Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Real estate news from around Chicago: College housing

Daley eyes more downtown dorms (ChicagoTribune.com)
Their has been a shortgage of college housing in recent years as enrollments have incresed nationally. This has been a teriffic investment opportunity for many. It also has, in my opinion, made for best use of delapidated apartment buildings and empty lots around the city. The story above focuses on downtown but another example is the increased enrollment at North Park University on the northwest side.

In my experience with the university over the last couple years (my wife received a masters from the school and we live near by), I've seen two courtyard buildings purchased and converted to student housing by North Park. They already own many of the buildings in the surrounding block. There has also been purchases by students (and their parents I assume) in market priced condo conversions near the school.

Local College Gives Free Ride To High Schoolers (CBS2Chicago.com)
More college cheer today...

And where there is college, there is coffee

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Weekend Roundup: Fire opens can of worms, market talk and other news that effects your home value

Architect's legacy going up in smoke (ChicagoTribune.com)
With a recent South Loop landmark building up in flames, fingers start pointing at who is responsible for safety and preservation. One thing is for sure... owners should keep it safe and the City should be able to efficiently administer the rules it burdens property owners with... i.e. actually conduct proper inspections with qualified inspectors on landmark designated buildings.

Consider what you can afford (ChicagoTribune.com)
The "money quotient" explained

The clock is ticking for year-end tax moves (Bob Bruss)

Big closet or teeny bedroom?
S. Loop condo marketing draws fire

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Purchase offers are in writing

Lately, it seems my buyer clients want to know if a seller will accept an offer... even when they have not made an offer.

That is, my buyers have not sat with me and formulated a written offer for purchase. In Chicago, with many properties and many people out there looking, selling agents want to see a written offer that is realistic before they negotiate their bottom line. Sure, some things are verbalized up-front. And sure, a couple good agents may talk things through to a deal before pen hits the contract. But most of the time, it is customary to write the offer first asking for your needs. (Legally, all offers must be written for the seller to honor them).

This is okay. I put it this way to my buyers. If you like the place after seing the many others... by writing an offer, thereby showing that you are a serious buyer with all your ducks in a row, the seller will begin to negotiate seriously. If it's verbal, they may feel you're fishing for a deal without serious intention.

The written offer is a package put together outlining your needs in the deal. There is no obligation, even if the offer is accepted right away. This is because there are contingencies written into the contract that must be met in the future before you're "buying the place".

After you have met with the mortgage broker or bank you will work with for financing... after you have decided the price point and location... after you have visited the property a couple times and determined what your willing to pay... then you write an offer. If you're serious enough to do all these steps and take the time to "write", then the seller will engage more time and energy to make the deal happen.

Look, it's a confidence game. Sellers want to be confident they are not getting jerked around. And, if you put a professional, written deal in front of a seller... you are more likely to get a better deal then fishing with verbal barbs.

CTA updates

I write about CTA news from time to time. However, the CTA Tattler is the place to go for everything CTA. I have subscribed to a news feed they use on Yahoo for updates... but the Tattler everyday stories are excellent.

In my latest attempt to bring some attention to local sites, CTA Tattler makes the grade due to it's specialization. I recommend checking this site out if you ride the CTA daily.

You can get news feed stories like the one below by subscribing HERE

CTA to resume suspended service downtown

Friday, October 27, 2006

Yo Chicago: My Chicago

The web site/blog/journal etc... Yo Chicago is a great way to learn about our neighborhoods, new construction, side stories, commentaries and goings on in the city. I take a spin each day and send the journal links to my clients when they are interested, or live, in a particular neighborhood.

The official YO Chicago writers are balanced, well informed and entertaining. The journals... well, they can be hit or miss. But there is no denying the journal writers do offer a starting point for investigating a neighborhood... and I really appreciate their dedication.

Thanks Yo Chicago... you are a terrific resource to The Chicago Real Estate Local.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Let's hear it for Chicago Bungalows

Tom from Yo Chicago offers a home inspectors take on the Chicago Bungalow value... remeber this when I put said rehab on the market!

