Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sell your home in fall

Many folks would like to sell their homes now but feel they "missed the window".  This is not true.  Well priced properties are desirable right now in the fall season.  We have seen many new and price reduced properties across the spectrum selling under two weeks (a new $975K single family home in Roscoe Village that my clients saw this past weekend just sold in 9 days). 

Two of our own property listings that have made price adjustments this September and have offers now. A buyer client is making an offer on a property new to the market as of this writing.

Fall is a great time to photograph homes and my favorite time to show houses. We can turn your home listing around quickly and take advantage of decision makers now.  Many folks have had houses sold out from under them and are looking for the "next" listing.  Others are relocating for their jobs and have less're home can be a stand-out.  We can get this going for you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Open House Chicago! Chicago Architecture Foundation puts on grand show

openhousechicago 2011 is here October 15th and 16th!  One of the coolest events for anyone who loves the look and feel of our city. See iconic and meaningful architecture, significant blocks, inspiring interiors, important exteriors and private, rarely seen locations.

The lobby at 505 N Lake Shore Drive- Lake Point Tower (photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker)
Go to  openhousechicago now and plan your itinerary!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Survey: First time home buyers passing on short sales

We showed this Northcenter short sale early this year with confidence

A survey via Housing shows percentage of short-sales bought by first-time home buyers is trending down. 

A short sale is when a home owner negotiates with their lender to sell a property for less than they owe on the mortgage (without making up the difference out of pocket).

We have discussed buying short sales on this blog in the past.  We take a lot of the mystery out of short sales for our clients before even showing the property.  We set the expectations for our buyer clients that there are no guarantees. We reasearch key information that will help you gauge if a purchase is probable to get closed. We show all short sales, foreclosures and conventional sales that make sense for our clients and get the deals done.

Home buying tips: Reason #12 to own a two or three-flat in Chicago

 The recent economic lessons should change the way you live and should provide you lessons moving ahead! Here's a home buying tip to change the way you think about housing and living in your home.

Reason #12 to own a multi-unit building:  Host exchange students. 

One of our good friends created an in-law apartment in the basement of their North Side single family home.  They now use it to host 4 exchange students for a school downtown.  They receive $115.00 a week for each student (roughly $1,800 a month) and are only required to have meals available for the students outside of every day utilities. Our friends' son also hosted students from the same program in extra rooms of his multi-unit building...he had a bunk-bed and 3 income producing students!

Many clients are wary of buying a multi-unit building and being an live-in owner/ operator (i.e landlords).  However, students are a good source of income for your extra unit without having to test the open rental market and sign long leases.  The foreign students are a source of busy, goal oriented "renters" that tend to be low maintenance.  The turn-over keeps things fresh and the schools they are associated with work as good resources, referrals and references for your student tenants. Being a part of a university program takes a lot of guess work out too.

Instead of envisioning yourself in a huge building, house or condo alone use that space for income and keep things interesting!  More on multi-units HERE

Demolition begins: Webster Square in Lincoln Park

Days are numbered for the vacant Lincoln Park Hospital building.

Here's a couple photos from last Friday of Lincoln Park Hospital.  The garage demolition has begun.  It signals progress of the controversial (to some) Webster Square development that will bring density to a vibrant neighborhood...the type of population density that's good for local business.

Let's hope the development is executed well. We see far too many 10 to 15 year old developments with rusting, stained and worn exterior materials.  We'll take an all brick vintage building every time!
Demo on the hospital garage
Check out coverage of Webster Square at Curbed Chicago.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Northcenter July, August single family home sales up 70%; Median price up 11%

The Northcenter Community Area continues the trend of hot single family home sales for 2011 in our target North Side neighborhoods. Unit sales for the two busy summer months of closings were up 70%.  Even better, median price was up 11% from $700,000 to $780,000. Most median prices were down across neighborhoods this summer.
2300 block of West Cullom in Northcenter

44 single family homes sold in July and August of 2011 this year, up +70% from 26 units sold in 2010.  The median price was also up about 11% to  about $780,000. 

The highest sale was $1,261,750 for a 2008 built house at 2038 W Pensacola. The house sits on a 37.5 feet extra wide lot and it's in Coonley school boundaries...arguably the hottest elementary school of the year.

The lowest sold price was $215,000 for a small bungalow foreclosure needing major renovation at 3632 N Artesian.  This is in the far southwest corner of Nortchcenter known as Addison Mall. This is a good option for affordable single family houses near the action of Roscoe Village.

