Thursday, November 30, 2006

Snowmageddon 2006: Will Chicago dig out?

On the eve of Snowmageddon 2006, I sit before my computer monitor and wish all the fine citizens of Chicago God speed. If reports from the radio, T.V., the Chicago Association of Realtors (which may.. gasp!.. may close offices tomorrow), and most importantly, my neighbors, are correct... we will not make it through the morning.

But don't worry... I'll be here at T-CREL HQ with my left over Y2K supplies in the basement (which consists of a can of Russian sardines and a flashlight covered in old battery acid). Call me if you must... search properties I will.

Photo of T-CREL HQ staff... Snowmageddon 2006

Check in tomorrow for HQ pics... if we make it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chicago Olympic Speculation

If I were a great blogger, I would certainly start a series on my favorite sport. Olympic Speculation. But I'm not a great blogger, I don't even have tags and categories yet (Blogger has not invited me for the Beta upgrade yet).

We here at T-CREL and Rubloff have already been playing this game. I mean... how cool would it be to bridge the whole area from West South Loop to Bridgeport to Hyde Park? West of McCormick mind you along Michigan Ave and surrounding. It's my dream of Lakeview South.

We've discussed how the Olympics would affect Bridgeport real estate, already on the up and up... Chinatown? Bronzeville of course. It is clear that a major change will one day hit that area west of McCormick. Will it take the Olympics?

So play along. Good discussion at Yo Chicago with actual intelligent commentary. A few of the contributers and commentators really know the inside scoop.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Chicago total sales down, prices up

The aggregate Chicagoland home sales numbers as reported in Inman... this may not affect your particular block or home, but these numbers are not bad considering the Apocolypse talk. You'll see a seasonal uptick in the spring. The market times will be longer than last season, but people still want to live here. Sell on...

From the Inman story:

"In the Chicagoland Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), total home sales (single-family and condominiums) totaled 9,005 in October, down 15.4 percent from 10,640 home sales in the same month last year. The median single-family home price for the Chicagoland PMSA was $242,800 last month, up 0.3 percent from $242,000 in October 2005."

Token Chicago Skyline photo coutesy of Inman News (still awesome though!)

Want a mortgage? Where do you live?

Mary Umberger reports in today's Tribune on the continuing debate surrounding credit counseling and zip codes. The IDFPR wants to curb predetory lending in certain zip codes by requiring credit counseling for those who meet a certain criteria. But many find their suggested rule will promote "redlining" of certain neighborhoods and racial orientation.

Basically, if credit counseling is to be required for consumers with bruised credit histories, it should be across the board. Although, it's hard for me to justify this requirement at all for consumers, it should cover every state citizen that meets the financial criteria. Don't stigmatize people for where they live. Read the story and tell me what you think.

Yo Chicago continues the discussion

Monday, November 27, 2006

Just mention Chicago property taxes and...

No one, and I mean no one, gets the who Chicago property tax assessment thing. Sure, I can calculate taxes based on a property's assessed value and equalize it ... but who determines the assessed value? Barry Pearce lights a fire on *"Cyber Monday" atYo Chicago , which has a great discussion in the comments concerning today's Tribune story about the sun setting on the county tax cap legislation. Why isn't this front page news? Oh yeah, Da Bears are on the front page... Nice, Chicago Tribune.

Good catch Barry.

The property tax in the most basic terms is figured out like this... Locate assessed value (according to the Modern Real Estate Practice in Illinois (5th Ed.), this is usually 1/3 of market value).

Equalize the assessed value to bring it in line with current market values. This is done by multiplying the assessed value by value. Lets say the area is under taxed by 25%. You would multiply the assessed value then by 1.25 to bring it up to market values. This can be done to lower the tax as well.

Subtract any homestead exemption ($4500 in Cook County) or Senior Citizen exemptions etc... (know your exemptions).

Now, multiply by the tax rate for that particular taxing district. This is determined by the needs of the taxing district's budget and spread out amongst all the good citizens who have the privilage of owning property in our kingdom.

In Chicago, typically your yearly tax bill will amount to 1-2% of your purchase price of the unit for new developments. Existing properties... well, that's all over the place.

For more information on Cook County property taxes go HERE

Searching Chicago Real Estate

Every client is different. Some like to search properties everyday (while at work mind you... get back to work), while others like me to narrow it down and put them in front of the places I deem worthy.

