Market Conditions: The Luxury Market Might Not Be as Hot as Everyone Believes

With all the cheerleading going on, you’d think the luxury market was sizzling hot.

But is it?

Crain’s does it’s mid-year update on the luxury market in the Chicagoland area.

While sales are up 14% from a year ago, and are much higher than the dark years of 2009 and 2010, they are still well under the 2006 peak.

A total of 228 homes sold for at least $1.5 million during the first six months of the year, a 14 percent jump from the 200 homes sold over the same period in both 2012 and 2011, according to brokerage Baird & Warner Inc., which analyzed information from Midwest Real Estate Data LLC.

While that number represents a gain from a low of 168 sales in the first half of 2009, it’s well below the 381 in the first half of 2006, when the market peaked, said Jim Kinney, vice president of luxury home sales at Baird & Warner.

“Everyone’s dancing around saying, ‘Happy days are here again,’” he said. “A 14 percent increase is great, but it’s not anything earth-shattering and it’s certainly not a return to pre-crash-type numbers, so I think we’ve got a ways to go.”

Lincoln Park was the most active neighborhood/city with 45 sales over $1.5 million. Winnetka and Hinsdale tied for second with 27 sales each.

According to MRED, 898 homes are listed for at least $1.5 million in the Chicago area, which translates to a 25-month supply based on current sales trends.

“Any time you get under double digits (in months) for supply numbers it starts getting to be a very, very healthy market,” Mr. Kinney said. “A lot of the stuff in the city is starting to favor the sellers,” partially because there’s less available land to build on.

That’s not the case in the suburbs, where supply continues to outpace demand in many areas. Burr Ridge was the weakest high-end market in the first half of 2013, with 168 months’ worth of inventory — enough to last 14 years based on current sales trends, according to Baird & Warner. Only two Burr Ridge properties listed for at least $1.5 million have sold so far this year.

Does this data also include condos or is this just single family homes? The article isn’t clear.

Most of the unsold condos in the new construction Ritz building and 2550 N. Lincoln Park are not even listed on the MRED so they would not be included in “inventory” calculations. There are over 150 of these in this price range that would be considered part of the “luxury” market.

Adding those to the calculations probably nearly doubles the number of luxury condos on the market.

But either way- inventory is higher than most people think.

With high inventory levels in the luxury bracket, is this the only part of the housing market where you can still get a deal?

Luxury home sales rise 14 percent in the first half [Crain's Chicago Business, Abraham Tekippe, July 9, 2013]


Are We Back To 2007 Prices On 2-Bedroom Lakeview Townhouses? 1125 W. Newport

1125 w newport

This 2-bedroom townhouse at 1125 W. Newport in Lakeview just came on the market.

We’ve chattered about this complex before. This townhouse is one of the highly coveted corner units.

It has the standard townhouse layout with the two bedrooms on the third floor, the living/dining/kitchen on the middle floor, with a family room on the main level.

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

It has central air and an attached one car garage.

I couldn’t find the 2007 sales price in the public record but Zillow and Redfin list it as $492,000.

The townhouse has come back on the market at $495,000.

Are we back to 2007 prices for townhouses in Lakeview?

Evan Kane at Realty Scientist has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #A: 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, no square footage listed, 1 car garage

  • Sold in July 1995 for $265,000
  • Sold in May 1998 for $313,500
  • Sold in May 2007 for $492,000 (per Zillow and Redfin)
  • Currently listed for $495,000
  • Assessments of $165 a month
  • Taxes of $5984
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 14×12 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 14×10 (third floor)
  • Family room: 13×13 (main level)

Live in a 1885 Bakery Building in Old Town: 1759 N. Sedgwick

1759 n sedgwick

This 3-bedroom at 1759 N. Sedgwick in Old Town came on the market in May 2013.

The building was built in 1885 as a bakery.

It was rehabbed in 1995 and has 4 units.

At 2320 square feet, it has 11 foot ceilings and 2 wood burning fireplaces.

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

It has central air, washer/dryer in the unit and a 1-car garage.

Originally listed at $810,000, it has been reduced $11,500 to $798,500.

With everything selling so quickly, why isn’t this property?

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

Unit #2: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2320 square feet, 1 car garage

  • Sold in November 1993 for $334,000
  • Sold in December 1995 for $405,000
  • Sold in April 1997 for $420,000
  • Originally listed in May 2013 at $810,000
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $798,500
  • Assessments of $192 a month
  • Taxes of $11,141
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • Bedroom #1: 14×17
  • Bedroom #2: 11×12
  • Bedroom #3: 10×12
  • Laundry room: 5×6


This Old Town Vintage Rowhouse is on the Market for the First Time in 14 Years: 1730 N. Wells

1730 n wells

This 3-bedroom Victorian rowhouse at 1730 N. Wells in Old Town just came on the market.

From what I can tell, it’s the first time it’s been on the market in 14 years.

Built in 1876, it has 2050 square feet on a 22×42 lot.

It has many of its original features including crown molding, wood trim, stained glass and built-ins.

