Buy Chicago Real Estate with a Super Jumbo Loan

As we see month to month in the sales report for Chicago real estate, there are luxury properties, and there are ultra luxury properties. So it’s no surprise that there is a mortgage loan that takes luxury to the next level as well.

Meet the super jumbo. The term refers to home loan financing in, well, super jumbo amounts—usually at least $2 million but reaching all the way up to $20 million or higher.

Even though these loan amounts are larger than large (and therefore carry a larger risk), many lenders are seeing super jumbo financing as a sweet spot for their wealthy clientele. The Wall St. Journal recently reported that financing loans of this size have gotten significantly easier in the least year.

The big difference between financing a super jumbo loan and a conventional or jumbo loan is that borrowers carry a high net worth, and are choosing—not needing—to borrow the money to purchase a home. Qualified buyers can generally find financing of this size at big banks where they are typically already customers, but some smaller, local lenders may be willing to work with their best customers as well.

But if you’ve got the cash, why borrow? With interest rates as low as they are, borrowers may very well find that their cash will earn a higher yield invested elsewhere. The super jumbo loan allows a buyer to keep their investments where they please and simply make a monthly mortgage payment.

If you’re considering purchasing a luxury Chicago real estate and think a super jumbo loan might be the answer, here are a few things to consider:

Credit still counts. Borrowers still must prove excellent credit—a minimum 740 credit score. Just having the cash but not the reputation to back it up won’t cut it.

There may be stricter underwriting. A super jumbo borrower may need to put down a larger down payment or show more cash reserves than a traditional borrower would. One reason could simply be inventory: with properties moving quickly and not as many luxury homes as there are luxury buyers, buyers may end up paying more for a home than it is appraised for.

Guidelines may vary. Some banks have super jumbo loan requirements that live under a certain amount-borrowed threshold; others may determine the rules and regulations on a case-by-case basis.

Consider both a fixed and an adjustable-rate mortgage. As the amount of a jumbo or super jumbo mortgage goes up, many borrowers are more attracted to an adjustable-rate mortgage, as many only hold a mortgage for 3 to 5 years. But high-net-worth borrowers might consider the old-fashioned 30-year, fixed-rate loan to lock in today’s unbeatable rates.

Other assets may count. Some banks might allow borrowers to pledge a portion of their stock portfolio if cash reserves aren’t an option. This works similar to a margin loan: if the market declines and the borrow doesn’t have cash to make the mortgage payments, the lender may sell those assets.

If you’re looking at a super jumbo loan, Chicago’s super jumbo homes certainly make a case for their ultra-luxury price tag. Mansion-esque square footage, sprawling outdoor space, seemingly limitless amenities and luxury features down to every detail. To learn more about high-end properties on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Chicago Luxury Condo Sales in May Particularly Strong

The summer selling season is moving along extremely well, with sales of Chicago luxury condos hitting a real high last month. In May, 52 units sold for a total of $82.5 million, compared to $69 million in sales during the month prior.

Four out of the top five most expensive sales were in buildings that are always on the top of my list of recommendations for luxury buyers. These buildings all differentiate from the norm, with units that offer 3,000+ square feet and services and amenities that take luxury living to the next level. Each of these buildings are also extremely walkable, with shopping, dining, entertainment and more all within a close distance.

And while these building share many luxury features, they each stand on their own as well. I encourage you to give me a call to discuss the various nuances and amenities that differ from these luxury buildings and see them first-hand. That is by far the best way to understand why these Chicago condos are consistently on the top of the sales lists and why the most discriminating buyers choose them.

In the meantime, here are a few details on those top five most expensive condos to sell in Chicago last month:

Chicago real estate at Park Tower 800 Michigan Avenue800 N Michigan Ave, Unit 8008
Original list price: $3.79 million
Sold price: $3.5 million
Park Tower is an icon along Michigan Avenue, not to mention in the city of Chicago. It’s no mystery why it earned two of the top five units sold last month. This 4,200 square foot r-bedroom is on the building’s 56th floor, allowing for soaring views of the lake, city and dreamy sunsets. Features include loads of storage, huge walk-in closets in the master bedroom, a spacious balcony off of the kitchen and two included garage spaces. Residents of Park Tower can take advantage of all of the luxe hotel amenities offered by the neighboring Park Hyatt.

aquatower225 N Columbus Dr, Unit 8032
Original list price: $3.9 million
Sold price: $3.3 million
The south, east and north exposures of this 78th floor 3-bedroom condo equate to 360-degree views from inside and from multiple wrap-around balconies. The Aqua building is a gem on Chicago’s architectural map, designed by Jeanne Gang in the city’s East Lakeshore neighborhood. Designer-inspired finishes are found throughout this unit, with Gaggenau and SubZero appliances, Snaidero cabinets, controls for audio, lighting and window treatments.

