Sunday, September 27, 2009

Buying in Ravenswood under $250,000

"Why rent when you can buy?" was a favorite pitch of Realtors when prices were going bonkers. Purely on a financial level over the last couple years, renting looked cheap and more stable. However, buying for the numbers and lifestyle of owning is making a lot of sense again in Ravenswood. If you can pony up the scratch, buying and letting a room mate (that you would have anyway) pay some of your mortgage is a great option in Ravenswood.

There are about 17 two bedroom condo options up to $250,000 in Ravenswood that are as nice or much better than rental units I've had... and owning with 10%-20% down will cost near the same as renting with a room mate. Even at a little more money, you may improve your quality of life if owning is your goal and the condo building association is solid.

In fact, I saw two units under $200,000 I consider solid buys and would be perfectly nice places to live. The readers of this blog know how I feel about the quality of life in Ravenswood... buying a home under $200,000 is an affordable option that comes with many neighborhood amenities (and great neighbors).

Under $200K will get you a small courtyard building, washer/dryer in unit or in building laundry, steam/radiator heat, window air conditioners, an Ashland Avenue address.... but overall you'll get surprising quality and condition in the unit for a really centrally located and desirable neighborhood. This is the type of investment I would do with an older child living with a room mate. But, it's an affordale price for many looking to get their own place too.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Are there any FHA eligible condos out there?

Love the terrace... but is the condo FHA eligible?

It's Saturday night 10PM... new baby is sleeping (for now) and I'm trying to find my first time buyers FHA loan eligible condo units before the first time buyer's tax credit goes away November 30th. Par-Tay! I'm barley hanging on tonight while staring at the MLS and every other property outlet I can think of. It's been a very busy month, let alone the new addition to the family.

I'm suggesting clients have an accepted deal by the second week of October at the latest to close by the second week of November. The end of November could be a nightmare to try and close a deal due to Thanksgiving and the crunch of deals pending.

It's needle in the haystack time. The right condo, priced well and FHA eligible with two weeks left on the clock. Geez.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

For Sale: Single Family Alternative in Blaine School, Southport Corridor 60613

Looking for Blaine Elementary School attendance boundaries? Maybe you just want space and top location in Southport Corridor at Addison and Southport.

Not yet on the MLS... but it will be!

3616 N Janssen #1N, asking $589,900

-Move-in ready and neutral decor...Great condition!

-Three bedrooms up duplex home

-Three full baths (two up, one on main level)

-Family room (or private fourth bedroom)

-Huge front terrace off living room

-Back deck

-Fenced backyard

-Garage parking (1)

-Zoned street parking

-Stainless steel appliances

-Exterior storage room

-Entire home professionally painted (in progress)

-Common rooftop deck with great views

Please email or call me for a showing. For the serious buyer who has been looking for space and great location.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mid century modern in Wilmette snatched up in short sale

Jillian, Ryne and Amalia (snug in mom's baby sling) wonder "what could have been?" in this mid century modern Wilmette home. Nicely located, the three beds, two and one-half baths with huge family room is listed as a short sale at $448,000.

My wife and I (and those two mouths we feed) checked out a few Wilmette single family homes on Saturday evening. Yep, big night out for the Rojas family.

The dream for quite some time is to purchase a mid century ranch or split level home with modern architecture flair. Wilmette is in no shortage of these. In our budget...? Well that's another story. However, I did manage to find a few very good possibilities.

The photos above and below are a great example of the main features we want... a lofted, or vaulted, wood beam ceiling for example. The full corner wall of windows is a plus. And who can leave out the stone massing fireplace?

We spotted a structural issue on that gorgeous roof. There was definitely a sag and water damage. The floor may have had an issue in the same place... so, who knows what that could cost. Otherwise, the home needed a good painting and freshening up of the baths. The material in baths and kitchen, if budget demanded, could stay.

Some lucky bidder has the pole position on the home since July. The agent and seller are patiently waiting for the acceptance by the bank.

You can't handle the truth..or short sales!

Mary Ellen Podmolik called me earlier this week to talk about real estate 'short-sales for' today's Chicago Tribune Business section. Are they getting done? In my world, mostly no. I did have one successful short sale purchase this year. But the other few I wrote on, my buyers walked away during the process in favor of non-distressed properties. Most of my clients that view short-sales with me, just don't offer on them after seeing the properties and learning about the process.

Here's my quote from today's column:

"Most people really aren't in a situation where they can deal with the uncertainty," said Zhao's real estate agent, Eric Rojas at Prudential Rubloff. "Even when you explain that it's not accepted until the bank accepts it and you build these safeguards into the contract, people are dropping out, left and right. These sales would get done, but people just can't wait."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sunday Open House: Two Bedroom Southport Corridor in Lakeview 60613

4110 N Southport #2: Updated vintage for $289,000

Open today Sunday 9/20/09 from 1P to 4P.

