Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year and Thank You

Bob and I thank our clients for a record year in sales in 2012. We are truly partners with our buyers and sellers and enjoy providing research, resources and solid advice so they may accomplish their goals.

My wife and I also welcomed a new family member. Our third child Stanley was born in April - during the spring market.  That's a "no no" around here but we managed.

Of course, the Chicago market was very active and alive in 2012.  It surprised many.  Each year brings new options, strategy and procedures when buying, selling, renting or investing in property.  We stay prepared and adjust for the times allowing us to successfully consult our clients and add value to their transactions.

South Loop BOOM? Condo unit sales UP 94% in 2012

One of the higher profile boom and bust stories of the Chicago real estate market is the South Loop Community Area.  The community teemed with new highrise condo buildings and town home developments over the past 10 years.  The lakefront, access to downtown amenities and employment,  highways access and views can be fantastic.

However, the 2008 financial crash particularly exposed the over built, over-priced and over-their-heads developer era of the South Loop. Let's see how condo sales fared in 2012, a good year for city condo sales in general.

Highrises and town house developments in South Loop (Photo, Eric Rojas).

770 South Loop condo units sold from January 1st to December 26th in 2012.  That's up 94% over the same period in 2011.  A pretty astonishing number.  Many factors may have contributed...low interest rates, stabilizing condo associations, lower asking prices for the location, good income to housing price ratio and faster processing of short sales and foreclosures.  New development completely halted after 2008. Now, four years later people are beginning to feel comfortable with "new" pricing and what they value in the new normal.

The median price in 2012 was about $250,000 for an attached condo.
Same period in 2011, the median price was about $260,000 for an attached condo.

Distressed (Short Sale and REO, Bank Owned Sales)

In 2012 about 226 out of 770 of the closed condos (29%) were recorded as short sales or foreclosures (bank owned, REO).

In 2011, 149 of the 396 condos (38%) sold were recorded as short sales or foreclosures.

South Loop Condo Unit Sales 2008-2012

2008 unit sales 1,127
2009 unit sales    637
2010 unit sales    568 (affected by Federal First Time Buyer stimulus)
2011 unit sales    405
2012 unit sales    770 (as of Dec 26th)

All statistics gathered from and analyzed by Eric Rojas, Licensed Real Estate Broker.  Stats are deemed accurate but not guaranteed.  Some approximate median prices and sales numbers are noted along with anecdotal information.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Lincoln Park Single family home sales up 29% for 2012

Our year started and ended with contracts in Lincoln Park... and we'll start off 2013 listing a Landmark District row house in Old Town Triangle.  Let's see how single family home sales (including row houses) did in the popular Chicago Community Area of Lincoln Park this year.
New construction in East Lincoln Park found plenty of buyers this year (Photo, Eric Rojas at North Lincoln Ave, Wisconsin Street and North Lincoln Park West)
 Total Lincoln Park area single family home sales

182 homes have closed from January 1st to December 26th 2012 in Lincoln Park. Only three homes sold for under $500,000 (two were row houses and another a frame home on a small lot of Old Town Triangle).  The median price is about was about $1,250,000.

Unit sales are up 29% over the same period of 2011 (141 units sold).  The median price over the same period in 2011 was also $1,250,000.

The good, the bad and the ugly

The highest closing this year was 1956 N Orchard for $5,300,000...a double lot (50'x124') 7 bedrooms, 6.5 baths 2001 build. 4 homes sold for over $4 million and 5 homes sold for over $3 million. 

The lowest sale was 319 W Concord Place for $412,000.  The small frame home in Old Town Triangle sat on a 24'x98' and did have two outdoor parking spots on the property (included parking can be a rarity in the Triangle especially at this price). Seems like a pretty good deal even if a tear down.  The only minus being that it backed-up to a parking lot for a mid-rise building... but for this east Lincoln Park location, that's no big deal.

Only 11 of the 182 recorded sales were distressed properties (either short sale or REO, bank owned). 

Lincoln Square single family home sales up 18% for 2012

Its been a steady year for Lincoln Square homes sales for both the high and lower end transactions.  Developers, first-time home buyers, move-up buyers (in the middle to upper end pricing) and luxury home buyers all seemed to find desirable options in this popular North Side community area.
Giddings Square.  Photo, Eric Rojas Broker
In all, 97 homes have closed as of December 25th. This is up 15 homes (18%) over the same period in 2011. Another 14 are currently under contract and I imagine a handful will close this week prior to year's end.  The median price is about $485,000.  That's a bump up from the $465,000 median in 2011.

