a median construction date of 1961. It's a walk-up building (72.1%) with no elevator (61.0%). Their apartment is at least 2 stories off the ground (50.5%). Continue reading The Rarest and Most Common Chicago Apartments
There's a ton of information out there about how to prepare yourself for an emergency. There are lists of things to keep on hand, tutorials on planning evacuation routes, and even instructions on how to build your own "survivalist" bomb shelter. But renters with limited storage options and less control over basic utilities must rely heavily on their landlord's diligence and responsibility to keep them safe when the excrement hits the fan.
Before you choose any apartment it's important to know how well the landlord has prepared for emergency situations such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, fires, floods and gas leaks. Here are some questions you should definitely ask them before you decide to rent in their property.
If you're already living in an apartment or other multi-unit housing such as a condominium building, senior housing or dormitory it is still a good idea to know the answers to these questions. If your landlord hasn't planned for emergencies it's possible that your questions will put this sort of crucial planning on the front burner.
1. Does this building have a generator in case of power outages? How long does the generator continue to run? Continue reading Questions You Should Ask Your Landlord About Emergency Preparedness