Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year from Ravenswood Chicago

Here's a little holiday cheer from my hood. Most condos on North Winchester between Lawrence and Foster in Ravenswood come with life size snow globes.

Have a good one.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chicago Single Family Home Prices, Statistics and Appreciation for October 2007

Crains ran a report on the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index that shows Chicago area single family homes posting a 3.2 percent decline over the same time last October. This is .08 percent less than September's numbers.

Of course this is the "Chicago area" which will include other metropolitan areas... not just your Lakeview or Lincoln Park single family home (which I'd still like to find a decent one for under $800K).

For more information on how the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index "works", click HERE

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Chicago Parking for Dummies

Some of the few goofs in Lincoln Square saving "their" parking spots after last week's snow.

Let this be known as the shot heard around Giddings Square.

In case your new to "Da Nort Side" some entitled meatheads (and Mrs. Meatheads) feel they can secure, save, reserve, and basically claim a parking spot in the public way because they dug their car out of the snow.

I find this practice so idiotic that I almost ruined Christmas two years ago arguing with an Auntie In-Law about its merits; she in the pro, me in the con. In a past life, in a past condo, on a past street, I tossed the furniture into one entitled neighbor's front yard who also thought they owned the street in front of his/her building.

What kills me is that this is many times perpetrated by homeowners that own parking spots, be it the garage and/or a drive way. So let me get this straight: We all pay taxes. We all park on public Chicago streets. We all get snowed on. We all shovel our cars out. But you have “rights” to that spot?
As a home owner, parking space owner, and continued street parker I implore you to quit this practice. Get your furniture out of the street.

Merry Christmas. Dummy.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Are Ravenswood Condos Catching up to Lincoln Park?

North Damen Avenue new construction in Ravenswood has transformed the housing stock available to buyers. While new construction in this part of town was a trickle in the boom of the 1990s, the last five years produced many more options for those looking for the condo lifestyle (read: No maintenance living).

I've had my eye on the above project. Although not what anyone would call modern done well, the three unit condo building does have appeal. The design maximizes the room sizes and the units offer great outdoor space.

At the moment, only the middle floor three bedroom is listed on the MLS for $519K. I figure they are asking $600K for the duplex and possibly up to $650 for the penthouse with rooftop deck. Recent new construction duplex downs on the street have caught $550K, but this particular development will push the finishes to the Lakeview and Lincoln Park levels... And ask the price for it.

Great Restaurant Corners in Lincoln Square

Lincoln Square on Chicago's North Side has no loss for great corners. If you can find the scratch to get into a single family home for say $750,000 and up (and up fast) you will get your hearts content in restaurants and retail. It's also one of those places where you can walk the main drag, get all your Christmas shopping done and get hammered in between.

This is the corner of North Lincoln Ave. and West Wilson. On the southwest corner you'll find the the busiest of meeting up, eating up and drinking up places; the Daily Bar and Grill. I've been here a good dozen times over the past couple years. Decent bar food, better than decent fries and a few screens to keep an eye on the game. The place keeps a laid back hipster/musician/local vibe... not too preppy. It has a great outdoor patio in the summer (which now doubles as a Christmas Tree lot).

On the northwest corner, you'll bump into Fiddlehead Cafe. This place has stuck and it seems people enjoy it. We have not sampled yet, but one day when Ryne can sit still in a restaurant... It has a somewhat more refined feel and seems to draw the families visting their kids who live in the city. I'd like to hear more about it.

On the northeast corner is Essence of India. Nuff said. Popular Northern Indian cuisine. It also has a patio in the summer and scene here is pretty cool for the foodie, nerd hipster and the locals.

And how can you have a great corner without Starbucks? That's on the southeast corner. Gotta love the huge bathroom to change the kid. The Old Town School of Folk Music students and staff definately call themselves regulars. And top notch baristas as usual.

And this has been great corners in Lincoln Square

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why some listings sell much faster than others

I have had home listings sell very quickly this year in large buildings in the neighborhoods South Loop and West Loop. Generally, these neighborhoods are known for long market times... 180 days plus. The sales prices reflected price gains for the buildings.

On the other hand, I have had home listings that have taken longer... in smaller buildings in neighborhods that have shorter market times in general. Ravenswood and Bucktown to name a couple.


My quicker sales for quality sales prices had a few things in common.

1. The owners took all my advice on prepping the unit for market. This included painting when I have asked, making the needed repairs I have requested (re-caulk baths, re-grout floors) and displaying furninshings in the manner I requested (if the owner did not move out yet). In these cases the homes felt new and stood out from other listings in the area. The average preparation for condos has been about $2,000 and I run the project.

2. Price. Each owner took my advice on where to price the unit. Most owners want a higher price than I suggest... feeling that their home should get it and people will make offers no matter your price. What they are really afraid of is leaving money on the table or having no room for negotiation.

This is not the case in this market. One must create value and urgency... steps one and two combined will accomplish this goal. If you are priced correctly, leaving emotion out of it, the home will sell close to asking price. No need then for much negotiation on price.

3. Access for showings. This comes in play with today's busy buyer. When a home buyer NEEDS to buy, they will buy in that moment of realization. Job transfer, lease is coming up, school will start, wedding is coming up, or they have one week to look between major work assignments or travel. When it is decison time, we need to have access to show.

I've talked about my own NEED to BUY NOW. I just received a contract on our condo, my wife was six months pregnant and we needed to be in a new bigger place and settled before the baby came. I saw something that struck a chord and bought it two days after I had my sale under contract.

This process is the most difficult in my client-Realtor relationship. If the Realtor is good, he/she will insist on these steps. It will be contentious at times as the property owner will doubt the work needs to be done or think the price is too low. No one knows the property like the owner, but know one knows how the property will sell than someone who represents over 20 buyers a year... and knows why they buy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Off Market: Three Bedroom, Two Bath Lakview Penthouse with Rooftop Deck

I will list this property soon... please contact me for a showing before it hits market.

