Thursday, June 28, 2007

Not your average West Loop loft

I just prepped and listed 550 W Harrison for market. Two bed, two bath timber loft with expsoed brick. It's a corner unit with awesome windows and garage parking included. Granite and stainless kitchen, hardwood floors, new paint and touch-ups throughout. Master suite with marble and granite baths, double bowl vanity and giant windows. New furnace to boot.

Located at Harrison and Clinton. Easy walk to the Blue Line, Union Station (Sears Tower) and Loop business district. Stroll to Pazzo and it's terrific atrium for a meal. On site doorman, dry cleaners, exercise room (nice) and cool lobby.

Easy city living for under $350K.

Just listed and its late... so better information to come.

Lay off the red when painting your Bucktown condo

My clients tossed me the keys to their empty duplex condo and basically said, "Sell it". Thanks guys... now, I just need a few little changes.

The condo is at the 2333 W Block of St. Paul... a popular area to buy an affordable two bedroom condo with parking, near transportation and a short walk to awesome retail/bars/restaurants.

The best feature of the condo is the top floor master suite with a massive private terrace. It is also a timber loft with tall ceilings.

The condo needs some work to be show ready. But on a limited budget (with all work to be contracted out) I had to carefully pick out the areas I would improve to make the place ready for sale. The problem areas are pictured above.

With a budget of $1,200, I've put my team to work:

1. Paint all the red walls a neutral off-white... the unit will smell fesh and new from the paint and the walls will pop off the existing "khacki" color we'll keep. Red can make a decent accent color (or main room color for the right space), but in this case made the loft look dark. Cost is about $250 for paint and labor.

2. Improve the master bath. We decided the paint could stay. But we will re-tile the tub and re-caulk the tubs, sinks and baseboard areas. Cost is about $800 for materials and labor for our bathroom make-over.

3. Hire professional cleaners. $100

4. Place floor lamps in dark areas. No cost, already have the materials.

5. Place Glade "Plug-ins" throughout to provide a suttle, neutral scent. Negligible cost, already have a supply.

6. Place decor items in kitchen and baths... even thought the place is empty, these touches of every day life are inviting. Cost is about $50-100 for each listing for these basic decor items. After awhile, you gain a lot of pieces.

Don't take a chance... $1,000 to $2,000 spent wisely will move your condo faster. The coolest thing for me is taking the listing, drawing up the preparation and marketing plan, then executing for my clients. They never have to be around or lift a finger (however, it's cheaper if you're a good painter!).

Stay tuned for the after pictures.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

TIMBER! Two timber lofts hitting the market Monday

Get your timber loft on in West Loop and Bucktown today. I have two lofts hitting the market in the $350K range.

Two bed, two bath with a parking sapce in Bucktown... killer master suite and massive 10X20 terrace...$359K

Two bed, two bath loft in West Loop by the Blue Line, highways and short walk to South Wacker Drive business district...$349K.

Both units are being touched up and show great... both ready for move in.

Pictures up mid-week.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Plants are people too

Saw this little cry for help on the 4700 block of North Hermitage. Happily, Ryne and I obliged.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Walk in West Andersonville Gardens

I like a good walk, and these days a walk with my boy comprises most of my social life.

West Andersonville Gardens pictured here stretches from the 5100 north block of Ravenswood (at West Winnemac) to about the 5900 N block (at West Rosehill in front of The Fireside).

Well, the actual "gardens" probably do not make it all the way to The Fireside, but this stretch of road is a great way to kill some time and admire “going green thumb” in the city for real. And, I don’t know… end up having a few beers along the way.

In fact, there are lot of great spots and stops along the West Andersonville Garden walk. Check out my fave The Ravenswood Pub. Many of my friends and I use to go to this place all the time back in the day for drinks, smokes, classic juke box... and a game of pool. Now, it's a great mix of old school VFW and modern bar amenities. Great specials and events. The bar owners are some really great people... people... so check this place out.

Maybe brunch at Paulines is your thing... or a glass of wine at dusk at Joie de Vine

Join the West Andersonville Neighbors Together (WANT) in planting days each summer. The latest one is this Saturday 6/23/07!! I have to work.

Chicago Open House: South Loop Loft

Visit one of my newest listings this Sunday June 24th at 1631 S Michigan 1PM to 4PM. Call me or email at 773-975-2123 or email in the sidebar to see this home.

If you ever considered living in the South Loop, you need to take a look at this place. You will not find anything near this size and quality in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Near North, Old Town or the Loop.

GARAGE PARKING and two STORAGE SPACES included in the price.