Chicago real estate at Park Tower 800 Michigan Avenue800 N Michigan Ave, Unit 4401
Original list price: $3.2 million
Sold price: $3 million
Another stunner in the iconic Park Tower. This 3,200 square foot, 3-bedroom unit is on the premier “01” tier of the building, on the 44th floor boasting spectacular lake views from every room. Details inside include beautiful millwork with built-in bookcases, wide-plank walnut hardwood floors, a gracious floorplan and a large familiy room that opens up to a terrace.

65 e monroe65 East Monroe St, Unit 4601
Original list price: $2.84 million
Sold price: $2.95 million
This exceptional penthouse was recently designed and built to epitomize luxury real estate in Chicago. Perched high in a southeast corner of the 46th floor, this 4,000 square foot condo captures stunning views of Michigan Avenue, Monroe Harbor, Millennium Park and much more through 10-foot floor-to-ceiling windows. The building itself—The Park Monroe—includes amenities like a lap pool, gym, media room, outdoor Jacuzzi, party room and rooftop terrace.

Chicago condos in Trump Tower401 N Wabash Ave, Unit 53A
Original list price: $3.29 million
Sold price: $2.775 million
This upgraded “A-tier” unit in Trump Tower spans just over 3,000 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths and unbeatable north and east views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Details throughout this unit include a Snaidero kitchen, Miele, Wolf and SubZero appliances, dark Brazilian hardwood floors and three fireplaces, PLUS upgrades like motorized window treatments, a glass wine room, custom storage and state-of-the-art lighting and sound system. The building itself is known for the luxury lifestyle it offers to residents, with a world-class health club and spa, five-star hotel amenities and attentive service from the curb all the way up to your front door.

These buildings, among a few others, are truly the cream of the crop for luxury real estate in Chicago. If you’re in the market for a new condo, I definitely recommend checking these out and would be happy to give you a personal tour. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

May Luxury Single-Family Homes Hit $59 Million

Ultra high-end homes are once again ruling the luxury market. The top five homes sold in May were all on the higher end of the spectrum, with four our of five topping $3 million and the most expensive selling for $5.875 million. Total sales of luxury homes (those sold over $1 million) in May totaled $59 million.

As I’ve told many of my clients, when it comes to luxury properties, there are certain features that come at a price. The most expensive homes have a number of things in common, but one feature in particular is popping up more than ever: turn-key homes that don’t require nay work to be done before moving in. Even better if the home is new construction or newly renovated.

New and almost-new homes are definitely at the top of buyers’ wish lists, which means they move especially quickly, as did the homes sold last month. Among the top five, each was sold in record time, the longest being just 21 days. For upscale properties, the time to sell is going down—but prices are going up.

Here’s a look at the top five luxury homes to sell in Chicago during the month of May:

image1207 N Astor St
Original list price: $5.875 million
Sold price: $5.875 million
On an extra-wide lot (27 x 107 ft), this fantastic home on storied Astor Street features 7,500 square feet, 6 bedrooms and 4.1 baths that have all been renovated to include high-end finishes and fixtures, radiant heat and home electronics. A great room stretches up to a 20-foot ceiling with a stone fireplace, while a sun-filled penthouse features a skylight and 2 terraces. The terrazzo floored lower level features a media room and wine room.

image2138 N Hudson Ave
Original list price: $5.2 million
Sold price: $5.1 million
This single-family home takes “extra-wide lot” to the next level with a lot that’s twice the standard 25 feet wide, allowing for a whopping 8,000 square feet of living space. That alone makes it atypical of a city home, but the large yard, park-like setting and abundant natural light make it feel almost like a vacation getaway. Inside you’ll find 5 bedrooms, a huge eat-in kitchen with high-end finishes, dining terrace off of the great room, two-story library, spa-like master bath on the top level and an attached 3-car garage.

image43 E Division St
Original list price: $4.5 million
Sold price: $4.15 million
This 5,500 square foot Italianate home hails from the 1870s—but has been fully revamped for contemporary living in 2015. The property includes coach house spaces that can be used as in-law quarters or even a separate living space entirely. Other features include a heated sidewalks, stone floors and 2-car garage, expansive storage and 2 additional outdoor parking spaces.

image2238 N Magnolia Ave
Original list price: $2.849 million
Sold price: $3.05 million
This sparkling new construction single-family home is on one of Lincoln Park’s finest one-way streets. The spectacular floor plan allows for superb natural light and is complemented by an array of feature: designer selections throughout, an amazing chef’s kitchen with integrated appliances and modern millwork. The great outdoor space includes a backyard, garage roofdeck, covered/open rooftop deck, great neighborhood views, outdoor grilling station and fireplace and heated steps and rear patio.

