Friday, April 30, 2010

Ravenswood Sears lot development: Second community meeting this Monday, May 3rd

Let's get this thing done!

Monday, May 3rd, a second meeting concerning the Sears parking lot mixed use development is being held. I have a vote in this. Here's the information I received in an email Wednesday from Alderman Schulter's 47th ward office:

Hello Resident of the 47th Ward,
You are receiving this email because you signed in at the last community meeting to discuss the proposed plan for the Sears parking lot.
Flyers were mailed out last week regarding the follow up meeting.
The date is Monday, May 3, 2010, at 7:00pm at McPherson School, 4728 N. Wolcott Ave. Please bring an ID or something to show proof of residency in case a vote is taken to determine the outcome.
To vote you must live within the following boundaries: Paulina (east) Winchester (west) Leland (south) Winnemac (north).Your attendance and input at this meeting is extremely important.
Dan Luna
Chief of Staff for Gene Schulter
Alderman, 47th Ward

READ my past blog posts and comments concerning the residential and commercial development in the Sears parking lot at West Lawrence and North Ravenswood.

Survey: Buyers optomistic after April 30th first time buyers tax credit deadline. Are you?

Buyers still smelling the flowers...

Many of our Chicago clients (buyers and sellers) have been asking for some time now what affect expiring first time buyers tax credit will have on the real estate market. Will prices go down? We can't say, but Bob and I estimate that the under $350,000 priced properties near the downtown center will slow down in demand ( for example South Loop to Rogers Park with Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, River North, etc... being key neighborhoods). However, pricing for well constructed, nicely appointed and nicely located properties in our opinion will remain fairly flat with already closed comparable properties from this year.

A Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, Inc. survey finds Americans are optimistic about buying real estate and are somewhat confident values will go up in the next several years. The expiration of the federal first time buyers tax credit today was low on buyers' concerns. As usual, mortgage interest rates and jobs are the major variables on peoples minds when deciding to buy. From the survey:

"The expiration of the 2010 Home Buyer Tax
Credits on April 30 is unlikely to put off Americans looking to
purchase homes who believe now is a good time to buy and are confident
that home prices will rise according to a survey released by
Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, Inc., a Prudential
Financial, Inc. company. The survey of 1,000 Americans between the
ages of 25-64 with at least $35,000 household income was conducted
during April 15-20, 2010."

Read the story HERE

Thursday, April 29, 2010

First time buyers tax credit expires April 30th, but we ain't dead yet! Lakeview, Rolling Meadows Open Houses this weekend

While some folks are worried about the first time buyers federal tax credit expiring this Friday, April 30th, we're busy planning open houses for our clients this weekend. Life goes on.

522 W Oakdale #2 in Chicago's East Lakeview: Open Saturday, May 1st from 1PM to 4PM and Sunday May 2nd from 12PM to 3PM: Asking $369,900

Two beds, two baths, parking and storage included! View photos at this link!

107 Ironwood Court in Rolling Meadows Open Sunday May2nd, from 1PM to 4PM: 3 beds, two and one-half baths, full basement, garage. Asking $299,900

View photos at this link!

Call or email our contact information in the side bar for more information.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Chicago tavern for any night of the week

I found myself at one of my favorite spots on the Near North side last weekend.

The Green Door Tavern is a good mix of tourists and locals, city and burbs folk, happy hour professionals and blue collar professional drinkers.

It's a good bet for a drink any night of the week.

Bridge up, so we wait

Here's a shot looking northeast at 505 North Lake Shore Drive, or Lake Point Tower as it's named. We're sitting on Lower Wacker Drive downtown heading east to LSD. Sometimes getting stopped for 15 minutes by a massive Chicago mechanical bridge is not so bad.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

East Lakeview does vintage better

We were in love with this place before stepping inside!

East Lakeview is a special, bustling and eclectic place to live. And the buildings are a big part of that. Here's a pretty "half" courtyard building on the 500 block of West Melrose.

