Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lincoln Park 60614 single family home sales up 27% in 2010

Total unit sales of Lincoln Park single family homes in Chicago's 60614 zip code are up 27% over the same period of time in 2009.

In 2009 January through August, 77 single family homes were sold with a median price of about $1,500,000. The lowest priced single family home to sell was $515,000 and the highest was $5,600,000.

In 2010 January through the present date, 106 single family homes have been sold with a median price of $1,300,000. The lowest priced home was $425,000 and the highest was the much chatted about $8,500,000 (the second highest so far this year is$4,300,000... almost half!).
Lincoln Park multi-units up 316%

Lakeview, Northcenter multi-units up 77%
(Data analyzed from, my member MLS. The small percentage of homes sold off the MLS collected statistics are not included in the data).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Modern single family home conversions in Lincoln Square



Located just two blocks north of the Lincoln Square retail and entertainment district, 5044 N Oakely pictured above was a two-flat building just sold in September 2009 for $305,000. A bargain for the neighborhood on almost any fee simple property. The lot is smaller than standard (25 feet x 112 feet), but still... great deal!

Here we see the "after" shot I took last week. It looks like a near finished conversion to a single family home. The new owners are doing a really terrific job adding contemporary elements to a pretty bland and ubiquitous structure. The interior was opened up from front to back. I have not seen inside other than from passing by on the street, so I can't tell if any one's living there yet.

My guess this home is a custom conversion for the current owners as it's still not for sale almost one year later.

If speculating on a 25x112 lot in this location: If you were to do a nice job on a true four bedroom conversion, a realistic listing price of $649K can move it and make a little money. Let's take a look at quick, broad numbers:
The highest priced home to sell on the four block stretch in the past 12 months was a bank owned new construction five bedroom (three bedrooms above grade) at 5052 N Oakley for $685K. It still needed some finish work and appliances. But there was also a renovated three bedroom re-sale home that closed for $605,000 at 5119 N Oakley. I think this house at 5044 N Oakley, if listed for sale, should easily catch in the middle of those two comparables on the street.

If you bought 5044 N Oakley at $305,000 and put down 20% ($61,000) plus $200,000 in renovation costs, you'd be all in $260,000 for the project. Adding the payoff of the mortgage, you are looking at $500,000 all in. You can probably put down less money, but let's say the bank requires 20% because it's an investment. I'm confident if you put $200,000 into this two flat conversion to a single family home, you could re-sell conservatively at $600,000. After 5% commission to real estate brokers and closing costs, you'd come out around $65,000 profit or just under 30% on your investment.

I think a professional team could, after all renovation and carrying costs, clear over $75,000 profit and make 30% on the initial investment ($260,000 investment). Lincoln Square just north of Lawrence Avenue and west of Westerm Avenue is home to many beautiful single family homes. Converting two flats to single family homes had been popular during the boom for speculators. Now, with two flats selling at lower prices, many home buyers are purchasing and converting two flats for their primary residence.

More Tall Ships photos at Navy Pier

One ticket package included sailing on the tall ships.

I suppose all those ropes do something.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lincoln Park multi-unit building sales up 316% in 2010

2010 Lincoln Park multi-unit building sales (two, three and four flats) at the time of this writing are up 316% over 2009 multi-unit sales from January 1st through August 26th. What a difference a year, and a global banking catastrophe, make. Hmmm, maybe you're Realtor should grasp what's going on in the world when pricing your property for sale or representing your purchase... but I digress.

In 2009 January through August, only six multi-unit buildings (two to four units) sold with a median price around $700,000 in Lincoln Park. Four of those buildings closed in August as lending started to loosen up and the vultures started to pick off the wounded and dead.

This year, January through August an astounding (cough) twenty-five multi-unit buildings have closed with a median price of $890K. A 316% increase in unit sales. Consumer confidence and lending certainly improved while sellers finally got off the fence and put their buildings on the block. The well heeled are back in converting these buildings or tearing down and building new. My guess would be 30% were bought for speculation while the majority for custom personal residences. It will be interesting to see if the year finishes strong like last year.

Read also Multi-unit sales soar 77% in Lake View, Northcenter Chicago

House of the Week: Craftsman demands attention in Lincoln Square 60625

This show-off is located at 4823 N Bell, Chicago, IL 60625 in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. The four bedroom, three bath home with plenty of extra nooks and crannies just sold to it's new owners June of 2009 for $763,000... in just one week on the market. It's hard to walk into one of the adjacent gray and beige siding homes everyday with this beauty as your neighbor.

The house pops! I had to stop and take photos on our way to Gene's Sausage Shop. The wide eaves, square pillars, deep porch... check, check and check. This photo does not do justice to the fantastic paint colors, patterns and overall condition of the house.

