Trends in Chicago Luxury Home Design: High-End Countertops

This is the time of year when many folks are thinking about whether they will sell their home in 2016. That means a lot of thought and attention are going into what makes a luxury home sell quickly in today’s market.

It’s not uncommon that the word “luxury” is used without consideration as to what real luxury is all about. It’s not simply a high price, square footage or a great location. So what makes a home a true “luxury” property?

While the main criteria for a property (like size and location) of course play a role, I believe luxury is defined by a home’s accoutrements. The finishes, the materials, the details and the odds and ends are what bring the luxury lifestyle to a home. These are the things that differentiate a home from the rest. It’s what makes it unique and cutting-edge and causes prospective buyers to walk in and feel that “wow factor” as soon as they walk in the door.

It’s important to pay attention to even the smaller features of a “luxury” home, and the latest au courant addition to a kitchen is show-stopping stonework. While granite has certainly had long been the attention-getter in a high-end kitchen, homeowners are now bringing unusual varieties of stone—such as limestone, schist and labradorite—into their home design. Taking the stone less traveled, if you will, is yet another way sellers can help their property stand out in the market.

The Wall St. Journal recently highlighted this trend of moving away from expected granite finishes. Here are a few examples of kitchen stonework that are anything but run-of-the-mill:

Via Houzz / Contemporary Kitchen by Silver Spring Kitchen & Bath Designers Aidan Design

Quartzite is clean, elegant and ultra-modern in a light, natural shade as is shown here. It’s an ultra-durable material that can produce the same aesthetic as marble but with the hardiness of granite.

Via Houzz / Traditional Kitchen by Buffalo Kitchen & Bath Designers Artisan Kitchens and Baths

Made from semi-precious stones, labradorite brings a stunning dose of deep color and functions as a durable, non-porous surface in the kitchen.

Via Houzz / Farmhouse Kitchen by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Walker Warner Architects

Limestone is a predictable stone for the facade of a home, but is less expected in the kitchen. It can work smoothed out as a countertop or an elaborate focal point like the wall shown here.

Via Houzz / Contemporary Kitchen by New London Architects & Building Designers Bonin Architects & Associates

Similar to granite in its chemical markup, Schist is medium or coarse-grained and can resemble the distinctive layering of slate.

Updating Your Chicago Home When it’s Time to Sell
For the prospective seller, making updates to the details of your home can make all the difference in determining the value of your property. For a kitchen refresh like this, I can assist you with sourcing the right materials that will set your home apart. I have consulted on a number of home design projects with the goal of resale value in mind, as well as working with clients on new construction projects—each of these involves selecting luxury finishes and materials that make a space feel truly upscale.

For more information on what updates and changes will impact the resale value of your home in 2016, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

December Luxury Sales Recap $13.3 Million Home Sells on Burling St. In Chicago’s Lincoln Park

Even with winter underway and the holidays in full swing, luxury home sales didn’t take a winter break here in Chicago. There was plenty of luxury to see among $1 million and $2 million homes that sold, plus one standout property that stole the show: a $13.3 million estate on Burling Street in Lincoln Park. But, more on that in a minute.

Overall, December saw a total volume of $82.6 million in sales of luxury homes (those sold for more than $1 million). Eleven of the luxury single-family homes that sold went for more than $2 million. That was a healthy number, especially for this time of year, considering it’s typically packed with family and travel and not so much with purchasing real estate.

Ultimate Luxury in Chicago’s Lincoln Park
Staying true to the trends we’ve seen among luxury real estate sales, December’s single-family home sales were full of large lots, ample square footage and the ever-enviable new construction. Here’s a detailed look at the top five sales in December, starting with that stunner in Lincoln Park:

image1955 N Burling St
Original list price: $18.75 million
Sold price: $13.345 million
It’s likely that there’s not a home in Chicago or in the suburbs that quite compares to this Lincoln Park estate. Located behind private walls on a whopping FIVE city lots, this is a single-family home that includes all of the sought-after amenities you might look for in a luxury condo. An award-winning indoor pool and spa, a home theatre, a 6-car garage, gym, wine room and staff rest area are just a few of the ultra-unique spaces that make this property a true estate property. With 20,000 square feet of living space, 6 bedrooms, 8.5 baths, a separate 2-bedroom guest house and incredible lawns and garden spaces, this property is more than simply a home, but a lifestyle that far exceeds even the most discriminating expectations. It even sold to an all-cash buyer.

Burling Street is known for its McMansions, and many of the homes on this block offer the best of the best among single-family homes in the city. The surrounding area includes streets like Howe and Orchard, which also have a number of new construction projects popping up to offer luxury buyers an opportunity to live in this coveted area.

