WBEZ | renting http://www.wbez.org/tags/renting Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Rental market in hip neighborhoods tightens up, causing potential tenants to scramble http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/rental-market-hip-neighborhoods-tightens-causing-potential-tenants-scramble-101487 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Zol87 apartrment.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px; " title="Chicago Apartment Finders on Belmont is a common service used by needy renters. (Flickr/Zol87)" /></div><p>The end of summer is always one of the busiest times for the Chicago rental market.&nbsp;Tenants looking to move in September 1st usually start their apartment search around now. But as WBEZ found out, this year those renters might be too late.</p><p>A recent apartment showing in Ukranian Village is a prime example. There wasn&#39;t much to see in the two bedroom apartment; it was basically empty, except for some boxes and an old dust-covered stove that stood in the to-be living room. There weren&#39;t any light fixtures, countertops or cabinets, either.&nbsp;</p><p>And yet the property manager showing the unit &mdash; Mike Shenouda&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;seems totally confident that this unit will go, and fast.</p><p>&quot;People usually, we usually post an apartment, give it a day, show up that night and usually someone rents it,&quot; he said. And that goes for unfinished apartments like this one.&nbsp;<br /><br />In just under an hour, Shenouda shows a dozen people around the 1100-square-foot apartment. He says business has really picked up over the last year, and monthly rents have skyrocketed. This unit, for example, would have gone for a grand five years ago. Now Shenouda&rsquo;s asking $1500. Fewer people are buying houses, he says, and that means more renters.<br /><br />Which is exactly what Megan Russell, one of the potential tenants, is afraid of.<br /><br />&quot;I&rsquo;ve been looking for September first and I&rsquo;ve been looking for two to three weeks. I&rsquo;ve been on Craigslist non-stop, walking on the streets and calling, and places have been going faster than I could even see them,&quot; Russell said.&nbsp;<br /><br />Russell has lived in Chicago for four years. This time she&rsquo;s moving in with her boyfriend.<br /><br />&quot;A couple years ago you could see a place and think about it; now it&rsquo;s like, if you don&rsquo;t sign the lease when you see it, you&rsquo;re screwed,&quot; she said.<br /><br />And Russell&rsquo;s not alone &mdash;&nbsp;other renters WBEZ talked to said the apartment search has consumed their lives.&nbsp;They&rsquo;re constantly checking Craigslist at work, working all the angles, and even when they rush over to see a place, someone else got there moments before and it&rsquo;s already gone.<br /><br />And they all say the same thing: Renting in neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village or Bucktown is so much harder than then thought it would be. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>According to <em>Chicago</em> Magazine real estate expert Dennis Rodkin, the boost in renters has a lot to do with the decline in young home buyers.&nbsp;<br /><br />&quot;A lot of people were buying who now realize it&rsquo;s not quite the best idea,&quot; Rodkin said. &quot;It used to be great if you were a young adult, it was easy to buy so people moved into the home ownership market sooner. Fewer of them are doing it. And there&rsquo;s also an inflow of people who were owners, who can&rsquo;t afford to own anymore, they&rsquo;ve been foreclosed, sold at a huge loss, and they&rsquo;ve converted to renting.&quot;<br /><br />And it&#39;s not just the hip, northwest neighborhoods that are experiencing the squeeze. According to Appraisal Research Counselors,&nbsp;95 percent of apartments downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods were occupied for the first quarter of 2012.&nbsp;Ten years ago, that number was under 90 percent.<br /><br />According to Rodkin, the competitive rental market in these &ldquo;zones of hipness&rdquo; as he calls them, will eventually iron itself out. He says the real problem is the city is short more than 100,000 affordable rental units in low-income areas.</p><p>&quot;One thing to keep in mind you&rsquo;re talking about problems in middle and upper income North Side neighborhoods,&quot; Rodkin said. &quot;More apartments are being built for upper middle income and wealthy people all the time. And that&rsquo;s going to lead to a problem &mdash;&nbsp;we have a surplus but we have an enormous deficit, a massive deficit of rental apartments for people who have low income.&quot;<br /><br />But for those who still want to move to neighborhoods like Ukranian Village, Rodkin says move fast.&nbsp;Remember that unit Shenouda is showing? That little two bedroom under construction?<br /><br />It rented just two days after he posted it.<br /><br />He showed another apartment that night just a couple blocks down the street&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;a two bedroom, two bathroom unit going for $1600 a month.<br /><br />It became available last minute because the original renter didn&rsquo;t have good enough credit. That&rsquo;s great news for Stephanie Sybrandt and Matt Wintz, who are the first to see it.<br /><br />The couple is getting married soon and nailing down their first apartment hasn&rsquo;t been much fun. &nbsp;<br /><br />&quot;It&rsquo;s a little frustrating because you get used to picturing yourself inside a place and it used to, a couple years ago, be a lot easier,&quot; Wintz said.&nbsp;<br /><br />As they walk around this place, there&rsquo;s barely a discussion.&nbsp;In the past, they might have slept on it for a few days. Instead they signed an application just minutes later.<br /><br />But of course, there&rsquo;s no guarantee.&nbsp;As they walk out the door, there are four more potential tenants waiting to see the place, too.</p></p> Mon, 06 Aug 2012 07:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/rental-market-hip-neighborhoods-tightens-causing-potential-tenants-scramble-101487