Monday, January 31, 2011

A $389,000 Near North town house with roof deck: Parkside at Old Town

One of the more massive mixed-income planned developments on the North Side over the past five years has been Parkside at Old Town. It's seen it's ups and downs, best reported by updates. This past weekend my buyer clients asked to see one of the re-sale three bedrooms town houses listed at $389,000. Take a quick view here with me of the upper floors and roof deck. There is also a main floor bedroom and full bath along with an attached two car garage.

The town house is located just minutes to Old Town and River North amenities and nightlife. However, can one overcome the sterile setting of the complex landscape?

Watch more property and neighborhood videos here!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lincoln Park town houses under $400,000

This weekend we showed clients the best deals in Lincoln Park for a budget under $400,000.

Lincoln Park town houses under $400,000 remain a hot commodity, if you can find one. They are usually two bedroom units located adjacent to the CTA elevated tracks, banished to the far nether regions waaaayyyy northwest in Lincoln Park (almost Lakeview!).

*Looking at the last six months 12 Lincoln Park townhouses have sold or are actively listed now for $400,000 or less (7 closed, 5 listed now).

*7 of the 12 are adjacent to the "L" tracks!

*In the last six months there are a combined 75 town house units actively listed or closed OVER $400,000.

Call us if you are looking for town house options on the North Side.

Read more on Lincoln Park HERE!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Luxury new construction in East Lakeview

These new construction luxury homes are being built on West Stratford Place in East Lakeview.

We've been out showing our clients properties in bustling East Lakeview and it's not just for condo dwellers. Some families are opting for luxury single family homes and town houses near Lake Michigan in this eclectic neighborhood. New construction in the densely populated neighborhood is rare, and with new construction five bedrooms row homes at $2,500,000, notable.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Home Selling Tips: Buyers looking at many neighborhoods, same prices

What do you have at $350,000?

Sellers take note: We are seeing more and more buyers looking at condos or town houses in their budget in many different neighborhoods. This is particularly true for the $300,000-$500,000 price-point.

For example, we have one set of buyers this weekend looking in a budget of $350,000 to $400,000. We will see a newer townhouse in Near North, a two-flat and duplex in Logan Square, a two-flat in Bucktown and a townhouse in Lincoln Park. Buyers want value and can shift neighborhoods these days to find it.

The one common thread is decent space and transit options. It's all on the table from there! When pricing our clients homes, we take into account how likely buyers can find similar space and amenities in another neighborhood. We go the extra mile to make sure our selling clients are not chasing the market, but making the market and securing a very qualified and motivated buyer.

NEW For Sale: Lincoln Square top floor two bedrooms condo with everything

5006 N Winchester #3E asking $275,000

Just listed for sale today, this Lincoln Square, Ravenswood neighborhood two bedroom, one bath condo has everything our buyers ask for: Deck, central air, in unit washer and dryer, storage and parking!

Details: $275,000, Taxes $3315 (will be lower with home owners exemption), Low Assessment $179!

Top floor sunny, east facing gut rehab. Four exposures! In-unit washer and dryer, central heat and air, surround sound, big storage and PARKING included. True dining, sun room or office. Large, gorgeous EAT-IN KITCHEN, stainless steel appliances, disposal, dishwasher, granite. Attractive bath with jet tub. Spacious DECK off kitchen. Close to Ravenswood METRA, Brown Line, Andersonville and Lincoln Square amenities. Enjoy Winnemac Park. 100% owners, well run building! Great, quiet location yet near tons of restaurants, bars and fun.

Believe it!

Read more Lincoln Square and Ravenswood posts here!

Home Buying Tips: New first time buyer mortgage program!

Senior Loan Officer Steve Dunnett keeps our clients (and us) posted on the best mortgage programs available. He is an expert in FHA loans and new Illinois programs as described below. Steve can be reached direct at 1-708-289-3408 or email me for his complete contact information.

Good news! I have a new first time home buyer program available to residents of Illinois. First time buyers drive the real estate market so I think it is a great sign that programs like this are becoming available again.

This particular program is designed for first time buyers, but in certain “targeted” areas of the state you do not have to be a first time buyer to be eligible. There are income restrictions, but eligible borrowers can put 3% down on a single family or condo and get a rate approximately .5% better than the market rates. Closing costs can be financed into your loan if necessary, and mortgage insurance is discounted to a much lower level. There are many intricacies so if you want to see if you qualify please call me to get the approval process started.

