Thursday, August 29, 2013

Big house! Substantial luxury new construction rises in Ravenswood

The home features a large central courtyard fronting Montrose. The actual structure takes up quite a bit of the 92' wide x 165' deep lot. (All photos Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker)
 We wrote about the large vacant lot that was sold for $1,465,000 at the corner of West Montrose and North Hermitage in the Ravneswood neighborhood.  The new impressive house structure is now framed out and taking shape.

The "west wing" of the home facing Hermitage (Photos Eric Rojas)
The home is the newest addition to several double and triple lot new construction properties in close proximity over the past few year.

We wish the owners a smooth construction process and we are excited to see such grand investment on a booming stretch of Montrose.

Back to School: House prices UP 12% in Coonley Elementary district (and little to buy)

In Chicago "neighborhood schools" are of great importance.  The schools and their neighborhoods differ greatly in performance and desirability... even when when two schools/ neighborhoods are in very close proximity.  Here's a look at home sales in 2013 in Chicago Public School's Coonley Elementary attendance boundaries.  Coonley school is a good performing school with a Regional Gifted program and strong community support.  It's located in the popular Northcenter Community Area.

Boundaries as noted by CPS
Single Family Home Sales in Connley for January 1st to August 28th, 2013

35 single family homes have closed in the Coonley school district boundaries so far this year. This is the identical  number of homes sold in the MLS same period in 2012.   The median price of a house is up about 12% at $720,000 this year.

Even though unit sales are the same as last year, demand is very high.  The low inventory and higher prices have leveled out sales. The great majority of the house sales in our experience have been in multiple offer situations.  Personally we have been in several multiple offers every single family home our clients have offered on in Coonley and Northcenter in general.. If more "market price" homes came on the market unit sales would be higher we have no doubt.

The higher median price is also reflective of more "finished" homes for sale this year.  The price for "tear-downs and gut renovation" properties has gone up a bit.

Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker

Under Contract, For Sale
9 single family homes are under contract at the time of this posting. The median asking price of these homes is over $850,000.  

The real story right now is only 6 homes are actively for sale in Coonley.  5 of those houses are priced at $1M and above.  The only house listed under $1M is at 4111 N Western Ave for $336,000 and needs tear down or extensive work. 

Luxury homes like the one pictured above are well represented in the Coonley attendance boundaries.  Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

HGTV Home "Pop Up Showroom" store in Chicago's Mag Mile

We watch a lot of HGTV... so what?

The HGTV Home Pop - Up Showroom for a limited time in the Shops at North BridgeStop by, sounds like fun!
Photos Bob DePalma

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Canstruction at the Merchandise Mart fights hunger, Chicago is a big winner

Bob keeps up on high-end home products on frequent visits to the Merchandise Mart. He also gets the scoop on the many art shows, events and charities that come through this iconic retail mecca.

Here's a few photos he took of Canstruction now on display at The Mart. This is a unique competition that raises food and cash donations to fight hunger.  Chicago raised the third most pounds of food and was first in meals created in North America (cash and food combined)!

Ravenswood community gardens add terrific aesthetic, neighborhood pride

I happened on two community gardens on the same day in the Ravenswood area.

Chase Park's Community Garden is located east of the field house next to the tennis courts.  Here's a nice story with information on how to register.

This community garden is located just west of the Montrose Brown Line stop on a vacant lot in a busy commercial strip.  The Montrose Green Community Garden is a very interesting partnership when experts and land owners just say "yes".

I think community gardens (edible and not so edible), public art, music and inviting places to gather or sit are essential to a welcoming neighborhood.  The gardens say a lot about quality of life and community involvement.

West Loop two bedroom condo sales: 2 beds, 2 baths UP 80%

We have been heavily searching West Loop two bedroom condos for a client moving to town.  The location is close to UIC campus and downtown were the couples  need to be  respectively.  Here's a look at two bedrooms condo sales this year.
Looking east from the West Loop neighborhood. Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker

Two bedrooms, One bath sales January 1st to August 23rd, 2013
Only 16 two bedrooms, one bath condo units have sold so far this year.  The median price is about $250,000.  This seemed low to me on an up year for condos - and it is.  Sales are down 10 units from last year.

The West Loop neighborhood had many of its conversions and new construction buildings completed from 2000 - 2008 when having two bathrooms was a must for buyers. There are simply less two bedrooms one bath units in the market.  The hot market also has the median price up over $40,000 from year over year.  So higher prices and low inventory of two beds, one baths on the market have made it tougher to get a good unit thus pushing unit sales down.

Two bedrooms, Two baths sales January 1st to August 23rd, 2013
In contrast, 139 two bedrooms, two bath units have sold in the West Loop neighborhood this year.  This is way up (80%) over the 77 units sold same period last year.  The median price is about $350,000...  over $100K more than two bedrooms, one baths units this year.