Interesting Facts:
Of the 44 homes sales recorded in the MLS over July and August, three (3) were foreclosures and one (1) was a short sale.  Two of the foreclosures were sold under $300K at the very low end.  However, the highest priced foreclosure sale for the two months was $1,225,000 for a never lived in six bedroom new construction house (built across a 50' wide lot) at 4208 N Oakley in Coonley school boundaries.

We have shown and tracked dozens of houses in Northcenter.  If you want to buy a fully renovated home or fixer-upper, we know the market.  All stats gathered and analyzed from (our membership MLS) by Eric Rojas and Bob DePalma Real Estate Brokers. Anecdotal analysis is the opinion of Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chicago local green: Northcenter gut renovation gets solar panels

I came across another gut renovation single family home at the 1800 block of West Cuyler in Northcenter while showing properties.  There is no listing information for the house yet.  It's always interesting to see a new house in development but it was the huge solar panels on the roof that caught my eye.  You can see them to the top right of the photo.

Solar panels will help power this new gut renovation in Northcenter

The house is located steps from the Irving Park Brown Line stop, a few blocks from grocery stores and many quality restaurants, bars and amenities.  Across the street are converted loft commercial spaces adding to the urban atmosphere of these particular blocks.  You have everything you need without getting in a car... which is more a "green" statement than the house!

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

Friday, September 23, 2011

Last day of summer, first day of autumn means empty Chicago beaches

Today is the first day of Autumn. Bob took this shot yesterday afternoon at about 3:00 PM looking towards the North Avenue Beach House and downtown.  Only one guy (right hand side) braves the water at this usually busy beach on the "last day" of summer!

Drake, Hancock still special in Chcago

The Chicago skyline never gets old!  It's still fun to gaze upon the many iconic buildings and signage like the Drake Hotel and the John Hancock Center (and not so iconic little surprises) while running errands or showing properties downtown. Bob took this shot yesterday walking to our Mag Mile office at 980 N Michigan Avenue.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gut renovation in Hamlin Park area of Northcenter, Roscoe Village

Like many micro-neighborhoods this year, gut rehabs are a common site around the "Hamlin Park" neighborhood of Northcenter.  I spotted renovation work on this home along the 2200 block of West Barry.

It appears the current owner is "gut" renovating to a single family home, possibly for retail sale. At first glance, I have not located a sale on the building in the last several years. It's possible it was recently bought to renovate, or, it's a long time owner taking advantage of demand for affordable newly renovated homes.

I also spotted another gut rehab home that came on the market in August at 2907 N Hoyne, now listed for $509,000.  The home was purchased in the beginning of the year for $289,000.

Roof deck in Lakeview

We showed clients a duplex-up today in Southport Corridor that boasts a rooftop deck. We love the view from a well placed roof deck, however, ask yourself or your real estate broker….is it legal?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Southport Fitness", new construction update in Southport Corridor

The new construction retail building at 3415 N Southport, a fantastic location for business, is taking shape.
Bob has watched construction ramp up on the newest Southport Corridor retail

Southport Corridor continues to be hotter than ever with our buyer clients. It’s no wonder with everything you could possibly need at your doorstep. The newest edition coming in January 2012 is Southport Fitness (according to the development sign out front).

 The building site at 3415 N Southport has made progress over the past month as the framework rises. According to Crain's, Derrig Management Inc. bought the property for $2.7 million in March of this year, previously owned by a development company as part of the Southport Collection. The long awaited Southport Fitness looks to be coming after all.

Check out the ever evolving retail, entertainment and restaurants Southport Corridor (then call us).

The rendering out front  of  3415 N Southport adjeacent to CTA Brown Line

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Five Chicago web sites we use for real estate reasearch

Here are 5 "non-membership" real estate sites we use and read on a daily basis for research and local updates... in no particular order:

CPS School Locator
Interactive map tool allows you to search public school attendance boundaries and more. We often set up property searches based on the CPS boundaries.
A "fresh look" at  Chicago real estate, TONS of videos, new construction updates, renting information, guides and some social commentary to boot. We are a client of the site and feature content and real estate videos (because we like what they do!).

Curbed Chicago
Great photos and all around Chicago real estate, architecture, neighborhood and construction news.  An aggregate site with some inside tips and reporting.