Rooftop deck buyers…

920 W Barry #5 asking $689K, taxes $8,500, assessment $230

Original owner and closed in 2004, new construction by Swan Development

-Top floor, three bedrooms, two bathrooms 2000 sq/ft (developer's measurements) 4 story walk up, 5 unit building (private staircase, landing and foyer on third level)

-Hardwood throughout

-Private rooftop deck with interior staircase

-Front terrace (Big) off living room

-Back deck off master

-Large, killer kitchen with commercial grade appliances and subway tile back splash

-15X15 master bedroom, Giant master bath (it echoes in there) with his and hers vanities, heated floor

-Wired for security and sound

-Great open feeling and light… dramatic when you walk in

-Extra wide lot with huge living room/dining room combo… at least 27x19 (total measurements coming Thursday)

-Garage parking

-Heated driveway

-Commercial HVAC with electric air filter roof mounted… not in the unit!

-Neutral decor, colors, finishes

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Serious deal on lender owned single family home in Ravesnwood

I need to make more of a habit reporting on deals I come across. However, I try to get my clients in first... then it's blog time.

There is a new construction single family home in Ravenswood that was just dropped to $809K. The listing lead me to believe this house was not completed or had some issues.

However, it's awesome. Best deal I've seen in the neighborhood in a long time and truly "under market". I live in the neighborhood and know the market here.

If you are interested in a single family home soon, this house is a major pick up. It's not my listing, so I can't officially advertise it. But I can show the house and sell it. So call me if you are interested... I can get a same day showing.

Condo Association Rules and By-Laws: Loud Neighbors

I received the email below the other day from a reader (I assume) of this here real estate blog concerning an unfortunate, but not all that uncommon, condo association issue

I'd like to hear the real estate attorneys chime in on this one...

Good Afternoon, Eric- Hi, I am a new owner of a condo on the West side of
Chicago right off of the Eisenhower expressway; this building has (3) units in
it. Well, for the last (3) months I have had problems with the people on the
floor above me. They are renting the unit above and I have asked them several
times not to play music and bang on the walls at 12am(midnight).
The police
has been there on (8) different occasions and these tenants are repeatedly
making noise. There has not been an association established, yet. But, is there
someone that I can contact in regards to breaking one of the rules that are
mentioned in the bylaw for the condos (Article VII section F) it states that if
a neighbor has become annoying based on the noise made that the association
should do something about this. Is there someone I can talk to? I have contacted
the lawyer for the seller on several occasions looking for help and nothing is
being said or done. Please help.

My response in the email...

Hi Gladys,

I’m sorry for the delayed response. It would be
for me to direct you in this case as I’m not an attorney.
However, some ideas:

First, check with your closing attorney as to
when the developer is supposed to turn over the building to the association (you
and the other owners). There is a time limit from the first sale and/or it
will be based on percentage ownership in the building. You can also confer
with the attorney and check the By Laws on the rules of renting units. There
should be a valid one year lease required in the rules.

My guess is the developer (or whoever owns the building) has rented the unit out to
tenants. If they did this against the rules, you have grounds to kick them out.

Otherwise,if they are really bad, get some evidence together and call on anyone that will listen. Give the developer’s name to the Alderman if he rented the unit to unruly people and now will not help. Sometimes the alderman's office will have relationships with these builders and developers and can persuade them to step up.

But first things first. Contact your closing attorney and see if the
By-Laws and rules are being followed.

I really feel for this owner. There are some tell-tale signs
for buildings and units you should steer clear from. In cases of bad luck,
you have to take the steps outlined in your condos association by laws and fight
the issue to the best of your ability. Try not to go it alone!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Do I list my Lincoln Park Condo in December?

Photo by Leo Reynolds

I know... lame. But I just had a conversation today with a client. They took their listing off the market this month and will bring it back in... March. March.

Of course, I feel this is a big mistake. Oh, I don't have the listing. How can that be you ask? I am representing them on the buy side, but they chose a discount broker on the sell side. First, they have sold a couple places prior and second, they have a "crazy" dog which would make a Realtor useless for showings. So there you go.

But I feel waiting until March is a mistake. I guess I should back-track here. They have had slow traffic as of late (and they have told me some of this was due to the discount broker not relaying showing requests or even having a working appointment system). The last time this discount company was used years ago, it went well. This time, not so good. Problem is, who is accountable?

It's not unusual to take your place off going into the holidays. But it's not always the best thing to do. For one reason, inventory is at it's lowest, so you may stand out if your place is looking good. Secondly, there are transfer buyers coming in, serious buyers who have not found a place yet and new buyers looking to close before March leases are up all out there NOW.

Many leases come up March 1st...and even March 31st. And, it usually takes a minimum of 30 days to close. Mostly 45 plus days. You follow? Basically, you can miss a large part of the spring market by waiting until March to list your property.

Many worry about the market time. Fine, you take the place off in December, list in January and show the market time from the last year. Big deal. If your place is well located, say in Lincoln Park or Gold Coast, and looks good... no self respecting Realtor is going to pass it up.

I was also asked by a family friend if they should list now (it was the end of November) because they found another house they wanted to buy. Again, my answer was not based on the season, but based on how well their house will stack up against the competition. Will your house look great? Will the marketing be great? Will you price right?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Chimpanzee to Replace Chicago Real Estate Agent

From the AP and ABC Channel 7:

5-year-old chimp beats college kids in computer game

This is amazing to watch... the chimps instantly recall number sequences, even when they are covered up.

First it was the free flow of listing information that would wipe out Realtors, now I have to look out for Chimpanzees. If they can beat me at the numbers game (and from the looks of that game, they would) they'll probably beat me to a new single family home listing in Lincoln Park.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Raising a Family in a Ravenswood Condo

This is one of the more emotional subjects I've come across. How long can you keep your kids here in Chicago before fleeing to the suburbs? If you can't afford a nice house or even a three bedroom condo in a good public school attendance district, what can you do? It's easy to get priced out.

What is enough space and where do you get it? Is it worth being in Northwest Chicago or should you pick a suburb?

Here is a great conversation I took part in this past week. I'd like to hear more from you if you're dealing with these choices.
My wife and I chose a duplex condo in Ravenswood Chicago rather than a house to get the neighborhood we wanted. Otherwise, we would have had to buy a house farther Northwest in the City such as Sauganash or Norwood Park. Maybe later.

Overnight winter parking ban in Chicago

Anyone get nailed by the parking ban this weekend with all the winter chaos? Here's a excerpt from ABC explaining the winter parking ban:

December 1, 2007 -- Street parkers beware. The overnight winter parking ban goes into effect this weekend for key streets all over the city.

