We Love Rooftop Decks: 1920 N. Seminary in Lincoln Park

This 3-bedroom at 1920 N. Seminary in Lincoln Park appears to have everything a buyer might be looking for in a condo unit.

Located in The Seminary Flatirons building, which the listing says is on the National Register of historic places, the unit has plenty of vintage character with 12-foot high ceilings, exposed brick and hardwood floors throughout.

It also has all the modern amenities such as central air, washer dryer in the unit, garage parking included and it’s within a few blocks of the brown line El stop.

All three bedrooms are on the second level. The third level houses the laundry room.

As an added bonus, it has the private rooftop deck with city views that many buyers crave.

Listed since August, it has now been reduced by $36,000.

Ken Jungwirth at Prudential Rubloff has the listing. See the pictures and virtual tour here.

See the property website here.

Unit #A: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1550 square feet

  • Sold in March 1993 for $236,000
  • Sold in February 2001 for $385,000
  • Originally listed in August 2009 for $575,000 (parking included)
  • Reduced twice
  • Currently listed for $539,000 (parking included)
  • Assessments of $312 a month
  • Taxes of $5767
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • Bedroom #1: 18×15
  • Bedroom #2: 14×14
  • Bedroom #3: 11×10

60 Responses to “We Love Rooftop Decks: 1920 N. Seminary in Lincoln Park”

  1. I like the character of this place. I would need it to be another 6-12 blocks east to pay this price.

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  2. AK49 – anothere 12 blocks east on a place that is 1100 W would put it in the middle of the farm in the zoo – That is a bit unrealistic

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  3. Room dimensions appear to be fudged; irregular rooms’ sizes much smaller than suggested by realtor’s printed dimensions. Unit is probably big enough for two people and a baby, period.

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  4. 1550 is not much square footage for 3 bed/2 bath — means you don’t have much common room. Especially when you spread it over 3 floors. If the 3 floors are the same size then just over 500 square feet per level and lots of stairs.

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  5. I agree Jon, though on the otherhand, 1550 is probably a pretty honest number as opposed to the places that promise “over 2000 sq. ft” and really only deliver about 1700.

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  6. “The Seminary Flatirons building, which the listing says is on the National Register of historic places”

    It’s not on the NRHP as the “Seminary Flatirons”, or as “1920 N Seminary”. It is within the Sheffield Historic District. If this is something one cares about, this is flat out deceptive.

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  7. anon – the building shows a pretty impressive plaque saying it’s on the Nation register. If they’re being deceptive, I’ll at least give them credit for pulling out all stops in so doing. : )

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  8. “the building shows a pretty impressive plaque saying it’s on the Nation register.”

    I looked in the database. There is no “Seminary Flatiron(s)” building; there is no “building at 1920 N Seminary”. It is within the district, so unless the plaque specifically sez that it is the *building* on the register (and identifies the building with a diff. name) , I would suspect it is noting it’s presence w/in the district. I’ve seen the “in the district” plaques elsewhere.

    And, if the realtor were serious about it, he’d capitalize it correctly. NRHP, each word capitalized.

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  9. Have you even seen the second picture? It has a plaque that says “The Seminary Flatiron Building … has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.” it must be a fake.

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  10. I can see an equally valid case being made for A) yet another government screw-up, in terms of their database records, and B) someone jumping the gun and putting the plaque up only to later find out the application got denied.

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  11. besides the supposed historic nature of this building, and the small square footage for a duplex.

    i think the lay out works well, and this is more of a two bedroom with nursery/den/office.
    I love, love, did i say love this place.
    and i hate the open kitchen fad but this place benifits from it. I dont like the full bath thing on the main common area level.

    i think this place deserves 5% off its asking price if not asking!

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  12. “Have you even seen the second picture? It has a plaque that says “The Seminary Flatiron Building’ … it must be a fake.”

    So, now you trust a condo developer?

