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Gorgeous vintage 2-BR condo in Edgewater for $229,000

filed under: Buyers, Edgewater, First-time buyers posted on March 5th, 2011

VINTAGE

A VINTAGE VISION: This bright corner sunroom features beautiful oak woodwork and a new slate floor.

It’s rare to find a vintage condo in perfect condition these days, exquisitely restored to accentuate its charm and yet updated for modern living. But I just listed one of these historic Arts and Crafts beauties in Edgewater, at a very reasonable price!

This 2-bedroom, 1-bath condo at 1355 W Rosemont Ave. has gorgeous original woodwork and crown molding throughout, along with oak floors and a working fireplace flanked by built-in bookshelves. It’s a corner unit, so it gets a lot of light from both northern and western exposures.

In addition to a warm living room anchored by the fireplace, there is a large formal dining room and a sunroom with new slate floors. I sold this condo to its current owners five years ago, and they have lovingly restored it, renovating the kitchen with new stainless steel appliances, a farmhouse sink and granite counters and painting every room in historic hues of paint meant to bring out the lovely wood trim.

You can check out more photos here. The condo is priced at $229,000 and it’s close to the Red Line, shopping and the lake. Please call me at 773-816-1788 if you’d like to see it.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Lovely Edgewater houses for under $500,000

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Edgewater posted on November 8th, 2010

HISTORIC EDGEWATER:

HISTORIC EDGEWATER: This beautiful American four-square home, at 6329 N Hermitage, was listed at the end of September for $459,000. It boasts a total of six bedrooms. Maureen Barone of Coldwell Banker has the listing.

The decline in Chicago real estate prices does have its upside. For example, it’s now possible for buyers to afford a historic home in leafy, tree-lined Edgewater for less than $500,000.

And they aren’t all fixer-uppers. Many of these spacious houses are already in fine condition, with perhaps a bit of cosmetic work to do.

Consider 6329 N Hermitage, a rambling American four-square home built in 1903 that has four bedrooms on the second floor and two more upstairs in the attic. The lot is large by Chicago standards: 37.5 feet wide and an extra-long 162 feet deep. It looks fairly well-maintained and gets lots of light, and it features a large unfinished basement with high ceilings (a plus for those inclined to renovate.)

Other recent Edgewater offerings include 1413 W Hood, a 3-bedroom house with original oak trim throughout, refinished floors, a new kitchen and baths, and a six-year-old roof. Priced at $475,000, it’s been on the market less than a month.

There’s also 1619 W Bryn Mawr (which is closer to Andersonville), a cute 3-bedroom with a new kitchen, new baths, and a fully finished basement. It was listed for sale a month ago at $499,900.

These are charming houses in good locations at prices that were unthinkable even two years ago, when similar houses were selling for $600,000 and up. So if you are one of Chicago’s many condo owners who face a loss if you sell now, take heart! You will only gain when it comes time to buy your next home, especially if you’re moving up into a single-family house.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

How to get a Chicago condo FHA approved

filed under: Buyers, Edgewater, FHA loans posted on September 1st, 2010

NOW FHA-APPROVED IN EDGEWATER: My buyer Michael just closed on this new 2-bedroom, 2-bath

NOW FHA-APPROVED IN EDGEWATER: My buyer Michael just closed on this new 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo at 5876 N Ridge in Edgewater... thanks to FHA. With the help of Condo Approval Professionals, the condo building applied for FHA approval so that Michael -- and now others -- could use an FHA loan to buy a unit there. We closed yesterday!

These days, a lot of sellers and some condo associations have become interested in getting their condo building approved by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). That’s because FHA loans — which are insured by the government and require only a 3.5% down payment — have exploded in popularity, with more than a third of buyers now using them to purchase homes.

But in order to use an FHA loan to buy a condo, the entire condo building must be FHA approved. This is a somewhat laborious process that involves gathering up detailed paperwork to prove that the condo’s budget, reserves, collection of assessments, percentage of ownership and other factors all meet FHA’s rather stringent criteria. In Chicago, where many smaller condo buildings are self-managed, it may seem a confusing and overwhelming task for individual owners to put together an FHA application that stands a chance of being approved. Even larger buildings could often use a hand when it comes to FHA’s rules.

That is where an expert in securing FHA approvals can help. This spring, for example, I had a buyer named Michael who made an offer (which was accepted) to buy a newly-rehabbed 2-bedroom condo in Edgewater. But due to a combination of factors involving both the buyer and the building (he could only afford to put 5% down, and more than 10% of the building’s units were still owned by the developer) Michael wasn’t able to secure a conventional loan. He could use FHA, but then he was up against a major roadblock many Chicago condo buyers encounter: Most Chicago condos are not already FHA approved.

So we decided to see if, with the cooperation of the developer, we could get this 22-unit building approved. Wintrust Mortgage, Micheal’s lender, put us in touch with Steve Stenger of Condo Approval Professionals, LLC, a local company that specializes in getting FHA approval for condo buildings. And it worked!

