Chicagoans are fortunate: They can live not only near Lake Michigan but along the banks of the Chicago River, too. And now 15 town homes and four condos are coming to market along a portion of the river.
Chicago Magazine recently ran a feature story on the mostly final additions to the River Walk community located at the border of the city’s Avondale, Logan Square and West Lakeview neighborhoods. But buyers who want to live here might have to act quickly.
According to the story, four of the town homes — each of which are 3 floors — have already sold somewhere within the developer’s price range of $549,900 to $564,900. Two more of the town homes have closed above that range thanks to customizations requested by the buyers, according to Chicago Magazine.
Those are impressive numbers. According to the Chicago Magazine story, the median town home sale price in the Avondale neighborhood that borders River Walk is $403,000.
And demand for this project has been high from the start. A listing agent for River Walk says that the first town home sold in October. That was before construction even began.
The town homes are attractive, with most of them covering 2,500 sqft. Their kitchens come with Viking appliances and quartz counters. The homes also come with a lots of windows and a fireplace.
Three of the four condos will each cover 1,700 sqft of living space and come with three bedrooms. The fourth unit is a 2,900sqft duplex-down. Construction of these units will start next summer.
Expect demand for these to be high, too. People like living along or near water. And there simply aren’t many new-construction options available today along this part of the Chicago River.
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Chicago keeps notching impressive real estate sales. The latest? A trophy unit in the city’s Trump Tower.
According to a report from Zillow, this raw penthouse unit recently sold for $17 million. This is believed to be the most expensive residential real estate transaction in the city’s history.
Of course, the property did not sell for its listing price. The residence, which covers 14,260 sqft, was last listed on Zillow for $32 million. Sanjay Shah, a local tech millionaire, was in negotiations for about two years to buy the unit. According to the Zillow story, those negotiations finally resulted in the sale.
Now, this sale, impressive as it might be, might not seem like one that’s relevant to most Chicago residents. Very few consumers here will ever pay $17 million for a home, even a penthouse unit in a top Chicago building.
But these big sales do matter. They show that very wealthy people want to live in the heart of the city. And they continue the trend of urban living — people want to live in urban areas where they can walk to restaurants, shops and entertainment — that has been so important to the boom in downtowns such as Chicago’s. There has been a continued exodus of people from far-flung suburbs who have decided they’d rather have the amenities and conveniences of a world-class city than a 1-2 hour death march of a commute to/from the sterility of some suburbs.
Of course, the Trump Tower penthouse is a residence like few others in the city. It sits on the tower’s 89th floor and offers amazing views of the city’s skyline and Lake Michigan. It comes with five bedrooms and a rather incredible eight baths.
And Shah plans to make the residence even more impressive. According to the Zillow story, he plans to spend an additional $15 million to finish the raw space.
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There are plenty of million-dollar-plus homes being sold throughout the Chicago area, according to a recent feature story in Crain’s Chicago Business. And this is good news for the Chicago housing market as a whole: It’s another sign that the Chicago residential real estate market is continuing to strengthen.
According to the Crain’s story, sales of single-family homes priced at $1.5 million or more rose nearly 20% through the first 10 months of this year in the Chicago area. As of the first 10 months of 2014, there were 545 such sales in the Chicago area.
How strong is the high-end real estate market here? Crain’s reported that the 545 high-end sales for the first 10 months of the year are the most for the Chicago area since 2007. Back then, the Chicago market saw 678 homes of $1.5 million or more sell in the first 10 months of the year.
While high-end home sales are on the rise, sales in general in the Chicago area are down. Crain’s reports that total Chicago-area home sales through October are off 7% from where they stood during the first 10 months of 2013.
So the increase in high-end home sales is welcome news. Anything that provides a boost to our local housing market is a positive.
