Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lakeview condo sales up 46% over 2012 (81% more than 2009)

While at an inspection with a client today I mentioned we're only at the end of February and it already seems like a LONG year.  That's because we are brokering many transactions while intensely looking for the best homes every day on the buy side. We are also handling multiple showings and offers on listings. It is a very active housing market in our key neighborhoods and we have not even thawed out yet.
New construction condos along West Addison Street in Southport Corridor, Lakeview (photo Eric Rojas)
Let's take a look at condo sales in one of the more popular areas for our clients.  Right now we have buyers looking for Lakeview condos (attached homes and town houses) in the $250,000 range and other clients looking up to $700,000.  We've seen a very active market in the "dead of winter" for both these lower and higher price-points.

Lakeview Condo Sales (attached homes including town houses) Jan 1st to Feb 26th, 2013

161 condos/ attached homes have closed this year (Jan 1st to Feb 27th).  This is up 46% over the 110 sold condos over the same period in 2012. The median price for an attached home in Lakeview this year is $285,000. 

The highest sale so far is 340 West Barry Unit C for $965,000... a three bedrooms, two baths full floor condo in a converted mansion. This location at West Barry and North Lake Shore Drive West is one of my favorites in the city!
West Barry and North Lake Shore Drive West in Lakeview (Google Maps image)
Lakeview attached condo sales same period year to year

You can see the last boom in 2008 prior to the financial crash.  Then you see a little bump in 2010 helped by Federal stimulus.  The latest boom is fueled by pent-up demand for those with cash, lower list prices and low mortgage interest rates.

(Jan 1st to Feb 27th)
2013     161 units
2012     110 units
2011       98 units
2010     101 (affected by FED First Time Buyer stimulus)
2009       89 units
2008     151 units

Sold out new construction condos built in 2012 at North Racine and West Cornelia, Lakeview (photo Eric Rojas)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New for Sale! Lincoln Square three bedrooms condo, garage parking $379,000

4709 N Artesian #2 has a huge, house-like eat-in kitchen.

UPDATE: UNDER CONTRACT. We've just listed another great Lincoln Square property for sale.  4709 N Artesian #2 asking $379,000 is a three bedroom, two bath large condo in a boutique building with garage parking.  The recent renovation has a master suite with double vanity bathroom.  You'll love the wide open living room and dining room combo and the huge, house like eat-in kitchen.

Large living room

This place has everything our buyers ask for:  Walk to everything location in the Ravenswood Gardens niche, great Lincoln Square restaurants, bars, fests, Farmers Markets, Old Town School of Folk Music, Rockwell Crossing, Waters School, two blocks to CTA Brown Line or bus transit.

Features include:
A double vanity master suite bath
Huge eat-in kitchen
Private 7x10 storage room and extra exterior storage
In-unit washer and dryer
Central AC
Big private deck
Low assessment ($119.00)

4709 N Artesian is located in the award winning and popular Waters Elementary school attendance boundaries.  Waters has won the Department of Education "Green Ribbon" award and has a very active and amazingly productive support group Waters Today.

Watch the video walk-through!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Land Ho! Get 4 city lots in Oak Park for $700,000

Our clients are leaving Chicago and looking for a larger family home in Oak Park.  While offering their current Lincoln Square vibe Oak Park also offers some pretty big lots for less money then their current area. 

Here our clients actually get to contemplate the 100' x 175' lot on North Euclid (for an asking price of $729,000) and the huge house that comes with it. Sure it needs work... lots of work to be modernized. But the house is actually very livable and the LOT IS AWESOME.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Photos! Lincoln Square double-lot home on "unique" North Seeley taking shape

A new double-lot custom home nears completion on unique 4500 block of North Seeley (Photo Eric Rojas)
We had written about the double-lot sale and new construction development on this block of North Seeley in the past.   I swung by last week after some house showings in the area for an update photo (above/ below). Lookin' good.

The rear construction of the house goes back deep into the 173 foot long lot.  This is probably one of the Top 10 largest residential lots in the Lincoln Square Community Area west of Western Avenue at 50' x 173'. It's fairly secluded on one-way North Seeley and adjacent to both another luxury new build to the north and an existing modest two-flat to the south.

