Research substantiates that light can affect mental state for the better — a necessity with Chicago’s bleary March weather. So look for a home that can provide a little extra sunshine. “Rooms that don’t get a lot of light can feel smaller than they are and depressing,” notes Coldwell Banker broker Jennifer Ames (call 773-908-3632). That explains why real estate brokers routinely turn on every light in a place before they show it — even at high noon. “People want bright, airy spaces and light increases that impression,” notes Ames.
Competition is stiff in the real estate world right now, as buyers — ostensibly tired of rising rents — fueled a 37 percent jump in local home sales in January, according to listing service Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED). And supply was low to begin with. “The number of existing homes for sale in the Chicago area fell more than 36 percent last year to its lowest point since the height of the market in 2006,” says MRED CEO Russ Bergeron. Many buyers, used to getting their way with sellers these past few years, “want it all,” says Prudential Rubloff broker Annie Holowatyj (left, call 773-572-6522). “Everything has to be done and the home has to be pristine.” No wonder her listing at 2451 N. Ashland (above), an outstanding soup-to-nuts rehab of an 1887A-frame, sold in just one day when it went on the market last month for $700,000. But one thing that hasn’t gotten any easier is the financing process — so the 2,800-square-foot, four-bed, 3.5-bath house just came back on the market for the same price. According to Holowatyj, the builder, Walter Boitchouk of WB Construction, is a 20-year industry veteran with a very specific aesthetic. “He likes…
News that Chicago-area home sales surged 37 percent in January suggests it might be wise to buy before prices rise any higher. For those still on the fence about making a long-term commitment (but longing for a single-family home) consider a townhome. It offers the privacy of multilevel living, outdoor space, lower price points and — in most cases — available parking spaces.
South Loop real estate is on a roll. According to Midwest Real Estate Data’s BrokerMetrics, median home prices in the neighborhood gained 1.1 percent last year, and its 2011 average of 24.2 months on the market for each listing fell to 7.6 months in 2012 — a 69 percent drop. The new year has started with a bang as well: Listing time on the market dropped to 3.5 months in January. In fact, developer Related Midwest is reporting 40 new contracts on three Museum Park condo towers that the company rebooted just two weeks ago.
Making the most of a small space — or “microliving” — is on the rise among Chicagoans who want to live simply and stylishly in popular neighborhoods. In the past two years, 31-year-old real estate minimogul Jay Michael of FLATSChicago and his two business partners have embraced the trend, buying up old buildings in Andersonville, Edgewater, Lincoln Square and Uptown, then remaking the run-down properties into thousands of chic apartments for the young and upwardly mobile. This unit in the Edgewater building, dubbed No. 5718 ($1,000/month; rents vary based on unit and building), makes its debut at the beginning of March, and — thanks to some help from the design team at Chicago-based CB2 (which will offer all FLATS residents 10 percent off of their purchases) — demonstrates just how fabulous 400 square feet can be.
Classic bungalows are a Chicago staple — and an affordable housing option. If you’re looking for a home with comfort, quality construction and decent square footage — minus the high price tag — consider a classic bungalow. Combining thoughtful design, sound construction and affordability, the American version of this home flourished in the early 20th century, and remains a great value today — especially in Chicago. Our city is a bungalow bastion thanks to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who lionized the dwelling in 2000 with his Historic Chicago Bungalow Initiative, which is still in place to help spur sensitive restorations of the structures.
New data from RealtyTrac shows that foreclosures were up 30 percent in Chicago last year, but one sector of the market is doing better than ever: high-end homes. According to Midwest Real Estate Data, the 2012 sales of million-dollar-plus places totaled 1,529 — up nearly 15 percent from 2011 and hitting their highest level since 2008. And for good reason: “There’s a pent-up demand, and the supply of luxury properties is so tight that great places go fast,” says Prudential Rubloff broker Janet Owen (call 312-268-0700). Owen just listed 1866 N. Howe, an 11,000-square-foot, six-bedroom, five full-bath, three half-bath, four-car-garage house with four terraces for $10 million — and is already reporting back-to-back showings for the place.
Real estate megasite Redfin’s annual list of the nation’s hottest neighborhoods — an analysis of 10,000 active homebuyers and 130,000 listings in 16 national markets — turned up a top 10 that included eight California communities, one in Seattle and our very own Logan Square. Furniture designer, @properties broker and 25-year Logan Square resident Joaquin Calle isn’t surprised. “It’s an incredible melting pot of cultures, places, restaurants and retailers that just keeps getting better.”
It’s easy to see why Chicago’s Rogers Park was a hub for the upper crust in earlier decades. The area sports elegant vintage housing, parks and greenery, access to public transit, dozens of restaurants, proximity to some of the best beaches in the city, up-and-coming schools and Loyola University, which has a huge stake in keeping the community safe, clean and running smoothly. The affluent residents’ influence shows in the area’s architecturally significant structures with larger lots and more square footage than comparable properties in other parts of the city.
Forget Wicker Park and Logan Square — Avondale is the hot new West Side neighborhood. With hip heavyweight ‘hoods next door, close proximity to the highway, lots of shopping and reasonably priced housing, Avondale — recently named “Neighborhood of the Year” by Curbed.com — has the best of all worlds. The boot-shaped, on-the-rise area is bordered by the North Branch of the Chicago River, Addison Street, Pulaski Road, the Union Pacific/Northwest rail line and Diversey Avenue. “You can head a few blocks south or east to the well-established shops, eateries and watering holes in Logan Square and Roscoe Village, get downtown in 10 minutes and properties average about 25 to 30 percent less here,” notes longtime resident and @properties broker Patrick Schell (773-960-6940).