    Look, I’ve checked and re-checked the NRHP database. There is NOTHING called Flatiron in Illinois on it; NOTHING on Seminary on it (Quigley Prep is the only mention of “Seminary” in Chicago) and NOTHING on Maud. I don’t give an f’ what some plaque sez, the database sez it isn’t true.

    It IS an “orange” building under the Chicago preservation ordinance–under 1913-1919 N Maud–along with the coachhouse at 1924 N Sheffied. As non-protectionist as the Chicago ordinance is, I doubt that a genuine NHRP property would be anythign other than “red”.

    Although it’s possible that the conversion to condos damaged its historic nature in some fundamental way. And then, it is quite possible that it was once on the register and has since been removed.

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  13. “I would need it to be another 6-12 blocks east to pay this price.”

    While I agree the price is too high (it’s the size of most 2Bed/2Ba units), I’d argue some people might view the location as superior to 6-12 blocks east. Blocks like Seminary, Clifton, Kenmore, etc put you within close walking distance of 3 grocery stores, clybourn retail, el, etc. And you get the benefits of being on a quiet tree-lined street and less congestion.

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  14. I trust the plaque.

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  15. “I trust the plaque.”

    Of course you do.

    Just b/c it’s me pointing out the bs of the plaque, right?

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  16. So, HD, if I slapped a “Historic Place” plaque on my house, you’d believe that, too? How ’bout if we started mounting them on every 4+1 on the northside? Cuz a plaque sez it it must be true, right?

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  17. 500 Sqft a floor? For 500k? NO thanks! Love the location though, that’s about as good as it gets for my tastes.

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  18. “500 Sqft a floor?”

    There’s a floorplan, folks. It’s not evenly divided. The bedroom floor is about 150 sf larger than the first floor and I’d have to guess* as to whether they are including the deck area in the 1550, but the guess would be no. The first floor is ~650, the second ~800, and the laundry/roof access/storage is ~100.

    *since I’m not printing it and doing a calc.

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  19. ok just did a quick calculation of the sq ft. it looks like the roof top deck is included.

    this is something that bothers me about listings is the inclusion of balconies, terraces, roof top decks.

    so when i list my house can in include the square footage of my yard and my deck?

    i still stand by my previous post and love this place and location. i am pro SFH but if i was “starting out” and looking to buy right now i would be living here for a good 6 years!

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  20. I went to an open house here. It is a nice place. My biggest issue was that the master bath isn’t attached to bedroom. The 3rd bedroom also has a lofted area for a bed, which I personally didn’t like. The roof deck is amazing and there is a little bar area just inside by the laundry area (which btw, is weird to have laundry on 3rd level. What a pain.)

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  21. I agree with MJ on the location’s desirability – you’re walking distance from the Armitage stop, the Clybourn Corridor shops, Halsted nightlife and a really, really first-rate park for kids, with Oz Park not being all that far away.

    Once you get east of Larrabee you are in clusterf*** territory central.

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  22. “There’s a floorplan, folks.”

    I guess since I was the first one to contend that there’s 500 SF per floor, I will take the blame. Anon, are you always so condescending? You can make a point without “folks” or “um” or implying superiority. You seem unhappy. Hopefully it’s just the weather. I stand by the fact that 1550 is small for a 3/2 regardless of the floor layouts.

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  23. ” if i was “starting out” and looking to buy right now ”

    Really? You (and I mean you specifically) would pay $500k for this?

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  24. anon(tfo) come on, you need a sense of humor. It’s like if I met you at a bar I don’t think you’d like me at first but once you got the hang of cynical and sarcastic and witty humor we’d actually get along quite well.

    But to answer your question, i don’t trust the database or the plaque. I trust the realtor who markets the property

    “anon (tfo) on October 9th, 2009 at 8:27 am

    “I trust the plaque.”

    Of course you do.

    Just b/c it’s me pointing out the bs of the plaque, right?
    #
    anon (tfo) on October 9th, 2009 at 8:32 am

    So, HD, if I slapped a “Historic Place” plaque on my house, you’d believe that, too? How ’bout if we started mounting them on every 4+1 on the northside? Cuz a plaque sez it it must be true, right?”