Curbed Chicago reports on Webster Square progress, Lincoln Park

 Curbed Chicago posted some photos of demolition and conversion progress at Webster Square; one of two "controversial" hospital re-developments in Lincoln Park.  It's rare to have two such large infill projects in close proximity that happen to be in a top tier Chicago neighborhood.
Former Lincoln Park Hospital parking structure back in 2011 (more photos by Eric Rojas here)

We've been watching the developments of two vacant hospitals in Lincoln Park.  The short strip of North Lincoln Ave (running southeast from Halsted to Larrabee) is poised for large developments and the addition of many housing units. There have been many neighborhood challenges to the developments...and rightly so.  Progress in this prime area has been slow.
The closed down, vacant Children's Memorial Hospital near Lincoln and Halsted (now Lurie Children's in Streeterville)  Photo, Eric Rojas

However, this vibrant area needs the housing and density to support long standing businesses and new business development.  It's also a location near transit and the lake that is very desirable and should be more dense.  Remember, these are ugly, old commercially zoned hospital buildings they are re-developing... not classic row house architecture getting wiped out. 

We'll probably end up with something rather banal looking for each of these high profile locations.  If the process and cost of development was made more attractive, perhaps developers could use more interesting materials and design.

For rent? on renting, tenants rights (a video service vendor of ours) does great writing on the apartment rental business and legal real estate practices in general.  A recent topic deals with when or not a landlord can show a rented apartment that has tenants living in it.

Make sure your rental manager or leasing agent is professional, licensed and "by the book" (photo Eric Rojas)

The topics range from tenants rights to illegal business practices by leasing brokerages and non-licensed "brokers".  I have both dealt with - and heard first hand of - shady rental dealings and advertisements.  Just look at Craigslist today for maddening results.

Bob and I are Illinois licensed Real Estate Brokers and members of our local MLS ( and various Realtor associations (CAR, IAR, NAR).  We personally deal mostly with MLS listed rental properties when representing our own rental listings or if representing a client looking to lease a property.  We use updated Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (CRLTO), proper disclosures and best practices as prescribed by the City of Chicago and our state regulated professional standards.

If we show a rental unit not listed on the MLS it must be by a legitimate and professional property leasing representative that equally follows CRLTO and best practices.  We don't typically deal with a private owner direct when representing a rental client. We feel our professional standards will result in the best outcomes for owners and prospective tenants alike.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Multiple offers! Great house sells on West Cornelia in Blaine school district

Our clients were recently involved in a multiple offer for 1226 W Cornelia, a single family home asking $850,000 (pictured below... we didn't get it).  The entire real estate community came out immediately with offers in hand for this very attractive and well located Lakeview/ Southport Corridor house in Blaine school district.

1226 W Cornelia pictured in the foreground (photo, Eric Rojas)

 The 1200 block of West Cornelia is one of the small "cut-outs" south of West Addison Street that is included in the Blaine Elementary School attendance boundaries (a top ranked and desired school). The home itself was tastefully renovated bout 20 years ago with simple, clean lined contemporary style and still looks great today.  The asking price was low for this particular market location and was meant to generate the best offers immediately.  

Great block!
The 1200 block of West Cornelia at dusk...a beautiful high-end block with many renovations, original architecture, grey stones, brick homes and some new construction houses as well (like the second house down shown above). Photo Eric Rojas

My information concerning the deal suggested a cash offer over well over list price won the house.  It will land $900,000 or more easily is my guess. As mentioned, our clients did not get it...but we did everything we could to put them in the game.   

We wrote the offer in the car in front of the house and I walked the offer up the steps!  The listing agent was gracious and handled the crush of interest with professionalism and class...not always the case.  Clients should know how their listing or buyer's agent will handle a hot potato situation.

Click the label below for more related posts on Lakeview

Tesla "plugged-in" at Old Orchard

We occasionally have business or a closing in Skokie.  Bob took this shot of a Tesla car plugged in for charging at the popular Westfield Old Orchard Mall near by the title company offices.

