Sunday, September 14, 2008

Zambrano Throws No-Hitter, Wrigleyville Real Estate Skyrockets*

Big Z just threw a no-hitter for the Chicago Cubs against the Houston Astros. The game was played in Miller Field up in Milwaukee due to Hurricane Ike.

Maybe this is the sign... a hurricane forces the Cubs to play at a neutral site (Milwaukee) which is referred to as "Wrigley North" in front of 23,000 Cub fans. If not for the hurricane, they would have faced a red hot Houston team at home where the Cubs have a less than stellar record.

*Wrigleyville prices did not skyrocket... but Cub's tickets for the play-offs just did!

Open House: 1750 W Grace in North Center 12PM to 3PM

I will be hosting an open house from 12PM to 3PM Sunday 9/14/08

1750 W Grace $598,500

Four bedroom, two bath home with family room and finished basement. Great deck, yard and two car garage. This is a solid home with good space for your growing family.

Email or call for more details... under $600K for North Center steps from Trader Joe's, Sola, Brownstone, Martyr's and CTA Brown Line Irving Park stop and Addison stop.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Secret Two-Flats for Sale in Ravenswood (60625)

I had a great showing today on a two-flat in Ravenswood Manor. My colleague will be listing the property in a couple weeks, but I was able to get a viewing. If you are looking for a move-in high quality two-flat building with a three bedroom, two bath plus family room owners unit, please contact me. Asking price will be under $600K.
I've sold several properties before they hit market... and bought my own home before it hit the open market.

What: Two-flat building near Manor Park in Ravenswood. Three bedroom, one bath top floor rental unit. Three bedroom, two bath plus family room owners unit. Large decks, yard, one car garge, one parking pad. Great storage in the owners unit plus laundry room.

Green Homes: Late Update on Yannell Zero Net Energy

Here's a few more photos of the Yannell house here in Ravenswood... they've made some strides since these photos. But check out the wood massing on the corners... really cool.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Crib Chatter for Indulging in Local Chicago Real Estate

Here is the first step in making a better effort of pointing out some fun or useful sites.

I just added Crib Chatter to my side bar under Local Blogs. The writer, Sabrina keeps it consistent and straight forward. She draws information from the MLS and other Internet sources. It's usually good information and I like the questions she ads to posts.... inviting suckers like me to comment!

Great blog name too.

Beware of the anonymous commentators though... commentators information is usually bad unless you know the source. That said, some inside neighborhood people provide documented information and have good reputations on the web... pick and choose and be wary.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More Realtors on Bikes... Not just in Chicago

I was sent this story tonight by my moral supporters at

It's a nice take by two Boston Realtors doing their thing... selling real estate and riding bikes. Cool.

We are a small movement.

It's late tonight, but I promise to list some of the news stories being sent to me. For now, you can search my site with the keywords Realtors on bikes for the links.

Monday, September 08, 2008

FHA Loans for Chicago Buyers: What's in it for you?

Ryne takes a call from his mortgage broker...

I asked one of our in house mortgage guys Brian Cumpton at RWF Mortgage (a joint venture of Rubloff and Wells-Fargo) to explain FHA financing to my readers. Brian can be reached at Since he sits near my office and is bugging me all the time, I figured I'd put him to work for you. Here's his concise description of the FHA loan option:

As the market keeps changing, we are constantly challenged with buyers obtaining financing. FHA (Federal Housing Administrator) is a government insured financing, financed by Local and National Lenders, that allows home buyers to purchase a 2 Flat for little down in today’s market. The financing is not provided by the government, as the Government only insures the Financings. Today, 11% of all Home Financing is secured by FHA Programs.

There are many advantages of FHA Financing over Conventional Financing. Conventional Financing is the financing typically regulated by the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Association, while being insured by Private/Public Companies. With FHA, this program is regulated by FHA & HUD and is insured by the Government. Their mission is: To increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination. FHA is the oldest program created by Congress back in 1934.

Some of the advantages of FHA Financing over other conventional financing are as follows.

- 3.5% down payment required towards the purchase price or closing cost
- The Down payment can come from a Gift from a relative
- The seller of the property can give up to a 6% credit to the buyer towards closing cost, prepaid items, association dues, or taxes
- A Non Occupying Borrower can be on the Financing to help Qualify (Parents, relatives, etc…)
- Rental Income for additional Unit/Units is used in qualifying the buyer – which will offset the monthly payment
- No minimum Credit Score required
- No past history of credit required – only 1 source of a 12 month payment history
- The Loan is Assumable by a new buyer – therefore they can assume the current terms of the mortgage at the time of assumption.
- No Income restrictions – you can have as much or as little income as long as the buyer qualifies
- Not limited to a 1st Time Home Buyer – you can be a 5th time buyer and use the program
- 2 years from the Discharge on Bankruptcy’s – Conventional financing requires 4 years
- 3 years from the Discharge of a Foreclosure – Conventional Financing requires 4 years.
- There is no Geographic restriction on where you can buy
- Fixed & Adjustable Rate Programs
- Interest Rates are not set by your Credit Score – unlike Conventional Financing, the Interest Rate is the same for everyone regardless of Credit Score.

My associate at Rubloff, Connie Engle also wrote a good post about FHA financing from an agent's perspective at our Rubloff Luxury blog

I know its a plug for our blog but they are doing a good job, I enjoy reading it and I should have some contributions on the site soon... as soon as I write something professional enough!

U.S. Government Takeover of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae; Lower Interest Rates in Chicago?

