Monday, April 30, 2007

Discuss earnest money with your attorney

Many of my clients do not understand "earnest money" and it's role in a real estate transaction when making an offer. Basically, it's a deposit towards the purchase price and closing costs that will "hold" the home for you prior to closing. The ernest money is held in a separate escrow account and released as determined by the transaction.

Basically, it is confidence money for the seller that you are serious about purchasing the property and are taking the proper steps to do so. The seller can be confident to take the property off the market with an accepted contract because a buyer's default will result in the seller keeping the earnest money.

To understand how to protect your earnest money as a buyer and understand your obligations in a real estate transaction always consult a qualified real estate attorney. Here is a little example that shows this is not always well understood.

That said, each transaction is different and earnest money deposits will differ as well. New construction homes in which you customize with personal selections may require 5% to 10% of the purchase price. If the buyer defaults, the developer may have to change the selections to accomodate another buyer... very costly.

I try to protect buyers with the lowest, but fair, earnest money amount possible. I once negotiated a deal with only $2000.00 total earnest money on a Rogers Park condo. With all the surrounding competition, the developer never even asked us to raise the earnest money...even though the home wasn't closing for months and my clients customized the units.

Housing and our urban setting in Chicago

Great conversation about to begin on Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg on WGN AM about our neighborhoods and housing issues in terms of race and economics. I'm looking forward to it... if you miss the program this evening and want to listen, check out the archives. Milt posts shows that you can listen to or download to your I-POD.

One of the guests in the evening has authored a book about the Kenwood neighborhood and surrounding area.

Houses fly in Abraham Lincoln Elementary School district

I've had several clients turning there attention to the Lincoln Elementary Public School District as of late. Looks like the parents want to get settled in their new home this summer before the fall semester. In this traditional cycle of family movement, you have to act fast. Few single family homes (including row homes) hit the market in this district for under $1.25 million... and when they do you must be ready to act with confidence.

In fact, for 1.2 and under, there are pretty much two choices...a row house that may or may not have owned parking and town homes. That's it. The advantage to the rowhouse is the fee simple ownership without assessments. Most town homes will hit you with a $400 to $800 assessment, but do give you more flexibility of location, styles and size.

Recently, several row homes have been snatched up quickly this spring... one at Clark and Dickens, another a smidge north on Lincoln Park West, a goner on Fullerton at Orchard... I think another on Orchard sold in 10 days near Saint Clement School

Facts are facts... a move in row house and single family home will not last in this district. You need to know when they hit and move on it if planning on sending your kids to Lincoln Elementary Public School.

Check this site for school district maps... and call the school to double check that you will live in the district!

Photo from Chicago Landmarks

Saturday, April 28, 2007

2040 Belmont in Roscoe Village... hot building

Just a quick note (this is not my listing, just my observation)... the 2040 W Belmont condo building has been hot. These two bedroom, two bath units feature huge master suites, great closet space, one and two car garage parking, attractive kitchens and great layouts. Homes in this building have sold at much better than average market times over the past two years.

I have many buyer clients in the $350-$400K price point. This has become a favorite building to show when units are available. This spring a second floor model listed at $374,900 with one garage space went under contract in under 30 days. I showed this with a client and predicted as much when it first hit the market. He passed to make his way east for a higher price-point.

Recently, I just completed a negotiation for my client on a top floor model with two-car garage parking. This one made it only 10 days. There was another last season of this same model on the third floor that sold in 3 days. This is rare in the eyes of the buying public. However, the condos feature a terrific balance of equitable bedroom sizes, ample dining area, smart kitchens and a Roscoe Village address. Two car parking is rare, and with many other two bedroom condos selling for $400K in Roscoe Village, Lincoln Square... and of course Lakeview with one parking space... why not get two garage spaces?

I'm showing another unit on the second floor that just hit the market for the same price as the one under contract. In this spring market, and with an apparently popular building, I don't expect it to make three weeks. I feel the condos are very nice looking and a great value compared to the handful of competing models in the area.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ravenswood single family homes: Off market

Updated with photos of the new construction homes in Ravenswood: The Metra line is to the east and an existing successful townhome development is to the south. Existing single family homes sit adjacent on the north. These existing homes are in varied condition.

There are some cool off-market and preconstruction choices for single family homes available in the Ravenswood neighborhood. A five home development is going up at the corner of West Winnemac and North Ravenswood. These are frame homes... but huge. The first is just about framed out.

They are on what looks to be standard lots, but offer three floors of living. The height of the home suggests at least 10 foot high ceilings on each level. They are a minimum of 3500 square... detached garage will allow for a deck or yard area. I'm not sure what they are going to do, but the best combo would be to leave the yard space and put roof top deck on the garage.

I have not been able to find any information on these homes as of yet, but will be onsite to find out who the developer is and what the prices will be (I do have the marketing information now and will call for information). I'm guessing a minimum of $850K, but would not be surprised if they are closer to a million. The location is perfect for the commuter who wants the Metra Union Pacific North Line to downtown or Evanston...15 minutes either way from this stop.

There are also two conversion homes for sale in the 1.2 million range at the end of my block. These are brick and stone two flats converted to single family homes. Located near the Metra Line, the Damen Brown Line stop, Winnemac Park, Lincoln Square and Andersonville...these homes have location covered. They are situated on a quiet street and have oversized lots...about 25x150. You get a nice yard area and garage with the extra long lot.

These homes have not been marketed on the MLS. It's also a good time to get in and customize. If you are looking for high end homes around Lincoln Square and Ravenswood, and did not know about these off market choices, please give me a call. I will arrange showings.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

REALscheduling: Viewing properties 24/7

When and how do you like to view properties? Most of you do something like this: You think about owning a home and have a few neighborhoods in mind. You hit the PC or MAC (usually at work!) during the day and the wee hours of the night and view property listings ‘til our eyes fall out. You may slip into an open house from time to time on your weekends. But what happens when you really want to find a home and you want to make the best decision?