The ban, for key arterial streets, begins Saturday Dec. 1st at 3 a.m. It remains in effect until April 1, according to a city Department of Streets and Sanitation release.
Cars parked on critical arterial streets with a posted seasonal overnight restriction will be ticketed and towed between the hours of 3 a.m. and 7 a.m., whether or not there's snow on the ground, the release said.

Motorists should also refrain from parking on designated "Snow Routes" when two or more inches of snow has fallen. During a heavy snow, cars parking on "Snow Routes" could receive a ticket and possibly be relocated, the release said.
Sun-Times News Group Wire -- Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2006

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Foreclosure and Bank Owned (REO) Properties in Chicago: Buying the Hype?

Any real estate genius can tell you that the foreclosure market and "bank owned" property markets have been hot Hot HOT! Or not.

I have limited time today and little time to write the details of buying an actual foreclosure in the actual world, but it ain't what you think it is. Recently, a big time money manager type friend of mine told me over drinks that clients are pushing the "F" word on him. "What about foreclosures?".

His response is if it were easy to buy a discounted property in foreclosure, fix it up and sell (or hold) for big bucks, he'd be doing it already for himself (and his wife is a big time Realtor type after all).

Teresa Boardman at St. Paul Real Estate Blog describes another annoyance in this fiasco of vouchers picking up the pieces. REO properties are hell to buy.She suggests all the mortgage folks getting out of the game in St. Paul switch over to the REO side and sell off some inventory. That's why she is brilliant and we are not.

The banks make terrible sellers and are infamous for taking too long, as in never, to negotiate and accept a deal (remember the movie Three Amigos where Martin Short convinces his compadres that the IN-famous El Guapo actually meant he was "more than famous"?).

My clients and I came across an REO last weekend that we call the Mold Palace. See, the home was left vacant and was allowed to flood. It's a total shame because it's in a top flight neighborhood of North Center (almost Lincoln Square).

Anywho, it could be a go for these experienced buyers if we could get some communication going. The bank wants folks to pay good dollar with ZERO information. A joke. I know, I know... if you can't stand the heat, don't buy the mold farm.

My point here is, they are still priced at a pretty high market rate. Is it worth preparing an offer and sending off to the abyss without knowing who or what we are dealing with? Is the bank price negotiable? Many times it is not. So, a week later you get a "no" response... that's it.

The bank should hold an auction with a much lower minimum bid and let this thing sell in the open market place.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chicago and Illinois Mass Transit Put on Hold

The Chicago Tribune ran this story immediately after a Illinois House vote on mass transit. No bueno.

I have not been posting about the ongoing transit issue in "mass", but have followed the story like most Chicagoans. Sites like the CTA Tattler linked in the sidebar are better aggregates for stories like these. However, most people I know are not talking about this. There are comments about the length of commute on the CTA Red and Brown Line, but few bring up the transit crisis. My guess is we see the new Brown Line stations being built on the North Side and think that progress is being made.

I'd just like to see modernized, quieter tracks and some electric buses after 100 years of the same old, same old.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chicago Community Guides from Pioneer Press

You may find these guides helpful. Nice compact source of neighborhood information.

Map by Brittanica

Rehab? Try Edgewater Glen in Chicago

Photo by

I have been looking at many single family homes on the North Side for under $700K and feel you can get a solid home on a nice sized lot in the Edgewater Glen area (located along side of Andersonville and Lakewood-Balmoral) for under $600K. There are a couple homes in the $550K range that will need about $50K in professional renovation (or really good self help handy work) to be very pleasant. The area of Edgewater located roughly 5600 N to 6400 N and 900 W to 1400 W really supports updates and structual improvements when looking to re-sell the home.

Your local Red Line stop would be W Bryn Mawr at N Broadway.
Edgewater includes the following neighborhoods: Andersonville, Edgewater Beach, Edgewater Glen, Edgewater Triangle, Highlands of Edgewater, Lakewood Balmoral, Magnolia Glen and Rosehill.
ZIP codes: 60660, 60640

This isn't flip your house material. Just a great place to buy a single family home to live on the North Side and add value.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Andersonville three-flat

We came across an interesting situation this weekend. A woman is selling her three-flat in Andersonville for $750K. Two units are rented out at about $1300 each. The third is vacant and could be upgraded as an owner's unit. Great location in the Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood.

However, the woman told us she needed to close on the place by the end of the year, or else she will lose the tax benefit she is looking to take advantage of. If no sale happens, she said she'll rent the unit out and keep the building until retirement (5 years down the road).

So, what is her situation? What benefit will she get? Currently she, she lives in another two flat of her's in the neighborhood as well.

Nice three-flat if you're interested.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Roscoe Village and North Center for under $700K...60657 and 60618

I am working with a couple single family home buyers that live in Lakeview. They would like a single family home for under $700K. I feel the best combination of neighborhood, price and best quality homes can be found in Roscoe Village.

The fall and winter months can be a good time to pick up a deal. Without sounding too much like a salesperson, the facts are just there. At this time of year you can find a few situations. First, you have homes that were well overpriced or in "non-showing" condition that went on in the spring. They missed that market and now need to sell at a reasonable price. A strong buyer with good finances and quick closing date can demand a good price on a single family home.

Second, you have builders and re-habbers looking to get there product off the books before year's end. This can be a good time to get upgrades or closing money to purchase the home.

And third, you have the new listing gems. These are sellers that decide they need to sell for any number of reasons; They received a new job that starts early next year... they have a new child on the way... they can't handle their payments. Whatever the reason, they simply list a nice home for a good price with less competition on the market. You have to be ready for these. If you have looked at many single family homes with me, and the new guy just looks awesome for the price... it probably is awesome for the price.

I see this happening in Roscoe Village in the 60657 and 60618 zip codes. There are several single family homes carried over from the spring in the boundaries of Belmont to Addison, Ashland to Western. This area has move -in -ready single family homes with two car garages, yards, good interiors and some updates for under $700,000. There are a few row home opportunities as well.

And don't count out new listings. There are a few homes that just hit market in the last three days.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Any Chicago single family homes on sale this Black Friday?

