Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's Up With Ravenswood Single Family Home Sales?

See 1710 W Winnemac in this Sunday's Ravenswood Area Open House Bicycle Tour!

There were fifteen Ravenswood single family homes closed for a median price of $645,000 in the second quarter of 2009. I derive my statistics from map searches of our local multiple listing service. Ravenswood as I understand it travels from West Montrose to West Foster Avenues and North Clark St. to North Western Ave. This is a core area that enjoys the retail, entertainment and transportation outlets people demand in an urban setting. It's an area that reflects why people live in the city anyway.

The Ravenswood neighborhood overlaps two of the 77 Chicago community areas of Lincoln Square and Uptown. If you took only official Lincoln Square numbers from the MLS, median price was only around $545,000 with nineteen homes sold and official Uptown standing alone was seven homes at $662,500 . But both community areas stretch way beyond the Ravenwood neighborhood boundaries and include locations less desirable than the subject area.

The lowest single family home price for the second quarter in Ravenswood was $350,000 for a brick rowhouse on West Foster Avenue just west of North Clark Street and the highest closing price was $900,000 just down the street from me on a resale single family home near North Winchester and West Winona.

Tell tale sign? There have been no one million dollar home sales in this core area for the first half of 2009. There were eight one million plus closings in 2008 for this same area. $645K looks like a bargain.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Chicagos: Market Statistics 2009

Chicago looks good to me!
There has been no shortage of "good" news lately concerning the Chicago housing market. "Good" is much better than the disastrous we've been pounded with so I can't say that I have not enjoyed the respite. It's nice to hear people excited about owning homes (not investments... homes).

As you know, oh dedicated reader, I tend to stay away from generalizing the market. Rather, I focus on the individual needs of my clients. I let other sites handle the heavy lifting of city-wide real estate information. So, what the heck is going on... is this good news or what?
Please visit these links from below for a concise look at our two Chicagos in terms of real estate data:

All signs point down in first half 2009

Chicago home prices rose slightly from April to May

Monday, July 27, 2009

East Village Secret Garden

Some of the most interesting things about researching and viewing properties are the places you didn't know you would see.

Here's a spectacular roof-top garden tucked away along West Grand Avenue in East Village. This is mostly a concrete jungle with old grungy building facades.... which makes this more fascinating.

We were looking at a 3rd floor new construction two bedroom, two bathroom condo with garage parking at the 1800 W block of Grand. The condo was actually really spacious, modern and well finished at $399K. We peeked at the neighbors garden from the back deck.

East Village and Ukrainian Village real estate markets have been hit as hard as most "third ring" neighborhoods just outside downtown and the longer gentrified and core neighborhoods. But it offers an opportunity to create your own spaces or to purchase some very cool contemporary properties a short commute away from your elusive high paying gig in the Loop. The neighborhoods have a quiet, sometimes understated industrial feel that appeals to hipsters, artists and those looking for a custom home for half the price or more than Lincoln Park. And look at those roof-top gardens!

Steal a Chicago North Shore Home? Ask Jason.

My associate Jason Hartong at Rubloff was featured in a pretty interesting Chicago Tribune article on the North Shore upper bracket market.

Jason also writes Chicago North Shore Home & Beyond which features some terrific original photography. Wish we would contribute more.

Support the Active Transportation Alliance

Thanks Active Transportation Alliance for placing the Ravenswood Area Open House Bicycle Open House Tour on the events calendar.

Come out to bike the North Damen and North Ravenswood corridors and check out over 10 single family homes for sale. It's your chance to peek at homes and get to know the neighborhood. Visit the parks, houses and businesses all day!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sunday Open House East Lakeview! 522 W Oakdale #2W

522 W Oakdale #2W... Asking $419,900
Open House Sunday July 26th, from 1PM to 3PM

I love this place. You will too.

Open House Ravenswood! 4619 N Paulina #1A

Has the recent good real estate news got your attention? Treat yourself to a nice condo, great neighbors and great location.

4619 N Paulina asking $254,900
Open House Saturday July 25th 12PM to 3PM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Parking in Ravenswood... Easy Street?

I've written a couple times about the everyday lifestyle changes created by the Chicago parking meter deal. Here's North Damen Avenue just south of West Lawrence Avenue. I'm parked in the furthest south spot at the intersection of Damen and Leland at about 8:45AM in front of The Perfect Cup coffee house.
The meters have been replaced by the parking boxes with new rates and and new hours... I forgot to check, but from the looks of this relatively busy stretch of Damen meters must start at 8:00AM now rather than 9:00AM because the curbs are EMPTY.

Here's a look at the east side of the street... not one car parked. There are at least 24 open parking spots available. Prior to the parking meter deal, there would be at least a dozen cars parked at this time of the morning.

I really don't know what to make of this or if it's hurting the coffee shop and other businesses. Of course, I'm a little annoyed by going to the box, getting the ticket, going back to my car etc... on my regular coffee run. But, I always get a prime spot. This location has always been a little tough due to parking permits on Leland and meters related to the Damen Brown Line stop in the evening hours.

