Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kitchen Chicago sponsors Chappell School!

Alexis Frankfort and Jeff Leverenz owners of

 for their Knight Level sponsorship!

Parents file into Back to School Night last month at Chappell
Community partners like Kitchen Chicago have helped expand opportunities for Chappell students this year.  The parents, Local School Council members, teachers and administration all thank our donors for enhancing the Chappell experience.

Kitchen Chicago is a "shared use" commercial kitchen meeting your commercial kitchen needs without the expense or long lease of a permanent facility.  Please visit www.kitchenchicago.com to book space for a culinary event, to cook a new food concept, for event food preparation..."Kitchen Chicago provides a fully equipped, commercially licensed shared-use kitchen available for rent by the hour".
Commercial kitchen and event space available by the hour.

Chappell Elementary is a neighborhood Chicago Public School located at  2135 W Foster Avenue in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Lincoln Square. Great teachers, great facility and forward thinking administration have made this a new school of choice on the North Side. Please contact Eric Rojas at erojas@kalerealty.com for ways to get involved with Friends of Chappell, donate or contribute in any way to Chappell school.

Lincoln Square condo sales now and then

Lincoln Square condo sales really slowed after the 2008 market crash.  Let's take a look at the numbers this year... and back then.
The fountain in Giddings Plaza at this year's Apple Fest

Lincoln Square condo sales January 1st to October 24th 2012

226 condos have sold to date this year.  That's up slightly over the 215 closed during the same period last year.  61 of those sold were under $100,000 and mostly located in the northwest region of Lincoln Square.  This is where dozens of ill fated condo conversion  buildings have been selling short-sale and foreclosure units. The vast majority of the lower end sales under $100,000 required cash.

2012 median price is about $200,000.
2011 median price was about $200,000 as well.

On the high-end this year 2000 W Berwyn #402 sold for $510,000.  The newer construction 3 beds, 3 baths penthouse with elevator and garage parking features terrific roof-deck outdoor space. A townhouse I've always liked at 5115 N Damen Unit A sold for $505,000.  It has a great top floor family room that opens to a roof deck.

57 units in 2012 have sold for $300,000 or above.
51 units in 2011 sold for $300,000 or above during the same period.
Welles Park playlot (Photo Eric Rojas)

Lincoln Square Total Condo Sales 2007-2011

It is still hard for many people to comprehend the wild drop in condo unit prices and unit sales from before the 2008 financial market crash until now. 

Take into consideration that in 2007, 540 condo units were sold.  None were sold under $100,000 and 227 units were sold over $300,000 (contrast that with the 57 units sold over $300,000 this year so far with only a couple months left). 

2007: 540 units sold, median price $280,000
2008: 395 units sold, median price $305,000
2009: 273 units sold, median price $256,000
2010: 278 units sold, median price $227,500
2011: 254 units sold, median price $200,000

Although condo sales and prices have looked stronger this year in neighborhoods like Lakeview and Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square may remain flat for another year possibly dead on with last year's sales and median price.

More Lincoln Square Posts HERE

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The thrill of house hunting

I took this photo with clients over the summer while looking for homes in Wilmette.  It's always exciting going to see homes that prove very interesting. The clients and I shard a fondness for mid-century modern homes and the landscape aesthetic for the under $400K price in Wilmette was really terrific.  This house on Crawford offered a lot of promise.  However, they ultimately stayed in the city and bought this custom house beauty in Peterson Park below.
Both of the homes offered layouts that were a bit surprising and very cool!  Both were on great blocks with good schools.

Irving Park single family home sales up 25% for the year

The North Center single family home market has been super heated and Lincoln Square homes have been pricey for many wage earners for some time.  The Irving Park Community Area  is filling the void for many of these single family home buyers that are priced out just east.  The area offers several distinct geographic areas developed strategically around transportation and parks. Better yet, the transportation and parks (namely the highway) developed right through the area at times in its history. 
Many folks are turning to the Irving Park area as an alternative to Lincoln Square and North Center.  Photo of double lot American Foursquare stucco at Ridgeway and Byron (Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker)

Most locations are easy to highway access to downtown or the suburbs. It's a short trip back in to Lincoln Square and North Center dining, business and amenities. Some areas of Irving Park offer higher-end homes as well that compete with their eastern neighbors pricing but offer more land.

