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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

LINKED

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.

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.

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.

Written by Sue Fox // Comments Off on Trick or treat? Fall buyers grab sweet deals

Chicago home prices and sales stabilize

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Chicago home sales, Lakeview, Market conditions posted on October 20th, 2011

A MEDIAN:

A ROOM WITH A VIEW: What can you get these days for $190,000, the median home sale price in Chicago? Try this 2-bedroom, 1-bath condo with parking in a Lakeview high-rise at 525 W Hawthorne. Located on the 28th floor with views of the lake and city, it sold in September for $190,000 after several price reductions.

The Illinois Assn.of Realtors released its latest data today, showing that Chicago home prices and sales both rose somewhat in September, compared to the same month a year ago. On the face of it, that’s good news. It seems that prices — and the number of homes changing hands — are finally starting to stabilize in Chicago.

There were 1,498 home sales (single family and condominiums) in September, up 6.8% from the previous year. Chicago’s  median home price rose 5.6%, from $180,000 to $190,000.

Okay, $190,000 is better than $180,000. But it’s much worse than $225,000, which is where Chicago’s median price stood just two years ago, or $268,600, where it was three years ago. Check out the dramatic decline — in both prices and sales — over the past four years in Chicago:

Median prices:

  • 2007: $267,750
  • 2008: $268,600
  • 2009: $225,000
  • 2010: $180,000
  • 2011: $190,000

September sales:

  • 2007: 2172 sales
  • 2008: 1816 sales
  • 2009: 1918 sales
  • 2010: 1403 sales
  • 2011: 1498 sales

So it’s a little premature to break out the hallelujah chorus. Even though things seem to be improving a bit, Chicago home prices are down 29% and sales have fallen 31% in just four years. The drop in sales volume was particularly steep in the autumn of 2010, after the federal tax credits for home buyers expired and demand dried up. Now Chicago’s market has recovered slightly from that abysmal season, giving us a pretty good idea of what the new normal looks like.

“September home sales in the city of Chicago show signs of stabilization, with an increase in the units sold for both single family and condominiums,” said Bob Floss, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors. “While interest rates remain historically low and prices compelling, we remain concerned about the overall economic stability of our marketplace with unemployment numbers and job creation still top of mind for so many buyers and homeowners, alike.”

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

A Chicago conundrum: Buyers hesitate while sellers balk

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Chicago home sales, Lakeview, Market conditions posted on October 12th, 2011

A LONG YEAR: This

A LONG YEAR: This 2-bedroom, 2-bath vintage top-floor unit in Wrigleyville spent a year on the market before it sold for $339,250 in September. In a typical pattern for many Chicago sellers, it was overpriced and then reduced (in this case, four times, starting at $409,000.) According to public records, the owners bought near the top of the market in 2006, paying $402,000. They endured roughly an $85,000 loss, if you include the closing costs and realtor fees. Many owners can't afford to stomach such numbers, so they decide not to sell.

This has been an odd and uncertain year for Chicago real estate. Deals are still getting done, but absolutely every element has to be in place in order to get to the closing table. As a realtor on the ground day in and day out, I have seen some strange standoffs unfolding this year, with both buyers and sellers hesitating at crucial moments and sometimes deciding to stay put. No wonder sales are so scarce!

Here is what I’m observing from buyers: There is little urgency. With mortgage rates hovering at a record low of 4% and home prices in the gutter, most would-be buyers realize this is a golden moment to buy a home. However, they are also somewhat casual about the opportunity, since from their perspective this has been going on for at least a couple years. Neither interest rates nor home prices seem to be in any danger of quickly shooting up, so what’s the hurry?

In the last few months, I have witnessed at least five buyers wade halfway into a deal, only to change their minds. I have had some buyers who are pretty sure they want to make an offer, only to reconsider and decide against it. Others look around for a couple months and then opt to keep renting for another year. I have even seen two buyers (neither of whom I was representing; in both cases I was the seller’s agent) who wrote up offers and then, for lack of a better word, freaked out. One went so far as to negotiate a price and then refused to sign the contract, while the other actually did sign the contract — and then a day later changed his mind. Under the attorney review period, he was still able to withdraw from the deal.