How has parking changed for you in Ravenswood?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ravenswood Area Open House Bicycle Tour: Sunday August 2nd

Pedal Ravenswood, Chicago and View For-Sale Single Family Homes Inside and Out!

DOWNLOAD printable flyer and map HERE

When: Sunday August 2nd, 12 Noon to 4PM
Where: Registration and map pick-up 12 Noon to 1PM
at The Perfect Cup (coffee house) 4700 N Damen Ave.

*All in-person registrants are eligible to win a 3 month club!*
Open Houses 1PM to 4PM and open to the public.

Ride with me, Eric Rojas Rubloff Residential Properties
and get to know the neighborhood. Or... ride/walk at your own pace.

Rain or shine!
Informal post ride drinks at The Rail, 4709 N Damen Ave.

Sponsored by Eric Rojas, Realtor with Rubloff Residential Properties
773-510-1597 or
RSVP appreciated by 7/31/09 (but not required)

Visit these 10 great homes Sunday August 2nd from 1PM to 4PM

2130 W Summerdale: Listed by Jeff Graves, Coldwell Banker

1960 W Summerdale: Listed by Jeff Graves, Coldwell Banker

1710 W Winnemac: Listed by Shannon Stambach, Sudler Sotheby’s

4932 N Seeley: Listed by Barbara O’Connor, Koenig&Strey

2104 W Giddings: Listed by James Miller, Re/Max

1771 W Ainslie: Listed by Andrew Gersten, Rubloff

4632 N Paulina: Listed by Marta Kazmierczak

1757 W Sunnyside: Listed by Liz Whatley, Coldwell Banker

4436 N Paulina: Listed by Kristi Gunther, Re/Max

4247 N. Winchester: Listed by Kristi Gunther, Re/Max

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ravenswood: Burn Your First Time Buyer Credit at This Open House

View photos and information at the link below:
4619 N Paulina in Ravenswood asking $259,000.
Open House Saturday, July 18th from 12PM to 3PM

This is a like-new two bedroom, one large bath corner unit in a terrific location. Huge storage. Get help from Uncle Sam in the form of an $8,000 tax credit... it expires December 1st. Mortgage rates are low too. Do I have to ask? Okay, please show up. Thank you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gold Coast Views from 88 W Schiller

My lucky (single) young professional client just locked up this view from his living room at 88 W Schiller in the Gold Coast. Trust me, it's much better live. Priceless? We'll, more like under $200K.

I'll have to be satisfied with his stories over drinks at one of the many establishments outside his door...sigh.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shop Northcenter Sidewalk Sale this Weekend

In between buying my property listings, you may want to stop by the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce 3rd Annual Sidewalk Sale. Saturday July 18th from 10A to 4P. Support my neighbors to the south and check out all the great restaurants along North Lincoln Avenue.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Photos from Bowmanville Garden Walk and Fund-raiser

Jillian, Ryne and I enjoyed our afternoon in Bowmanville last weekend. We walked across Foster Avenue and took in the Annual Garden Walk for the Bowmanville Community Organization and were hosted graciously by current neighborhood residents (and former clients) at a backyard cook-out.

Several of the participants offered drinks and food at each stop. It was really a pleasant afternoon. What a way to get to know a neighborhood.

This train was not a part of the walk... but I could not resist the discovery...

Our favorite stop pictured below. This is a backyard of a long time town-home development. Its one of my best-buy picks for the North Side in terms of quality of life, size, flexibility and price. Yes, a town-home with a backyard.

Don't forget to pick up a "green friendly" Bowmanville Community Organization shopping bag to reuse for local grocery and retail shopping. Say no to plastic!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Are You a Ravenswood Two Flat Buyer?

I came across a two-flat on Winnemac Park in Ravenswood that I think is a terrific deal. Solid building, updated mecahnicals (including partially finished basement with individual furnace, move-in quality two bedroom units, great yard, deck... right on Winnemac Park.

I want to buy the building for myself. But with a kid on the way, my wife is just not up for squeezing four of us in a two bedroom (while using the basement too). We also finished our current home and moved in while expecting our first kid... and barely made it before he showed up. Just not the right timing for us.

However, even if you are looking at condos or town homes in the $350,000 to $400,000 range, you should also check out the numbers on this move in two-flat. It could probably sell in the $425,000 range. With only 10% down and using conservative numbers...all in, you are looking at $3,500 a month carrying. The rent for the top floor two bedroom with one garage spot should be about $1,100. With a little more money down, you could own a building in this great location for around $2,000 a month (including taxes and insurance and some monthly maintenance factored in).
If you have 20% down, on the $425,000 purchase price, you're looking at a great long term home with numbers that really make sense. You may also just start living in the building as a single family home and slowly convert. I have already brought clients as well... I think its a great opportunity. I would have kept renters upstairs for two or three years and then converted... you may want to duplex down. The basement is ready for a little carpet and dry wall and can be immediately used as a family room + bedroom and has a ton of storage space.