Irving Park Community Area Single Family Home Sales 2012

162 single family homes have closed from January 1st to October 21st of this year That's up 25% over the same period in 2011.  The highest closing this year has been 3908 N Kildare, a double-lot mini palace in Old Irving Park for $1,075,000 (really nice 2007 built home and lot). The next highest was $774,000...so a large drop-off. There are a few other options from $800,000 to over $1M in Irving Park now.

Distressed Properties
In 2011, 32 of the 134 (24%) Irving Park homes sold were either a short sale or foreclosure (bank owned).
In 2012,  46 of the 168 (27%) Irving park homes sold were either short sale or foreclosures.

The distressed property and estate sale market has helped a renovation and re-sale boom throughout the Irving Park neighborhood.  All data gathered from MREDLLC.com data and interpreted  by Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wicker Park condo sales UP 32% over last year

Wicker Park is cool.  It's also a neighborhood to find vintage, traditional, transitional, loft and ultra modern style condos.  Not every neighborhood can offer such variety of housing amongst both urban grit and post-hipster paradise. I expand the southern border of Wicker Park a bit to include 900 North to 1500 North and 1600 West to 2400 West.
The official neighborhood boundary is Division on the south, but I extend it as sales just south of Division are highly due to the Wicker Park neighborhood and gravity of Division Street restaurants and bars.

Wicker Park condo sales January 1st to October 18th, 2012
There have been 201 condos closed this year in the Wicker Park neighborhood of West Town. This is up 32% over the 158 sold same period in 2011.   The median price for the sold condos is about $373,000. 

The highest condo sale for 2012 was at 1622 W Julian for $695,575 ...a new construction duplex penthouse with full roof top deck.  Bringing up the rear was 1349 N Western... a 2004 construction 2 beds, 2 baths (with parking) foreclosure sale for $150,000.  A pretty good deal even with some condo association issues and deferred maintenance.

Two beds, two baths condos with parking
About 45 two beds, two baths condos with parking included sold with a median price of about $330,000. 

Three beds or more, two baths or more with parking
More popular were three beds+ units.  About 75 of these condos sold (including townhouse style) with a median price about $455,000.

Sales gathered and analyzed from MREDLLC.com by Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker

Under Contract! North Center condo with great outdoor spaces

Our North Center condo listing at 1958 W Byron (asking $239,000) is under contract and set to close in a couple weeks.  Great outdoor space set this home apart.  The popular location has excellent restaurants, bars, transportation and city amenities right outside your door.

Watch the video!

Call us if you are looking to buy or sell North Side condos. With current market prices and interest rates many condos may be a better financial situation and afford a nicer home than renting.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Walk Wicker Park Landmark District October 28th, 2012

We were in Wicker Park's historic Landmark District meeting with clients last week.  It's one of my favorite areas to view architecture in the fall season.  Here's a few shots of our client's block.
Here's an original mansion on West Evergreen above.  The blocks can be both spooky and gorgeous in fall weather.
Most buildings and houses have mature landscaping in parkways and front lawns that feels very spontaneous.
Here's a side view of a large Wicker Park corner lot home with some updates through the years.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation has a walking tour coming up Saturday, October 28th.  Many Chicago tour books feature walking guides of Wicker Park with great information as well.

East Lakeview house stunner

Walk past this single family house located at Wellington and North Lake Shore Drive (inner).  Wowie.  This a Top 10 in the city for me considering location, surrounding aesthetic and design.  Many people will pass by and not even know its there due to the deep set-back, landscaping and fact that most buildings are large multi-units along LSD.

Photos Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New single family home listings hard to come by

5321 N Bell  was listed by us at $439,000 and sold in a day for top dollar, yet, affordable price

 I just did an MLS search for NEW single family home listings in six North Side Chicago Community Areas: Uptown, Lincoln Square, North Center Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and Near North.  NEW means they were listed on the MLS within the past 7 days.  Only 13 listings were returned! This is a large area with lots of residential single family homes and only 13 returns.