Some other programs we have available are listed below:

  1. Chicago Public Schools first time buyer credit of $3000
  2. Chicago Police Department first time buyer credit of $3,000
  3. Chicago Fire Department first time buyer credit of $3,000
  4. Mortgage Credit Certificate

More home buying related tips here!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Million dollar curb appeal: How about a porcelain fountain?

Wow, look at those porcelain fountains. Where does that guy park his jet?

With spring around the corner and the housing market competition more fierce than ever, you need an edge selling your home. Increase your curb appeal with a porcelain fountain.

Read more selling tips here!

Children's Memorial development meeting: Tonight!

A group called The Children's Memorial Hospital Coalition is hosting a community forum tonight at 6:30PM at St. Vincent DePaul Center. They advocate affordable housing for the massive re-development of the current Children's Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park.

The information I was given is as follows:
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 St. Vincent DePaul Center 2145 N Halsted 6:30PM to 8:00PM (Doors and free parking open at 6PM, enter lot on Webster)

Confirmed Forum Speakers:

§ Nick Brunick, Affordable Housing Attorney, Author, and Advocate

§ Jonathan Fine, AIA, Executive Director, Preservation Chicago

§ 43rd Ward Aldermanic Candidates

§ Your neighbors

Invited Forum Speakers:

§ Hospital representatives

§ Elected officials

§ Your neighbors

Please call Mary at Lakeview Action Coalition at 773-549-1947 x385 for more information or to RSVP. Also, visit

No developers? Leave your tomatoes and ire at home! Ha!

"We've seen everything": Chicago luxury rentals a premium

So far this season we've experienced a number of frantic relocating families looking for quality rentals in Chicago. With breadwinners taking transfers to the Midwest from the pricier coasts or sleepy Sunbelt states, well located rentals with room to accommodate a family of four or more are at a premium. When plentiful high-rise options are just too pricey, too small or not your family's style...choices get tight.

With a budget up to $5,000 a month, spacious town house or condo options are few in Lincoln Park, Old Town, Gold Coast, River North and near Loop locations (the most popular destinations for those relocating to Chicago). Renting a well conditioned single family home will start at $6,000 on the edges of Lincoln Park and move up quickly the closer in you get.

What will it take to lease this?

"We've seen everything else". We hear this a lot when showing our rental listings. Most are disappointed with the size, level of finish and number of home choices they get in their budget and preferred locations. It is difficult for incoming clients to judge value. We bring perspective to that. The logistics of finding an adequate rental and moving a family to another state is daunting. I feel relocating families overestimate their options. Several things can complicate finding the right rental situation in the budget:

1. Move in dates
2. Size and condition of a home
3. Location of the home
4. If a house or condo, will the owners try to sell in the next year?
5. Can you get more than a year lease?
6. How is the property managed?

Please call us when looking for a luxury or well finished rental for your family's needs or if you need to lease your home. We treat our leasing clients like our top residential purchase and sale clients; there is no difference in the level of service and due diligence. We do the ground work, show and market rental listings to reputable brokers and clients.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wicker Park REO: If you price it (and it is able to sell), they will come

I took these photos of this modern Wicker Park condo development last fall while looking with clients. UPDATE: The three bank owned units were all under contract by January 27th.

The remaining three units at Studio Dwell designed 1919 W Crystal in Wicker Park came back on the market as "bank owned" or REO to start the year in 2011. Prior to these foreclosure offerings, they had sold six of the nine units.

It's rare to have such quality modern units being offered bank owned, in a solid building, in a great location and with few strings attached for a buyer. In many cases there is a caveat that makes financing the purchase more difficult than usual. I think a buyer can come in here and finance a good deal without much issue.

The three bedroom plus family room duplex downs listed at $550,000 are being offered at $100,000 off what the first two duplex downs sold for in late 2009. What's also notable is a two bedroom plus media room duplex up unit is under contract at $489,000 for $9,000 over what the other comparable duplex up sold for conventionally last year ($480,000). It may close for less than $480,000, but probably not too much less. I suspect the duplex downs with the modern and attractive brand name finish level will sell early this spring due to their perceived discount.

Bank owned properties in hot locations remain the most sought after properties by buyers. Many buyers are waiting for this coveted "deal" which does not come often and requires a quick decision. A true bank owned property can be bought much easier than the tangled mess of a short sale (that may never get approval to sell and go into foreclosure). However, a bank owned property in good condition (and in a good association if a condo) will have many suitors and may go over list price.