This is not my listing, so please contact me if you're serious about looking into two-flats in the area.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bowmanville Garden Walk Saturday July 11th

Today, former clients of mine invited me to the Bowmanville Garden Walk being held tomorrow Saturday July 11th from 11:00 AM to 4:30PM. I have to walk a whole six blocks over to their townhouse. They are former Lakeview residents that discovered more for their money in Bowmanville... without sacrificing quality of life.

Read some of my past posts about the neighborhood here. It's been one of my favorites for single family homes from $450,000 to $1,000,000 on the North Side.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

3 Unintended Consequences of the Chicago Parking Deal

As a Realtor, I make lots of stops and park all over the city showing property and entertaining clients. I had no issue with the meter price increase. But here's three things that remind me of the parking meter deal almost every day of my life:

#1. I park the truck, get the boy out of the truck, walk/carry boy to the box, stand in line at the box, get credit card out, (usually drop something) wait for receipt, walk/carry boy back to truck, open door, put in receipt (usually drop something), shut door (all one armed with boy in other arm). Can't wait for the second kid.

#2. There once was a day in Chicago where you'd pull up to a meter, discover it 10 minutes left on it, run in and buy your coffee (and pay your gazillion percent sales tax), run back out and be on your way. Now, see #1 (kid-less, but same process).

#3. Meters gave you some perspective where to park... now it's chaos on the curb.

Oh, and #3a. Buried alive in little paper parking receipts

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Open House Sunday: Wrigleyville Roof Deck Madness in Lakeview

Open House Sunday 7/19/09 from 1PM to 3PM

Top floor Wrigleyville condo in Lakeview with south views of downtown from your roof top deck.

Asking $515,000

Madness? Maybe. But a top floor condo with private roof top deck in Wrigleyville is my kind of lifestyle (if I were single with no kids....oh well. Or maybe you're married and just cooler than me).
My partner Julie and I are selling 3531 N Wilton in Wrigleyville. Please view a description of the property HERE

This is an extra wide lay-out with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dramatic entrance staircase with foyer and wide hallway. The effect of the openness entering the home is aesthetically pleasing. Attached garage too!

Killer kitchen.

Keep that gluteus maximus in shape! It's a walk up.

The Chicago Real Estate Local in Redeye: Would You Live on the "L" Track?

Thanks to redeye and Tracy Swartz for quoting me in today's "Going Public" column in their print edition and online. Tracy wanted to ask a Realtor about peoples' attitudes when considering buying close to the CTA elevated train tracks.

Her quote was a little confusing in regard to location. The basic point I make is selling a place that backs up to the "L" in some way or another is tough in general as the majority of buyers will not consider it. Prices can easily be 20 percent less than comparable units that are at least one block from the tracks. She also pointed out my comments that, in my experience, people who do buy on the tracks are either pretty long time Chicagoans use to the noise or people who want to stretch their dollar in the very best neighborhood they can get.

One example is two-flats that line the south side of Leland between North Damen Ave. to North Lincoln Ave. in Lincoln Square. Buildings are very expensive in this family friendly location, but backing up to the elevated tracks could be your only affordable option for a large enough home. Would you do it, all other things equal, if a dream home was in your budget solely because it backed up to the tracks?
See some more comments here

Monday, July 06, 2009

Trump for Chump Change: Gold Coast to River North One Bedroom Deals

Stepping out of 405 N Wabash, surrounded by iconic architecture everyday like Trump Tower and the Wrigley Building. 405 N Wabash is a solid building right next to Trump Tower with nice pool, fitness area and terrific entrance plaza. A one bedroom condo can be had for under $200,000.

I've been in Gold Coast and River North neighborhoods quite a bit lately with clients looking to take advantage of the currents market. There was a glut of condos sold to investors over the past several years... and of course that party is over. Many of those units are selling off short-sale and the buildings themselves pose a risk and reward. Sure you can get a good deal, but what will become of the condo association when everything shakes out? I think this opportunity is fit for the second home buyer or someone with reserve cash that can weather any issues in the coming 5 years.

For my first time buyers who covet these neighborhoods with their amenities and their views, we tend to look at established buildings that also offer good buys now. My clients have found out quickly that once you put all the puzzle pieces together- location, view, good building, nice unit, parking options, building amenities- the choices shrink fast.

A couple of my favorite buildings going north for deals and views include 10 E Ontario (great amenities, sharp looking building and you can score PARKING with a unit for the $240s!) and 88 W Schiller (The Lowell House) for great lake views and location near Lincoln Park as well.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Home Affordable Refinance Program Expanded

Here's a better story from Inman News on the expanded Home Affordable program for those of you looking to refinance your home. Please consult a mortgage banker to see if you will qualify.

More Mortgage News Chicago: Refinance up to 125% Loan to Value

Brian Cumpton, a mortgage banker with Wells Fargo ( see )
sent me this link explaining new refinancing rules that can help YOU

For people that did not have quite enough equity to refinance into today's lower rates, this will be huge.