According to the Crain’s story, Lincoln Park has been the busiest market for luxury homes so far this year, registering 88 sales of homes priced at $1.5 million or more through October. This Chicago neighborhood also tied for having the second-lowest amount of high-end housing inventory available, just 9 months’ worth of homes priced at $1.5 million or higher. The Chicago neighborhood of Lakeview also had just 9 months of high-end inventory available.
Overall, the Chicago area through October had 925 homes priced for sale at $1.5 million or more, according to the Crain’s story.
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The Chicago housing market is still in a recovery period. Home sales are down from last year, but the median prices that sellers are fetching when they do sell their properties are on the rise.
And, as a recent story by Chicago Magazine shows, few properties in Chicago demonstrate the ups and downs of the current market quite like Jackson Towers in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
This 19-story high-rise residential tower holds 72 units, and is home, as Chicago Magazine says, to several of the most prominent residents of Hyde Park. But, as the story also says, selling units here has been both lucrative and challenging.
Here’s an example: On the last day of October, a seller sold a 5,200sqft duplex in the building for $960,000. That represents the priciest condo sale ever at this building.
That’s good news, right? Not completely. The sellers had originally listed the unit for $1.3 million in March. This, then, is the downside of selling at Jackson Towers: Many of the condo units that have sold here recently have gone through significant price reductions before finding buyers.
Why? Chicago Magazine points first to large-scale maintenance projects taking place at the tower. These projects often come with special assessments, and those can make potential buyers hesitate. At the same time, the city’s residential housing market, though in recovery mode, hasn’t yet seen prices rise to 2005 and 2006 levels in most neighborhoods – and especially in Hyde Park. This has hurt buyers at Jackson Towers who are hoping to nab larger offers on their units.
Then there’s the fact that Jackson Towers isn’t a new property. There are no pools or roof decks at the building. Buyers, then, often choose newer buildings that boast more modern amenities.
A close look at Jackson Towers is interesting. As the Chicago Magazine story says, it really does highlight the challenges and rewards of selling condo space in today’s Chicago housing market. The bottom line? Sellers can earn big prices for their condos. But it helps if these units are in the right buildings with the right amenities.
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You’re ready to buy property in Chicago. But like most buyers here, you can’t pay for your new dream home in cash. You need a mortgage. And to get one, you need to work with a loan officer who will guide you through the home-loan process.
But how do you find the right loan officer? The good news is that there are plenty of talented and experience mortgage loan officers working in the Chicago market. You just have to shop around – and do your research – to find the right one for you.
Stay away from lenders like Quicken Loans or other national outfits – not because they’re necessarily bad, but because they don’t know the ins-and-outs of lending in our market and often create more work and send you down dead ends before denying your loan for reasons that a local lender would not.
Remember, you’ll be sharing personal information with your loan officer. You’ll tell this professional how much you make each year and how much you owe. You want to make sure, then, that you are working with a mortgage loan officer whom you not only trust but whom you like, too.
This story from financial website Bankrate offers some tips for finding the best loan officers. Your best bet? Schedule interviews with the mortgage lenders who most interest you. And once the interview begins, ask these key questions:
Experience: Ask potential loan officers how long they’ve been in the business. You want to work with someone who has the experience to guide you through what can be a complicated transaction with constantly changing guidelines.
Timing: It can take a long time to close a mortgage loan. Ask loan officers how long it generally takes their companies to close loans. You don’t want to work with a company that keeps you hanging when you’re ready to close.
How many clients? You want a mortgage loan officer who is trusted enough to have a steady stream of clients. But you don’t want your loan officer to have too many clients. Officers who are serving too large of a customer base might not have as much time to devote to you.
Rates and fees: A loan officer won’t be able to definitively tell you what interest rates and fees you’ll face until you submit your financial documents and the lender runs your credit. But your loan officer should be able to give you general information about current interest rates and the fees that a lender charges.
Referrals: Most important? Ask loan officers for a list of past clients. Then call these clients. Ask whether loan officers followed through on their promises, returned phone calls or e-mails quickly and provided top service.
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