Market Conditions: Investors Paying Record Prices For Luxury Apartment Buildings- Is It a Sign?

Crain’s reported that an investment group apparently has paid a record per unit price for the luxury apartment building at 1225 N. Wells in Old Town that was only completed last year.

Heitman LLC, a Chicago-based real estate investment firm, has agreed to pay about $158 million for a 250-unit luxury apartment building, according to people familiar with the transaction. The price equates to $632,000 per unit, a high for Chicago and a sign of soaring investor demand for trophy apartment towers, fueled by ultra-low interest rates.

The previous record was a 2007 sale of the Grand Plaza East Tower at 540 N. State for $545,738 per unit. That was just before the crash.

Few are predicting that the good times will end badly. But the feverish investment activity is eliciting comparisons to 2007, another golden period for real estate investors that ended when global financial markets crashed in 2008.

“Things are getting silly again,” says Dan Fasulo, managing director of Real Capital Analytics, a New York-based research firm.

That’s because the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy has pushed interest rates on bonds and other investments to near-historic lows, forcing many big investors to seek higher returns in real estate and other assets, he says.

And nearly 5,000 more apartments are slated to come on the market downtown by the end of 2014.

The Hines-JDL venture completed the 16-story building at 1225 N. Wells St. last year. The project is among the first in a wave of high-end downtown apartment towers launched in recent years by developers aiming to capitalize on high occupancies and soaring rents. Net rents at luxury downtown apartment buildings have risen 33 percent since bottoming out at the end of 2009, according to Appraisal Research.

In the fourth quarter, tenants at 1225 Old Town paid the second-highest net rents in the city: $3.04 a square foot, after Aqua Tower on the New East Side at $3.17, according to Appraisal Research.

Up to this point, demand for high-end apartments has outpaced supply. The question on many minds is whether the building boom will create a glut, forcing landlords to slash rents to attract and retain tenants.

What’s the end game for these landlords?

Just how high can rental prices go?

Is real estate’s ‘silly season’ returning? [Crain’s Chicago Business, Alby Gallun, May 6, 2013]

The 4-Bedroom Cottage at 1750 W. Grace in North Center Returns 4 Years Later


We last chattered about this 4-bedroom single family home at 1750 W. Grace in North Center in December 2009.

But long time Chatterers will remember it from the early days because we chattered about it many times over the first few years of this site.

It was even featured on an episode of HGTV and had design plans drawn up from the show about how to renovate the house.

You can see interior pictures in our very first chatter on the house in 2008 here.

It never sold but has now returned to the market 4 years later to try again.

There are no interior pictures with the house this go around so we’ll have to assume it looks much the same as it did previously.

Built in 1878 on a standard 25×125 lot, the house does have central air and a 2-car garage.

The public records don’t say that it’s bank owned but a lis pendens foreclosure was filed in 2011.

Will this finally sell in the “hot” market of 2013?

Colin Hebson at Dream Town Realty has the listing. See the pictures here.

1750 W. Grace: 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2400 square feet, 2 car garage

  • Sold in May 2006 for $555,000
  • Was listed in May 2008 for $669,900
  • Reduced several times
  • Was listed in November 2008 for $584,900
  • Withdrawn
  • Re-listed in April 2009 for $575,000
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in June 2009 for $550,000
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in December 2009 for $535,000
  • Withdrawn in 2009
  • Lis pendens foreclosure filed in January 2011
  • Now re-listed for $599,000
  • Taxes now $9171 (they were $7162 in 2009)
  • Central air
  • Basement
  • Bedroom #1: 17×15 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 11×10 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 9×8 (third floor)
  • Bedroom #4: 10×9 (main floor)

You Don’t Have to go to England to Buy Your Dream Castle: 5N648 Dunham Road in Wayne

Dunham Castle in Wayne

As most of you know, I don’t normally cover many properties outside of the Chicago city limits but I do make exceptions from time to time.

This is one of those times.

There’s a castle in our midst.

Dunham Castle at 5N648 Dunham Road in west suburban Wayne came on the market in September 2012.

Built in 1883 by Mark Dunham, who ran a lucrative horse breeding farm known as Oak Hill Farm, the 3 store home is made out of limestone and brick.

Originally part of a huge estate covering over 2,000 acres, it now sits on 15 acres in the Oak Lawn Farm National Historic District and the Wayne Historic District.