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  25. “You can make a point without “folks” or “um” or implying superiority.”

    Dude, I’m just being breezy–it’s a comment board on the internet. Not trying to imply anything.

    “You seem unhappy.”

    Is this intended to be ironic?

    “the fact that 1550 is small for a 3/2”

    Agreed.

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  26. “Really? You (and I mean you specifically) would pay $500k for this?”

    scary to say but, yes.

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  27. anon(tfo) come on, you need a sense of humor. It’s like if I met you at a bar I don’t think you’d like me at first but once you got the hang of cynical and sarcastic and witty humor we’d actually get along quite well.

    But to answer your question, i don’t trust the database or the plaque. I trust the realtor who is marketing the property.

    “anon (tfo) on October 9th, 2009 at 8:27 am

    “I trust the plaque.”

    Of course you do.

    Just b/c it’s me pointing out the bs of the plaque, right?
    #
    anon (tfo) on October 9th, 2009 at 8:32 am

    So, HD, if I slapped a “Historic Place” plaque on my house, you’d believe that, too? How ’bout if we started mounting them on every 4+1 on the northside? Cuz a plaque sez it it must be true, right?”

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  28. Sceptic,

    “first-rate park for kids, with Oz Park not being all that far away” – yes, but not the first-rate elementary school. This house is outside of the Lincoln Elementary boundaries.

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  29. “anon(tfo) come on, you need a sense of humor. It’s like if I met you at a bar I don’t think you’d like me at first but once you got the hang of cynical and sarcastic and witty humor we’d actually get along quite well. ”

    Sorry. As we all know, sarcasm doesn’t always translate well on the internet.

    “But to answer your question, i don’t trust the database or the plaque. I trust the realtor who markets the property”

    But of course!

    As a follow-up on the NRHP designation, I searched both of the addresses (Maud or Sheffield) generally and the ONLY reference to NRHP attached to either of them is THIS listing. Which I think supports that this building is not *currently* on the register, tho it is quite possible that it was before they condo-ized it–that does happen rather a lot that a reno of a once-designated building leads to the designation being pulled.

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  30. “but not the first-rate elementary school. This house is outside of the Lincoln Elementary boundaries.”

    How’s the Oscar Meyer Montessori program going? Any reports or rumors or speculation?

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  31. ““Really? You (and I mean you specifically) would pay $500k for this?”
    scary to say but, yes.”

    I know this contradicts everything i have said in the past
    500k seems steep for condo’s in my book, but my inner yuppie is calling me when i looked at the location, and my inner architect called me out for loving building, my inner woman saw the interior design potential, my inner have a cold one after work on the roof top deck called me out too.

    so i guess to say it would be more of an emotional purchase than logical.

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  32. anon (tfo)

    Personally I don’t like idea of Montesorri (I prefer structured activities for kids) and I am too obsessed with Lincoln Elementary, so we don’t even consider Oscar Mayer. I spoke with their representative at the CPS fair last week and they told me it’s not true Montessori program but “influenced by Montessori”, since it’s part of CPS and has to comply with the regulations and have some metrics/grades. I am not sure if it’s good or bad thing.

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  33. I’m with Groove – I love this place!

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  34. “it’s not true Montessori program but “influenced by Montessori”, since it’s part of CPS and has to comply with the regulations and have some metrics/grades.”

    I’ve read something about a Montessori charter school that will be a genuine Monatessori program with the test-related instruction tacked on so it’s a full 8-5 (or something) day. When you try to cram that back into the CPS 5.5 hour day, a lot is going to be lost, no matter how much you try.

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  35. You guys see this article about the FHA? Sorry if I’m a day late I think it was published yesterday.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/09/business/09fha.html?ref=business

    Some of this content is baffling, and not just the stats but the things people are saying. A few examples:

    ““They’re counting their pennies, scraping up that 3.5 percent,” Bonni Malone of Prudential Americana in Las Vegas said.”