It has a finished lower level family room.

The kitchen has wood cabinets and white appliances and counter tops.

2 of the three bedrooms are on the third floor with the third on the second level.

There’s no parking but the rowhouse does have central air.

Given how hot Old Town has been, will this sell quickly even though it doesn’t have parking?

1730 n wells #2

Frederic Scovell at Coldwell Banker has the listing. See the pictures here.

1730 N. Wells: 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2050 square feet

  • Sold in September 1994 for $335,000
  • Sold in July 1999 for $512,000
  • Currently listed at $849,000
  • Taxes of $11,498
  • Central Air
  • No parking
  • Bedroom #1: 14×12 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 11×11 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 11×11 (second floor)
  • Family room: 16×19 (lower level)


Market Conditions: Are Higher Mortgage Rates the Elephant in the Room?

Welcome back from the holiday break Crib Chatterers.

Last week 30-year mortgage rates rose to a national average of 4.46% from 3.93% the week before, the largest one week increase since 1987.

It pushed mortgage rates to their highest level in 2 years.

Rates may go even higher this week as, while you were all still enjoying your barbecues on Friday, July 5, the bond market sold off resulting in yet another day of spiking mortgage rates. 

Some in the mortgage industry were saying it was the worst day for mortgage rates in history. Perhaps our own resident mortgage rate expert, Russ, can chime in to tell us what he’s seeing on the ground.

Rates spiked as high as 4.875% on Friday with rates remaining as high as 4.75%.

Rates have been rising for the past 2 months.

So far, rising rates haven’t put a damper on the hot housing market but most of the May and June sales were conducted at lower rates that were locked in previously. Going forward, that is unlikely to be the case.

Will this mean a slowing housing market come August and September in Chicago?

Or will all cash sales be able to put a floor under the market?

3-Bedroom Duplex Is Back: From $467,000 to $1.1 Million in Just 3 Months in the Gold Coast: 39 E. Schiller

39 e schiller

We last chattered about this 3-bedroom duplex up at 39 E. Schiller in the Gold Coast in February 2013.

See our prior chatter here.

Back then, it was bank owned after being on the market before that as a short sale.

It also was a 2-bedroom with a family room and now it is simply a 3-bedroom. (Was it smart to make it a 3-bedroom?)

At 2800 square feet (it was 2400 square feet in the previous listing), some of you who saw it said it needed to be totally gutted and the chatter revolved around how much it would cost to fix it up and whether or not it could be flipped.

Some thought it would cost a couple of hundred thousand to fix up properly. Others thought $50,000 could do the trick. Helmethofer wondered if a renovator could add a lot of can lights to bring in extra light.

Listed by the bank at $399,000 it sold in March 2013 for $467,000.

It has come back on the market with a new kitchen, baths, and new can lights 3 months later for $1.1 million.

The kitchen now has dark cabinets and some stainless steel appliances. The listing calls it a “chef’s kitchen.”

It didn’t have a parking space before and it appears to still not have parking.

The unit does have central air and in-unit washer/dryer.

Will this get the premium?

Or are Chicago housing prices starting to bubble over in some neighborhoods?

Rick Levin at Rick Levin & Associates has the listing (also has an interest in the property). See the new pictures here.

You can see the “before” pictures here.

Unit #1W: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, now 2800 square feet, duplex up

  • Sold in May 1999 for $510,000
  • Sold in August 2002 for $662,500
  • Sold in March 2005 for $710,000
  • Originally listed in October 2009 for $680,000
  • Lis pendens foreclosure filed in November 2009
  • Reduced several times
  • Was listed in April 2010 for $550,000
  • Withdrawn
  • Bank owned in December 2012
  • Was listed in February 2013 at $399,900
  • Sold in March 2013 for $467,000
  • Currently listed for $1.1 million
  • Assessments now $804 a month (they were $875 a month in April 2010) (includes cable and did include special assessment in 2010)
  • Taxes still $4471 (they were $7196 in April 2010)
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • No parking
  • Bedroom #1: 26×16 (second level)
  • Bedroom #2: 20×14 (main level)
  • Bedroom #3: 17×15 (main level)


Get a Pre-War 3-Bedroom in the Gold Coast for Under $600,000: 1320 N. State Parkway

1320 n state

This 3-bedroom vintage unit in 1320 N. State Parkway in the Gold Coast came on the market in March 2013.

Designed by Robert S. De Goyler in 1927, it has 40 units and a brick and limestone façade.

It is a co-op building with a doorman, bike storage, an exercise room and individual mail delivery to each apartment.

This unit has a barrel vaulted entry foyer.

There are 2 ensuite bedrooms and a maid’s room.

This unit is somewhat unusual in that it has a family room. I wondered how that was possible as the 1927 floor plan wouldn’t have included such a thing, but apparently it was the old dining room (after all- who needs that today?).

The kitchen has the original Republic steel cabinets and stainless steel appliances.

There are updated marble baths.

It has central air, washer/dryer in the unit and parking is available across the street.