The scenes of "Black Friday" actually put fear in my heart. Check out the Chicago Tribune photo album of the carnage HERE. The barrage of door buster ads on T.V. gives me anxiety (and also interrupted my giddiness yesterday watching my 10-1 Green Bay Packers wax the Detroit Lions).

I'm afraid to leave my house on Black Friday.

The only shopping I'm worried about is for a well located single family home under $800K or a awesome two-flat under $900K. Now, you want to see me run wild towards a "door buster" just list a four bedroom (three bedroom and den/office okay), three bathroom home with a nine foot basement, two car garage near a CTA "L" for under $800K. I'll probably have foam coming from my mouth when I bust the door down.

You would think you could get a great house for this price... but Chicago is an amazing place to live. Everyone is looking for the above attributes.

Thus, the adventure continues through Lakeview, Southport Corridor, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square and Lakewood Balmoral for that great space. My clients are flexible, have great vision and are not afraid of doing some improvements.

Anyone have a door buster out there for me?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stock market down, oil prices up... Buy near the CTA Brown Line

Today's stock market report has given many the jitters I suspect. Some of the "blame" of the sell off could go to oil prices hitting $99 a barrel. Yep.

Luckily we have a elevated train system and those pesky buses to get around (CTA). Well, at least for the time being.

For some reason, I see the happy condo owner near public transportation in say... Wrigleyville or Lincoln Square... hopping on the Brown Line near their house tonight on the eve of Thanksgiving. Off to their local pub to grab a pint of Guiness. Not a worry about oil prices.

It's a nice life.

By the way, if you think Chicago real estate near an "L" station isn't hot, you have not been in the market for awhile.

Comments feature on the fritz

I'm having trouble getting comments from the posts to show up on my sidebar. The comments will remain on the actual posts. I just have to figure out how to get them to the sidebar again.

Nothing against you or your comments. It's me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chicago and Illinois home market statistics in

The Chicago Tribune reports on third quarter statistics this year... again, sales down but prices steady and even up.

I just had this conversation today with a client who asked me where I see the market going (and we Realtors get this question every day). My answer is the over- building in less desirable areas is done. Those who bought on speculation in up-and- coming neighborhoods are being hurt the most right now. There are less people buying in these developments, so sales are down there... bringing the average numbers down for sales.

But sales prices remain strong in good locations. We see this time and time again. Unfortunately, there are folks with the attitude that home owners and developers are all losing their butt.... everywhere. Not the case. So, we see average prices up.

There are a TON of Chicago homeowners out there that bought 1999 to 2005 in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, Gold Coast's best locations etc... they are in great shape, so don't expect to get the place for a song.

It also needs to be understood that if you like the new construction more than the re-sale there is usually a premium.

Cub's President traded to Chicago Blackhawks

Well, sort of. John McDonough sees the writing on the wall and jumps to the Blackhawks. Hmmmmm... the sale of the Cubs should happen sometime next year so this is definately not the last move at the Wrigleyville compound.

Most of us Chicago natives and sports fans grew up loving the Blackhawks. They lost me two years after the 1992 Stanley Cup Fnals where the Hawks were swept by one of the greatest single teams ever (The Pittsburg Penguins). The year after they were swept in the first round by St. Louis... then they let the farm go. All my favorite players gone one-by-one.

The Blackhawks have a pretty exciting young team, new owner (the son of late Bill Wirtz) and now fresh blood in the front office. It's good to be talking about them again.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lincoln Park 60614 for under $400K

It can be done. If you're young and fun and want to live at Cleveland and Armitage (and who doesn't?), then it's a 1970's town home for you.

It's better than you think. There are generally two or three possibilities like this at any given time in the Chicago market. Two bedrooms, a family room, one-and-half baths... maybe two bathrooms. Parking (!) and patio in Lincoln Park.

The homes have some updates. But this location will always support your improvements for a strong re-sale.

Why do I care? Because too many clients these days want a new construction or rehabbed unit in a not-so-good location. Look, don't make this mistake. Get the resale in a killer location and update when you can. You'll thank me when you walk out onto Armitage and Halsted for dinner.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

See me at my Bucktown Open House

Just a reminder that I'll be at my Bucktown Open House Sunday from 11AM to 2PM. I may even stop reading the Sunday paper if you stop by. Really.

2333 W ST Paul #305

Scroll down a couple posts for the virtual tour link.

Friday, November 16, 2007

HGTV House Hunters on a Friday night

Awesome Friday night here for The Chicago Real Estate Local (T-CREL for you rookies). With an eight-month-old baby and a wife out at an extended happy hour (She's FREE!), HGTV and an Old Style is as good as it gets for a Chicago Realtor. It's my window to the world.

House Hunters is a pretty good show in that it clues you in for "what you get for the money" in different areas across the country. However, the client/real estate agent relationship is always so flat and ridiculous. The show also suggests it "takes you behind the scenes" as folks decide to buy a place or not. That's a stretch. You basically see them walk in a place and the agent points and says... "carpet on the floors".

They should make that part a little more realistic... trying to find a longer and more typical client/agent relationship while actually showing the decisions that have to be made. I know my relationships can be business like, friendly, or even really intense. But they are always more warm and involved than on House Hunters.

Secondly, I wish they would give a little more context concerning the area and market surrounding the homes. It would be a great boost to the areas I think.

I'm writing this because; 1. I'm lame, and 2. I just saw this episode about a couple who buys a modest second home in Italy. It was actually pretty interesting and inspiring.

I don't know if any of you saw the Chicago episode... now that was lame.

Visit me at my Open House this weekend in Bucktown

I'll be at 2333 W St Paul in Bucktown Saturday and Sunday from 11AM to 2PM. View Virtual Tour HERE.
Hit me up by email for open house schedule that make sense for you.

Much ado about Avondale Chicago

Not much time here... but wanted to point out a post at Yo Chicago and conversation about development in Avondale. This is a Chicago neighborhood where I see a lot of upside in buying and fixing up a home.

Check out the comments too.

I'll re-visit this subject in more detail when I have time. So don't hold your breath.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Retail sold in Chicago's North Center

This is a few days late, but an interesting reflection on an area not as well know to many first time buyers in Chicago... North Center.

The commercial space at 4020 N Damen, a popular and well built condo building, was sold for $4.2M. I think a large commercial sale is a good reflection on the strength of the retail in this area.

