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Chicago home prices & sales skyrocket in May

filed under: Andersonville, Bucktown, Buyers, Chicago home prices, Chicago home sales, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Loop, Market conditions, Sellers posted on June 24th, 2013

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GOING FAST: Like many homes in desirable Chicago neighborhoods, this Lincoln Square house sold in less than a week. With 3 bedrooms, 3 baths and a finished basement, it went for $555,000 -- less than $5,000 off the asking price -- and closed in May.

It’s getting hot out there! In the space of just a couple months, Chicago’s housing market has gone from listless to galloping — at least in many of the most popular Chicago neighborhoods such as the Loop, River North, Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Lakeview, Lincoln Square and Andersonville. The latest sales figures from the Illinois Assn. of Realtors just came out, showing that home prices in Chicago jumped 17% between May 2012 and May 2013.

Home sales — the number of properties trading hands — were even stronger, soaring 30% over last spring. In May 2012 there were 2,125 homes sold in Chicago, compared with 2,762 sales last month. Properties are also selling much faster; the average market time in Chicago is now less than two months.

If you’re thinking of buying a home this year or even next spring, it’s time to get serious about the search, because there isn’t much for sale and the best properties sell very quickly. “What is going on with this market?” I had a buyer ask me yesterday. “If I see something I like online, within a day or two it’s already gone.” Yep, that’s now the case in many hot neighborhoods. In Andersonville alone, I’ve been involved in three transactions in the last month where the home sold for list price or slightly under (1 to 2% less) within a week of hitting the market. And in one case in Lakeview, I had a buyer offer a bit more the asking price because we knew the home would attract multiple offers (it did, but my buyer won out.)

There is a supply problem right now in Chicago: not enough homes are being listed for sale, especially in the areas buyers prefer. In order to compete, buyers must be pre-approved for a loan (or, even better, pay cash) and be ready to jump on new listings as soon as they hit the market.

And sellers? Well, you are certainly better off now than you were a year ago. Your home will likely sell fester, and for more money, than it would have last summer. But keep in mind that prices citywide are still much lower than they were in 2006 and 2007. Still, Chicago sellers now have a good chance of attracting a buyer (or even multiple buyers) if they stage their home properly and price it fairly. Let me know if you need help!

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Luxury homes resist price cuts in Bucktown & Wicker Park

filed under: Bucktown, Buyers, Chicago home prices, Wicker Park posted on September 13th, 2011

$400K OFF SALE! This

$650K OFF SALE! This Wicker Park 4-bedroom home, completely renovated with "absolute top of the line everything," was originally priced at $1,850,000 when it hit the market last summer. But by April, the sellers had seen the light, reducing the price to $1,350,000. It closed in June for $1,200,000 -- a $650,000 reduction off the initial price.

There are 28 houses, many of them new construction, currently for sale at prices above $1 million in Bucktown, Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village. But despite many months — sometimes more than a year — on the market, the majority of these sellers seem reluctant to lower their prices. Some are surely developers who built spec houses and now don’t want to face the fact that the depressed market has sliced deeply into their hoped-for profits.

Only 13 of the 28 have cut their prices, a ratio far less than the local average. Two-thirds of home sellers in Illinois reduce their asking prices, according to data collected by the Illinois Assn. of Realtors. Home sellers in Chicago, a region hit hard by foreclosures, typically post the largest price reductions in the state.

But at the top of the market in popular Bucktown and its neighboring areas, you’ll find houses like 2556 W Huron Street, a 4-bedroom renovated greystone for $1.3 million that’s been on the market for two and a half years without a price reduction. Or 2032 W Ohio Street, a 7000-square-foot mansion with 5 bedrooms, 20-foot ceilings and a huge roof deck, all spread over two city lots. It’s been stubbornly priced at $1,685,000 for a whole year.

Others are more recent listings, with no price reductions all summer and into the fall. Or there are homes like 1232 N Hoyne Avenue, a modern 6-bedroom with an elevator, two playrooms and a screening room, which has been priced at $1,699,000 for more than nine months (it did have one price cut before that, from $1,749,000.)