Good lookin' cornice!

This two bedrooms, one bath home had a terrific layout and one of the largest most attractive kitchens I've seen in a vintage condo in quite some time.
The asking price is $349,000 with a $400 assessment (includes heat).

My clients check out the back gardens... great building!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Enjoy! First Night Ravenswood, Friday May 7th

Party here! Beyond Design at 4515 N Ravenswood, Chicago will host a courtyard party with the Janes and Vamplifier May 7th at 8Pm...$5 bucks!

Take in several cultural and social events at First Night Ravenswood in the Ravenswood neighborhood Chicago. The series of activities and receptions will take place on Friday May 7th, 2010 from 6PM to 8PM
Click the link for here for the initial press release and some of the planned activities.

I live in Ravenswood for several reasons. The neighborhood area offers a more spread out feeling with large city parks. Yet, it's central to major retail, restaurant and entertainment centers. The neighborhood has awesome transportation in several CTA Brown Line stops and the Ravenswood Metra Station. I have long felt Ravenswood offers the best combination of affordable real estate with terrific amenity in Chicago.

The Ravenswood neighborhood boundaries are West Montrose to West Foster and North Clark to North Leavitt.

More to come! Contact the Ravenswood Chamber with questions

Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce

1756 W. Wilson Ave. Chicago, IL 60640
Phone: 773.561.5225 Fax: 773.878.0472

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chicago Realtor rides bike on Earth Day

Happy Earth Day

I try and ride my bike as often as possible while working. Today, I rode over to a photo shoot of a new listing and to pick up some keys. Other than horrifying the Ravenswood neighborhood with my blinding white legs, it's a great way to work, get exercise and reduce my "carbon footprint". If you're a buyer open to riding bicycles rather than driving to condo or house showings, just let me know!

I make no claims to be greener than thou and I do drive an SUV. However, riding just makes a lot of sense when showing property, doing photo shoots, running errands...all in a days work. My partner Bob walks and takes public transportation for most of our day to day activities outside of buyer property showings.

Check out this Associated Press story I'm quoted in about riding as a Realtor.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chicago loves parking meters!

They don't build 'em like this anymore. I'm so happy to pull up on West Oakdale at North Broadway and pop a few (more than a few) quarters into this old fashioned meter and be on my way... quickly.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Buying in Buena Park

Inspecting Buena Park too... a recent client supervises her home inspector, Gene Bobrov of Accu-Spection, as he climbs off the roof.

We've been back in Buena Park quite a bit lately as our clients from $250,000 to $450,000 are finding great value in condos. The neighborhood's location offers lakefront lifestyle, access to CTA train stops and bus service, vintage homes and gorgeous tree-lined streets.

Buena Park is also home to one of Chicago's unique Historic Landmark districts on West Hutchinson Street.

You are HERE

My client nabbed a top floor unit... the clincher was the huge deck right off the kitchen and overlooking trees.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rare contemporary home in Lincoln Park facing the lakefront

Can you spot it?

Late 19th century and turn of the century period architecture (20th century that is) defines eastern Lincoln Park, Chicago at the Lakefront. It's rare that you see a contemporary single family home and even more rare when one changes hands right on the lakefront park system.

Walking home from the zoo a couple weeks ago, I remembered this home at 2474 N Lakeview recently sold for $4,000,000 at the end of 2009. Alien to its neighbors, yet somehow unpretentious in its landscape, the 1991 custom built home faces Lincoln Park just north of West Fullerton Avenue.

You can view a video of the interior of the home aired by NBC a few years ago by clicking the link.

Is Lincoln Park iconic?

Hell's Kitchen. Greenwich Village. Georgetown. Beacon Hill. Lincoln Park?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Open Houses: East Lakeview and Ravenswood condos this weekend

522 West Oakdale Open Saturday 4/17/10 12PM to 3PM
Two beds, two baths, parking, storage, steps to the lake asking $369,900

4619 N Paulina #1B Open Sunday 4/18/10 1PM to 3PM
One bedroom, one bath, storage, near Metra, Brown Line, asking $199,900


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Losing multiple offers?