Open House Sunday 6/24/07 from 1PM to 4PM at 1631 S Michigan, #305


Two bedroom, Two Bathroom at Popular Tandem Lofts. Best tier in building.
*Garage Parking Included in Price*
Elevator Building
Two Exterior Storage Spaces Included in Price!

Formal entry foyer, tons of in unit storage…
Kitchen: Stainless Steel, Granite, Maple with huge Island
Master Bed: Huge windows, exposed brick, 6X6 walk in closet, double vanity in bath
Second Bed: Huge windows, balcony, 6X6 walk in closet, exposed brick
Living room: New fireplace and mantel, wrapped in windows, exposed brick, balcony on Michigan Avenue!
Large dining area with pendant lights
Corner unit, 10 foot plus windows throughout!

LOW Assessment $350 includes HEAT
LOW Taxes $3,458

New in the last five months: New paint and crown molding, new high end refrigerator and washer and dryer, touch ups in baths and all rooms, new custom lighting, new fireplace and mantel… This place is immaculate, bright big, unique and lives easy.

Why get a small high-rise unit with high assessments, no storage etc… when you can get a unique, cool space with true bedrooms, tons of storage, character, and prime garage parking for under $400K, everything included. Great place close to the Loop, Lakefront, Museum Campus, Firehouse Restaurant, Jewel, new retail on Roosevelt, Orange… you name it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday in the biz

Sunday... 9:30am to 11:30am with a client looking at three bedrooms in the Lincoln Square, Northcenter and Ravenswood areas. Were going back for a couple probables and one off-market condo we have not seen. I'm a particular expert in this market... three bedroom condos, duplex units and townhomes on the north and northwest sides.

12:00 noon to 1:00PM... Drive to Bucktown, prep for an open house at five bedroom, three and one half bath single family home at 1845 Winchester. While there, I wrote up a listing agreement for a client's condo and organized the paper-work. It was a good afternoon and I spoke with a couple groups that were definately new construction home buyers in the $1.5M range this house is in. I met another couple looking for a three bedroom condo in Bucktown for $450-$550K. We discussed some options and I look forward to working with them.

After the open house I met clients for a walk-through of their single family home they are closing on tomorrow in Lincoln Park. This has been a pain-in-the-ass negotiation and a good walk through was necessary to check the condition of the home. Looked good, outside of a minor issue. The single family home was listed at $1,099,000. Watch fro the closed price tomorrow!

After the walk-through my clients and I met to go over their listing and the preparation prior to putting the place on market. Got them covered.

At 7:00pm, met back with my client to write an offer on one of the three bedrooms we saw earlier in the morning. We talked strategy throughout the afternoon and prepared the offer at my home.

12:00 Midnight... writing this blog post. I'm sure something happened today in the world, but I only know what was going on in Northcenter, Lincoln Square, Bucktown, Lincoln Park and Ravenswood... not in that order.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Looking for love in all the wrong places...

Remember people... it's location, location, location.
If you are going to live a little west and a little north... go all the way. Edison Park has an outstanding down town strip of restaurants, bars and shops to pass the time (when you're not taking care of your Chicago Bungalow and yard...). If you are considering this neighborhood, do what you can to live near this quaint down town area. I wish there was more of this type of thing all throughout the northwest of the city.

Saw some great houses out there today from $400-500K.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bottom of the market? Just some thoughts...

Sorry for the tiny, somewhat weak rant here but...

We just had a little conversation in my brokerage the other day about the bottom of the market. It is also a common theme we hear from some "would be" home buyers... "I'll wait until next year, or, two years from now and get the same condo for half the price!"

Unfortuantely, it doesn't work this way. If there is a bottom of the market then builders will stop building and converting units... rent out their existing units or sell for a slight discount over the other sold units. Existing units in nice neighborhoods in nice locations with the best views and finishes will become more valuable as construction slows.

There is such a thing as buying at the top of the market. That may have happened to some over the last two years, but a home is a home. You bought it to live in it, not for the sport of the investment. You may build equity and rent it out if you have to move... or just stay put. Or, if forced to move fast without improving the home, some may lose a couple bucks (but this has been the case at almost any point in market history).

But in Chicago, good luck waiting for the bottom in the likes of Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Gold Coast, River North, Bucktown, Ravenswood and many other desirable neighborhoods.

You may get a re-sale, upper bracket home for less than people paid in 2005...this is a luxury buy anyway. But don't count on this for $300-$700K condos and single family homes in the aforementioned neighborhoods. They will retain their value because people have dozens of reasons to live here.

So buyers... don't expect sellers to do back flips for you if they live in one of the great Chicago neighborhoods. Don't expect that bottom to magically appear if you want to live in Lakeview on a tree lined street with parks five minutes in one direction and nightlife five minutes in the other. Oh, and work a 20 minute "L" ride away...