6 homes sold for over $1 million in 2012 and 2011.  2 homes are currently under contract for over $1 million.

The good, the bad and the ugly

The highest sale in 2012 was 2019 W Giddings for $1.795 million...a new construction Landrosh built home on a 37' wide lot.  The location is close to the Damen Brown Line, the Ravenswood Metra stop and Giddings Square...the mecca of Lincoln Square shopping and community. 

The lowest sale was 2249 W Farragut sold for $140,000 cash in the Bowmanville neighborhood of Lincoln Square. This was a small, corporate owned bungalow built on the rear of the lot and a great deal for this desirable block with many rehabs and new construction homes over the years.  My guess is this will be a tear down for a custom house for the owner of the property or for a developer to build and sell retail. 

15 of the 97 closed homes were distressed sales (either short-sale or foreclosure).  That's actually 4 more - and a higher percentage of distressed sales - over the same period in 2011.  I think this is an indication that banks are getting short sale and foreclosure sales done faster rather than any destabilization in housing prices.
Lincoln Square new construction and renovated houses sold well in 2012.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lined up for Garrett popcorn

Photo: Eric Rojas Broker
For's just not Christmas and the New Year without standing in this line. Pretty amazing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sold! Buyer clients pick up gut renovated house in Horner Park

We recently represented clients on a newly renovated home purchase in the Horner Park neighborhood of the Irving Park Community area at 4120 N Richmond.  The house was completed by an active development team know for well done rehabs in the area.  We set up showings with the developer before the house went to the greater MLS market. The home sold and closed for $449,000.

The popular Richmond Street has seen many renovations and new construction homes over the past several years.  4120 N Richmond sits on a 30 wide lot and features 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, a wide open living, dining and kitchen floor-plan, good sized yard and almost entirely new everything.

The buyers wanted an open concept main floor after living in a house with separated kitchen and dining rooms for many years.  This house also had great windows and views to the back deck and yard.
Contact us to start looking for homes on the North Side.  We have viewed, sold or represented buyers on 100s of single family houses and, in some cases, are the first brokers to have an opportunity to view and offer on homes.

More Irving Park Posts HERE

Photos: A ghost town near the old Children's Memorial, Lincoln Park

I took a few shots of the shuttered, and former, Children's Memorial Hospital site in Lincoln Park a couple weeks ago (after a dentist appointment across the cavities).  The new development of the site has run into a fresh set of problems as reported by Crain's.  No one said it was going to be easy, but they didn't say it would be this hard either.

I digress.
The eerily empty hospital driveway.  We'd spent many years dodging cars and pedestrians coming out of this drive.

The hospital closed and moved permanently to Streeterville in June.  However, the vacant site has taken on a new melancholy as we move into cold and grey fall days. It feels a little more vacant now.  As some of you know my wife worked at the old hospital for about 10 years (and continues to work at the new hospital). My old office was a couple blocks away.  A lot of time was spent around the hustle and bustle of this location.
The mostly empty parking structure.

One of the largest concerns of the hospital closing was the affect of the hospital move on local business.  Dissipated are the lunch crowd, work parties, employees, parents,'s a pretty dramatic blow. 
Lunch staples like this Potbellly Sandwich shop are feeling the pinch.

North Lincoln Avenue by the old hospital site was pretty quiet for this Thursday afternoon lunch hour.

More Children's and Lurie Hospital posts HERE

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Photo, Eric Rojas
We took a drive by this house in Medinah last evening.  The photo does not do justice to this masterpiece.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Lincoln Square's other library...Budlong

Rainy? Cold?  Got the kids?  Take them to the library.  Lincoln Square is known for it's Sulzer Regional Library along Lincoln Avenue across from Welles Park in the south eastern end of the neighborhood. But it also has the Budlong Library branch on the far northwestern end at 5630 N Lincoln Avenue. I find a lot of books available here that are often checked out at Sulzer.  The kid and teen areas are nice and they have an auditorium for programming. 

The kids pick out some books on a rainy, cold Saturday.