I've had some clients lose multiple offers over the last couple months. We've also received multiple offers on a couple of our listings ($350K-$500K range). A client of mine just sent me a question involving her friend losing a multiple offer as a buyer and feeling like something was "fishy". Have you been involved in a multiple offer on the buying side or selling side? Do you think the process went well? Feel like the good stuff is going fast and you're always a step behind?

Gold Coast(ing); Looking for two bedroom, two bathrooms

My Mag Mile renter clients are looking for an upgrade as we were shopping Gold Coast condos last week. The weather was terrible! However, condo unit sales in the Near North Side community area (which includes Gold Coast) were up 37% first quarter 2010.

We viewed several two bedrooms, two bathrooms condos for under $300,000. The assessments ranged in the $600-$700 a month range. Each building offered various amenities, but all building assessments included doormen, heat, elevators, pools and a fitness area. Condos near $300,000 offered updated finishes.

Live across a mansion on State Parkway

Your well-to-do neighbors on North Dearborn

Chicago garden apartments and condos; Not all the same

We recently listed and sold this perfectly conditioned two beds, two baths garden unit with parking and lakefront location in Rogers Park. My owners were there for almost six years without incident. The new buyers love their location and features for $168,000.

When researching garden apartments and condos in Chicago, much of the anecdotal information on the Internet is very general and negative. Much of this information is from people with no construction knowledge or empirical data. They may have had a bad rental experience or ownership experience, but this can be said for all properties. However, just as in any other dwelling garden apartments and condos are subject to quality of construction, one's budget and one's preferences. The most prevalent reasons to own a garden unit is location and price. You can simply get a better location withing your budget and a 30%-50% discount to comparable condos on the first floor.

The main objections to garden level homes (usually 50% below grade level) are; Fear of flooding from exterior or back-ups, lighting, security, and humidity/temperature control.
Here's an easy read addressing construction features that address humidity and temperature in basement living spaces:

Many basement condo conversions have good sump pump systems, drain tile to prevent seepage, properly insulated walls and or other flood preventing features. Many of these units have had years of comfortable living... so just be diligent.

My own experience deals with several clients owning garden condo units and "duplex-down" homes with the lower floor living space is 50% or less below grade. Most, including my-self, have had positive experiences. I've owned a duplex home for three years and we have several systems in place to keep our lower level dry and extremely comfortable. Some have experienced some type of flooding or back-up issue and had to correct the problem. In each one of those cases I know of, it had to do with proper plumbing maintenance of the building and the cost varied greatly. That is, if you are thinking of living in a garden unit you should inspect the common plumbing situation of the building.

This garden unit below in Ravenswood is wide, highly upgraded and has industrial plumbing improvements to prevent back-ups.

If you are looking to buy a garden level condo I suggest interviewing qualified inspectors who can enumerate the important points they will check. I also recommend having a licensed plumber come out and run a camera check/system check of the situation. This can cost up to $500.00 plus the physical inspection ($200-$500 depending on the size, complexity of the home). However, if you can get a terrific unit with all he features you want in the location you want... for 30%-50% less, a proper inspection will be worth it. Some buildings will already have excellent plumbing improvements work and records.

As for safety, I personally have no evidence suggesting garden units are a higher break-in risk than houses, other apartments and finished lower levels of homes and duplex-down condos. It's true you may not be able to leave windows open at all times like a top floor unit. But this is all part of the pros, cons and pricing. As we speak, I sit writing in my lower level with the windows open. We have a security system and close them when we leave or at night.

Lighting will depend on size of windows and interior light fixtures. "Canned" or recessed lighting is my suggestion for finished basement levels. There are plenty of above grade units that get little light due to surrounding buildings, however they may be worth the price and location for many people.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First Quarter 2010 condo unit sales way up in our key neighborhoods

Many key neighborhoods we work in saw dramatic condo unit sales increases over the dismal first quarter of 2009. Consumer confidence is up combined with lower asking prices, low interest rates and the positive affect of the federal first time buyer's credit.

