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Home prices expected to rise in 2012

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, First-time buyers, Market conditions, North Center, Sellers posted on December 9th, 2011

A FALTERING FLIP?

A FALTERING FLIP? It's hard to flip a house for a profit when prices keep sinking. This 3-bedroom home in Roscoe Village, a foreclosure, sold in just 8 days for $285,000 in July. But its new owner put it right back on the market, without doing much besides staging it, for $419,000. With prices down about 5% citywide this year, there were no takers. Four months later, the house is still for sale -- now at $339,000.

At last, housing prices will finally hit bottom and begin to increase in 2012, according to a group of 54 economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal.

The increase will be slight, probably less than 2.5% a year — not enough to keep up with inflation, the economists said. Yet the rebound will still be a welcome relief for homeowners across the country, who saw prices slip again this year. The economists predicted that home prices, as tracked by the Federal Housing Finance Administration, will fall 2.7% in 2011.

In Chicago, we’ve seen home prices drop about 5% this year, according to the most recent data from the Case-Shiller home price index. Prices started to recover here over the summer, only to dip ever so slightly (less than 1%) between August and September.

What’s next for the Chicago market? With interest rates at record lows — local lenders like Guaranteed Rate are now offering 30-year fixed mortgages at 3.85% — it’s still a stunningly cheap time to buy a home. But unemployment remains stubbornly high in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area, a factor that is likely to keep a lid on home prices. Even though Illinois led the nation in job growth in October, unemployment jumped from 8.8% a year ago to 9.7% in the Chicago area.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Lakeview within reach: 2 bedrooms and 2 baths for less than $250,000

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, First-time buyers, Lakeview posted on December 5th, 2011

A LAKEVIEW LOFT:

A LAKEVIEW LOFT: After almost 10 months on the market, this 2-bedroom/2-bath condo now sports a $249,900 price tag -- $75,000 less than its original asking price. It's located in the 60657 Lofts building, a block from the Paulina Brown line stop. J Maggio of Keller Williams has the listing.

Every year, I have a sizable number of buyers who want to live in Lakeview. They may already rent an apartment there, or perhaps in Lincoln Park, and they draw the line at Addison (or sometimes Irving Park Rd.) and refuse to go any further north, where housing prices drop considerably. And now, they don’t have to.

Like other hot neighborhoods in Chicago, Lakeview has become increasingly affordable. A nice 2-bedroom/2-bath condo, often including parking, is now within reach of many first-time buyers. There are now 53 such condos for sale at prices under $250,000, and 45 of them come with parking.

At the low end (under $200,000), many of the units are shorts sales, which will require some time and patience on the part of buyers to close the deal. These tend to be in high-rise buildings with vintage features, and some updating of kitchens, bathrooms, and outdated carpets is often needed.

In the $200K to $250K price range, the majority of these condos are also in high-rise buildings, but they are often larger and more updated, sometimes with lake views. Occasionally I’ll come across a Lakeview condo in a small building, but these are few and far between in Lakeview, and are typically snatched up quickly — if they are priced right.

Take a look at 634 W Roscoe St. #2N, a recent rehab in a 22-unit courtyard building in a prime east Lakeview location. It was initially (over)priced at $275,000 and has now lingered on the market for almost a year. But in that time, the seller slashed the asking price to $225,000. The unit is on the small side, with bedrooms that measure 14×10 and 10×9, but it is updated and includes a rental parking spot across the street for $185/month. It’s also in the coveted Nettlehorst elementary school district.

There are several other short sales in small buildings that are already under contract. Whether they will actually close is anyone’s guess. But if you want a sure thing, check out 1645 W School St. #401 in the popular 60657 Lofts building, right beside Whole Foods, Caribou coffee, and the Wishbone restaurant. It’s a loft with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, nearly new kitchen appliances, a fireplace and a balcony for $249,900. This one, too, has been on the market awhile (since February) because it was initially priced $75,000 higher. The owner is asking an additional $25,000 for parking. But in this market, everything is negotiable.

There will certainly be more condos hitting the market as soon as the new year begins. So if Lakeview is your preferred neighborhood, 2012 should bring plenty of affordable condos to choose from — a rare opportunity in one of Chicago’s most desirable areas.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Edgewater 2-bedroom/2-bath condo for under $150,000

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Edgewater, First-time buyers posted on November 29th, 2011

PLENTY OF SPACE:

EVERYTHING YOU WANT: This spacious unit has it all -- 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a fireplace, refinished floors, tons of closet space, parking, and a great location close to Andersonville and the lake -- all for less than $150,000.

