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.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Norwood Park for new construction, Edison Park for dinner

I was out with clients shopping single family homes in the Norwood Park area last night. They are looking strictly new construction, or, virtually new construction. We found two winners in the $650k to $750K. This will get you an oversized lot, 4 to 5 bedrooms, three floors of living, great finishes, 3600 sq/ft and up etc... And a great neighborhood.

But what to do in the hood?

After viewing our second, and last, home for the evening, I suggested dinner. My clients have not been to the great dining strip lately on Northwest Highway, just, well... a few minutes northwest of the Norwood Park home we viewed.

We dined at Nonno Pino. I was really impressed. Fun, city atmosphere, great crowd for a Wednesday night. Mix of singles, couples, families, business people... just hopping. The food was really good, which is key.

I've been out to the Norwood Park and Edison Park areas quie a bit lately looking at homes in several price points. This strip of restaurants is just enough to really consider moving the GROWING family from Ravenswood waaaayyyyy out northwest for a bigger home in five years or so. Good schools, great kids, winding suburban like roads, trees, trains (Norwood Park Metra stop) and now a nice restaurant area to keep it real.

This is a real consideration for anyone looking for a nice single family house in a real neighborhood setting. It's funy how things change... with just one kid, I already have one foot out the door the Ravenswood duplex condo while looking at single families northwest! I drive my wife nuts.

Chicago Spire to get $40 million for penthouse

I know I have not posted for several days, but that usually means I'm extra special busy with clients, closings, the kid... that sort of thing. So as the midnight hour approaches, here's what you've been waiting for...

I think the Spire will get the $40M for the penthouse. A unit and sale like this has nothing to do with the "market". It has to do with a lifestyle and image. And the Spire penthouse may be just that for someone, I'd imagine.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chicago Open House: Bucktown Duplex @ 1939 N Damen 1PM to 4PM

Catch me if you can at 1939 N Damen this Saturday 9/22/07 and Sunday 9/23/07 from 1PM to 4PM both days.

Stunning extra wide and extra long duplex. Over 2600 square feet. Get in before Thanksgiving and have your family and your neighbor's family over.

Check it out:

Call me at 773-975-2123 if you want to come by or have questions... email too. I'll get it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

New Julius Meinl cafe in Lincoln Square

Reports are that the revolving door of restaurants at this corner of Lincoln and Montrose will be a new Julius Meinl cafe. That, I predict, will be there for awhile.
Anyone know the ETA on this?

The Welles Park crowd will definately file in after a morning stroll... and this southeast end of Lincoln Square will easily support a quality cafe. Tons of traffic flowing down Montrose and Lincoln respectively makes for a high profile.

The first Meinl cafe came to chicago at Southport and Addison. An economics professor of mine turned me on to the authentic Austrian flavors and atmosphere. Turns out the good professor's former student brought the business to Chicago. Our class use to meet at the cafe once in awhile to discuss our upcoming overseas travel. Been a regular ever since (One word: strudel).

A walk around Welles Park, Lincoln Square

Most Wednesdays I can be found walking around Ravenswood and Lincoln Square with my son. Some days I hit the Used Books store. Others, it's coffee at <Perfect Cup or <The Grind. Hair cut at Hair for Less (ask for Elena) then listen to some music and pick up a CD at Laurie's Planet of Sound. Ryne is just along for the ride, spreading cheer to all the local business owners. Although, I think Laurie's is his favorite spot... he likes to rock out.

But, then there is the "outdoorsmen" in us... a walk around Welles Park (also the fields make for the neighborhood's largest changing table).

Tennis, dancers practicing their trade and horseshoe pits....Maybe it's a German thing, but there wasn't a family party or camping trip where we didn't play horseshoes. I've killed a few evenings here, scoring ringers.

Or, take a dip in the field house pool.

Welles Park has many events throughout the year. Check in with the Alderman's office, Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce, Old Town School of Folk Music and the Chicago Park District for activity schedules... for kids and you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

FED cuts rate 1/2 percent... What's this mean to Chicago Real Estate?

