Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Living through home renovations

We are told what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  Whoever said that may not have lived IN and through a home renovation.  We've been working on our 100 year old house for the past couple years...exterior to interior, room by room. The last owners of 75 years had created a separate apartment on the second level...and we're converting the house back.

A new staircase to the second floor in progress.

This round of renovations includes a new central staircase to the second floor, adding central heat and air conditioning to the entire house, creating a new master bedroom and "loft space" and a new backyard patio. 

Jon Hill (foreground) of Artistic Construction measures the space for a new closet.

A new wall goes up to create a larger bedroom

We talk to buyers about what they can live with (and live without) when buying a house in their preferred Chicago neighborhood.  Most of our clients are very upfront and realistic about their tolerance for renovation projects. Which is to say...they don't want to do renovations.  However, if you can stomach the inconvenience you may have more options for your desired location.  And, you also learn you can do without a lot for a great location!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Video! Walk through our Wicker Park duplex condo for sale

Check out our video walk-through of 2124 W Evergreen #2 in Wicker Park.  Evergreen is a quiet one way street close to the Division Street and Bucktown action. The two beds, two and one-half baths duplex condo with a garage spot is listed at $349,000.  It's a great value for all the space, features and location.

You are HERE

New construction, renovations on West Waveland in North Center

This large and attractive home shown above and below undergoes extensive renovation on the 2100 block of West Waveland.

A few weeks back I noticed a lot of construction activity on West Waveland Avenue in North Center.  West Waveland Avenue in Chicago is mostly known as a place where ballhawks gather and home runs land in Wrigleyville.  About a mile or so west in North Center, Waveland Avenue is a street of high-end new construction homes and rehabs in two highly desirable school districts of Bell and Audubon.

2038 W Waveland shown above - and located in Bell School District - is currently under contract with an asking price of $1,895,000

2148 W Waveland was a disbanded renovation project sold for $639,500 last year (Kale Brokerage Listing) and promptly torn down to build the new house shown above.  There is no listing for the new home on the MLS, This may be a custom build for the purchaser which speaks to the tremendous investment going on these blocks.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

St. Matthias in Ravenswood at dusk

A rare decent weather episode late last week had me stopping and smelling the roses.  St. Matthias Parish at the corner of North Oakley and West Ainslie in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Lincoln Square offers some pleasant vignettes throughout the year.  I always stop and look while on my walks to "the Square" for shopping and entertainment.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New for sale! Wicker Park duplex down with everything you want for $349,000

2124 W Evergreen #2 offered at $349,000

Cool place, cool location.  This spacious duplex down on quiet one-way West Evergreen in historic Wicker Park delivers the amenities buyers want. The side entrance unit has a private feel that opens to a great deck. All the common space is located on the open concept main level!

Open concept living space...you can see all the way through the home!

Upgraded, large kitchen opens to big deck

Breakfast bar sink over looks the dining and living rooms!
Master suite is bright with high ceilings and features a sitting area.

Organized walk-in closet and 2nd set of closets!

Master bath
Two bedrooms with walk-in closets - Two and one-half baths - Garage parking - 1/2 bath on main floor - Master suite - Stainless/ granite kitchen - Large deck off kitchen - Wood burning fireplace - Central AC/Heat - In unit washer/dryer - Recessed lighting - Low assessment $170.00/ month

Large private deck
Quiet location surrounded by historic architecture. Steps to Bucktown and Wicker Park's Division Street dining and entertainment.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Man time! A & B Hardwood Flooring in Chicago

Wood time! (Photo Eric Rojas)
We are in another intense round of renovations at the Rojas Ranch.  Next up: A new interior staircase to our second floor.  I want to do a modern wood cladding for the remaining wall housing the new stairs.  My general contractor Jon Hill of Artistic Construction sent me to one of those places you only go if you are gutting something in your house.

 A & B Hardwood flooring at 3100 N Elston has great prices and lots of samples of wood types and finishes for stairs, floors and other projects.  I need a real solid clean look for the panels.  What to do...what to do...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Keys, keys, keys in Wicker Park

Real estate brokers deal with keys.  So, it's always good to know where to pop in for a good key cut around the neighborhood. I stopped in last week at Gillman's Ace Hardware on North Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square to make key copies for a new listing in Wicker Park.

Mówimy polski!

Neighbors meet up, clean up at Winnemac Park in Lincoln Square

Over 30 people (and some of their kids) came out to the 2nd Annual Spring Clean and Green on Saturday morning at Winnemac Park...despite the snow on the ground.  Ouch!  The event was in concert with the City-wide Spring Clean and Green Earth Day celebrations supported by the 47th and 40th Wards Aldermen and the Streets and Sanitation Yard.