Check out my listing at 5400 N Sheridan, a low-rise building located a block from the lake in Edgewater. It’s hard to find a 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo — with parking included — in this area for less than $150,000, especially one that’s not in a high-rise building with high monthly assessments.

The assessments here are just $368 per month, and that includes heat, gas, and basic cable TV. And the unit is big, with 2 large bedrooms, including a master bedroom with a huge walk-in closet, an in-suite bath, and a full laundry room. There are newly-refinished hardwood floors throughout, an updated kitchen, a gas fireplace, and plenty of closet space. It also comes with a parking space and extra storage in the basement.

Best of all, this condo is just a block from the lake and three blocks from Andersonville’s shops and restaurants. It’s also close to the Red line, the Bryn Mawr historic district, and the new Dominick’s store at Foster and Sheridan.

We just reduced the price $10,000 to $149,900 — a great deal for this neighborhood — so give me a call at 773-816-1788 if you want to come see it!

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Chicago condos (and houses) for under $200,000

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Downtown, Edgewater, First-time buyers, Irving Park, Lincoln Park, Loop, Market conditions posted on November 25th, 2011

LOOP:

THE LOOP WITHIN REACH: There are dozens of 1-bedroom condos for sale in the Loop at prices below $200,000. This one, located across from Grant Park at 888 S Michigan #902, features an updated kitchen and a large bedroom. It is priced at $195,000 and does not include parking.

Most homes that are sold in Chicago sell for less than $200,000. While that figure may seem surprisingly low, $200,000 actually goes a long way these days. As we head into the 2012 home-buying season, I thought a brief survey of the market in some North side neighborhoods might help answer the question: What can you get for $200,000 or less?

Loop: The great glut of downtown condo buildings has made buying a home in the Loop quite affordable. The supply is abundant here — even at the low end of the market — with 114 condos for sale for under $200,000. In some buildings, like 800 S Wells, there are several units priced under $100,000! Closer to the $200K mark, you’ll find plenty of newer 1-bedrooms in full-amenity buildings, along with a fair amount of shorts sales and foreclosures to choose from. At 208 W Washington, for instance, there’s a 1-bedroom unit on the 21st floor that boasts a balcony, a large 18×12 bedroom, and a den — all for $184,900. It’s a short sale.

Lincoln Park: This is one of the most popular, and most expensive, areas of the entire city. But you can still afford to buy here on a $200K budget. There are currently more than 70 condos for sale for $200,000 or less — many of them studios or 1-bedrooms in the high-rise buildings clustered along Clark or Lincoln Park West. A corner 1-bedroom condo at 1850 N Clark #901 with unobstructed view of Lincoln Park, the lake and the city, for example, is now priced at $199,000 after nearly a year on the market. Parking is available for $150 per month.

Edgewater: If you live in Lakeview or further south, Edgewater may not be on your radar. It’s one of Chicago’s northernmost neighborhoods, nestled right beside the lake, with plenty of trees and parks and low-rise vintage buildings where neighbors stop to chat as they walk their dogs. There are also dozens of high rises along Sheridan that boast lake views as blue as any you’ll find downtown (but with a lot more space for the money.) Edgewater has been hit especially hard by the downturn, and there are now more than 300 condos for sale for less than $200,000. This is the place to go if you’re looking for a 2-bedroom and even a second bath. Examples include 5823 N Ravenswood #116, a 2-bedroom/2-bath loft with a large eat-in kitchen and a separate dining room. Garage parking is included in the $189,000 price.

APRK

A HOUSE ON THE CHEAP: This 4-bedroom Irving Park house was priced at $339,000 when it hit the market in May. The seller must have quickly wised up to Chicago's new real estate reality, because the house is now a mere $190,000.

Irving Park: If you venture a few miles west of the lake, housing prices drop to the point that you can buy a house for what a small condo would cost in Lakeview. That means that in Irving Park (and many of the “Park” neighborhoods like Albany Park, Portage Park, Jefferson Park etc.), you can find a tidy 3-bedroom bungalow, ranch house, or even a turn-of-the-century Victorian or Dutch colonial for less than $200,000. I’m not kidding. There are dozens of homes out there like 4114 N Central Park Ave., a rambling 4-bedroom Dutch colonial built in 1907, now for sale at $190,000. Many of these houses need at least some cosmetic updating, but they are affordable options for anyone who’s ever wanted a house of their own, complete with a backyard and garage.

