Market Conditions: Have Select Chicago Area Zip Codes Bottomed?

The Chicago Tribune is reporting on a phenomena that many have chattered about here on Crib Chatter: that some areas are seeing more sales than years past and decent, affordably priced properties are also selling quickly.

Yet, the article says the improvements are coming in just 14 zip codes out of the entire Chicagoland area.

And no- one of the zip codes is NOT Oak Brook.

Still, there are pockets, small pockets, where at least in the fourth quarter of 2011 the housing market looked better than it did a year ago. The telltale signs: an increase in median sales prices, an increase in the number of closed sales and a decrease in the number of days on market.

There is no guarantee that the positive signs will continue in the more than a dozen ZIP codes that showed improvement in all three areas, and experts want to see another three months of statistics before they label an area as recovering. A rash of distressed properties also will send the market downward. But given five years of bad headlines about the housing market, even the smallest inkling of positive news may be welcome for homeowners and industry watchers.

“Real estate has become a spectator sport because of the Internet,” said Russ Bergeron, CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data LLC, the local multiple listing service provider. People “want to know what’s going on in their neighborhood. The (greater) number of units means stuff is at least moving. If you can string together six to nine months (of good numbers), then you’ve really got something to be excited about.”

You can click on a map in the Tribune article with more info about the individual zip codes, but those zip codes seeing improvement were located in:

  1. Deerfield
  2. Highland Park
  3. Johnsburg (McHenry)
  4. Johnsburg (Lake)
  5. Mundelein
  6. Park Ridge
  7. Wood Dale
  8. Lockport
  9. Lisle
  10. Aurora
  11. Naperville
  12. Western Springs
  13. Chicago (Hyde Park)
  14. Chicago (Ravenswood)

Nope. No Lincoln Park or Lakeview zip codes among them.

The mild winter certainly has helped showings and buyer interest, said Erene Panos of Re/Max Action. Panos still has conversations weekly with sellers about pricing, but list prices aren’t being dropped as quickly as they were a year ago.

“We aren’t getting as saturated by the foreclosures as before, and that’s definitely helping the resale market,” Panos said. “And if you have a home that has been very well taken care of, it’s not going to be there that long.”

Michael and Ilana Sherman made an offer on a Highland Park home the day after it came on the market, before Michael had even seen it. The couple sold their Lincoln Square condo at a loss in 2010 and began renting in Wilmette while they began watching the residential markets along the North Shore, waiting for the right opportunity. After walking away from one offer and losing out to a higher bid on another, the couple went under contract on a four-bedroom split-level a few hours after Ilana toured it, at the list price of $325,000.

“We kind of expected going into it that we would be able to take our time,” Michael Sherman said. “But the reality is, the houses that are priced accordingly to their real value and that are in structurally good shape go very fast. When you see it, and we’d been looking for a while, if you want to own your own home, then you have to react fast.”

Alan Meyerowitz, an @properties agent, said the Shermans are not alone. He’s talked with other renters who’ve bided their time and are now ready to move forward with a purchase.

“They’re all coming back and they’re ready to buy,” he said. “They’ve saved up.”

Now that the Super Bowl has passed, the traditional “Spring Buying Season” is on.

Will a lot of sellers jump in and list now that there are small signs of the possibility of a market bottom?

Can sellers genuinely “move up” as this article seems to indicate? Or is it just more realtor speak?

Pockets of hope in housing despair [Chicago Tribune, Mary Ellen Podmolik, February 5, 2012]

If They Build It You Will Buy It: New 3-Bedroom Luxury Lincoln Park Condos at 2753 N. Lakewood


This new construction mid-rise with an elevator at 2753 N. Lakewood (at the corner of Lakewood and Diversey) in Lincoln Park was recently completed.

It has 6 three-bedroom units each with indoor parking.

The model currently on the market is 1480 square feet on one level.

It has luxury finishes including a tray ceiling.

The kitchen has white cabinets, stainless steel appliances (a Viking stove?) and stone counter tops (but I can’t tell what kind of stone those are from the pictures.)

Listed at $549,000, is there a market for higher priced new construction when within just a block or two of this building there are 3-bedroom units listed in the $300,000s?

Or will buyers still simply buy the “new”?

Fern Krause at FK Real Estate has the listing. See the pictures here. (warning! Music)

Unit #2E: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1480 square feet, 1 car parking

  • New construction
  • Listed in December 2011 for $549,000
  • Currently still listed at $549,000
  • Assessments of $260 a month
  • Taxes are “new”
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • Bedroom #1: 15×13
  • Bedroom #2: 13×10
  • Bedroom #3: 11×10
  • Living room: 21×15
  • Kitchen: 15×9

Looking for an East Lincoln Park Townhouse Under $425K? 515 W. Belden

This 2-bedroom townhouse at 515 W. Belden in East Lincoln Park came on the market in October 2011.