Center Square Journal and Brown Line Media
Local North Side Chicago events, politics, city, retail and social news for Northcenter, Lincoln Square, Edgewater and more.
Amazing aggregate of public data and goings on in your immediate area, neighborhood and block.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Construction: NEW Burberry store in prime Michigan Ave location

5 story Burberry retail store to rise at Michigan and Ontario
Location, location, location. Building a new retail store for Burberry at Michigan and Ontario in Streeterville.  Bob took the shot this weekend.

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

Lincoln Square July, August single family home sales sizzle...up 117%

Here's a look at Lincoln Square single family home sales for the summer (one  of our specialty markets).

37 single family homes closed in Lincoln Square, Chicago in July and August of 2011.  This is up 20 homes (+117%) over the same period 2010 where 17 single family homes sold. The median closing price over the two active months was $462,500... down from the same period in 2010 at $500,000.

We sold 5137 N Oakley this year for $455,000
The highest priced sold listing was 2131 W Agatite for $1,775,487 (that $487.00 was probably for one doorknob) for a 37 wide lot luxury new construction house.  The lowest sale price was $240,000 at 2548 W Pensacola... a home sold for land value.

The buzz was sales were up in Chicago for July and August.  We had written last year (and early this year) that single family homes and two-three flats sales would be popular for 2011 and the year thus far has played out that way. Homes purchased needing renovation were a significant segment of the market.

Read more Chicago Market Statistics HERE!

 All statistics gathered and analyzed by Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker from, our local MLS (which I'm a member).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lakeview summer sales: July, August Lakeview single family home sales firm

We sold 2911 N Racine for $755,000 in July
44 single family homes sold in July and August of 2011, up four houses (+4) over same period 2010.  The median price was about $955,000, down eighteen percent (-18%) from 2010.

The highest closing by about $1 million over the next house was 2856 N Hermitage at $3,650,000. The very special double-lot custom home built in 2005 was sold in less than 60 days in a cash deal. The lowest priced sale was 3818 N Alta Vista for $350,000...a historic row house on a small lot needing full gut renovation.  The deal was a foreclosure and the new owner scored a great value.

All statistics gathered and analyzed by Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker from, our local MLS (which I'm a member).

Friday, September 16, 2011

July, August Lincoln Park home sales up 34%

The buzz was home closings were up for July and August.  Here's a look at Lincoln Park single family home closings for July and August 2011 vs last year.

35 single family homes sold in Lincoln Park in July and August 2011, up 9 units (34%) over 2010.  The median price was just over $1.3 million.  Median for the same time last year was $1.26 million.

The highest closing during the two months was 1835 N Howe at $3,965,000 cash (that cash might have loosened things up...the original list price was $4.5 million and it sold in under 30 days).

The lowest price was for a really nice 4 bedrooms 3 baths single family row house at 2108 N Bissell at $590K.  Priced right and another quick sale despite the home backing up to the CTA Red Line tracks.

All statistics gathered and analyzed by Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker from, our local MLS (which I'm a member).

The Center Square Journal: Lincoln Square/ Northcenter best local news

Fall on the North Side of Chicago is my favorite season. Keep up with really great local news, events and political reporting for greater Lincoln Square and Northcenter visit The Center Square Journal. 

I tell all my neighbors about the site.  You can "LIKE" them at Facebook and get their news feed.

Funny Money: 5/1 ARM mortgage rates under 2.5 percent

Our associate lenders are sending us the latest mortgage rate sheets prior to this weekend.  5/1 ARM rates can be under 2.5% for qualified applicants.  This may be a good bet for a condo purchase. Low rates on 30 yr fixed and low jumbo loan rates make pricier houses and multi-unit purchases in great locations very attractive.  One of our buyer clients locked a 30 yr fixed this week at 4% on a house.

I might even consider buying a house or two-flat with the 5/1 ARM, use the savings for renovations, and refinance when the time is right.  There are a lot of options right now.

To ask questions and pre-approve for a mortgage contact:

Steve Dunnett, Loan Officer
NMLS ID: 755940

We Just Sold: Wicker Park duplex and Northcenter single family home foreclosure

We have been busy already this fall with buyers and sellers.  There has been an uptick in closings for July and August throughout Chicago.  Our clients have picked up the pace noting the low mortgage interest rates as a motivating factor.

1250 N Wolcott #1 is now under contract.  We were the listing agents on this property and kept the traffic coming all summer.  We've had great success in Wicker Park as buyer and listing agents, so please call us for consultation.