Sauganash: Located in the far northwest corner of Chicago, Sauganash is a lovely, leafy community, almost suburban in its placid beauty. It’s relatively pricey, with many single-family houses going for $400,000 and up. There are still a few bargains to be had here for under $200K, however, including two 2-bedroom townhomes and several condos, most of them located in the same building at Cicero and Peterson (just off the Edens expressway and above the Whole Foods grocery store.)

In sum, there are hundreds of great deals out there right now at low prices — lower, in many cases, than it would cost you to rent a similar home. Happy house-hunting, and please call me at 773-816-1788 if you need any help!

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Back to 2000! Chicago home prices fall to levels last seen 11 years ago

filed under: Bungalows, Chicago home prices, Chicago home sales, Foreclosures, Irving Park, Market conditions, Short sales posted on November 22nd, 2011

ME

A BUNGALOW BARGAIN: This 3-bedroom house, a foreclosure in old Irving Park, sold in October for $160,000 -- which is roughly the median price in Chicago. Hundreds of North Side bungalows in good condition can now be had for similar amounts, as prices return to levels not seen in a decade.

Eleven years ago, the U.S. presidency was up in the air, with everyone waiting to see whether George Bush or Al Gore had won the 2000 election as Florida struggled to recount its votes. The Y2K bug had proven to be relatively harmless, and 9/11 was still in the planning stages. No one had ever heard of the Ipod, Friendster, or Wikipedia, let alone the Iphone, Facebook, or WikiLeaks.

And the median home price was about $174,000 in Chicago. Today, according to data just released by the Illinois Assn. of Realtors, we’re back to those days. In fact, Chicago’s median price slid even lower last month — to $162,000 — than it stood in the year 2000.

While the median price fluctuates a bit from month to month, this is the lowest I’ve seen it in ages. Chicago’s home prices have fallen 11.5% just in the past year. This is a pretty grim sign for anyone hoping to sell their property.

However, the number of homes changing hands is up — another indication that the Chicago market may be stabilizing, albeit at a lower price point. Nearly half of the sales these days involve foreclosures or short sales, and most of them are at prices below $200,000. Sales of single-family houses and condominiums totaled 1,312 in October, up 7.9% from 1,216 homes sold in October 2010.

“The increase in units sold in the city of Chicago continues to show the absorption of distressed properties in the market,” said Bob Floss, president of the Chicago Assn. of Realtors. “Prospective buyers in the market are making investments that make sense long-term.”

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Downtown Chicago condo sales still sluggish

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home sales, Developments, Downtown, First-time buyers posted on November 20th, 2011

Chicago downtown condos for saleCondo sales in downtown Chicago continued to sink this fall, dropping 9% over this time last year. Developers closed just 229 sales downtown in the third quarter, according to a new report from Appraisal Research Counselors, a Chicago consulting firm.

In a weak market, some buyers were inspired to make the move only after steep price reductions. A recent story by Crain’s Chicago Business said that Parkside of Old Town, a redevelopment built at the site of the old Cabrini Green towers on Division Street, had the highest number of closings in the third quarter — 26 units — after chopping prices 30% to 40% over the summer. One-bedroom condos priced at $259,000 were reduced to $155,040 with a free parking space, while two-bedroom units went from $379,900 to $229,500, including parking. Parkside also offered buyer incentives like a $10,000 grant from the city.

First-time buyers seem to be driving the condo market in the lower-priced buildings, such as 200 N. Dearborn, Silver Tower, 757 Orleans, 235 West Van Buren and Quincy 565, said Gail Lissner, an Appraisal Research vice president. At luxury buildings such as Trump International Tower, Legacy at Millennium Park and Aqua, third-quarter sales were also solid, helped along by cash buyers.

Overall, though, it’s hard to imagine the downtown market getting much worse. Downtown developers closed only 614 condo and townhouse sales in the first nine months of 2011, compared with 1,431 a year earlier — and last year wasn’t all that great.

Keep in mind that Chicago developers once enjoyed crowded sales centers, rarely cut their prices and easily sold thousands of glittering high-rise condos each year. In 2005, for example, developers sold more than 8,000 units in downtown Chicago.