Now is actually a great time to take a closer look at these three blocks in Lincoln Park if you’re in the market to buy. Working with luxury clients on new construction projects is a specialty of mine, and I would be happy to introduce you to the neighborhood and take a look at what’s being built.

image1733 N Wood St
Original list price: $3.65 million
Sold price: $3.597 million
At 46-feet, this is another extra-wide lot for a custom-built home that is only a few years old. Built on a premiere block in Bucktown, this 6-bedroom, 5.1-bath home features 10-foot ceilings, a large rec room, a lush 1,500 square foot yard, elegant millwork, built-ins and more among elegant, traditional décor. It was snapped up by a buyer before the listing sheet even made it off of the printer.

image458 W Deming Pl
Original list price: $3.35 million
Sold price: $3.35 million
This extra-wide lot provides more than 25 extra feet beyond the standard size lot, and that extra space means lots of room to live inside. This home’s 6,200 square feet spans over 6 bedrooms, 5.2 baths, a state-of-the-art master chef’s kitchen and much more. The details throughout this home make it a perfect blend of classic elegance and modern luxury, with features like an elevator, custom millwork, private terraces, and exercise room and an attached 2-car garage.

image1901 N Dayton St
Original list price: $3.05 million
Sold price: $2.9 million
“Room to grow” was a major selling point for this Lincoln Park property, which was custom built on a corner lot with 6,000 square feet of living space inside. A lavish living room flows into the dining room, kitchen and family room, allowing for open-space living. The 5 bedrooms could easily convert to 6 with a lower level that could be transformed into an au-pair suite. And a master suite features an enormous walk-in closet and immaculate bath. And those are just on the inside. On the outside, you’ll find spectacular outdoor areas, with a split-level deck over the attached garage plus two private decks on the third floor.

image3637 N Wayne Ave
Original list price: $2.95 million
Sold price: $2.9 million
Located on an extra-wide lot on a great block in the Southport corridor, this is yet another new construction home that was built with a thoughtful floorplan that allows for bright and spacious living throughout. And one great advantage for the buyer of this home was that they had some time to customize the home to their liking as it wen through the final stages of building. Spanning 6,300 square feet, 4 of this home’s 6 bedrooms sit on the second floor, making it ideal for family living. Other features include a quality chef’s kitchen, custom millwork, 5-inch-wide plank floors, spa-like master bath with beautiful tile work, multiple outdoor space and attention to detail and quality on each and every finish and fixture.

It will be interesting to see if January brings a typical seasonal slowdown or to see if buyer’s continue to make moves on luxury real estate in Chicago despite the winter chill. If you’re considering a real estate purchase, think about getting serious before the spring pick-up is in full swing and you’re faced with plenty of competition in the market. To see what’s on the market now or to check out some of Lincoln Park’s up-and-coming new construction projects,, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@rubloff.com.

Chicago Luxury Condo at 2550 Lakeview Sells for $6 Million in December

As the winter months continue on, so do luxury condo sales in Chicago. In December, the city saw $89 million in sales of luxury condos (those sold for more than $1 million). While the last month of the year is often pretty slow for real estate, this one was a bit out of the ordinary. Not only was there a healthy number of $1 million-plus sales, 15 of those sales were over $2 million, of the top five most expensive luxury condos sold, sales were from $3.5 million to $6 million.

The takeaway? Large square footage, new construction, a neighborhood like Lincoln Park and bonus features for parking for more than one car can come with a hefty price tag, and those willing to ante up the large amount of money needed to get there can find themselves in a property among the likes of the top sales, such as a duplex unit with spectacular city views right in heart of Lincoln Park. Which is precisely what we saw with the most expensive property sold: a raw penthouse in Lincoln Park 2550 with a whopping 8,167 square feet.

One of the reason luxury buyers love Lincoln Park is, of course, the location. Many of my clients are looking for a neighborhood rather than downtown, and Lincoln Park is the best of both worlds. With easy access to downtown via car or public transit, it’s also right near parks, great schools, and offers access to the harbor if they own a boat.

Top December Sales of Luxury Condos in Chicago
A Chicago condo’s location certainly plays a large role in its sale price, but each property sold last month has its own long list of features and amenities that make it a must-have among luxury buyers. Here is a more detailed look at the top five sales last month and what each had to offer:

lp-25502550 N Lakeview Ave, Unit S3801
Original list price: $6.989 million
Sold price: $6 million
This is a familiar address for our top luxury condo sales every month—Lincoln Park 2550. This duplex penthouse unit stretches more than 8,100 square feet of raw space across the top 38th and 39th floors. Built by Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange, this building has been high on the wish lists of buyers as the quintessential residence for those searching for the very best in luxury living. Lincoln Park 2550 offers killer views, 5-star amenities and services, an exquisite lobby and interior design and much more.

435435 W Deming Pl, Unit 435
Original list price: $4,999,999
Sold price: $4,999,999
A brand-new townhome in Lincoln Park, this 5 bedroom, 4.2 bath property sold even before the listing made it to the MLS. That typically means details are scarce, but some features include four stories, two basement bedrooms, a large kitchen and more.