3054 N Leavitt is a single family home foreclosure now under contract.  Our buyer client wanted a deal...and he was ready to make a serious offer immediately when this house came back on the market at $375,000.  We have consulted about buying a foreclosure, negotiating with the bank, inspections, contractors, lenders name it!  We are excited our client did get a good deal on a very affordable single family home steps from Roscoe Village and Hamlin Park.

Please contact us with inquiries concerning buying and selling in this market. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Prasino turns up brunch heat on Division

The brunch crowd was huge at the new Prasino on Division Street in Wicker Park.  The modern "sustainable" guided restaurant offers a great setting to make the scene.

I passed by on the way to one of our home sale listings at 1250 N Wolcott (now sold). The August late Sunday morning foot traffic was bustling, the al fresco seating packed.

Wilmette parks, beaches via Lincoln Square

The path to Langdon Park Beach
One of many advantages to living in Lincoln Square on the North Side of Chicago is that it's close to the beautiful North Shore communities of Evanston and Wilmette. We often pack up the kids for the scenic 30 minute drive down Ridge and Sheridan Roads to Wilmette parks and beaches.

View the video below of Langdon Park beach from

Here are a handful of photos taken just prior to the Labor Day weekend about a month ago. We spent the day at Langdon and Gillson Parks. We also return in the fall for terrific walks along the beaches and gorgeous neighborhood blocks near the lake.

Baha'i Temple views from lunch at Wilmette Harbor

Gillson Park play lot

Wilmette Harbor

Cobblestone streets near Langdon Park, Wilmette

Langdon Park beach

Au pair Vero and the kids at Langdon Park beach

Old school fun at Langdon Park play lot

Waterfront condos just north of Langdon Park

Wilmette waterfront home at Langdon Beach

Wilmette waterfront home at Langdon Beach
As my wife will tell you, I sometimes schedule a few home showings on our afternoons in Wilmette (our second choice to Lincoln Square when we were home shopping).  We're always ready for a great deal in excellent locations.  One day, we may not make it back!

Northcenter house: Great starter home or "tear down"?

This Northcenter house asking $175,000 is advertised as the "Ideal starter home or tear-down".  We're  not sure our first time single family home buyers would consider a tear-down "ideal" but you have to have vision!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Video: For sale Ravenswood condo with huge extra space

View the video tour of 2200 West Winona in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Lincoln Square. Minutes walk to Lincoln Square retail and dining, Ravenswood coffee shops and restaurants, grocery and all you could need. The corner condo has a private lower level. Check out the duplex option.You can custom finish the lower level to double the size of the home, or, use it as storage and work out room like the current owners.

At $289,000, the extra space is a great value for the two beds, one bath (double vanity!) condo with parking, deck and huge private, unfinished lower level. If you are looking for a three bedrooms, two baths home for $325,000 or so, you should consider buying this home and duplex down to the lower level with your own custom finishes.  We have the contractors to do it!  You'll be under comparable market values for finished units with similar finish and amenities.

Winnemac Park across the street, close to CTA Western and Damen Brown Lines, Ravenswood Metra and great bus routes.
Winnemac Park Prairie

Ball fields

Popular play lot at Winnemac Park

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Modern house in Avondale

This modern single family home conversion sits at the 2800 block of North Rockwell on a quiet corner in the Avondale neighborhood not far from the action.  This is a nice little pocket of Avondale, good for those needing the 90/94 Kennedy Expressway or easy in towards downtown on Elston and Lincoln Park on Diversey.


 The converted brick industrial space allows for a huge front courtyard, metal cladding detail, floor to ceiling windows, attached garage...and plenty of just plain cool. If you can't find a contemporary space east of Western in your budget, you might give Avondale a look.  Homes and two flats are available near the Blue Line that can be renovated to your specifications.  Enjoy hot spots like URBAN BELLY, KUMA'S CORNER, HOT DOUG'S, THE PORK SHOPPE and more!

Newer construction  and gut rehabbed single family homes west of Western Avenue in Avondale are offered from $339K to $1M...something for everyone!

Gold Coast storefronts display fall fashions

If you can afford to buy this stuff, call us.

We took a few storefront shots while viewing one bedroom condos in the Gold Coast. 
One trip to Oak Street in Chicago's Gold Coast will inspire your fall wardrobe.  You'll need a bigger closet...we can find one.



Loro Piana


Our personal favorite, Louis Vuitton