CLICK here for photos and more info:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Trade Chicago for Wilmette?

With my second mouth to feed showing up a few weeks ago (my wife, being the fourth mouth behind me, is capable of feeding herself), I ask that you forgive my momentary dad freak out here.

Wilmette sounds nice.

My wife doesn't want to move... I don't want to move. We swear by our duplex-down lifestyle in Ravenswood. But, there are some pretty attractive short sales and straight up re-sale single family homes that look good from $400,000 to $450,000. The schools, man... the schools.

Can anybody tell me what it's like living in the western part of Wilmette a little northeast of Centennial Park? How is it driving to the north side of Chicago? Where would we hang out most with the kids as they get older? I'm pretty familiar with the lakefront... but how's it out west?

FHA eligible condos and two flats in Chicago

I have several listings that are FHA eligible. The "Golden Trilogy " for buyers right now is Federal Housing Administration loan eligibility, low interest rates and the first time buyers tax credit.
The trick is finding a condo building that will conform to FHA guidelines.
Lucky you... I have several condos and a two flat for sale that should qualify without issue.

$179,000 at 1140 W Morse, Unit GE: Rogers Park on the lake and close to the Brown Line. Two beds, two baths, parking and steps to Loyola Beach.

$229,900 at 3303 W Ainslie #3E: Albany Park two beds, one bath with parking and a private full basement... for real! Great deck and huge sideyard.

$289,900 at 4110 N Southport #2: Graceland West, Southport Corridor two bedrooms with one bath, huge dining room, eat-in kitchen and awesome deck.

$389,900 at 522 W Oakdale #2W: lakeview East, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, parking deck, huge storage. East Lakeview man!

$474,900 at 4735 N Whipple: Albany Park, Ravenswood Manor two flat building. Renovated and move-in ready. Huge finsihed space for the money.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Construction and renovation in Southport Corridor

This pile of dirt will be your much needed, newly built Jewel Food Store!
I have a couple new listings in Lakeview's Southport Corridor. While taking a walk down this very familiar street (I worked in some of the restaurants over 10 years ago as the boom hit) I noticed a little bit of new construction and renovation going on... both residential and commercial.

The old Jewel grocery store was torn down and is making way for a brand new joint with better elbow room and parking.

I passed this new construction condo development across from the Blaine school. It has been rare in this market to see progress on in-fill new construction. I don't see these units on the MLS yet and there is only one other new construction development currently selling on North Southport Ave from Belmont (3200 N) to Irving Park Road (4000 N).

New construction and newer construction three bedrooms, two baths condos of different varieties can and do sell for over $600,000 on North Southport Ave.

It's good to see this corner retail spot getting a face lift... the recession may be ending for many and retail remains popular on North Southport. Does anyone remember what this was at Southport and Grace?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Get Mod in Riverwest 60622: Open House for three bedroom townhome

Open House at 943 W Huron Sunday 9/13 from 12P to 3P

Live close to the Loop in River West...

943 Huron, Asking $472,000

My partner Julie and I have a deal for YOU! Ha! Seriously, we received a very good listing price on this home.

Here's some detail from the MLS listing with lots of exclamation points!

Click this link to view more photos

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

New condo for sale in Southport Corridor, Graceland West Chicago 60613

4110 N Southport #2 will be listed in MLS tomorrow at $289,900. Check it out NOW at the virtual tour. FHA okay and 1st time buyer's tax credit is still available if you close by November 30th (I'd try to close by November 15th). 2 beds, 1 bath, in-unit washer/dryer, central air, storage and easy street parking.

I love the kitchen layout and deck at this place.

Taxes are low at $2800 and the assessment is $226/month and covers the basics... water, building maintenance, snow removal.

You are two blocks from the very desirable Southport Corridor and a 10 minute walk to Wrigley Field. Commuting downtown is much easier than you think... there are quick buses to CTA train stops or you can take a bus right into downtown.

More on Bowmanville, Chicago

I've championed the Bowmanville neighborhood on the north side of Chicago as an affordable option with great "city life". YoChicago writes about Bowmanville today with a couple interesting comments that follow.

See what I had to say about the trend in the the "hood"

Check out my past posts on Bowmanville HERE... you'll feel like you live there already!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Lincoln Square features top notch housing, breastfeeding

Grab yerrrr pitchforks...there be a breast feeder among us!

Yes, buy a great home and breastfeed to your heart's content in Lincoln Square. About three dozen or so moms staged a sit-in of sorts to counter recent "negative comments" suffered about their public breastfeeding.

My wife wasn't there, but had she known about this... she would have been. As active parents of two (one a newborn), we get out and walk, shop, dine, and contribute hefty taxes to our family friendly community of Ravenswood/Lincoln Square. You're damn right we'll (she'll) breastfeed in the public way any time that kid starts chirping. We call it chripin', some might call it wailing. Whatever.