3646 N Lakewood Ave3646 N Lakewood Ave
Original list price: $2.395 million
Sold price: $2.3 million
Yet another Chicago new construction, this home was built by Bloomfield Development just steps from Southport Corridor and Blaine Elementary, one of the top (and therefore most sought-after) schools in the city. With a full masonry/brick construction that built a handsome exterior, the 4,800 square foot interior boasts 6 bedrooms, 5.1 baths, custom millwork, a SubZero/Wolf appliance package, hardwood flooring, lower level radiant heat and more. The home’s outdoor space includes a raised patio with fireplace and a rooftop deck with outdoor room.

With high-end luxury homes in Chicago moving so quickly on and off the market, it’s important to keep up with the current listings. What’s for sale today could be very different from what’s for sale tomorrow. If you’d like to keep an eye on a particular neighborhood, type of home, or particular features, give me a call and tell me what you’re looking for. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Luxury Condos in Chicago Continue to Sell Well in April

It’s all in the name—last month’s top sales for April condos in Chicago reads like a who’s who in high end real estate. Lake Shore Drive, Trump Tower, Michigan Avenue, Gold Coast—all indicators of the best of the best in Chicago luxury.

Each of the top 5 condos sold was either on a prestigious block or in a prestigious building, with 42 units sold totaling $69 million. And there was another reoccurring theme among the top homes sold—square footage. Even though these are condo units, not one of these units skimped on space, going all the way up to 6,000 square feet.

Here is a closer look at the top 5 Chicago condos that sold in April, in descending order from the most expensive:

1021 N Dearborn St
Original list price: $5.5 million
Sold price: $5.5 million
Last month’s top sale was an exquisite, one-of-a-kind end unit located in the Gold Coast at Oak and Dearborn—it sold even before the listing sheet officially made it to the printer. The elegance of this unit is apparent as soon as you step inside, with a dramatic stone-tiled 2-story foyer to welcome you. Beyond that, you’ll find 5,800+ square feet over 4 levels, with a huge living and dining room, a 441-foot wraparound balcony, cook’s kitchen with luxury stainless steel appliances and granite counters, a full-floor master suite with sitting room, walk in closet and stunning master bath, plus a media room that opens to a grand terrace.

Trump Tower Chicago real estate401 N Wabash Ave, Unit 46A
Original list price: $4.29 million
Sold price: $4.025 million
It’s certainly not uncommon for River North’s Trump Tower to have a place on the top condo sales each month. This 3 bedroom unit is just under 4,000 square feet and puts the building’s iconic views front and center, offering a stunning eastern view from the master bedroom. The unit is located on one of the best tiers in the building, with only 9 other units offering the same features. Plus, residents of Trump Tower enjoy some of the most high-end services and amenities in any Chicago condo building, from a private chef to world-class spa and much more.

Chicago real estate at Park Tower 800 Michigan Avenue800 N Michigan Ave, Unit 2801
Original list price: $4.2 million
Sold price: $3.5 million
This condo is located in the iconic Park Tower, one of the most architecturally famous buildings on the Magnificent Mile. Its location on the 28th floor allows for breathtaking views of the lake, city and daily sunsets from every window. With 4,200+ square feet, this Chicago condo takes up a half floor with a custom design that maximizes space for entertaining and casual living, including features like a dramatic entry, formal living and dining room, cook’s kitchen, huge family room, large master suite, rich finishes, hardwood walnut floors and custom millwork.

1347_ndearborn1347 N State Pkwy, Unit 1
Original list price: $3.999 million
Sold price: $3.3 million
Called a “magazine caliber” residence, this Gold Coast triplex lives more like a single-family home than a condo (with a whopping 6,000 square feet of living space!). The 6-bedroom unit is located in the Gold Coast and includes a lavish master suite with exercise room, incredible bath, media room, terrace, billiards room, dream kitchen and 800+ bottle wine cellar. The location is especially ideal, with the Gold Coast being a favorite among luxury buyers, and this property being within walking distance of Lake Michigan, Old Town, Rush Street and the Magnificent Mile.