What many of our buyer clients find out working with us is the best REO deals are cash deals only and many other bank owned properties are difficult to get financing for. Unless you have a ton of money down and act fast, this game can become frustrating for many that really want to buy a home but want that special deal!

View more Wicker Park posts here!

House of the Week: Winter lodge edition

Ski lodge or House of the Week?

We couldn't help but stop and stare at this mountain oasis in the city. Sitting in the center of almost three city lots on the 5000 block of North Claremont in Lincoln Square, this home is a manifestation of it's owners desire for country life.

Rustic is an understatement! Chicago never ceases to amaze us with the variety of houses its people create and live in.

View more House of the Week posts here!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Video: Kitchen and baths in Northcenter

I previewed this million dollar newer construction home at 2035 W Berteau in Northcenter while looking with clients. Built in 2008, it's five bedrooms, three and two half baths on a standard city lot. Here I check out the living room, dining room and great room.

Listed at $1.1M, it will have to compete with almost 40 homes prices over one million to $1.7M in the community area. The finish level was average for the price-point in the current market. The east and south light in the great room and master bath were huge pluses.

The master bath has a great tub and light, but finish level was underwhelming. There was little high design to be found for most new construction during the boom in Chicago.

Call us for consultation when buying a single family home in Chicago. Click here to watch more property videos!

Home buying tips: Three questions before viewing a short sale

Can you fit into this short sale?

Already this year it seems our clients are asking to look at more and more properties that are short sales. It's no mystery. The short sale listings usually have an attractive price among other comparable properties.

However, Bob and know there are several key issues that may make viewing, offering or trying to close a short sale a wasted effort. We investigate each case to see if it will work out for our particular client. Short slaes can get done when all the paperwork, issues and approvals are lined up.

1. Is the short sale approved by the bank? The bank will issue a price it's willing to take for an approved short sale. They will send and investigator out to appraise the unit and complete a BPO report. If this has not happened, there is still a lot of painful red tape to go through.

2. How many liens or mortgages on the property? If the seller needs to get approval for the short sale from two investor parties it could be trouble.

3. What is the condition of the condo association? If a condo unit, the situation in the association may make it difficult to get a conventional loan or low down payment financing. It may have to be a cash deal. For instance, the building may have over 50% renters. In those cases financing is difficult and the owner will eventually either be allowed to sign the unit over to the bank or will be foreclosed because they can't sell to the limited market.

If an owner gets foreclosed on, it can be a year or more before the property reemerges as a for sale listing. If the deed is signed over to the bank (deed in lieu of foreclosure) it may come back on quickly however.

Feel free to call or email us if you'd like to work with experienced agents. For more home buying tips click here!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Home Selling Tips: Lincoln Park upscale resale helps clear the clutter

Elliott's Consignment is a favorite Lincoln Park upscale resale store to sell your valuables such as rare vintage Louis Vuitton.

Clearing the clutter is the number one objective when planning to move. Your home sale showings and your move will go smoother. Lincoln Park resale and consignment shops may be a great place to sell valuables you no longer need.

These stores are very popular in our neighborhood. They offer the opportunity to empty those closets of your high-end designer goods and prepare your home for sale. Pocket some money to offset moving costs!

Read more home selling tips here!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Prudential Rubloff Properties, Wells Fargo: Inventory will push Chicago prices down 3-5 percent

Posting live from our seminar today...
As many believe, the "shadow" inventory issue will continue to add property inventory nationally. At the moment, 3 million properties are available nation wide and another 2 miilion should be added over the next year-and-a-half.

The natinally respected and leading Wells Fargo economist Dr. Scott Anderson expects prices in Chicago to decline another 3-5 percent. However, the Cook County numbers show the bulk of Chicago area foreclosures tend to bunch in a hand full of community areas. Cook county burbs will also contribute to that price decline trend.

Anecdotally, I see certain neighborhoods stabilizing depending on the housing type. While one bedroom condos for example may continue a sharper decline as fully leveraged owners see their 5 year arm mortgages re-setting, single family homes, multi-units and larger condos may do well if not bought at top market prices in 2006. Those properties in markets like Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, parts of West Town, Northcenter and Lake View are in demand and clients are finding the inventory low in their budgets.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Buying vintage: Viewing a condo in Southport Corridor

We looked at a vintage foreclosure condo last week in Lincoln Square/ Ravenswood. Here's a look at a pretty large vintage one bedroom home at 1511 W Cornelia in Southport Corridor. The top floor unit just came back on the market at a reduced price of $218,000. Will it make the grade?

