Research Resources for a Chicago investor

4 Replies

Hi all,

I've been a member for a while now, but this is my first post to the forums.  Lots of great information here and it's great to hear stories about how others approach real estate investing.

I currently hold 1 property on the South Side of Chicago (my home town) and am looking to pick up another (specifically in the Pilsen area). I live in NYC and because of this, it can be difficult for me to get a good handle on doing research on a specific neighborhood or property. For example, there are often many questions I have after seeing a specific property, but the market is so quick to move that I don't have time to go through the middlemen brokers to get answers (or the seller just doesn't care to answer them).

The reason for my post is to see if others in the Chicago area have a set of resources you use for finding "hidden" information about a property.  For example, I'd like to see the status of permits, inspections, violations, zoning issues, etc. I'll start with the resources I use below, but if anyone has other data sources, it would be great to hear about them!

Chicago Building Violations

- this is great to see past violations, but its not really clear whether or not they were actually corrected. There are permit and case numbers, but is there a way to get more details on each item?

Chicago Building Permit Status

- this shows the status of currently open building permits

Chicago Building Related Court Actions

Chicago Zoning Map

- zoning is important if you are looking at multi-unit buildings, but zoning is just half of the equation. multi unit buildings must also meet certain building codes. anyone know if there is a place to determine how many units a given property is certified for?

Chicago Blockshopper

- can reveal current and past building owners. not sure what the underlying data source is

Everyblock Chicago

-some good info on crime, neighborhood happenings, etc


-quick way to find comparable rent prices

To piggy-back on Joe's would also be helpful to understand which violations (or violation types) go on a property's title & which do not.  

Hey @Joe Ramirez  I understand your interest in finding out the details on violations and such, but if you take too much time up front to dig into those details, you'll likely miss out on the deal. 

If you see a great deal that fits the parameters that you're looking for, my advice would be to make an offer and lock down the property FIRST, then do your due diligence while in attorney review or the inspection period. Otherwise you're wasting a bunch of time on a deal that somebody else is going to do.

As you said, the market moves quickly in Chi-town!

That's absolutely true @Zach Shepard  . Sometimes it's hard for me to get over the idea that the seller knows so much more about the property and its problems than I do going into a deal. But going about it your way is the best route to securing the deal. Thanks for the advice!

Rentometer is another resource for comp rents.

Trulia has a "local info" section with heat maps to visualize data like crime and demographics.

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