Things look mighty different, on the other hand, from the point of view of many sellers. I can’t tell you how many listing appointments I’ve gone on this year where — once I explained the recent comps and showed the owners what their home was likely to sell for — they suddenly realized just how bleak their situation was. I met with one lovely woman last week who exclaimed, “Oh my god, Sue! I knew the market was bad. But I had no idea how bad it was.”

Yes, it really is bad. As in, your home is probably worth 10-35% LESS than what you paid for it, depending on what year you bought it and where it is located. In real terms, this means that sellers who paid $330,000 in 2007 can’t even sell for $285,000. Sellers who bought for $230,000 in 2005 (and put $15,000 in upgrades) would likely have to list their condo for less than $200,000 to get a bite. Owners who paid $450,000 in 2005 sold the same place this year for $95,000 less. I just checked the comps for someone who paid more than $220,000 six years ago in a building where similar units are now selling for $100,000 to $160,000, depending on the condition.

It is routine for sellers to be faced with a diabolical choice such as: Do you want to stay in the cramped two-bedroom condo you have outgrown now that you have a new baby, or do you want to bring $50,000 to closing in order to pay off your lender and closing costs? Many, many people do not have the tens of thousands it would take to close the deal. So they stay put, they decide to rent out their place, they attempt a short sale with their lender, or they overprice their home and stick it on the market anyway, hoping someone out there will pay them not what it’s worth, but what they owe.

Thus, as the winter season approaches, we have a standoff. Many Chicago sellers desperately want to sell, but they simply can’t afford to lower their asking prices to the point where a buyer would be interested. Many buyers theoretically want to buy, but only if they find a place they adore at a price that can’t be beat.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Chicago foreclosure filings jump sharply

filed under: Buyers, Foreclosures, Lakeview, Market conditions posted on September 20th, 2011

A RARE GEM:

A RARE GEM: This luxury penthouse, in a brand-new building on Buckingham Place in Lakeview, slid into foreclosure after several years on the market at prices above $525,ooo. It finally sold in April for $450,000. Most Chicago foreclosures, however, aren't so grand.

Another wave of Chicago-area foreclosures may be ahead, according to recent data gathered by RealtyTrac. The number of homes that received notices of mortgage default in the metro area spiked 30% in August over the previous month.

Some 6,239 delinquent homeowners received notices — the first step in the foreclosure process — in Cook County and the surrounding areas (DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties). The vast majority of the troubled properties, however, were in Cook, the nation’s second-largest county. Foreclosure filings jumped 24% in Cook County.

I see plenty of foreclosures, and most of them need at least a little work (and some of them require a total rehab). Missing or broken kitchen appliances are routine, as are floors that need refinishing and walls that need repainting. Because many foreclosures have been vacant for months, there are frequently leaks that have damaged the floors or drywall (I have seen more than one foreclosed condo where the refrigerator had leaked onto the hardwood floor.)

But for homebuyers seeking a bargain — especially if they have a little cash to put into repairing the property — foreclosures can be a good opportunity. There are a lot of good deals out there right now, and mortgage interest rates are super low.

Chicago’s foreclosure crisis has been uneven, devastating some communities while barely touching others. Even in the more affluent neighborhoods like Lakeview, they tend to be clustered in certain buildings like 655 W Irving Park Road or 3660 N Lake Shore Drive. And in the poorer areas, such as South Shore, you’ll find some blocks — even blocks right by the lake — where it seems that every other house is a boarded-up foreclosure.

