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It’s over: After 7 years, buyer’s market in Chicago comes to an end

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Chicago home sales, Lincoln Park, Sellers posted on August 26th, 2013

MOVING

MOVING ON UP: With home inventory scarce and prices up 25% over last summer, buyers have lost their edge in the Chicago market. But sellers still must be mindful of the comps and price their homes accordingly. This 2-bedroom, 2-bath Lincoln Park condo sold rapidly, in 14 days, after the sellers dropped the price from $499,000 to $475,000.

For all the Chicago home buyers out there who were waiting for the bottom, it has arrived. In fact, we seem to have hit it sometime late last year, as the spring market here rebounded with a fury. Now, as the summer season winds down, we can clearly see that home prices are up substantially, inventory is still quite low, and Chicago real estate is selling more quickly than it has in many years.

What’s a buyer to do? First, it’s time to recognize that the market has fundamentally changed. No longer can you see a well-kept property in a desirable area like Lakeview or Lincoln Park or Bucktown, throw out a lowball offer and expect to get a deal. In most cases, you won’t even get a call back. The home will be gone, sold to another buyer, oftentimes in a matter of days at a price close to the asking price. This scenario, meanwhile, is spreading to other less-central, less-gentrified neighborhoods that aren’t considered as hot.

So, if you are a serious buyer, you must get your ducks in a row. Decide early on which neighborhoods you would like to live in, because you will need a disciplined focus — not just a general preference for “anywhere on the North side” or “somewhere near an L stop” — in order to  jump on good listings as soon as they hit the market. Get pre-approved for a loan if you need one, or prepare to provide proof of funds if you plan to pay cash. And then, get to know the current market.

For example, in June, Chicago home prices surged 17.5% when compared to the previous June, and sales were up 12.5%. The average time a home was on the market, meanwhile, fell 32.9% to just 51 days.

And the market only grew hotter as the summer wore on. By July, the median price was $250,000 — up 25% from the previous July when it was $200,000. Sales were up 31.1% over the past year. Average market time dropped to 48 days.

“The market is starting to come together, especially in the condo arena that was hard-hit across most areas of the city. That condos are moving at a strong pace now and prices are also increasing means that both buyers and sellers are feeling confident,” said Zeke Morris, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors.

As we head into the fall season, Chicago’s real estate market will inevitably slow down. The fall is a good time for potential buyers to start exploring the market, even though there won’t be a lot to choose from. There also won’t be as much competition from other buyers. You can go to open houses, check out some neighborhoods, get a sense of pricing.

My buyers who start their search in the fall or winter are the ones who are best prepared to find a good deal come spring, when sellers start to list their homes again. These buyers know the market quite well by that time, and they are ready to pounce when the right house comes along.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

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.

2012 home prices climb in most big cities, but not Chicago

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Foreclosures, Lincoln Park, Market conditions, Short sales posted on December 28th, 2012

A DAY

SOLD IN A DAY: This stately 5-bedroom Lincoln Park home, built in 2005, had languished on the market with a $1.8-million price tag in 2009. But it recently sold as a short sale for $910,000 after just one day on the market. Distress sales like this are relatively rare in Lincoln Park, one of the most desirable (and expensive) parts of the city.

Home prices have been falling — plunging, really — in Chicago for the better part of a decade now, declining about 30% since the city’s housing market peaked in 2006. But 2012 was supposed to be different. And for most of the year, it was.

Chicago prices finally stopped their downward slide and began to turn up, little by little, as the spring and summer buying season progressed. With inventory tight, many buyers found themselves competing for available homes, especially properties in good condition in coveted neighborhoods. Multiple offers became more common and homes sold more quickly than in previous years.

But a recent survey of home prices in 20 major U.S. cities — the monthly S&P/Case-Shiller report — shows that Chicago was one of only two cities where prices actually fell over the past year. The report (which covers the most recent data, through October 2012) found that Chicago home prices slipped 1.3% over the past year. The other city where prices fell, New York, saw a 1.2% decline.

Chicago prices also fell on a monthly basis, dropping 1.5% in October over September, the weakest result among all the cities surveyed.

So what’s ahead for our local real estate market? I read these numbers, which always vary slightly from those compiled by the Illinois Assn. of Realtors, as a sign of stability. Prices are pretty much flat over last year. But after years of large declines, this is a marked change in direction. The market has now reached a turning point. It’s no longer in free fall, but prices are not appreciating yet, either.

