Using to determine market rents


Chicago apartment landlords continue to benefit from weak real estate market.  Rents are up again at Class A and Class B properties in Downtown Chicago.  Class A is now averaging $2.50/sf and Class B $2.10/sf according to Appraisal Research.  Asking rents at some Class A properties are over $3/sf.

Demand for temporary housing is as high as it’s been in recent history due to a shift in the overall desire to rent vs. own.  Many would be buyers fear buying into a declining market despite knowing that it could actually be cheaper to buy right now in many cases.

Owners of smaller multifamily properties in the surrounding neighborhoods also benefit from the higher downtown market as rent increases trickle down to all levels in the market. 

So if you’re an independent landlord, how do you determine what the current market rent is for your units?  The historical rents might be a good guide but those could be artificially low especially if you have long term tenants and no recent rent increases.  Local classifieds and online rental listings sites are a good source but they can be painful to sort through. 

Enter  This is a site I recently came across.  Padmapper was designed for apartment seekers but they also offer apartment listing services for landlords.  The creators of the site were looking for a way to make the typical apartment search less daunting, by providing a platform to make listings easier to track, filter and visualize geographically.  Aside from their proprietary listings linked from, Padmapper also links to listings from Craigslist,, and many other smaller sites.  The result is a great website that is easy and fun to use.

As a landlord, you can use a site like this to see what the going rates are for similar properties in your neighborhood.   The many search parameters allow you to drill down quickly and the map feature makes it easy to navigate.  You can search by city, address or zip or just scroll around the map to see what is available nearby. 

Now when your leases are coming up for renewal or a tenant moves out, you have a convenient resource that you can use to maximize your gross rents.