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Chicago for sale: Lakeview townhouses from $400,000 to $700,000

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Lakeview, Market conditions posted on May 22nd, 2010

TOWNHOME, SWEET TOWNHOME: This 1600-square-foot townhouse at Fremont Place in Lakeview has a woodburning fireplace and newly refinished floors.

TOWNHOME, SWEET TOWNHOME: This 1600-square-foot townhouse at Fremont Place in Lakeview has a woodburning fireplace and newly refinished floors.

There are more than four dozen Lakeview townhouses with at least 3 bedrooms to choose from right now, a wide selection of homes ranging from the drab to the dazzling. There are even a handful of units priced in the low $300,00 range.

But for most buyers, a basic entry-level townhouse built on a narrow footprint (perhaps 14-feet wide), can be had for about $400,000 to $450,ooo in Lakeview. There are several homes for sale at Fremont Place, a courtyard development built in 1993 just south of Irving Park Road. For instance, 3910 N Fremont Unit A, priced at $439,000, is an end-unit 3 bedroom, 2 bath townhouse with a renovated kitchen and baths, a woodburning fireplace, two outdoor patios and garage parking. But at this price point, Lakeview townhomes are not huge; they are usually around 1600 to 1700 square feet and can feel a bit tight inside.

So what can a buyer expect in the $500,000 range? Basically, a larger, newer townhome with more amenities, such as a fourth floor, a roof deck and a two-car garage. Such is 2928 N Wood Unit D, which also features floor-to-ceiling windows, high ceilings, a double oven and breakfast bar, surround sound and a custom home theater on the fourth floor. It’s priced at $514,900, and a few others are also for sale in this 110-unit development built in 2001.

THE HIGH END: This highly upgraded townhouse on Surt Street, priced at $699,000, was already under contract within a month.

THE HIGH END: This highly upgraded townhouse on Surf Street, priced at $699,000, was already under contract within a month.

At the upper end of the Lakeview townhouse spectrum are highly upgraded units that live more like single-family homes. There are two units currently for sale at Columbia Place on Surf Street, next to a new city park. Listed at $699,000, 1727 W Surf Street is a 3 bedroom plus den, 2 and a half bath home with a gourmet kitchen and walk-in pantry, upgraded appliances, family room, separate living room and dining room, natural stone baths, surround sound, a roof deck, front yard and balcony, and an attached two-car garage.

If you’re wondering why buyers would choose an attached townhome when they could afford a single-family house, remember that Lakeview is one of Chicago’s most desirable neighborhoods (where a comparable single-family house would cost over $1 million). The townhome on Surf, which is located in the well-regarded Burley Elementary school district, is already under contract after just one month on the market.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Downtown Chicago condo logjam finally breaks

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home sales, Developments, Downtown, First-time buyers, Market conditions posted on May 18th, 2010

And now for some good news… After several years of sluggish sales, condos in downtown Chicago are finally selling at a healthy clip, according to a recent report.

Downtown Chicago condos finally start selling

Is it time to buy a condo in downtown Chicago? Buyers finally say yes.

Downtown builders sold 256 condos and townhomes in the first quarter of 2010, up from 148 in the previous quarter and just 55 in the same period a year ago, according to Appraisal Research Counselors, a real estate consulting firm. Just to be clear, that’s nearly five times as many condos sold as compared to a year ago!

Of course, this glut of unsold units didn’t just miraculously begin to mesmerize buyers. Chicago developers chopped tens of thousands of dollars — sometimes hundreds of thousands — off their prices to attract buyers.

“If you discount, they will come,” Gail Lissner, vice president at Appraisal Research, told Crain’s Chicago Business.

For example, at 565 W. Quincy St. in the West Loop, developer Belgravia Group Ltd. slashed prices on some units by as much as 30%, sparking dozens of sales. The 241-unit project sold 59 condos in the first quarter (a period that coincided with the $8,000 first-time home buyer’s tax credit.)

Other Chicago projects also relied heavily on price discounts to attract buyers, including those at 200 N. Dearborn St., 222 E. Pearson St., the R+D359 development in the West Loop and the 38-story Silver Tower in River North.

Still, Chicago developers are climbing out of a very deep hole (Chicago Spire, anyone?) Crain’s reports that developers sold only 572 condos and townhomes in 2009 and 592 in 2008, a tiny sliver of the 8,162 they sold at the peak in 2005.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

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.

A last-minute frenzy as buyer’s tax credit ends

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home sales, First-time buyers, Lincoln Square, Market conditions, Tax credits posted on May 2nd, 2010

SELLING LIKE HOTCAKES: My sellers sold this lovely 2-bedroom, 2.5 bath duplex in Lincoln Square in just 12 days. The buyer was a first-time buyer who signed the deal by April 30, in order to claim her $8,000 tax credit.

SELLING LIKE HOTCAKES: My sellers sold this lovely 2-bedroom, 2.5 bath duplex in Lincoln Square in just 12 days. The buyer was a first-timer who pushed to sign the deal by April 30, just in time to claim her $8,000 tax credit.

April 2010 was one of the busiest months I’ve ever seen as a realtor! Even though the government’s home buyer tax credits (in one form or another) have been in place for more than a year, there were plenty of Chicago home buyers who waited until the last minute to buy.

April 30 was the deadline for signing a home purchase contract; buyers now have until June 30 to close the deal.

I had four different buyers or sellers go under contract in the last 10 days of April alone. In one deal, the buyer made an offer on my seller’s Lincoln Square condo around 9 pm on April 29. Her realtor and I negotiated the deal until slightly after midnight, and everyone signed the contract the next morning… thereby just making the April 30 deadline. Whew!