When Bob sent the photo, I thought it was for this "Tesla"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shopping Lincoln Park town houses a contact sport

In this past week our clients were involved in a multiple-offer for a Lincoln Park town home. In the same week two other homes we viewed (and they passed on) sold within a couple days of listing.  A week prior to that, a couple town-homes we wanted to view went under contract before we could get in.
Roof deck views from 2024 N Racine in Lincoln Park.  The town house was listed at $649,000 and under contract within a few days.

Comps are OUT...the market is IN!  

Current Lincoln Park buyers are very sophisticated about the market and know what they want.  When nice town-homes have hit the market they've been met by large demand and quick decision makers.  The buyers in this market are buying what they want and are willing to compete and pay higher prices than last year.  

 It's more of a balanced market where good properties are coming on at prices a good number of buyers are satisfied with.  It's important to note these are conventional sales and not short-sales or foreclosures.  Motivated buyers have had to step up their game to get a home they truly like.

Click the label below for more Lincoln Park posts

Mortgage pre-approval or "pretend approval"?

Loan Officer Steve Dunnett lays down the law on mortgage pre-approvals...there's a new sheriff in town!

In the past few weeks I’ve spoken to several customers who told me that their loan guy had pre-approved them for a mortgage without running their credit or obtaining any documents. These people were surprised by the amount of documentation that I had requested in order to issue a pre-approval for them. I was more than surprised that other professionals had provided a pre-approval letter to anyone without documentation.

The amount of documentation that needs to be obtained for a loan these days has increased.  If a loan officer you’ve spoken to is providing you with a pre-approval without first obtaining and reviewing your documents than that person is doing you no favors. In fact, it’s more like they are putting you on a rickety plane with an inexperienced pilot, no seat belt, and no flotation device. You could end up swimming in an ocean with the sharks. 

Seriously, receiving an unqualified pre-approval and then not being able to obtain financing could be devastating to you.  Before issuing a pre-approval your loan officer should at least be reviewing: 

       Credit reports
-      2 years worth of tax returns
       Pay stubs
       Bank statements

Without these items you and your lender will not have an accurate picture of your ability to obtain financing.  If you received a "pretend approval" OR have any questions about getting a mortgage pre-approval please give me a call. I would be happy to be a resource for you.  

Steve Dunnett

Monday, February 18, 2013

Newest dream home to be built on West Eastwood in Lincoln Square

The property at 2171 W Eastwood above was acquired for $475,000 in late 2010 and is now being developed.  The coveted 37 foot wide lot is poised for a custom new construction house for the current lot owner.
 We were out this weekend with clients looking at a rare opportunity to purchase a new construction house in Lincoln Square.  Only a handful of lots will become available in this community...and many houses that do get built for sale by developers will be well over $1.3 million.

The Lincoln Square neighborhood between West Montrose and West Lawrence and North Damen and North Western Ave has steadily added new construction and newly renovated luxury homes over the past several years.  Lincoln Square, of course saw a developer boom in 2002-2007.  In the last couple years it's been more of a mix between private owners building or rehabbing their own custom homes and the well established developers buying up land and selling homes at record sale prices.
Prime Lincoln Square area. 

Directly behind the property private on Eastwood owners are renovating and expanding their house on West Wilson (shown below).
The owners are completely renovation their house with an addition on the 2100 Block of West Wilson

And yet another fantastic renovation on the 2100 Block of Wilson just a couple doors down (shown below)
This renovation is also for the current owners and not a "for sale" house.

Click the label below for more Lincoln Square posts.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Home sales in Coonley Elementary School district in 2013

Photo, Eric Rojas
Too soon to check? No way!  Our clients have seen how quickly new construction, re-sales and development opportunities can go in North Center's Coonley School district...a school of choice for many families we work with.

Coonley Elementary Single Family Home Sales January 1st to February 14th, 2012

11 single family homes have sold or are currently under contract in the Coonley Elementary school boundaries as of February 14th.  The median price at the moment is a mere $629,000.  However, the homes under $500,000 are considered land value or "gut rehab" properties.
Image from

The highest priced home sold or under contract is 2109 W Belle Plaine...a new construction  5 bedrooms home under contract with an asking price of $1,279,000.