What’s harder to find is a single foreclosed property in the middle of an otherwise stable, desirable neighborhood. Those homes tend to sell quickly, especially if they are priced below market value, and they often attract multiple offers.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Chicago home sales up since last July

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Chicago home sales, Edgewater, First-time buyers, Lakeview, Market conditions posted on August 23rd, 2011

EDGEWATER

SLOW GOING IN EDGEWATER: Condo sales are faring better in more central neighborhoods with well-developed business districts like Lakeview and Lincoln Park. But further north in Edgewater, it's gotten increasingly tough to sell a condo. This 2-bedroom duplex-down condo on Balmoral Ave. is finally under contract after more than a year on the market. It is priced at $255,000 and does not include parking.

The latest Chicago housing data is out, covering the month of July, and it looks like both sales volume and prices have climbed slightly compared to last July. (But before you imagine a real estate rebound, remember that last summer Chicago home sales were in the gutter, once the federal tax credit for buyers expired. So things can only go up from there!)

Anyway, there were 1,655 home sales in the city of Chicago (single-family houses and condos) in July, an increase of 4.2% over the previous year. And the median home price in July 2011 was $210,000 — up 6.9% compared to the previous year.

“This is the first month, year-over-year, where we are without a federal tax credit and are encouraged by July’s sales, hopefully a positive outlook for the remainder of 2011,” said Mabel Guzman, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors. “There is an ongoing absorption of units throughout the city, specifically in the performance of the condo market over 2010, as well as compared to 2009.”

Some neighborhoods are obviously selling better than others. In Lakeview, for example, a popular area that is home to Wrigley Field and close to both the lake and downtown, there are now 260 condos for sale with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Another 64 of these condos are under contract (pending sale), and 122 have closed in the past three months. That’s a pretty good ratio in this market, with closed sales at roughly half the number of active listings. Condos in Lakeview, in other words, are selling.

Now consider Edgewater, another lakeside neighborhood just a couple miles north. There are 137 condos for sale right now that feature 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. Another 28 are under contract. But just 45 have closed in the past three months  — a much worse ratio than in Lakeview. The closed sales don’t even amount to a third of the number of active listings in Edgewater.

Unfortunately, I’ve been witnessing sluggish condo sales in other northern neighborhoods, like Lincoln Square, Andersonville and Uptown. With condo buyers scarce in 2011, many of them seem to be opting to live in areas that are closer to the Loop. For first-time home buyers (or anyone else with cash or good credit), this is an excellent time to snag a great deal in the most coveted, central parts of Chicago.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Chicago ranks #1 nationwide in foreclosures

filed under: Buyers, Foreclosures, Lakeview, Sellers posted on July 9th, 2011

CHICAGO, FORECLOSURE CAPITAL OF THE NATION:

CHICAGO, THE NEW FORECLOSURE CAPITAL: Unfortunately, Chicago now leads the nation in the number of foreclosed homes. This 3-bedroom, 3-bath foreclosed house in Lakeview, which was listed at $586,000 at the end of 2009, finally closed last April for $405,000.

The Chicago area now has the largest inventory of foreclosed homes in the nation, and these abandoned properties take longer to sell here than in most other cities.

With 118,776 homes that are either bank-owned or in the midst of being seized by lenders, Chicago ranks first in foreclosures among the 20 biggest metro areas, according to RealtyTrac, a company that compiles housing data. Even the cities that were hit hardest by the housing bust, such as Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, had tens of thousands fewer homes in foreclosure when the data was collected in May. Los Angeles, for example, was #2 with 86,745 foreclosed homes.

As a realtor who regularly shows homes throughout Chicago, particularly on the North side, I can testify that many of the foreclosures here are: 1) concentrated in poorer, less desirable neighborhoods with older housing stock 2) in lousy condition, often missing kitchen appliances or pockmarked by signs of neglect, such as water leaks and mold 3) if they are condos, located in buildings that may have other foreclosures, short sales, units not paying their assessments or financial problems that make lenders unlikely to give a buyer a mortgage there 4) owned by banks that are disorganized, unresponsive, and even idiotic in their approach to selling the home.