179-e-lake-shore-drive-co-op-apartments-360179 E Lake Shore Dr, Unit 21E
Original list price: $2.45 million
Sold price: $1,999,999
Lake Shore Drive is among the best blocks in the city, and this gorgeous half-floor, 3,045 square foot co-op helps showcase why. Located in a landmarked building designed by famed Chicago architect Benjamin Marshall, this unit includes superb views, beautifully updated architecture, new baths and kitchen, a luxurious master suite, a handsome paneled library and gracious upgrades throughout. The building also adjoins the prestigious Drake Hotel. The buyer for this co-op paid cash, but it is important to note that the co-op stated upfront that a buyer would only be able to finance 50% of the cost. The building was also on the market for just over 500 days, which isn’t surprising considering the approval process required for co-op buyers is often a long one.

Whether it’s in a condo, a co-op or a single-family home, it has been apparent for months that ample space is at the top of luxury buyers’ wish lists when shopping for a home. This month was no exception. If you’re looking to buy in the next several months, I encourage you to keep an eye on the monthly sales and see what types of homes are selling for what price. Then you can keep that in mind when establishing your own wants/needs list for your real estate purchase.

To learn more about last month’s Chicago real estate sales or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Phenomenal Sales Month for Chicago Luxury Homes in April

Spring is here, and so are the buyers. Last month’s numbers are in, and it seems that people who can afford luxury real estate in Chicago are coming out of the woodwork, which led to 56 luxury ($1 million-plus) homes sold in April. Of those 56, 15 homes sold for more than $2 million.

Trends Among Luxury Chicago Real Estate Sales

You’ll see a few commonalities among these sales, especially in location. Three of the top 5 homes sold were in Lincoln Park and 2 were in Lakeview. I am noticing that the Lakeview area is becoming popular among luxury buyers—particularly those who want larger rooms, an extra wide lot and new construction. Those features run considerably more expensive in Lincoln Park, plus land is limited, so such lots are much harder to come by.

Another trend is one we’ve been witnessing for awhile—extra-wide lots. Even a stretch of only a few feet past the standard lot size can afford a home more square footage, a more open layout and larger rooms, and these are all things buyers want in a new Chicago home. Last month’s sales in Lincoln Park are on extra wide lots and one is of the most exclusive blocks in the city.

With that, here’s a closer look at the top five most expensive sales last month, in descending order:

1874orchard1874 N Orchard
Original list price:
$5.975 million
Sold price: $5,927,483
Last month’s most expensive sale is truly special and checks off just about everything a luxury buyer is looking for. Foremost, the space is absolutely huge. At 35 feet x 131 feet, the lot is extra wide and extra deep—I might even call it extra, extra large. Plus, this street in particular lacks an alley in back, allowing the 8,530 square foot home to benefit from an attached, front-loaded garage and an enormous rear yard measuring 37 feet x 35 feet. That size outdoor space is practically unheard of in the city.

Secondly, the home was sold as proposed construction—which means brand new, plus the buyer can work with the developer to make customizations to their liking. While many details were TBD at the time of sale, there was one spectacular inclusion: a 5-stop elevator to provide access to the home’s massive penthouse roofdeck with exceptional city views. And one last (but most certainly not least) feature: the location is one of the most coveted in Lincoln Park, as Orchard is a prestigious block home to many beautiful mansions.

2032NClifton2032 N Clifton St
Original list price:
$3.75 million
Sold price: $3.5 million
Built in 1883, this brick and limestone home was recently rehabbed on its fabulous Lincoln Park block. Details inside include a custom O’Brian Harris kitchen, Calcutta Gold marble counters, walnut cabinetry and Wolf and Miele appliances. An extra large master suite includes a huge chaise lounge shower, dual vanities and custom closets, and 4 additional bedrooms feature their own private paths as well.

2017NFremont2017 N Fremont St
Original list price:
$2.95 million
Sold price: $2.775 million
This 5,000+ square foot home was a 3 flat converted into a single-family home on the ever-charming Fremont Street. Each corner was built to the highest quality, with luxe materials and finishes, limestone countertops, a gorgeous kitchen and a new lower level that could serve as a great room or guest suite. Plus, a 2-car heated garage, 3 heating/cooling zones, 4 fireplaces and 5 skylights are just a few perks throughout.