Chicago Bungalow Rehab 2

My partner and I will go our prospective bungalow project this week to draw up the plans. So far, so good. The deal looks like it will go through as long as we feel the improvements will garner a good offer for the home. It's a big project... fortunately the home is in great structual shape... so it's really a re-do from the inside. After this weekend, I should have some pictures to post.

Part 1

...and walk the walk: Walk-Through Issues

I conducted a final walk-through of a re-sale condo this morning with my clients. They purchased a two bedroom, one bathroom East Lakeview condo... oh and it has parking, a huge deck, large room sizes and great light.

A walk through is conducted to make sure all personal property that is to be transferred with the sale is still there. You know, small stuff like the refrigerator and oven (this time... a Viking range). You also want to make note of any damage to the unit that did not exist before the previous owners moved out. Lastly, we check and make sure all inspection items were corrected or all alterations were made as agreed upon in the attornet rider.

Hopefully, all these things are taken care of. With a few phone calls, and maybe some elbow grease, I try and make sure all these things are settled so there are no surprises for my clients. But, sometimes things happen.

Today, for instance, the sellers had barely strated moving their possessions out as of 9:30AM. The closing was scheduled for 10:30AM. We knew they were moving today, but hoped they would have big stuff, such as couches, chairs and buffet tables out by the time we did the walk through. Not the case.

This time, the solution was simple... we requested our attorney hold back $500.00 from the sellers in case of any damage to the unit. This was agreed and the closing went great. Sometimes it's not so easy. Just be sure you have a Realtor and a team of professionals versed in the details of a real estate transaction. They will be proactive to prevent incidences before they happen. Even when things are not perfect, they don't have to be a nightmare.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Chicago Local: Neighborhoods

South Loop building
Chicagoist has a conversation that is age old in Chicago. So, where you livin' now?

Owner or renter, many Chicagoans hop neighborhoods often. I've lived in Roscoes Village (in the old school), Andersonville, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, Lincoln Park and Albany Park.

Photo: Eric Rojas

Show Us Your Modernism

IIT is the palce for modernism in Chicago. You may take a tour, or, attend this event. As stated on the IIT web site:

"The Mies van der Rohe Society presents a unique discussion and appraisal opportunity with David Rago and John Sollo, leading experts on Modern design who have appeared on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow."

Indeed. Chicago is the midwest home of modern design... yet so few present their homes in this fasion. Modern design lends itself well to the small dwellings of city living.

What to bring to closing

I've gotten this question the most lately... we are in the final week before closing, "What do I bring to closing?" or simply, "what do I do now?"

In most cases, you have worked with your Realtor, who in turn has referred a mortgage broker and attorney. This team should have all the I's crossed and t's dotted... well, you know. As the Realtor during the last week, I'll make sure that all the inspection items we agreed on have been taken care of. I will also bring any last walk through issues to the table.

You? You will get a call from the attorney's office the day before or the morning of closing. They will let you know your settlement costs. These costs should be pretty close to your mortgage brokers "good faith estimate" given to you. The quotes are for emphasis, not sarcasm... although I do have a personal mortgage broker story for another time (learn from my mistakes).

So, stop by your bank (I'll drive) and make a cashier's check out to you. Oh, and bring your checkbook to the table just in case all the numbers don't match up. Settlement will be determined at the table my your trusted attorney... most of the time the numbers are correct or only slightly off.

Oh, and one more thing I bring... the wine.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Weekend (and today's) round up

Downtown Redline Station Closed (CBS2Chicago.com)

Venerable Club Eyes Sale of Building (Topix.net)
Anyone shedding a tear here? If someone protests this, I give up (yes that was directed to those Marshall Fields crazies)

Tower Plans Still on Track (Topix.net)
I think the only place building more is Dubai... hey, we want our crains back!

Get ahead of the pack for your next move (Tribune.com)
Lew on moving

Ginnie Mae to offer reverse mortgages (Tribune.com)
Only 35 years til retirement!

Condo rules are made to be broken (SunTimes.com)
Nuff' said.

