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Chicago foreclosures still rising steadily; 3,500 homes lost citywide in Q1

filed under: Andersonville, Buyers, Chicago home prices, Edgewater, Foreclosures, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, Market conditions, Rogers Park, Uptown posted on May 6th, 2010

EVEN IN EDGEWATER: Foreclosures are starting to creep into stable neighborhoods, driving down Chicago home prices. This bank-owned foreclosure, a 3-bedroom Victorian at 1248 W Ardmore that used to be a bed & breakfast,

EVEN IN EDGEWATER: Foreclosures are starting to creep into stable Chicago neighborhoods, driving down home prices. This bank-owned foreclosure, a 3-bedroom Victorian at 1248 W Ardmore that used to be a bed & breakfast, is now listed at $497,999. Its former owner paid $720,000 in early 2007.

While home sales have jumped significantly in the Chicago area, another less hopeful housing indicator — home foreclosures — is also on the rise. During the first quarter, more Chicago-area homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure than in any other quarter in the past five years.

Nearly 3,500 homes in the city of Chicago went through a court-ordered auction, the final step in a foreclosure, and 95 percent of them were reclaimed by lenders, according to a recent report by the Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based think tank. In the six-county Chicago region as a whole, 9,302 homes went to auction during the first quarter.

It looks like the Obama administration’s Making Home Affordable program and other government efforts to stem the foreclosure crisis aren’t working. Loan modification often fails for people who simply can’t afford their homes. Illinois, one of the hardest-hit states in terms of foreclosures, now faces 11.7% unemployment — far worse than the national average. If people are out of work, it becomes pretty hard for them to pay their mortgages.

So what does all this portend for our local market? I see two trends that I expect to continue in Chicago through 2010 and perhaps beyond:

1) The surge in foreclosed homes will continue to push Chicago home prices down across the board, particularly in neighborhoods with lots of distressed properties. In the North side neighborhoods I cover, this would mean falling prices in Rogers Park, Albany Park and perhaps Uptown and Edgewater, and continuing pressure that holds down prices in more affluent areas like Lakeview, Lincoln Square and Andersonville.

2) The foreclosures — at least the ones in decent shape — will present an attractive buying opportunity for both first-time buyers who couldn’t afford a home in years past, and investors who are taking advantage of the bargain prices. I’m even seeing investors who buy foreclosed houses and condos, spruce them up a little, and then flip them back onto the market. Often the end buyer, who still gets a deal on the price, is a first-time home buyer.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

New listing in Andersonville: Historic bungalow for $469,900

filed under: Andersonville, Bungalows, Edgewater posted on April 21st, 2010

BUNGALOW HEAVEN: Nestled on a quiet street in Andersonville, this gorgeous bungalow has been beautifully restored by its owners. It's now for sale at $469,900.

BUNGALOW HEAVEN: Nestled on a quiet street in Andersonville, this gorgeous bungalow has been beautifully restored by its owners. It's now for sale at $469,900.

I’m really excited about my new listing at 5951 W Hermitage Avenue, a beautifully restored bungalow in Andersonville. It is a classic Chicago bungalow, made of brick with original woodwork and hardwood floors throughout, featuring a lovely fireplace flanked by built-in bookcases in the living room.

I fell in love with this house the moment I walked in the door. And everyone else seems to feel the same way, as it’s only been on the market for two days and I’ve already had four showings! The owners have kept it their house in perfect shape, as you can see here from the photos. In addition to renovating the kitchen and putting in a charming breakfast nook that looks out over the backyard, they completely finished the basement, adding a rec room, a media room, a second kitchen, a full bath and an office.

A CHEF's KITCHEN: With plentyof space, an island and a breakfast nook, this bungalow kitchen is a far cry from the cramped rear kitchens of many historic Chicago homes.

A CHEF's KITCHEN: With plenty of space, an island and a breakfast nook, this bungalow kitchen is a far cry from the cramped kitchens of many historic Chicago homes.