Here’s more from Baird & Warner’s Leslie Ebersole who is handling the sale:

In 1953, Dunham Castle was converted into four spacious apartments. Fortunately, no alteration to the interior structure compromised the original character of the house. After changing owners several times following its transformation into apartments, the Griffins of Wayne bought the house in 1976. During their ownership, the Griffins looked into making the grand building into a museum, professional office, or a private dining club. None of these ideas came to fruition. In the late 1970s concerned community members worked to establish Oak Lawn Farm as a Historic District. In 1986, the home was again put up for sale.

The Armbrust family of Glen Ellyn bought the property in 1987 to convert the building back into a single family home. In the past 25 years extensive effort was made to rebuild the home from the inside out to preserve it for future generations. Unfortunately, business setbacks that troubled so many families in the past few years required that the property be returned to bank who held the mortgage.

The house is now listed at 4 bedrooms, 2 baths with 8215 square feet.

The listing says it was “partially gutted” and that the “structure needs significant investment.”

It has central air.

The listing also says that the lot is zoned for single family living (and horses are allowed) but that the village will likely not allow the property to be subdivided.

For those not familiar with Wayne, it is a small village west of Chicago that historically has had large lots. You won’t find Homedelete’s tri-level houses stacked one after the other out there.

Who has the vision to restore this magnificent piece of history?

Leslie Ebersole at Baird & Warner has the listing. See all the pictures here.

5N648 Dunham Road in Wayne: 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, 8215 square feet

  • Anyone know what it sold for in 1987?
  • Allegedly bank owned
  • Originally listed in September 2012 for $1.8 million
  • Currently still listed at $1.8 million
  • Taxes of $42,592
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 20×20 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 20×20 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 20×20 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #4: 15×15 (main floor)
  • Library: 20×20 (main floor)
  • Full attic


Don’t Settle For the White Box Get 15 Foot Barrel Vaulted Ceilings Instead: 544 W. Brompton in East Lakeview

546 w brompton approved

This top floor 1-bedroom in the courtyard building at 544 W. Brompton in East Lakeview just came on the market.

We’ve chattered about some of the unique units in this building before.

This particular unit has 15 foot barrel vaulted ceilings in the living room along with a wall of exposed brick.

It also has a 1920s decorative fireplace.

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

However, it doesn’t have central air (window units only), washer/dryer in the unit or parking.

It sold just 2 years ago for $210,000.

This time out, in a much hotter market, they’re trying for $269,900 (and yes, it’s the same kitchen as the 2011 sale.)

Will it get the premium?

Bill Mozdzierz at Estate Realty has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #3N: 1 bedroom, 1 bath, no square footage listed

  • Sold in March 1999 for $135,500
  • Sold in June 2003 for $193,000
  • Sold in July 2011 for $210,000
  • Currently listed for $269,900
  • Assessments of $335 a month (includes heat and cable)
  • Taxes of $2924
  • No central air
  • No in-unit washer/dryer
  • No parking
  • Bedroom: 13×11
  • Living room: 26×21

Market Conditions: New Home Sales Jump 34% in Q1 But They’re Coming Off of the Lows

Crain’s reports that new home sales in Chicago jumped 34% to 691 in the first quarter of the year.

It is the first year over year increase in sales since the housing bust began.

Sales are up but still nowhere near their level at the market’s peak in 2005, when builders sold more than 33,000 homes in the Chicago area.

Though high-rise condo construction has yet to come back, nearly 500 unsold units hit the city market this year when a joint venture including developer Related Cos. rebooted sales at three failed South Loop towers. One of them, Harbor View at 1901 S. Calumet Ave., saw 31 sales alone in the first quarter, according to Tracy Cross.

Large three-bedroom condos in smaller projects are also selling well, as are new condos and town homes in far-flung suburbs such as Huntley, where prices are more attractive, Mr. Doersching said.

There’s a good chart in Crain’s showing just how far new sales have sunk since the boom.

We’ve seen a smattering of new developments announced in the city but compared to even the pre-boom years, it’s almost nil.

Many builders who survived the bust stayed busy in recent years scooping up stalled subdivisions at a discount from lenders who foreclosed on previous builders. Though some builders have started buying raw land to build from scratch, area home prices still haven’t risen to the point to make that play attractive to many builders that still have thousands of vacant, improved lots from which to choose.

One of those builders is John Carroll, president of the Chicago-area division for the Ryland Group Inc., which led all developers with 145 Chicago-area sales in the quarter. Ryland is marketing 15 local developments and aims to open three or four more by the end of the year, Mr. Carroll said.

