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Cool bungalows at hot prices in northwest Chicago

filed under: Bungalows, Buyers, Market conditions posted on January 15th, 2010

Prices have REALLY come down to earth lately in Chicago’s northwest neighborhoods like Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Albany Park and Irving Park. This week, my buyers made an offer on a sweet 3-bedroom octagon bungalow in Jefferson Park that had all its original woodwork, hardwood floors and stained glass windows intact.

Chicago octagon bungalow

This Jefferson Park bungalow, listed at $229,000, went under contract within a week.

This bungalow, at 5851 W Ainslie, was sold in late 2005 for $380,000. For most of the last five years, that was about what you could expect to spend for a handsome, if unimproved, bungalow on the North Side. But tough times have forced many owners out of their homes, and this bungalow was foreclosed and then purchased in mid-2009 by an investor.

Long story short, he recently listed it at $229,000 — 40% less than the previous owner had paid for it four years ago. Like other lucky buyers these days, my buyers came along at the right time to capitalize on the real estate downturn. I’m not at liberty to disclose the terms of the deal, but based on the list price you can see how charming single-family homes are now selling in northwest Chicago for the price of a 2-bedroom condo about five miles east, in Edgwater, Lincoln Square or Uptown.

Of course, these older homes often need electrical and plumbing updates, roof work, and other repairs. But there are now hundreds of homes citywide in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, and some of them are wonderful deals for buyers who prefer a house to a condo.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Chicago Bungalow of the Week

filed under: Bungalows, Rogers Park posted on January 5th, 2010

Being the bungalow lover that I am, I thought I’d kick off the new year with a new feature… The Bungalow of the Week! The idea is to highlight a lovely, classic Chicago bungalow, with all its bungalow-ness reasonably intact, that is actually for sale at a reasonable price. I’ve been seeing a lot of these during my travels lately, so I thought I’d share a few online in the hopes that my fellow bungalow-philes might find a bargain in this buyer’s market.

WAITING IN WEST RIDGE: After five months on the market, this bungalow is still awaiting a buyer. Florence Bulmash of Coldwell Banker has the listing.

So, for January, check out my first pick: 6313 N Rockwell Ave in West Rogers Park (aka West Ridge). This is a classic octogon yellow-brick bungalow, with 3 bedrooms and 1-and-a-half baths. It has a wide living room flanked by windows and a separate dining room with cute French doors. The hardwood floor and crown molding are intact, and the kitchen has been updated. So has the electrical system (now 200 amps) and the windows (now Thermopane), which are often a concern in older homes.

This 1926 house is priced at $314,500, about $10,000 less than its original asking price when it hit the market in August. Judging from the recent sales in the neighborhood, I’d say this bungalow is reasonably priced, but it should ultimately sell for $300,000 or slightly less. The homes selling in the $300-320K range are a little bigger, with a 4th bedroom.

But after five months on the market, these sellers just may be willing to make a deal! To see this bungalow, or any home, please give me a call at 773-816-1788.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

The 2009 Bungalow Expo is here!

filed under: Bungalows posted on October 16th, 2009

A classic Chicago bungalow

A classic Chicago bungalow

It’s back! One of my favorite events of the year, the Historic Chicago Bungalow and Green Home Expo, returns to the Merchandise Mart tomorrow for an all-day bungalow bash.

This is a great opportunity to learn how to make your century-old bungalow more energy-efficient or pick up floor plans for an eco-friendly bungalow addition. The Expo attracts more than 100 craftspeople, architects, and designers, including Chicago’s own “Mr. Fix-It,” Lou Manfredini of HouseSmartsTV.  “The House Doctor” Bob Yapp and Kelly Edwards of HGTV’s hit show “Design on a Dime” will also be there to offer tips on preserving historic homes.

I’ll be volunteering from 9 to 12 at the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association booth, so stop by and say hi! We’ll be giving away really cool bungalow posters.

Admission is free. The event runs from 10 to 4 Saturday, Oct. 17 at the Mechandise Mart.

Written by Sue Fox // 1 Comment »

Polishing a bungalow gem in Portage Park

filed under: Bungalows, Portage Park posted on September 2nd, 2009

BEFORE: The damaged floors and florescent paint in one of the bedrooms. BEFORE: The damaged floors and florescent paint in one bedroom.

I love bungalows. As the former owner of a 1913 Craftsman bungalow, I know well the joys of living in a cozy house with old oak floors and built-in bookshelves flanking the fireplace. Entire neighborhoods of bungalows were built in Chicago in the 1920s and ’30s, and today — thanks to the efforts of the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association — most are still standing and many have been updated in keeping with their historic charm.

But many have not! About six months ago, I helped my buyers Anne and Mark Diffenderffer find a rundown brick bungalow on Warwick Ave. in Portage Park. The house had great bones — and it was on a double lot — but it had been neglected. The hardwood floors were badly scuffed and stained, the kitchen was very outdated, and even the walls seemed dirty.

“We were like, uggghhh. It was overwhelming,” Anne said. “We knew we had a lot of work to do.” So they called in a painter and some hardwood floor restoration companies to get estimates before they even closed. Then they had the floors sanded and refinished, all the rooms and some exterior trim repainted, some ceilings patched and doors refinished, and they added beadboard wainscoting to the kitchen.

AFTER: The same bedroom, with a fresh coat of paint and refinished floors.

AFTER: The same bedroom, with a fresh coat of paint and refinished floors.

So far, the new owners have spent about $6,000 on the house. But I would say that they have added at least $20,000 in value, because now their bungalow sparkles rather than sags. When you walk in the door, you see gorgeous hardwood floors and fresh paint coloring the walls. It looks beautiful!

“It definitely feels like a nice, new house,” Anne said this week. She advises other buyers to try to look past the grimy walls, floors, and furniture that so often dulls the shine of older homes. “If everything just needs a fresh touch, that is not a huge investment to make in a house. You don’t have to be a genius at home improvement,” she said.

Even better, now that the house looks lovely, the change has boosted the owners’ spirits so that future upgrades and repairs now feel more manageable. “Once the aesthetics are taken care of, the rest of it seems totally doable,” Anne said. “There’s some psychological impact it has that makes you have more stamina.”

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

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