While I agree that Bucktown and Wicker Park are wonderful, hip places to live, it’s simply not realistic to leave these overpriced luxury homes languishing on the market. If they are not selling after months online, by definition they are priced too high. And over the past four months, only three of these million-plus houses have closed. Three out of 28… That’s a pretty low ratio.

So if you are shopping for a high-end house in Bucktown and its environs, I wouldn’t put too much stock in these lofty price tags. All three of the homes that actually sold, after all, went for $175,000 to $650,000 less than their original prices.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

The sweet spot for Bucktown condos

filed under: Bucktown, Buyers, Chicago home prices posted on July 27th, 2011

A TRUE LOFT IN BUCKTOWN:

A TRUE LOFT IN BUCKTOWN: This two-level loft in the heart of Bucktown illustrates why it makes sense to price your condo in the range where buyers are buying. Originally listed for $399,000 in March 2010, it sat on the market for eight months. By the following spring, the sellers had re-listed this 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo with garage parking at $349,900 -- the sweet spot for Bucktown condos. It sold within a month, and closed in April for $321,000.

These days, selling a Chicago condo is almost all about pricing. I was doing a search recently for some Bucktown buyers when I came across some interesting data for the neighborhood, suggesting that there is a sweet spot for Bucktown (and Wicker Park) condo pricing: between $300,000 and $350,000.

Over the past year, more condos in West Town (the MLS area that includes Bucktown, Wicker Park, and River West)¬† — 137 of them, to be exact — sold in this price range than at any other price point. Another 109 condos sold at prices between $350,000 and $400,000.

Since a total of 691 condos were sold here over the last 12 months, that means more than a third of them went for somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000.Why does this matter? Every property is different, of course, but the price distribution gives you a pretty good idea of the competition. In a relatively cool market, it helps to know that the hottest action is happening in the low $300s. If you want to sell in Bucktown or Wicker Park, it may make sense to price your condo at $349,000 and aim for a quick sale rather than starting at $400,000 and waiting for buyers to materialize.

Buyers are scarce these days, especially for big-ticket items. For example, only 80 condos sold for more than $500,000 in the past year in all of West Town. It makes sense; these days you can find a single-family house for that price in many desirable  Chicago neighborhoods.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Sweet interiors in Wicker Park and Bucktown townhomes

filed under: Bucktown, Buyers, Chicago home prices, Sellers, Townhomes, Wicker Park posted on June 20th, 2011

BUCKTOWN LUCK:

BUCKTOWN LUCK: This snazzy kitchen, burnished by $60,000 in upgrades including custom cabinetry and Brazilian granite countertops, was an eye-catching centerpiece of a Bucktown townhome. Priced at $669,000, it went under contract within just three weeks.

I have some clients looking for a townhome in the $700,000 range in Wicker Park, Bucktown, or Lincoln Park, and lately we have run across several impressive homes with a least three bedrooms, garage parking and a roof deck. Because Wicker Park and Bucktown tend to boast newer construction than other areas of the city closer to the lake, their selection of mid-range townhomes has been more attractive than that of, say, Lincoln Park, where many townhomes were built in the 1980s.

Take, for example, the 4-bedroom, 2-and-a-half bath townhouse at 1757 N Paulina, Unit O in the heart of Bucktown. Tucked away in a narrow courtyard off a nondescript street, these brick townhomes aren’t much to look at from the outside. (This is often the case with Chicago townhome developments; you’ll find an expanse of brick broken up by an occasional bay window jutting out, usually framed in metallic cladding or limestone as an accent. Nothing too exciting, generally, but once you step inside some homes rapidly distinguish themselves from the masses.)

Here on Paulina, the home immediately opens up into a soaring living room bathed in light, anchored by a dramatic floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. The kitchen –which has seen some $60,000 in upgrades — was truly beautiful, with custom Brookhaven cabinetry and white Brazilian granite. There was a huge island and room for a large table (or a built-in banquette, in this case.)

This elegant home was priced at $669,000 — and it’s not alone. We have seen several at this price point that are worth consideration, a welcome change from the lofty prices such upgraded homes used to command. There was a similar unit in this development that sold for $800,000 in 2008.

Even in this market, a lovely home in a good location that is well-priced is likely to sell. People still value beauty (and location). And while this Bucktown townhome wasn’t quite right for my buyers, it sold quickly — just three weeks after hitting the market.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.