T-CREL in Chicago Reader

The Chicago Real Esate Local (T-CREL) is gaining some steam around town. Chicago Reader's Daily Harold gives a little shout out for some "blue commentary" concerning the hot, hot story. Yes, the Lakeview Pleasure Chest controversy. Thanks Harold!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

NIMBY and other stories that effect your real estate value

Neighbors fight to evict adult-themed store (CBS2Chicago.com)

Not in my backyard. There is a great statment in the story that some neighbors suggest the "Pleasure Chest" adult store has "changed the neighborhood" (Lincoln and Newport). GBTTS I say (Go back to the suburbs). I've been by this store many, many times (outside of course) and never noticed it... until these stories came to light. Then I went out of my way (for research purposes) to see what the fuss was about. My wife and I walked past after dinner at Fresca on Lincoln and Roscoe... very unassuming store. There are also several liquor stores and bars nearby (one in the same strip mall I think)... which do you think creates more problems for the "neighborhood"? High end adult toys or low end malt liquor?

Cobb your enthusiasm (Chicagoist)
Tree hugger..er. building hugger? Chicago's watchlist of building that should be saved...

Paying too much for housing/transportation? (Chicagoist.com)
Story above points out some studies on housing and transportaion costs around Chicago. I read an earlier study that named Chicagoans as the third highest nationally in percentage of income paid out to sales tax and property tax combined. If you own a place and eat out... your probaly up-side -down!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Glorious Noise Turns 5 Online

This is a plug for my friends' music label and web site. Nothing more, nothing less. It also reminds me that I'm five years older than when I first perused the pages of Glorious Noise...sigh.

But, if you like music, and you like fun... then Martyr's this Saturday is the place for you.

Rich get shaft in Chicago McMansion Controversy

The continuing saga...

Timothy J. McNulty wrote in the Chicago Tribune a few days ago concerning the journalistic liberties taken in the Lincoln Park mansion rag (story) written in Tribune's Sunday Magazine

His point is the "slant" taken by the author's in the story and the "sources" they quoted to explain the reasons rich folk were building these "monsters" was disrespectful of the seemingly upstanding, be it affluent, owners. "Okay" no more "qoutation marks".

I was a bit put off by the story as well.

I wrote on these pages that, hey, do it if you can. And if you can, make it a modern sleek design. I must note however, I did feel for a neighbor they talked to about the construction... Years of home shaking construction! It would drive me nuts too. They did not sell, however, and apparnetly like where they are. But one agonized owner suggested he has no place to go if he sells... when the lots are selling for $1M to $1.5M... I bet I could find him a nice place to go in this city.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Breaking CTA and Metra news: Get your CTA cards here!

CTA to add card machines at Metra station (ChicagoTribune.com)

Chicago Real Estate, Retail and Transit news of interest

(Photo via Chicagoist.com)

Busy, busy last few days! We had a friend in town, along with his 2 and-a- half year old son, stay with us... good practice for the near future. Can you make a throw cover for your entire home? But, I've been keeping my eye on several stories...

New Metra Station Planned for Sox Park (CBS2Chicago.com)
Metra plans rail stop near Sox Park (ChicagoTribune.com)
Now your talkin'. I think I just heard some of my clients home values go up.

Wal-Mart takes aim at South Side supercenters (Chicago Sun Times)
Look, does anyone really see a problem with this? Status quo must go in blighted neighborhoods... maybe this is the start of development. Wal-Mart is too big a prize for much of the public for local hacks to control. I'm no fan of shopping at Wal-Mart and wonder about the purchasing deals they have with China... but at the same time, our econmy has been heading this way for years. Give the underdeveloped neighborhoods a fighting chance with safe schools and a job to teach them basic skills to move up.

La Salle Chasing #1 spot (ChicagoTribune.com)
Banking is BIG in Chicago

Children's Museum Orphaned (sort of) (Chicagoist.com)

Group Names Local Endangered "Landmarks"

Oh Baby! (ChicagoTribune.com)

Good story on the ins and outs of timing your move when planning to have kids (or already have a baby). My wife and I are in the "Stay Put" catagorey until Mini-Me is up and running.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Open House this weekend in Ravenswood

I'm in the business of selling real estate. So my clients will be happy to know that their open houses are posted here. Come visit this weekend and take a look.

Open house at 4445 N Paulina this Saturday, October 14th and Sunday, October 15th

Saturday 11AM to 2PM
Sunday 1PM to 4PM

Take a look at the Virtual Tour HERE

Two bed, two bath, parking, outdoor space and roof rights... great block in Ravenswood. All yours for only $324,900.