The home is just a couple blocks north of awesome retail and public festivals and a couple blocks south of Winnemac Park. Good looks and great location, you can't ask for more.

Tall Ships at Navy Pier, great Chicago family day

Our son Ryne got to board the ship from his favorite movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean"!

The "tourist attractions" in Chicago are sometimes best enjoyed by local Chicagoans. Take Navy Pier for instance...The Pepsi Tall Ships Festival is a great time for the family (and singles alike), and you still have through this weekend to enjoy it.

We had fantastic weather and there was plenty to do for the kids in the festival areas. Ryne chants along with "Captain Willie".

I heard one passerby express "This is a perfect Chicago day".

Like many city museums, parks, festivals and special events Navy Pier is fun and easy to get to by Lake Shore Drive, trains, buses or walking for Chicago families.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First half 2010 Chicago real estate sales a dead cat bounce

We had a good first half of property sales in Chicago's major neighborhood markets. However, news was grim yesterday as national sold units of resale homes dropped around 30% overall for properties under $1,000,000 (July 2010 compared to July 2009). And let me tell you folks, 2009 was no picnic in the spring, early summer. We know this news is on a lot of peoples minds as personal seller clients and friends expressed their opinions to us (unsolicited, I might ad) over the past two days.

Let's take another look at the five main Chicago Community Areas we mostly work in: Lincoln Park, Lake View, West Town, Northcenter and Lincoln Square. When hired by clients in these neighborhoods, we look at the closings of particular properties... not just straight up closed comparables, but total closings over-all for relative comparables in the entire community area. We think the frequency of transactions in a particular community will help set the proper expectation for market time and price for your home looking ahead. Below are criteria for the largest segment of attached condo homes in these neighborhoods.

2010 June versus July closings for all 2-3 beds, 2 baths attached condos (data analyzed from, our local industry MLS)

Lincoln Park June 43 closings, July 22 closings or -49%

Lake View June 82 closings, July 32 closings or -61%

Northcenter June 29 closings, July 7 closings or -76%

West Town June 57 closings, July 25 closings or -56%


Lincoln Square June 12 closings, July 8 closings or -33%

Ouch is right!

While the national news media was shocked and surprised in their reporting, we focus on local neighborhoods mainly on the north side of Chicago. I can't say my partner and I were shocked and surprised by the July sales numbers. We expressed the pre-April 30th urgency (the last day of eligibility for the federal first time buyer tax credit) to our home selling clients and potential clients priced under $400,000 in particular. Buyers needed to have a valid contract by this date. June was a big month for closings because the original deadline to close "tax credit" eligible deals was June 30th.

The take home: Without the first time buyers tax credit to stimulate the $0-$400,000 buyer demand we'll have to get further away from April 2010, jobs will have to stabilize and consumer confidence will have to increase before we get back to seasonal adjusted sales averages without huge swings. Your listing price has to take more into account right now than the last 6 months of comps. Bob and I are looking at the last TWO months only of sales comparables and matrices to get a good starting read on pricing. Post tax credit! The tax credit created a dead cat bounce, a small relief, from lower unit sales and (as has been reported widely) lower sales prices.

Image from

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bucktown Arts Fest 2010 this weekend offers better summer sights and sounds

Bucktown Arts Fest logo selected from 50 entries!

The 25th Annual Bucktown Arts Fest breaks the mold of bland Chicago street fairs dominated by lame cover bands. Peruse the art and eat the food to sounds of interesting and talented musicians. Check out the music schedule hear for unique local acts.

Just another reason to live in Bucktown and Wicker Park.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trump: An international brand name good for Chicago

Trump Tower in the River North neighborhood is a best bet for the well-heeled making there way to Chicago.

Bob took this great shot last weekend of Trump International Hotel and Tower looking south and standing in the middle of North Wabash Avenue. Again, we risk our lives for real estate! Much writing has been done on this building. Bottom line is, we love the look from just about any angle... far and near, from the street and from the river.

Like Ritz Carlton, the international crowd can recognize and trust brand names when visiting or relocating to Chicago. It's the lifestyle people come to expect and they are willing to pay for it when these brand names deliver. It starts with the facade, and as this photo above suggests, we continue to enjoy the presence of this tower and it's ability to draw the world to Chicago.

Chicago's Trump Tower takes its place among the top ten tallest buildings in the world.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Multi-unit sales soar 77% in Lake View, Northcenter Chicago.

Property photo of 2852 N Racine, closed 8/2/10 for $565,000 as a short sale. The property sold in 2005 for $750,000 and $800,000 in 2006!

Residential multi-unit building sales (2-4 units) are up 77% in 2010 over the same period in 2009 in Lake View and Northcenter. 78 multi-units (2-4 units) have sold this year through our present date of this writing. From January to August 2009 44 total multi-units sold (statistics analyzed from, out multiple listing service).