According to our and Chicago Association of Realtor's statistics (of which I'm a member of both), here's the percentage increases in several of our key community area in First Quarter 2010:

Lincoln Park +147%
Lakeview +35%
Lincoln Square +71%
Northcenter +87%
Near North Side +37%
Irving Park +32%
West Town +24%
Loop +101%

Albany Park +300%

These statistics represent one of many, many variables we use to advise in selling and buying homes in Chicago. Other factors may be much more significant concerning your location and property of interest.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New! Ravenswood renovated one bedroom for sale, like new $199,900

Just in time!

4619 N Paulina #1B, Asking $199,900

Off market unit, not on the MLS... and considering you want to take advantage of the tax credit aaannndddd... have not found what you want yet I've decided to give you a peek. Call/email me for a showing.

One bedroom, one bath, recent renovation, open floor plan, good sized bath, attractive finishes and crown molding, taxes $2,800 (no homeowners exemption), assessment $187.00, established building, huge storage unit. Great location near Metra, Brown Line, Ravenswood restaurants and bars, Lincoln Square and Andersonville.

Monday, April 12, 2010

South Loop...but not too far south

Looking north from a South Loop rooftop deck at 1020 South Wabash. Got your attention?

Last weekend I showed clients some of my favorite homes in the South Loop neighborhood.

I've been spending a good amount time in the South Loop for the past five years due to clients and friends living there. For a downtown option, I think it's underrated. The area has taken a pretty sizable hit on pricing due to the mass building of mid-rise and high-rise towers and bubble prices. Just too many units of too little quality for too much money. However, there are a handful of solid buildings in my opinion that offer a lot for the money.

13th Street is the cut-off for me going south. But, it's at 13th where you have a good cluster of amenities, restaurants and bars to keep things interesting. I would also hug the lake here for great access to the Museum Campus and easy stroll or bike ride to Millennium Park, The Art Institute, lakefront concerts, law and financial industries, and whatever you're looking for.

Second floor common outdoor deck. Those tables are great for wine with friends.

One building I always go back to is 1020 South Wabash, a 49 unit long time established loft conversion. Technically, this is in the official Loop designated community area, but it's part of the "South Loop neighborhood" to most. Other than elevator and a couple rooftop deck areas, the building does not offer flashy amenities. However, the units tend to be larger than the competition for the asking and closing prices. Many have pretty good views, a gritty New York style open loft feel, garage parking and a terrific location north of Roosevelt that's close to the CTA Red Line. The units are very different, but you can generally get 1500-1600 sq feet for around $330K-$400K with attached garage parking included and a $400 a month assessment.

Looking east from the rooftop deck.

More options to come this week!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fast paced weekend for buyers and sellers

My partner Bob and I have been penning deals this past week in Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Wicker Park. We negotiated another couple accepted contracts this past weekend. It's been non-stop.

But nothings easy. We've had multiple offer situations on buy-sides and as the listing agents for our clients' properties. We've had both fast paced deals and long negotiations falling apart over closing dates and $4,000! We've also had client's frustrated at the lack of quality inventory in their budgets (thus, the multiple offers of great homes that make sense to own). If you are not clear on what's going on in your market, please give a ring...we are on call this entire month.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Open House Hell this weekend? 522 W Oakdale in East Lakeview

522 W Oakdale #2W in East Lakeview, Chicago: Asking $369,900

Open Sunday April 11th from 1PM to 3PM

The Realtors are coming, the Realtors are coming!

I'm not into big sales gimmicks... and I do hold open houses regularly. But this weekend happens to be a National Open House Weekend and many Realtor associations are participating.
So, if you don't have a balloon phobia or if you like answering from a dozen agents how long you've been looking, where do you live, do you own a place, need a parking spot etc.. it could be a good weekend to look at condos and single family homes.