jansen3446 N Janssen Ave
Original list price:
$2.995 million
Sold price: $2.75 million
Another just-finished new construction home on an extra-wide (37.5 feet!) lot, this Lakeview home offers loads of space: 6,200 square feet and 6 bedrooms. That allows plenty of room for a huge professional-grade kitchen, massive family room, a deck above the 3-car garage and much more. Beautiful details are found throughout, from the solid brick/limestone exteriors to the interior hardwood floors, custom millwork, spa-caliber baths and radiant heated floors.

lakewood3649 N Lakewood Ave
Original list price:
$2.85 million
Sold price: $2.75 million
Six bedrooms, 6,000 square feet and a stunning addition to the Southport corridor—this Chicago new construction home has plenty to boast about. Ideally located in the Blaine School District, the home was built on an extra-wide, 30-foot lot, allowing for generous space throughout. The home features quality millwork throughout, custom designed kitchen, a penthouse rec room, smart home integration, plus radiant heat on the lower level, baths and front steps. An attached three car garage is a rarer find among urban real estate, as is the abundant outdoor space.

Last month’s sales are proof that space is a luxury among Chicago homes—buyers covet square footage as much as a prime location newer properties. And many want all three of those and more! This is why I think it’s important for potential home buyers to keep an eye on what’s selling on the Chicago real estate market from month to month. If you’ve got a big list of “wants” for your own purchase, seeing what sold for what price can help you set expectations for your budget.

For more details on last month’s single-family home sales or to see luxury homes in Chicago on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Living in a Chicago Luxury Condo Right Near the Art Institute

CHicago real estate near the Artt InstituteWhen it comes to urban living, it’s hard to beat a downtown Chicago condo. For starters, many of luxury condo buildings bring the best of both worlds—upscale amenities of luxury city living, with all the square footage you might miss from the suburbs. Plus, you’re in the heart of everything the city has to offer—culture, shopping, great food, the city’s landmarks.

One of those jewels of the city is Chicago’s Art Institute, located near Millennium Park on the east side of the downtown loop. Not only is there plenty to do in this area, there are a number of Chicago real estate options that put it all just a few steps from your front door.

The Art Institute Getting a Big Upgrade

The Art Institute is on the verge of being better than ever, having just received a gift of 42 pop art works from the likes of Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and others. The gift is valued at roughly $500 million combined. The Warhol collection alone will bring in 9 silk screens, adding to one single Warhol painting.

It’s the largest gift in the 136-year history of the Art Institute. It’s also a huge addition to the museum’s contemporary collection, putting it on par with its signature impressionist pieces. The works range from abstract 1940s and 1950s pieces to 1960s pop art and are set to be installed at the end of this year and ready for public viewing in January 2016.

Chicago Real Estate in the Center of City’s Culture

The Art Institute is only one of the major attractions found near downtown Chicago real estate. Other gems in this neighborhood include:

Chicago Symphony Center: Consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs more than 100 concerts each year right here in downtown Chicago.

Millennium Park: Along with a garden and winter ice skating rink, Millennium Park is home to several architectural wonders. One is Cloud Gate, the mirrored sculpture that’s quickly become one of the city’s most loved attractions. You’ll also find the Pritzker Pavillion, an architectural bandstand designed by Frank Gehry as a coveted destinations for outdoor musical performances.

Maggie Daley Park: Still under construction, this new park will be named after Chicago’s longtime first lady, and will include an interactive skating rink, a field house, climbing park and much more to make it the ultimate destination for play in downtown Chicago.

Theaters: The Chicago Theatre and the Cadillac Theater are a few nearby hot spots for seeing everything from Broadway to standup comedy.

Finding Chicago Real Estate for the Art Enthusiast

Something else to consider with the idea of being close to art is finding the right real estate in Chicago for an art collector themselves. I’ve worked with a number of collectors and art enthusiasts to find a property that accommodates their collection, whether it be a single statement piece on the wall or a major sculpture collection.

I am also connected to one of the most prestigious lighting experts in the city, who can work with you on hanging and properly lighting your most precious pieces, from small to larger collections.

Chicago real estate truly has something to offer for every taste and interest (such as art), and I would be happy to help you find a property that’s the perfect fit for you and your family. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Larger Lot Sizes Dominate Chicago Luxury Homes Sales for March

Most of my clients, when beginning their search for Chicago luxury real estate, have some sort of wish list in mind. Maybe it’s a particular neighborhood, a certain school, a glamorous closet or enviable outdoor space.

There’s another feature that buyers have been stating upfront they are looking for in their luxury home search: a large lot. The standard lot size for a Chicago home is 25 feet x 125 feet; anything wider than that is considered a large lot, and this is a huge differentiating factor among properties. A large lot allows for larger rooms and more square footage on the interior of a home—two things that carry a lot of weight when it’s resale time.