For you search-a-holics... I have a great search engine linked here and in my side bar. You can narrow your search in all kinds of ways. For instance, you can just search properties in your price point that have virtual tours. In addition, you will not receive spam from using my search engine. I only send specific, personal emails and an occasional update.

Give it a spin and then email me with the homes you like. The Internet can only tell you so much of the story. Pictures and tours can make some nice places look bad and dumps look good.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Chicago real estate weekend round up... Stories I read and you should too

It's been a nice break... although, I was never truly away. The office decided to change our email system for the better. But, we had all our files dumped into our in box. Not cool. Between digging out of that, putting up the tree, cleaning our basement and enjoying Lincoln Square I managed to read quite a bit...

Developers advised to stand out (Chicago Tribune)
Story discusses the South Loop condo market mainly. For those of you who felt it was not "neighborhoody" enough a couple years ago. Well.. there is like a billion people living there now. And the retail is pouring in. I still reccomend re-sale units for the best deals, but new is cool and there is plenty of it.

Getting busy at home
Do-it-yourself repairs can save--if you know what you're doing (Chicago Tribune)
This is a pretty fluffy article, but raises an issue that weighs heavy on the hearts of a lot of us... do I do it or get a professional? From custom blinds, to painting, to closets to faucets... do you do it? How long will it take? It might look terrible and need redoing. How do you get practice when each project is generally a first timer? Is it worth losing time from your family or your career? In my case, a simple job could take a whole day. How many clients could I have developed and consulted that day? What's it worth to you?

Living in a historic structure may provide perfect touch of home (Chicago Tribune)
Do you think the re-sale value is better in a historic, existing building or a recent new construction... Ceteris paribus

Economists Say the Worst Of Housing Bust Is Over (Real Estate Journal)
Chicago prices saw an average gain of 1.6%, outpacing most of the midwest.

Gen X Buyers
30% of my clients this past year were Generation X single female buyers and sellers.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Chicago mortgage rates down for the holidays

Overnight averages for a 30 year fixed mortgage dropped to 5.76% in the Chicagoland area. A friend I ran into yesterday at Starbucks in Lincoln Square (yes, the only place open to get coffee on Jillian's and my walk) asked what I thought would happen in the spring market... with sales and mortgage rates.

First, it is generally expected that there will be an uptick in real estate transactions. This is a norm for spring statistically and will also reflect those who sat on the sidelines due to the gloom and doom reporting of this year. People wanted to wait and see what was to happen. I think now, with prices stable and good inventory, those looking to buy will make a commitment this spring season. I feel the number of purchases will be smaller than last years first quarter, but better than we saw in the third quarter of this year.

Many of my clients are planning to buy in the spring and are working with me now to see what is available at their price points. Plus, if new construction meets their needs, they may have to secure a unit now so it's done by the termination date of their apartment leases. I had advised they should be ready in the winter. Again, statistically speaking, better deals can be had from winter sellers. There are less buyers watching properties due to the holidays, so less competition for quality properties that hit the market.

Early last year, predictions were that interest rates would hit the 7% mark and probably stay there for awhile. This did not happen. We now see an average rate of 5.78% today and no predictions of 7+ rates for the future.

I think we will see a spring with many buyers who have sat on the sidelines and have watched things sort out. Interest rates will hover around 6%... maybe staying sub 6 like the last few months .

John McCarron on the "slow zones"

Good column today by one of the top reporters on public planning and regional transit. One of the most striking points is each transit agency draws on their maintenance budgets for pure day to day operations... to a combined tune of $200 million in the hole.

Check out the CTA Tattler for the comprehensive news on the Chicago Transit Authority.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Real Estate and the holidays

Last week, I sent a whole bunch of emails out to clients and prospects who I have met this year. The mailing was an update concerning schedules during the holidays. It also included a couple links to reviews of my blog and information concerning my open house schedule.

Basically, I'm working. However, in the real estate sales industry, there are no clear cut rules concerning hours of work... personally or for the Realtors, brokerages, sales people and industry as a whole.

Many listing agents are just plain gone, taking the time off over the holiday. There are very few, if any, open houses following this week's Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately, it makes it difficult for those who are available to show properties for clients to get into the good stuff.

This year, I'm available to search properties on the Internet and answer questions for my clients. We've all discussed our schedule before hand to see who will need what. But even I have succumbed to not hosting open houses this weekend or attempting to show properties (as of Wednesday anyway).