Of those 13 listings, only two homes had a for sale price under $1,100,000.  Some of these homes are re-listed houses as well, making the number of actual new house listings for sale extremely low.

Our listing at 4425 N Paulina at $729,000 was listed and sold after the first few showings.

We have several single family home buyer clients under contract (one with a house that never hit the market) and several more intensely looking.  It's pretty exciting, actually, to jump on that one good house that trickles onto the market for a particular client.

Brunch weather

A late September brunch was had at Tre Kroner's fantastic outdoor setting.  If you have not been...you must!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NEW Gompers Park play-lot in North Park

The new Gompers Park play-lot has recently opened about two weeks ago.  Excellent playability!

Hello! Mortgage rates are LOW, research your options now

The positive news about home sales and mortgage rates has been everywhere lately...the Tribune, CNN...even my Kiplinger's issue this month had a few features on what buyers are getting in this current market.  You should take a serious look at your options for purchasing, selling or re-financing now.
Interest rates are low and demand is back up... even new condo conversions are back around the North Side

What's interesting in Chicago (and the close by burbs) is the ability to achieve many goals depending on your situation: 

1) Buying your family home for a much cheaper cost to own these days than over the past 10 years 2) buying a condo and having roommates in a nicer home for less than renting (and building equity and getting a write-off on mortgage interest your roommate helps pay); 3) buying a very livable fixer-upper or outdated home and living well under rent prices for your area; 4) buy and live in a two-flat building and receive rental income and tax write-offs for maintenance; 5) Buying and renovating single family homes for profit; 6) and pros are even buying and flipping condo units again.

Single family homes have become more affordable relative to incomes around Chicago.  Inventory once again seems low in popular neighborhoods on the North Side.

For the average buyer purchasing their primary residence its been a very active home selling and buying market.  People have begun to feel comfortable about home prices in comparison to renting. The low interest rates have combined with lower home prices to spark some consumer confidence.  It will pay to understand your options now for selling, making a purchase or re-financing.

You can contact Steve Dunnett, Loan Officer at sdunnett@wintrustmortgage.com or 1-708-289-3408 to discuss mortgage needs. 

You need house? We find house.  Call or email us.

Is Horner Park hot or not?

A couple years ago we predicted professionally renovated homes would come to the market in increased numbers.  2012 has proved to be a big year for newly gut-renovated homes coming to market and selling handily in several North Side neighborhoods.
Horner Park neighborhood between Irving and Montrose, Califormia and Kedzie

 The Horner Park enclave in Chicago's Irving park Community Area has bee particularly active (hot) over the past two years. Distressed (short sale or foreclosures) and estate sale homes in need of total rehab have been selling there for about $100,000 to $200,000 prior to renovation in 2011-2012.  Quality "full gut renovations" have been selling from $350,000 to $450,000 this year.  Several more distressed and "dilapidated" houses were closed (or currently under contract) this year under $200,000 and will likely be gut rehabs coming to market in the near future.

This Horner Park area also features new construction five bedroom homes priced under $600,000 coming on the market now or soon.  "Move in quality" three bedroom re-sale homes may also present a bargain. Frame and brick bungalow homes with recent renovations to kitchens and baths sell from $300,000 to $350,000.

You want house? Call us. We find house.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bowmanville "PumpkinPalooza" this Saturday

There are a ton of cool things to do in the Lincoln Square area during the fall season.  Check out Bowmanville's PumpkinPalooza this Saturday October 13th from 1PM to 4PM
Live music, games, food and FUN...costumes welcome!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Under Contract under 3 weeks: Huge East Lakeview home offers dream space

Our client recently received and executed offer on 416 W Briar Place #1 - one of the more rare properties we've seen in this great East Lakview location.  The asking price of our listing is $449,000 plus $30,000 for a large deeded space for 3 car parking. The sale is contingent on several standard conditions.

Watch the video!

