Thursday, November 27, 2008

Visiting a Brokers Open in River North

One of the things I do regularly as a Realtor is visit brokers opens. These are held typically on Tuesday afternoons in Chicago by the listing agent of a particular property. Chicago Realtors may visit and preview the property for current clients or prospective buyers. Attending a brokers open is just one more way to stay on top of the market. It keeps me current on pricing and neighborhoods. It's a good practice to estimate what I think it will sell for and then track the closing price.

Karen Mason from my Rubloff office hosted this broker's open at 934 N Crosby # 934 offered at $394,900 plus parking. It's a sharp looking two bed, two and one half bath town home in River North close to downtown. She offered lunch for the Realtors that visited (we love a free lunch)and gave a rundown of the development and the immediate neighborhood. Karen advertised the brokers open well to her network (which is what prompted me to go) and the turnout was particularly good.

Above, Realtor Robert DePalma discussing the property with Karen.

A good Realtor will hold a brokers open to get the pulse of other agents, receive valuable feedback and pick-up any information that will be helpful in selling the home.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chicago Mortgage Rates Falling: Historical Rate Graph

Rates on a 30 year fixed are under 5.625% this week.

My guest blogger, Brian Cumpton of RWF Mortgage, Wells Fargo, (shown here at the Lincoln Park 2520 sales center) and I always try and make clients aware of favorable interest rates. Brian sent me this pitch today... and I've been contacting clients all week as things looked like they would trend this way.

Here's the commercial from Brian... but it has great information.

It's a great time to lock in with prices down on homes. Start by getting pre- approved with a proven lender in today's market. Make your first step to homeownership by getting pre-approval with RWF Mortgage, a Wells Fargo company. Take advantage of the buyer's market and lock your mortgage below 5.75% with 0 Points.
The media has painted the picture that you need 20-30% down in order to purchase. That is incorrect. You can purchase with as little as 10% down, or even there is a 3.5% down payment program called FHA. You could even get a gift for the 3.5% down payment with the FHA program. Low interest rates are here and now is the time to lock in with a new home purchase! Take advantage of the low interest rates today!

The chart here from Freddie Mac shows rates in a historical perspective... we're trending at the bottom.

I've seen very nice condos in good locations in Ravenswood Manor and North Park priced at $250,000 and less in the last two weeks... perfect for the lower mortgage rates we are seeing combined with the FHA loan program that requires only 3.5% down.

A Tale of Two Foreclosures in Chicago

My clients were interested in this new construction foreclosure listing on North Clark Street in Rogers Park. They know the area and the price is so right in the $230,000s. It's a huge two bedroom, two bath unit with really nice finishes, wired for sound, parking and deck.
However, the building is sketchy. The elevator is inoperable, there is another foreclosure listed in the building with another brokerage and details are hard to get. I'll bet that there is no owners association formed and no one responsible for the maintenance of the building. The views of MacDonald's off the living room and the alley off the master are lovely. With their eyes lit up while looking at the level of finish... I gave it the "thumbs down".

Later that day, I'm in Ravenswood Manor and Albany Park with another group of clients. Another foreclosure is listed at West Montrose and North Sacramento on the edge of Ravenswood Manor... a few blocks from the CTA Francisco Brown Line. It's a giant three bedroom, two bath unit with nice decks, good level of finish and did I mention huge. I like the location. No parking included, but it's priced so cheap at $218,000, renting a spot or parking on the street is totally worth it.
The place needs about $15K in appliances and upkeep. The marketing is so bad on this place no one has probably seen it. I called the listing office for details after viewing it (the unit is on lock-box) and no one has called me back.

The difference here is it's a better location and the owner's association is in good shape. I have other clients living in the condo building who may provide my clients much more of a true picture of the association. Whoever was the owner of this place, and now the bank, has really messed up. I would put $15,000 of renovation in to the unit and list it at $299,000 for a much higher sale than they are asking. It sold originally for more than that. It would make a fantastic primary residence.

"You could bowl in this place!"

Foreclosures are not for everyone. The buying process is not easy and due dilligence is to the extreme. However... a deal can present itself. A deal just presented itself.

Friday, November 21, 2008

First Time Buyers Back in Chicago

I've recently been contacted by a score of first time buyers. In September, I had predicted around the office that the first time buyer would be a strong market segment as prices have stalled or lowered and as the occasional "cut and run" opportunities present themselves.

Then earlier this month the National Association of Realtors reported that first time buyers made up a larger percentage of purchases. Man... I'm smart.

