Monday, June 29, 2009

Mortgage Rates are Dipping, Chicago

Mortgage rates had been creeping up, but just took a nose dive to almost 5%. They may open lower tomorrow. If you're motivated to buy or re-finance, you need to watch this stuff. I have had several clients write offers in the past few days and now can take advantage of the current rates.

Call your mortgage banker or visit for your Wells Fargo Bank mortgage expert.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sunday Open House: 6334 W Newport in Dunning Neighborhood

Peace and quiet. Double lot. Awesome deck.

Sunday open house 6/28/09 from 1PM to 3PM at 6334 W Newport. Asking $374,000.

You may want to visit this terrific family neighborhood. Affordable house still near city amenities! Great parks and schools nearby.

Please see more details and photos HERE

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chicago Home Sales Statistics: Winning Streak Hits 4 Months

I was sent this story from Crain's today by my brokerage from our twitter account

Chicago area home sales continue to be way down from last year. But for 2009 alone, actual sales have gained ground each of the past 4 months. May 2009 sales were down 18% compared to May of 2008. It was the first month this year sales were off less than 20%.
Check out the stats in the story linked above.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Off Market: East Lakeview Quality Two Bedrooms, Two Baths, Parking, Deck, Storage Included.

East Lakeview dwellers... get-a-load of this. Asking $419,900.

522 W Oakdale #2W will be hitting the open market by mid-July. However, I can show this with notice. Tenants are out July 10th and we'll freshen up the place to look brand new.

It has a large open livingroom and designated dining area. However, the living space is very flexible and can be arranged in several ways to accomodate your furniture and style. This is a great looking building and the unit is upgraded with attractive baths, organized closets, great bay window and terrific light in the common living spaces.

-Converted in 2005/2006

-Two bedrooms

-Two full bathrooms

-Parking space, large storage included

-Deck off the kitchen

-Assessment around $266.00

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chicago REO and Short Sale Properties Still Tough to Buy?

I called for specific information on this bank owned property below (including if there were any offers pending) in Avondale early this year... I never received a call back.

I've been involved in several distressed property purchases this year. David Hanna, 2009 Chicago Association of Realtors President, comments on the REO (bank owned property) situation in Illinois. Even with willing and able buyers these properties and the buying process many times are handled in mysterious ways. For instance, lender's make it tough to buy due to over stringent und and changing rwriting rules, real estate brokers don't answer calls, banks take too long to negotiate and accept offers etc... Here's a excerpt below from David's full post:
"In Chicago (and the overall metropolitan area) we are already adding REO inventory at a pace well in excess of the absorption rate. We hear anecdotally that there is a backlog of foreclosed property being held off market by banks and asset management companies in response to the unforeseen precipitous fall in average and median sales price in many areas.

Yes, inventory is dropping, albeit slowly. The biggest factor in the dip is the number of owners taking property off the market because they cannot sell it right now for a price they are willing to accept.

Yet many of the same banks now selling these foreclosed homes are loath to consider a purchase offer with any type of financing contingency, and they continue to accept lower cash offers on property, effectively closing the door on many buyers looking to pay fair market price for a home.

Plus, added governmental regulation created daily to deal with vacant property adds a burden of time and cost to each transaction.

The solution to clearing out the REO inventory is to prevent it (as much as possible) from entering into the system by:

1. Having people working--and providing access to lending based on rational criteria;

2. Having adequate resources directed to the implementation and support of the Obama Loan Modification program;

3. Leveling the playing field so home buyers have an equal opportunity to buy foreclosed property with investors and speculators; and

4. Allowing for governmental policy that weighs the economic and social costs of widespread displacement of millions of American households.

Do What You Like: Buying a Vacation Home

Enjoying a little winter solitude in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin this past January. The cold keeps him quiet.

A fellow blogger and broker David Curry -who I've come to really enjoy up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin- sticks it to a wayward Newsweek writer. Some people like cars, some fine restaurants, some fine art, some fishing, some getting the hell out of the city... some just like vacation homes and/or all the above.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Downtown Chicago Skyline Photos to Cheer You Up

Here's a few photos from reminding us the sun will come up tomorrow. Or, next week.

Sell Your Home Then Buy Your Home

Recently, I've had some move-up and move-out clients dealing with the selling/buying "chicken or the egg" quandary. Do I find a place before selling... do I sell first... do I try to do both and manage to time everything perfectly?

Everyone wants a deal... but the true way to get a deal on a home you really want is to sell your current home first, plan ahead for temporary housing then search/pounce on a real deal with the most aggressive offer.