    ““If I got unemployed, I’d be wiped out in a month or two,” he says….“I knew in my heart I could not really afford the house, but they gave it to me anyway,” said Mr. Fullenkamp, 22. “I thought, ‘Wow, I’m surprised I pulled that off.’ ”

    And my personal favorite: “The number of F.H.A. mortgage holders in default is 410,916, up 76 percent from a year ago…Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview that the defaults were, in essence, worth it. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the bad loans occurred,” he said. “It was an effort to keep prices from falling too fast. That’s a policy.””

    Blows my mind

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  36. ““I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the bad loans occurred,” he said. “It was an effort to keep prices from falling too fast. That’s a policy.”””

    Well, that has the possibility of being true (whatever you think about the policy), but it depends on (1) what the actual net cost is (ie, whether it was more expensive than the policy was budgeted for), and (2) who the receipients of the (indirect) transfer payments are/were (ie, are they people/entities who, in the absence of the payment, would have taken actions that would have made the economy worse).

    But it’s hard to take Barney seriously anymore, even if you’re as “liberal” as he is.

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  37. The number of defaults is up because the FHA origination volume is through the roof. If you originate 2x’s the loan volume, the actual number of defaults is going to go up in tandem as there is always a percentage that goes into default.

    I think the fundamental problem with FHA is that people’s character has changed. Banks used to look at the five C’s – credit, character, collateral, capacity, and capital. FHA has been making loans for decades without problem. What has changed is that people no longer have any shame in not paying their mortgage and they also see buying a house like buying a Plasma TV at Best Buy.

    FHA needs to reevaluate their guidelines, but it goes a little deeper than simply saying people need larger down payments, etc. It is more about really assessing how stable people are in their lives and if they are ready to be homeowners.

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  38. dude !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    the lady in the story, was foreclosed on, filed bankruptcy, didnt have enough money to pay for a down payment so took from her 401k, and still didnt have enough for the closing cost which she rolled into the mortgage which bumped up her rate.

    and the best part of it her mortgage on her “fixer upper” is 50% of her income.

    screw this shyt i am moving to the congo where the coruption and murder is not sugar coated.

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  39. Personally, I would have told those borrower’s no and not done their financing even if they “qualified”. The problem is they would just go down the street and use a different bank. Of course, they then would accuse me of being discriminatory.

    It is catch-22 sometimes. ACORN and the like will say we are discriminating if we don’t make the loans, but then when we make the loans and the people go into foreclosure we then are predatory lenders. Banks can’t win.

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  40. Does being on a national historic registry (whether this is or not) even add a premium to a building? It means it costs A LOT more to mainatain because you lose flexibility in what you’re allowed to do. Window or facade treatments can be outrageously expensive.

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  41. “The number of defaults is up because the FHA origination volume is through the roof. If you originate 2x’s the loan volume, the actual number of defaults is going to go up in tandem as there is always a percentage that goes into default.”

    I was only grabbing excerpts from the article, I’m not sure if you read the whole thing. It states “7.77 percent of the portfolio is in default, up from 5.6 percent a year ago.” So in that sense the default rate is up “only” 39%. So your point is true but only explains part of the rise. And I think that number will get worse.

    “FHA needs to reevaluate their guidelines, but it goes a little deeper than simply saying people need larger down payments, etc. It is more about really assessing how stable people are in their lives and if they are ready to be homeowners.”

    I agree completely, and clearly they aren’t doing so. And with the huge spike in volume I doubt they could do so even if they wanted to.

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  42. “Does being on a national historic registry (whether this is or not) even add a premium to a building?”

    I vote no, at least for an “ordinary” building.

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  43. That’s part of it, the other part is that these same people have extraordinary amounts of non-mortgage debt (accumulated before or after the mortgage was issued). They pay the credit cards, student loans, etc, until something comes along, such as reduction in hours at work, a smaller bonus, a special assessment, etc, that causes them to give up on the mortgage payment. People in the past didn’t have quite as much debt and were able to scrape and pay the mortgage; today there is too much other debt. this is my opinion, in my experience only.