My partner and I have sold and represented buyers in this "popular again" building type this year. Many are bought solely for conversion to single family homes as a primary residence by their owners.
As prices have come way down from the overzealous "flip" frenzy and mortgage interest rates remain low, multi-units have been a prime target of savvy buyers.

A couple reasons these two, three and four flat buildings are popular: Prices have come way down from the bubble and are very competitive in price compared to updated single family homes. Secondly, owners have more buying power if they are able to move in and keep renters in the other units. This is a huge advantage over single family homes when trying to afford your desired neighborhoods.

We're experienced in researching and negotiating good multi-unit values for those looking for their next home.

House of the Week: A River North mansion at 447 West Superior 60654

Hullo! Better late than never for House of the Week. This River North urban mansion located just steps from downtown at 447 W Superior is an executive's dream. We like the nod towards Georgian architecture tradition and it's stately presence... reminds one of Westminster in London. Our well heeled like to keep their office and Michigan Avenue shopping close by. To boot, families with kids attend The Ogden School of Chicago

It looks like the land for this home was sold for $1,100,000 in 2004. It probably was completed by the owner sometime between 2005 and 2006. A similar 6 bedroom home at 461 W Superior in 2004 sold in March 2009 for $3,500,000.

Cheerio, pip pip and all that!

Friday, August 20, 2010

"This will spoil ya real quick if you're a buyer"

I sometimes watch videos by a quirky California dude goes by the name "Jim the Realtor". In this video, he walks us through his "Comp Killer" theory... one low REO sale that can freeze up a local market.

He also says something else interesting after the 3:00 minute mark (about 3:40). He calls the house "really nice" and that the folks who flocked to it and did not get the house will be "spoiled" now for seeing it. They will want the same deal on the next house... True.

The (real estate) market is just not that into you

Lately, my partner and I have been getting a lot of calls from potential home sellers that really don't know where they stand. We also get a lot of calls from folks listed for sale on the market with another agent... and the home is not selling. They want to know WHY.

Unfortunately, we are more Doctor Phil than Realtors these days when bringing the straight dope; the market is just not that into you. Sometimes, just like in relationships there may be some solutions so you may cut the chord and sell that property!

We go the distance (and risk losing home sale listing opportunities) by making sure clear expectations are set in the beginning. We want you to know the price and effort it will take to sell your home... from the beginning. We price to get top dollar, which is not over-pricing and "see what happens". That is a recipe for frustration and wasted opportunity. We don't "go there".

We know many want to sell but can't afford to. Even in these cases, the sellers need to know the true situation and their options so they may plan accordingly. Every situation is different and we offer strategy for each separate case.

North Side Summerfest; this weekend in Northcenter Chicago

If you are around the Northcenter neighborhood tonight and this weekend, there will be a big dose of cover music at North Side Summerfest. Take the Brown Line to the Irving Park stop and walk west five minutes to the fest at the Irving, Lincoln and Damen intersection.

North Side Summerfest, 4050 N Lincoln Avenue tonight August 20th through August 22nd

Make a whole night of it with the great bars and dinner spots in the area along Lincoln Avenue both north and south of West Irving Park Road.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Three mid-century modern homes in Budlong Woods, Peterson Woods Chicago: Part I

The Before! Photo from taken in 2006.

After photo taken on my Blackberry. I've gone by these houses dozens of times and never have my camera!

The above home at 2956 W Bryn Mawr uses "A frame" like construction to achieve the lofted great room effect popular with this mid-century modern home buffs. The owners have painted or replaced the wood siding (or synthetic...can't remember) for a real cool design effect. Bushy evergreens were torn out and replaced my lighter, sharper "California" landscaping that resembles dessert or beach homes of the posh west. The home sold to it's current owners in 2006 for $568,000. Not too bad, but values have come down so any improvements to the home may get eaten up by the market... who cares, why sell this?

Although the city of Chicago has it's share of expensive modern new construction, it seems but a wee handful of accessible, affordable mid-century modern original single family homes are within reach.

Not so famous are three homes along West Bryn Mawr Avenue in Chicago's Budlong Woods/ Peterson Woods neighborhood that fit the mid-century modern bill. They are affordable relative to Lincoln Square single family homes and add just enough coolness to set them apart from the dominate Chicago bungalows, Colonials, Queen Ann and American four squares. I wish there were more choices for these home designs in greater Lincoln Square and Ravenswood neighborhoods just to the south...and closer to downtown than North Park. This is Part I of the three homes along Bryn Mawr.

Alas, I bought a bungalow and will have to "cool up" the facade with some exterior design elements like the face paneling above and landscaping. It will look awesome!

New photos, price on Lincoln Square town home for sale

Roof level deck!

