How Do Chicago Apartment Finders Get Paid?

September 22, 2020 | By Aaron Galvin
Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Have you ever wondered how Chicago apartment finders get paid?

There is a misconception if you work with a broker or apartment finder, you won’t get a good deal because the property or landlord needs to pay out a commission.

This is not the case. If you find a good rental broker to help with your search, you even have a chance of paying a little less in upfront fees.

Here are the essentials you need to know about how real estate agents earn a commission for renting you an apartment.

It is absolutely FREE to work with a Chicago rental broker!

  • Rental brokers should never charge a client for using their services. If anyone asks for an upfront fee, you should not work with them.
  • Unlike some cities, such as New York or Boston, in Chicago, the renter does not owe any fees to their broker for working with them to find an apartment.
  • When working with a real estate agent to rent an apartment the agent is only paid a commission if you rent an apartment they show you.
  • The commission is paid out by the property management company or landlord for the apartment after you move in.
  • Typically a rental broker will earn one month’s rent as their commission. However, this is not always the case. There are different fee structures for broker commissions which can be based on the time of year, how many apartments a building has available for rent, etc.
  • Properties may have preferred brokers, choosing to only offer a commission to some brokerages and opting not to work with others.
  • Because you are working with a broker doesn’t mean you can’t also see apartments on your own, however be mindful your broker is paid on commission so if you are going to look at other properties without them it’s best to be transparent.

So how do you know when a Chicago rental agent will be worth the commission they make?

It’s all about your initial conversation and a broker’s professional experience with rentals. The types of questions a broker asks are very indicative of the level of service they will offer. A broker asking extensively about your search criteria, price range and motivation for moving will probably have several properties lined up to show you matching exactly what you are looking for. A broker that asks nothing except the time you are available to tour will end up showing you what they want you to see, not what you want to rent.

Learn More About Living in Chicago 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2010 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. 



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