Last month, four of the top five most expensive homes sold were on larger-than-standard lots. One was even a whopping 55 feet wide, more than double the standard. Each of the top properties sold in March takes full advantage of those large lots, with loads of space, rooms and square footage. In March, 46 luxury homes were sold for a total sales volume of $86 million.

In ascending order to the priciest March sale, here’s a look at the top single-family homes that sold last month:

441wbelden441 W Belden Ave
Original list price:
$4.395 million
Sold price: $4.325 million
When it comes to large lots, this one takes the cake—a generous 55 square feet wide. This turn-key Lincoln Park home was a rare opportunity for a luxury buyer to purchase a like-new property that spared no details on a 2011 remodel. A kitchen with top-end appliances, an enormous great room, 6 total bedrooms including a big master suite, a lover level family room and play room, and a full in-law apartment are just a few of the exquisite features.

1442wberteau1442 W Berteau Ave
Original list price:
$3.879 million
Sold price: $3.777 million
Another newer property (built in 2009), this Ravenswood home sits on an extra-wide 42-foot lot that allows for 7,000 square feet of living space. The limestone façade displays sophistication on the outside, with a highly upgraded custom inside. Features include a top-quality kitchen with butler’s pantry, 4.5 bedrooms with an opulent master bedroom, a paneled study/media room with full bar a state-of-the-art wine cellar, gym, penthouse den with wet bar, 2 laundry rooms, an elevator and mud room. The exterior space also includes a bluestone terrace, 2 spacious decks and a heated sidewalk.

1845nmohawk1845 N Mohawk St
Original list price:
$3.85 million
Sold price: $3.65 million
Just built in 2010, this home is a premium, custom-built masonry home in much-loved Lincoln Park. Upgrades are found throughout, including fully automated security, snowmelt, 4 home automation systems, 8 HVAC zones and sprinkler system. An attached 2.5-car heated garage is the ultimate luxury for winter months. Inside the home, you’ll find custom millwork, four fireplaces, a chef’s kitchen with banquet seating, a master suite with luxe bath, plus 3 decks with gorgeous city views.

144wmontana1144 W Montana St
Original list price:
$3.395 million
Sold price: $3.27 million
This Lincoln Park home is a brand-new addition from Environs Development. Built on an extra-wide, 32-foot lot, this home was 6,140 square feet of turn-key perfection. The floor plan includes four bedroom suites on the second level, including a luxurious master suite with sitting area. Other rooms include a huge kitchen and great room, a penthouse level with giant family room, bedroom and roofdeck, and a lower level with a rec room, exercise room and guest room. The home is fitted with exquisite finishes and attention to detail throughout, and includes a 3-car heated garage and 4-stop elevator.

1500ndearborn1500 N Dearborn Pkwy
Original list price:
$3.95 million
Sold price: $3.25 million
This Chicago mansion sites on a prime corner lot measuring 30 feet by 150 feet, compared to the standard lot size of 25 ft x 125 ft. The property includes a coach house above the attached 3-car garage, with an interior courtyard in between it and the main house. The stately stone façade is only the beginning of this home’s elegance, as the interior boasts original millwork, many unique details, large living spaces and fabulous light.

No matter what’s on your own wish list for a Chicago real estate purchase, it’s important to see how those features stack up against recently sold homes. That will give you a good idea of the value of certain things—like the ever covetable large lot—and what that means for your real estate budget.

To learn more about the properties that sold in Chicago last month, or to see current listings with the features you’re looking for, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Pace of Chicago Luxury Condo Sales Continues in March

Chicago luxury condo sales continued to chug along right into spring last month, with 45 luxury condos sold. Luxury condos are those sold for $1 million or more, and in March that range went up to $2.7 million for the highest-priced property sold during the month.

At the beginning of this year, luxury sales were more like ultra-luxury sales, with the most expensive sales reaching into the $3 million, $4 million and $5 million ranges. But those high-end price tags have come down as we’ve moved into spring. This month, the five most expensive sales were all in the $2 million range. They also shared a few other commonalities:

New construction: All of the top five Chicago condos sold in March were new or newer construction. These buildings were built within the last several years, making it lucrative for buyers who want a home that feels modern and doesn’t require a lot of updating.