The above assumes two things: 1. You own a home and, 2. You can't buy another home until you sell you're current home. You'll reduce stress, find the best home you can afford and be able to make the strongest offer with fewer contingencies.

If you're a renter, you may better shape... until that lease starts closing in. In this case, you might discuss your options with your landlord ahead of time. He/she may let you out of the lease early if it's a good month to rent out the unit. Or, at the very least, you may arrange to sub-let the unit. Whatever you do, plan ahead and take a little hit on rent if you have to. You do not want to pass up the home you really want in this market because of a few months rent. In most cases, some rent consideration can be worked out in the negotiation.

An example... say my wife and I reverse gears and kiss-off Chicago to move to the burbs. We'd move the family in with her parents in Lemont, prepare our current home show it's best, sell it, then look for the house we want. We'd be able really look and jump on the best deal with a no strings attached offer. Even finding a cheap temporary rental is better than trying to sell and buy all at once in most cases.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Let's Buy Two! Twin Single Family Homes for Sale in Ravenswood

I'll take a look at several interesting, higher-end single family homes in Ravenswood and western Lincoln Square over the next few days. This is can't miss blogging!

Pictured here are twin contemporary single family homes located on the 1700 block of West Winnemac. Each offers a twist on finish and style, so the differences are significant enough. 1708 West Winnemac is listed at $1,049,000 and 1710 West Winnemac for $999,900. It's a terrific location steps from the over-the-top retail, restaurant and cultural strip of the Andersonville neighborhood. They are also located about four blocks from the Ravenswood Metra station that is about 15 minutes in style to downtown (once on the train).
However, the million dollar home market in Ravenswood, much like most of the city, has been challenging for sellers in comparison with 2003-2007 boom years.

Another challenge is the the search terms and MLS search code for the properties. They can be considered Ravenswood rightfully, but some may also call this West Andersonville. The MLS search code is categorized in "Uptown" (code 8003), which will get less search hits on the MLS than Lincoln Square (code 8004). An agent searching in Lincoln Square will miss the houses if they are not familiar enough to know this is a viable option, or, if they do not search by coordinates and map rather than just codes.

The homes together have changed hands a few times since their birth. For example, 1710 W Winnemac pictured to the left last sold for $950,000 in May of 2007 and originally sold new construction in 2004 for $784,920.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chicago Real Estate on a Bike

I'd like to thank Mary Umberger of the Chicago Tribune for including me in her real estate column today.
Cycling agents peddle green philosophy

Let's roll.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sunday Open House: 1140 W Morse in Rogers Park Offers Lakefront Living for Under $200,000

Open House this Sunday 6/14 from 1PM to 3PM

Now asking $184,900. Visit this impeccable garden condo just steps from the lake. Wonderful block just east of Sheridan with plenty to walk to.

Two beds... check. Two baths...check. Parking included east of Sheridan? You betcha.

Click here for my Rubloff site with photos and more information.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lincoln Park Open House: Saturday at 2002 N Howe, Chicago

Now Asking $434,900
Two beds plus den, two baths, parking and huge storage. Great space.

We've had a ton of action, second showings and a low offer already. But I'll be at 2002 N Howe Saturday 6/13/09 11AM to 1PM for an Open House anyway!

Check out more photos and info at this link

Adventures in East Village: Tough Market?

It's not easy buying a condo loft in East Village.

We got past the dragon.

But were stopped by this guy...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shopping River West Lofts: 525 N Ada Puts on a Happy Face

I've spent the last couple weeks shopping River West, Bucktown and Wicker Park lofts in the $300,000 range with one of my clients. We want cool. 525 N Ada in River West is cool. It's popular too. The only available listing was a renovated top floor two bed (well, one bed and large den) soft loft corner unit with great views. It was listed at $295,000 including a gated parking space... it's under contract after 20 days.

The view from the balcony at 525 Ada #44.

The building has one of our favorite facades.

I don't know about you, but I want to walk into a nice looking building every day. In fact, my own condo building (although in great shape) is lagging a little in the landscaping department and it always bothers me.

Price Reduced: Chicago Two Flat for Sale in Ravenswood Manor, Albany Park Neighborhood

Now $474,900 for a move-in ready two flat with a top floor three bedroom owner's unit. Check out the location on the map. It's a few blocks from the CTA Francisco Brown Line stop. Enjoy Ravenswood Manor, Lincoln Square to the east and and local grocery stores on West Lawrence Avenue and North Kedzie Avenue to the west.