The lowest priced two bedroom, two bathrooms sale is at 1500 West Monroe #725 for $200,000.  The unit was a foreclosure Fannie Mae HomePath property with the kitchen entirely ripped out.  The highest priced two bedrooms, two baths sale is 850 W Adams Unit 2C for $615,000.  The large, open loft unit included garage parking and a nice sized terrace.

West Loop neighborhood (Map produced from  All sales data gathered from and analyzed by Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker with Kale Realty.  Call/ email us when buying, selling, renting.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bright lights, big city on West Montrose Avenue in Ravenswood

West Montrose Avenue between North Damen and North Ashland in the Ravenswood neighborhood has a nice little nightlife scene.  

Many restaurants, bars and shops cluster around the Montrose CTA Brown Line stop providing convenient street life for local residents and easy access for those coming into the neighborhood.

The CTA Montrose stop looking east near dusk
 After a town house showing in Lakeview last Tuesday night, I stopped off to visit my friend at Scot's Bar, sort of an institution now on Montrose. Nearby Troquet's patio was busy.

Scot's is a fun, friendly little neighborhood bar.

Of course there is the very popular Fountainhead restaurant and bar on the corner of Montrose and Damen. The roof deck garden is always hoping.... the whole place is usually busy and has great energy.

A quiet moment on a 95 degree day at Fountainhead earlier this summer before the crowds at dusk (Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker)

Glen's Diner "all you can eat crab" night is on Tuesdays.  The place was happening.

Even Margie's Candies was doing brisk business and had a full patio at 9:00 PM when I was heading home.

Check out this video of a town house we sold for a client nearby the Montrose strip at 4554 North Paulina. 

Contact us to view or sell homes in the Ravenswood area!

Surprises at West Loop's Taste of Greece

Photo Bob DePalma
Bob was showing some units in West Loop and came across this show stopper.  The camels had no problem with the hot Sunday at Taste of Greece in Chicago's "Greek Town". Bob says, "Never in my 25 years in Chicago have a seen a camel in the middle of the street".  Unfortunately he did not take a ride.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Free kids fun: Sculpture, spelunking and giraffe calling in Lincoln Park

Tree climbing on "Steelroots" by Steve Tobin near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum at Fullerton and Stockton.  (photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker)
Me and the three kids drove the 15 minutes from Lincoln Square to the Zoo and Nature Museum area of Lincoln Park.  We parked on Stockton Drive after a few trips around the block (no meters) and spent an easy going (free) few hours exploring the parks (except for the $4.00 popcorn at the zoo).  Here's a few scenes from last Thursday morning.

Giraffe calling!

Spelunking!  Well, more like rock climbing in the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Lily Pool paths provide plenty of challenges and adventures.
We walked the grounds at the Lincoln park Conservatory... what a backdrop! (Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lincoln Square single family homes for sale and under contract

We are very active brokers and residents of Lincoln Square. Many people ask us for information about houses and if "we have clients that will be listing their house soon".  Home buyers are trying to get any edge they can. This is the type of value we add to our clients' home search in addition to home owning advice and service referrals on an ongoing basis.

Lincoln Square inventory is tight.  However, there seemed to be a little jump in listed homes for sale in the Lincoln Square area over the past 30 days.  Most of these new listings are in the $600,000 - $1,000,000 range.  When we checked in mid- July there were 20 active home listings in Lincoln Square. 

Current new construction on North Leavitt near West Windsor in Lincoln Square
Active Homes for sale

Today, there are only 19 homes listed for sale in the MLS. Several of the newest listings were snapped up in a weeks time keeping the number low. The prices of active homes for sale range from about $230,000 for a dated house on the 2600 block of West Foster Ave to $1,700,000 for proposed new construction on a 37' x 125' lot in a prime West Sunnyside Ave location. 

The locations and prices vary greatly and are spread out from the more central district at 4400 West Montrose on the southern border to the 5500 North block at the northern border.  The area between West Montrose and West Lawrence Avenues and North Damen and North Western Avenues is generally the priciest in Lincoln Square.
This central retail and transportation district of Lincoln Square is the priciest.  Land for a standard lot (tear down property) can start at $450,000.  Push north of West Foster Avenue in pleasant Bowmanville and land is about $250,000 for a standard lot this year.
Under contract in the last 30 days (July 19th to August 19th)

An impressive 16 Lincoln Square homes have gone under contract from July 19th to August 19th in our MLS.  This is often a seasonably slower time for contracts due to summer vacations.  The median asking price of homes under contract is just over $630,000. 7 of these homes are listed at $800,000 or more.

Happy 30th Luigi

Our CTA train car this morning.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Photo: Proposed new construction and the Lawrence Avenue "Road Diet"

The vacant lot at 2208 W Lawrence... soon to be new apartments (Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker)

Here's a recent photo I took of the vacant lot at 2208 W Lawrence in Ravenswood (just west of Leavitt).  A community meeting was held last month to discuss a zoning change request by the developers.  The proposed building will house 21 residential units and some ground floor retail.  Reports to me suggested there were few neighborhood attendees to the meeting and no groundswell of opposition.