The lowest priced property under contract is 4249 N Bell for $150,000.  This is a short sale listing that will most certainly close for well over the listing price.  

More on Coonley district homes HERE

Mold Stops FHA Mortgage! (and Man Bites Dog!)*

A "younger" Steve Dunnett
Steve Dunnett, Mortgage Loan Professional weighs in: 
 We recently had a client who was purchasing a home with an FHA mortgage. He ran into trouble right before the closing due to mold!  Why?
Real photo, unfortunately, by Eric Rojas

FHA mortgages are insured by the US Government; therefore, the property requirements are more stringent than loans obtained without government approval requirements. If you’ve ever bought a home before you may be wondering how it’s possible to make the process more stringent or convoluted... but alas, our government has found a way.  Of course, the government does this with intentions of protecting the people buying homes, and ya know, protecting their own assets. 

If you are obtaining an FHA loan... the government’s assets are also your assets. The one item that is most important to the government in these transactions is whether or not mold is present in the home. If mold is there, the government insists that it is removed before they will agree to insure the loan on the property.  This means two things to you:

(1) If you are ever obtaining an FHA mortgage, you need to make sure that any mold is removed before an appraiser is sent into the property. Otherwise, the appraiser will require a professional to come in to remove it...increasing costs and delaying a closing.

(2) Make sure that the home inspector is looking at these items AND that the inspector is working with your best interests. In the case of our client at the closing table, we had an appraisal completed with a report that stated that there was a questionable substance that could be mold. The home inspector provided a report stating that the substance was not mold... so we scheduled a final FHA inspection on the property to confirm this. 

Unfortunately, the final appraiser confirmed that the substance was definitely mold - it turned out that the original home inspector was found through the seller's attorney and he didn’t provide the correct information (NOTE: hire your own property inspector). In the end we closed the loan - BUT - only after the buyer and seller split a bill of $2500.00 to remove the mold.

If anyone has any questions about FHA mortgages, requirements, or processes; please give me a call. I’d be happy to help anyone out there utilize the FHA program that helps home ownership with low down payments.

Steve Dunnett
*No dogs were bitten

View from Starbucks

I often stop in and work for an hour or two at the various Strabucks around the city.  My favorite one is probably this Lincoln Park location at North Racine and West Wrightwood.  I took this photo from my Samsung Galaxy III to capture the late day sun hitting the bright orange brick.  The image on my phone display is much more vibrant than my laptop! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Can you spare (more than) a million?

It is virtually impossible to buy a new construction home for $1 million or less in our target North Side Chicago neighborhoods of Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Uptown, North Center and Lincoln Square.  This has been true in Lincoln Park for many years, but now it's also the case in the further north and west neighborhoods (south of West Foster Avenue, east of North Western Avenue).  Gone, as well, are the developer new construction foreclosures and short-sales that may have slipped under $1 million after 2008 financial crash.

2109 W Belle Plaine in Coonley School district asking $1.279 million sold quickly (photo Eric Rojas)
North Center continues to be one of the hottest markets for new construction homes sales.  Just this week two new construction houses (our clients wanted to see) went under contract (both incomplete...2109 W Belle Plaine selling within two weeks priced at $1.279 million, 2115 W Warner priced at $1.28 million selling in a week).  Both builders I spoke with did not have any new projects started and were both looking for land in the area.

This has been an eye opener to our $1M plus buyers that are looking to take advantage of low interest rates and buy a new or newer construction four bedrooms or more house.  They have found that the market for new construction houses, "like new" re-sale homes (recent new construction) and gut renovation homes is very competitive and fast. They are also finding new construction and new gut renovations on desirable blocks and in well ranked school districts are now selling at over $1.2 million with few exceptions.
We recently noted the cleared out lot at 2108 W Leland in Lincoln Square... the 40 wide lot will afford a future market price of $1.6 million or more for a new house build.

When an existing property is torn down it is likely the new home built will retail for over $1.1 million just about anywhere in the neighborhoods of Lincoln Park, Lakeview, North Center, Uptown and Lincoln Square.  This is a phenomenon surprising and even shocking to many long time Chicagoans I speak with (regardless if they are in the market or not.)

