Forget The Boring White Box, Buy This 2-Bedroom Instead: 549 W. Belden in Lincoln Park

Tired of the boring white box new construction? Then this 2-bedroom at 549 W. Belden in Lincoln Park is for you.

It is a top floor unit in a 20-unit vintage building built in 1892.

The corner unit has tall ceilings in the living/dining area with a spiral staircase leading to a second level loft which has a staircase leading to a private rooftop deck with city views (see the pictures to understand what I mean.)

The living/dining area has parquet floors and stained glass windows. Much of the original woodwork also appears intact including moldings around the windows.

It has a wood burning fireplace.

The kitchen has white cabinets, white appliances and marble counter tops.

The unit has central air and in-unit washer/dryer but there is no parking (it is rental in the neighborhood.)

It also doesn’t appear from the listing that there is an elevator in the building.

It has been reduced $10,000 since May.

Who’s the targeted buyer for this unique property?

Daniel Pape at Hudson Parker Realty has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #4FE: 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, no square footage listed

  • Sold in November 1991 for $192,000
  • Originally listed in May 2012 for $429,000
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $419,000
  • Assessments of $250 a month
  • Taxes of $4894
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • No parking- rental in the neighborhood
  • Rooftop deck: 14×10
  • Bedroom #1: 10×16
  • Bedroom #2: 10×12
  • Loft: 12×8 (second floor)



Market Conditions: Downtown Rents Hit Record Highs But 7000 New Apartments Expected By 2014

Since the big debate recently has been renting versus buying (and what a deal it is to buy), I thought we should take a look at what is happening in the downtown apartment rental scene.

I predicted a few years ago that we wouldn’t see a new condo high rise built in Chicago for 10 years. But I didn’t say anything about rental towers!

From Crains:

The average net rent at top-tier, or Class A, downtown apartment buildings rose to another all-time high of $2.57 a square foot in the quarter, up 2.6 percent from the first quarter and 5.8 percent from a year earlier, according to Appraisal Research Counselors, a Chicago-based consulting firm. The Class A occupancy rate hit 96 percent, its highest level in six years.

“It’s the Energizer Bunny,” Appraisal Research Vice-President Ron DeVries said of the market. “It just keeps going and going.”

Yet a building boom could sap some of its energy over the next couple years. Nine towers are under construction, and Appraisal Research estimates that developers could add more than 7,000 units to the downtown market by the end of 2014.

The ballooning supply is good news for tenants, boosting competition among landlords, which should prevent them from raising rents as aggressively as they have — 24 percent since the end of 2009, when the Class A market bottomed out. Demand right now is outstripping supply.

“We’re clearly in a shortage situation now,” Mr. DeVries said.

Remember, “downtown” is the area between Roosevelt and North Avenue (but I don’t remember how far west it goes.) Rents in Lakeview or Andersonville are not this high.

There are worries that the overbuilding we saw in the boom years simply went from condos over to apartments. 

The downtown absorption rate, or the change in the number of occupied apartments, has averaged about 1,700 units over the past three years. By comparison, developers will add 2,700 units next year and 3,200 in 2014, according to Appraisal Research.

“Next year is going to be a challenge, no doubt about it,” Mr. DeVries said. But he expects rents to flatten out rather than fall.

Two of the hottest buildings are Sono East (which we have chattered about) and the new building on Wells in Old Town called 1255 Old Town. Both are already 60% leased.

The Wells building is commanding $3.03 per square foot! A one-bedroom in that building is renting for $2159 a month. According to Crain’s, it is the second most expensive rental tower in the city after Aqua. (Old Town is hot!)

But never fear. Motorola Mobility is moving downtown and will save the apartment market next year.

The recent leasing strength is a good sign for a market bracing for a flood of new apartments, Mr. DeVries said.

“It’s so robust right now that our consternation over next year is a little bit less,” he said.

The market could get another boost when Google Inc. moves its Motorola Mobility business — and more than 2,000 employees — from Libertyville to the Merchandise Mart in River North next year. Though it’s unclear how many will move from the suburbs downtown, landlords hope some will choose to rent.

The move comes at a good time for Amli Residential, a Chicago-based developer that expects to complete a 409-unit tower in River North just a few blocks away next year.

