The Step-by-Step Guide to Renting in the Chicagoland Area
Are you looking for a new place to call home? Whether you are a first-time renter or an experienced apartment hunter, finding the perfect apartment can seem like a daunting task. To make the process simpler, here is our step-by-step guide to help you find your perfect place:
1. Set Your Budget
Before you start searching, it is important to set a realistic budget. Make sure to factor in all the extra costs, such as utilities, deposits, and renter’s insurance. Having a budget in mind will help you narrow your search and save time.
When making a budget, you should consider what your future landlord’s income and credit requirements will be. Most landlords will require income (or combined income for roommates) of at least 2.5x times the rent and credit scores of 650 or above.
Check out our Lincoln Park Price Guide 2023
2. Consider your Needs and Neighborhoods
Think about what features you need in an apartment. Knowing what you need will help you focus your search on the right places.
Some things you should consider:
- How many bedrooms/bathrooms do you need?
- Do you need a parking spot?
- Do you want a balcony or other outdoor space?
- Do you need a separate dining room?
- Do you have any large furniture that you will need to accommodate?
- Do you need a space for an office or exercise equipment?
You should also have an idea of where you’d like to live. The neighborhood(s) you’re looking in will factor into whether your criteria and your budget will match. Some neighborhoods are more expensive than others!
3. Contact a Rental Agent and Get Hand-Picked Listings to Look Through
Can you find an apartment without a rental agent? Yes, you can – but it will be a massive hassle.
Working with an expert rental agent will make your search easier, faster, and less stressful. And it is a completely free service. We’re biased, but we think it’s a no-brainer.
So go ahead and contact one of our rental agents and share your apartment criteria, neighborhoods of interest, and budget with them. Our agents are experts on the neighborhoods they work. They will immediately be able to tell you whether your budget is realistic with the current rental market. If they think things don’t line up, they will have some suggestions on how to make things work.
Then your agent will look through all of the listings on the market and send over a hand-picked list of units that they think you’d like.
4. Look Through Apartment Listings and Pick Your Top Choices
When you get the list of apartments from your agent via the MLS, look over them carefully. This is when the fantasy apartment you’ve imagined meets the reality of the market. You may find a place that meets all of your criteria (especially if your budget matches what the market is delivering), but you may need to accept that you can’t get everything you want.
Pick your top 6-8 choices and send an email to your agent with those addresses. This is the list of properties you will go on showings of first.
5. Go on Showings
This is pretty self-explanatory! Your agent will arrange for you to see all of the units you wanted to see. They will be prepared to answer any questions about each and let you know all of the costs associated with choosing each.
Depending on how many units you’re seeing – you might want to take some notes or even take pictures of your favorite units. 8 showings is a lot and the units will start to blend together. Remembering all of the move-in fees and other information? Forget it
If you don’t find the perfect unit on your first set of showings – no worries! Your agent will show you as many units as you’d like to see.
6. Make Your Decision and Apply
After you have visited the apartments, it is time to make your final decision. Take your budget, neighborhood, and other factors into account before you make your choice.
Let your agent know which apartment you’ve picked and they will pass along the application and assist you in completing it. You will most likely have to pay an application fee of $40 – $75 per person to run a background/credit check. You will also likely have to submit paystubs, a picture of your photo ID, and other materials.
After your application is in – you will know within 24hrs whether or not you’ve been approved by the landlord.
7. Review the Lease and Pay Fees
“Congrats! You’ve been approved.”
The next step is to review and sign the lease for the apartment. The lease is the legal document that defines the terms of the rental. We recommend that you read your lease carefully before signing. Your agent can answer any questions that you may have.
Once the lease is signed by both parties, you will pay any fees, security deposits, and the first month’s rent to secure the unit.
8. Schedule Your Move
After the lease has been signed and all fees are paid, you can collect the keys and schedule your move.
Finding the perfect apartment can take some time and effort, but following these steps will make the process easier. With some research, a good budget, and a rental agent on your side, you will be well on your way to finding the perfect place for you