The shopping and restaurant choices along this stretch of Lincoln has continued to grow over the last five years since the condo building was completed. It's truly a strip were you can walk to, and get, just about anything you want.

You have your staples such as the Irving Brown Line (CTA), Jewel grocery store, Trader Joes, coffee shops, eye doctor, dry cleaners, video store, higher-end restaurants, casual bars and music venues, furniture stores, music store etc... all within a few blocks.

Prices for condos here are much more accessible than most Lakeview areas... and you're just a little northwest. The average updated two bedroom, two bathroom condo with parking is around $400K And that can get you an elevator building with garage parking. Sweet.

In the four block radius of the Lincoln/Damen/Irving intersection there are about eighteen two and three bedroom condos for sale and five units currently under contract. There are a good variety of styles, so the stock here can suit most needs.

There are eight single family homes for sale in this same radius ranging from $550K for a tear down to almost a million for a large frame re-sale. Homes can go for well over a million in this area. The important number to watch is really what it takes to get into a "move in" conditon home in the area... you're pretty much looking at $650K.

Desirable retail and a variety of housing stock in North Center.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bucktown home prices

I've seen a few nice re-sale single family homes in Bucktown from the 600K to $750K range. This is a news.

The houses provide easy commutes downtown, awesome retail and restaurants, and Churchill Field among other parks for sports and dog runs.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Five Stages of Buying in Chicago

Although not as dire as the Five Stages of Dying (or Grief), Buying in Chicago for many of my cients does take a trained professional to work through these physical and emotional stages:

The Doctor is IN

Denial: "I can't believe my lease will be up", "A two bed, two bath in Lincoln Park can't cost that much... can it?", "What do have for a single family in Bucktown for $500K...there has to be something?", "Can we come in $75K under?", "Multiple offer?".

Anger: "I'm not paying that!", "What are they crazy?", "Tell them we're walking over the GFCI outlets!", They paid what in a multiple offer!?", "If they want to sell it, this is what they get!". "Can't my Realtor find anything with a private roof-top for under $350K!?"

Bargaining: "Maybe they can leave the plasma and surround...", If they need us to close later, than we'll need a $3,000K credit to get out of the lease", "Well, the one on the first floor just sold, so maybe this is a good price", "Do you think the seller's will talk again after we walked over the GFCI outlets?", "Let them know we are interested if the contract falls through..."

Depression: "We should have bought that place.", "There's suppossed to be all this inventory, so why can't we find anything?", "There's nothing coming on the market".

Acceptance: "It looks like we'll have to bump up our price-point to get what we want", If I drop the second bath, I can get the location I really love", "So what you're telling me is the building sold-out for list price?", "I love the penthouse units, but they just won't work with a kid on the way... let's get that duplex-down in Bucktown we liked".

With moral support and the correct treatment, you'll be a home owner too.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Norman Mailer on Chicago

A wonderful snippet from Norman Mailer on Chicago via Lynn Becker's ArchitectureChicago Plus

Great find and punctuation upon a city.

I've added ArchitectureChicago Plus to my Chicago Local list.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Chicago's most famous neighborhood"

Just saw a craigslist ad for a multi-unit building... the ad headline suggests it's in Chicago's most famous neighborhood.

OK... Guess the neighborhood.

Now click on the link above.

Sunday Chicago Open House stories...

I have a rare Sunday "off" and I'm spending it watching my Packers (8-1) blow up the Vikings. But, I couldn't resist taking a peek at an open house in Ravenswood just down my block.

The place is a new conversion duplex down in a two flat building. I own a duplex-down, so I want to check out the competition along with previewing as many places as possible for clients. So in my Sunday best jeans and fleece, I made my way down the block.

When walking in, I always identity myself as a broker and I 'd like to check the place out. Now, after stating I'm a broker (and the agent there has met me before) you figure the agent would not have to point to the living room and tell me it was "the living room". I reckon you don't have to be in real estate to know it's the living room.

Annoyances aside, I proceed to take a look. Again, three bedroom, three bathroom, living room, family room, garage parking, nice kitchen with good sized deck adjacent.

Not a bad place, however there were some minuses here and questionable paint and layout choices. It has some nice formal room designations, but may not be open enough for some people.

However, with a $499K price-tag, it is a good alternative for a family looking to stay in Ravenswood. A move-in condition house, way outdated, will start at $600K in the neighborhood.

To get updated open house listings for any type of place you are looking for, please email or call me anytime. If we can't go out on showings, taking a look at some open houses is the next best thing.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bike the drive... I-355 style. Or, "I can't drive I-355!"

As long as I'm on the subject of cycling...

The long awaited for some, and bemoaned by others, south extension of I-355 is set to open. The only reason I know, or care, about this is my in-laws live in Lemont, IL. It's a growing burg on a rolling hillside once know for it's bad water quality in the past (according to a health study my wife did in college).

Lemont now is a really great place to live. There is a good variety of single family home stock, a new giant condo and town home development downtown, a continued growth is quality retail and restaurants (someone beat me to opening a boutique wine shop in the downtown) and a Metra stop.
Speaking of living there, my mother-and-law has been making the case for Jillian and I to buy a house there for years. I told them we'll move next door when we can turn their house into an old folks home for them and my parents... with hired help.

And now Lemont has the south extension of I-355. See the only way in and and out of Lemont really (to the highways) was Lemont Rd., which bottlenecked at the bridge. Now my father-and-law can cruise the open highway just outside there sub-division they built in just over 7 years ago.

So, hurry on over to the great southwest and bike I-355 on Sunday.

You may hear a chorus of
"I can't drive I-355!"

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Chicago Bike Maps: Ride your bike there next time

I was considering how out of shape and fat I'm getting and I realized I don't have the Chicago Bike Map posted. Maybe it will help me find my way to my bike.

The hardcores ride year round...
I have ceratin clients that prefer we cycle to showings on the weekends. It's awesome.

Here you go

It's now in the side bar as well.

Divison Street Wicker Park; "Most elegant in town"

Photo by

If you can't make fun of Realtors, who can you make fun of? I recently sent a listing on Division Street in Wicker Park to a client, in which the remarks... well... remarked:

"Luxury condo on most elegant street in town".