Gold Coast two bedroom condo sales up 41% for 2012

We are looking for a modest Gold Coast apartment for a client.  How have two bedroom condo sales fared this year in this most distinct neighborhood? We look at the neighborhood boundaries of North Avenue to Oak Street and LaSalle Street to the lake.
Image and search boundary of Gold Coast created from (Eric Rojas)

TOTAL two bedroom condo sales:
181 total condos have sold and closed in the Gold Coast neighborhood thus far in 2012 (January 1st-December 19th) with a median price of about $385,000.  Unit sales are up 41% over the 128 sold in all of 2011. 23 units are currently under contract so we should see the total closed number inch up prior to the end of the year.

Photo Eric Rojas, Broker

Two bedroom , one bath condo sales:
In 2012, only 11 two bedroom, one bath condos closed thus far (December 19th).  The median price was an affordable $182,000... with an average assessment of about $550 a month covering various degrees of amenity and maintenance. One unit, a co-op with $900.00/month assessment (includes monthly taxes), included parking.

Two bedroom, two bath condo sales:
In 2012, we've seen  about 133 two bedroom, two bathroom condos sold.  A more popular, and, expensive option at a median price of $400,000.  Assessments range from about $500.00 to "how much you got?"  The units vary greatly in age, amenity, finish, size, parking options and assessment in this smallish market area dense with many mid-rise and high-rise buildings.

Of the 133 sold units, only 9 were $200,000 or less.  Most of those were short sale, foreclosure or garden units and not in good shape. Several were cash only deals.

More Gold Coast HERE

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Emerging Streeterville

 Pedestrian underpass at Navy Pier and Milton Lee Olive Park
I wonder what my kids think each time we ascend from the this underpass.  On one side we enter a lakefront beach and park.  On the other...skyscrapers and somewhat quiet bustle.  I think it's cool and I hope they do too.

All that jazz in River North

jazz record mart   27 East Illinois Street

Fun art in Lincoln Park town house

I admit spending more time on than I should since getting a new tablet.  However, I also take inspiration from many homes I show daily.  This Lincoln Park town house featured a purple chalkboard paint wall with kid's art hung on wires.  It made the well appointed family room pop!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012 offers North Side Chicago news

We like to point out local online and print publications that write hyper-local news covering Chicago's North Side.
Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker   has great local reporting on our key neighborhoods of North Center, Lincoln Square, Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Near North.

Winter Carnival at Amundsen High School...Tomorrow!

Hey Lincoln Square and North Center communtiy! Here's an easy, festive holiday event to take the kids and support your local high school.

Winter Carnival at Amundsen High School
Wednesday 12/19 at 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

The kids insisted on walking several blocks downtown (in the rain with no complaints) to hand deliver their letters to Santa this year at Christkindlmarket. 

Photo: New Gold Coast mega-Starbucks open!

Bob took this shot last week of patrons on the terrace at the newly opened upscale Starbucks in Gold Coast.  He quickly joined them (a couple times this week) at the hopping location.  Beer and wine sales after 4PM.

More Gold Coast posts here

Friday, December 14, 2012

Choose a great block when buying your condo

I had a couple recent showings on the 800 block of West Bradley Place in Lakeview.  The condo building parkways were well landscaped and the buildings looked in great shape. It reminded me again how important each individual block is!
It was a gray day...and this is a camera phone photo.  But, one can see the extensive parkway and front landscape plantings for several adjacent condo buildings on the 800 block of West Bradley Place.

We had a great sense of community and pride of ownership from the block and the properties we saw.  It was easy to imagine getting along well here. The location aesthetic is very important to many buyers (including myself). This value also shows up in the list and selling prices of the homes on great blocks over similar, nearby condos.
Rare: This huge front terrace overlooks the property's own birch trees planted in front. Really nice!

It may sound obvious or even cliche, but we still see buyers swayed by size and bling over a more coveted location - with perhaps - a less luxurious property upon it.  We ask our buyer clients to give good weight to the "feeling" of the location over the general finish level of the condo.

The well designed and cared for terrace next door... maybe a cocktail is in your future with the neighbors?

More Lakeview posts here!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Prairie burn at Winnemac Park in Lincoln Square

The Ravenswood neighborhood in Lincoln Square is home to Winnemac Park.  The unique prairie grass landscaping and plantings are a source of pride for the surrounding neighborhood.

