Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year from Bob and Eric

We'd like to take this moment to thank our clients and business associates for their partnership in 2011.  Bob and I wish to work closely with each client relationship and help achieve their goals as quickly and directly as possible. We will get to the heart of each situation and provide you the resources and knowledge to move ahead confidently. As we like to say, "No funny business".

We also thank our blog readers.  It is always fun to meet some of you around town. It's a great feeling to know you appreciate the market information, photos and occasional advice. This December marked our 6th year writing the blog!

There is added excitement for us this year.  We begin 2012 with a new business affiliation at Kale Realty.  We made this move to better serve our clients directly thereby providing them the best options available to meet their needs. You will enjoy a professionally managed boutique experience tailored to your situation.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Eric and Bob

What else you got? New single family home listings go missing at the end of December

Our buyer clients usually have nothing to look at this time of year but the snow.

The snow storm of 2011: Photo Eric Rojas, Realtor/Broker

Only one true, new single family home listing hit our MLS ( on this last week of December in four (4) of our target North Side Community Areas of: Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Lake View and North Center.

YoChicago just posted some advice on listing a home around this time.  

We feel if you'd like to sell your home you should list the home as soon as you can get it show ready and at the best market price possible.  It's true sellers may have many distractions over the holidays, which, also makes it hard to keep the home "show ready".  But the lack of homes being listed has more to do with the prevailing perception that there are NO BUYERS at this time of year.  That is not the case.  People need, or, would like to buy homes all year round for any number of reasons and will purchase if the price is right for them.

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sellers see more home sales close in the spring and summer months. People buy and close in the spring and summer months because sellers wait and offer more homes at that time.  If the market priced homes were listed for sale spread out evenly during the calendar year, I suspect home closings would be more spread out too. There is also an irrational notion you'll have a better chance of selling your home simply by listing in February rather than in January.

My wife and I viewed this Victorian home in January a couple years of few available listings.

Price and economic market conditions will determine the sale of your single family home- not the month you list in.  Serious single family home buyers are out there right now and they will jump on a well priced house... right now.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Watch the Video! Walk through an Old Town penthouse unit stopped by 1438 N Wieland in Old Town this week as we were prepping the home for new tenants moving in at the end of the month.

We recently rented out this Old Town penthouse unit for over $5,100 a month.  It's one of the largest condos we've seen available for rent from one of our clients (at 4000 square feet plus 1500 square feet of decked outdoor space).  Even in a "balmy" December, a desirable home will rent or sell any time of the year when at competitive market pricing.

You can view details of the home here

Summer view from the roof deck
Looking east from the roof deck at 1438 N Wieland #2: Photo Eric Rojas

All photos Eric Rojas, Realtor and Real Estate Broker unless otherwise noted.
View more of our property and neighborhood videos here!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pawar's Grow 47 to bring TIF money to Chappell Elementary, local schools

 "$2 million in TIF funding for Amundsen High School, Chappell Elementary and McPherson Elementary" 47th Ward Alderman's office

Eliza Chappell Elementary front doors at Foster and Leavitt

Chappell and McPherson Elementary schools along with Amundsen High School in the Ravenswood neighborhood service our local block club area (Damen to Western, Lawrence to Foster). We received the above update from Alderman Ameya Pawar's 47th Ward office last week about significant $2 million in TIF funds being committed to our local public schools. 

The announcement includes major CPS funding for needed Bell and Coonley expansions in addition to funds for several other 47th Ward schools.  My family is in the Chappell school boundaries district, thus the focus here. You can read some early coverage of Grow 47 school initiative at Center Square Journal.

Chappell has increased measurable and "intangible" academic performance over the past 5 years under the current school principal.  The school has been recognized by the State of Illinois for performance goals and has increased neighborhood enrollment and added major infrastructure. Local parents are forming a "friends of" group, volunteering and organizing for the school in conjunction with many administrative improvements.  The parents, teachers and new funds will help make Chappell the new "Bell", "Coonley" , "Blaine" and "Nettlehorst" school of choice.