When viewing properties with clients we try and point out pluses and minuses... from an aesthetic and technical perspective. Here, we uncover an issue with the bathroom some buyers may not notice. Can we fit a standard tub and shower rig here? However, it could just come down to personal preference and the claw-foot tub and shower stay.

Watch more property and neighborhood videos from Lake View, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park and more!

House of the Week: 1990s modern house in Lincoln Park

While viewing homes along West Belden Street in Lincoln Park this weekend we took a minute to admire this early 1990s custom built luxury single family home. It sits just off of West Belden on a tiny dead-end stretch at 2314 North Cambridge Avenue.

My client commented there are few windows in the front, but the north side of the home opens up with large windows looking onto its interior courtyard. We also like the bit of whimsy with the house numbers... and my client liked lighting fixtures framing the front door.

The original owner bought the 50' wide x 100' deep lot for $570,000 in 1991. As far as I can tell, they still own the house. Who would move from this location on such a unique street?! If built today, the modern architect may have chosen some wood or composite material cladding to break it up the stark facade and connect a little more with nature. However, this wholly concrete look was somewhat vogue in the early 1990s in Chicago. Here's a photo I took of another similar design built in 1991 located at 2474 N Lakeview (which sold for $4,000,000 in the beginning of 2010).

Whatever one may think of the house (I like it), it's a lesson in location, location, location. What a terrific little land purchase in this niche in eastern Lincoln Park. Not lost is how the home sits elbow to elbow with a period house more representive of Lincoln Park architecture after the Chicago fire. Howdy neighbor!

View more House of the Week posts HERE. Call us to find a Lincoln Park home or condo of your own. We work with a small, exclusive client base to provide excellent service!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Buying Foreclosures: Viewing a two bedrooms condo in Lincoln Square

A client and I checked out a top floor two bedroom, one bath foreclosure condo in Lincoln Square. The bank had dropped the price to $89,000, so a quick decision had to made.

Watch the video!

The walls, floors, electrical and appliances can be easily updated by my contractors for well under $10,000. Doing a lot of basic work yourself, you could actually spend $5K and get pretty far. Invest $20K, you could also replace the entire kitchen and add Space Pac central air. Most buyers overestimate what really needs to be done to improve a condo and make it very comfortable (and affordable!).

Home renovation tips: Don't let your kids choose the bath tile

We recently gutted our second floor bath and realized that we needed to pick out new tile ASAP. Somehow, the whole family always seems to get into the act.

Despite the huge color and material selections at Tile Outlet (and the red glass mosaic tile our son picked out), we went with a more modern shaped white ceramic subway tile like this:

Although we are not strictly restoring our 1920s Chicago Bungalow to the letter, we are renovating with that era in mind. We've been able to keep many original materials intact while the new white subway tile with slight twists will be consistent throughout the new baths and kitchen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Northcenter loves hockey!

We all have heard about several Chicago Blackhawks players calling the Roscoe Village neighborhood in Northcenter home. Well, this Northcenter Dad loves hockey right back! I noticed this homemade backyard hockey rink amongst several luxury single family houses lining West Berteau and North Oakley in Northcenter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lincoln Square townhouse unit sales, median price UP (technically) in 2010

Photo of 1806 W Argyle, a Lincoln Square townhouse we listed and sold in 2010.

*In 2010, only 15 townhouse style homes sold in the Lincoln Square community area with a median price of about $394,000. This would be a surprise to me if I didn't know how hard it was to find a nicely finished true three bedroom townhouse east of Western avenue for $400,000. Low inventory. The median price reflected the deals people were picking up North of Foster and West of Western in the pleasant but father, lessor know reaches of Lincoln Square.

*However, 2010 numbers were actually up over 2009. In 2009, only 13 townhouse style homes sold with a median of $373,000.

Here's a look at sales of Lincoln Square townhouses from 2006 to 2010:

2006: 8 units old with a median price $410,000

2007: 26 units sold with a median price of $475,000 (helped by a 31 unit new construction townhouse development at 4949-5007 N Lincoln that registered 12 sales on it's own and the 8 in the top 10 of pricing).

2008: 21 units sold with a median over just over $500,000 (again, unit sales helped by the 4949-5007 N Lincoln Ave townhouse development).

2009: 13 units sold with a median price of $373,000 (Doh! 20% drop from 2008 )

2010: 15 units sold with a median price of $394,000

So, median prices for townhouses in Lincoln Square are $100K off the 2007-2008 peak pricing. It will be interesting to see if any of the higher end new construction buyers in the boom can list and afford to sell their townhouses now after owning just 3 or 4 years.