“It’s clearly a positive,” said Amli CEO Greg Mutz.

Though Mr. Mutz said the development boom could limit rent increases, he’s confident the market will be able to handle the increase in supply.

“I don’t see things going haywire one way or the other,” he said.

Is a bubble brewing in the Chicago apartment market?

Downtown apartment rents hit another all-time high [Crain’s Chicago Business, Alby Gallun, August 20, 2012]

5 Bedroom SFH On Huge Lot In The Villa Reduces Another $50K: 3625 N. Springfield

We’ve chattered about this 5-bedroom single family home on a double lot at 3625 N. Springfield in the historic Villa neighborhood of Irving Park several times.

See our June 2012 chatter here.

Last June, after it had reduced to $899,900, some of you thought it should list anywhere from $750,000 to the lower $800,000s in order to get a sale, despite having the massive lot.

Since then, it has reduced another $50,000 to $849,000.

The Villa is a landmark historic district established in 1907 just north of Addison and east of Pulaski in Irving Park.

It is distinctive for its architecture, its wide lot sizes, and medians running down the middle of two of the streets- Harding and Avers.

The neighborhood has 126 homes and a very active community organization.

With this house, there is a large deck and above ground pool as well as a 2-car garage.

Built on a 105×120 lot, the listing says that 55×120 of it is a “buildable” side lot.

The eat-in kitchen has stainless steel appliances and maple cabinets.

Three of the five bedrooms are on the second floor with the fourth on the third floor and the fifth in the lower level.

There is central air and a fireplace.

Will the chatterati prove to be right on the final selling price on this house?

Read more about The Villa neighborhood here.

Kieran Conlon at Conlon still has the listing. See the pictures here.

3625 N. Springfield: 5 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, no square footage listed, 2 car garage

  • Sold in June 1999 for $535,000
  • Was listed in September 2011 for $1.199 million
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in December 2011 for $1.050 million
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in June 2012 at $899,900
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $849,000
  • Taxes of $9917
  • Central Air
  • Above ground pool
  • Bedroom #1: 17×15 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 12×13 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 14×11 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #4: 42×19 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #5: 13×12 (lower level)

On The Market For 2 Years And Still Waiting For a Buyer in Old Irving Park: 3919 N. Tripp

This 3-bedroom single family home at 3929 N. Tripp in Old Irving Park has been on the market for 2 years.

It is a short sale.

This was new construction. The listing says it was built in 2005.

There are no interior pictures of the house.

The listing says there is a full basement and hardwood floors throughout.

All three bedrooms are on the second floor.

There are also 3 fireplaces and a 3 car garage on a larger than standard Chicago lot of 33×166.

Originally listed in August 2010 for $1.515 million, it was reduced 11 months later to $900,000 which is where it sits.

The bank filed a lis pendens 34 months ago.

How long will it be before houses like this are taken out of the inventory? 




Ewa Marchut at K&L Realty has the listing. See the listing here (no interior pictures).

3919 N. Tripp: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 3754 square feet, 3 car garage

  • Sold in August 2005 for $500,000 (prior house)
  • Lis pendens filed in October 2009
  • Originally listed in August 2010 for $1.515 million
  • Reduced in July 2011 to $900,000
  • Currently still listed at $900,000
  • Taxes of $12,200
  • Central Air
  • 3 fireplaces
  • Bedroom #1: 22×16 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 18×13 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 15×12 (second floor)


How Hot Is Southport? This 3-Bedroom Condo Is Listed At $989,000: 3934 N. Janssen

This top floor 3-bedroom unit at 3934 N. Janssen in the Southport neighborhood of Lakeview just came on the market.

The building was built in 2002.

The building next to it that you can see in the picture above looks like townhouses.

It has 2500 square feet on one level which includes a family room.

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

The unit also has a 1500 square foot roof deck with a canopy. The building also has a common area basketball court.

It has central air, washer/dryer in the unit and one car garage parking.

Listed at $989,000, or $396 a square foot, does the price reflect the Southport (and Blaine school) premium?