In that time, it has been reduced $10,000 to $419,000.

Built in 1968, it has the features buyers are looking for including central air and parking.

It has 2 wood burning fireplaces, including one in the master bedroom, and 3 skylights along with wood ceilings.

Both bedrooms are on the second floor. It has the added bonus of having a lower level family room and a lower level office.

There is a galley style kitchen with white cabinets, granite counter tops and white appliances.

The listing says it’s in the Lincoln school district.

The townhouse, however, only has 1.5 baths.

Could the number of baths be a sticking point with buyers?

Or is this a deal for the location?

Judith Kolar at Koenig & Strey Real Living has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #14: 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, no square footage listed, parking included

  • Sold in May 1992 for $195,000
  • Sold in August 1996 for $212,000
  • Originally listed in October 2011 for $429,900
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $419,900
  • Assessments of $38 a month (includes trash)
  • Taxes of $6812
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 15×13 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 13×10 (second floor)
  • Family room: 12×14 (lower level)
  • Office: 9×10 (lower level)

Even 2009 Purchases Are Now Going Short Sale Like This 1-Bedroom at 321 S. Sangamon in the West Loop

If you thought short sales and REOs were reserved mainly for homeowners who bought at the peak of the housing bubble, think again.

This 1-bedroom in the Lofthaus at 321 S. Sangamon in the West Loop just came on the market.

It is a short sale and is now listed 44% under the September 2009 purchase price of $292,500.

The Great Recession, if you recall, began in the summer/fall of 2008- or basically a year before this unit was purchased.

The Lofthaus was built in 2004. The units have loft-like features like exposed concrete ceilings.

The listing says the kitchen has been upgraded with Ginger Mission cabinets, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.

It has in-unit washer/dryer, central air and parking is included.

The unit has a western view.

As prices continue to drop, are we going to start to see more of the 2009 and even 2010 purchases going short sale?

Lauren Schuh at Exit Strategy has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #402: 1 bedroom, 1 bath, no square footage listed

  • Sold in March 2004 for $243,500 (parking included)
  • Sold in September 2009 for $292,500 (parking included)
  • Currently listed as a “short sale” for $164,900 (parking included)
  • Assessments of $310 a month (includes heat, a/c, gas)
  • Taxes of $3380
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • Bedroom #1: 12×10
  • Living room: 14×13
  • Kitchen: 13×14

The Price Has Been Raised $100K On This Renovated 2-Bedroom in The Hancock: 175 E. Delaware

We’ve chattered about this renovated 69th floor 2-bedroom in the John Hancock Center at 175 E. Delaware in the Gold Coast several times in 2011.

See our November 2011 chatter here.

Originally after a complete renovation, in March 2011, for $649,770, the unit had been reduced to $525,770 by the end of 2011.

It then went under contract.

But it has come back on the market and the price was RAISED about $100,000 to $627,770.


It has since been reduced to $620,770.

If you recall, this 2-bedroom has been completely renovated with contemporary kitchen and bath finishes to bring it up to today’s standards.

You can see the before and after pictures of the renovation in our April 2011 chatter here.

Many consider the Hancock to be an icon and a lot of you have liked this renovation.

The oak herringbone floors are among the only original features remaining.

The kitchen has brown and white euro-style cabinets with Wolf and Subzero appliances.

This unit has a sky terrace (a built-in “terrace”) measuring 8×9 and several windows that actually open.

While there is no central air, there are wall units. Until a few years ago, in-unit washer/dryers were not allowed but this unit now has the hook-ups.

Parking is leased in the building.

What’s the point of  raising of the price that dramatically after nearly a year on the market?

What happens to this unit now?

Andrew Glatz at Crown Heights Realty still has the listing. See more pictures here.

Unit #6910: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1500 square feet

  • Bought in May 1987 (no sales price listed)
  • Lis pendens filed in February 2008
  • Bank owned in January 2009
  • Sold in August 2010 for $390,000
  • Originally listed in March 2011 for $649,770
  • Was still listed in April 2011 for $649,770
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in July 2011 at $599,770
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in November 2011 at $560,770
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in December 2011 at $525,770
  • Under contract
  • Re-listed in mid-January 2012 for $627,770
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $620,770
  • Assessments of $1117 a month (includes doorman)
  • Taxes of $6423
  • No central air- wall units
  • Washer/Dryer hook-ups in the unit
  • Parking is leased
  • Bedroom #1: 12×22
  • Bedroom #2: 14×11
  • Sky terrace: 8×9

Just 7 Months Later, 3 Bedroom SFH in the East Village Is Back! 1040 N. Wolcott

We’ve chattered about this 3-bedroom single family home at 1040 N. Wolcott in the East Village neighborhood of West Town several times over the years.