It is very difficult to find a move-in, updated property for this price in a great location... the numbers work great for a live-in owner. We estimate rent including a garage parking spot at $1300.00 for the downstairs large two bed, one bath unit. Plenty of space for room mates with bonus sun room for an office or den. Tons of storage in the basement for you and a renter.

The property is located near the North Branch of the Chicago River... enjoy the vast walking paths and public parks system!

Questions about the neighborhood or property? Let me know. Call, email, telegram, telegraph... whatever it takes!
You may visit my Rubloff page for more pictures and information on the property at this link.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Lincoln Park Open House: 2002 N Howe, Chicago 60614

Finally... Affordable Lincoln Park east of Halsted.

Asking $440,000

My associate will host an open house at 2002 N Howe #2 Sunday, June 7th from 1PM to 3PM.This is a large two bedroom plus den, two bath with parking and huge storage included. You'll love the location and classic Chicago center entrance walk up. Wood burning fireplace too!

Click HERE for more photos and information. Call or email me for a private showing.

Walk to Oz Park down the block and unlimited restaurants, bars, boutiques and... the lake!

Sunday Open House: Albany Park with Deck and Parking Just Reduced!

Check out the gorgeous yard and deck.

My associate Thomas Reid will host an open house at 3303 W Ainslie Sunday June 7th from 1PM to 3PM. This is a top floor corner unit that has tons of features... including parking, a great deck and a full 800 sq/ft basement private to your unit.
Just reduced to $229K

Click HERE for more photos and information.

The location is just a couple blocks from the Kedzie and Kimball CTA Brown Line train. You are steps from the beautiful North Park University campus, Starbucks, Tre Kroner Restaurant, Jimmy Johns, Andy's Fruit Ranch and more.... a great walking location! The train is two stops to Ravenswood Crossing and three short stops to Lincoln Square. Get there in 10 minutes.

Stop by the open house or call me for a showing.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Raven Festival in Ravenswood Chicago: June 5th - June 7th

Ryne enjoying last year's Kidz Nest

The Raven fest is back for it's second year this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Chase Park in Ravenswood, Chicago. Please check the link above for the schedule of events and bands.

The highlight of this fest over all others is it's awesome Kidz Nest. There is kids entertainment, inflatables, arts and crafts and a petting zoo. The kids area is held in the expansive park area separate from the street fest.

See you there Sunday! Gotta work on Saturday :-(

Family of Four: Can You Buy in Chicago for Around $350,000?

I have a pretty good gig. Recently, I've been helping friends of mine, a family with two young kids, find a home in Chicago... or close by. The catch is, they'd like to be in an area with "things to walk to".

This is personal. They are not only friends but they are in a very similar point in their lives as my wife and I are. They want a cool neighborhood and just a little elbow room. They don't want to mortgage their lives.

Luckily, Jillian and I pulled it off a couple years ago. We will soon be a family of four and have a nice duplex home we'll enjoy for a long, long time. Sure, Ryne (pictured above) basically plays in a parking lot out back. But so did I growing up and that worked out okay.

It can be done. I just read in the latest Dwell magazine about a couple with two kids living in a great Manhattan location who renovated their... get this... 700 sq/ft home to accommodate the new baby (the 4th family member). So, I got a little embarrassed knowing I've once felt like 1800 sq/ft was not enough. It's all about the layout and location (and adding storage).

That said, for many it's really hard to imagine having a couple kids in a three bedroom condo (with a family room please). But it only takes a little thinking about how you live life and what you want outside your door. So, if you want to live in the city... live in the city and make it work. Don't think you're supposed to have a house somewhere far, far away where you clean the gutters and mow the lawn rather than take the kids on the Brown Line to Millennium Park on a Saturday morning.

Now, to find that city home for a family of four in a good loaction for around $350,000... I'm open to suggestions.

Rent vs. Buy New York Times Style

Here's a link sent to me from a regular reader (thanks Dan) for an interesting rent vs. buy tool. It's an oldie but a goodie from the New York Times.
I then proceeded in my email response to wax about all the tangibles and intangibles of owning; and why I personally can't imagine renting ever... after all these years owning places.

From a "starting out" point of view, I can see why it's hard for many lifetime renters to see any financial benefit of owning. This can be true in short to even medium ownership spans. But owning a place brings other benefits and lessons to the table... and some of us actually get a little kick financially too.

(Photo taken while riding my bike, no hands, down North Winchester in Ravenswood).