From the story:
"The number of first-time buyers rose to 41 percent from 39 percent of transactions in last year’s survey and 36 percent in 2006. “Although modest, this is a meaningful gain for the 12-month period ending at the close of June, and more recent independent data show a stronger uptrend in first-time buyers who are helping to reduce excess inventory,” Yun said."

What's important to understand here is I've been very successful working with first time buyers because I meet them here on my blog and face to face at the many open houses I host.
If you are thinking of selling your place, it's important that you list with a Realtor who reaches the buying consumer in many different ways.

I've recently started working with several clients looking for condos under $300K. They feel they can finally get a decent, affordable place. This will be a terrific market segment for me in 2009 as I've been in every condo in Chicago under $300,000! Almost.

I'd estimate 30% of my sales over the last three years have been condos from $250,000to $350,000.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Home Buying Incentives from the City of Chicago

The City of Chicago has helped put together a clearing house of incentive laden properties in many of Chicago neighborhoods. These are developments that have been built in conjunction with the City of Chicago programs in one way or another.

You can check out their list of neighborhoods and developments at the site. If you need analysis and showings of any of the developments, please contact me.

I think the Kenwood neighborhood from this group offers some good values near the lake.

Click here for the developments:
Find Your Place in Chicago

Remember, the City and lenders offer incentives for new construction and re-sales in neighborhoods like Albany Park too that offer a high quality of living near retail, CTA and infrastructure.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yannell House Ready for Winter

Looks like good progress at the Yannell house here in Ravenswood. All wrapped up and ready for winter.

Chicago Property Tax Appeal Workshop: Tuesday 11/18 at 7:00PM

From the 47th Ward updates

Tonight! Welles Park, Lincoln Square:

2008 Property Tax Appeal Workshop
Welles Park
2333 W. Sunnyside
7:00 pm

Alderman Gene Schulter and Cook County Commissioner Joseph Berrios will be sponsoring a 2008 Property Tax Appeal Workshop. If you have not submitted an appeal to the Board of Review for your 2008 property taxes, please plan on attending this important workshop. Please bring a copy of your 2007 property tax bill.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Off Market: Montrose Harbor One Bedroom in Amenity Filled Imperial Towers

4250 N Marine Drive #833 offered at $179,000 in full amenity high rise.

Renovated one bedroom in building directly across from Lake Michigan in the Montrose Harbor area, just north of the Lakeview neighborhood. 24 hour doorman, huge pool, dry cleaners, valet parking, easy transportation and more. Walk across the street to lakefront golf, running, biking, tennis and sailing.

Assessments $400.00 include heat too! Low taxes.

This is an off-market property, but I can show and sell it. Please email or call my contact information in the sidebar to the right.

Off Market: Unique Updated Townhome in Uptown Steps from the Lake

Offered at $339,000.

This town home is not on the MLS. My clients are offering the updated town home with three bedrooms, two and one-half baths, family room, garage plus one parking pad, utility room...great for a family.

This property is one of the only town homes available near the lake, if not the only one, totally move-in ready and under $350,000!. It's one of the lowest priced three bedroom homes with garage parking in uptown. The sellers are serious about working out a deal.

This home is a block from the lake, two blocks to the CTA Red Line, has two car Parking and one block to the express bus to downtown.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stately Manor in Ravenswood, Chicago

This single family residence is quite a change from the many brick multi-unit buildings and traditional to Colonial frame single family homes that dot the Ravenswood landscape. This house looks a little more 18th Century Jeffersonian. Sort of a Southern Plantation style to it as well. I wonder if the owners who commissioned the home and the architect have Southern roots.

Certainly, this home sets a very different mood and I applaud the execution of this graceful dwelling.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Construction Plows Ahead in Ravenswood

There are a few (very few) empty lots around Ravenswood where old residential or retail buildings were cleared out to make way for new construction condos. The two most prominent being on the 4800 block of North Damen and a lot at the northeast corner of Wilson and Ravenswood.

However, this monster new construction center entrance six unit condo building has sprang up with seemingly no delay. It was the former home of a frame three-flat and adjacent empty lot. The design here looks more like something we'd see juest west on North Damen Avenue or in Lakeview on North Ashland Avenue.

It is a rare style here on the North Ravenswood motley crew of industrial buildings, frame single family homes, brick single family homes, two-flats, three-flats, converted single family homes, town houses and lofts... but not really any new construction multi-units can be found on this stretch from Montrose to (basically) Peterson.