Is this what the bottom looks like? Probably, although we may bump along here for awhile longer before prices really start to climb.
A sustained recovery depends on strong employment in the Chicago area and a decline in the thousands of foreclosures seen annually here, both of which the city has yet to achieve.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Lincoln Park house prices fall, but condos hold their value

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Lincoln Park, Market conditions posted on February 10th, 2012

$400K OFF:

$460K OFF SALE: This 4-bedroom "majestic greystone" in Lincoln Park was priced at $1,550,000 when it hit the market last spring. Six price cuts later, it was being offered at $1,090,000 when it went under contract a month ago. Such steep discounting is no longer rare in Lincoln Park, where single-family house prices have dropped precipitously.

In many Chicago neighborhoods we’ve been seeing condo prices falling steadily, while the price of single-family houses has tended to hold up a little better. This is the case in places like Lincoln Square, Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park, West Ridge and Logan Square.

In Lakeview and North Center, which are two of the most popular North side neighborhoods, both condos and houses have held their value and prices have even slightly increased over the past two years.

But in Lincoln Park — another popular neighborhood, and one of Chicago’s most expensive — I’m seeing condo prices hold steady (with just a small 3.3% decline over two years) while single-family house prices have fallen steeply. The median single-family house price is now $1,280,000 in Lincoln Park, a 22.4% drop over two years earlier, when the median was $1,650,000.

This plunge suggests the difficulty of selling high-end houses in a time of uncertainly and austerity. In Chicago, only the Near North Side (home to Old Town, the Gold Coast, Streeterville and River North) now boasts higher single-family home prices than Lincoln Park, with a median price of $1.6 million. But that figure also reflects a major drop, down 25.6% in the last two years.

I think there could be something more at work, though. Maybe some luxury buyers are choosing the suburbs over the city? Over the past two years, single-family home prices have held relatively steady across much of the North Shore, including Wilmette, Winnetka and Glencoe.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Distress home sales creep into Lincoln Park

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Chicago home sales, Foreclosures, Lincoln Park, Short sales posted on December 12th, 2011

THE RICH GET POORER: This

THE RICH GET POORER: This 4000-square-foot mansion at 2461 N Geneva Terrace was built with "only the best materials and construction methods" and priced at $6.25 million in 2009. Almost three years later, it had fallen into foreclosure and was sold for $2,725,000. It was one of dozens of homes (mostly condos) sold as a foreclosure or short sale throughout Lincoln Park this year.

With so many foreclosed homes and short sales on the market, I’m sometimes contacted by home buyers hoping to scoop up a distressed property in one of Chicago’s most affluent neighborhoods. Trouble is, these areas have held their value better than most, and often there aren’t many foreclosures or short sales to choose from.

But in Lincoln Park, I have seen distress sales steadily rising over the last couple years — to the point that more than 1 in 8 condo sales in Lincoln Park in 2011 involved a foreclosure or short sale. So far, there have been 658 condo sales this year; 45 were short sales and 42 were foreclosures, meaning that 13.2% were distress sales. The majority of them involved homes that sold for $250,000 or less.

The bargains included 20 condos, all studios or one-bedroom units, that sold for $100,000 or less — a price range once virtually unheard of in Lincoln Park.

If you’re hoping to find a single-family house being sold under a financial cloud, however, your choices are fewer. Only 13 out of 135 Lincoln Park houses sold in 2011 were short sales or foreclosures. That’s less than 10%.

Most of these single-family houses sold for less than $1 million, but there were a handful of high-end luxury homes that also slid towards foreclosure. In some cases, it looks like a developer overestimated the market and got caught with a new home he/she couldn’t sell. At 2664 N Greenview, which the listing describes a 6-bedroom “designed mansion” built in 2008, the developer originally listed it for sale four years ago at $2.4 million. But as the market tanked, no buyer stepped forward, and the price was steadily chopped until the house finally sold this June (as a short sale) for $1.5 million.

Even a millionaire likes a bargain, after all. The most expensive distress sale in Lincoln Park was a new 15-room mansion at 2461 N Geneva Terrace “designed by a European architect for himself,” according to the listing, that sold in September for $2,725,000. Apparently the European architect couldn’t afford the grand home, which hit the market in early 2009 with a $6.25 million price tag. By 2010, it was being marketed as a short sale, and it eventually was seized by the bank and sold as a foreclosure.