My scheduled open house is at 522 W Oakdale, a two beds, two baths renovated conversion condo with parking and storage included. It gets a lot of showings each week and weekend so I'm doing the open house to give agents and consumers flexibility to view. See you there!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Banner year for Wrigleyville sales?

While Ryne and I were on work errands this morning in Wrigleyville, we were surprised by these awesome player banners on Wrigley Field. They look great! I had to stop for a photo. I don't know how they will help Lakeview home sales but I do feel better about the the Cub's season opener.

Then of course, I got scammed into buying hotcakes and sausage for the boy since we were standing in the McDonald's parking lot.

Buyer's gobble up Lakeview condos in first quarter 2010

In first quarter 2009, 150 attached homes closed (condo, town homes).

Looking at data from (the multiple listing service of which I'm a member) I see 203 units closed in first quarter 2010.

The highest priced closing of an attached unit was a whopping $1,165,000 for 3400 N Lake Shore Drive Unit 2EF.

The lowest priced unit was $102,000 at 655 W Irving Park #3309, a bank owned studio in a high rise.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Double take! Lincoln Park 2010 first quarter condo unit sales DOUBLE 2009

In first quarter 2009 only 62 attached units closed (condo/town home).

The (of which I'm a member) data for January through March show 154 attached closed units for first quarter 2010.

The highest priced closed attached unit was 2020 N Lincoln Park West Unit 38DEF for $932,000.

The lowest priced closed attached unit was 2625 N Clark Unit 1902 at $90,000 (a foreclosure on bedroom).

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Still confused about the first-time homebuyer tax credit?

We've been contacted by several consumers and clients with questions about the federal first time homebuyer credit even this week. The most confusion surrounds the April 30th deadline. Understand the deadline requirement and you will understand there is still time to take advantage of the credit.

1. Eligible first time buyers must sign a purchase agreement by April 30th. This is not a "closing". You're not necessarily locked into the deal as you will still have attorney approval, mortgage contingency, inspection contingency, approval of minutes, budget, by-laws (if a condo) etc... But, you will be eligible for the credit should you make it to the closing. If you don't know this process, call us!

2. You must "close" the transaction by June 30th. This means you must own the home by this date. There will be many closings the last week of June and it may be a good idea to try to close your purchase prior to the last week of June for several reasons.

If you have been casually or seriously looking at property and want to take advantage of the credit, we can help you make educated decisions now. You may also want to revisit several of the basic facts about the first time homebuyer credit HERE.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Charm is at a premium in East Lakeview

Walking the streets of East Lakeview, I find little post WWII architecture worth stopping for.

They don't build 'em like these anymore. I imagine these brick two flats were built between 1910 and 1920.

There are very few boom era multi-unit buildings built in the last 15 years worth looking at from the outside. It's shocking that you have to go back over 75 years really to find attractive architecture in East Lakeview.

I can't say I've put a ton of thought into this critique. It is, however, my gut feeling that outside of a handful of well built masonry new construction that I respect for quality and strength, there has been next to nothing in multi-units built in East Lakeview after 1940 worth preserving.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Chicago buyers wanted!

Exhausted in your home search? Tired of the drama?

Think it's too late to take advantage of the first time buyer's credit? Need sound advice and service now?

If you are looking to buy a property and need help now due to the first time buyers' or move-up buyers' tax credit deadlines, we're your guys. Unpretentious, aggressive, and experienced home buyers and sellers. Chicago Association of Realtors Top Producer three years running.

Contact Eric and Bob, your "No Drama" Realtors at 773-687-4646 or email

Vodka included!

We were checking out this two bedroom Buena Park condo for $269,900 near the lake last week. If you don't think people open your cabinets and Add Imagerefrigerator when viewing your home, think again.

Fortunately, the "vodka only" freezer was a plus for my client. Okay, in the renter's defense there were three boxes of Lean Cuisine.