Really? Look, Divison is cool but if I wrote that, I'd make fun of me too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

High rise in Evanston: What are they smokin'?

This one's for my Evanston peeps...

Just a couple stories here concerning the next go around for a possible 40 plus story structure in downtown Evanston. Big.

The people don't seem to like it, but the city does and business folks do. My clients in Evanston are on the fence, but can't totally get their heads around a tower that size at that location in general.

Heres's some Background:

Chicago Business
Evanston Roundtable

Evanston Now

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Local goes to Rubloff

I recently accepted a position with Rubloff Residential Properties in Lincoln Park. The next few days may be rocky as I settle in at the new office and get all my new information out there. However, I'm pretty excited about the marketing and resources the long time Chicago company offers. I'm also excited about the garage parking in the heart of Lincoln Park... seriously, it's great.

If you have questions for me or want to look at some properties, just call or email from the information at this site. I'll have some Rubloff real estate links and property search options up in a day or so.

My clients have been taking up most of my time (thank goodness), so the "blog build" takes a back seat. See you in Lincoln Park.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chicago Tribune Real Estate Section

I love grabbing the Chicago Real Estate Section from the Tribune on my way out the door. Lately, I've slowed down enough to even sit and read it with a cup of coffee in the morning (I admit to giving another good blogger a hard time for actually reading a "print" newspaper rather than going online!).

But the truth is, he’s right. There’s not much better things than reading the real estate sections on Sunday in your favorite place at home. Mine being my kitchen hightop table...

I believe they truly feature stories that can set you on the right path when considering buying or selling a home. You can always skip the section and ask me, but maybe you like the Sunday paper too. More important still are the articles that deal with condo associations and mortgage finance.

For instance, one of the more interesting stories today concerned how folks are dealing with getting mortgages... and those who are providing options.

It seems that IRA holders are getting into the loan shark game to "fill the gap" on portions of mortgages. Just don't borrow from the guy named Joe Bag of Doughnuts....

Sunday Open Houses in Chicago

If you haven’t noticed already, there are A-LOT of open house in Chicago… particularly on Sundays. Tomorrow, in fact, I’ll take my clients to various showing appointments, including open houses throughout the day. They have limited time and the open houses give us the opportunity and flexibility to view as many places as possible. (BTW, if you have a kick-butt three bedroom town home with garage parking for sale, shoot me an email).

Sellers… as a marketing tool, the open house is great because it allows Realtors to easily schedule weekend showings of your property.

There are safety concerns to open houses and arguments to their effectiveness in selling homes. But, both these issues can be addressed. As in anything you do safety precautions can be taken in open house situations. And as for selling the home, the open house is a way to get showings… period. The have to be conducted with good advance advertising and professionalism at the “point of sale”.

Chicago… how do you feel about open houses? Have you ever walked by one during the house hunt and eventually bought the home? In my experience, consumers look for open houses to visit with the intent of making a purchase if it’s the “one”. On our first place, my wife and I walked into an open house for a new development in the neighborhood we targeted… and eventually bought the first unit in the building.

For a targeted list of Open Houses every weekend, just email me or call. Stop squinting at the newspaper! I'll be nice and set you up. I promise it's much easier on you.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Chicago furniture stores... not all the same

One of my favorite stops in Lincoln Square is Northern Home Furnishings. It's a real mix of furniture, but the best pieces are a sort of reserved modern style... German, Danish, Scandinavian.

Jill and I have purchased a terrific bed and dresser there for our guest room. It was our master set in our last condo, but now looks better in our guest room. My flat screen T.V. stand is from there. Recently, I popped in and found several new lamps that just came in... I'd been looking for some affordable cool lamps for our duplex for awhile. I picked out four different styles that really look great in the house.
Prices can be very competitive.

In fact we just picked up a new tall kitchen table with stools for $199! It looks higher-end, great color and the quality is terrific for an eat-in kitchen table. They ordered several of them as a promotional piece and they flew out the door. Seriously, I'm not cheap when it comes to furniture. The table actually looks and feels good.

It's a privately owned store (say hi to Michael and Helmut), so when picking up a good volume of furniture, make sure you bargain a bit. Also, they deliver and set up for free.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Streeterville and New Eastside for under $200K

Last weekend I met a client from Wisconsin downtown to view condos under $200K. Yes it can be done. And frankly, I'm jealous... young guy, gets his first big job out of grad school and moving to the City of Big Shoulders.

He'll land in a studio... but so what? You're in Downtown Chicago!

His criteria was to be two miles within Millennium Park. No prob.
To be honest, I initially thought we'd only find some badly placed units. You know, no light, next to air conditioning condensers, low floors, dumpy buildings. Maybe have to share a bathroom with the studio next door (just kidding).

However, I found a few places that were really nice... I could see my self living in them (when Jill kicks me out for bringing home a dog... but that's another story).

A couple favorites:

31st floor spacious studio unit in great shape with clear unobstructed views south at 400 E Randolph for $189K. This building is constructing a new work-out facility and has a unique location. Being so far east on Randolph gives it a little serenity. However, it's right across the street from Millennium Park and it's band shell... so you better love the music.

A modern and updated studio at 230 E Ontario for 189K in Streeterville. 21st floor and on a terrific location for happy hour action. Trader Joe's is close by as well! This unit also was bright. Less view, but a much more happening spot.

If I was single (and I'm soooo not single) and worked downtown, I would love the opportunity to buy a studio in one of these buildings. Renting one of these places can run $1,100 to $1,300. With a decent down payment, these resale units will make much more sense than renting. You have the option to hold on to the unit as well as you move up the property ladder.

Just watch out for the bridges.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Daylight Saving screw-up makes USA Today

Any publicity is good publicity.... I guess.

Forgive me as I advertise my Bucktown loft

My guy says sell it. Bucktown duplex loft (timber loft for those of you paying attention), huge terraces, parking, recent updates and elevator building. Live in Bucktown for $339K at 2333 W St Paul.

Give me a call/email... this same model sold in less than a week at $339,000 and this unit is more updated and has a larger second bedroom. No kidding.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Daylight saving fails to "fall back"

I woke up an hour later than expected Sunday morning. This would not be a big deal if I did not have clients out looking for properties. Oh, I wasn't late for them, but I was not able to do my usual research and emails to clients before heading out. See, I use my Blackberry as my alarm clock, and the software was set to the "old" fall back date of the last Sunday in October.