Man made prairie burn at Winnemac Park (photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker
Neighbor Amy Williamson has been involved with the Winnemac Park landscape for many years.  Here, she describes the burn:

This morning, 12/6, landscape crews in Winnemac Park cut and rake prairie plants away from wooden fences in preparation for an upcoming controlled prairie burn.  It is important for prairies to be burned periodically to kill off invasive plants, release nutrients into the soil and to germinate certain types of seeds.  Established prairie plants have long roots and are not harmed by the fires.

Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker
More posts from Winnemac Park HERE

You may also visit for hyper-local information around Winnemac Park.  Email to get involved with the Winnemac Park Advisory Council.  We'll put you in touch with other active neighbors.

Shopping slingshots and skulls in Andersonville

We try and do a fair amount of local gift shopping in Andersonville and Lincoln Square. One our kids' surprise favorites this year was the design store The Haymaker Shop in Andersonville.

 You'll shoot your eye out!
Chalkboard skulls
Despite the excellent argument for a slingshot...we bought a candle. The Haymaker Shop has a great Facebook page HERE  

Coincidentally, one of my favorite contractors, Artistic Construction (Facebook), did the build-out of the store when they were opening. Artistic Construction online HERE

More Andersonville post HERE

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ditch the car in Printer's Row

A recent client was so happy with her Printer's Row location that she decided to sell her car too.  Trains, cabs and buses are at your doorstep from this Loop locale.

She went all in; going from renting in a sleepy location to buying under budget in a sophisticated downtown building... and ditching the car. An upgraded lifestyle for less!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Condo sales on North Wells Street in Old Town

Old Town street markers (1212 N Wells building in background has affordable one bedroom units).  Photo: Eric Rojas, Broker
We were down in Old Town late last week prepping a new listing coming to market. The famous strip of North Wells Street in Old Town of Chicago's Near North community area is all wrapped up for Christmas and the holidays.  Here's a look at condo sales on North Wells Street from West North Avenue to West Division Street.

North Wells Street SOLD condos in the last 12 months from West North Avenue to West Division Street

14 condo units closed in the last 12 months from the time of writing (December 3, 2012). All the units were either one bedroom or two bedroom condos in mid-rise buildings with 30 to 95 units. This seems like a relatively low number of sales considering the many residential condo units along the strip.  However, it's a prime location in which people may hold units longer. In 2011, only 14 units sold on this section of Wells Street.

The median price for a condo over the last two years along the strip is about $369,000 with a $400+ assessment.

1414 N Wells is a popular mid-rise fetching the $500,000s for two bed, two bath condos
 The lowest sale in the last 12 months was $220,000 for a 1000 sq/ft one bedroom condo at the Neapolitan, 1212 N Wells Unit 1102.  Garage parking is included in that price and the assessment for the 2001 amenity building with elevator, doorman, tennis and basketball courts, fitness area and party room is $442.00 a month.

The highest sale in the last 12 months was at 1414 N Wells unit #405 for $578,500 at the 1995 built mid-rise with 52 units.  The 1700 sq/ft home with two bedrooms features two luxury baths, garage parking, two good sized balconies utility room, walk-in closets, spacious rooms and a $551 monthly assessment.

Wells Street businesses have a great holiday spirit... Fireplace Inn is a regular Christmas time tradition for us.
Currently, there are 5 units under contract on the strip which may push the closing numbers ahead of last year.  Only 3 units are listed for sale on the MLS. There will possibly be the highest and lowest closings for the year with a unit at 1414 N Wells under contract asking $615,000 and a foreclosure unit at 1212 N Wells  under contract asking $185,000 (will close for over list). 

More Chicago Market Statistics HERE

Monday, December 03, 2012

Under Contract in 2 days! Bomanville house snapped up

2209 W Farragut asking $419,900 was just listed on the market Thursday and under contract after the first day of showings.

These sellers had the home in tip top showing shape while pricing right.  We came up with a great plan to achieve their goals. Our last 3 single family home listings in Lincoln Square/ Ravenswood have all sold after the first day of showings.

 Please contact us if looking to sell or buy a house on the North Side of Chicago. 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

"Gaming" at Navy Pier

We often do "touristy" and even quirky things in Chicago...because we can.  Groupon suggested we go to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair at Navy Pier...and we did.  Among other things we took pictures with Storm Troopers, played original board and skill games with kid inventors, slid down bouncy slides and ate CHEEZBORGERS at the Billy Goat Tavern.
Blowing up balloons!