Read more about the Lincoln Square housing market here!

are a great option when looking for a longer term home should you be planning a family or just need the extra designated rooms for guests or home office. Townhouses often come with an attached garage too...and it's snowing right now!

Monday, January 10, 2011

$25K price drop: Lofty 4055 N Wolcott #302 in Northcenter $269K

We've reduced the price of 4055 N Wolcott #302. Now for sale at $269,000. It's one of the lowest priced two bedrooms, two bath units in Northcenter with a master bath. High ceilings and the open floor plan give it a loft-like feel.
-Top floor unit with tons of light
-Modern "green" finishes
-Huge storage room
-Split floor plan great for roommates
-Steps to CTA Brown Line
-Great bars and restaurants: Sola, The Globe, Brown Trout, Martyr's, Trader Joe's grocery, coffee shops, more!

Read more posts on Northcenter, Chicago here!

Video: A million dollar home in Northcenter, Chicago

There are 33 homes for sale priced over one million dollars and about seven homes over one million under contract in Northcenter. The highest home under contract is $1.7M.

One of the several luxury homes I previewed last weekend is located on the 4200 block of North Oakley and sits on a unique 50'x 80' lot. The wide homes offer the opportunity for a grander floor-plan. The home has been listed for sale about 3 years, but is now in a better price range. Here's a quick video peek of the stand out great room.

The house also has a staircase leading to the roof-top where a deck can be built out.

At $1.39M, it's one of the few single family homes in Northcenter built across the entire 50 foot lot.

Click here for more property and neighborhood videos!

More on Northcenter here!

Chicago multi-units: DEAL ALERT on a new Lincoln Square three-flat listing under $400K

Buy a low priced three-flat in Lincoln Square!

We just saw a new listing come on for a great Lincoln Square true three-flat on a very popular block east of Western Avenue. It will sell well under $400,000. If you are looking for an investment or owner operator situation for a three-flat, please contact us today. Once renovated to rental quality, the Lincoln Square three-flat will bring in at least $3,000 a month in an easy to rent location (at least $1300 a unit conservatively, most likely more). Really great owner operator situation and great numbers to work with. Must not be afraid of professional renovation! We can help with that too.

From time to time a great deal hits in our core markets that we want to find an appropriate buyer for. Please call us for a showing and we'll line up this building and any others that make sense. This building is under the median prices for the area and a great location.

Modern in Roscoe Village

I was showing single family homes early today in Roscoe Village to a client and this modern style house caught my eye on the 3200 block of North Hoyne. Now we're talking! I'm not sure about the performance of the Dryvit or stucco type material used here, but I like the design amongst the typical houses on the street.

View more posts on Roscoe Village here!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Buying Foreclosures: Bring a flashlight

While watching the local market, I noticed a huge price drop today on a foreclosure condo in a great Lincoln Square the family walked over to look. My wife has a good eye. You have to have vision for these things...night vision. Good thing we brought a flashlight!

Watch the video

Despite the dark, we can tell this place is a rare "ridiculous deal". We are proactively taking it to clients, associates and friends of ours that we think would benefit by buying it. Please call if you are serious about buying a home, be it conventional, short sale or foreclosure and would like to work with us. We are full service experienced Realtors and homeowners that navigate deals like this for our clients every day.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Renting Chicago: Old Town neighborhood has it all

Chicago offers several city centers that afford luxury renters moving here the lifestyle they are looking for. When relocating to Chicago, no luxury location may be better than Old Town on the Near North Side. It's a great mix of gorgeous architecture, dining, North Side easy living and downtown bustle all along famous North Wells Street. All this just steps from Chicago's lakefront beaches.

Luxury rentals over 2,500 sq/ft can range from $4,000 a month for well appointed townhouses and condos. Go larger and $5,000-$6,000 a month will get you 3,000-4000 sq/ft attached homes with rooftop decks and downtown skyline views. $8,000-$10,000 will net new construction single family homes for those with grander needs. At this time, there are few luxury rentals availble in Old Town. Only a handful could meet the needs of an executive level family of four or more.

For many, a good local grocery store is just as important as upscale dining.

Walk to a movie, show or world class comedy at Second City!

Luxury and higher end rentals are on the rise in top cities around the country and Chicago is no exception. Various reports are showing residential vacancies below 7% for the first time in 3 years (and with many more units hitting the market) and rental rates up 2.3% in the fourth quarter 2010.