Sure, maybe I should have a back-up. But, Ryne usually wakes me up very early... no denying that alarm. But, he decided to sleep late in the morning after a restless night with a fever.

So, I feel gipped... lost an hour. Who's gonna give me it back? The Government?

We suspect a few folks with 11AM open houses scheduled were a little suprised too... as we were blanked at a couple.

Check out the USA Today story I'm in
Seems I was not alone.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Ryne Sandberg; It's a Chicago thing

Ryne signing a baseball I caught at a Cubs game for my Ryne earlier today in Roscoe Village.

On a beautiful spring day called May 1st, 1991 I was randomly selected to be a Chicago Cubs bat-boy. Actually it wasn't so random as the long time clubhouse manager Yosh Kawano hand picked me early before the game because I looked like I'd fit the uniform.

I did fit into it thankfully, as there was 17,000 plus fans there to watch me step onto Wrigley Field. At fifteen years old, a baseball player and big fan, it didn't get any better. There I am suiting up with Mark Grace, Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux, Rick Sutcliff, and of course, Ryne Sandberg. In fact I sat next to Sandberg's locker.

The day quickly got better as I played catch with then third baseman Gary Scott and stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the game's best, hat over heart, listening to the National Anthem. Then it was to work as I collected bats, sunflower seeds, gum and Gatorade for the players. Batter up! I took my seat in the dugout next to Sutcliff and Mike Bilecki as the starting Cubs took the field and future Hall of Fame picher Greg Maddux took the mound. While the Cubs were batting I sat on the field.

I have a million stories from that day. None cooler than meeting Grace, Sandberg and Dawson at home plate after Dawson's three run homer, giving high-fives and trotting into the dugout with three future Hall of Fame players (Grace and Dawson are not in yet, but will be). Maddux has been my favorite pitcher from the day he started with the Cubs.

Fifteen years or so later, my first son is born. Somehow my wife under the influence of considerable drugs from the labor, agrees to name our son Ryne. Although not entirely the reason for the name, I grew up watching Ryne Sandberg play baseball day in and day out. Watching those games was a joyous and important part of my childhood. Besides, we wanted an interesting name with a positive connotation. You could do worse than Sandberg and we hope our little Ryno enjoys the connection to a Chicago icon.

Scarecrows take over Lincoln Square

These scarecrows didn't even startle Ryne.

For classic Chicago fall ambiance, stroll around Lincoln Square and Ravenswood one of these afternoons or early evenings. If you are tired of the downtown grind, this may be for you.

Modernize your condo with new stair rails

I just negotiated a 10 year old duplex condo for my client at the southern edge of Lakeview.

It's time for some updates. One way to modernize your condo is to replace wood railings with iron, steel or glass. Of course you can combine different elements.

Maybe something like this? My contractor Jon Hill with Artistic Construction has a creative eye as well and will present many different options. These stair rails would probably be too traditional for him.

One thing I enjoy most about this career is helping my clients make home improvement decisions that both satisfy them and increase the value of their home. It's up to the owner however. Some people shy away from too personal of choices while others take chances to really create their own environment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Flipping homes in Chicago: A family affair

My brother-in-law called me out of the blue yesterday. He’s driving around the Humboldt Park neighborhood and asks me for market information concerning a home going to auction.

Now, this is not entirely unusual as he’s been in the mortgage business for awhile. But, homes going to auction? What the hell are you driving around Humboldt Park for?

Turns out he has become a real live house flipper with a couple partners. News to my wife and me. And in perfect brother-in-law fashion, he gives me a last minute “pop-in” phone call for some really important information. No problem Bro, I’ll just drop all my clients and the three deals I'm in the middle of…

And I did. See, it’s my wife’s sister’s husband, and they have two kids. All I was thinking is if I “prioritize” him, I’m taking food out of their kid’s (my nephew’s) mouths and Thanksgiving this year will be REAL awkward… well, so I do the research on the spot. Look, I’m a pretty good Realtor and it burned me a little that the dude’s in my city (he’s a dedicated suburbanite) snooping around real estate and he didn’t seek my advice way before hand.

BTW, the numbers show house transactions down %50 compared to the 2nd and 3rd quarters and home prices down by about 10% in that same comparison. However, move-in condition homes under $300K have sold in relatively short market times.

Okay, my ego aside, the brother-in-law and sister-in-law are pretty smart people and they have consistently showed each other support in these types of ventures. And brother John is a good numbers guy and has some contacts here and there. So, I believe they’re on the right track. But what about me? Turns out they don’t have a Realtor on the North Side and they could use some specific consultation. Thanks for the bone… dude.

Here’s what they need and here’s what I’m good at:

Right now they are focused on a certain price-point in emerging neighborhoods. They find the houses now, usually bank owned (REO) that go to auction. But they need advice on the market statistics concerning the single family homes, consultation on the finishes of the house, and a Realtor to market and sell it. Check, Check and Check.

If this thing takes off, maybe I’ll bird dog some houses too. But the foreclosure and auction game takes a lot of concentrated time and effort. My everyday bread and butter is being one of the top Buyer’s Agents in the city for residential real estate… and I’d be taken away from client research if chasing foreclosures.

However, because I do represent so many transactions all over the city and therefore know what buyers want, I’m in perfect position to consult on things like location, price, finishes and marketing.

This could be the start of a family empire and an HGTV show.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Englewood, Chicago for investment homes

I'll be in the Englewood neighborhood this afternoon researching investment homes with a client. She ownes three in the neighborhood. Basically, in areas with many foreclosed and dilapidated houses, there is need for investors to buy, renovate and care for the homes. The up-kept houses provide affordable low income housing, which is definitely in short supply.

This particular client currently rents homes in conventional lessee situations. But, with the accumulation of homes, she is interested in renting to those in the CHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Today, we are looking at single family homes in Englewood near Ogden Park. The target home is one that has already been renovated, has current tenants, and has an asking price of $100K or less. I suggested she contact the CHA in the meantime to become eligible to rent to those with CHA vouchers.

Check this report out on participating in the Section 8 program (now called The Housing Choice Voucher program).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Outdoor space is too important in Chicago

For $750K plus, I'd hope for better outdoor space. I don't believe these town homes in Ravenswood have roof top decks. If this is it... I'll pass.