Ryne getting ready for another day at Chappell Pre-K

The playground at Chappell...the school is located on the attractive Winnemac Park "campus". 
For a parents perspective on Chappell or to join the Winnemac Park Neighbors update email list, please email Please contact Chappell School for a tour or open house.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

East vs West: Lincoln Park home sale prices

We often have our Lincoln Park buyers ask us to look for homes "east of Halsted Street" or in "East Lincoln Park". East Lincoln Park features both vintage and modern homes, unique architecture dating from the late 1800s and gets you closer to the lake.  It is also located in the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School District- a coveted Chicago Public School.

139 detached homes and row houses sold in Lincoln Park this year as of December 27th.  The median price is about $1,250,500.

About 50 homes sold east of North Halsted Street with a median price of about $1,600,000.

About 89 homes sold west of North Halsted Street with a median price about $1,150,000.

 So, the median price of homes in eastern Lincoln Park (east of North Halsted Street) is about $450,000 higher than west of North Halsted. If you go west of  Halsted you can get, on average, a newer or more updated home for a little less money.  However the atmosphere and architecture becomes more unique the closer you get to the lake... and people are willing to pay a premium. Additionally, the top rated public and private schools (Latin, Francis Parker etc..) in Lincoln park are for the most part located east of Halsted.

St. James Place in eastern Lincoln Park near the lake.  Row homes are more typical.

Photo: Ikram retail store in River North delights the eyes

Ikram at 15 East Huron

The posh boutique Ikram women's clothing store at 15 East Huron is located just steps from equally posh River North "Pinnacle" condo building at 21 East Huron.We stopped by the Pinnacle last week to congratulate one of our clients on her new luxury rental apartment...after which I took these shots. Its one of the bolder retail facades in River North
The arch leads to an inner courtyard effect.
No retail sign needed.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Rojas Family to you and yours! 
Eric, Jillian, Ryne, Amalia and baby coming soon!

Oh, and Go Packers!

There's still time for Zoo Lights!

Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo has become a holiday tradition around our house.  This year- with the kids a little older- it will be the perfect New Year's Eve with the family.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Photo: Chicago Theatre all lit up for A Christmas Story

There is still time this month to see the "A Christmas Story, The Musical" at the attractive Chicago Theatre

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Downtown holiday lights at Tribune Building

Bob was out and about downtown this evening and snapped this shot looking down the Chicago River.  We never get tired of Chicago views especially during the holidays.    

Home Sales: The $300,000 divide in West Town

Yesterday we posted the increase of West Town single family home sales this year.  However, as in may Chicago Community Areas, a couple of city blocks or a major arterial street can mean a significant difference in market price of comparable homes. In West Town it's East of Western Avenue vs. West of Western Avenue.

A double lot, modern single family home in West Town (Bucktown neighborhood)

 The $300,000 divide
About 35 single family homes sold west of Western Avenue in the West Town Community Area as of December 21st this year.  The median price was about $350,000. 

About 110 homes sold east of Western Avenue with a median price of about $645,000. This is almost a $300K difference between east and west of Western Avenue.

Two blocks within Western Avenue shrinks the gap to $70K
11 homes sold for a median price of about $440,000  within two blocks west of Western Avenue this year (as of 12/21/11).
18 homes sold within two blocks east of Western Avenue for a median price of about $510,000.
Shops, cafes and bars on West Division Street in West Town (Wicker Park neighborhood)

Comparable new construction single family home prices is in our estimate are 30% to 40% lower just by crossing Western Avenue.  The portions of West Town east and west of Western avenue are roughly the same size.  However, our guess is the land east of Western Avenue has about 20% more housing (developed land).  The western portion of West Town has the huge 207 acre Humbolt Park and a large industrial and Metra train depot that eat up land. The actual build-able land does not really effect the home prices in this comparison.