The house is very livable, with two bedrooms and a den on the main floor, a spacious kitchen, a separate dining room, and plenty of storage space. And the backyard is a delight, with a large deck overlooking a landscaped grove of trees and flowers.

Most Chicago bungalows were built several miles west of the lake, in a bungalow belt that stretches through neighborhoods like Jefferson Park and Portage Park. There aren’t too many bungalows in Andersonville or Edgewater, but Hermitage Avenue is a little treasure trove for bungalow lovers. It’s a quiet tree-lined street full of classic bungalows — just a stone’s throw from Clark Street and all of Andersonville’s great shops and restaurants.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

New listing in Andersonville: Gorgeous 2-BR loft with parking for $319,000

filed under: Andersonville, Buyers, First-time buyers posted on April 16th, 2010

LOFT LIVING: My new listing at 1473 W Foster #3 in Andersonville feels like a loft perched in the treetops, with 13-foot ceilings and plenty of light.

LOFT LIVING: My new listing at 1473 W Foster #3 in Andersonville feels like a loft perched in the treetops, with 13-foot ceilings, exposed brick and plenty of light.

It’s been so busy lately I haven’t had a moment to blog… But at least I have some new listings to show for it! I’m happy to present my latest listing in Andersonville, a beautiful penthouse condo at 1473 W Foster Ave. #3. Please check out the photos here.

This is truly a great Chicago condo, with many features that are hard to find like soaring 13-foot ceilings and exposed brick. The gourmet kitchen features 42-inch maple cabinets and granite countertops, and the open floor plan is ideal for entertaining. There is a huge living room with a wood-burning fireplace, a sunroom, a master bath with custom marble and a large private deck. Parking is included!

There are hardwood floors throughout, plus central air and an in-unit washer and dryer. The assessments are low and this 6-unit building has been well maintained. And this top-floor condo even has roof rights, just in case you ever wanted to build a roof deck.

The location is also ideal, right off Clark Street in the heart of Andersonville. (Of course, I live in Andersonville so perhaps I’m biased, but this neighborhood is awesome.) You’re literally steps away from Starbucks, Cheeetah Gym, the Hopleaf, Ann Sather’s, Reza’s, Andie’s, Women and Children First, Scout and a ton of other cool restaurants and shops. It is only a few blocks to the Red line, the Metra stop at Lawrence, or the lake.

Please call me at 773-816-1788 for more information. I’d be happy to arrange a showing for 1473 W Foster #3 or any of my other listings. Thanks!

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

A Walgreens in Andersonville?

filed under: Andersonville posted on February 18th, 2010

A Walgreens may be the next big thing to hit Clark Street in Andersonville.

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: Thybony Paint (shown here in its original 19th-century storefront) may be leaving Andersonville this year, making way for a Walgreens pharmacy on Clark Street.

Goodbye, Thybony Paint. Hello… Walgreens?

That’s what Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting, at least. The rambling paint and wallpaper store anchoring the corner of Clark Street and Catalpa Avenue in Andersonville is soon to be replaced by a Walgreens pharmacy.

Andersonville, thus far, is largely free of ubiquitous chain stores (with the exception of Starbucks, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Jewel-Osco and a couple other shops.) Will a corner Walgreens, right across the street from the aforementioned Jewel-Osco, give our mom-and-pop city neighborhood more of a suburban big-box flavor?

The store is slated to open this fall, a spokeswoman for Deerfield-based Walgreen Co. told Crain’s. The existing 16,000-square-foot building will soon be remodeled to accommodate its new occupant. It is not known whether the family-owned Thybony, which was founded in Chicago in 1886 and now has another location at 3545 N. Kedzie Avenue, plans to relocate its Andersonville store.

But in the meantime… does Andersonville need another pharmacy? There are two literally right across the street: the Gordono Pharmacy (and sandwich shop) on the other side of Clark Street, and the Jewel-Osco across Catalpa Avenue. Meanwhile, there are three other Walgreens located within roughly a mile (at 5625 N Ridge Avenue, 1500 W Wilson Avenue, and 4720 N Marine Drive).