CTA Closings: Washington Red Line stop to close for two years


You can usually find me on the Brown Line when taking the train.. but I do go downtown once in a while. The Red Line comes in handy. The grumbling concerning the Red Line delays has been... let's say more than grumbling.

That said, Chicagoist scoops the next such closing that may cause delays...

Any long time Chicagoans feel the trains are worse than in the past? Slower but safer? Hard to say. I'm from Chicago, but as a kid I road my bike alot. Plus, there is really no perspective when your a kid. Could have been the same I wouldn't have know it. Too busy thinking about the Cub game I was headed to. As I got older, I moved to the suburbs and drove all the time.

Came back to the city when I hit 20 and basically walked and drove. Now however, I can't seem to escape transit issues. Are we at a crossroads? What's the best way to get around this city?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Chicago Homes on Parade and other notes

Good recap on the City's event held last weekend. The web site for the featured developments is going to stay up for a year

Chicago Cavalcade of Homes (NWItimes.com)

Chicago is going camera crazy, and I'm all for it...
They know what you did last summer (Chicagoist)

If you've fallen asleep on the train... or just drooled while staring out the window, you need to read this
Every breathe you take (Chicagoist)

Realtor HQ ads peculiar design (www.spudart.org)

The Condo with No Kitchen

Just brought my clients to a condo earlier this week located in the South Loop... it has no kitchen. Of course we knew this going in. What a great opprtunity to customize.

It was even a better situation than I thought. The unit was a huge 1 bedroom, about 1100 sq ft, great windows and teriffic location. The area where the kitchen would go is completely empty, clean and dry-walled up... so really, there is little demolition, accept maybe moving certain walls. There is even electric already installed for an island area cook top.

This is where the deals are at... an unusual opprtunity to purchase an "unfinished space" for a low price... and then customize. They will end up paying market price in the end, but make the place thier own creation. I even have the contractors to do the job.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Other Wittman, Ravenswood says goodbye and save Andersonville from the Mongols

Around Chicago real estate, transit, architecture and things that effect your home values...
Thanks Chicagoist... I'll keep selling, you keep scooping.

Tim Wittman at the Chicago Architecture Foundation... where we came from
Wittman Smartman (Chicagoist)

Zephyr, we hardly knew you
Zephyr Set to Blow Away (Chicagoist)

Protecting Andersonville from major chain development
Little Box Ordinance in Andersonville? (Chicagoist)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Moving with kids...

This article discussing how to handle the effects of moving on your children is less than on the edge... but maybe it's because T-CREL is expecting a new "home addition" in the near future. Hilarious.

So people, get ready for a warm and fuzzy once- in- a- while.

Voting effects your real estate values

"All politics is local" Tip O'Neil

Sorry for the indignation, but it blows me away how little most of us know about our local politics. Just go to a couple CAPS meetings, visit the Alderman about something happening on your block or attend a zoning meeting.

You'll get the picture in a heart beat.

Gapers Block and the Cook County Clerk's Office remind us to do our civic duty. You want development in your hood? You want speed bumps on the street? You want the local business owners to secure their lots and parkways? Put pressure on the local politicians and back if up with participation.

Chicago real estate and transit news

The insiders at the Chicagoist give there take and reflect...

I had spotted a few stories concerning the last of the Robert Taylor Homes yesterday. Chicagoist writes their R.I.P. and adds a few links to peruse the history.

CTA Brown Line updates and links

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Condo Association Rules and Regulations

As a condo board president, I find Mark Pearlstein's question and answer column invaluable. Here's this week's Q and A reprinted from the Chicago Tribune below:

Calculations come up short on assessments, Board should not be dividing charges equally
By Mark Pearlstein, Special to the Tribune Published October 8, 2006Q.