Though home prices are rising, the market is still “a little ways off” to justify raw land development, he said. Mr. Carroll is encouraged by current conditions but cognizant of the fact the market is still nowhere near the peak of 2005.

“We’re certainly not in a housing boom,” he said. “The combination of pent-up demand and lack of resale inventory is a pretty straight path for an improving market.”

When will we start to see new development on a larger scale?

When will the new building ads return to the Sunday Tribune?

Local new home sales jump 19 percent in the first quarter [Crain’s Chicago Business, David Lee Matthews, May 2, 2013]


Looking For a 6-Bedroom Renovated Vintage Queen Anne? 3500 N. Janssen in Southport

3500 n janssen #1

This 6-bedroom Queen Anne at 3500 N. Janssen in Southport has been on and off the market since May 2012.

It is located in a popular sub-section of Southport, near the Southport brown line stop and all the shops and restaurants.

However, it’s not in the coveted Blaine school district but is in Hamilton instead.

The listing says it has a “reconfigured” floor plan with a new kitchen, with white cabinets and upscale stainless appliances, new electrical, new plumbing and new HVAC.

Built in 1901, the 6400 square foot house is on an oversized 42×123 corner lot.

Four of the bedrooms are on the second floor, with one on the main floor and one on the lower level.

There’s also luxury extras like a wine cellar.

Originally listed at $2.95 million, it has been reduced $200,000 in the last year.

What’s holding this house back?

3500 n janssen #2

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

3500 N. Janssen: 6 bedrooms, 4 baths, 6400 square feet, 2 car garage

  • Sold in October 1996 for $550,000
  • Sold in April 1998 for $890,000
  • Sold in August 2003 for $1.925 million
  • Originally listed in May 2012 for $2.95 million
  • Withdrawn in November 2012
  • Re-listed in February 2013 for $2.75 million
  • Currently still listed at $2.75 million
  • Taxes of $17,130
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 17×15 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 14×11 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 14×11 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #4: 12×11 (main floor)
  • Bedroom #5: 11×8 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #6: 12×17 (lower level)
  • Media room: 16×25 (lower level)

Not Everything Is Selling In a Week: 3-Bedroom Southport House Reduces at 3408 N. Bosworth

3408 n bosworth approved

We’ve chattered about this 3-bedroom house next to the El tracks at 3408 N. Bosworth in Southport several times.

See our March 2013 chatter here.

But with the market “hot” a lot of properties that haven’t sold in the last few years are taking their chances again.

You’ll recall that it came on the market higher than a previous list in 2010 at $599,000.

It has since reduced to $575,000.

If you recall, the house has most of the features buyers look for including central air and a 2 car garage.

Built in 1877 on a 25×125 lot, it has some of its original features including stained glass but also has been updated, including a new chef’s kitchen with Viking and Jennair appliances, white cabinets and granite counter tops.

2 of the 3 bedrooms are on the second floor and the property has an unfinished basement.

The house only has 1 bathroom however.

I’m suddenly seeing a few more properties sit on the market than just a  month or two ago. It’s just anecdotal and in the GZ.

Is the desperation by buyers being exaggerated?

Deborah Nick at Conlon still has the listing. See the pictures here.

3408 N. Bosworth: 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, no square footage listed, 2 car garage

  • Sold in February 1996 for $132,000
  • Sold in February 1997 for $170,000
  • Sold in June 2002 for $428,000
  • Sold in July 2005 for $569,000
  • Originally listed in April 2010 for $749,000
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in October 2010 for as low as $589,000
  • Withdrawn
  • Originally listed in March 2013 for $599,000
  • Reduced
  • Currently listed at $575,000
  • Taxes now $10,747 (they were $8523 in October 2010)
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 15×14 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 14×10 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 11×8 (main floor)
  • Living room: 23×12
  • Dining room: 12×12
  • Kitchen: 16×9
  • Mudroom: 9×6
  • Unfinished basement

Over a Year Later, This 3-Bedroom in a Former Rectory Is Still Available: 3100 N. Kenmore in Lakeview

3100 n kenmore 

We last chattered about this 3-bedroom triplex unit at 3100 N. Kenmore in Lakeview in April 2012.

See our prior chatter here.

Back then, it had been listed at $599,000 and was reduced to $575,000. Most of you thought it was overpriced considering the finishes. At least one of you guessed that it would sell around $499,000.