The CNN story

Chicago has remained pretty flat overall for real estate sales, with several hot neighborhoods and property types pushing highs in price per sq/ft, some neighborhoods hurting. So, it depends on what you have, what you want and where it is. Those buying in the last couple years for a "home" rather than pure investment seem to be doing fine.

A rate cut on bank borrowing may help you buy that new car... and you have to have a garage... and I know of several properties that have garages. Hmmmm.

Some analysis suggests the cut will reduce the "pain" of mortgage ARM re-sets in the national economy.

Again, in my little world of Chicago, things are good. Hopefully, people will begin to turn towards their own reality and make decisions, and not make decisons based on national generalizations.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Chicago Open House: Bucktown duplex... bigger than your house

I'll host an open house alllllll weekend at 1939 N Damen in Bucktown. Bucktown is a the place to walk around catch some brunch, do some shopping and look at properties.

1939 Damen is Open 1PM to 4PM Saturday 9/15 and Sunday 9/16

Check it out or call/email me for details.

Critical Mass bike ride in the Tribune

Nice little story here in the Tribune online with video covering the 1oth anniversary of the Critical Mass bike ride.

My favorite quote in the video is from one of the supporters, "We're not stopping traffic, we are traffic".

The writer of the story admits to her fear of riding in Chicago traffic on a typical day. This is a legitimate fear of my wife as well.

But, I think most people could get around on a bike in their neighborhoods if they tried... takes a little adjustment and practice to get in the routine. But, before you know it, there is a euphoria that comes with the quick, fun, easy transit.

Riding to Cub games has brought the bike back to me... you should think of common commute for yourself and replace it with a bike. You will drive and take the trains and busses less after giving it a try.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Perfect Cup, Ravenswood, Chicago

Here's Ann, the owner of my local coffee shop "Perfect Cup" in Ravenswood. Ryne and I stop here on our walks every week.

I also studied here while attending Northeastern Illinois University. My wife and I lived close by at Hermitage and Winnemac over 5 years ago... this was my favorite spot then as well.

I'm even closer now!

Filmed by Joe Zekas, Yo Chicago

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


With so many people living in multi-unit buildings or high-rises in Chicago, they either find themselves adapting to the noise from their neighbors or getting more and more frustrated by it. This has led to an increase in these people calling me looking for a solution to their noise problem. As a result I've done quite a bit of research to find an effective soundproofing method at a cost that is affordable.

The magic solution is a small isolation clip that prevents the transfer of vibrations (sound waves) and literally allows me to build a thin wall (3-4") onto your existing wall that is completely isolated from the original structure. Obviously there's a lot more that goes into it, but for sake of space here, I will leave it at that. If you have any questions or want to discuss this more, please give me a call @ 773.642.7836 or shoot me an email to

Monday, September 10, 2007

A few stories on housing prices, mortgages... Chicago and otherwise

I don't usually post on national or even Chicagoland housing prices in general. There are a thousand voices for that. I like to keep it specific to the properties my clients are looking at. In Chicago, it comes down to the block... and the actual property. Homes can be very diverse in a small radius.... prices just as diverse.

However, here's a group o' good reading on the subject:

Chicago: No boom means no bust?

Home Prices up or down?

Hurdles not insurmountable

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ravenswood, Part 5, the residential streets

Two flats, three flats, houses and single family home conversions along Winchester in Ravenswood. Homes on this block range from 600K for a rehab project to well over a million for new construction and refinished homes.

Ravenswood, Part 2, Damen Ave

If this doesn't put you to sleep, you may learn something about Ravenswood real estate.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ravenswood, Chicago Walking Tour

Check out the Ravenswood walking tour posted today on Yo Chicago... hosted by yours truly.

Scroll the bottom of the YouTube film for more on Ravenswood.

Carfree Chicago leading the charge on Chicago, Illinois mass transit

For all you CTA haters, and there are many of us, I link the above a blog to some folks who are doing something about ongoing transit issues.

Lee, a one time commentator here, and frequent commentator at Yo Chicago, provides information on living car-free while also educating the public on taking political action in the name of mass transit in the state.

I've added a permanent link under "Chicago Local" in my side bar.