There is some opposition to this development, however, around the Internet and on the 47th Ward Alderman's Facebook page (due to proposed apartment rents) and to the Lawrence Avenue "Road Diet" in general.  In my opinion the apartments and pedestrian improvements to Lawrence will be fantastic changes. I think most of the neighborhood falls into two categories: overwhelmingly supportive or indifferent.

This commercial building at Lawrence and Leavitt sits next to the proposed construction.  A Roots Handmade Pizza is reported to be filling this location (photo Eric Rojas)

My guess is that it will be harder for me to drive in and out of the neighborhood.  Personally, Lawrence Avenue has been generally a quick route for me (traveling on Lawrence between the 1600 and 2400 blocks of West Lawrence).  However, I'm willing to support this experiment to improve the aesthetic of the neighborhood and increase infill development along Lawrence. 

The "Road Diet" construction on Lawrence has made getting out of the neighborhood more challenging.

Town house sales in Blaine School district 2013

The desirable Blaine public elementary school resides at North Southport and West Grace (all photos Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker)
We viewed a well priced 3 bedroom town house adjacent to Blaine School with our clients earlier this week.  At $825,000 asking for 3842 N Southport Unit J, the town house is a terrific alternative to the heated single family home market in this popular Southport Corridor location.

The town homes at 3842 N Southport.  It's one of the newer and higher-end town house developments in the district. (Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker)
2013 Town House sales in Blaine School District (Jan 1st - August 15th)

We see nine town house closings recorded on the MLS this year for Blaine School district.  The median price is around $475,000 (however the lower end are typically two bedrooms, plus a den or family room rather than the coveted three bedrooms). 
A rare Dairy Queen across the street from Blaine! (Photo Eric Rojas, Real Estate Broker)

The highest sale this year is at 3842 N Southport for $805,000.  The 3 bedrooms town home with family room was built in 2006 and is adjacent to Blaine School.  The lowest recorded town house sale in Blaine is at 1416 W Waveland for $390,000.  The two bedrooms, two and one-half baths home was built in 2000 and sold quickly.

Under Contract

Currently four town house units in Blaine School are under contract with a median price of about $575,000. 

It pays to keep a sharp eye out for town house opportunities in Blaine School.  There are only a handful of units available under $500,000 during each year.  Town homes are a great way to maintain an urban, city life while getting a little of the space and amenity a single family house may provide.
Street life in Southport Corridor = walking and al fresco dining

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chase Park "Sports Bash" a home run!

Our almost 4yr old Amalia wins the face-off against the 6yr old boys.  Her brother Ryne is ready just to the left.
We spent last Sunday afternoon at a really great event at Chase Park.  The Back-to-School Sports Bash featured a well rounded schedule of sports and activities.  We Got Game and the Chase Park Advisory Council did an excellent job hosting and running the schedule.

Bouncy obstacle course!

Flag football instructions
The event featured theater class, face-painting, kids fitness challenges, "Language Stars", scooter skills and more.

Basketball skills and games
Aldermans Ameya Pawar, James Cappleman, Representative Greg Harris, Margaret O'Connor (Vice President Chase Park Advisory Council) and Park Supervisor Katie Fearon-Peon greeted attendees and said a few words.  It's amazing what Chase park has done with programming and community support in the last a few years.
The organizers and elected officials say a few words.

Thanks to all those involved in the Back to School Bash. Our kids are excited to join new sports!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lincoln Square condo unit sales up 18%, prices up in 2013

Bob and I were getting top dollar for our Lincoln Square condo listings when it wasn't in vogue to buy or sell over the last few years LOL.  Can I still use LOL?  Anyway, let's look at Lincoln Square condo sales now that things have been hot hot hot for awhile.

Photo Eric Rojas

Lincoln Square condo sales for 2013 (Jan 1st to August 11th)

196 condos have closed to date in Lincoln Square in 2013, up from 165 (18%) sold same period 2012. The median price is a mere $240,000. That's also up a bit from $220,000 last year (and a good $100K less than the neighboring Community Areas of Northcenter and Lakeview). 

Median price in Lincoln Square is a little deceiving.  The top shelf locations sell for dramatically more than the further northwest locations in the Lincoln Square Community Area.  In Lakeview and Lincoln Park for example top tier condo prices are fairly spread out amongst the entire Community Areas.  There is also a less diverse condo product in Lincoln Square than in Lakeview or Lincoln Park.

The vast majority of condos in Lincoln Square are 2 beds, 1 baths in vintage converted buildings.

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

Friday, August 09, 2013

Bob about town: Sample sales in River North gallery district

Old fashioned bargain hunting takes getting out in the neighborhoods.  Floor sample sales are a great way to score high-end designer furniture in River North.  You have to have a good nose for finding the deals.  Bob's on it!