This year, and next, I will follow the unwritten laws of the real estate market and slow it down a little during holidays. Maybe get some things done around the house... oh and there is a rehab home that needs attention. I'm working.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Secret Chicago Real Estate

A day in the life.

I came across an UNLISTED 3 bed, 2 bath duplex down with a big family room last week. Parking, deck, nice location, near an "EL"... just a great place for 369K.

I wanted to buy it on the spot... my wife said no. Too much going on with a baby on the way and and new rehab projects etc... and we do want a house in a couple years but. I'm a sucker for a great deal. Plus, this place is big enough and a good enough location to start a family in. But alas, the timing isn't right. But what about your timing?

So, I have spent all morning clamoring for a client or prospective client to take a look at this. It's a home run, slam dunk kind of place for the money. One client is interested and is finding a time to see it today or tomorrow.

In this market, people think they have time. But the great new places at the right deals go fast. For instance, this building is a 6 unit new conversion. All the other units sold out before list, or hit market and sold under 30 days.

If you are in this price point, I know you will like it... or it will at least be in the running. I still think there is time for selections and it looks like it will deliver in 60 to 90 days... in by next spring.

Cubs sign Alfonso Soriano and I just had a heart attack

The Cubs just signed All Star 40/40 man, Alfonso Soriano. We now have a line-up including Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, "Clubber" Barrett, Murton, DeRosa (new second baseman), Izturis, Jones backing up the outfield, etc... Offense and decent defense.

In related news, I had a heart attack when the Cubs announced the deal yesterday.

(Photo:Julie Jacobson/AP)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Chicago Bungalow rehab 5

Okay, okay... I've had a ton of people complain I don't have pictures of the front of the house. To quote Steve Martin,

Jon and I met at the house the other morning with my managing broker to discuss a few more lay out options. He suggested we tweak the staircase by adding a new landing. Making the stairs easier to manuver to the second level. We also spent more time discussing the exterior of the home. Which you may now see.

The point here is... make no mistake. I'll bring in as many experts as possible to make the right decisions for the home. No hubris here.

Part 4

Sunday Open House in Chicago

I'll be at my open house this Sunday 11/19/06 at 4445 N Paulina from 1PM to 4PM today.

This particular listing has been very active with calls, showings and even second showings. Look, it's a tough market, but we're priced well and make it easy to see. The home is clean, has all the must have features of modern condos and move in ready. Super block too... many calls are from current residents of the neighborhood looking to buy or upgrade and stay in the hood.

Hope to see you out there today.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Chicago neighborhood price map

As long as I'm on the topic... found this post by Yo Chicago. Links to a "heat" map to represent prices in Chicago neighborhoods. If you see something of interest on the ad below the map (it is in the Tribune Real Estate section), let me know and I'll give you the scoop :-)

Illinois and Chicago Home Sales Statistics

I have not been much on posting raw sales statistics for the Chicago area. This is popular with many real estate blogs. I've stayed away from posting the "numbers" because I believe the overall, state wide and city wide sales statistics may have little to do with an individual's situation.

Crain's has the a short summary of this season's third quarter sales statistics-showing a 15% decline in overall home sales in Illinois. In Chicago, total sales were down 18%.

The overall sales statistics are important, yes. And I should know this when consulting a client. But more, so, I better know the neighborhood and block my client is on. Sales there may be up 15-18%. My client may also have a three bedroom, as oppsed to the glut of two beds. What are they going for? Average market time for a three bedroom in "so and so" neighborhhod? That's a statistic. How 'bout a taer down vs. a rehab vs a new construction?

These are the statistics I need to advise my buyers and sellers so they have true expectations and get to the closing table.

The overall home sales statistic will scare away speculative investing and some building (and weak real estate agents)... that's for sure. But people have lives, jobs, growing families, less quality rental opportunities, upward mobility, status, downward mobility etc... They will buy and sell and I have to have the statistics that matter to them... not Peoria (sorry Peoria).

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tell me how you really feel about buying in Chicago

Perusing my daily dose of real estate blog insanity... and when I say insanity I mean addiction. In the best possible terms.

Anyway, I went back to the well, otherwise known as Rain City Guide, to see what's going on . I keep things local, so why read a Seattle area blog? For the advice, education and conversation.

Today's topic? Looking into your soul and making the decision to buy a place or continue renting. Ardell writes a heart felt intervention for a particular young lady who is on advice overload. I point to this post for two reasons:

First, it brings up some interesting angles in the conversation... which always happends here.