But a century-old paint store? Now that’s something every realtor (and her home-buyers) could use.

Written by Sue Fox // 2 Comments »

Historic Chicago homes at bargain prices in Edgewater and Andersonville

filed under: Andersonville, Buyers, Chicago home prices, Edgewater posted on February 9th, 2010

Prices of historic homes in Edgewater and Andersonville have fallen considerably.

SLEEPING BEAUTY: This amazing 19th century Victorian house is one of the latest victims of Chicago's foreclosure crisis. It is now listed at $530,900, a dramatic comedown from its $899,000 price four years ago.

Ever wanted to own a century-old Queen Anne Victorian with exquisite woodwork and stained-glass windows, the kind of historic Chicago home that routinely went for around a million dollars? Now may be your chance — at bargain-basement prices unimaginable until recently.

Check out this beautiful Edgewater 4-bedroom house at 6316 N Magnolia, currently a bank-owned foreclosure, for $530,900. The former owners listed it at $899,000 in 2006, and then steadily hacked sizable chunks off the price until the stately home slid into short-sale territory in 2008, and then into foreclosure.

It makes me sad to imagine such a gracious bit of Chicago history in some bank’s hands, abandoned and untended. The only silver lining is that now some ordinary homeowner might actually be able to afford such a gem.

Can a bank really be expected to tend this historic Chicago home?

A WINDOW ON THE PAST: Check out this glorious original stained-glass window over the stairwell.

While this Queen Anne stands out, there are now at least 10 turn-of-the-century homes for sale at a similar price point in Edgewater. Many of them would have fetched upwards of $700,000 just two years ago.

In the desirable Lakewood-Balmoral historic district closer to Andersonville, where relatively few homes change hands each year,we have also seen more modest price reductions. There is now a 1903 home listed at $835,000 at 5253 N Lakewood,which has been on the market for more than 9 months.  It was originally priced at $925,000.

So if you’ve always dreamed of owning one of these charming Victorian homes but found the prices simply out of reach, it may be time to reach again… especially in Edgewater.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Chicago two-flat prices continue downward spiral

filed under: Andersonville, Buyers, Edgewater, Foreclosures, Lakeview, Short sales, Two-flats posted on February 2nd, 2010

ON THE EDGE IN EDGEWATER: Bought for $550,000 in 2006, this Chicago two-flat is now listed as a short sale for $240,000.

ON THE EDGE IN EDGEWATER: Bought for $550,000 in 2006, this Chicago two-flat is now listed as a short sale for $240,000. Anne Schepers of Prudential Rubloff has the listing.

In what has become a seller’s nightmare — and a buyer’s dream — the median price of a Chicago two-flat has continued to plummet. And more buyers are taking notice, picking up these stalwart Chicago homes for a fraction of what they were worth a few years back.

I’ve written about this phenomenon before (see my Sept. 30, 2009 post, “The collapse of the Chicago two-flat”), but I keep seeing more sales data showing major price declines. Of the 47 multi-unit properties (mostly two-flats and three-flats) that closed last week in Chicago, the median price was just $80,100, according to Midwest Real Estate Data LLC. Two years ago that same week, 25 of these multi-unit buildings closed at a median price of $310,000.

That is a 75% price drop over just two years!!! Of course, the number of Chicago two-flats changing hands appears to have roughly doubled during that time, but that’s to be expected when prices have fallen so dramatically. What sane buyer wouldn’t want to own two units for $80,000?

Unfortunately for owners who bought their two-flats two to six years ago, they are now in very deep trouble. I’m seeing more and more of these buildings offered as short sales as they slide towards foreclosure, with owners who paid upwards of $500,000 now so far underwater that defaulting on their mortgage may be the only way out.

In Edgewater, 1672 W Edgewater Avenue is a fairly typical example. The owners bought it for $550,000 in June 2006. It looks like they intended to convert it to a single-family home (according to the MLS description) and they gutted the first floor and upgraded the heating and electric systems. A year ago, they put it on the market for $415,000 but it didn’t sell. It’s now listed as a short sale — which requires the lender’s approval — for $240,000.