But the downturn means it’s a great time to buy a new condo downtown, many of them with sweeping lake or city views, sleek gyms and swimming pools. The supply is steadily being absorbed — especially since so many condo projects have now been converted to rental buildings. No new units will hit the market this year, and the only buildings now under construction, the 89-unit Ritz Carlton Residences and Lincoln Park 2520, are scheduled for 2012 deliveries.

“We’re still looking at a few years of unsold inventory levels in the market,” Lissner told Crain’s. “It’s being absorbed, but slowly.”

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Nearly half of Chicago houses are underwater

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Foreclosures, Market conditions, Short sales posted on November 18th, 2011

UNDERWATER IN

UNDERWATER IN LOGAN SQUARE: It's not much to look at, but this 2-bedroom house at 2829 N Elston sold for $159,500 in August after just a week on the market. It was a short sale, meaning the seller owed the bank more than the house was worth. Property records indicate that owner took out a $250,409 mortgage in 2007. Almost half of Chicago houses with mortgages are now underwater, according to data compiled by Zillow.

Although you don’t often hear Chicago mentioned as one of the epicenters of the housing bust — the media tends to focus on sun-splashed cities like Las Vegas, Miami and Los Angeles — our market has definitely been staggered by the downturn. Illinois was ranked #1 nationwide in the number of foreclosures earlier this year, and now comes a report that says almost half of all houses with mortgages are underwater in the Chicago area.

More than 46% of Chicago’s single-family houses are worth less than what the homeowner owes on the mortgage, a condition known as being underwater, according to the real estate website Zillow. That’s much worse than the national average of 28.6% of homes with mortgages that were underwater this fall.

And the pain seems to be increasing in the Chicago area: The percentage of underwater houses jumped 9% from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2011.

Yet Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, told the Chicago Tribune there was still reason for optimism. “I didn’t think this was a particularly bad housing report,” he said. “We are much closer to the end of the housing recession than the beginning. I still think of Chicago being more of an average case of housing recession. It’s nowhere in the league of Phoenix and Vegas.”

The Zillow data also showed that 42% of the homes sold in the city of Chicago in the third quarter sold at a loss , compared to 34.4%  nationally. Zillow said Chicago-area home prices fell 9% in the past year, to a level last seen here in 2000.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Vintage bargains abound in Uptown

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Uptown posted on November 14th, 2011

HISTORY

A GILDED PAST: Chicago history buffs love Uptown and its well-preserved trove of late 19th and early 20th-century homes. This 1908 Prairie style mini-mansion, located at 4527 N Malden in the Uptown's Sheridan Park area, is now for sale at $895,000. Along with 8 bedrooms and a study, it features a king's ransom worth of glorious vintage delights, including a grand oak staircase, stained glass windows, stenciled box-beam ceilings, quartersawn oak and mahogany trim, pocket doors and a hutch with original brass hardware. It is, unfortunately, a short sale, and Andy Gersten of Prudential Rubloff has the listing.

Yesterday I took some buyers out house-hunting in Uptown, a historic neighborhood packed with vintage architecture, restaurants, nightclubs, and classic music halls like the Riviera, the Aragon Ballroom and the Green Mill jazz club. One of the best aspects of Uptown, in my humble realtor’s opinion, is that it’s one of the only North Side neighborhoods close to the lake that offers big, roomy, vintage homes at affordable prices — and the prices have gotten even more affordable lately.

If you’re looking for lots of space — meaning a large living room (often with a fireplace and built-in bookshelves), a separate dining room, spacious bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, and often a sunroom and back deck to boot — Uptown should definitely make your short list. Condo buyers in particular should check out the Sheridan Park section of Uptown, bounded by Montrose, Clark, Lawrence and Broadway, which has dozens of historic six-flats. My buyers and I just visited several 3-bedroom units, with parking included, in the $230,000 to $280,000 range. These condos often sold for $325,000 and up just a few years ago, and they are so big that buyers can be confident they won’t outgrow them in a few years.

For buyers hunting for a single-family home, Uptown features turn-of-the-century gems with lots of space for the money. Many of them are Victorian homes built in the 1890s or Prairie style houses built over the next two decades. For a history lover like me, these homes are so gorgeous that mere words fail to do them justice… So here are some photos to tell the story. All of the homes pictured here are currently for sale:

This

This 4-bedroom Victorian, built in 1891 on a double lot, is priced at $575,000.

The entryway to a

The entryway to a rehabbed 4-bedroom house on Magnolia, one of Uptown's nicest blocks.

This glorious hutch stretches across one end of the 15x21-foot dining room.