Eric and Bob: Chicago Association of Realtors Top Producer Award for 2012

Bob and I have received the 2012 Top Producer designation from the Chicago Association of Realtors.  This is my 7th straight designation and we appreciate the honor.

We've ranked in the top 5% of sales volume in Chicago for 7 years with our brand of straight forward real estate brokerage. We look forward to many, many more years of helping our clients make very important decisions regarding their investments and homes.

It's been fun Chicago.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why's that house so cheap?

Whaa, whaaaaa.  Shared driveway and connected garage.  NEXT!

NEW luxury house coming to West Leland in Lincoln Square

2108 W Leland in Lincoln Square (Photo Eric Rojas)
Another high-end new construction home is coming to West Leland Street in Lincoln SquareThe property at 2108 W Leland, a 40 foot wide lot, was for sale for a short time in 2011 for $549,000.  But appears the owners either sold privately or entered into a development deal with the builder.  Landrosh signs went up a little after these photos were taken.

Click the labels below for more Lincoln Square posts!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

River North not (only) for tourists!

I recently attended an industry function at the corner's of West Huron and North Dearborn in River North...home of Howl at the Moon, Rockit Bar, O'Callaghans Pub, Hub51,   Sullivan's Steakhouse, Ruth's Chris, Social 25 and many other well known haunts. 
A quiet moment early Wednesday evening on Hubbard

There is truly something for everyone..tourist, non-tourist or a local acting touristy. The River North restaurants and clubs are an easy trip from anywhere on the North Side on the Brown Line (get off at Merchandise Mart and walk a little east).  Many of us live, work and raise families in the city and forget to get out a little to city hot spots.  River North is a great high energy spot to get a city fix and entertain friends.

Under contract! Buyer clients choose "lofty" Oak Park bungalow

Our clients are under contract and through their attorney review on 718 N Lyman in Oak Park (asking $330,000).  The bungalow received a modern second story renovation about 20 years ago.  It's amazing rare open space with a fantastic master suite!
Photo from via Weichert Realtors-Nickel Group, listing agent Linda Little
Many of our clients are moving from Chicago to Oak Park for their first house...ask us why!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lakeview two and three flat sales UP 35% in 2012

Over the years we've looked at two-flat and three-flat sales in our key North Side neighborhoods as a market indicator that investors are active.  Usually, they are bought to convert to single family homes at some point.  A smaller percentage of buyers are "owner-operator" or keep the properties strictly as rentals for long term investment. 

Lakeview Two and Three-flat Sales in 2012
West Newport Ave east of the Brown Line (photo, Eric Rojas)

91 properties listed as two and three-flat buildings in (our MLS) sold in Lakeview in 2012. This is up 35% over 2011 unit sales. The median price for this type of property was about $570,000 over 2012.  The highest sale was $980,000 for a renovated three-flat building at 3345 N Lakewood with a duplex-up "owners unit".  The lowest sale was $228,375 for 1436 W Irving Park Road...a frame two-flat on a busy four lane street.  The foreclosure was sold by auction.

11 of the 91 (12%) properties were sold as a foreclosure or short-sale according to MLS records.

Lakeview two-flat. Photo, Eric Rojas
Personally, our clients over the years have shunned the "owner-operator" option despite the fact it may afford them a more desired location. Apparently, no one wants to be a landlord. Sheesh.

Lakeview is a fairly large and fairly dense Chicago Community Area.  It's popular, relatively expensive and has a lot of small multi-unit building stock (a good percentage of which has been torn-down for new homes or converted to single family homes).  However, a large stock of two and three-flats remain as evidenced by the large stock of Big Ten college graduates living in the neighborhood (wink).  Walking the streets you can still imagine infinite amount of development and renovation possibilities.