This sad story has a flip side: It is now an excellent time to buy a Chicago two-flat. In Edgewater alone, I just counted 13 two-flats that are either foreclosures or short sales for $400,000 or less. In Andersonville, there are at least four that fit this description. Even in pricey Lakeview there are three, including a graystone two-flat in foreclosure, now priced at $284,000.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Chicago for sale: Andersonville condos for under $300,000

filed under: Andersonville, Buyers, First-time buyers, Market conditions posted on February 1st, 2010

I live in Andersonville, and I love it here. It’s a friendly, easygoing neighborhood nestled away from the Wrigleyville-Lakeview-Lincoln Park bustle a few miles south, it’s got great restaurants and bars, there are plenty of cool antique shops and clothing boutiques, and you can walk everywhere — including the lake.

And lately, you can find dozens of 2-bedroom condos in the $250,000 to $300,000 range in the heart of Andersonville, which was not the case even a couple years ago. This weekend I was out house-hunting with some buyers, and we saw a smattering of recent rehabs in vintage buildings a stone’s throw from Clark Street. All of them had updated kitchens and baths, and some boasted sunrooms and ample rear decks as well.

ANDERSONVILLE: There are two 2-bedroom condos with sunrooms for sale in this building at the corner of Foster and Glenwood, both of which have been on the market for more than 8 months. Now priced between $292,000 and $299,000, they await buyers in a popular neighborhood.

But as we visited each condo, I noticed that many of these units — for example, 1408 W Foster #3, 5204 W Glenwood #3, and 1476 W Carmen #2 — looked very familiar, because they had all been on the market for 8 or 9 months and I’d shown them before to other buyers.

It looks like a classic case of overpricing in a popular neighborhood, hoping that buyers will pay 2006 prices even in a struggling market. All of these condos had been originally priced $15,000 to $25,000 higher when they hit the market last spring and summer, and they did not sell.

As the spring market begins to unfold, I’m now seeing at least 30 Andersonville condos competing for attention in this price range. Most of them are vintage rehabs that were converted maybe 5-10 years ago, but there are also a few new conversions in the mix. Some even boast second bathrooms or a parking space.

All this competition will hold prices down, making it possible to find a nice 2-bedroom condo in Andersonville for perhaps $270,000 — what you would have paid five years ago. Buyers who until recently had to settle for the surrounding areas like Uptown or Edgewater because they were priced out of Andersonville can now find plenty of affordable condos to choose from in Andersonville proper.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Andersonville stays up late for holiday shopping

filed under: Andersonville posted on December 2nd, 2009

Black Friday has come and gone (I actually got up early and went out to Old Orchard this year) but there is still time to shop. And Andersonville’s merchants are happy to help! This Friday, Dec. 4, they will throw their doors open for a night of discount shopping, free entertainment and even pictures with Santa.

This is the 6th annual Late Night Andersonville event, and it’s always a fun night to browse and mingle. About 40 stores will be open until 10 pm, and the event will be repeated on Dec. 18 (for all you total procrastinators).

Here is the schedule for this Friday, Dec. 4, courtesy of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce:

Lakeside Pride

6:00-9:00pm      Beer, wine, or spirits tasting In Fine Spirits Shop
6:00-9:00pm      Ikebana, the Japanese art of floral arrangement Cassona
6:00-9:00pm      Make your own gifts this year!: Bring your family photographs or artwork in for “colorize it yourself” and “frame-it-yourself” workshops (frames up to 8×10 only) — We’ll help you with your frame or ours – free matting up to 8×10 (with frame purchase)! Painted Light Photography & Framing Gallery
6:00-10:00pm     Artist demos Andersonville Galleria
6:00-10:00pm     Holiday cocktail party Skinstinct
6:00-10:00pm    Julmarknad preview Swedish American Museum
6:00-10:00pm    Silent Night auction, egg nog and holiday goodies Brimfield
7:00-9:00pm      Live entertainment Marguerite Gardens
7:00-9:00pm      Pictures with Santa Swedish American Museum
7:00-9:00pm     Toffee tasting Terry’s Toffee (at the Galleria)
8:00-9:00pm     Michael Una presents a talk and performance using hand-made electronic instruments Transistor
8:00-10:00pm   Live guitar performance Ruff N’ Stuff

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Prices hold up in Andersonville

filed under: Andersonville, Market conditions posted on July 31st, 2009

Andersonville is home to a lively shopping district, which includes a weekly farmer's market at the corner of Clark and Berwyn.