Second, if you like real estate, will buy real estate, own real estate, are haunted by real estate (me) then you should read the blog regularly. Look past the local market stuff and dive into the consumer advice and investment portions.

As for buying, I take a more wholistic social benefits angle... but if you read this blog, you already know that. I'm all about the Benjamins too... but there are other reasons to own.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Praise for Chicago Bungalows

I've brought attention to this post before, but with Chicago Bungalows on my mind, here it is again. If you believe home inspectorTom Corbett, come over and check out my rehab for future sale and other homes in North Mayfair.

Craigslist real estate lawsuit tossed out

Chicagoist weighs in on the recent drubbing of a lawsuit brought against Craigslist content. The suit claimed discriminatory rental ads posted by users made craiglist liable.

As a Realtor, I post 3 to 4 craigslist ads a week, including my listings and open house appearances/performances (I was acting! Thank you!).

As a licensed Realtor in Illinois, I have to follow fair housing laws and other legal requirements when advertising property in any format. When posting on craigslist, there is a huge warning to postmeisters (my word) to follow fair housing rules.

Anywho… idiots will be idiots and post things that shouldn’t be. We must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water… i.e don’t kill the craigslist.

I often train our agents on internet marketing and stress that they understand the federal laws (and our own regulation in Illinois) advertising content.

This is an important area for all of us, consumers, advertisers, consultants, and content writers to watch. Craigslist is so simple, yet a “do gooder” group tries to protect us in a totally self policed community… not cool.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

CTA official also stated the sun will come up tomorrow...

So I woke up today and the Trib/WGN reported that more slow trains are ahead and the CTA budget is short $500M for much needed repair:

"The CTA is $500 million short of the state and federal funding it needs to erase slow zones on the entire 225-mile rail system, said CTA President Frank Kruesi."

In a related story, the CTA reported that if the Bears score more points than the Jets this weekend, they will be declared the winner... men leave the toilet seat up more often than women... the East and West coast real estate markets have cooled a bit...

Anyone else have a good one here for the "Captain Obvious" category? I'm not that funny.

Inside the city at Yo Chicago

Thanks to Joe Zekas at Yo Chicago for the kind words today... I enjoy commenting with the fun and informative people who participate on the site. Several good Chicago blogs have caught on and link to the site. And where else can you get stories like this?

For my buyers and sellers, from Chicago or not, I recommend the site. The new construction information is helpful, along with neighborhhod dirt.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Condo Associations: Choose your improvements well

Great article from the New York Times concerning which building improvements actually improve your re-sale value. The Times requires registration, but it's two seconds and you should be registered there anyway. Lifted it from Closing Real Estate in Chicago... the type of blog Realtors should actually read to help their clients.

Listen, Lake Shore Drive... work-out room, work-out room, work-out room! $460 assessment and no work out facility!

As a condo board president, maintenance and amenity decisions must be made and are substantial to property values. Welcome once again to the good times of my everyday. You learn alot about the owners at your condo meeting when you propose an assessment increase to fund the reserve... especially when the wine is flowing.

Chicago New Construction

Two particular incidences happended to me yesterday concerning new construction/new conversion properties.

First, one of my clients expressed she is probably more comfortable buying a re-sale condo or a totally finished unit in a new development/new conversion.

Second, I received an email yesterday from another Realtor in my network offering pre-construction prices on a new development. This was unique in the sense that they were offering the first two contracts on the development at a flat $50K savings from what they'll hit market at. Plus, they are throwing in a parking space that will be marketed at $35K.

Now, who would bite on this? I might. The reason is, I'm comfortable with the process (read: ups and downs) of being the first one in at a development. I am also comfortable with "buying off a floorplan". I get to pick my finishes, unit location, parking location etc... But, I also may close late, will have to stay on top of the sales agent and developer, help form the initial condo board, and deal with construction of other units when my place is done earlier.

So, after some research, the $85K off looks like it will end up a good deal for the area of the development. And the timing would be right for my next move. I would simply reserve my condo, work out the contract deals and wait. Again, choosing the best placed unit in a development is key... otherwise, you may like the location of the development but are left with specific units with no view.

As for my client, we have explored this avenue and she is not comfortable after viewing new, but unfinished developments. So, we will wait for a finished product or awesome re-sale to come on the market.