See our July 2011 chatter here.

The last time we chattered about it, in July 2011, “Andrew”, who claimed to be the owner, chimed in that they were pulling the house off the market and renting it out.

“Hello all. Owner of the home. We are not distressed sellers, but did want to test the market to see where we were at. Has definitely been a tough market to sell. Had many showings, one good offer at $675k which fell through due to financing. Seems like well priced condos can move relatively quickly, but volume for SFHs can be quite a bit more limited.”

“Decided to finally pull the listing off market and test the rental market which has been much stronger than I expected (relative to the sales market at least). So gonna go that route until the housing market comes back. When is that? May be 1 year, may be 10 years. But with a 3% 5/1 ARM, we can bide our time.”

So it is rather surprising to see that the house has come back on the market just 7 months later and listed for nearly the same as it was back in July 2011.

If you recall, the house was built in 2000 so it’s newer construction.

The listing says it has hardwood floors throughout.

The kitchen is described as “gourmet” and has granite counter tops.

The master bathroom has been renovated.

The family room is located on the second level and there are 2 wood burning fireplaces.

The 3 bedrooms are split, with the master bedroom on the second floor and the other two bedrooms on the third.

It has central air and a 2-car garage on a standard 25×125 lot.

It also has a great location if you are a fan of Division Street, which is just a block away.

I hope “Andrew”, the alleged owner, provides us with further details as to why they’re re-listing now.

Is the renter still living in the house? Or was it simply too hard to be a landlord?

With low inventories, is this now finally the perfect time to sell a single family home in this location?

Jason Vondrachek at Quest Realty still has the listing. See more pictures here.

1040 N. Wolcott: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2 car garage, no square footage listed

  • Sold in November 2001 for $525,000
  • Sold in May 2007 for $765,000
  • Originally listed in April 2010 for $779,900
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in June 2010 for $749,900
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in December 2010 for $719,900
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in July 2011 at $674,900
  • Withdrawn in July 2011
  • Re-listed in February 2012 for $679,900
  • Taxes of $11,741
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 18×12 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 14×14 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 13×10 (third floor)

Hidden North Center “Crib” With Rooftop Basketball Court Has Reduced $955K: 3540 N. Ravenswood

We last chattered about this 6-bedroom single family home at 3540 N. Ravenswood in North Center nearly two years ago, in March 2010.

See our prior chatter here.

Most of you loved the house and said if you won the lottery you were buying it. Yes- it’s a true “crib.”

Built in 2007 on a 50×125 lot, the steel and masonry 9000 square foot house has 10-foot ceilings and central air.

It also has 2 kitchens that, as you can see from the pictures, are decked out with luxury finishes including stainless steel appliances.

The buyer can also enjoy the master suite which measures 22×50.

But what sets it apart is the indoor pool, hot tub, sauna and the outdoor basketball court on the roof.

It’s basically like having your own gym.

It also has a 4-car attached garage.

In the last 22 months, the house has been reduced $955,000 to $2.795 million.

Many of you thought the most suitable buyer would probably be a Cubs player given the athletic amenities (although many Blackhawks live nearby in Roscoe Village.)

In our last chatter some of you guessed this might sell for around $2.5 million. But that was then and this is now.

What price will it take to move this property in 2012?

Sophia Klopas at Koenig & Strey still has the listing. See the floorplan, walk through video and pictures here.

3540 N. Ravenswood: 6 bedrooms, 6 baths, 9000 square feet, 4 car parking

  • I couldn’t find any original sales price but it appears to have been built in 2007 (from our prior chatter there appears to be several PINs on the property)
  • Was listed in March 2010 for $3.75 million
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed for $2.795 million
  • Taxes of $13,329
  • 2 Kitchens
  • Indoor Pool
  • Basketball court
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 22×50 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 22×18 (main level)
  • Bedroom #3: 22×18 (main level)
  • Bedroom #4: 22×18 (main level)
  • Bedroom #5: 12×12 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #6: 12×12 (second floor)

Get 3-Bedrooms and Lake Views for Under $410,000: 2500 N. Lakeview in Lincoln Park


This 3-bedroom at 2500 N. Lakeview in Lincoln Park has been on the market nearly 2 years.