In a story today in the New York Times, the glut of Chicago foreclosures is also blamed on Illinois law that protects delinquent borrowers by requiring lenders to go to court to foreclose, creating a backlog of cases. Meanwhile, Attorney General Lisa Madigan is investigating banks’ “robo-signing” practices, involving the creation of  false loan documents.

Also slowing down the sale of distressed properties is the reluctance of banks to lose money. Banks will be banks, of course, and they don’t want to sell foreclosed homes for substantially less than what the borrower owed on the mortgage. (I also see this mindset slowing down and often thwarting short sales, which is why I generally discourage buyers from even pursuing them until the banks get their acts together.)

The bottom line is that Chicago and its suburbs, especially the poor neighborhoods, are full of foreclosures. Buying one requires lots of patience and the acceptance of more risk than you’d encounter in a normal sale. But there are still some good deals out there, and I have helped several of my buyers pursue foreclosed homes that they now happily own.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

The return of the 3% down loan

filed under: Buyers, FHA loans, First-time buyers, Lakeview, Market conditions, Mortgage Rates posted on March 15th, 2011

P_0_170349_07707614

A RARE STAMP OF APPROVAL: This is one of the few FHA-approved condo buildings in all of Lakeview. Located at 1048 W Byron, it just had a garden unit priced at $180,000 (a short sale) go under contract. The vast majority of Chicago condos, however, are not FHA-approved.

Good news for Chicago home buyers: Lenders are finally starting again to offer loans with minimal down payments. Guaranteed Rate, for example, announced this week that it can now do conventional loans (not FHA!) with 3% down, provided the borrower has a credit score of 680 or higher.

This is especially good news for condo buyers, who have been forced to turn to FHA in recent years for a low-down-payment loan… but in Chicago, FHA and condos are often a lousy fit.

The trouble is, many first-time buyers can’t scrape up much cash to buy their first home. Ever since the real estate downturn led lenders to dramatically tighten the purse-strings in 2008, many buyers have been told to come up with at least 10% down. For hundreds of thousands of people, the only alternative was to use an FHA loan, which requires just 3.5% down.

This was all (usually) well and good if you were buying a house. But many first-time buyers in Chicago want a condo, and the vast majority of Chicago condos are NOT currently FHA-approved. Making matters worse, the FHA changed its rules last year to make it even more cumbersome to get condo buildings approved.

But now, buyers with good credit can avoid the whole FHA bottleneck and choose whatever condo they like — and still only put 3% down. This is great news for sellers, too, since it will smooth the path for buyers who may be interested in their homes.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Vintage beauty in Lakeview: 2-BR condo for only $235K

filed under: Buyers, Lakeview posted on February 11th, 2011

LAKEVIEW LIFESTYLE: With a woodburning fireplace and original woodwork throughout, this spacious 2-bedroom condo just hit the market at $235,000.

LAKEVIEW LIFESTYLE: With a wood-burning fireplace and original woodwork throughout, this spacious 2-bedroom condo just hit the market at $235,000.

Check out my latest listing, a lovely 2-bedroom, 1-bath condo in the heart of east Lakeview, at the corner of Waveland and Pine Grove. It’s the ideal mix of vintage charm and modern upgrades, and it’s priced to sell at $235,000.

Located at 3702 N Pine Grove Ave., this condo is in a great neighborhood, about two blocks from the lake and half a mile to Wrigley Field. Right when you walk inside, you feel the warmth of the interior, which has beautiful wood trim and hardwood floors throughout. This property features a large living room with a wood-burning fireplace, a formal dining room, and an updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances. It comes with a private balcony as well as a rear deck, and the building has a roof deck as well.

You can see more photos here. It’s a lovely place, and unlike many vintage condos this one comes with a washer and dryer inside the unit.

Please call me at 773-816-1788 if you’d like to see this condo. At this price, it won’t last long!

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

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