By the way, I find out about deals like the one above every week.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chicago Bungalow Rehab 4

A big part of a rehab deal is , well, the deal. This can take time to put together depending on each parties needs. Sometimes it's as easy as purchasing a listed property and starting the work immediately (and praying)

Sometimes you have to bug an owner for a very, very long time to sell you the home and move on to a nice condo for their retirement years (and pray).

Sometimes, you can agree to do the rehab and sell the property for the owner... spliting the proceeds at time of sale. This does not require purchasing the home (and pray).

That's right... pray for multiple offers when you finally get the house on the market.

So... where are we now? Well, we are in the process of nailing down the final details of the agreement with the seller.

Jon and I are also taking time this week to meet with several sub-contractors for bids on major mechanicals. We will have a whole new HVAC system, new windows through out, plumbing through out, electrical panel and meter, outlets and cans... I think that's it. Maybe a roof, but it may be in great shape.

Then we estimate the kitchen, two baths, drywall and other finishing work we will do ourselves. We should have a budget in place for all the things we want to do by the end of the week.

After this, I will re-check the numbers with a realistic market value for the finished home. We start cutting from there. The house has great features already in it's design... but we have to make sure our improvements do not out-pace the pocketbook of buyers who will typically shop the area for a home.

On that note, we discussed one of the most exciting parts... improving the floorplan. We decided on a new master suite and bath design, second bath placement, how to open up the kitchen, use of the second floor, and placement of canned lighting.

The work has to be terrific to match the existing integrity of the home. There are three huge mistakes rehabbers make in Chicago homes: poor craftmanship, bad layouts and cheap finishes/fixtures. We are taking a good amount of time planning layout to ensure buyers will have the fewest objections to our home versus the competetion. As for craftmanship and taste... fahgettaboutit.

Part 3

Too Many Realtors?

I usually don't comment on industry insider news on this blog. However, the Mary Umberger reports on one real estate trade association that suggests some members think about a "career adjustment".

Too many Realtors for the business out there? The point of the article and commentary by the up-and-ups of the trade association is the unprofessionalism and lack of skill displayed by those who do the real estate thing part time. I agree with this angle.

But, its not up to the trade associations or the Realtors to decide... its up to the consumer. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out if your Realtor is a full timer or has the experience to get the job done. Even if they are new (but a full timer) ask how they will represent you in your search and transaction. If the answer is unsatisfactory, find another Realtor. According to the story above, there are plenty out there. Just make sure they are full time and know what they are doing. I don't buy the part-timer thing. They are busy with other things rather than previewing properties, networking for off market properties ... and too busy to attend important appointments with you or for you.

Look, I hear from my friends and clients about their past experiences with Realtors. They range from great to ridiculous. The ridiculous have terrible client service skills and have no clue how to quarterback a deal. To avoid this, just ask some questions... most likely they will handle the search and transaction as well as they handle your conversation. So... run away and email me!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Weekend Roundup: Real estate news that affects you and your home values

Slowest season for sellers can be a great time to buy (
Robert Bruss, Inman News

Robert Bruss writes a consumer education column and reports on investing in real estate. In the above article, he helps de-mystify the process of buying a home during the winter season.

Home-sale tax exemption may require longer stay... and other questions/answers (Chicago Tribune)

Condo Board Questions and Answers (

Check out this link for pictures of "Painted Ladies"

Friday, November 10, 2006

Historic Sullivan Home Destroyed By Fire

There has been a bit of focus surrounding the preservation of buildings and architecture in the news. This has been "sparked" by the Louis Sullivan building fire in the South Loop that created delays for the "L" and shut down parts of S. Wabash. Another Adler and Sullivan home has burnt down.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New York Times: Preservationists in Chicago Fear Losing Ground to Condos

Nice to see the Big Apple concerned about our quaint Chicago neighborhood issues. Development v. preservation. I think they're jealous due to all the dumps you have to survive while living there... say... in Hell's Kitchen. And that's a gentrified neighborhood! Gorgeous photo featured in the online story above. Makes you want to live here.

I guess my take on this is simple. It's not that the old frame fire trap was torn down (sold by the rightful owner to boot). But the problem is the ugly that goes up much of the time. I't like 1970 East Berlin suave in white cinderblock masked by red brick. I like the fact that sharp, comfortable 3 and 4 flats rise up and invite the re-population of the city. If they were more beautiful, more of the time... would people still complain?