Although Lee's a little more down on the transit situation than I, the site is definately doing the right things. It's fair... and they take shots when needed at the GOV and state legislatures.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Must have outdoor space... okay, how about this Uptown Deck?

Check this out...

Got outdoor space?

This two bed, two bath with garage parking in Uptown is... blahh, blahh, blahh. Look at the deck!
834 W Montrose

Wanna see it? Email me.

NIGHTLINE on house flipping?

NIGHTLINE has sucked ever since the premature exit of Ted Koppel. Tonight they rolled out a monster ego dude... One guy who has flipped a bunch of properties, but now is going down the toilet.

Who cares about this guy? He got greedy.

Now, the millions of viewers of this sham of a news show get their real estate information from a fluff piece.


13th Street is where it's at in South Loop

I was with a client showing properties at 13th and Wabash in South Loop. Great spot featuring Zapatista, Giocco, the Jewel and the the Roosevelt Red Line stop.

You're looking at $325-$350K for a decent 1100-1300 sq/ft two bed, two bath condo with garage or outdoor parking space. These units will typically be converted loft-loft like spaces. The views from balconies looking north at downtown can be great in this spot. The full amenity, newer buildings will start at $400K minimum with parking and go up from there.

Assessments can be high here in most buildings and range from $350-450. But, for the lower $300s, you will be hard pressed to find a better location on the lake for the price; especially if you work downtown.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Watch the "Cardiac" Cubs from a Wrigleyville roof top deck.. that you own

Heres a couple shots from condos we're selling at 1141 W Patterson. The penthouse units have full roof top decks.
Located just a half block from Wrigley Field on a quiet side street. Call or email for more details and I'll send you the listing sheet.

Is Wrigley Field a plus or deterrent for you if you'd like to live in Lakeview? This stretch of Patterson is blocked off from vehicle traffice before and after Cub's games.

Young and upwardly mobile in Ravenswood

Here's a quick shot of a group walking back from the Damen Brown Line stop last Wednesday, north of Lawrence Ave. It's about 6:30PM... Must have been working late.

It's a good sign for neighborhoods when you see groups of go-getters marching off the train during rush hours. I wanted to take more shots, but even given some diplomatic immunity by walking my son, I didn't want to look creepy stealing random snap-shots.

Average two bedroom, two bathroom condos with parking in this area are well over $350K and climbing. Two blocks north of Lawrence on the 5000 N block of Winchester, a popular two bed, two bath condo building is catching over $400K with ease for re-sale units.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Ravenswood tour back on

The (mostly north) Ravenswood tour is back on for this Thursday at 10AM. It will be short video tour of development on Damen Ave around Lawrence, new construction at Winnemac and Ravenswood, a quick look at the transportation options and a general chat about the housing options available.

The video will be posted on and here... and anywhere else I can find.

Let's hear it Ravenswood neighbors! Okay, that was over-the-top.

If you have questions about the Ravenswood neighborhood or want to point out your favorite places/amenities... just comment here.

On bikes...

Another agent and my broker walk into my back room office at work. The agent eyes my bike, and as a reflex, I start defending myself before the darts start flying. Now remember... a Realtor's car is an extension of his soul, so the backpack toting cyclist Realtor is a bit comical.

After my weak attmept to explain my angle, the top producing agent simply stated;

"Now you have to get one for your client".

Chicago Realtor on a bike: A new series of posts

Would it bother you if your Realtor rode a bike over for signatures on a contract? How about if he rode his bike over for showings of your condo or house occassionally?

Would said Realtor's broker groan when he rolls his bike into the back of the office? (the answer to this one is a definate yes)

The decision was made recently to ride my bike more often. The decision is made every time I’m sitting in 5:30PM traffic driving home from my office through beautiful North Side neighborhoods. It’s totally unnecessary to drive my car on many of these days.

A Realtor’s schedule can be very unpredictable. However there are days where we have no "field" appointments and simply work away on our computers… researching properties, servicing current deals, answering emails, making calls. If there was a last minute request for a showing, would anyone mind if I showed up on a bike?

I'm working on introducing my bike into my everyday workings as a Realtor in Chicago. Keep an eye out for more bike friendly posts and my Green evolution.