All photos Eric Rojas and Bob DePalma, Realtors and Brokers. Data gathered on our local MLS, and all analysis and estimates Eric Rojas Realtor and Broker.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

West Town single family home sales up 16% and climbing, median price steady

West Town, Chicago single family homes sales are diverse and vary greatly upon location east or west of North Western Avenue and if your house is under a highway.  Amenity filled Wicker Park and Bucktown are the higher-end neighborhoods while homes just west of Western Avenue and on the far south borders of the West Town Community Area can be significantly less.

We often see creative, modern renovations and construction in West Town
145 West Town single family homes have closed from January 1st, 2011 to December 20th, 2011 up 16% over same period in 2010. The median price this year is about $606,000...almost equal to last year's $599,000.  35 homes are currently under contract so the total number of sales will likely increase over 20% from last year.

The Highs: 1627 N Wolcott, a modern new construction home, closed at $1,950,000 in the spring. 
The Lows: 910 N Richmond, a brick two story structure, sold for 42,000 cash.  The buyer's agent represents developers in the area so it will likely be a professional rehab and should have a good margin to re-sell.  It may also be a custom design/ build home purchase for the buyer.
Distressed: 28 properties (19%) sold during this period were either foreclosure (bank owned REO) or short sales. Last year, 35% of single family homes sales were either foreclosure of short sale.

We represent clients in buying, selling and renting properties in the West Town areas of Wicker Park, Buck Town, East Village, Ukrainian Village and Humboldt Park.  Please contact us with questions.  All analysis and photos Eric Rojas, Realtor and Broker.  Closing data gathered from

Downtown: Holiday tradition at Italian Village

We were reminded of the Italian Village Restaurants earlier this month when walking by.  It seems this institution always comes up when talking about holiday memories in Chicago with our friends and family.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Table Fifty-Two on a winter night

Table Fifty-Two is located in a small, "out-of the way" building among the bustle of Gold Coast
 I've always liked the look and atmosphere of Table Fifty-Two's intimate building on Elm Street in the Gold Coast. My smart phone photo from the other night does this little justice. Although famous, the restaurant has that feel of stumbling upon a gem as you approach the building.  The little structure and classy company just pop out at you as it stands basically alone on the block in a normally dense area.

Construction photo: Urban Outfitter's bridal concept joins hot Gold Coast retail

New construction retail space on East Walton Street in Gold Coast just north of Oak Street
Amongst holiday cheer in the Gold Coast this weekend we noticed the new construction retail building and home of Bhldn is coming along nicely on Walton Street.  There is room for another tenant too.  The Anthropologie-like wedding concept is all the range and affordable too.  Might be a nice anchor for your business next store...Tuxedo rental?

Downtown holiday hustle and bustle

Water Tower area for shopping

We were out and about this weekend.  Chicago's Mag Mile area is a great place to experience the holiday spirit. Plenty of terrific architecture and displays to view and grand places to duck in with the kids too.

The Hancock Center tree...a very scenic location with shopping, eating and the lake.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lake View two-flat sales in 2011 up 46%: 21% are distressed sales

Two-flat in Southport Corridor: Photo, Eric Rojas Realtor / Broker

Lake View Community Area Two-flat Sales
38 two-flat buildings closed so far in 2011 with a median price of about $490,000. Unit sales are up 46% from the same period of 2010.  The 2011 median price was lower by $75,000 than the $565,000 in 2010.
The highs: By far the highest closing was $1,325,000 at 1445 W Addison 60613. This was a grey stone on a 62 feet wide, 134 feet deep lot in Southport Corridor. The second highest was $800,000 for a frame rehab on a standard lot (25' x 125')
The lows: $225,000, a foreclosure at 3942 N Hermitage Ave 60613 on a small 25' x 90' lot.
Distressed: 8 of the 38 two-flats sold by December 15th, 2011 were either short sales or foreclosures (21% of sales). 