It is a wraparound corner unit with lake and Lincoln Park views.

The building was built in 1974 and has a doorman and an outdoor pool.

Yes, the unit has pink carpet. It doesn’t have to stay!

But it also has a master suite with a walk-in closet.

The kitchen is big with an eat-in area with views.

There is no central air, just wall units. There also is no in-unit washer/dryer but it appears it can be added.

There is parking (rental?) in the building.

Since April 2010, the unit has been reduced $15,000.

Unit #1805, just a few floors below is, with cherry hardwood floors is listed at $540,000. It has an in-unit washer/dryer.

Compared with the prices of the new construction units right next door in 2520 LP, even with a rehab, is this a deal for someone with vision?

Alexis Holland at Century 21 SGR has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #2205: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1600 square feet

  • Sold in February 1996 for $285,000
  • Originally listed in April 2010 for $425,000
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in August 2011 for $410,000
  • Still currently listed at $410,000
  • Assessments of $1170 a month (includes pool and doorman)
  • Taxes of  $8033
  • No central air- wall units
  • No in-unit washer/dryer (can it be added???)
  • Parking appears to be rental in the building
  • Bedroom #1: 16×13
  • Bedroom #2: 13×12
  • Bedroom #3: 11×9



Are Property Price Declines Mirroring Case-Shiller? 1929 W. Irving Park in North Center

This 3-bedroom at 1929 W. Irving Park in North Center has been on the market since October 2011. (It is the vintage building in between the two new construction buildings in the picture above.)

It is bank owned and is currently listed for 34% under its 2004 purchase price.

According to Case-Shiller, Chicago prices have declined 34.8% through November 2011.

This building was constructed in 1903 and was converted into condos in 2004.

This unit looks like a typical vintage layout with a separate dining room and three smaller bedrooms.

From the pictures, it appears the kitchen is intact. It has stainless steel appliances, cherry cabinets and granite counter tops.

Pictures also indicate that the one bathroom is intact as well.

The listing says there are “real” hardwood floors. There is also central air.

There is no mention of a washer/dryer or of parking, but the 2004 sale appears to have included a parking space.

Since October, the unit has been reduced $40,000.

Compared to renting, is this a deal?

Jason Shapiro at Rising Realty has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #3: 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, no square footage listed

  • Sold in December 2004 for $301,500
  • Bank owned in June 2011
  • Originally listed in October 2011 for $239,900
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $199,900
  • Assessments of $202 a month
  • Taxes of $4018
  • Central Air
  • No mention of washer/dryer
  • No mention of parking
  • Bedroom #1: 14×8
  • Bedroom #2: 12×8
  • Bedroom #3: 11×8
  • Dining room: 16×11


4 1/2 Years Later, This Streeterville Townhouse Is Still Waiting for a Buyer: 424 E. North Water

We last chattered about this 3-bedroom townhouse at 424 E. North Water in Streeterville in July 2010 (the picture above is of the complex- not necessarily this particular unit since it is a gated community with no public access.)

See our prior chatter here.

Many people don’t realize that there are even townhouses in Streeterville.

This one is located between the Chicago River and the Ogden Slip. Water taxis used to depart nearby on the Ogden Slip (do they still?) or it’s a short walk to the Michigan Avenue location where a commuter could take it to their loop office.

This townhouse is built on a land lease (which the listing says to ask about.) I believe its an extra monthly cost on top of the $420 a month assessment.

Does anyone know?

The townhouse has 3 levels, with the 1-car garage and a bedroom on the first level, the living/dining and kitchen are on the second level and the other two bedrooms are on the top floor.

This property also has a roof-top deck to take in the skyline, and Navy Pier fireworks, and a balcony.

The kitchen has maple cabinets, stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.

Since July 2010, this townhouse has been reduced another $50,000.

Will this finally sell in 2012, nearly 5 years since it first came on the market?

Mario Greco at Rubloff now has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #424-D: 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2200 square feet, 1 car garage

  • Hard to figure out the records but it looks like it sold in March 1997 for $305,000
  • Originally listed in August 2007 (I couldn’t find a listing price)
  • Was listed in February 2008 for $779,000
  • Reduced several times
  • Was listed in July 2010 for $699,000
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $649,000
  • Assessments of $420 a month
  • Taxes of $10764
  • Ask about the “land lease”
  • Central Air
  • 1 car attached heated garage parking
  • Rooftop deck: 17×11
  • Bedroom #1: 15×12 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 12×12 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 11×10 (main floor)