Plenty of other real estate agents in my office, and across Chicago, witnessed the same eleventh-hour mania. Now hopefully we can all get the inspections, attorney review periods, and mortgage loans completed in time to close by June 30! Expect a similar frenzy at title companies in June as everyone piles in to close before the deadline.

We should see healthy home sales throughout the Chicago region for April, just like the 50% leap over the previous year we witnessed in March. But now that the government’s home-buying stimulus is a thing of the past, the question on everyone’s mind is… Now what?

Written by Sue Fox // 1 Comment »

Chicago home sales skyrocket 50% in March

filed under: Buyers, Chicago home prices, Chicago home sales, First-time buyers, Foreclosures, Lincoln Square, Market conditions, Tax credits posted on April 29th, 2010

The home buyer’s tax credit — which expires tomorrow — has certainly helped light a fire under Chicago home buyers. Home sales shot up again in March compared to March 2009, making this the seventh month in a row of year-over-year gains.

THREE YEARS NEW: After three years on the market, this new luxury home in Lincoln Square sold in March for $1.2 million. It was priced at nearly $1.6 million in 2007.

THREE YEARS NEW: After three years on the market, this new luxury home in Lincoln Square finally sold in March for $1.2 million. It was priced at nearly $1.6 million in 2007.

In the city of Chicago, March total home sales (single-family and condos) rose 49.7% to 1,814 sales compared to 1,212 sales a year ago, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors. For the entire first quarter, home sales were also up considerably, by 41.6% citywide.

But prices have continues to slip. Chicago’s median home price in March was $209,000, a 4.6% drop compared to $219,000 last year.

Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois, pointed to the latest figures as evidence of an “upward trend.” He told the Realtor’s association that “there is increasing evidence that the housing market is stabilizing; in many parts of the country sales have increased but prices remain stubborn. In places where there have been increases, they are modest; there is no doubt that the downward pressure on prices can be traced to the volume of distressed properties on the market.”

Meanwhile, foreclosures have continued to climb across Chicago and the metropolitan region. Nearly 3,500 Chicago homes went through a court-ordered auction in the first quarter, and 95% of them were acquired by the bank, according to a story in today’s Chicago Tribune.

This flood of bank-owned homes, which I’m now seeing popping up even in trendy neighborhoods like Lakeview and Lincoln Park, is depressing home prices across the board. But at last, homes are finally changing hands again at a healthy pace, and some stability is returning to our Chicago market.

Written by Sue Fox // 1 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 condo for the price of a car: 6148 N Ravenswood in West Ridge

filed under: Buyers, First-time buyers, Foreclosures, Rogers Park, West Ridge posted on March 27th, 2010

LIVE CHEAP: Imagine! A condo with a new kitchen for less than the price of, say, a new kitchen!

LIVE CHEAP: Imagine! A condo with a new kitchen for less than the price of, say, a new kitchen! Dave Gould of @properties has the listing.

Check out this new listing in West Ridge: A studio condo for $28,500. Which is less than some people pay for their cars!

So , what kind of a home can you buy on Chicago’s North Side for less than $30,000? A foreclosure, for one. This condo, located at 6148 N Ravenswood in West Ridge, is also a garden unit consisting of just two rooms: a 14×10 “living room,” which appears to double as the dining room and bedroom, and a 10×10 kitchen. It’s tiny, but hey, it’s still a condo.

The building is apparently in some financial trouble. Another foreclosed condo there, a  2-bedroom, 2-bath unit, just closed for $81,ooo.

The studio is a Fannie Mae Homepath property, meaning that a buyer could enjoy special financing terms such as putting just 3% down. (Which, in this case, would be under $1000.)

And if you act fast, you could even qualify for the first-time home buyer’s credit! This is normally $8,000, but that’s only for properties priced at $80,ooo or higher (pretty much everything on Chicago’s North Side.) But for cheaper homes, the tax credit would be equal to 10% of the purchase price.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.

Gold Coast on the auction block: 1400 N Lake Shore Drive

filed under: Buyers, Condo auctions, Developments, First-time buyers, Gold Coast, Short sales posted on March 19th, 2010

TARNISHED GOLD: After years of poor sales, the developerat 1400 N Lake Shore has decidedto auction 30 units at fire-sale prices.

TARNISHED GOLD: After years of poor sales, the developer at 1400 N Lake Shore has decided to auction off 30 units at fire-sale prices.

The pain is spreading. We’ve already seen developers resort to condo auctions downtown to finally rid themselves of unsold units, but now the fallout from Chicago’s condo implosion is spreading north to the Gold Coast.

The developer who converted a 391-unit apartment building at 1400 N. Lake Shore Drive into condos in 2006 just announced an April 25 auction to sell off 30 of the 80 remaining units. “People are going to get a great deal,” Robert Mosky, president of RDM Development & Investment LLC, told Crain’s Chicago Business. “It’s going to help out the building.”

Help out the building? Mosky said that bidding for studios — that once sold for $140,000 to $160,000 — will now begin at $50,000. One-bedroom condos will start at $90,000, a devastating reduction from the original prices of $250,000 to $270,000. This may be an attractive deal for new buyers who value the location, but these fire sale prices will hardly help out the rest of the building’s owners, many of whom are likely now underwater on their mortgages.

With Chicago condo sales sluggish (particularly downtown), some developers are turning to auctions as a last resort to jumpstart sales. It’s so hard to get a condo loan these days in buildings with many unsold units that auctions — where the financing is already lined up for potential buyers — can help get people in the door. Then, the hope is that other buyers will be able to qualify for conventional loans to buy the remaining units.

But at 1400 N Lake Shore, trouble has been brewing for months for many existing owners (see my Dec.16 post). There are now at least four condos being offered as short sales in the building, and many more for sale with price tags well above the planned auction prices.

Written by Sue Fox // Please leave a comment.