More of our property videos here!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Home sales in Chicago's Independence Park neighborhood UP 85%

We've recently worked with clients looking to buy a house in Independence Park, just south of Irving Park Road in the Irving Park Community Area of Chicago.
Independence Park in early fall preparing for Circus in the Park (Photo Eric Rojas, Broker)
The general borders of the Independence Park neighborhood according to several sources are Irving Park Road to the north, the Kennedy Expressway to the west, Elston Avenue to the east, and Addison Street to the south.
The Independence park borders mapped on MREDLLC.com by Eric Rojas
Independence Park Single Family Home Sales

From January 1st to October 2nd 2012, 13 single family homes closed in the small enclave of Independence Park.  That's up 85% over 7 homes closed over the same period in 2011.  The 2012 median price of a house is about $355,000 -  up over the $260,000 median price sale of 2011.  8 homes are currently under contract. Only 3 homes are for sale...all priced over $525,000.

The $355,000 median price house affords a well conditioned brick or frame 3 bedrooms single family house with access to Metra and CTA trains.  Highway access is of course very good for going downtown, west or north. The housing stock varies from modestly renovated homes that are very serviceable to the more pricey classic late 1800s Colonials and Queen Ann's with vintage details in tact. These classic homes and their well landscaped wide lots can sell from $450,000 to $700,000.

Homes on North Hamlin facing Independence Park
High Sales

The highest sale in Independence Park this year has been 3821 N Hamlin for $630,000 in May of this year.  The highest sale in 2011 was at 3646 N Central Park for $400,000.  Independence Park sellers, with their desirable niche location, have taken advantage of market conditions this year and sold more homes for higher prices in general.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Steal Update! Ravenswood double lot sells for $363K

5062 N Ravenswood in August  (photo Eric Rojas)
I wrote about this double lot for sale (with tear down property) at 5062 N Ravenswood in December last year. Asking $350,000, I thought it was a steal.  Seriously.  The home closed in June for $363,000.
The unique 5000 block of North Ravenswood
This somewhat wonky block facing the Metra tracks is a perfect spot for a cool modern build incorporating the landscape.  Let's hope anyway.  In any event, a really unique parcel and great deal for the new owner.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Fall and Halloween supplies at Farmers Garden Market in Lincoln Square

Framers Garden Market at 2242 W Lawrence (photos Eric Rojas)
Change is in the air along Lawrence Avenue in Lincoln Square...and so is fall!  The recently improved Farmers Garden Market is in a great location for the Winnemac Park area residents to walk to. The bright, homey and local business is a joy to see along Lawrence Avenue...not usually known for it's inviting aesthetic.  You can but all your fall yard and festival needs here.

 Residents here anticipate more improved business activity and pedestrian friendly life due to the Lawrence Streetscape Project coming our way.

More Lincoln Square HERE

Saturday, October 06, 2012

YOUmedia teen space at Harold Washington Library

The YOUmedia teen learning space (photo Eric Rojas)
I visited a friend and client at Harold Washington Library Center in late summer and took a tour of the YOUmedia teen learning space.  The city is crawling with elementary kids and activities.  It's always good to see opportunities for teenage kids and young adults as well.

There are great multi-media workshops...music always welcome.
Photos Eric Rojas
Chicagoans continue to deliver many free and inexpensive opportunities to those of all ages looking to stay active and engaged in just about any interest. Teens too!
Learn more about YOUmedia HERE! 

Under Contract in 30 Days: Ravenswood contemporary condo asking $299,000

We received an executed contract on our condo listing at 1949 W Leland #3 in less than 30 days. The 2 beds, 2 baths top floor home has a fantastic Lincoln Square area location in the Ravenswood neighborhood.  Watch the video of this unique contemporary space with killer kitchen asking $299,000.

