Thursday, May 31, 2007

Remodeling your Chicago home after purchase

My clients are in the midst of a Lincoln Park single family home purchase and will begin remodeling shortly after. I have strong relationships with several service vendors, including Jon Hill, owner, Artistic Construction. My current clients did not know where to start and leaned on me to provide people quickly to estimate remodeling costs and get the job done. We met at the home early yesterday to evaluate the work and brainstorm ideas.

The photos show Jon measuring stair and ledge rails. My clients are thinking of replacing the rails for a different look and for child safety reasons. Jon suggested building four to five foot walls with decorative glass or iron work on the tops. This will make the hallway, stair and dining area ledges safer, add a cool look, and keep the sight line open for this contemporary home.

Jon Hill can be reached for remodeling needs at:
Artistic Construction

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rogers Park condo offers views, tranquility

There is no secret that there are a lot of condo conversions in Rogers Park. My clients and I looked at quite a few in their search as first time buyers. They scored with this little beauty at Greenleaf and Damen. They found the building on and open house hunt, and loved the location.

This is just a gorgeous spot among single family homes, condo conversions, three flats and existing apartment buildings. This is a much less dense area of Rogers Park near the Metra station . Seriously great view from the balcony off the living room. When choosing a place to live, consider the view.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Reception with clients in Lincoln Park: The fun part

Thanks everyone for coming out May 11th to another great client party. There was a lot of, "Where did you buy?", and, "I bought an awesome condo in Lakeview on Kenmore", or, "I got this great duplex in Northcenter".

Where ever you ended up, I'm glad we worked together during the purchase process. And it makes me feel even better to see my clients come out and meet each other.

The Mayan Palace did a great job... even though the weather turned a little south (COLD). Oh well. I think the food and drinks took care of that.

See you at the next client get together.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Let me take over the listing: Selling your home in Chicago

Sorry if this sounds like a sales pitch. But here is a little reality to selling your home. You can micro-manage or let me take over. I promise things will go easier and I will sell your home or condo faster (or at least, with less time investment and "what ifs" on your part). What the hell am I talking about? Listing your home and you getting out of the way.

Of course, the first thing we'll do is get together with the market information and current trends to decide on a listing price. The listing price will also be determined partially on how well we manuever the list below. I can do as much of the following list as you need (to an extent). To save you time, I suggest helping me- and letting me- proceed with these steps.

Secondly, I explain our Brokerage marketing and my team's philosophy for selling the
property. We want to work with you to provide the maximum amount of possible showings... with each showing realized as a real opportunity for the sale of the property. There has to be some ground rules laid so we all understand when the property can be shown and how it will be done. Having your place on the market is a real shocker... but I leave no question marks.

What I need you to do:

1. Collect information.

For a condo, I will need your condo declaration (the phone book sized packet handed to you during attorney approval when you bought the place). Get the meeting minutes, building management information and Condo Association Board contacts to me ASAP. I'll want to look into the building to investigate the buildings health and difuse any potential unknowns to a buyer. Information is key. I'll grill you and the condo board/management for the whole picture so things go smoothly later on in the transaction.

2. Keys
I'll need keys for showings, for the storage, garage etc...

3. Utility Bills
Have your average utility cost in hand. I'll order the official document from the utility companies, but your first hand information will help

4. Remove all personal photos and clutter from the home

Standard practice. Just pack them up like a "pre-move". I'll help stage the home to sell, not for you to live in (more below).

5. Clean
Clean like the wind. Or, let me hire a cleaning company to do the initial deep cleaning. For most, it is understood what is clean and what is not. However, clients that don't wnat to go the extra mile in cleaning the place are in for a long market time.

What I will do for you:

1. Consult on the condition of the property, needed improvements and preparation of the property for showing.

I will bring in a general contractor with me to make suggetions on touch ups and repairs to the home before showing. Many clients struggle to believe me and invest a little money in preparing the home for sale, even though they are trying to make a profit... and sell their home in a reasonable amount of time.

2. A MUST are the following basic touch ups and repairs we can set up:
Fresh paint if needed including wall repairs, base-boards and trim. Caulk bathroom and kitchens. Glaze bath tubs if needed. Repair/replace all lighting...add lighting. Clean, clean, clean. Repair any malfunctioning windows (everyone opens windows when interested in a place). Buy air fresheners such as Glade plug-ins. Fix any broken or malfunctioning items that come with the home. Service the mechanicals of the home (furnace, water heater, air-conditioner condenser).

3. Rearrange your furniture
Leave your furniture... or, get it out if we ask. But let us work with it (you may have a flair too... in that case, no problem). Staging an empty home with furniture is a pretty large investment on your part and can be less than cost effective depending on the expected profit margin from the sale. Try to keep some of your furniture in the house... that we can actually work with.

The above list without you doing any of the work, usually runs about $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the condition of the home. It can be less if you paint and clean yourself... but time is money too. If there is profit potential, let me come in with my professionals to prep your home and market for top dollar.

There is no "testing" the market with a home in less than top condition. This is a mistake that will cost you more than preparing your home in the first place. If you don't want to invest the time or make decisons... just write a check and let us take over.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Wrigleyville and Lincoln Park condo price break

My previous post was about the price point in which one must jump on a Lincoln Park single family home. It's the price when a "move in condition home" will attract an immediate flood of offers.

This price break has been evident for new construction and like-new condos in Wrigelyville and Lincoln Park as well. I have represented clients on two such examples and witnessed another on one of our new construction developments.