More Lakeview HERE

Tell-tale signs of Oak Park

Training run down North Grove, Oak Park. Photo, Eric Rojas
A community has a way of tipping its hand. These high school cross country runners seem to embody the spirit of Oak Park on their run through a wintry wonderland (of sorts).  As a father, I could not dream up a better sales pitch for families moving to the area!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Lincoln Square two-flat sales up 58%, three-flat sales tumble 2012

They all can't be as pretty as this corner multi-unit at West Wilson and West Hamilton in Lincoln Square.  Photo Eric Rojas, Broker
New construction and muti-unit (2-3 flat buildings) conversions to single family homes were back in vogue over the very active real estate market of 2012.  Increased multi-unit sales are often the sign of future new single family homes and investment.  Few multi-unit purchasers in this market buy the properties to be owner operators (live in one unit, rent out the others).  It's a sign of the times.  Sooner or later were going to run out of these buildings!

Two-flat Sales 2012

46 properties listed as two-flats in the MLS sold (closed) in 2012.  The median price was about $385,000. Unit sales were up 58% over the 29 properties sold in 2011 and median price was up a little over last year. 

The highest priced sale was 4827 N Claremont at $578,000, a fully renovated two-flat with duplex-up and duplex-down units.  The location is very close to the Western Brown Line stop and the best of Lincoln Square retail.  The lowest sale was 5151 N Western Ave for $160,000.  The frame two flat sits on the busy four lane stretch and needed a lot of work.  Mot residential street two-flats sold in the $300,000 to $450,000 range.

Three-flat Sales 2012

Only 7 buildings listed as three-flats in the MLS sold in 2012.  The median was a solid $375,000 so there were some bargains out there.  Three-flat sales were down 41% in this segment.  12 three-flat properties sold in 2011 with a much higher median price about $472,500. 

The highest sale in 2012 was 4855 N Rockwell for $560,000.  The brick property is located a couple blocks from the popular Rockwell Crossing district and Brown Line.  The sellers bought in 1997 for $150,000 when things were a little bit rougher in the location.  Raised rents all those years and sold for almost 4 times...well done!  The lowest sale was a foreclosure closed for $285,000 at 4829 N Hoyne.   The building is already fully renovated and converted to a single family home... and is now under contract with an asking price of $949,000.  Wow!

Call or email us to find or list your multi-unit building.

More Lincoln Square HERE!

Got Heat?

While looking at renovation projects to purchase with Jon Hill, Artistic Construction we come across some creative handiwork.  This duct was run from a newer furnace to a covered porch area.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

January sales: Lakeview, Lincoln Park condos selling "like hotcakes"

Attached home sales (condos, town homes) are now as competitive and 'fast" as the single  family home market has been. Our clients who have started searching with us last November/ December have been in disbelief this year. Roughly half the places they were really interested in would sell before they could get a showing by the weekend.  Everyone is on the same page now and dialed in!
You too can have a condo on North Halsted in Lincoln Park (Photo Eric Rojas).
The market definitely FEELS fast to our clients. 169 Lincoln Park condos are under contract right now With Chicago Association of Realtors reportedly tighter inventory numbers, the best homes (and best priced homes) sell quickly to a large set of motivated set of buyers that know what they want.

Lincoln Park Attached Home Sales (condo/ town house) January 2013

50 attached homes sold in January 2013 in Lincoln Park (up over the 42 closed in January 2012).  The median price was about $380,000, steady with last year.
The lowest priced sale was a studio at 625 W Wrightwood for $93,000.  The highest condo sale was at the new construction luxury building 2550 N Lakeview Ave (formerly Lincoln Park 2520) closed for $2,335,060

Only 3 of the 50 condos (attached homes) sold in January 2013 were listed as short sale or foreclosure.
6 of the 42 condos sold in January 2012 were listed as foreclosure or short sale. 
Lots of new construction condos in Lakeview over the last 12 months (photo, Eric Rojas)

Lakeview Attached Home Sales (condo/town house) 
January 2013

Lakeview, a large, densely populated area for condos, saw a bigger jump in unit sales and median price.

Lakeview had 91 closings with median $312,000 in January 2013.  The unit sales were up 49% over last year in January.
61 condos closed with median $295,000 in January 2012

Highest sold unit in January was 710 W Barry #3 for $815,000.. a 3300 square foot duplex-up penthouse in a renovated grey-stone. The lowest sold unit was 3600 N Lake Shore Drive #916 for $60,000...a high-rise studio apartment.


14 of the 91 closed properties in Lakeview (15%) were listed as a short-sale or foreclosure.

Stats gathered from