Stenger worked hand in hand with the condo board to bring the building into FHA compliance, assembled the necessary package of documents, submitted everything to FHA and got the building approved in less than 30 days. And yesterday, Michael finally was able to close on his new condo.

“I think the key is really having someone with the ability to get it done, who knows what things need to be worked on to get the building into compliance,” Stenger said. “Some condo associations might try to do it on their own, but it’s difficult because there is a lot involved in terms of the budget, having the right insurance, looking at the declaration of bylaws. It’s not just ‘gather and submit.’ That’s why the FHA doesn’t want people to just pull documents together and send them off.”

Stenger, who has been in the business for 16 years, said he starts by “prequalifying” the building with a condo questionnaire and a budget review “to determine if they’re even eligible for FHA right out of the gate.” Sometimes, as was the case with Michael’s condo, the building isn’t in compliance — but could be, with a few changes. In this case, Stenger advised the board to collect some unpaid assessments (FHA won’t allow buildings with more than 15% of the units beyond 30 days delinquent in their assessments) and to use the condo reserves to cover some upcoming sewer repairs rather than levy a special assessment, which could also derail FHA approval.

“When I put that package together, I fully expect it’s going to be approved,” Stenger said.

Condo Approval Professionals doesn’t charge to prequalify a condo building, he added. But to work with the building and shepherd the whole FHA application package through, the fees are:

$500 – Building with 5 units or less; $750 – 6 to 10 unit building; $1500 – 11 to 20 unit building; $2000 – More than 20-unit building

In my opinion as a realtor who helps many condo buyers, it may be well worth the investment. Once a building is FHA approved, buyers can now use FHA loans to finance units there — which gives the building a huge competitive edge in a very sluggish market.

Steve Stenger of Condo Approval Professionals can be reached at (847) 293-2962.

Written by Sue Fox // 1 Comment »

Chicago home sales and prices drop nearly 20% in July

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Chicago home sales, Edgewater, Market conditions posted on August 27th, 2010

This 1-bedroom condo in Edgewater, a short sale, sold for $199,999 in July.

This 1-bedroom condo in Edgewater, a short sale, sold for $199,999 in July. It was originally priced at $325,000 in early 2008, but this loft-style development, built in a former ComEd substation, ran into financial trouble. By July, Chicago's median home price had fallen to $196,500.

Ouch. Once the tax credit expired, so did interest in buying homes. That’s the gist of the data released this week showing that home sales plunged in July, both in Chicago and nationwide.

Nationwide, the annual sales rate fell 25.5% in July over the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors. The numbers were a little better in Chicago, where July home sales (single-family houses and condos) slid 19.5%. There were only 1,589 sales last month, compared to 1,975 homes sold in July 2009.

All the foreclosures clogging the Chicago market also helped to yank down prices. Chicago’s median home price was $196,500 in July, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors. That’s a drop of 19.8% over last July, when the median price was $245,000.

Genie Birch, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors, said that the abrupt drop in July home sales “seems consistent with what Chicago realtors anticipated for the summer, as buyers on the fence moved up their purchases to earlier in the season in order to qualify for the federal tax credits then offered to move-up or first-time home buyers. While it still remains a great time to buy, buyers are guarded as they consider their own financial stability and job security in the current market, hindering many from making a purchase.”

Statewide, homes sales fared even worse but prices held up better than in the city. Sales were down 29.7% in July compared to last year, and the median home price in Illinois fell 4.3% to $160,000. Illinois has been one of the hardest-hit regions in terms of both unemployment and foreclosures.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Back to 2001 for Chicago home prices

filed under: Bungalows, Chicago home prices, Edgewater, Market conditions posted on June 10th, 2010

TIME WARP: This Edgewater bungalow, located at 1537 W Norwood, sold in October for $396,000. Back in 2001, three other houses sold on the same block at prices ranging from $358,000 to $375,000.

TIME WARP: This Edgewater bungalow, located at 1537 W Norwood Avenue, sold in October for $396,000. Back in 2001, three other houses sold on the same block of Norwood at prices ranging from $358,000 to $375,000.

Doesn’t it feel like wherever your money is invested, it hasn’t really grown over the last decade? Much like the stock market, the Chicago-area real estate market seems caught in rewind mode, with home prices now similar to what they were back in 2001.

It’s as if the boom, and the subsequent bust, never happened — that is, if you’ve owned property this whole time. If you were unfortunate enough to buy mid-decade at the top of the market, you may be out tens of thousands of dollars if you sell now. Recent data from the Case-Shiller Home Price Index shows that Chicago single-family home prices have plunged 29% from their peak in September 2006, while condo prices have dropped 26.3% from their high point in September 2007.