Andersonville is home to a lively shopping district, which includes a weekly farmer's market at the corner of Clark and Berwyn.

Ok, so home prices on the whole are down around 18% over last year in Chicago. But all real estate is local, and in a market as volatile as this one it’s important to zoom in on a given neighborhood before you generalize about the market there. Many areas, particularly gentrified neighborhoods near the lake that have a solid business core, have managed to hold their own in this downturn.

Take Andersonville, the quaint southern swath of Edgewater that runs roughly from Foster to Bryn Mawr and Broadway to Ravenswood. Once a Swedish enclave, Andersonville is a peaceful, tree-lined neighborhood anchored by a strip of small businesses along Clark Street. It offers plenty of restaurants, bars, clothing boutiques, and increasingly, antique shops.

As far as real estate statistics go, Andersonville is generally lumped in with Edgewater, making it hard to discern precisely what is happening in this tiny hamlet. So let’s look at Edgewater, where prices have slipped a bit over the last few years — but only a bit. In 2006, for example, a 2-bedroom, 1-bath condo sold for an average price of $246,525 in Edgewater. In 2008, the average price slipped to $239,188, a decline of about 3%. For single-family houses under $500,000, the average price during that two-year period fell about 5.5%, from $416,972 to $397,958. And for the more expensive homes above $500,000, prices dropped less than 2%, from $698,450 to $686,130.

So if prices are down about 2 to 6% in Edgewater as a whole, chances are Andersonville is doing just fine. Andersonville, which includes the tony Lakewood-Balmoral historic district, is generally more expensive than the rest of Edgewater. Single-family houses in Andersonville often fetch upwards of $800,000 and new condo developments (and there are only a few) tend to sell out quickly. With demand high, prices here have barely taken a haircut even though the city, overall, has been hard hit by the market downturn.

What does all this mean for prospective buyers and sellers? Well, if you’re a buyer in Andersonville, know that you’re unlikely to find massive discounts or a raft of foreclosures here. But rest assured that as a homeowner you, too, will be relatively insulated from price swings as compared to the rest of the city. Andersonville sellers, too, are better off than many in this declining market. Even if you bought your home just a couple years ago, chances are it is still worth around what you paid for it, or maybe a little less. And if you’ve owned it for five years or more, you’re probably ahead of the game.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Andersonville's Midsommarfest: Proof that summer actually exists

filed under: Andersonville posted on June 15th, 2009

IMG_1877After an impossibly chilly, rainy and otherwise dreary June, the sun finally came out this weekend for Midsommarfest, Andersonville’s annual street fair. Thousands of people turned out to roam Clark Street, buying trinkets ranging from $100 handmade silver necklaces to 25-cent temporary tattoos. There was eating, there was drinking, and there was much dancing, as about 50 bands played over the course of the weekend. Retro ’80s anthems — think Bon Jovi — seemed especially popular this year, and one ’80s cover band, Sixteen Candles, even closed their set Saturday night with a rousing rendition of Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night.” Picture 300 semi-drunk people, all apparently over the age of 30, wearing their sunglasses as they chanted along.

By Sunday, the weather was even better, and the crowd swelled with families and children and dogs and couples and clusters of friends sharing six-packs of Miller Lite that they smuggled in, a lovely mix of gay and straight people so unique to Andersonville (and parts of Lakeview.) A good time was had by all, and the $5 donations collected at the door go to support the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce.

Written by Sue Fox // 1 Comment »

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