The assessments are $1876 a month but that includes heat, cable, Internet, doorman, a resident engineer and a part-time on-site manager. Taxes are another $747 a month.

This unit is in the popular Ogden school district.

Is this a deal on a Gold Coast family home?

Jennifer Ames at Coldwell Banker has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #2B: 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, no square footage listed, co-op

  • It’s a co-op so I couldn’t find the prior sales price
  • Originally listed in March 2013 for $648,000
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $599,000
  • Assessments of $1876 a month (includes heat, cable, Internet, doorman)
  • Taxes of $747 a month
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • No parking- parking across the street
  • Bedroom #1: 14×17
  • Bedroom #2: 13×16
  • Bedroom #3: 8×12
  • Family room (formerly the dining room): 13×16

The Elusive 4-Bedroom Townhouse Listed Under $1 Million: 2757 N. Greenview in Lincoln Park

2757 n greenview

This 4-bedroom townhouse at 2757 N. Greenview in Lincoln Park came on the market last February.

It is actually on the edge of Lincoln Park and Lakeview (but since it’s on the south side of Diversey, it is technically Lincoln Park.)

Some of you may recognize it from your travels down Diversey as this townhouse is the one with the wall of bamboo that preserves privacy on the patio that faces the street.

For many people who get priced out of the single family home market in Lincoln Park, a townhouse becomes the back-up option.

Finding a 4-bedroom townhouse under $1 million, however, is not as easy as it seems.

This townhouse has the preferable layout most buyers look for with 3 bedrooms on the third floor and the fourth on the top floor.

There is a main level family room while the living/dining and kitchen are on the second level.

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

It has skylights, 3 outdoor spaces and an attached 2-car garage.

There are just 12 units in the complex.

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

It is listed $86,000 under the 2005 purchase price at just $699,000.

What’s keeping this from selling in a hot market?

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

Unit #B: 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 2800 square feet, 2 car garage

  • Sold in January 2000 for $515,000
  • Sold in October 2005 for $785,000
  • Originally listed in February 2013 (I couldn’t find a list price)
  • Withdrawn in March
  • Re-listed in April 2013 for $699,000
  • Still listed for $699,000
  • Assessments of $250 a month
  • Taxes of $11,223
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 16×14 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 10×10 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 10×10 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #4: 16×15 (fourth floor)
  • Family room: 16×13 (main floor)


Crib Chatter on Vacation for 4th of July Week

It’s time to go on vacation again!

I’m sure most of you will be enjoying some much needed time off this week as well.

I’ll be out of town on vacation all week so we’ll be on vacation schedule Monday through Wednesday. That means there will be just one post a day. (I know…it’s a drag.)

I’m taking a break on Fourth of July and on Friday, July 5th as well. There will be NO new posts on those days.

It’s still low inventory. I feel for those who are in the market to buy right now.

One administrative update: The new Crib Chatter site, with the forum page, is being worked on even as we speak. I’m excited about it and I know you long time Chatterers will LOVE it. It will be a big improvement over the current site.

There’s a lot to look forward to as we head into late summer and early fall.

As always, please be respectful of each other when commenting while I’m on vacation. I don’t want to have to leave the beach to intervene to break up a silly spat.

Happy Fourth of July and Happy Birthday America!


Not Everything Sells In a Day: A 3-Bedroom Duplex Down for $409K in Lincoln Park: 1051 W. Montana

1049 w montana

This 3-bedroom duplex down at 1051 W. Montana in Lincoln Park recently came on the market.

If the building looks familiar, that is because we chattered about the “sister” unit to this one across the hall at 1049 W. Montana in October 2011.

See our prior chatter here. You can see interior pictures of the unit here.

Back then, it had been on the market for 5 months and had reduced to $399,000.

It had central air, in-unit washer/dryer, and parking. 2 of the 3 bedrooms were in the lower level.

It finally sold in April 2012 for just $385,000.

Now we have the companion unit to test this much hotter market.

It has the same layout with 2 of the 3 bedrooms in the lower level.

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

It has central air and washer/dryer in the unit but the listing doesn’t say anything about parking. The other unit that sold last year had a parking spot.

Originally listed for $425,000 in May, it has been reduced to $409,000.

That’s below both the 2008 and 2006 purchase price.

Will this unit ultimately sell for under what 1049 W. Montana #1 sold for last year?

Mary Ellen Shannon at Coldwell Banker has the unit. See the pictures here.

Unit #1: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, no square footage listed, duplex down

  • Sold in September 1995 for $231,000
  • Sold in March 2002 for $343,000
  • Sold in August 2006 for $419,000
  • Sold in April 2008 for $435,000
  • Originally listed in May 2013 for $425,000
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $409,000
  • Assessments of $270 a month
  • Taxes of $6011
  • Central Air
  • Washer/dryer in the unit
  • No parking
  • Bedroom #1: 15×10 (lower level)
  • Bedroom #2: 13×10 (lower level)
  • Bedroom #3: 10×8 (main floor)