Check out the new photos and details for 1806 W Argyle, a really nice flexible town home living space with attached garage parking. This is a real value... for real. I've always liked these town homes as they've offered much better living than condos priced the same. The community is awesome! Great for singles, married, partners, roommates or small families. Asking $369,900.

Click below for more details:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Top 5% Realtor in Chicago.

Call us today and let's get you moved on.

Green construction in West Andersonville

I snapped this shot tonight of a "green" gut renovation home at 5354 N Paulina in the West Andersonville area of Edgewater. We were on our family walk to In Fine Spirits to pick up some wine...ha. I've been watching the progress since they gutted the existing farmhouse. It looks great!

Here's a more detailed post on concerning the home at

For Sale: Ravenswood town home with attached garage parking $369,900

For sale now! Not on the MLS... call or email us for more information and a showing.

Available now, this two bedrooms plus family room (easy guest room) and loft with attached garage parking is only $369,900. One of the best prices ever for Ravenswood Park, a popular Ravenswood/ Lincoln Square newer construction development. Shared master bath on the bedroom level and full bathroom off family room allow for privacy for family and guests.

View from roof level deck.

This home has a great front fenced-in terrace, deck off the kitchen for grilling and a roof level deck off the loft. Rare, very private cul de sac street! Walk two blocks to Ravenswood Metra and 5 blocks to Damen Brown Line. Walk to coffee, brunch, dinner grocery, dry cleaners, Winnemac Park... everything. You'll love this well managed, gorgeous town home community 10-15 minute walk to both Lincoln Square and Andersonville hot spots! New Mariano's Fresh Market and state-of-the-art fitness center being developed two blocks away.

Walk to shopping and parks everyday!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Farmers Markets in Lincoln Square and Northcenter

I was showing one of our condos for sale in Northcenter last Saturday and stopped for some fresh baked bread!

I can't remember a time when Farmers Markets were so popular in Chicago. The Lincoln Square and Northcenter neighborhoods have several options to buy your fresh and unique local produce, breads and desserts.

We almost always spend our Thursday nights at the Lincoln Square Farmers Market and then hit the free concerts in Giddings Square. The kids have a great time!

Northcenter Farmers Market in the Town Square 4100 N Damen
Saturdays June 9th through October 30th, 7AM to 2PM

Lincoln Square Farmers Market at North Lincoln Ave. and Leland June through October:
Thursdays from 4PM to 8PM
Tuesdays from 7AM to 1PM

Friday, August 13, 2010

Affordability factor when buying your Chicago condo

When potential clients contact us to help them buy a home, the first thing we discuss is their budget. Most new buyers state what they are "pre-approved up to"... say $350,000. However, this does not necessarily determine the realistic price range we should be looking in. Your total monthly payment will determine the price range you should look in and will vary depending on many factors.

One must take into account condo assessments, taxes, insurance, and utilities.

Take these two real life condos we looked at recently with clients assuming 5% down payment, 5% mortgage interest rate while close in square footage and location:

Condo A:
$325,000 purchase price plus 462 assessment plus 4674 taxes equals about 2500/month payment.

Condo B:
$387,000 purchase price plus 150 assessment plus nearly same taxes of $4670 equals about 2500/mo.

The "affordability factor" here is the assessment. Condo A has an elevator, attached underground garage, and gas is included in assessment. It's a higher maintenance larger building due to better amenities and will always have a high assessment.

Condo B is a smaller building, walk-up condo with a detached garage spot, gas is not included in low assessment. Maintenance most likely will remain pretty low in cost compared to Condo A.

Despite the $50,000 difference in asking price, you pay the same monthly. So, if your budget is $2,500 a month you can actually look at a wide spread of asking prices accounting for assessment and taxes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

House of the Week: Down home curb appeal in north Lake View

Take a seat and just look at that front yard! These owners love this house at 4012 N Hermitage, Chicago IL 60613 in the far north corner of the Lake View neighborhood. Is it perfect? No. Stairs need a little paint, a few roof shingles out of place. But no doubt there is pride of ownership that draws your eye to this single family home on a block with many gorgeous houses and yards.

The house was saved from the dead when sold in March 2000 for $310,000 as a possible "tear down". It was gut rehabbed and sold in September 2002 for $750K! It sits on a terrific 25x165 lot... extra deep allowing plenty of space for landscaping.

This folksy charmer says "Come on in!". View our House of the Week series by clicking the label below.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Take a driving tour of Northcenter Chicago

Yo Chicago's Joe Zekas braves a drive with me as we discuss my old neighborhood of Northcenter. Here we drive from West Leavitt to West Grace along North Lincoln Avenue and then end up coming back west on Irving Park Road.

Please check out two of our Northcenter homes for sale at:

4055 N Wolcott #302, two beds, two baths for $299,000

4152 N Lincoln Avenue #1, two beds, family room, two car garage asking $449,900