This glorious hutch stretches across one end of the 15x21-foot dining room in a Sheridan Park home.

Many Uptown condo buildings, like this 1912 Margate Park

Many Uptown condos, like this 1912 building in Margate Park, retain vintage features like sunrooms.

A typical living room in a vintage Uptown condo: fireplace flanked by built-in bookshelves

A typical living room in a vintage Uptown condo, with a fireplace, built-in bookshelves, oak trim, plenty of windows and an adjoining sunroom.

The dining room of a

The dining room of a 2-bedroom vintage condo on Magnolia, now priced at $269,500.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Looking for a Lincoln Park townhome? Plenty of 3-bedroom condos for under $500,000

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Lincoln Park, Market conditions, Townhomes posted on November 12th, 2011

LINC

ON THE MARK IN LINCOLN PARK: Weak demand has pushed down prices in some of the hottest areas of Chicago. After almost six months on the market, this sleek 3-bedroom Lincoln Park condo has been marked down more than $100,000. Located at 2639 N Sheffield #2, it features a gourmet kitchen, luxury baths, a separate dining ro0m and garage parking -- now for $469,000. Oanh Vo-Liu of Keller Williams has the listing.

Lincoln Park is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Chicago, with such prime real estate that many buyers assume they can’t afford it and begin their search in Lakeview or North Center instead. But recently, prices have fallen to the extent that there are now more than 60 Lincoln Park condos with at least 3 bedrooms available for less than $500,000. Most of them are townhomes or duplex units.

I was just searching for 3-bedroom condos in Lincoln Park, and came across several that have been on the market for more than a year — taking steep price cuts in the meantime. Like 2743 N Wolcott #43, a modern townhouse with a full finished basement and attached garage.  Listed for sale a year and a half ago, at $535,000, it is now priced at a much more reasonable $439,900.

Or 1956 N Burling St, Unit B, which has been on the market for 539 days. The price tag for this townhouse, which has a 28-foot private rooftop deck and two wo0d-burning fireplaces, went from $525,000 to $449,000. Many others have been sitting on the market for at least six months, enduring price drops of $75,000 to $100,000.

If you’re looking for a townhouse or condo in Lincoln Park, now is the time to strike. There are some great deals out there this fall, and not enough buyers to absorb them. The imbalance between supply and demand has pushed prices down, to the point where we’re now seeing fabulous, renovated units like 2639 N Sheffield #2, an extra-wide 3-bedroom, 2-bath with garage parking, for just $469,000. This simplex condo is packed with features that today’s buyers want, like a gourmet eat-in kitchen with cherry cabinets, a master suite with a marble bath, separate shower and double vanity, high ceilings, lots of windows,  a balcony and a back deck.

It’s been on the market since June, when it was priced at $574,900.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Trick or treat? Fall buyers grab sweet deals

filed under: Buyers, Lakeview, Market conditions, Sellers posted on October 31st, 2011

A SCARY TIME FOR SELLERS:

A HAUNTING TIME FOR SELLERS: This 4-bedroom home in Lakeview just sold in October for $786,000 -- more than $110,000 off its original list price in May. Autumn is usually an excellent time for Chicago buyers to score a deal, since many sellers are eager to sell before another winter descends.

Happy Halloween! As the Chicago streets fill with little pirates and princesses, this time of year is often particularly scary for people trying to sell their homes. Many of them listed the property in the spring, waited all summer in hopes of a buyer, and now are facing a fading autumn with increasing desperation.

That’s why the fall is such a great time for serious buyers to find deals. Sellers have been knocked to their senses, with a brutal market showing them just how few homes are selling and at what prices. Some of them are doing the math and realizing that if they don’t sell now, they will likely be holding onto their homes through the winter and into the spring, paying another six months of mortgage payments and taxes. Serious sellers are ready to cut a deal.

In the last week alone, almost 900 new listings — 293 single-family houses, 434 condos, and 155 multi-unit buildings — hit the market in Chicago. But just 298 home sales closed. Multiply those trends over the autumn months and you’ve got thousands of homes out there in search of buyers — not to mention all the ones listed earlier in the year that still haven’t sold.

Qualified buyers remain a rarity. So if you are considering a home purchase anytime in the near future, remember that the fall season offers unusual treats for buyers ready to pounce. Wait until spring, and you’ll be out house-hunting with hundreds of competing buyers, amid sellers who aren’t so motivated to bargain.

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