It was still one of the most expensive homes sold in Lincoln Park this year.

Please see my other blog posts at www.hometochicago.com

Written by Sue Fox // 1 Comment »

Chicago condos (and houses) for under $200,000

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Downtown, Edgewater, First-time buyers, Irving Park, Lincoln Park, Loop, Market conditions posted on November 25th, 2011

LOOP:

THE LOOP WITHIN REACH: There are dozens of 1-bedroom condos for sale in the Loop at prices below $200,000. This one, located across from Grant Park at 888 S Michigan #902, features an updated kitchen and a large bedroom. It is priced at $195,000 and does not include parking.

Most homes that are sold in Chicago sell for less than $200,000. While that figure may seem surprisingly low, $200,000 actually goes a long way these days. As we head into the 2012 home-buying season, I thought a brief survey of the market in some North side neighborhoods might help answer the question: What can you get for $200,000 or less?

Loop: The great glut of downtown condo buildings has made buying a home in the Loop quite affordable. The supply is abundant here — even at the low end of the market — with 114 condos for sale for under $200,000. In some buildings, like 800 S Wells, there are several units priced under $100,000! Closer to the $200K mark, you’ll find plenty of newer 1-bedrooms in full-amenity buildings, along with a fair amount of shorts sales and foreclosures to choose from. At 208 W Washington, for instance, there’s a 1-bedroom unit on the 21st floor that boasts a balcony, a large 18×12 bedroom, and a den — all for $184,900. It’s a short sale.

Lincoln Park: This is one of the most popular, and most expensive, areas of the entire city. But you can still afford to buy here on a $200K budget. There are currently more than 70 condos for sale for $200,000 or less — many of them studios or 1-bedrooms in the high-rise buildings clustered along Clark or Lincoln Park West. A corner 1-bedroom condo at 1850 N Clark #901 with unobstructed view of Lincoln Park, the lake and the city, for example, is now priced at $199,000 after nearly a year on the market. Parking is available for $150 per month.

Edgewater: If you live in Lakeview or further south, Edgewater may not be on your radar. It’s one of Chicago’s northernmost neighborhoods, nestled right beside the lake, with plenty of trees and parks and low-rise vintage buildings where neighbors stop to chat as they walk their dogs. There are also dozens of high rises along Sheridan that boast lake views as blue as any you’ll find downtown (but with a lot more space for the money.) Edgewater has been hit especially hard by the downturn, and there are now more than 300 condos for sale for less than $200,000. This is the place to go if you’re looking for a 2-bedroom and even a second bath. Examples include 5823 N Ravenswood #116, a 2-bedroom/2-bath loft with a large eat-in kitchen and a separate dining room. Garage parking is included in the $189,000 price.

APRK

A HOUSE ON THE CHEAP: This 4-bedroom Irving Park house was priced at $339,000 when it hit the market in May. The seller must have quickly wised up to Chicago's new real estate reality, because the house is now a mere $190,000.

Irving Park: If you venture a few miles west of the lake, housing prices drop to the point that you can buy a house for what a small condo would cost in Lakeview. That means that in Irving Park (and many of the “Park” neighborhoods like Albany Park, Portage Park, Jefferson Park etc.), you can find a tidy 3-bedroom bungalow, ranch house, or even a turn-of-the-century Victorian or Dutch colonial for less than $200,000. I’m not kidding. There are dozens of homes out there like 4114 N Central Park Ave., a rambling 4-bedroom Dutch colonial built in 1907, now for sale at $190,000. Many of these houses need at least some cosmetic updating, but they are affordable options for anyone who’s ever wanted a house of their own, complete with a backyard and garage.

Sauganash: Located in the far northwest corner of Chicago, Sauganash is a lovely, leafy community, almost suburban in its placid beauty. It’s relatively pricey, with many single-family houses going for $400,000 and up. There are still a few bargains to be had here for under $200K, however, including two 2-bedroom townhomes and several condos, most of them located in the same building at Cicero and Peterson (just off the Edens expressway and above the Whole Foods grocery store.)

In sum, there are hundreds of great deals out there right now at low prices — lower, in many cases, than it would cost you to rent a similar home. Happy house-hunting, and please call me at 773-816-1788 if you need any help!