If I had to guess, I'd say these will be duplex units on the lower floor with an estimated asking price between $550,000 and $600,000. The second and third floors will probably be three bedroom, two bath homes with an estimated price of $499,000 for the middle floor (maybe more if there will be a rooftop deck over a garage) and $550,000 to $600,000 asking for the top. It's a big lot, so I'd imagine they will have a garage in the rear for six cars.

Secret Real Estate in Ravenswood: Conversion Condos

I came across this gut renovation development walking down the 4400 block of North Paulina in Ravenswood.

Any readers have information on this place?
Looks like a center entrance six-flat condo conversion that will feature all new construction interiors. Much of the frame work looks to be done. At some point the sort of "painted lady" detail was added to the facade at the bay windows. Not crazy about this.

If priced well and if the units a little larger than average, this location should sell well. It's close to the Montrose Brown Line stop and the growing number of established businesses along the Montrose and Ravenswood corridors.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Modern Design at 5017 N Ravenswood Chicago; Doblin Residence

Doblin Residence at 5017 N Ravenswood

Ravenswood is dotted with modern design amongst the very traditional frame single family homes, grey stone two-flats and brick multi-unit walk-ups. Walking down North Ravenswood Avenue never ceases to surprise. The Doblin Residence is located at a sleepy corner of Ravenswood and Winnemac along the mix of industrial and residential properties, embankment gardens and across from the Metra tarcks.

Here’s a design using perforated steel for the exterior… maybe not for everyone, but fine by me. I have found the sale of only two homes here in the MLS from 2002. Two bedrooms two baths single family row houses with garage parking, unit 1S and 2N, sold for $379,000 each. Tax records indicate two single family structures, or, row houses in this case.

Click this link for a rundown from one of the architects on the project;

From the 2002 MLS listing:

Click this link for a manifest of sorts of the property in the Architectural Record
Click this link for an interior shot and award page:

If you would like to find modern and contemporary properties like these, please contact me. I keep a look out for unique design and know of modern renovations occasionally that have never been offered yet to the public.

If you live in the homes here and would like to share photos or provide a tour for me, please call. I'll bring the wine!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Old Town, Chicago in Reach Again?

Here are a couple particularly bad photos of my Sunday morning showing. I was a little off my game this morning. We met at 1309 N Wells in Old Town at 9:30AM, which is a great time to be out and about in the city...seems quiet. Despite the gloomy pictures, this is a top notch location on one of the better stretches for restaurants and entertainment in the city. Not to mention the lake over yonder.

The picture is not so gloomy for my buyer clients. The elevator building offers condos with two beds, two baths, terraces, and garage parking included for the low $300’s. Assessment is around $400.00, but considering building maintenance, parking and doorman are included… not too bad for a $300,000 to $350,000 asking price.

The Border of Lakeview and Northcenter

Here I am driving south on North Ravesnwood in the West Lakeview/Northcenter neighborhood of Chicago. The area of my concern earlier today is bounded by West Addison to West Irving Park Road north to south and North Ashland to North Damen from east to west. This is a quiet four block radius surrounded by plenty of restaurants, transportation options, grocery shopping and retail.

Trader Joe's and CB2 are centrally located.

In the past year, a little research on our MLS reveals 28 single family homes that have closed. 12 of those homes have closed for over $1,000,000. The remaining sales of single family homes under $1,000,000 have averaged about $720,000. The higher priced homes fall in the Blaine Elementary School district… a plus for parents in the area.

There is an eclectic mix of homes and buildings in the area due to the Ravenswood industrial corridor. Many of the industrial buildings have been converted to single family homes and condos. Above is a working firehouse in a classic Chicago style residential setting. The homes are an even mix of original brick or frame houses that have been renovated while monster new construction dots the landscape. Six new construction homes are currently listed from $1,200,000 to $1,999,900.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

West Lakeview Looking

Deck with a southeast view at 1601 W School. Some people like lake views... I like city views.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Parking in Chicago

Thanks dude.

My sweet Mazda 6 is on the right.

Single Family Home Open House Craziness! Two Day Stand!

Visit me this weekend at a four bedroom single family home in North Center/ West Lakeview priced under $600,000!

With all the excitement from this week... I just can't stop shouting! Keep the party going and visit my Two Day Stand Open House this weekend at 1750 W Grace. That's right... I'll be open for 48 hours! Okay, that's nuts. I'll be open from 12 Noon to 3:00PM on both 11/8 and 11/9.