It is still on the market and is, once again, listed back at $599,000.

If you recall, it is the top floor of a converted rectory.

The unit has exposed brick and large windows in the living room area along with a 20 foot vaulted ceiling.

It’s a triplex with two of the bedrooms on the second level and the third on the third floor.

The listing says there is a private planted roof deck.

The kitchen has stainless steel appliances.

Will this unit finally sell in 2013?

In this hotter market, will they finally get the higher price?

Robert John Anderson at Baird & Warner still has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #3G: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, approximately 2000 square feet, 1 car parking

  • Sold in March 2000 for $419,000
  • Sold in October 2007 for $585,000
  • Originally listed in February 2012 for $599,000
  • Reduced
  • Was listed in April 2012 at $575,000
  • Currently listed at $599,000
  • Assessments of $344 a month
  • Taxes of $8364
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • Bedroom #1: 15×13 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 20×12 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 20×14 (third floor)

The New Portage Park Reality: Renovated 1800 Sq Ft Houses for $444,000: 4153 N. Major

This 4-bedroom Tudor at 4153 N. Major in Portage Park just came on the market.

This house last sold “as-is” in December 2012 in an estate sale. It appears from public records that the prior owner had been in the house since before 1985.

You can see pictures of the house as it looked at the prior sale here.

Built in 1949 on a 40×125 corner lot, it is kiddie corner from Luther High School North.

The house has been renovated and now has 4 bedrooms and 3 baths (it was a 3/2 last time.)

The basement has been finished and now has a 34×22 family room.

Two of the bedrooms are on the second floor, including a new master suite, and two of the bedrooms are on the main floor.

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

The carpets on the main level are gone and have been replaced with dark pine floors (do you think those were the originals underneath the carpet?).

It has central air and a 2-car garage.

It has come on the market at $444,900.

Can Portage Park sustain prices at this level or is this one house an aberration?

Peter Drossos at Keller Williams Realty has the listing. See the pictures here.

4153 N. Major: 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 1804 square feet, 2 car garage

  • Prior sale was before 1985
  • Sold in an estate sale in November 2012 for $175,000
  • Currently listed for $444,900
  • Taxes of $5383
  • Central Air
  • Bedroom #1: 23×16 (second floor)
  • Bedroom #2: 12×13 (main floor)
  • Bedroom #3: 12×13 (main floor)
  • Bedroom #4: 16×12 (second floor)
  • Family room: 24×22 (basement)


A Unique 3-Bedroom East Lake Shore Drive Maisonette: 189 E. Lake Shore Drive in the Gold Coast

179 e lake shore drive approved

This 3-bedroom duplex down maisonette in The Mayfair at 189 E. Lake Shore Drive in the Gold Coast came on the market in January.

It is the shorter building just to the east of the Drake in the picture above. Sorry, but I don’t think I have any other picture of it.

Maisonettes, for the uninitiated, are first floor condos in a high rise that sometimes (but not always) have their own separate entrances.

In this case, this maisonette is the row of extra large windows that extends the length of the driveway of the building so it has lake and Lake Shore Drive views. (See the listing pictures to know what I mean.)

The Mayfair was built in 1924 as a hotel and converted into one-of-a-kind condos in the 1990s. There are 29, with 2 per floor.

This “zen-inspired” unit looks nothing like a vintage condo in the interior as it has contemporary upgrades, including light maple wood floors and skylights.

The kitchen is custom Bulthaup with commercial level appliances (are those blue, black or gray cabinets? I cannot tell for sure.)

All three bedrooms are on the main level.

There is a media room and wine cellar on the lower level.

It has central air, washer/dryer in the unit and 2-car parking.

Purchased in 2007 for $4.495 million in 2007, it has come on the market $1.5 million higher six years later.

The upper bracket has been hot due to the stock market being at all time highs.

Will this unit continue the trend?

Timothy Salm at Jameson Sotheby’s has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #1W: 3 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, 5000 square feet, duplex down, 2 car parking

  • Sold in November 1996 for $1.1 million
  • Sold in February 2007 for $4.495 million
  • Listed in January 2013 for $5.999 million
  • Currently still listed at $5.999 million
  • Assessments of $3842 a month (includes gas, parking, doorman)
  • Taxes of $38799
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • Bedroom #1: 13×24 (main level)
  • Bedroom #2: 13×11 (main level)
  • Bedroom #3: 12×11 (main level)
  • Media room: 20×15 (lower level)