Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Chicago real estate....at the top of the list again

There's no doubt about it I love Chicago....grew up here, went to school in Ohio, lived in Washington DC for awhile, and after that stint decided I need to get back. My now husband was determined on moving to Seattle and all I could say was, "doesn't it rain there most of the year?" It wasn't happening. So needless to say here I am and so are a whole lot of other people according to Move.com. Chicago is apparently the most popular city to move to followed by Houston, Austin, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Being a Chicago native, I thought that was pretty cool but I've also noticed the trend in my day to day work. I'm talking with people from all over the country whether they're relocating for job reasons or are in the process of moving back to be close to family, etc. In fact one of my clients seems to be making his way around the country...he was living in Los Angeles, moved to Houston for work and is now being relocated by his employer to Chicago. Another client who was originally from Milwaukee who currently lives in Manhattan is now coming back with her husband and wants to maintain their city lifestyle. And Chicago seems to welcome all. Like I've said before, there is something for everyone in this city and I think that is so much part of it's appeal. If culture and museums are your thing, it's here, if you're into sports, name it we have it...even a new lacrosse team, the Chicago Shamrox. Our neighborhoods are pretty distinct from one other...high-rise living does not suit all...and that variety (high-rise life, bohemian chic or just a traditional quaint neighborhood), it's all here.

And though some might disagree with me, relative to other big cities, Chicago is pretty affordable. Check this out....the estimated average single family/condo price for some of the "big" cities....

San Francisco - $602,000
Los Angeles - $545,000
New York City - $454,000
Miami - $340,000
Chicago - $309,000

And to all those people that are wondering how all these new construction projects popping up everywhere are going to sell, well there's your answer.

Image from destination360.com

Monday, April 16, 2007

Chicago Real Estate and the Olympics...a match made in heaven?

Since Chicago was a finalist for getting the U.S. Olympic bid I've talked to many buyers who suddenly have a renewed interest in the South Loop and other neighborhoods on the south side of the city. Or my favorite..."I was talking to my friend and they said I should look in the South Loop because Chicago might get the Olympics." Hey guys....we just got the bid and still have 2 years to see if we actually have the good or bad fortune, depending on which side of the fence you're on, of hosting the Olympics. But if and when Chicago does get the Olympics, not only will it make a profound impact on the city as a whole and the south side in particular, but it's bound to also have an impact on real estate. This impact will certainly be felt potentially as individuals buy property in the area, but the largest impact could be created by the Olympic Village that will be built to house the athletes. The proposed plan for the Village would create somewhere in the ballpark of 5000 units that post-Olympics fervor would most likely be converted into market rate and affordable housing. It would be quite the project and some developers are quite excited about its possibilities. The creation a new "neighborhood" is too much for some developers to pass up, while others are a little sceptical. While no one developer would be taking on the project alone, I think its still somewhat daunting for most....the prospect of selling 5000 units that are part of a single, though multi-faceted project. For a little added perspective, that's nearly 25% of all the condos that were sold citywide in 2006. The whole idea and what it would take for all of this to come together is not for the faint of heart that's for sure.

One can only begin to image how it would change the real estate landscape in the near South Side and for the very near future there will be many more questions then answers. When Barcelona hosted the Olympics in 1992 they did many of the same things that Chicago is planning and turned into a once "blighted" area (not my words as I've never been to Barcelona, but that of another author) into a thriving and vibrant community. If that was to happen purchasing in the "Village" could be a great all around option for homeowners and investors alike. Anything is better then the truck parking lot that currently exists on the site. On the downside, if all that is hoped for doesn't happen, will resale values tank? Will these condos sit on the market like white elephants?

I think Chicago has an amazing future, real estate and otherwise. I'd love to see the Olympics come to Chicago in 2016 and see the "Village" thrive. I don't have a magic wand or crystal ball (though sometimes I wish I did), but I'm just betting there are a lot of people out there who would like to own their own piece of great Chicago history, and a condo in the "Village" might be that piece....time will only tell.

For full details on all the Olympic happenings check out Chicago 2016.

Photo courtesy of Chicago 2016

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

So you think you know what you want in your new home?

So you think you have it all figured out right? You know exactly what you want in your new home....vintage, garage parking, wood-burning fireplace, balcony and the list goes on. You've been all over the internet and yep, that's the complete package. What if I told you that many buyers that I've worked with and am currently working with have started out with one picture in their head only to have the picture change once they start getting into properties. Sometimes priorities change like "I'd rather have a little more space/better location and forget the fireplace" or "I'd rather have less space and live in my ideal location." You name it, I've heard it. And is that a bad thing, no way, I'd rather see you end up with a home that really suits you and your lifestyle. Sometimes its the property that you least expect to interest you is the one that sends your home search in a tailspin or maybe after seeing a few homes with a particular "desired" characteristic, that characteristic loses its charm. The reason I mention this is that I think buyers feel like they have to have it all figured out before they start looking for a home, and that is so not the case. The internet is a great tool and puts all this information at your fingertips, which is great, but why add the additional pressure of having to have it all figured out to your already busy life. Also, sometimes going in with all these preconceived notions, buyers might miss a property that might be ideal except it doesn't have the fireplace or the parking is a space instead of a garage. If it had everything else that you wanted, wouldn't it be at least worth checking out? I think so. The other thing I find that comes up are the things that you don't necessarily think off right of the bat. I was out with a buyer last night that didn't realize how important being on a tree-lined street was to her until she started seeing properties. The first time I'm out with a buyer I always ask them to tell me how they feel about the places we saw....what they liked, didn't like, etc. There is always a point in the conversation where the sentence starts with, "I thought I was going to like ........... and I didn't" generally followed by a reason why. What's interesting is the reason is not always what one would expect and it could be anything under the sun, but more often than not its how something feels. Despite all of our rational thoughts about our needs, feel or some other emotion creates the bottom line. Like I always tell myself, don't over think it....it all works out for the best in the end.