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A "Peer Review" of Domu | Apartment Hunting Chicago

Here's my attempt at an "objective" peer review of Domu, a major player in the Chicago apartments space.

This article will be my honest attempt at taking a dispassionate look at all the great things Domu does in the Chicago apartments space and detail which renters will get the most benefit from using their service. I'll do my best to offer solid insight about the advantages and disadvantages of using their service — because every single website or service in real estate has advantages and disadvantages (including Jumpshell!).

My goals with this article?



Before I dive in, let me be as upfront as possible about this article and my biases.

Full disclosure, Jumpshell is a competitor of Domu — at least inasmuch as we both are interested in helping renters looking for apartments in Chicago. Although, in a lot of ways we serve very different audiences:

With that said, absolutely take this article with a grain of salt. I'm writing this post with the intention of being as objective as I can, but no one can completely remove bias from their writing.

With that in mind, I thought it made sense for me to lay out my biases here.

domu chicago


I am biased, because:

Again, I'm trying to be 100% transparent upfront, since I'm essentially "reviewing" a competitor, so I hope you'll trust that I'm doing my best to steer the right people to the right services. I'm sure Domu doesn't want to lure customers to its site who'd truly benefit from having an agent assist with their search, much in the same way the Jumpshell doesn't want to attract customers whose best course of action is to find an apartment without an agent.

So without further ado, here are the advantages and disadvantages of Domu for finding Chicago apartments.

Domu: the pros + cons.

For starters, take a peek at Domu's user interface below. This image will help give you some context for when I list out the advantages and disadvantages of the website/service below.

domu chicago




domu chicago 


At the end of the day, Domu is hands-down the best resource for renters looking handle their apartment search on their own.

Domu's platform helps renters get to the "online-to-offline" transition as quickly as possible. But once you're offline, you're on your own.

Compared to a real estate brokerage, which takes the burden of browsing listings, scheduling showings and handling paperwork off of the renter's shoulders, Domu offers a less complete experience. But again, that's just my perspective — definitely feel free to ask friends in Chicago what they think!

So, am I saying that everyone should use a real estate agent instead of Domu? Heck, no.

There are lots of people for whom Domu is the best option for their search.

Straight up, a lot people have had poor experiences with Chicago rental agents and apartment locators. The problem comes down to the abundance of unprofessional agents in Chicago. Allow me to qualify that statement.

Here's proof that most real estate agents are not great at their jobs.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a report called the DANGER Report — essentially a deep look at everything threatening the current real estate industry as it stands and operates today. In the report, the #1 threat to their business and the industry was the following:

domu chicago

Untrained, unethical and/or incompetent agents. Ouch.

Whatever the underlying problems are — lack of training, uncertain incentives for good service, etc. — most real estate agents straight up stink at providing clients with a positive experience. 

So, am I saying that finding a good agent is a crapshoot? It can be.

This is why Zillow, HotPads, Craigslist and all the other listing sites in the world haven't really improved the apartment search experience for anyone. Behind those fancy sites and "easy-to-browse" listings, there's probably an incompetent agent receiving the email. More often than not, renters will reach out about a listing and encounter one of the following, disappointing outcomes:

And the list goes on.

But if you do get a great agent, the experience is pretty wonderful — especially because there's no fee.

Sometimes, you'll actually connect with a great agent who'll respond quickly, remains attentive to your needs, sets up showings for you and deftly organizes your application so you get an apartment.

Here comes the plug for Jumpshell — hopefully with all the context I've given above, this will seem less like a plug and more like an honest assessment of where Jumpshell provides value.

Jumpshell can help by guaranteeing you'll connect with a great agent.

In the spirit of fairness and equity, I'll do my best to outline the advantages and disadvantages of using Jumpshell, just like I did for Domu above. Here we go:


domu chicago


In summary, Domu is awesome for renters who don't want to work with rental agents.

If you've had one too many nasty experiences with rental agents or you're just a DIY person in general, Domu offers a very straightforward way to browse listings and contact landlords. From there, Domu hands the reigns over to you to schedule showings and communicate with landlords to see which apartments might be best for you. If you're ready to handle your apartment search solo, jump on over to!

If you're open to using a rental agent or know you'll want some professional help with your seach, there are no drawbacks to using a good rental agent ("good" being the key word here). One way to find a trustworth agent is to browse for Chicago rental brokerages on Yelp and scour the reviews for shoutouts to specific agents.

You can also try signing up with Jumpshell :)

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