Check out the video by Northwestern University Medill School Journalist student Jayna Omaye!
The area bounded by North Damen to North Western and West Lawrence to West Foster is becoming affectionately known as the "Winnemac Parkneighborhood"  for it's huge and versatile green space. It helps identify this distinct geographic area in the greater Lincoln Square Community Area.

Thanks to neighbors Jeffrey Newman, Scott Bloom and Karen Kolb for helping with set up, staffing the registration table and cleaning up! 

 Neighbors register and fill-up on breakfast goodies and coffee...it was cold!
Hard work = strawberries and donuts!

Neighbors also helped identify and mark Ash trees that are in danger of infestation.  

Winnemac Park on Saturday, April 20th 2013
We have our bags!
Thank you to the Winnemac Park Advisory Council (email park@winnemac.org) for co-sponsoring the event and to all the neighbors for greening the park!  Watch www.winnemac.org for more "meet-up, clean-up" events coming soon.  Even though we have a great and relatively clean park, we found plenty of glass and trash to clean up...keep an eye out!

This year's most interesting find in the park... a 6 ft metal pole!
See you next time!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

North Center condo sales BOOM 82% in 2013

We have a higher-end North Center condo coming to market soon this spring.  Another client/ friend of ours owns a condo in North Center and just asked me how condo sales were doing this year.  So, it's a good time to talk North Center condo sales!

Condos line North Lincoln Avenue in North Center (Photo Eric Rojas)
 North Center Condo Unit Sales 2013 (Jan 1st to April 22th)
82 attached units sold (condo and town homes) thus far in 2013.  When I first saw that number my guess was unit sales must be up.  And they are up... big.  Same time sales of condos are up 82% over 2012. 

The median price for an attached unit this year is about $334,000 - about the same as last year.  The highest priced closing so far is 1800 W Grace Unit #518T for a whopping $680,927.  Crazy unit number and interesting price for the custom 2 bed, 2 bath 1900 sq/ft gut renovation loft.

West Roscoe Street in North Center (Photo Eric Rojas)

Under contract
Currently, there are another 72 attached units (condos/ town homes) under contract.  246 units closed in all of 2012.  We are well on our way with 154 units either closed or under contract in April of this year.

We have seen excellent demand for condos in our core markets of Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Square and now North Center.  In North Center, pricing looks on par with last year and inching up on  two and three bedroom plus units.  It's not a race to the bottom anymore.  The more desirable units with larger square footage are seeing multiple offers and a bump in pricing.  Low priced units are also seeing multiple offers and closings over listing prices.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lincoln Park to La Grange

Our family took an easy day trip to La Grange to visit friends in their new home.  The former Lincoln Park residents  made the move for their growing family.  The house is located about three blocks from the downtown La Grange Metra station that takes one of our friend's to his downtown office.

A beautiful block in La Grange, Illinois

The La Grange area has long been a popular suburb for city commuters.  The established subdivision blocks with vintage homes, some traditional new construction, recent renovations and a great downtown are very appealing. Access to I294 and I290 highways make commuting by car convenient as well.
Home prices for large vintage homes, renovated houses and new construction can average well over $500,000 within 4 blocks of the downtown and Metra stops. But there are plenty of "move-in" three bedrooms home opportunities near the downtown under $400,000 as well.

La Grange ...a great place to hang out!

We can sell your city home and see you off to the La Grange area!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ravenswood area! Winnemac Park Spring Clean and Green - Saturday, April 20th

Neighbors around Winnemac Park in Ravenswood are participating in the city-wide Spring Clean and Green This Saturday April 20th, 9:30a to 12:30a.  For the 2nd year in a row I am partnering up as a sponsor and organizer.

Contact and RSVP at info@winnemac.org 
Breakfast goodies and coffee provided while supplies last...
Please RSVP if you can! 
Registration table at the center tennis courts on day of event.

Clean up supplies provided by the 
40th and 47th Wards Streets and Sanitation Yard!


Wicker Park condo unit sales down a bit...prices trending up in 2013

We're back in Wicker Park this week prepping a client's home to list for sale.  Here's a snap shot of condo sales so far this year.

Wicker Park Condo Sales January 1st to April 12th, 2013

30 condos (attached homes/town homes) closed from January 1st to April 12th this year.  This is actually down 7 units from same period last year.  The median price of a condo in the neighborhood is about $390,000, up about $20,000 over last year.
Wicker Park neighborhood sales from West North Ave to West Thomas and North Ashland Ave to North Western Ave.