Keep trying to game the market ...and watching everyone else buy homes, build equity and move up to the next purchase.

Price ain't going nowhere for you. And I don't feel sorry for spec buyers. I work with people who want to really live in this city and can't stand renting anymore. There's a lot of us.

Something different in South Loop

View Virtual Tour Here:

Take a look at this new listing of mine in South Loop. I represented my clients on the purchase of this loft last October. Retired, hip and artsy, they loved the openess, exposed brick, giant windows and full walled bedrooms of this home.

They now decided they would like a super high floor in a full amenity building!! Must be nice to change on a whim. They won't have the detail and size of this condo in the next place, but they will enjoy the downtown high-rise lifestyle. So... you can benefit from the many improvements they have made to this unit in their short stay.

The owners have built, bought and sold many homes and always have a flair for decorating their new spaces. It really shows in this home. New paint, drywall touch ups, crown molding and custom lighting sets the stage for whatever you place in the home. They have also added a new refrigerator, front loading washer and dryer, fireplace and closet shelving. The place is spotless.

South Loop is one of those hot buzz neighborhoods. Businesses have been flourishing and catching up to the demand of all the new residents that have moved in over the past 10 years. The street scapes have gone through a total rennovation. Your on the lakefront and close to the museums, Soldier Field and all the Loop action.

There are many new construction developments to choose from. However, the conversion loft condo here has a little more personality due to it's orginal warehouse detail. Under $400K with Gargae parking included, low assessment at $350.00 (that includes heat!).

Friday, June 08, 2007

Chicago's Jefferson Park undeniable

I find myself more and more in Jefferson Park (Jeff Park, if you will). You will not find me here lecturing on the rich history of Jeff park, that's what the links are for.

A long time northwest side neighborhood, Jefferson Park has seen a boom in higher end single family homes, condos and town homes over the past 10 years. This has been no secret and maybe even a source of dismay for many long timer residents. But thus is the same in any neighborhood caught in the real estate boom. A new construction single family home will start at 650K for a brick and frame. Ouch for many of us.

But the value for young families is in the well kept Chicago Bungalows that start at $400K for a move-in condition home. Yes, I just took a look at several homes located from about 4900-5600 north and 4500-6300 west, and there were a couple "move-ins" at just over $400K... a couple.

These bungalows are located on quiet well kept streets, have terrific structures (foundation, tuck-pointing, roof, yard, garage, maybe mechanicals etc...) and are less than scary inside. Hell, one home on the 4900 block of North Meade was cute as a button... just pristine inside and out. Meade is a quick jaunt to 90/94 and easy down town.

So what am I talking about? If you live on the north side and are having kids... want a house...want to stay in Chicago... only have $400-$500K to blow on a house... you HAVE to look at this area of Jefferson Park. It's not that far really. Besides, you pretty much spend all your time watching your kids be kids and trying to keep your sanity, so why not do it in your own house?

Although there is not much retail to walk to when you get into the residential streets that make up the lay of the land out there, you will get nice neighbors, parks and schools. My favorite block of Jefferson Park may be the area surrounding Beaubien Elementary School and Robert Square Park. Beaubien is a top 10 elemenatry scholl year in, year out. This is a terrific three block radius with a mix of new construction homes, exisitng colonials, two and three flats, bungalows... very pretty block surrounding the park. Metra and Blue Line are just a couple blocks away.

As a Realtor, this specific area is definately on the list to watch for my family. I'm in Ravenswood now and own a duplex condo, but as we grow the family and the kids get a little older, Jefferson Park may be it. It's a pretty quick drive to my office in Lincoln Park too believe it or not. Every time I'm researching for clients, I'm looking at those houses and internalizing how it meets a family's needs. "Could I see my family here?" Yes.

As my broker and I were saying the other day, you can't deny Jeff Park if you want a house in the city and don't have a cool mil lying around.

Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce

Yo Chicagostyle="font-weight:bold;"> on Jefferson Park

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lincoln Park conversion in the 1980s

Here is a few shots I took of a sky light located in a Lincoln Park single family home. The building was orignally a three-flat and was gut rehabbed and converted to a single family home in 1987.

A center staircase floats up the entire middle of the home. Very original layout. I bet there was some awesome parties after watching an episode of Miami Vice.

You don't see multi-unit conversions like this anymore.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Ravenswood by me...

Check out my Ravenswood Journal HERE. I plan on posting the articles in shorter or expanded forms on The Local as well, but the above link will have the collection of columns tailored for the Ravenswood neighborhood.