Over-all, the Lake View Community Area has seen 76 multi-unit buildings (2-4 total units) close from January 1st to December 15th.  This is also up 46% over last year. Currently, there are 14 more multi-unit buildings under contract.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

School shake-up in Lincoln Park

The Lincoln Park Community Area is one of the top three sought after areas in Chicago for home buyers in our experience. With popularity comes problems too.  I received an update today from the 43rd Ward Alderman's office on the proposed solutions to Abraham Lincoln Elementary school overcrowding.  And look out! If you think there is grumbling, opposition and craziness to the recent large development plans around the neighborhood...just mess with a parent's school.

Google Street View of Abraham Lincoln Elementary

The plan would "shrink" the attendance boundaries of Lincoln Elementary to West Armitage Avenue and place new attending students living south of Armitage in the La Salle Language Academy.

Schools are the most important factor (initially anyway) to the majority of our single family and multi-unit buyers.  We watch this closely.  Most feel desired public schools will positively impact their property values and quality of life (if they have kids or not). This controversy notwithstanding there are many more great CPS school choices on the North Side than at any time I can remember.  Parents and neighbors have really stepped up and helped talented local school principals create terrific environments. Check out and help support various local may be surprised.

Click on the links to view our Lincoln Park home sales and many of our posts around the neighborhood.
Lincoln Park street
 All photos Eric Rojas and Bob DePalma Realtors unless otherwise noted.

Guys, still need a gift? Tory Burch on Oak Street in Gold Coast

Photo Bob DePalma, Real Estate Broker
Still need gifts?  Visit the attractive Tory Burch store on Oak Street in Gold Coast.  This is accessible high fashion and they even have some great sales items. We like the look of the store and think this has been a terrific addition to the impressive and aesthetically pleasing shopping mecca along Oak Street. 

Old Town penthouse rented in one week

The actual view from the roof deck at 1438 N Wieland. Photo by Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker

Helping clients rent out their homes (or finding a rental home for themselves) is an enjoyable part of our business.  We work with landlords on the abundant paperwork to ensure they are in compliance with the City of Chicago. We also help clients look for a rental home optimal for their situation. It is truly exciting advising landlords and tenants of their options and then getting the job done.

The formal living room looking east. photo
We recently represented the out-of-state landlord on renting out their Old Town penthouse home this month.  The listing was on less than a week when we secured a qualified tenant. Working with out of town landlords, respecting the current tenants, qualifying and working with potential tenants and monitoring the property when listed takes balance patience and professionalism to all parties. The result is top rental dollar and a great tenant.  Click HERE to view the photos and information at 1438 N Wieland #2.

To view quality rentals or work with us as your brokers, please contact Eric Rojas, Realtor and Real Estate Broker, from the right side bar contact information.  All photos Eric Rojas and Bob DePalma unless otherwise noted.

The tony Old Town Wieland Street has a NYC feel...just a half block west of Wells Street.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bob's Christmas Trees...South Loop

Bob's back in the South Loop!

Peaceful city views from Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier

 It's quieter out there in the big city than in here.  There are several nice views of the city and lake from various exhibits at the museum.
Looking out from the "Water Works" at the Children's Museum, Navy Pier.
Check out information on the Children's Museum HERE.  You may also get half-off admission with a membership at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. An afternoon at either place guarantees the kids will be sleeping by 7:00PM that evening..

Photos: Gorgeous new DePaul Theatre School under construction in Lincoln Park

DePaul University continues to redevelop it's large footprint in Lincoln Park.  The new and modern theatre building is now under construction at the corner of West Fullerton Avenue and North Racine Avenue. The facility is scheduled to open September 4th, 2013.

You can view updates and a live construction camera HERE

Theatre building construction at Fullerton and Racine.

The construction site in full swing earlier this month.
DePaul University has positively impacted the neighborhood over the last decade (especially along busy Fullerton Ave) with brand new facilities along side the luxury residential home construction just outside the campus ring.  Earlier this year we highlighted the new Art Museum at DePaul .