I am the president of an association that is part of a complex in the suburbs. Previous boards never had a correct budget or reserve fund. They increased assessments by charging owners when needed to pay the bills, with each owner paying the same amount. Last year, a task force and I developed a budget for the building based on current assessments. I explained to board members that we had to charge assessments for the budget by percentage of ownership, not arbitrary dollar amounts. Our declaration has a percentage of ownership assigned to each residential unit, as well as percentages for garage units. Unfortunately, some board members are arguing about the percentage of ownership. They saysome units, which are the same size but on different floors, have different percentages of ownership. The management company we hired to develop the budget for the 2006-07 fiscal year recalculated the budget using the percentages of ownership. Some owners will be paying less than they had before, and some more. I know this is not going to go over well with some residents. Certain members argue that the percentages are wrong and that they should not have to pay the increase. There are no records kept from the builder or developer when the building was constructed 20 years ago to tell us how the percentages were calculated. What is our fiduciary responsibility? How do I substantiate my case for holding to the percentages in the declaration?

A. Your case is based upon the fact that payment of assessments by percentage of ownership is required by law. Section 4(e) of the Condominium Act explains that the percentages were computed by taking the value of each unit in relation to the property as a whole. This statement means that the original percentages were set by the developer based on the the original sales prices. The percentage for your unit, for example, is based on the ratio between the original sales price and the total of sales prices for all units offered by the developer. Section 9(a) of the Condominium Act is clear in requiring payment by percentages. This section states that it is the duty of each owner to pay his proportionate share of the common expenses, and "the proportionate share shall be in the same ratio as his percentage of ownership in the common elements set forth in the declaration."The only means to change the percentages of ownership is by unanimous consent of the members as required by Section 4(e), unless the board or the owners can establish that the percentages were not accurately calculated in the first place. Given the age of your building, it is not likely you can establish that the original percentage calculations were incorrect. Your association has been charging assessments in violation of the law, and now is the time to conform to the requirements.

Q. I am the secretary of our association, which has five board members. Our president has been doing some tasks or duties around the development and has asked for compensation in the form of a free parking space valued at $15,000. The rest of my fellow directors believe that it is not appropriate for any board member to be overly burdened with such tasks, but we also do not believe that any director can receive compensation. We have asked the president to provide us with information on the tasks he has performed, but he will not. How do we handle this?

A. The president is not entitled to compensation, because I suspect that your declaration and bylaws state that directors and officers serve without compensation. The board governs the association and should delegate tasks among the directors according to the authority in the bylaws. The board should hire a managing agent and obtain the necessary professional assistance. As far as the president is concerned, replace him. He will stay on the board but should not serve as the chief executive if he ignores a basic provision of your documents.

Q. Can a condo or townhouse association require residents to carry condominium or renter's insurance? Can the associations also require owners who rent out their units to have insurance to cover themselves?A By state law, a condo board may adopt a rule requiring owners to maintain personal liability coverage. The declaration and bylaws of a town home association will determine coverage required for an owner. Neither a condo nor town home association can require special insurance from an investor who leases his or her unit. All owners should have the obligation to maintain the same forms of coverage.

Forum for members, owners
The University of Chicago Graham School of General Studies will hold its annual condominium board members and owners forum from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago. Experts will speak on condo law, insurance, financial management and property maintenance. Call 800-997-9689 or visit http://grahamschool.uchicago.edu.

Of Cows and Monster Houses

Some of my fave sites weigh in on the Chicago Fire's 135th anniversary....a major event that shaped our landscape.
From cow to Bean (Gapers Block)

Not the Soccer Team, the Other Fire (Chicagoist)

The Lincoln Park mansion controversy reaches the Chicagoist.
Move Over, McMansions

Interesting farewell to the Robert Taylor Homes. Made me think about these locations and research the progress of Chicago's Plan for Transformation
Death of Taylor: Just one building of infamous Chicago high-rises left standing (Winston Salem Journal/ Journalnow.com)

Read about The Plan for Transformation at the Chicago Housing Authority website

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Big Houses Apparently Make Bad Neighbors

Chicago Tribune's expose on blockbusting homes... to each their own I say as long as we all get a fair shake. Besides, the modern architecture the better. And I'm not sure I like this title about "flaunting it"... now that's not very fair reporting.