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Looking for a Lincoln Park townhome? Plenty of 3-bedroom condos for under $500,000

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Lincoln Park, Market conditions, Townhomes posted on November 12th, 2011

LINC

ON THE MARK IN LINCOLN PARK: Weak demand has pushed down prices in some of the hottest areas of Chicago. After almost six months on the market, this sleek 3-bedroom Lincoln Park condo has been marked down more than $100,000. Located at 2639 N Sheffield #2, it features a gourmet kitchen, luxury baths, a separate dining ro0m and garage parking -- now for $469,000. Oanh Vo-Liu of Keller Williams has the listing.

Lincoln Park is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Chicago, with such prime real estate that many buyers assume they can’t afford it and begin their search in Lakeview or North Center instead. But recently, prices have fallen to the extent that there are now more than 60 Lincoln Park condos with at least 3 bedrooms available for less than $500,000. Most of them are townhomes or duplex units.

I was just searching for 3-bedroom condos in Lincoln Park, and came across several that have been on the market for more than a year — taking steep price cuts in the meantime. Like 2743 N Wolcott #43, a modern townhouse with a full finished basement and attached garage.  Listed for sale a year and a half ago, at $535,000, it is now priced at a much more reasonable $439,900.

Or 1956 N Burling St, Unit B, which has been on the market for 539 days. The price tag for this townhouse, which has a 28-foot private rooftop deck and two wo0d-burning fireplaces, went from $525,000 to $449,000. Many others have been sitting on the market for at least six months, enduring price drops of $75,000 to $100,000.

If you’re looking for a townhouse or condo in Lincoln Park, now is the time to strike. There are some great deals out there this fall, and not enough buyers to absorb them. The imbalance between supply and demand has pushed prices down, to the point where we’re now seeing fabulous, renovated units like 2639 N Sheffield #2, an extra-wide 3-bedroom, 2-bath with garage parking, for just $469,000. This simplex condo is packed with features that today’s buyers want, like a gourmet eat-in kitchen with cherry cabinets, a master suite with a marble bath, separate shower and double vanity, high ceilings, lots of windows,  a balcony and a back deck.

It’s been on the market since June, when it was priced at $574,900.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Chicago sales above $5 million? Count them on your fingers

filed under: Chicago home prices, Chicago home sales, Downtown, Gold Coast, Lincoln Park posted on September 16th, 2011

THE TOAST OF THE COAST: This Gold Coast mansion, located at 25

THE TOAST OF THE COAST: This 18-room Gold Coast mansion, located at 25 E Banks Street, finally sold for $6.8 million last October -- about half its original asking price. It was one of only three single-family houses to sell for more than $5 million in Chicago during the past 12 months.

When it comes to truly high-end real estate, Chicago is worlds away from New York. While the Big Apple has dozens of properties that sell for multiple millions, it’s exceedingly rare to find homes in the Windy City that close for $5 million or more.

How rare? Over the past year, only three single-family homes in the entire city of Chicago have sold for upwards of $5 million, according to  Midwest Real Estate Data LLC. Another five houses went for $4 million to $5 million. The most expensive Chicago house to sell was 25 Banks Street, a 13,500-square foot Gold Coast mansion built in 1880. Located a block from the lake, it boasted 8 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a media room, a wine vault, staff quarters with a separate entrance, and a rooftop terrace. But even this grandeur came at a bargain price: $6.8 million, about half its original price tag of $13.5 million after more than three years on the market.

Of course, there were also seven Chicago condos that sold for upwards of $5 million over the past year. With the exception of one, they were all at the Elysian, the new luxury building located at 11 E Walton Street. (The other was a top-floor penthouse located above the Four Seasons Hotel at 132 E Delaware Place.) At $8.6 million, the priciest condo cost more than the most expensive house — and both were cash deals, as were the majority of all the $5 million-and-up sales. Hmmmm, I was just wondering what to do with that $5 million just sitting in my bank account…

In any case, multi-million dollar sales of any sort are a rare breed in Chicago. There were only 50 single-family houses and 75 condos that sold for $2 million or more citywide (mainly in the Gold Coast, Streeterville or Lincoln Park) over the past year. On the North Shore, moreover, there were 86 homes that sold for over $2 million, but only six that fetched more than $5 million.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Condo & townhome prices up in Lincoln Park

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Lincoln Park, Townhomes posted on July 5th, 2011

A SPARK IN LINCOLN PARK: Some Chicago areas are still hot, even in this punishing market and some

A SPARK IN LINCOLN PARK: Some Chicago areas are still hot, even in this punishing market, and some are not. Lincoln Park, one of the city's most popular and wealthy neighborhoods, has held its value. Condo and townhome prices have surged 14.2% here during the past two years. This 3-bedroom townhome at The Pointe, for instance, sold for $710,000 this spring.