Cash buyers: Cash also proved to be king once again in March—4 out of the 5 most expensive sales were paid for out of pocket. Even though lenders are making it easier and easier to mortgage a high-end property with a jumbo loan, many luxury buyers are still opting to pay cash for home purchases. Cash presents a much more lucrative offer to a seller, since the transaction won’t hinge on financing, so it’s possible buyers are playing that card to secure their offers rather than risk being involved in a multiple-bidding situation.

Here’s a look at the top five sales, in ascending order to the most expensive Chicago condo sale of the month:

Chicago condo at 450 N Water St405 N Water Street
Original list price: $2.29 million
Sold price: $2 million
This dramatic 4-story luxury townhome sits on the edge of the river, offering single-family living with all of the amenities of a 4-star condo: a fitness center, indoor pool, 24/7 doorman and indoor heated parking. This 3,766 square foot home features high ceilings, a fireplace in the formal living room, and closets galore. A huge master suite sits on the second level—and a second master suite is on the third floor. This home is ideal for entertaining in every season. The lower level houses a family room and entertainment center with wine fridge, and a rooftop terrace includes a grill, garden and entertaining space. It’s also worth noting that the buyer of this home also bought it with cash.

Chicago condos in Trump Tower401 N Wabash Ave., Unit 46I
Original list price: $2.1 million
Sold price: $2 million
Take in breathtaking views of the lake and river in this generous 2,200 square foot Chicago condo on a rarely-for-sale tier of Trump Tower. This 2-bedroom unit includes high ceilings, impeccable finishes throughout, Snaidero cabinets, Wolf, Miele and Subzero appliances in the kitchen. The 2.5 baths are fitted with limestone, slate and marble with Kohler finishes. The living room and dining room spaces are larger than most other floor plans. And in additional to Trump Tower’s top-notch amenities, residents here also have access to the five-star luxury hotel services, ranging from in-home catering to spa services.

CHicago condo at 419 E Benton Pl419 E Benton Pl., Unit 419
Original list price: $2.28 million
Sold price: $2.21 million
Built in 2009, this 4 bedroom, three-story condo spans 4,100 square feet with outdoor space on each level, including a rooftop deck. Inside the covetable kitchen, you’ll find top-of-the-line appliances, stainless steel double oven, built-in refrigerator and microwave, and plenty of luxury finishes are found throughout the home.. And one of the highlights of living in the Gold Coast is the neighborhood’s extreme walkability. Marianos, Three Forks, Cuticle, Mezcalina and Fillinis are all a quick stroll away from this home.

Streeterville condo at 450 E Waterside in Chicago450 E Waterside Dr., Unit 3201
Original list price: $2.85 million
Sold price: $2.535 million
This 3-bedroom penthouse unit boasts sweeping views of the city, lake and river from every single room—and those beautiful vistas come from 11-foot floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside, luxe finishes and improvements take this Chicago condo to the next level, well beyond a basic developer unit. The spacious master suite includes a reading room, walk-in closet, shoe closet and dressing room, topped off with a master bath with heated stone floors and a spa shower. The Streeterville building also features a rooftop indoor swimming pool and hot tub.

Chicago condo at 340 E Randolph in Chicago340 E Randolph St., Unit 4801
Original list price: $2.7 million
Sold price: $2.66 million
This 48th-floor 3-bedroom condo in downtown Chicago sold before it was even officially listed. The unit itself boasts more than 2,300 square feet, and the building includes amenities like a bike room, door person, exercise room, party room, sun deck, sauna and steam room and much more. This was the only home in the top five sales last month that wasn’t purchased with cash.

As we near the summer months and home-buying season, it will be interesting to see if those “ultra-luxury” properties make a return to the Chicago real estate market. To see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Consider New Paint Colors to Sell Chicago Luxury Real Estate Faster

Painting your Chicago home before selling

Spring is the prime time for kicking off long awaited home projects. Whether it’s a deep cleaning or a home remodel, a spring refresh is perfect for giving a boost to the resale value in your home if you’re planning to sell in the months ahead. But if you’re fixing things up, there are important considerations to make if your thinking about selling.

Trends in home design can have a huge effect on real estate. A certain feature or element could be just the thing buyers are looking for one year and in the next, that same feature could deter potential buyers. Even an update as minimal as a fresh coat of paint can determine your home’s success on the market.

But paint can go a long way to make a luxury home pristine to potential buyers and sell quicker. Considering the Chicago real estate market is very competitive right now, even seemingly small updates could be the key to a successful sale.