Or are people upset because their (or not even their) neighborhood has changed?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Searching Chicago Properties

I mentioned in an earlier post that many clients and consumers have turned up the heat in their property searches this week. I think people are realizing that prices are pretty stable, interest rates are low, and that the winter is statistically a cheap time to buy. There are also many who wish to close before the tax year ends.

There are many, many properties for sale in the Chicagoland area. There are also many more desirable places to live around Chicago. I find many of my clients who are ready to make a purchase often feel anxiety... did they see everything and is there a better deal out there?

How do I help this process? By covering the bases.

My relationship with clients begins in many ways; with a conversation at an open house, with Internet communications, a phone call to the office, by referral, or with my appearances at commerce and academic gatherings. No matter how I met my clients or potential clients, the next step always involves identifying viable options for the client/consumer.

First, I provide property searches personally on the Multiple Listing Service. I may also set up a daily automated search for clients who wish this. This is the most up to date and accurate information available. No web site can beat this member information. It is manged by real estate professionals to market and sell real estate... this takes big money and we demand the best for it!

Secondly, I will draw on my brokergae inventory, past experience and fellow agents on our team to point out opportunities. Many of these opportunities are insider info. and off-market situations.

Third, I scan unrepresented seller sites, craigslist and foreclosure lists. These opportunities, I believe, make it even more important to have a professional represent your search and transaction. They are very time consuming avenues due to the inexperience of the sellers and lack of good information. I mean, have you ever read some of the craigslist ads? What are they hiding? No pictures, no info! However, I do this every day, so these areas present opportunity for a good deal if one knows how to find them and put it together.

How my clients communicate with me during the search is another story. Each person has different needs... I'm flexible. Emails, weekend trips, evenings, days, phone calls, research, gunslinging, caution... whatever it takes.

In short, when it comes to your search; while your at work, I'm at work for you.

Chicago Parking Permits: File this one under "too good to be true"!

Too good to be true week... Photo by Brandon Stone

I'm a little on overload here. First, I'm a political science geek, sitting at my computer and by my radio listening to all the mid-term election returns. It's like our Super Bowl.

Second, many clients looking to purchase by the end of the year and by spring next year have turned up the heat on their home searches... which means I turn up the heat researching the deals for them. This is what it's all about.

Third, I've started a rehab project this week scheduled to be ready for the early spring market.

But when I read today that Realtors and other practitioners may be eligible for special all city parking permits... well... Whoohooo! It looks good. The City Council may pass a budget measure meant to raise revenue... $2.4 million worth. I may be a little biased here, but the case can be made. Chicago Realtors help many become home owners, invest and spend their own dollars in the city, and generate tax revenue for the city by promoting home ownership. As a practicle matter, we make many, many stops with clients looking to purchase in this great city. Let's make it easy for home shoppers to stop and look with their Realtors!

No longer will my clients have to hit the ground running from my moving car!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

South Loop grows with planned community

Rising up along Roosevelt
12-acre project will add high-rise and loft condos, smaller retail spaces in South Loop, where residential development is surging

A major property acquisition will close early next year and a major development will rise in the the South Loop. The twist here that it's built around a center... kind of like what has developed at Hasted and the old Maxwell Street area. Looks like a mall.

I guess this is what people want coming to the city... a place that looks like the suburb they came form? Okay, I'm not being sincere here. I promote any development that will add housing options near the Loop and is more than just a highrise. Let's just pray it doesn't look and feel like Woodfield Mall with condos.

Chicago Bungalow Rehab 3

It's on. My partner John and I began the planning stage of the rehab. We took an inventory of the work we will do and discussed initial floorplan changes we'll make.

We'll have to be creative with the second floor, kitchen and master suite (that we'll create). One of the advantages to this home, and what made me believe it was a great rehab prospect, is the large main floor bedrooms. This is rare for typical Chicago bungalows. Many bungalows have two small main floor bedrooms, maybe 12X10 each, with no closets! We'll have walk ins!

Jillian stopped over and put her two cents in. She already wants to move in when we're done (we won't)... she was very encouraging. If she ran away screeming it would be a long few months. All and all, a great home to work with.

In the next week, we will be taking bids for the work we'll contract out. We figure the roof, windows, electrical and plumbing. We'll handle the demo, baths, kitchen, floors, drywalls/walls, painting, and odds and ends.

I'd like to thank my friend Chuck Good, who, brought our attention to the home and trusts our judgement in the rehab and eventual sale.