    “What has changed is that people no longer have any shame in not paying their mortgage and they also see buying a house like buying a Plasma TV at Best Buy.”

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  44. “People in the past didn’t have quite as much debt and were able to scrape and pay the mortgage; today there is too much other debt. this is my opinion, in my experience only. ”

    There were also a *lot* fewer people with mortgage payments at 40%+ of gross income. Layer on the non-mortgage debt, and the “unexpected” expense, and not only are there fewer dollars to scrape together, the dollars needed to pay the mortgage are a higher % of one’s pay–sort of getting hit both ways.

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  45. I’ve always assumed it was better to pay 40% of gross income in mortgage interest because paying 20% of gross in rent is like flushing money down the toilet.

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  46. HD and Anon,

    you both are hitting on good points “today there is too much OTHER debt” and “There were also a *lot* fewer people with mortgage payments at 40%+ of gross income”.

    now in todays society its ACCEPTABLE to “debt” your way through life and over leverage yourself. From the looks of it, its a trait that is almost three generations over and each generation the leverage gets bigger.
    also its not a scarlet letter anymore to have a bankruptcy, or two, and a foreclosure.

    i am glad i was taught morals, principles and life lessons.
    at times i think i should have bought a bigger house in a better hood, then when i my company does lay off’s i dont even bat an eyelash cause i know if i get canned, it would suck, but i would only have to change the “extravagant” extras we spend. shoot my mortgage is cheaper than most people’s rent. now my gas bill on the other hand :)

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  47. Well you’d be pretty hard pressed to find 40% of someone’s income going towards just interest, unless you come across some people who maxxed out an I/O loan just to buy some house in 2006.

    Who’s worse, the idiot buyers that think they can sustain this? The realtards that sell these people on that idea? Or the banks/originators that finance this crap?

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  48. Also speaking of debt, I’ve come across people a few years ago that had upwards of 60k in credit card debt… on an income of 60k!

    Brutal, and why the hell would these card companies do that?!

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  49. “Well you’d be pretty hard pressed to find 40% of someone’s income going towards just interest”

    Maybe now, and maybe around here, but not in the sand states in 05/06/07.

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  50. Thank you for threadjacking DC. Back to this property: I LOVE THIS PLACE! Had I the means I’d likely make an offer on it myself. Unfortunately I don’t have the means, but I bet someone does.

    “FHA has been making loans for decades without problem.”

    On the FHA what has also changed russ is the FHA’s downpayment requirements. At its inception the FHA required downpayments of 50%, over the decades this was lowered until it became 3% not too long ago (recently raised to 3.5%). Also the FHA was created to make housing affordable for moderate and working class people–recently the loan amounts were increased substantially to a whopping $730k in higher cost areas. Does someone living in a 500k+ house strike you as moderate or working class?

    It has nothing to do with character russ when someone does not have substantial skin in the game, or any these days with the taxpayer credit, they are more likely to default as they aren’t mentally anchored to a substantial sunk cost of a downpayment.

    The FHA as it is is a ticking timebomb waiting for a taxpayer bailout. Also its a great profit generator for only four large megabanks, as they originate 85% of FHA loans (JPM, Wells Fargo, Citi, BofA).

    http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/fha-loans-the-choice-of-housing-comrades-how-government-backed-loans-are-creating-another-problem-for-the-housing-market/

    Russ will defend the FHA tooth and nail as without it his business and income would likely be off substantially but its nothing more than transferring taxpayer dollars to those people and institutions that least need it and the next subprime problem.

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  51. “FHA has been making loans for decades without problem….but it goes a little deeper than simply saying people need larger down payments”

    Russ see this chart:
    http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/fha-loans.png

    I am going to try to find data showing FHA’s minimum downpayment percentage by year. I suspect said data would blow a giant hole in your argument that the downpayment requirement isn’t heavily correlated with their soaring default rate. And I would also bet there is causality there too.

