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Prices tumble at 1400 N Lake Shore Drive

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home sales, Developments, First-time buyers, Gold Coast, Short sales posted on December 16th, 2009

TARNISHED GOLD: More than 30 units are now for sale at 1400 N. Lake Shore in the Gold Coast, including many whose prices have been cut substantially.

Even the Gold Coast is showing a little tarnish these days. Prices have fallen sharply at 1400 Lake Shore Drive, a 391-unit condo conversion project where many units remain unsold despite the sales team’s prediction back in February that they would “close it out” by the end of 2009.

Well, here we are in December 2009, and buyers still have plenty to choose from here. “Massive Price Reductions @ Prime Lake Shore Drive Location,” promises a recent 1-bedroom listing in the building. Massive, indeed. This second-floor unit was originally priced at $261,400 — in February 2006, when the market was much healthier. Now it’s listed at $159,900. Another 1-bedroom (touted on the MLS as a “highly upgraded ultra luxury unit” on the 20th floor) has gone from $299,900 in early 2008 to $189,900 today, a 37% price cut. A 2-bedroom on the 3rd floor is now priced at $299,900, down from $360,900 in March 2007.

Meanwhile, owners in the building also appear to be hurting. A 2-bedroom unit that sold for $417,900 in early 2006 is now for sale at $374,900. It’s been on the market since June. There are also two short sales in the building, including a 21st-floor unit now listed at $275,900. That one has been on and off the market for two years, starting at $398,800.

There have only been 6 sales in the building in the last 6 months, according to the MLS. This is a pretty poor track record for a building this large, especially considering that the $8,000 first-time buyer’s tax credit pushed up sales in Chicago during this period and most units at 1400 N Lake Shore are in a price range that appeals to first-timers.

Then again, this is a golden opportunity for buyers looking to spend under $150,000 for a Gold Coast location. There are now 9 units at 1400 N Lake Shore that meet that criteria.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Sellers: Get ready for a jumping January! Five reasons Chicago homes will be moving fast

filed under: $6500 tax credit, $8000 tax credit, Chicago home sales, First-time buyers, Market conditions, Sellers posted on December 8th, 2009

If you are planning to sell your home in 2010, the best time to start will probably be the moment you ring in the New Year! That only gives you three weeks to prepare, I know, but there are at least five great reasons to get your condo or house all spruced up and ready to hit the market in January.

1) The Home Buyers Tax Credit: Now it’s not just the first-time buyers who can benefit from the government’s free cash. Homeowners who are trading up (or down) to another home are also eligible for thousands of dollars. With first-timers standing to make $8,000 and move-up buyers in line for $6,500 apiece, that’s an awful lot of buyers who must sign a purchase contract by April 30, 2010, in order to qualify for the tax credit. That means that January, February and March will be bustling as buyers brave the snow to hunt for their future home. As a seller, you need to put your best foot forward with a polished, well-priced home that will capture their attention.

2) Incredibly Low Interest Rates: Borrowing is very cheap right now, with mortgage interest rates hovering at record lows. According to interest.com, the average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage — the most popular way to finance a home — was just 5.01% in the latest weekly survey of major lenders. It’s a great time to lock in an interest rate, and savvy buyers will be taking advantage of this easy money while they can.

3) Home Prices Are Bottoming Out: For the last five months, home prices in Chicago have stopped sinking and actually started climbing. They’ve only gone up a percentage point or so each month, but the overall trend is unmistakable: Prices are rising. We seem to have hit bottom. For the long-term buyer, who plans to hold onto his/her property for years to come, this is a giant green light.

4) Home Sales Are Skyrocketing: The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and thousands of buyers are already gobbling up Chicago real estate. Buyers surged into the market this fall — sales were up 28.5% throughout the city of Chicago in October — and now others who were sitting on the sidelines feel reassured. Rising sales help put a floor under prices, allowing the market to stabilize and attracting more buyers who realize that this potent mix of low prices, low interest rates and a fat government tax credit will not last long.

5) Unemployment Is Falling: Real estate is sensitive to changes in the job market, and this month we’ve seen some signs that better days are ahead. Nationally, the unemployment rate fell in November from 10.2%  to 10%. The drop surprised analysts, leading many to surmise that the downturn had ended. The economy certainly seems to be back on the rails after a very tough year, and housing will only benefit as the job picture brightens.

SO IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT SELLING YOUR HOME NEXT YEAR, please call me now! It’s time to clear out the clutter, make any necessary repairs, analyze your neighborhood’s prices and sign the paperwork, so that your home is absolutely ready to hit the market in January.

Written by Sue Fox // 1 Comment »

Chicago home prices rise for 5th straight month

filed under: Chicago home sales, Market conditions posted on November 26th, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: Let's be thankful that home prices stopped falling!

Chicago appears to be on its way to a tentative recovery, with home prices inching up yet again in September, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller price index. Prices rose 1.1% here over the previous month.

This is the fifth straight month that we’ve seen a slight price increase in Chicago. But does this mean we’re out of the woods? According to Case-Shiller, Chicago home prices are still nearly 11% below their Sept. 2008 level. Other data, including those collected by the Illinois Association of Realtors, indicate even greater price drops locally.

It’s hard to tell whether we are now seeing the beginning of a true revival in housing prices, or merely a brief respite from another round of price reductions. Ever the cautious realtor, I suspect prices could fall again. But it really depends on the unemployment rate in the Chicago region, which is now 10.4%, the highest it’s been in a quarter-century. If Chicago continues to bleed jobs, our housing recovery will definitely be short-lived.

Written by Sue Fox // 2 Comments »

Chicago home sales surge

filed under: $8000 tax credit, Buyers, Chicago home sales, First-time buyers, Market conditions, Sellers posted on November 23rd, 2009

FINALLY: After spending three years on and off the market, this rehabbed home in Andersonville sold in October for $850,000. It was originally priced at $1.25 million.

Buyers know a good deal when they see one. In October, they barreled into the housing market, driving up sales in Chicago by 28.5% over last year, according to a report today from the Illinois Association of Realtors.

It seems that the government’s $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers — along with relatively low interest rates — is working. In the city of Chicago, there were 2,012 sales of single-family houses and condos in October, compared to just 1,566 homes sold in October 2008. This is good news for sellers, because it means our bloated inventory of homes is actually beginning to shrink as buyers snap up deals.

“October’s extraordinary sales totals reflect home purchases by many buyers who were sitting on the sidelines of the housing market, waiting out the economic downturn, as well as more home sellers coming to terms with accurate pricing given the market conditions,” said Mike Onorato, president of the Illinois Association of Realtors.

But even though more properties are changing hands, prices have not recovered. The median home price in Chicago fell 18% since last October, from $262,250 to $215,000.

For sellers, it is critically important to acknowledge the shifting terrain and price your home accordingly. There is no room in this market for an overpriced property you’re trying to sell for what your neighbor got last summer. Don’t even bother. Buyers are smart, and as today’s report shows, they are out there in droves, willing to buy when they find a good deal.

The federal home buyer’s credit has now been extended (and expanded to other buyers) for the next five months. Don’t waste this chance to sell by sticking last year’s price tag on your home!

Written by Sue Fox // 2 Comments »