More later, more details... it's late... open house and clients all weekend... what weekend?

Part 2

Friday, November 03, 2006

Reese Hospital sale sparks development talk

Reese sale bid poses Olympics question

I'm all for the Olympics... but I'm even more for any development close to downtown. We need a "South Lakeview". Just imagine that... a day when we refer to North Lakeview and South Lakeview!

From the story above:

"The property, located between the burgeoning South Loop and Bronzeville neighborhoods, likely will be developed long before the Olympics, said one observer."I don't know that you'd want to put that on hold for 8 to 10 years while the Olympics occurred. That's probably not a good thing for the neighborhood," said urban planner Kim Goluska, president of Chicago Consultants Studio. "Bronzeville is probably Chicago's most dynamic developing neighborhood right now."

The problem retail/bars/restaurants. And retail usually follows the people by 5 to 10 years. There are tons of new construction options from 47th and north through Bronzville...but no retail options. It's like drive away from your home in the morning... drive back at night. Your not spending you dollars there. Maybe this redevelopment of the Reese campus will spark another movement there.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Free credit check: Game your FICO 3 times a year

Recently, I looked for several ways to attain a construction/ small business loan to rehab a home. Got me thinking about credit scores and business plans etc...

Sam Chapman at the Austin Real Estate News gives us a nice little reminder on how to check your credit several times a year

Free Annual Credit Report
by Sam Chapman

There is something about the government mandated free annual credit report that I didn't think of until I checked my credit report recently. First, is where you go to get your free annual credit report. Don't go to other sites. When you get your free credit report, you can get it from one of the big three credit reporting agencies or all three.

What you get is a very detailed history of who you have credit with. You also get a list of inquiries that have been made. What you don't get for free is your FICO score. This is the magic number you hear about all the time. You can get your FICO score for a small fee. Getting back to what I discovered that I would have known if I had thought about it a little more, you can pull your credit three times a year.

How, you ask? When you get your report the first time, get it from just one agency. Four months later, get it from the next agency. Four months later, get it from the third agency. If you do this, you can truly study your credit history year round. This is valuable not only so you can know the state of your credit and how your FICO score changes, but it is a smart thing to to protect against identity theft. Worried about how pulling your credit report might affect your credit? Don't be. From what I understand, going through this site the pulls don't affect anything.

Mortgage: State may cause "redlining" of neighborhoods

Home-buyer counseling challengedFederal suit alleges law discriminatory (

There is definately a need to figure out something to stem forclosures and predatory lending in many Chicago neighborhoods. But the legislation above could be another by-product of good intentions by the State. I used to work at the IDFPR (which governs me, the Realtor) when they implimented laws that regulated loan originators... now that's good legistlation!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

2 Brown Line stations to close

The latest round of closings as reported by Jon Hilkevitch, Tribune's transportation reporter. Addison and Montrose Brown Lines stations will be closed for one year. Not cool.

Incentives may effect home values

Mary Umberger writes in today's Chicago Tribune about the effect of incentives on housing values. I've touched on this subject here and here. The story sums up a few issues that may pop up when trading incentives with the home...say taxes, real home values and getting your loan. Heyooohhh!

But seriously folks, outright purchase incentives may or may not work depending on the situation. The incentive should be crafted with the market research and make sense for the home or market. I mean... if the property is a dog, an Apple Vacation will not get you to buy it (it will help you forget you own it, I guess).

However, the story points out the most important issue in handleing credits to the buyer; making sure the buyer gets it. An experienced agent and his/her attorney will make sure the lender knows a credit will be issued as part of the deal. The credit should be added to the closing statement, if allowed. If it won't be allowed, and their are many reasons, then the seller and buyer will have to figure out new terms.

As far as home values... well this is why comps are not king! The true story of value is how many buyers at a particular time are willing to pay a certain amount for a certain piece of real estate. Value is subjective too. So, if the last guy paid $450,000.00 for a place, but received $20,000 in incentives (like a car and vacation package), it doesn't mean the next place will sell for $450,000.00. If you base value strictly on comps and not several other market factors...that's your funeral. For example... my downstairs neighbor (and friend) paid only $1000 less than us for a middle floor unit. He discovered we also negoitiated a washer and dryer, upgraded to high end ceiling fans, upgraded bath tile etc... so really, he paid $4000.00 more. He just walked in and paid list from the slaes agent!