You contact me.

This is a very common scenario for many people as has been proven by the top consumer surveys dealing with buying real estate. However, I like to see property with clients as soon as possible. The fact remains that as good as virtual tours are, and I do love them, nothing beats scheduling private showings and viewing several of the best options on the market. Live and up- front.

If your agent is good, and I am, you will see the best options in the most neighborhoods in the shortest amount of time by working with a Realtor. During these private showing schedules, you will also pick up the knowledge you need to make a great home purchase for you and your family.

For example, while checking out a Lakeview three bedroom, two bath with a roof top deck and parking east of Halsted, why not learn a little about living in a condo building? What’s the difference between buying a new construction home versus a re-sale? How does earnest money work? What’s a good offer? These conversations and more happen when viewing property, scoping out neighborhoods, ducking into coffee shops (or for a glass of wine).

My take is, if you are interested in owning, get out with me and check out some places. I’m available for scheduling at anytime during the week and weekends with notice…sometimes same day. Scheduling showings can be a logistic challenge with your limited time. I’ll maximize those opportunities by helping you view, and learn about properties. 24/7.

By the way… with a three week old at home, I am up 24/7 viewing properties and scheduling my clients… literally.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Chicago real estate transaction: Protecting my clients

Attorney Peter Olson at Closing Real Estate in Chicago offers a ten point list of protecting and enhancing a client's real estate transaction. The nod is towards what an attorney should be doing for his/her clients.

As an agent, I should know what an attorney can do for my clients as well! That is, the agent and attorney should be a team, pulling out the stops for their clients. On the buy or sell side, an agent should have a plan. If the agent and attorney have a good relationship, less detail will be missed and the client will benefit.

The above linked article is a good example of the complex inside steps both a good attorney and agent will help you manuever... if you know they are or not.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Chicago Open House: 522 West Oakdale

I'll be at my new listing for an open house this weekend, Saturday April 7th at 522 West Oakdale from 12PM to 2PM. The unit is a one year old new conversion priced at $434,900. Great place if you like a beautiful building on a great East Lakeview street.

Two bedroom, two bathroom one year old gut rehab of a gorgeous ornate building…only steps from the lake, Clark and Diversey entertainment shopping, Broadway shops and restaurants and lakefront parks. The condo was the model unit for the conversion. Split floor plan with terrific living room/dining area you can actually entertain in! Small 6 unit building.

-Living room is 24x22 (“L” shape) with new oak hardwood floors and large designated dining area. Full wall of windows and bay area. Thick crown molding and baseboards.

-Master bedroom is 13x11, has a walk in organized California Closet and master bath. Marble surround in shower/flooring and granite vanity top.

-Second full bath, marble throughout

-Kitchen with Cherry cabinets, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, and adjacent deck

-Huge storage area with additional common storage area in basement. Bikes, camping gear, furniture… you name it

-Parking included and on site

-Taxes to be determine-Assessment is $266 and includes water, common insurance, snow removal, maintenance and janitorial/scavenger


Monday, April 02, 2007

CTA slows down for you to smell the roses

It's well known that the CTA has ramped up their expansion project by haulting service (figuratively speaking of course).

Any stories from the front this morning... I think they are saying that the evening will be worse.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

New Listing: The East Lakeview home you have always wanted

Hi Gang,

Well, I'm one week into fatherhood which means I'm either: a. tired, b. delirious, c. thinking about real estate, oh, just a little less, or d. all of the above.

Answer: a, and b, are pretty good bets.

I'm thinking real estate big time. It's spring market in Chicago and sellers are putting their best foot forward. My clients are negotiating hard on the buy-side and getting their homes ready on the sell. Crain's predicted a slow, anguished selling season in a short (but not short on the negative) article concerning more dooms day for sellers in the March 26th edition. My take? What do you have and how much do you want?

Fortunately, my latest listing to hit this week is a winner. Here's a sneak description before it goes market Monday:

Located on the Lakeview and Lincoln Park border, 522 W Oakdale is a two bedroom, two bathroom second floor condo with parking space included. One year old conversion of a truly gorgeous vintage building with a total gut rehabbed interior. Former model unit with extra luxury crown molding, baseboards, chair rails and custom paint. California closets throughout including a master suite walk-in. Pass by cherry cabinets, stainless steel appliances, and granite counter tops in the kitchen on your way out to the deck. Huge storage area in the full basement (wide open) for bikes, camping gear, extra furniture... you name it!

The home is set apart in this location and price point by it's extra wide living room and designated true, full-size dining area. However, the floorplan is flexible enough for several layouts. A wall of oversize windows lets the south light in all day. The separate kitchen from the living room gives the home a distinct feel from end to end, while adding a touch of formality.

This prime East Lakeview location is steps from the Lake Michigan amenities and fun, the Broadway/Clark and Diversey intersection shops, restaurants and nightlife, the Diversey Driving Range, theatres and more. On the border of Lincoln Park and Lakeview, 522 West Oakdale allows you to experience the two most popular neighborhoods in Chicago.

Asking $434,900
Assessment $266
Taxes undetermined
-in unit washer and dryer
-custom lighting
-central air conditioning
-pets okay
-parking space included, assigned
-extra large storage
-all new window, walls, electrical, plumbing throughout
-two full baths
-intimate, 6 unit building

Contact me about this listing or to locate properties that fit your needs... check the side bar for my contact info and business website.

I've provided "off-market" showings to several of my clients this weekend, so we'll see.