Buyers often ask me for advice about a key question: Is it better to buy a smaller place in a nicer neighborhood, or a bigger home in a slightly less-desirable area? Real estate always involves a series of trade-offs (regarding price, location, size of the home, age of the home, amenities, school district, etc. etc. etc.) but this Location Vs. Size debate is one of the central decisions that buyers must make. In other words, is it a better investment to buy a 2-bedroom condo in, say, a stable, affluent area like Lincoln Park… or maybe a 3-bedroom condo a little further north, perhaps in Uptown or Edgewater?

These days, my vote would have to go with Location. That’s because we are now in Year 5 of a brutal and unrelenting real estate downturn, and I’ve watched homes in many fine North Side neighborhoods lose their value as buyers increasingly turned away from up-and-coming, less central areas in favor of those that were already quite popular. A bird in the hand is probably worth at least five in the bush in these uncertain times, and if you buy in an established, thriving community like Lincoln Park, you will likely come out ahead no matter what.

Consider the prices of condos and townhomes in Lincoln Park over the past two years. While other Chicago communities (and the city as a whole) saw home prices drop, the median sale price for Lincoln Park condos and townhomes increased 14.2% since June 2009, according to MLS data. And the climb has been relatively steady. Two years ago, the median sale price was $530,000. A year later, it was $557,500. And this June, it had jumped to $605,000.

Chicago home buyers are voting with their feet. Every day, they are choosing where to invest, live, and raise families — and they aren’t in a mood to gamble on a neighborhood that seems to be struggling or battered by foreclosures or lacking a strong commercial center or too far from the action. Lately I’m seeing more buyers opting for places like Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bucktown, and the Gold Coast over areas like Logan Square, Irving Park, Albany Park, Uptown, Edgewater and Rogers Park — even if it means less space.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Back to 2002 for Chicago home prices

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Lincoln Park, Market conditions, Sellers posted on February 25th, 2011

SOLD AT LAST

SOLD AT LAST: This 3-bedroom house on Wrightwood Ave. in Lincoln Park closed this week for $625,000. The sellers had been trying to unload it since the summer of 2008, when it was priced just shy of $1 million. But Chicago home prices have now fallen so far, they are back to 2002 levels.

Chicago home prices slipped again in December, capping another dismal year for the Chicago real estate market. According to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, average home prices in Chicago fell 7.4% in 2010. This is even worse than the 7.2% drop in 2009 (but not as bad as the 14.3% plunge in 2008.)

As a whole, the 20-city index has fallen 31.2% from its peak, according to data released this week. Average home prices in Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, and Las Vegas are now below what they were 11 years ago. Robert Shiller, the Yale economist who co-founded the index, said this week that he sees “substantial risk” that home prices will continue to fall — which would put Chicago (along with Dallas, Charlotte and Minneapolis) there, too. In Chicago, the home price index is already back to its March 2002 level.

Chicago condo prices, which until now have remained one of the brighter spots in our market, fared even worse in 2010.  Condo prices fell nearly 12% citywide, substantially worse than the 8.7% decline in 2009 and the 7.3% drop the year before. The condo index has sunken back to its July 2001 level, making this a lost decade for Chicago condo prices.

But not everyone is lamenting. This is a fantastic time to be a buyer, obviously (if you have cash or can qualify for a loan!) Home buyers have their pick of some very choice Chicago real estate at what are now basically the lowest prices seen in a decade.

I’ve noticed that inventory is down, however — probably because so many home owners can’t stomach the idea of selling at these prices. Fewer people are listing their homes for sale than in recent years. Last week, for example, there were only 1,120 property listings in Chicago, compared to 1,552 a year ago. That’s a significant drop — 28% fewer listings in just one year. The decline means buyers have fewer properties to choose from, so the popular ones may actually attract multiple offers.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

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