I was sent this Crain's Chicago Business story by our Rubloff executives this morning: Fannie-Freddie takeover sparks global stock rally
"The Bush administration announced Sunday it was seizing troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a bid to help reverse a prolonged housing and credit crisis."

But here's the number you need to watch...and act on:
"Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's predicted that 30-year mortgage rates, currently averaging 6.35 percent nationwide, could dip to close to 5.5 percent. That's because investors will be more willing to buy the debt issued by Fannie and Freddie — and at lower rates — since the federal government is now explicitly standing behind that debt."

With stable, and raising median prices, in many Chicago neighborhoods like Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, Lincoln Park, Lake View and North Center you have to buy in these moments where seller's get nervous about the market and interest rates drop.
As a Realtor, I'm always on the watch to take advantage of good prices and good interest rates to get my "move-up" house or to refinance.

If you are looking for your "move-up" house in Chicago, or may want to refinance your current loan please call me. Sometimes, you can time the market... historically fall and winter will average attractive asking prices and we could see a dip in mortgage interest rates. But you have to be educated, know what you want to buy and be ready to lock your rate.

I may looking to re-finance if the 5.5% becomes a reality and will have my mortgage guy at the ready to call me the second it does.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

What's in a Cloud Gate?

I took this photo at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park over the Labor Day Weekend. It’s about 10:00AM and I managed to only get one person in the photo. I congratulate myself for this alone.
I’m standing to the north and a bit east of the artwork. The reflection, however, is of buildings to the west along Michigan Avenue and then stretches around to the Smurfit- Stone building behind me to the north of the Cloud Gate.

I've been heard that Cloud Gate and Marina Towers are the most photographed spots in Chicago... I think.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sunday Open House in North Center: Four Single Family Homes

Hey sports fans...This Sunday, September 7th from 12p to 3P we kick-off a progressive open house in North Center. Stop by my open at 1750 N Grace 12p to 3p to take a look and discuss the market.

I'm helping with a progressive Sunday open house event in the North Center neighborhood this weekend.

My assignment is a well located four bedroom single family home at 1750 W Grace. It's priced at $598,500 making it a rare move-in condition house under $600,000 in North Center. I know the house market very well in North Center. Re-sale homes in the area have sold very well this year, especially in the $750,000 to one million range. However, this has slipped under the radar below $600,000, yet it only needs some material updates.

If you can't stand the thought of living in a condo again, this is your chance to buy a move-in house in a true walking neighborhood. This North Center location has restaurants such as Sola, Cafe 28, Ms. Murphy's Irish Bistro and Brownstone steps away. The Renovated Irving Park Brown Line CTA stop is a 5 minute walk.

I toured the home today and liked several aspects. First, it's located steps from the Trader Joe's and CB2 at Lincoln and Grace. I KNOW... I could stop right there. There are true, defined spaces to set up the home for your needs.

But my favorite part actually inside the home is a main floor family room located in the back off the kitchen.

It creates that indoor/outdoor room with a walk-out awesome deck. This is a must in a house for me. I was picturing my family in the house, you know, placing my furniture in the rooms... we'd be in the rear family room most of the time... and on the deck... and in the yard.

Please contact me for more photos and details.

Sunday September 7th
From 12pm -3pm

An Open House Extravaganza!
Three New Construction single family homes and one re-sale home in North Center will be open for your viewing!

1750 W. Grace-Great four bedroom home in a prime location


4154 N. Bell - New Construction Single Family home for


4242 N. Leavitt-All Brick New Construction single family home $1,349,900

4208 N. Oakley-Massive 5500sq/ft all brick New Construction single family home $1,950,000

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Chicago Two Flat Offers Options in Ravenswood Manor, Albany Park

I listed this two-flat in the Ravenswood Manor, Albany Park area this week for $499,900K. It's steps from the CTA Brown Line train at Francisco. It's located at 4735 N Whipple (between Lelnad and Lawrence).

Choosing to purchase a two flat provides many options for the owner. First, you can live in the top floor three bedroom unit and rent the bottom floor. Your monthly payment will be similar to that of owning a two bedroom, two bath condo with parking in the area. In this case though, you will get a back yard, basement and 2.5 garage.

When you want to expand, you can convert the building slowly to a single family dwelling. This can be done by removing the kitchen on either the top or bottom floor and coverting that space into a master bath. The adjacent dining room would be converted to a master suite.

Or, you may decide to move again and rent out both units. Maybe you'd like to live in the building and have an in-law move in... to help with the kids?

A two-flat offers many options and is more affordable than you think.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Special Views, Real Estate from the Chicago River Tours

I took the role of Recreation Director with guests in town over the Labor Day weekend. My favorite item on the itinerary was the Architectural River Tour by Wendella.

I have dozens of shots from the tour and will post over the next month. I liked this one particularly as the Sears Tower is reflected in this building along the Chicago River. My uncle, the world travelor from Boston, never really got the "Chicago Tour", and was really impressed by the real estate on the river. It's outstanding when you really try to get your head around it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Local Featured in Realtors on a Bike Story, Chicago Tribune and Associated Press

I was interviewed earlier last week by Whitney Malkin of the Associated Press concerning Realtors working on their bicycles. The story appeared in the Chicago Tribune's Chicago Homes section and business section... among other publications and web sites.

Of course, the quotes are a little out of context... but the basic point for me riding my bike is it's an alternative for certain personalities. It is also a fun and efficient way to get to showing appointments. The writer missed a main reason of my quote; My clients "don't care that I ride my bike", because my marketing is very good and I do last minute showings for them when Realtors and buyers call with little notice.

They "don't care" how I do it, just as long as I sell their place!