The highest sale this year so far is 1736 W LeMoyne #2 for $720,000 - a 2010 contemporary new construction duplex-up with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.  From the sales breakdown, it looks like three bedroom units are the most popular. 

One bedroom sales:    Two units
Two bedroom sales:    Twelve units
Three bedroom sales:  Sixteen units

 Under Contract

At the time of this writing there are 67 condos (attached home/ town homes) under contract.  The median asking price of the condos under contract is about $395,000.

Home closing stories: Where's the cat?

From time to time we encounter strange situations at the closing table.  

Just this week my clients walked into their closing and were greeted by the sellers.  The buyers had allowed the sellers to move out during the closing and vacate the house later that day (typically the seller is completely out of the home by closing time). 

My clients were a little curious why the sellers elected to attend the closing rather than attend to their move-out. Typically the seller's pre-sign documents and the attorney handles the closing.

Our buyers and the home sellers had gotten to know each other a bit.  When exchanging hellos we found out their relatives were back with the movers getting things out.  This fact was later followed by a dozen phone calls from said relatives asking for instructions...which was comical itself.  Then, the seller's agent had to run over to the house and move the sellers car (it was blocking the moving truck).

After the pleasantries the sellers quickly stated "We have a problem. We can't find one of our four cats in the house".  Apparently the cat earned the name Heidi because "she likes to hide".  Luckily our buyers are "cat people" and took it in stride.  We'll help find the cat if she's still missing.

The missing cat loomed over the next hour...until the 13th phone call came in.  They found the cat.  Later at lunch, I find out our buyer client had a dream (a premonition if you will) that one of the cats would be left in the house. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Family fundraiser in Ravenswood with Ella Jenkins - April 27th

A neighbor recently pointed out this great opportunity to see a national treasure perform! Ella Jenkins will headline a fundraiser Saturday April 27th for RC4 (Ravenswood Community Childcare Center).  Visit their site for many ways to support this important neighborhood service including attending the event, the annual children's fair, buying raffle tickets or donating.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Party at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park

This year we planned our boys' birthday celebrations at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park.  The parties are getting too big for our house!  Our family has been members for a couple years so we thought it would be a good option.  The staff and coordinators made things really easy...especially the day of the party.  We pulled right up to the receiving area and carted all our party gear right up to our room.

We had a choice of several areas for the party.  We selected the northern most event room. My photos do not do the room justice...it is huge and bright.

The calm before the storm!

The view from the north room was fantastic!  This was the first visit to the museum for many of our guests and they really loved the facility and amazing location.

Looking north over the lagoons from our Nature Museum party room
One of the terrific advantages for hosting a party at the museum is the guests receive free admission to the facility.  If the weather is decent, the kids can spill outside from the party room and explore the amazing grounds too.  The over-all price for hosting a birthday party - considering all that you get - is very reasonable.

Stump jumpin' just outside our party room at the museum

We thank the folks at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for a memorable day.  It was one of our favorite family events!

Sold: Clients close Oak Park bungalow and get their "buzz" on

We were in Oak Park today for our client's closing of a renovated brick bungalow.  The previous owners added an entire second floor....and opened up the main floor to create a very surprising contemporary house. Great street, great deal and cool house!
Our clients purchased this spacious Oak Park bungalow north of the Harrison Street Arts District (photo Eric Rojas)
After the smooth closing we hit Buzz Cafe for brunch...this little neighborhood center with shops and restaurants is just a few minutes walk from their house.  It's great when you just want a bite without going a little further to downtown Oak Park.

Our clients were "buzzing" after closing on their house...congrats!

Under Contract! Ravenswood house with killer kitchen sells fast

Great location, size and price for this attractive Victorian style renovation was too good to pass up.  1913 W Leland (asking $599,000) drew immediate showings and went under contract within a few days of hitting the market.

1913 W Leland offers a wide lot with side yard and fantastic porch!

Best kitchen for the money in Ravenswood/ Lincoln Square!
We look forward to a smooth closing process with the buyers and sellers.  It's a great place to call home and be close to all conveinences you can think of.

Watch the video walk-through!

We represent buyers and sellers from Lincoln Park to Lincoln Square and work with them exclusively to acheive their goals.  We help buyers get the opportunity to purchase a single family home in this fast paced market.  We advise sellers on proper listing strategy and help them understand the market activity to avoid mistakes.

Bob and I are some of the most active brokers in the Lincoln Square area for houses and condos.  Please consider working with us before buying or selling your home.