For crying-out-loud, we're talking about feeding babies here. Moms are not going to relegated to the stinky small "bathroom". Hippie, yuppie, left, right... whoever; don't mess with moms. If everything is peaceful, what's the problem?

In case you were wondering, the median price for a single family home in Lincoln Square for the second quarter of 2009 was $545,000.

This blog post made me hungry!

East Lakeview Open House: 522 W Oakdale, Chicago 60657

Don't blow this!

522 Oakdale #2W Asking 389,900!

Open House Saturday 9/5/2009 from 12P to 3P

Very attractive, nicely appointed three year old conversion unit

2 beds

2 baths


Huge Storage

Like NEW

ArtPrize in Grand Rapids to feature Rubloff graphic artist

One of the best things about working with Rubloff Residential Properties is the quality of marketing products made available to us. Leslie Fonnesbeck has worked with me at Rubloff to create brochure designs, event flyers and postcards that always receive compliments from clients, associates and Realtors in other brokerages.

Leslie will be showing her work at ArtPrize this month in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I have a lot of friends from up there and will be asking them this month to vote for her work. Good Luck!

Is Chicago a Top Ten place to make a living?

Get out your squeegee to make ends meet cuz Forbes says you ain't making the top ten.

See the top ten here

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Think its hard to find a deal in Chicago? Try Los Angeles, California

Straight out of Compton (alright... more like some milder outskirts of the city). Here's a direct quote from my old school friend on her house hunting experience:

"Hopefully this offer we've made on a 5th house will be the one that goes through. I'm not holding my breath, though, it's crazy out here in So. Cal. I'll call you when we finally give up and move back to Chicago. :)"

She's getting beat-up by short sales and multiple offers in the "middle-class" price-point.

Here in Chicago, a few colleagues of mine and me were talking about how we can't find our motivated buyers anything worth buying...yes, you heard me. We just don't see that magic great place that offers value too often. You gotta be READY and act fast or end up like my friend and her "L.A. Story".

Taza for Ravenswood/Bowmanville coffee and deli

For two years now I have been passing by Taza Coffee and Deli at Foster and Damen in my neighborhood without going in. Which, as a coffee shop guy, is hard to explain. Now, it's a regular spot for me. Free wi-fi, good food selection, nice people working there and decent outdoor seating in front. It's an "English garden" level store, which gives it a cool east coast old city feel. I seem to always equate garden level bars and coffee shops with New York, Boston and of course, London. Even reminds me of a place in Athens, Georgia... but I digress.

I was told the coffee shop is owned by two teachers (one I think at Amundson High School across the street and one a university professor). They get a good lunch crowd from the school.

I hope they have a long and prosperous business and become an anchor to the furthest corner of the North Ravenswood neighborhood. Good product and attention to the surrounding cafe atmosphere will always bring people back.

Mortgage interest rates lower this week, tax credit expiring

With rates near an all time low again - and the tax credit about to expire - now is the time to sign that contract on your new home. Time is running out….here is a great breakdown of rates over the last 8 months. We are seeing rates around the 5% range which haven't been here since the Spring.

The basic message is, rates are back to winter/spring levels. Everyone may know the federal first-time buyers tax credit is expiring on November 30th, but they may not be up to date with where rates are. They have been falling the past 2-3 weeks. With the credit expiring and rates low again - buyers have a chance to purchase during this valley we are in.

Please contact Brian Cumpton, RWF Wells Fargo, at

Many are predicting mortgage interest rates will push up after 1st quarter of next year - if not the 2nd.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Condo for sale 60613: Not yet listed in Southport Corridor/ Graceland neighborhood two bedroom condo

Sorry for the advertisement... but I have a new home for sale at the north end of Southport Corridor that is not yet on the MLS. This is a great option for under $300,000 with good common space for true entertaining. FHA should be Okay!

The Details: 4110 N Southport #2, Chicago 60613 asking $289,900

More photos coming soon!

Southport Corridor for under $300,000! FHA financing should be okay! Use that first time buyer's $8,000 credit on this classic Chicago home in Lakeview.

Two bedrooms, one bathroom vintage home with terrific layout. Split bedrooms, one in front, one in back for privacy. Formal east facing living room with bay window and a large formal dining room creates the common space you need for gatherings.

Admire the beautiful wood trim and built-in cabinets as you pass into the kitchen.

The rare kitchen layout features a peninsula bar overlooking perfect area for cafe or high-top table. A newer killer deck sits adjacent off the kitchen with plenty of table and chair'll love it!

Wood-burning fireplace, in-unit washer and dryer, central air and heat, large storage and easy street parking complete the package. Rental parking next door may be available, but not needed...seriously!The location offers short walks to all the action in Wrigleyville or Southport Corridor, yet is quiet and away from major traffic.

Walk to the CTA trains or take a short bus ride to the station you need. Much easier to downtown than you think.

Great long-time owners of this home offer great insight to the area... just ask!