New Development in Ravenswood Chicago

I’ve been following this strip of shuttered up businesses and apartments for awhile now. It was probably the last real eyesore on North Damen Avenue between Lawrence and Foster. I even had a good reader of this here blog doubt that it would be developed! Guess he had not visited the area in awhile. This was a long time coming considering the high end construction and homes already in the neighborhood for years.

As demolition is taking place, word on the street is these will be two bedroom, two bathroom condos with garage parking. Maybe about 14 units. Seven other multi-units developments on either side of this lot have been completed over the last three years. One just completed to the south is offering two bedroom plus den condos with garage parking starting at $450K.

I would imagine these units will start just over $400K if 1400 sq/ft and would top out at $450K if featuring roof top decks of some sort.

These are off-market but I may be able to arrange some information and a pre-construction deal with the developer.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Offering on a home...first

There is a strange phenomenon occurring this fall with many of my buyer clients… we are the first in to offer on a place the first week it hits the market. The problem is, sellers will not give up the goods, thinking that there will a flood of offers for their “greatest condo ever”.

The basic scenario goes like this:

My clients and I look at the best properties available over a month’s time. Suddenly, a new listing comes on that really fits the bill for this PARTICULAR buyer… we know this because we’ve seen everything else, really determined what is important, and also know how the market is shaking out by this time in the year.

The property is probably 30K to 50K above what I think it will really sell at. However, we know what we want and we’re willing to write the offer anyway (knowing all the while it stinks being the first in on over priced listings). So we offer on the place accordingly.

The seller comes down, we come up… we start talking about financing, closing date, earnest money and how we are going to make this work…

But we get stuck 10K to 15K apart. Here’s why:

The sellers have not found their dream home yet at this point. And they won’t accept an offer (unless it’s very close to their asking price) until they find the elusive dream home (in which they’ll turn around lowball that seller). So, even though I have a qualified buyer client ready and willing pay up with the seller’s making good money, the seller passes…

This is a mistake. There is no guarantee that more time on the market will mean more offers at higher dollar amounts. There is also a boat load of time and stress the sellers could have saved themselves by taking an early offer. They don’t realize the psychological effect that market time and price reductions have on potential buyers as well. There is more going on here than money…and it’s called TIMING.

A hard fact is that even if the seller lowers the asking price later to the same as our actual offer, the timing may be off and no offers come. This happens all the time. When the seller finds their next home and is then ready to deal, the buyers are suddenly not around. Boo hoo.

In these cases I work with my buyer client’s strengths and weaknesses to formulate a strategy. There are many directions to go. One might think, “If it’s over priced, wait until they lower it”. But by that time, someone else could sweep it up as the greater market gets wind of the lower price. The key is to dance the dance and make the case to get the deal done. And this takes skill.

Bucktown Open Houses this Weekend: Duplex condos

Here are a couple of my open houses this weekend in Bucktown:

I will be at 1939 N Damen both Saturday 10/13 and and Sunday 10/14 from 1PM to 4PM.
Check out the three bedroom, two and one half bath duplex down. Two car parking, massive sized rooms and highly upgraded.

Also, 2333 W St Paul #305 will be open from 1Pm to 4PM on Sunday 10/14It's a two bedroom one and one half bath. Parking is included in this
penthouse duplex timber loft.

Check out the photos and details by clicking on the pictures.

Also, check out the listing gallery HERE

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Google Street Maps frames Chicago

This is way cool.

Check out Chicago's downtown and hot commercial areas like Andersonville, Lincoln Square, Southport Corridor, Bucktown and the like.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cubs lose, but Chicago still needs food

Okay, I was just at the most depressing baseball game of my life earlier this evening. However, catching up on emails tonight reminded me of a client/friend that works a special Chicago institution. One that is a winner every year... unlike my Cubs.

Check out the link to The Greater Chicago Food Depository

I was just added to her professional network, and thought I'd point out the link to their web site. If you are thinking of volunteering, here's a good place to start.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

High end Ravenswood Chicago

Pictured here is a new construction development at the corner of Damen and Lawrence in Ravenswood. Three bedroom, two bathroom condos with garage parking start at $475K on the first residential level. You are three blocks from the Lincoln Square commercial and restaurant strip and very close to Andersonville (which I walk to from here all the time).

$475K to me is a little agressive... but the secret is out on this area of "middle" Ravenswood and they'll get this price. Transportation, restaurants, shops, parks etc... New construction product is in demand here, which was formely non existent.

Pictured below is a three flat project that is near completion. It will feature a duplex-down, a simplex middle floor, and a duplex-up. This type of building along Damen avenue has been successful, with all previous construction selling out quickly. New construction duplex-down units of 2400 sq/ft sell for $550K, middle floors at $450K and the top floor units have caught over $600K previously.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

ArtWalkRavenswood next week: The 6th Tour of Arts & Industry

This is one of the cooler events in and around Ravenswood and Lincoln Square. Click the link above for all the information. I've been shopping art since moving into the new place... I'll have to find time to visit a few of the exhibitors before the Cubs this weekend.

Bucktown shopping: Wow and Zen

One of the perks of running around the city listing and selling real estate is the shopping. I get to discover stores all over the city to recommend to friends and clients.

I recently bought a set of three wood window sceens from Wow and Zen for about $100 (similar to the screens pictured above). My home is consistently Scandinavian, so splashes of reserved Asian and Buddhist arts and crafts spices up the look. I'll hang them on the wall behind my Baseline sectional sofa in the living room.

Bucktown is known for it's expensive boutique shopping. But Wow and Zen is very affordable... allowing you to bring natural materials and high quality work into the home. Visit R.J. often for your moment of zen.

Lincoln Square koi pond

Ryne likes his quiet moments where he can contemplate life's big issues... like where's his next bottle, crushed peas, naps and well... gas.

There are few spots more suited than this local resident's koi pond. What makes this special is that it's located in the front of the property, near the sidewalk where everyone can enjoy it. But that's Lincoln Square for you.

The waterfall

The koi

The waterfall/koi pond was built in the front of a typical Lincoln Square two flat. A dated two flat in good shape on a standard Chicago lot will run you over $600K in the neighborhood.