Here are the details:

Open House at 1750 W Grace asking $584,900
Saturday 11/8 and Sunday 11/9
12 Noon to 3:00PM both days

From the MLS:

This home is located just around the corner from Trader Joe's on North Lincoln Avenue! That's right... you can walk over and buy your $5 bottle of wine and be back on your deck in 10 minutes... round trip!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Lincoln Square Condo Median Prices Up

The median price for condos in Lincoln Square was up over $25,000 for the 2008 third quarter compared to the third quarter of 2007. The median price was $308,950 up from $270,000. Total number of unit sales was down from 153 to 112. Higher end new construction sales were pretty good this year, helping to raise the median price. Anecdotally, I’ve been involved in several re-sale condos in Lincoln Square and Ravenswood that have increased in value over the past few years as well.

The condo's value in any market depends on each particular unit in Chicago, but a considerable median price increase was combined with a good number of unit sales overall in the neighborhood. Lincoln Square has fared very well during a tough quarter for many people.

The Calm after the Storm in Chicago

I was not an ardent supporter of the President of the United States Elect, Barack Obama. However, Chicago never looked so good as during last night's election coverage. We all feel pretty good about ourselves today. We feel calmer.

Now, if all the Obama supporters and Chicago voters would take the same enthusiasm and elect new leaders for the Cook County Board, vote out the Cook County President Todd Stroger and his sales tax, vote out the Chicago Alderman that raised taxes on SELLING your home in a down market, and vote out the legislators that allowed property taxes to spike in the face of decreasing home values and financial losses...
Yes, then we will get somewhere.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ravenswood Market Snapshot:Three Bedroom Condo Sells Fast

I was just browsing market data here in the Ravenswood neighborhood and noticed another unit on 4900 block of North Damen, north of Lawrence, has sold under 30 days. It is a three bedroom, two bath condo with 2 car parking built in 2006. I walk by the building almost every day.
The list price was about 50K over the original sales price... so they are most likely netting 15K plus more than they paid only two years ago.
The Ravenswood market has been pretty strong over-all... maybe one of the most stable in the city over this last year. I sold a similar unit in multiple offers down the street earlier this summer.

An Advantage to Chicago Condo Living

Here's my view today. I'm sitting at my kitchen table, working, and letting the HVAC guy into my neighbors' condo units. I have 670AM the Score on the radio and CNN on the telly. Despite the immense anxiety of voting day, life must go on and the furnaces must be serviced.

So, I sit here, working, and letting the HVAC guy into my neighbors' Ravenswood condo units. My neighbors are somewhere working too. For my neighbors today, this is an advantage to living in a condo building. Our association is well run and someone always volunteers for this duty or the like.

I'll be walking up the stairs in a minute to let the tech into another condo.

Remember Your Cook County Property Taxes

Remember your Cook County property tax bill when you go to vote today. And, remember your sales tax increase... and remember your tax increase on selling your home to pay CTA pensions... remember how your local public schools are doing when you go vote today and in the next round of elections that don't feature the President of the United States.

The President can't save Cook County now. But the local bums can.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What's in Chicago Tribune's House and Homes?

Although I'm not a fan of the Chicago Tribune's new format over-all (and my neighborhood buddy John at Over Easy and I complain about it all the time), there's one cool thing I've noticed: They have a section called "Fix" in House and Homes where they actually describe improvements and renovations that were completed on homes and how much they COST.

This offers great examples to new buyers (and even veteran property owners) of the cost and added value of well finished homes.

My clients stripped and refinished the original wood of the Ravenswood Manor two flat pictured here. Not only is there cost and time involved, but PAIN!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Local Chicago Politics on Beyond the Beltway

Just a side note if you live in Chicago, buy Chicago real estate, have kids in Chicago schools, get your garbage picked up in Chicago, ride the CTA in Chicago... whatever. If Illinois politics affect you (and it does); you should be watching or listening to Beyond the Beltway with Bruce Dumont broadcast on WYCC.

I just watched one of the most articulate discussions one could hope for on the upcoming Presidential Election this Tuesday featuring the following:

Dan Miller, of the Heartland Institute , Jim Wall, Christian Century Editor and campaigner for Carter, Paul Simon and Bill Clinton, Dan Proft, political operative for many local candidates and analyst, and finally Bruce Dumont.

Of course, the subject matter was the Presidential... but the local scene usually dominates the discussion.

Enjoy this Tuesday... but please pay more attention to local politics. They're the bums taxing you!