There is some cool photos of some of the homes if you go to the Trib Home page today... gee, I wonder if they'll be writng about this subject tomorrow in the Real Estate Section?
Photo from ChicagoTribune.com

Flaunting it
Mammoth mansions rise in Lincoln Park as Chicago's wealthiest parade their bankrolls

Exercises in isolationism

Mortgage, Tiny House and Sales Data

PHOTO by www.Chicacagoist.com

Weekend news for you to peruse....
What'd your neighbors house get?

Open House in Lakeview: Catch me in Wrigleyville

OPEN HOUSE Saturday and Sunday 10/7/06-10/806 from 1PM to 4PM

I'll host an Open House in Lakeview/Wrigleyville at 1141 W Patterson from 1PM to 4PM (enter at North Racine, just north of Addison).

New construction with 2-3 bed units, penthouses and more from $474,900 to "how much ya got"?

Choose your finishes.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Lincoln Park a Landmark? We already knew that

We are seeing more and more of this as development moves ahead... don't get me started on the Cub's fiasco....

Despite foe, area could be landmark (Topix.com via Chicago Tribune)

Afternoon Roundup

Real estate and transit news of interest...or not.

Who'll be the Cubs' next manager? (Chicagoist)
Okay, nothing to do with real estate but I couldn't help my self.

Fullerton Station rennovations (Gapers Block)

Brown Line stations temporarily closing (Chicago Tribune)

Chicago Loop Life Stories...say that five times fast

The Chicago Tribune has a few contributions concerning life in the Loop. Do you live there? If I had to do it all over again, my wife and I would opt for this area rather than the northwest side of Chicago we are in now. Why? Because we'll end up on the northwest side anyway... shoulda, woulda, coulda like author James Janega in his story Life in the South Loop. Wow, editors were sleeping on that title.

The South Loop is really an amazing place to live, as the storys suggests. But not much, if anything is mentioned of the lakefront paths and museum campus. This was a prime reason for recent clients of mine (who are now retired) for choosing the area. Lakefront walks and access to the museums. An attorney client of mine can walk to work from Wabash and Eleventh Street.

Julia Keller leaves me wanting in her "Three Positives and Three Negatives" to living in the Loop... you'll know what I mean. At least the editors were trying on this story's title.

How's your Loop experience... Are You Experienced?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Chicago Bungalow Rehab Part 1

First in a new series of forever posts

Opportunity... The Chicago Real Estate Local (T-CREL) has created quite a buzz amongst the in-laws, immediate family, friends, extended family...you get the point. Why? Because we are on the verge of a house flip. Gasp!

Seems everyone has an opinion on this. My father-in-law called his beautiful and intelligent daughter from lunch today to ask WTF? I mean, my wife almost had a heart attack when she saw his cell number pop up in the middle of the afternoon. My dad (my dad called?) even mentioned it on the phone the other day. Didn't even bring up the Cubs! Auntie and Uncle Comegys weighed in from Boston too. All that gloom and doom about the housing market... is this a good time to play HGTV?

The anatomy of a deal.

One evening I'm at dinner with friends. A close college friend asks me to come by his late father's home in the North Mayfair neignborhood and tell him what I think of it. My friend is the executor of the estate and the family needs to make some decisions on what to do with the property.

North Mayfair is on the National Register of Historic Places for it's classic Chicago bungalow architecture and role in the development of the North Side of Chicago. The house in question is a wonderfully designed and built home of this era... but needs alot of work and updating. I mean, this thing is huge, on a great block, has some fantastic details and... did I mention huge?

My friend' s family also has some conflicts on how to sell the home, with who (couple family Realtors in the mix) and... well you can imagine this situation. Never a good one.

At this time, my partner and I were looking for an opportunity to rehab a house... hmmm. Luckily, my friend out right asked if we would be interested in the home. He had thought about buying out the family, rehabbing and selling (living?) in the home himself. But, he and his partner decided against it. Too much of a hassle for them at this point in their lives. But not for me.

Did we buy the house? So what do we do first? How do we evaluate the return on investment? What is the place worth now and after the rehab? Is it smart to purchase a "home flip" now? Stay tuned.

Okay, one hint... we are in the process of negotiating the deal. So, if we don't get it, this will be a very short series. Next up, however, I'll discuss the proposal we cooked up.