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  52. A great Washington Post article on the FHA:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/08/AR2009100804131.html

    Without consequences for the bureaucrats they cannot be trusted. Unless the head of the FHA puts his career on the line this is just business as usual from the powers that be to preserve the status quo for as long as possible. They don’t care that this is a taxpayer bailout 24 to 36 months from now as when they are proven wrong or dishonest there are no consequences for their bad judgement or deceit.

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  53. “Today the median FHA loan has a downpayment of less than five percent. Why should this be a concern? The answer is that the size of the downpayment is the single most important predictor of loan default. It is much more important than the income of the home purchaser, for example. According to David Maxwell, former chairman of the Federal National Mortgage Association, “The conclusion is inescapable that the most central element in weighing the soundness of a mortgage loan is the amount of the homeowner’s equity.” ”

    http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct4-4-5.html

    I’d trust a former chairman of Fannie Mae over shill loan pusher russ eight days out of the week.

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  54. Whoa just when I thought I hadn’t heard much from Bob lately he comes back with a vengeance. although I think he’s giving russ a bit of a hard time. Sure his income depends on FHA loans to some extent (to what extent none of us truly know) but I’ve always thought russ was fair and not overly biased in either direction

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  55. come on DC we know the week is not complete until Bob does a “Bob attack” on someone.

    i like russ too, a fair guy, with alot to offer here and i have learned from him since i have been here.

    “Who’s worse, the idiot buyers that think they can sustain this? The realtards that sell these people on that idea? Or the banks/originators that finance this crap?”

    chicken or egg? chicken or egg?
    each one listed is at fault EQUALLY and you cant forget the great overseers our GUBERMENT how allowed this and in turn bailed them out with my money.

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  56. The historical sign is recent. No sign of it on trulia’s streetview:

    http://www.trulia.com/homes/Illinois/Chicago/sold/1482900-1920-N-Seminary-Ave-Chicago-IL-60614

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  57. Also, is the unit even in the front rounded portion? I haven’t been for a viewing, but here is another unit for sale in the same building picturing a bay window. A bay window would appear to be much more in line with the layout of unit A (unit D appears a bit cramped and not updated). http://tours2.vht.com/Viewer/PhotoGallery.aspx?ListingID=1001248&Style=BWICorp.

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  58. “Also, is the unit even in the front rounded portion?”

    From the floorplan, no, it’s on the Sheffield side with one of the two bays.

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  59. Wow, I unleashed Bob with that one. I am hardly a loan shill, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    I am not defending FHA by any means and no it isn’t a substantial part of my business. Do you also have a problem with VA loans too? They have been doing 100% financing for veterans for quite a while as well and the only legitimate 100% product in the market place now.

    Foreclosures are caused by loss of income from job loss, divorce, medical expenses, or death. There is a high correlation with low/negative equity and foreclosures because the homeowner is unable to dispose of the property, particularly in a market like we are in now. Once the income is curtailed and if there is little to no equity left, the home owner has no way to prevent the foreclosure. They can’t pay the mortgage, nor can they sell the property without having to bring money to the table.

    I have only had three clients that have ever been close to foreclosure, none actually went into foreclosure though as they self-cured. All three were from job losses. One actually put 50% down to buy the house, one put 10% down, and the third was 100% financing. In all three cases, the job loss was the issue, not the equity in the house. The low down payment is strongly correlated for the reason I said above, but is not the causality of the foreclosure in most cases. Correlation does not equal causality.

    Low down payments are fine when the other aspects of the loan are strong. It is when you have low down payments with weak credit, job history, income that you start seeing the problems.

    With that said, the character issue is a real one. There have been quite a few “Buy & Dump” schemes going on to the point that both Fannie & Freddie will no longer allow rental income on current residences for qualifying if you are buying a new place. In other words, if you can’t sell your condo in Chicago and decide to rent it. You have to qualify with BOTH the new and old mortgage without the rental income unless you can show you have at least 30% equity in the old place and/or a 20% down payment for the new place. People are buying a new place, saying they are going to rent the old place. They close on the new place and let the old place go into foreclosure.

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