View more of our property videos HERE

Thursday, October 04, 2012

A River North morning with four jackhammers

Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker

Early four(!) jackhammer wake-up call at 405 N Wabash near Trump International in River North the other morning...ouch! Believe it or not, this Wabash corridor with Trump, Plaza 440 and 405 N Wabash can often seem peaceful just hidden behind the Loop.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Photos: Ravenswood Hospital demolition starts slowly

Yes!  (photos Bob DePalma)

Knowing I'd probably be close by with my camera... YoChicago.com sent me a tip yesterday that the long anticipated demolition had started on the shuttered Ravenswood Hospital site.  There are very few bombed out behemoths in the greater Lincoln Square community carea...especially in the inner core of residential homes and small businesses throughout the Ravenswood neighborhood.  None larger than this place.

The CBS Local had a story yesterday and Center Square Journal has followed the story and redevelopment for the past couple years.  Looks like a solid two years of demolition and heavy new construction ahead for neighbors.

The Lincoln Square area from Montrose going North to Foster is home to an amazing amount of new development and improved infrastructure.  Already a fantastic place to live with diverse housing stock options, this Lincoln Square area will benefit from new large scale retail and residential development, a completely transformed West Lawrence Avenue, new attractive private and public school additions and improvements, new bridges and Metra Station... the list goes on. 

South Loop views

Stopping and looking from South Loop after a downtown closing (photo Bob DePalma)

Secret modern in North Center

A few weeks back I toured the property at 3434 N Ravenswood...an industrial building for sale at $765,000 (listed by Garret Realty and Development).  Our client is interested in completing a modern home renovation.... or an existing ultra modern home on a wide lot.
The building at 3434 N Ravenswood (photo Eric Rojas)

The property sits on a 50' x 123' lot providing a rare wide footprint to create a custom, industrial living space.  This has been done to several properties along Ravenswood and it's intersecting east-west streets.

 Looking at the property going south. 
There is a large yard under the Brown Line tracks that backs up to the west of the property that belongs to the neighbor.  This large open space allows great light into the main level, an added second story and interior courtyard if desired at 3434 N Ravenswood.
Large yard space will remain open behind the property (photo Eric Rojas)

The same day, we toured the adjacent property to the north at 1801 W Cornelia...an ultra modern residential renovation of the same type of industrial building.  Sorry, I took no interior photos. It's easy to pass by this building on Cornelia and never realize its a fantastic residential home...super secret modern indeed.  As far as my personal design taste is concerned, one of the top 5 pleasing homes I've been in.
A converted industrial space in North Center...now a single family home (photo Eric Rojas)
Looking at the added back courtyard and second story of 1801 W Cornelia (photo Eric Rojas)
To find a renovation project, vacant land or an exisitng modern aesthetic home, please contact us.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Sold in two days! Bowmanville charmer house casts its spell

We were excited to represent the sale of this charming and fun Bowmanville single family home at 5321 N Bell (asking $439,000).  They received a contract on the first evening of showings after a crush of buyers viewed the house.  We appreciate the effort of our clients in making this home show ready.  Take a video walk-through we filmed with www.YoChicago.com

This home is through attorney and physical inspection and awaits closing.  If you are in the Lincoln Square area and need to buy or sell a single family home, condo or multi-unit please contact us.  We will develop an individual plan for you.

More Bowmanville here

Old Duckworth house update...it's big!

Last year I wrote about the Ruth Duckworth house purchase at 3855 N Ravenswood.  The sculptor's home and studio sat on a double lot  (50 feet wide) along North Ravenswood Avenue...a corridor in Chicago known for mixed use residential homes and thriving industry.  The house and lot were sold for a premium over market value (in my opinion) at $1.2 million in 2009. I passed by last week or so and took a couple shots of the new home being built on the lot.
The facade was kept from the old structure and has been restored and refurbished a bit. The interior, totally demolished, will now become a more conventional layout.  What the design will be (transitional, modern, traditional) we do not know.

Here's a photo below of the structure after demolition last year:
Coincidentally, a blog reader of ours inquired about the house last week just after I took the updated photos. My posts last year generated a lot of interest from admirers of Ruth Duckworth and her work. Many hoped some of the original tile work by Ms. Duckworth would be preserved. It will be interesting to see if any of the artist's work ends up in some form at the new home; sculpture, tile or otherwise.