As Chicago residents head into another month of enforced thumb twiddling per the orders of the Governor, I am looking ahead and wondering how this event will shape the future of the city. As per usual, I turned to history for the answers.
There have been many epidemics that have shaped the development of modern civilization, from ancient diseases like smallpox and plague to modern ones like HIV and MERS. Today I'll be looking at five epidemics that had a lasting impact locally, from ones that changed our official boundaries to others that established less official borderlines between cultures. Continue reading The Epidemics That Created Chicago
It's time once again for U.S. residents to complete the decennial Census. "Decennial" means once every ten years. "Census" means a head count of every person living in the country. It's an incredibly important process that will affect all of our lives for the next ten years. As of the time of publication, only 42.9% of Chicago residents have completed their census forms, so today I wanted to provide a quiz to help you to understand the impact of this survey. Continue reading [QUIZ] The Importance of the Decennial Census
Last fall I published an article on how to rent an apartment sight unseen. It's a good article with solid advice and should be viewed as a companion piece to this one. However, it relies on the crucial step of having an on-site advocate to view properties on your behalf. The current stay-in-place orders make this step impossible or at least highly inadvisable. We must now learn to embrace the new world of virtual showings conducted entirely online.
Even though virtual showings have been possible for years, their use has been relatively limited to the relocation market until now. People on both sides of real estate transactions are stepping into this environment as newcomers. It's a rapidly expanding frontier rife for both innovation and exploitation.
When you cannot see an apartment in person you have to be extra cautious that you're not getting scammed. You must work around the absence of four out of your five senses when it comes to choosing a place, relying entirely on sight alone. You have to expect that photos and video have been heavily edited for online use. Landlords can pay for fancy digital gadgets that can make it easier to get a sense of an apartment and can make their operation seem quite luxurious when it's actually a slum.
There is a big difference between the virtual tours that were used in the pre-COVID era and virtual showings. Many virtual tours were created to lure prospective renters into booking on-site showings. They showcase the best aspects of a property and may gloss over, obscure or even omit problem areas. COVID-era virtual showings must not omit any part of the property. Many agents and managers may be hoping that their old photos and videos will suffice in this new marketplace. They won't.
While I cannot provide a full set of workarounds that completely counteract all of the drawbacks to apartment hunting entirely with virtual showings, I can provide some recommendations that will make it easier for you to find a place if waiting out the quarantine is not an option for you. Note that this article only applies to Chicago apartments. While some of these recommendations will work across the US, not all are valid in every part of the country. Continue reading Virtual Apartment Hunting in Chicago: How to Avoid Common Traps and Mistakes
Special alert: Before we get started on today's article, I wanted to mention that the current stay in place order from the governor of Illinois makes it illegal for agents and landlords to show occupied apartments until quarantine measures have ended. However, the manner and extent to which the police will enforce this part of the guidelines is unknown and has not yet been tested in any meaningful way. Government agencies are relying on citizens to use common sense and combined civic efforts to enforce these rules more than police power.
Now, with that out of the way, on to the actual article.
Quarantine measures imposed in late January in the first global areas affected by COVID-19 are starting to lift. For those of us in the US where lockdowns started later, we can guess that this means we have at least another six weeks before things return to normal. It is a little early yet to start making predictions about how the country will react to a return to life outside of the home, but I wanted to make an attempt regardless. The following list starts with the predictions I think are most likely to occur and ends with some wilder and less likely guesses.
As is typical for this blog, what started as a quick 10 list has turned into 10 short articles in one. Hopefully it will keep you entertained as we head into another weekend indoors.
Continue reading Predictions for the Post-Pandemic Chicago Apartment Market
This is part of our ongoing coverage of renting during the COVID-19 quarantine of 2020. Visitors to this article after quarantine has ended should keep this context in mind before acting on any advice contained within.
In this era when renters often wind up obtaining housing that costs far more than they can actually afford, many face a dilemma each month as to what must be sacrificed in order to pay rent. Will it be food? The cell phone? Child care? Car payments? Will they have to take out another payday loan or borrow money from family? Many homeowners face the same issue when dealing with their mortgages, which may have been obtained during different points in the owners' careers when their earnings were higher. However, given the massive hit that the US labor force has endured over the past month due to COVID-19 related shutdowns, far more renters and owners will be facing this crisis choice for April 1 and May 1 of 2020.
I've seen a lot of calls for rent strikes, freezes and suspensions in my Twitter feed lately. I've also seen calls to lenders and banks to provide some sort of recourse for mortgage holders. There are a lot of renters and borrowers who are contemplating whether or not they should make a rent or mortgage payment next week. As this is at its core a corporate blog I cannot tell you to violate your contract. However, I can lay out some talking points to help you decide. Continue reading Should You Pay Rent on April 1?