Karina Caulfield at Conlon has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #4: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2500 square feet

  • Sold in December 2002 for $630,000
  • Currently listed at $989,000 (parking included)
  • Assessments of $283 a month
  • Taxes of $11,053
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • Bedroom #1: 16×12
  • Bedroom #2: 12×12
  • Bedroom #3: 12×12
  • Family room: 21×19



After More Than 2 Years On The Market, This Wildwood 4-Bedroom SFH Finally Sells: 6924 N. Tonty

We last chattered about this 4-bedroom single family home at 6924 N. Tonty in the Wildwood neighborhood of Forest Glen in May 2012.

See our prior chatter here.

We had a lively discussion on whether this part of the city is really “the city”.

As far as the house goes, several of you had been in it over the two years it was listed and said it had a strong cigarette smell.

But after being reduced about $200,000 to $498,000, some of you thought it wasn’t too far off the correct price.

The house finally sold in July 2012 for $448,000.

If you recall, the house was built in 1940 and is on an oversized lot of 45×151.

For those of you not familiar with Wildwood, it is in the Northwest corner of the city and has winding streets without curbs. A metra stop is nearby for the commute downtown.

The house had hardwood floors on the main floor along with arched doorways and a woodburning fireplace in the living room.

All four bedrooms were on the second floor.

There was also a lower level recreation room and a main floor family room.

The house had central air and a 1-car garage.

The kitchen had white appliances and what looks like original cabinets.

Is the final sales price of this property surprising given that homebuyers mainly want “new” and move-in ready?

Kathleen Nettleton at Re/Max 1st had the listing. You can still see the interior pictures here.  

6924 N. Tonty: 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2262 square feet, 1 car garage

  • Sold before 1986
  • Originally listed in May 2010 for $689,900
  • Reduced numerous times
  • Was listed in May 2012 at $498,000
  • Sold in July 2012 for $448,000
  • Taxes of $5546
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 18×15 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 15×15 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 13×12 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #4: 11×10 (second floor)
  • Recreation room: 22×14 (lower level)

Buy A Foreclosure, Fix It Up And??? A 1-Bedroom in 3110 N. Sheridan in East Lakeview

This 1-bedroom at 3110 N. Sheridan in East Lakeview has been on the market since November 2011.

Bank owned in 2009, it has been totally rehabbed with some interesting finishes we normally don’t see in one bedroom condos.

It has heated slate floors.

The kitchen has a Bosch dishwasher, a Monogram oven and a Traulsen refrigerator.

Granite counter tops? Nah. It has concrete counter tops and a subway tile backsplash.

The bathroom is also unique with marble floors and an oversized walk-in shower (there’s no tub).

There’s no central air, just wall units. There is also no in-unit washer/dryer.

There’s parking available in the building for $15,000.

This unit was originally listed for $110,000 more than the 2009 purchase price, at $210,000.

It has been reduced to $164,000.

Another 1-bedroom in the building with new granite counter tops and kitchen cabinets but white appliances, Unit #802, is under contract at $155,000.

Is this unit now a deal given the finishes?

Thomas McCarey at @Properties has the listing (it also appears to be agent owned.)  See the pictures here.

Unit #1104: 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 750 square feet

  • Sold in February 1997 for $60,000
  • Sold in July 2000 for $111,000
  • Sold in January 2003 for $155,000
  • Sold in July 2006 for $200,000
  • Lis pendens filed in June 2008
  • Bank owned in March 2009
  • Sold in August 2009 for $100,000
  • Originally listed in November 2011 for $210,000
  • Reduced numerous times
  • Currently listed at $164,000
  • Assessments of $450 a month (includes cable, roof top pool)
  • Taxes of $2711
  • No central air (wall units only)
  • No in-unit washer/dryer
  • Parking is $15,000 extra
  • Bedroom: 17×12

Market Conditions: Are The Canadians Buying Up Chicago Real Estate?

We’ve all heard the stories of the Russians buying up trophy properties on the coasts. There have also been reports of the Chinese being big buyers in Vancouver.

According to a survey taken in June by the National Association of Realtors, foreign national buyers made up 8.9%, or $82.5 billion, of the $928 billion spent on U.S. residential real estate from April 2011 to March 2012.

That’s up sharply from the year before when it was just $66.4 billion.

Not surprisingly, more than 50% of those sales took place in just 5 states: Florida, California, Texas, Arizona and New York.