I guess this may seem like a ridiculous concept. But we just pretty much know when a certain condo of certain location and quality will attract major attention and sell...either coming on the market at the right price or adjusting to that magic number later.

The trick is keeping track of the properties so you know when to jump. My philosophy is offering at this price from the start. Regardless of the price a listing comes on, I figure out at what price that unit would sell, say, yesterday, and open with a bid there. It takes making the case to the seller that they will end up at that price anyway. So why sit on the market $50K over priced?

You will get a true gauge of how motivated and realistic the seller is. If they do not accept your terms (and the case you made), keep things cool. They can always come back to you when they adjust the price accordingly.

Of course, I cannot comment on any of these homes until they close... but hopefully I'll remember to re-visit this post at that point. However, I'll always provide my analysis on a prospective property you may be interested and apply this brilliant theory.

Again, sellers must realize that they can blow this first good offer and end up sitting for a long time... they must realistically consider the price of the unit and not be afraid of "pricing too low". A "low" price in relation to other comps will most likely generate a list offer of multiple offers that push the price up. This will cut out uncertainty and low ball offers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Lincoln Park move in

It has become very evident in recent months what price for a "move in" quality single family home in Lincoln Park will... well, move the home.

Oh, there is no truly magic number. Let's just say we know it when we see it.

First, you have to know a move in quality home is. It's not the totally pimped out, lavish, up-to-the date home. That home is a little more subjective
No, its the house that- if you would have to stretch for to get into a better neighborhood... "well, we may not like the outdated finishes, but we can move in and not have to do anything major..." home. And bam! When this home hits the right price... it's gone.

How will you know? And will you be ready?

For instance, there are a few tiers of homes in this "move in" category. There is the group that went on really high and the market has rejected them. Then, those homes go into the "finally dropped the price a little group".

A guy like me takes a shot at this point to see if they are ready to actually sell at market rates. This can go well... but usually goes badly.

Then, the the final tier... "drop to that magic number to generate offers" house. There will be multiple offers at this point.
Before you know it... the house is gone.

Tough time to come in low

I have had several clients offer somewhat low on properties and sellers are holding out. It's been a long couple weeks of writing, researching, talking... late nights making sure I'm not missing something. But who can blame my clients? There is alot of negative talk about the market and everyone wants a steal. Problem is, the reality does not play out this way. Homes in desirable areas will not be given away. Period. Fire sales are rare... if you do spot one, you have to trust yourself (and me when I tell you to jump) and jump. But again, tis is rare.

I wonder if any of these sellers will come back to us. I see a lot of buyers coming in pretty strong too when a property just hits the market- only to have the sellers get a little over confident and test the waters. Usually sits after that.

How to break this cycle?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Who is buying Chicago real estate? The needy...

So my new condo building "developer turn-over" meeting turns into a raging party Thursday evening (if I didn't answer your call or email... now you know). Turns out, everyone in our intimate six unit Ravenswood hamlet can GET IT DONE when you light up the bar-b-que and pass around the Peroni and Mondavi. I know, I know, Mondavi... it was a house warming gift. Even mom and dad (us truly) can still get it done.

During one of the rapid rounds of conversation, my next door neighbor asked me soemthing like "what you think about real estate now that things are going sideways". He meant, "things are bad, what are you going to do to feed your kid?"

Funny thing is, he asked this at a party (er... meeting) of six recent real estate consumers. Real estate changes my friends, but doesn't go away. In fact, it's as dynamic as you get.

I promptly let him know this is a career. Good Realtors, if you will, are not timing the market... jumping into real estate when the market's "hot" and getting out for a 9 to 5 when it's "not". Career Realtors know there are people that NEED to buy and sell a home every day, every week, every year. I mean this country is founded on property ownership to an extent (took Europe a long time to catch up... and they are still catching up). And those NEED circumstances are universal... never going away.

I know this because of the 16 hour days I work (weekends too) from January until October with a little get-a-way here and there. Just ask my kid. On second thought, don't ask my kid. He probably thinks I'm the handy-man stopping by the house once- in-a-while.

What am I getting at? Work with someone my broker calls a Career Realtor. The only timing we know is its TIME to get it DONE when you're in NEED of a home.

Read about the need from my past column and my guy Geno

Chicago Open House 522 W Oakdale #2W Sunday 5/6/07 1PM to 4PM

Rebecca Siffel will be hosting an open house at 522 W Oakdale in lovely East Lakview this Sunday. View the Virtual Tour Here

Any questions, give me a call.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"Best Of" list for Chicago New Developments

Yo Chicago roles out a list of their Best Of in new construction and new conversions. I''ve been to many of these and will comment later when time permits (which will be never probably).

Call/email to check these places out on private showings.

Chicago condo inspection tips from a pro

I have several inspections this week of new and re-sale condos that my clients have purchased. One of the main reasons they decided on the homes is the good, solid feel the condos gave them. Its kind of an intangible, "This place just feels good". But that's no accident. You usually get that feeling from condos that were well constructed and have great layouts in general. When you look at 10 places and one just seems better from the moment you step in... it usually is better!

Yo Chicago contributer Tom Corbett offers up some things to look for when shopping condos. These indicators may help you decide one development or re-sale condo over another when you've narrowed things down.

I usually get a good feeling one way or another about a development pretty quickly. We like to say, "Don't let the flash of new appliances and counter tops fool you, determine if this place is solid and lays out well". We as in some fellow agents an me. Read Tom's article linked above for a list of indicators the pros look for.

My pet peave has been bad wood around doors and trim... it's the first thing I look for and advise my clients we may have an issue.