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