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Children's Memorial redevelopment in Lincoln Park: Next community meeting December 14th

Children's bus stop advertisement. Photo Bob DePalma and Eric Rojas, Real Estate Brokers
I just received an email update from the 43rd Ward Alderman's office in Lincoln Park stating the next Children Memorial Hospital community meeting is this Wednesday, December 14th at 6:30PM in Bigler Auditorium 2300 Children's Plaza (hospital is near at Lincoln/Fullerton/Halsted intersection)

More information and updates on the redevelopment of the hospital site can be viewed HERE

See past posts on Children's Memorial Hospital HERE and Lincoln Park HERE

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Unique Ravenswood "double lot" for sale along Metra tracks $325,000

A double lot is being sold for land value at 5062 N Ravenswood.  Photo Eric Rojas.
A 50' x 125' lot with an existing structure is being offered at $325,000 according to the MLS listing for 5062 N Ravenswood (not my listing).  One could build a gorgeous custom home with a unique courtyard, large lawn...or, just a big house.  I prefer the former.  The price is pretty good in comparison to recent sales this year on smaller 30' x 125' lots.  However, the lot location facing the Metra tracks and near commercial buildings may exhibit objections for some.

The North Ravenswood Avenue corridor along the Metra tracks has some cool properties and interesting opportunities.  We've written about the the stretch from approximately West Addison to West Peterson for years.  The stretch goes south of Addison, but I think it's been most interesting as you go north of the 3600 block.

Luxury homes were built
The Metra tracks across the street from the lot for sale

This house is located on the stretch of North Ravenswood Avenue just north of Winnemac Avenue (shown above).  About 25% of  the block was re-developed into 5 luxury single family homes that sold rather quickly in 2007-2008 just to the south of this lot.  The deep set backs and east facing exposure looking at the Metra embankment make this stretch of homes unique to other residential streets.  A commercial-industrial building sits north of Winona Street adjacent to Foster Avenue on the far north of the block. Just to the south of the lot is the popular "Ravenswood Gardens" townhouse development along Winnemac.  A new house on this lot would not be out of place here.

Click the links for more Ravenswood and Lincoln Square market statistics, original home tours, videos and more.

It's been our observation of the increasing trend since 2009 in the Lincoln Square Community Area and Ravenswood neighborhood of higher-end new construction and complete gut rehab properties. With many poor conditioned homes purchased this year on the lower end of pricing, we'll see the neighborhood add more new homes offered for retail sale (or simply rehabbed/built for their owners)  in 2012.

All photos Eric Rojas and Bob DePalma, Real Estate Brokers unless otherwise noted.

Monday, December 05, 2011

NEW For Sale: 5027 N Hermitage #3N: Andersonville, Ravenswood top floor corner condo $239,000

A gorgeous home where Andersonville meets the Ravenswood neighborhood! Close to the amazing retail and restaurants of Andersonville and popular Winnemac Park of Ravenswood. Walk to the Metra station.
Open living room/ dining room combo, bay window
5027 N Hermitage #3N asking $239,000
Top floor bright corner unit
Two bedrooms, one bath
In-unit washer and dryer
Central air and heat
Gorgeous hardwood floors
Crown molding
Huge interior Elfa organized storage closet ("Costco sized")
Elfa bedroom closet with drawers
Large private storage room in basement
2004-2005 gut renovation
Attractive shared deck off kitchen
Fantastic, appointed common back courtyard for entertaining
Parking space (rented just outside building gate!)
Blend of modern and vintage decor
Well run condo building, healthy budget
Recent exterior improvements
Assessment $239/ month
Taxes $3,921
Awesome neighborhood
Large foyer opens  into dining area and bay window
Living Room
Kitchen looking east (large windows and deck to the right)
Common furnished courtyard looking west

Courtyard looking east
Second bedroom
Main bedroom
This home shows great.  Tree top views of green mature trees in a quiet neighborhood, yet near fantastic shopping and retail.

Call Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker with Kale Realty 773-510-1597 for a showing.  Pre-approved home buyers preferred. If you need mortgage pre-approval or you are buying cash, please indicate that when contacting us and we'll be happy to discuss your options.  Thanks!
Top floor corner unit!

Attractive entry at 5027 N Hermitage