Afternoon Round Up

Stories around the Chicago market that effect your real estate...
Great cafe controversy shows why all politics are local... Your Alderman effects your property values!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No to condo hotels, yes to ugly buildings

or... no to Nicky Hilton.

As for the ugly ugly architecture trend, Chicagoist points out the call to arms of Chicago Journal. Snap a pick of the building you love to hate and send it in.

Some of us actually do care for the look and feel for the city. Even as a Realtor, it pains me to see these cinder block monsters go up. Tisk tisk... how about a little thought. Sigh.
I see more and more of my clients opting for converted units of old greystones, brownstones, and the true brick beauties (with sun rooms jutting from the front!) of Lakeview, Margate Park, Andersonville and the like.

UGLY photo by Tim Inklebarger

Afternoon Round Up

Today's Chicago real estate and transit stories of interest:

CTA's airport connection dream (Chicago Tribune including graphic)

Here's a great forum on public transit in general below. Nice links from Chicagoist!
Faster trains? We'll believe it when we see it (Chicagoist.com)

Building collapse due to bad roof

You may have caught this story about a building collapse in Albany Park. It was on my block!

Rumors were flying that a leaking or broken gas line caused an explosion. Latest reports suggest a bad and leaking roof caused the collapse.

In any event, reporting faulty conditions is a must. If you smell gas, call 911. If you rent and the building has major defects, tell the landlord you'll take action if issues are not repaired.

Luckily, no one was seriously hurt in the above accident. Presently, the building seriously looks like it was hit by a rocket... nothing but rubble. The above picture doesn't show the real mess.

Photo from cbs2chicago.com

Bike map for the rest of us

Google offers an alternative to the City's bike path map... via Gapers Block.

Any advice on how a Realtor may commute more with his bike?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Blue light special okay with me

As reported by many outlets, and here by the Chicago Sun Times, the City will spend about $1M on new police surveillance cameras for high crime areas.

This time, hold the "blue light special". They will be more stealth, sleek and super cheap without the blue flashing light.

Photo source The Chicago Sun Times

Hiz Honor held court and answered a few questions today... and among many awesome sound bites on Denny Hastert, Congress, and other wise proclamations, he was really pumped about continuing the trend towards these cameras.

I Love this quote:

"Calling surveillance cameras the “next best thing” to a police officer on every corner, the mayor said he won’t stop installing cameras “until people feel very safe on every block. That’s all they want. They want to feel safe — in the alley, in front of their home.”


I like this idea. Ever take a client to an up-and- coming area, and hear, "What's that blue light for?". Gulp...

And I like the cameras in general. One London suburb even has guys at the other end of the camera who politely admonishes you, on the spot, through a loud speaker when you litter, ride your bike on the side walk, etc... And the numbskulls freak when they here the voice of "robo-dude" just as they are about to vandalize, steal or create a problem. Awesome.

Anyone who has lived across any Chicago Public School would kill for one of these... "You! Get out of that flower bed and pick up that pop can!"

Monday, October 02, 2006

Weekend Round Up

A few stories I read over the weekend. Open houses were busy, but not too busy...

Get a CLUE-and other documentation_from the past (Chicago Tribune)

Landscaping for Bungalows (Sun Times)

First Wal-Mart not likely to be the last (Illinois Real Estate Journal)

Pending home sales index rises (Realtor.org)

Mortgage rates lower in Illinois... again

In a continuing series of mortage rate watching... this is seriously a sport. The facts are the facts... mortgage rates are pretty low any way you shake it out. I love watching all the factors involved in mortgage rates and overall economic movements. Don't you?

Mortgage rates tumble back towards 6%

Here's a little quote from the story...

"So here's our best snapshot of what's going on in the housing market right now:
Sellers could demand higher and higher prices for their homes, and buyers could afford to pay them, when the cost of borrowing money was at or near record lows.

As borrowing became more expensive, buyers couldn't afford to pay as much as they did last year, or just a few months ago. As a result prices are leveling off in most, although not all, cities.
But these are mortgage rates we can definitely live with. If buyers and sellers temper their expectations just a bit, life can go on very nicely".

Sound familiar... buy low sell high. Rates are low, inventory is high... game on. The only way to do this is take a legitimate shot at a property you like. I'm waiting by the phone... no really, I am.