The Effect of Paint on Resale Value of Chicago Real Estate

Each season there’s a new “it” color or design scheme that homeowners are itching to incorporate into their home. It’s important to know that all popular hues don’t necessarily translate into every living space. Yellows and greens—popular colors that re-emerge in the spring months—could look fabulous in a room with plenty of spring sunshine, but covering all four walls (or more!) in an on-trend hue could be too much for a space.

Here are a few tips for picking the right paint colors, as highlighted in a recent Wall St. Journal article:

Consider neighboring rooms. Colors should complement, not contrast, each other from one room to the other. Imagine you were taking a birds-eye look at all of the rooms in your home—do all of the colors go together? The shades of paint don’t all need to be the same, but should flow and harmonize from wall to wall.

Work with what’s there. Unless you’re redecorating all together, choose paint colors that go with the furnishings already in your home. Think about the colors in a rug, or a statement furniture piece or a cherished piece of art work and pick shades that will blend right in.

Do a test run. You want to get a sense of what it will be like to live with a color before committing to it. Paint a patch of wall so that you can evaluate the color at all points in the day—in natural light, at dusk, in room lighting, etc. If painting part of the wall isn’t possible, a big board or canvas painting in the proposed color will do the trick. The key is to not rely on paint chips along to settle on the color of the whole room.

If you’re looking to increase resale value or speed up the sale process, fresh paint is a great first step I recommend to my clients. I also urge them to stick to a neutral palette rather than bold or varied shades that might make it difficult for buyers to envision themselves living in.

For more tips on readying your home for a spring or summer sale, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at



Condos vs Co-Ops: Choosing the Right Chicago Property for You


Chicago co-op building

One of Chicago’s beautiful luxury co-op buildings at 209 E Lake Shore Drive


Many of my clients begin their search for luxury real estate in Chicago with a property type in mind: single-family home or condominium. The perks of a condo are abundant—many high-end buildings come with seemingly endless amenities, there is no snow to shovel or lawn to maintain, and condos here offer as much square footage as you would find in the suburbs.

But once you’ve decided on a Chicago condo purchase, you might then have another consideration: condo or co-op?

With cooperative buildings (commonly called co-ops), buyers purchase a share of the entire building, versus a condo, in which a buyer purchases the actual property of the unit for sale. As with many real estate decisions, determining which is the better option for you depends on your lifestyle.

Benefits of Co-Op Buildings in Chicago

One of the great things about co-op buildings in Chicago is that these are not “cookie-cutter” buildings as you might find in other cities. Here, co-op buildings are often pre-war, established buildings with tons of character and elegance.

Vintage buildings offer a variety of layouts, with classic features like large dining rooms, detail work and built-ins that make each unit unique from the next. And a vintage co-op building in Chicago certainly doesn’t mean outdated. The luxury co-ops (like many of the buildings that line Lake Shore Drive, including several Mies van der Rohe buildings) have earned a level of panache that has been built over many years, and you feel it the moment you step into the lobby (if not from outside the front doors!)

Buying a Chicago Co-Op is a Different Process

The difference between a condo and a co-op starts with your real estate search, and there are a number of differences along the way, including:

Time to sell: Luxury co-ops typically do not sell quickly. For one, the unique qualities of these buildings are usually very attractive to buyers coming from places like New York and San Francisco, and finding an out-of-town buyer doesn’t happen quickly. Secondly, potential buyers of a coop must go before the board, and that can be an unpredictable, lengthy process as well.

Financing: Borrowing a mortgage for a co-op purchase is also different. Lenders may have more questions than they would for a condo purchase, with additional considerations such as: if more than 10% of the building’s units are owned by a single investor; if too many units are sitting empty; or if too many association members are behind on their dues. If any of these are present, that could be cause enough for a lender to turn down a loan for an otherwise qualified buyer.

Some lenders keep track of this information on their own and maintain a list of pre-approved buildings, which could greatly simplify the process for both the bank and the buyer.

Board approvals: The buyer of a co-op goes through fairly intense scrutiny from the co-op board to gain approval for the purchase. The approval process is mostly based on financial standing, and would likely require the buyer to disclose assets.

And some boards may put limits on the method of financing itself. Some may not allow a purchase with a mortgage or others may limit the amount of the the purchase price that can be financed. If the buyer is obtaining a mortgage, the board might require him or her to show proof of cash reserves in the amount of the purchase price.

If a buyer does need to show cash assets, it may be possible to take out a margin loan against their stock portfolio, which is considered cash. That could help a buyer get approval from the board or make a more competitive bid if there are multiple offers.

If you’re deciding between a co-op and a condo, I would be happy to discuss more details about the pros and cons of each and help determine which is right for you and your lifestyle. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at