But that doesn’t mean Chicago is chopped liver.

According to the Forbes article, it is the Canadians who are buying up everything in our fair city.

“If the Chinese are the second-largest foreign buyers of U.S. homes, who’s No. 1? Our neighbors to the north in Canada. Canadians accounted for 24% of sales to foreigners in the year to March, according to NAR. And it’s not likely to let up: says Canadians account for the most international search activity on the listing site every month in nearly all of major U.S. metro areas.

Canadians have been a dominant purchasing force in hard-hit Sunbelt states like Arizona and Florida. A relatively weak greenback coupled with low home prices represents an opportunity to scoop up a home that could be used for vacations now and retirement later.

Canadians have also been buying in the Midwest, including Chicago. “Close proximity to Canada makes it an easy place for Canadians to invest money,” says Bob Krawitz of RE/MAX Signature in Chicago. He says interest runs along all price points, from distressed properties that can be fixed up and rented out to seven-figure mansions along Lakeshore Drive.”

Over the years, we’ve made fun of all the articles that said that foreigners would keep the market elevated. Remember the Spire and its global marketing plan?

But has that now changed?

Will an influx of foreign money put a floor under Chicago housing prices?

Real Estate Tourism: Who’s Really Buying America’s Homes? [Forbes, Morgan Brennan, August 10, 2012]

Get a 1300 Sq. Ft. 2-Bedroom/2 Bath For Under $275,000 In Hamlin Park: 2143 W. Wellington

This 2-bedroom in Welbourn Row at 2143 W. Wellington in the Hamlin Park neighborhood of North Center came on the market in July 2012.

At 1300 square feet, it has a lot of the features buyers look for including both bedrooms having completely enclosed walls and windows.

The unit has central air, washer/dryer in the unit and garage parking is available for $25,000 extra.

The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.

The building was constructed in 2005 and has 24 units.

It is located just one block from Hamlin Park.

Originally listed at $285,000, the unit has been reduced $35,000.

Is this a deal?

Jason Stratton at Koenig & Strey Real Living has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #403: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1300 square feet

  • Sold in April 2005 for $282,500
  • Originally listed in July 2012 for $285,000
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $250,000 (plus $25,000 for parking)
  • Assessments of $264 a month
  • Taxes of $3789
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • Bedroom #1: 15×13
  • Bedroom #2: 13×10



Your Penthouse Hot Tub Overlooking The City Lights Still Awaits in the Gold Coast: 221 E. Walton

We last chattered about this unique 3-bedroom penthouse at 221 E. Walton in the Gold Coast in November 2011.

See our November 2011 chatter here.

Many of loved the unit with its 18 foot wall of windows overlooking Lake Michigan. But you felt that the layout limited the number of buyers and that it would need some updating.

Listed at that time at $1.399 million, some of you guessed that it would sell around $1 million to $1.1 million.

10 months later, the penthouse is still available and is still listed at $1.399 million.

If you recall, the unit has dentil and crown molding as well as custom built-ins.

2 of the three bedrooms are on the second floor with the third on the main level. From the floorplan, it appears that the master bedroom is the room open to the living room and that the second bedroom has been turned into a master bedroom closet.

The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.

The unit also has 12 skylights.

You also get outdoor space, and city views, from the third floor terrace. How many other Gold Coast penthouses have their own private hot tub?

It has washer/dryer in the unit and deeded parking (with a second space available for $50,000) but it looks like no central air. It is wall unit cooling. The building was constructed in 1981.

What will it take to sell this property in 2012?

Eudice Fogel at Prudential Rubloff still has the listing. See the pictures and the floorplan here.

Unit #20PE: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2355 square feet

  • Sold in May 2001 for $1.375 million
  • Sold in September 2002 for $1.2 million
  • Originally listed in March 2011 for $1.499 million
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in November 2011 at $1.399 million (includes one parking space)
  • Currently still listed at $1.399 million (includes one parking space)
  • Assessments of $1471 a month (includes doorman, cable)
  • Taxes  now $7295 (they were $6821 in November 2011)
  • Wall unit air conditioning
  • In-unit washer/dryer
  • Can purchase second parking space for $50,000
  • Bedroom #1: 18×17 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 20×12 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 13×12 (main floor)