This means condo prices are now back to where they stood in the summer of 2001… before September 11th, when the Dow was hovering around 11,000 (it’s at 10,172 today) and Barack Obama was a little-known Illinois State Senator from the 13th District. Chicago’s single family home prices, meanwhile, are now back at spring 2002 levels.

As a Chicago homeowner, it’s hard not to get a little depressed. On the other hand, you’d probably be in the same boat if you’d skipped buying a house and invested your cash in the stock market instead.

But what about the next 10 years? Today’s buyers now have a chance to buy Chicago-area property at prices unseen for the last decade. Where will prices stand in 2020? Will we look back at 2010 as the bottom of the market, and spend the next 10 years griping that we should have bought then, when homes were affordable?

Written by Sue Fox // 4 Comments »

Chicago for sale: Great houses for under $500,000 in Lincoln Square

filed under: Andersonville, Buyers, Chicago home prices, Edgewater, Lincoln Square posted on May 11th, 2010

A HOUSE FOR THE PRICE OF A CONDO: This adorable turn-of-the-century home in the Bowmanville section of Lincoln Square is now priced at $389,000.

A HOUSE FOR THE PRICE OF A CONDO: This adorable turn-of-the-century home in the Bowmanville section of Lincoln Square is now priced at $389,000. Chris Sears of Keller Williams has the listing.

The buyer’s market lives on! Four years into Chicago’s real estate slump, I’m now seeing a handful of historic single-family homes, in generally good condition, on the market in desirable neighborhoods like Lincoln Square, Edgewater and even Andersonville for less than $500,000.

I have some new buyers looking in Lincoln Square, particularly the Bowmanville area north of Foster, between Damen and Western avenues. This is a sweet little pocket of century-old A-frame houses, many of them with porches out front and decks in the backyard.

There are several affordable 3-bedroom homes currently for sale there, including 2209 W Farragut, a handsome house with hardwood floors and an updated kitchen and bath, now priced at $389,000. This house has been on the market since the beginning of February, when it was priced at $435,000.

Then there is 2139 W Berwyn, a pretty Cape Cod house whose roof and mechanicals have been updated and interior has been renovated, including a full finished basement with a family room. Just to give you an idea of how much prices have fallen in recent years, this 3-bedroom home was listed at $589,000 in the summer of 2008. It’s been on and off the market since then, and is now priced at $459,000.

A few of the Lincoln Square houses look like they’ll require a good bit of work, such as 2575 W Argyle, a 4-bedroom house listed just under $400,000. But this house makes up for it with a huge 45 x 160-foot lot, which is 20 feet wider and 35 feet deeper than the standard Chicago lot.

With interest rates still hovering around the 5 to 5.25% mark, this a great time for buyers to take a step up from condo (or apartment) living and find an affordable house with the extra space, grassy yard and a garage that they’ve been missing. Just in time for a summer barbecue!

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

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.

The move-up theory: Why Chicago home sellers should be on the market now

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home sales, Edgewater, First-time buyers, Sellers, Tax credits posted on March 17th, 2010

MOVING ON UP, ANYONE?: This charming 4-bedroom Victorian in Edgewater could benefit from a wave of move-up buyers this spring. Now priced at $549,900, it's been on the market just under three months. Michael Wall of Baird & Warner has the listing.

MOVING ON UP, ANYONE?: This charming 4-bedroom Victorian in Edgewater could benefit from a wave of move-up buyers this spring. Now priced at $549,900, it's been on the market just under three months. Michael Hall of Baird & Warner has the listing.

It’s already March 17 — Happy St. Patrick’s Day! — which means Chicago’s spring home-buying season is well underway. And the market is truly bustling right now, with buyers out in droves, making offers and getting ready to close on their new homes.

The government’s first-time home buyer’s tax credit has done wonders for the Chicago housing market, but it expires in six weeks. And that’s exactly why anyone hoping to sell a home in 2010 ought to be hustling that property onto the market as soon as humanly possible.

It’s not just to take advantage of the wave of first-time buyers, who make up half of all buyers nationwide, by some estimates. Many buyers seeking the $8,000 tax credit (or earlier versions of the credit) have already found homes, and hundreds of thousands of them  have already closed. But that means that hundreds of thousands of home sellers are now free to go buy something else.

This what I call the move-up theory: When someone sells her $300,000 condo, for example, she is now free to go buy that $450,000 house. Which then frees up the next seller to go buy something else, and so on.

Of course, not every seller has the equity, or perhaps the desire, to buy a more expensive property. But once some people are able to sell, the market loosens up again, breaking the massive real estate logjam that has been strangling our market since 2007. Properties start changing hands again. Sales volume increases. We are already seeing this happening on a broad scale in Chicago.

So if you are considering selling this year, the time is NOW! Many of those move-up buyers are already out and about hunting for their next home, which could mean a healthy late spring/summer for mid-range home sales in the Chicago area.

Written by Sue Fox // 1 Comment »

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.