 

Four Seasons Building at 132 E Delaware132 E Delaware Pl, Unit 6302
Original list price: $6.4 million
Sold price: $4.25 million
Designed by Juan Pablo Molyneaux and architect Marvin Herman, this 7,000 square foot duplex oozes luxury perched high atop the Four Seasons Hotel. Features inside include incredible lake and city views, fine custom finishes, limestone floors, a grand staircase between two levels, library, second-floor gallery, 2,000-bottle wine cellar, home theatre and more. Residents in the building can also take advantage of the amenities and services offered at the Four Seasons.

77-E-Walton-St-27A-Chicago-IL-6061177 E Walton Pl, Unit 27A
Original list price: $3.9 million
Sold price: $3.6 million
A location on the 27th floor of rarely-available Residences at 900 means this downtown Chicago condo enjoys stunning views of the city and lake below. With more than 4,300 square feet, this unit is one of the A-tier floor plans, with 3 bedrooms, 3.1 baths and a bevy of covetable features such as floor-to-ceiling windows, 4-inch white oak hardwood floors, surround sound throughout, 10-foor ceilings and top-of-the-line kitchen appliances. A sumptuous master suite includes a colossal walk-in closet and luxurious bath with jetted tub, dual vanities and a separate shower.

431431 W Deming Pl, Unit 431
Original list price: $3.5 million
Sold price: $3.5 million
Another sold-before-print townhome in Lincoln Park, with 5 bedrooms and 4.2 baths. This stretch of Deming is a highly sought-after location in Lincoln Park, as it’s right next to Lincoln Park with the zoo, conservatory, North Pond and more. It’s also near great restaurants, shopping and a quick car or bus ride into downtown.

For more details on the properties that sold last month, or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Chicago Luxury Real Estate Should be Strong In 2016

Welcome back! As we hit 2016 running, I always like to look back at the trends and happenings from the previous year and think about what it all means for the state of Chicago real estate in the year ahead. In the last year we’ve definitely seen consistent strength in the luxury real estate market in Chicago, but as inventories remain fairly low, buyers have faced a competitive scenario for the better part of the year.

Prediction: Luxury Buyers Will Get Off The Fence
Last month, the Federal Reserve announced a increase in interest rates. The news wasn’t terribly unexpected, but undoubtedly has an effect on the real estate market. Many potential buyers assume that rising interest rates will affect the buying market more than the seller’s market. But in my 25-plus years of selling Chicago real estate, I find the opposite to be true. As interest rates crank up, sellers often see the benefit, as buyers get ready to make a move before rates grow any higher.

In Chicago, there is certainly a pent-up demand for housing as the city catches up from several years without any real new construction projects. That being said, I think new construction could have a banner year in Chicago luxury real estate.

New Home Construction Picking Up
Nationwide, housing starts are up and Chicago is no exception. Increases among single-family homes and condos alike suggest that builders are gaining confidence that home sales will keep steady (or grow) over the next year. Despite the interest rate increase, that’s great news for the market and will likely draw additional buyers off of the “maybe this year” fence.

Growth in new construction is evident in Chicago. If you look around the Gold Coast—one of the most coveted neighborhoods for luxury real estate—you’ll see a number of new development projects moving right along. There is also a lot of talk about new construction opportunities popping up on the new east side, a newer area that luxury buyers love thanks to its proximity to downtown and unbeatable views of Millennium Park.

Purchasing New Construction in Chicago
I predict that as more and more new construction projects become available that luxury buyers will be snapping them up. A brand-new or close-to-new home is always at the top of the list for what my luxury clients are looking for, and I think many will be taking advantage of any increased inventory, particularly those close to downtown that offer the proverbial location, location, location.

Working with clients who are looking to buy new construction is a specialty of mine, as I have worked with some of the most prestigious developers in Chicago over the years, both for single-family homes and condos.

As a buyer, a new construction home might sound foolproof, but it comes with a number of things to consider as well. I can help walk you through a number of things, including determining the best unit to purchase, why a unit’s location in the building is especially important and the best tactics for negotiating a new construction deal.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a new construction property or luxury real estate in Chicago in 2016, give me a call and I can walk you through some of the upcoming projects or introduce you to some of my favorite buildings. It should be an exciting year, and the sooner potential buyers get in, the better. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.co.

Chicago Condo Sales in November Were All About Square Footage

With 23 units sold for a total of $51 million, the luxury condo market wasn’t hibernating in November. And the properties that sold all had one major thing in common: square footage. Of the top five Chicago condos that sold, the “smallest” still clocked in at 3,200 square feet and the largest all the way above 5,600 square feet.

It’s also worth noting that the top five buildings and units each have something unique to offer the buyer–whether that’s unbeatable views through expansive windows, a one-of-a-kind design, architectural details or a great floor plan. Three of the top five were also designed by beloved Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange: 800 Michigan Avenue, 180 Pearson and 65 East Goethe.

Here’s a closer look at the top Chicago luxury condos that sold in November:

340 on the Park340 E Randolph St
Original sale price: $5.7 million
List price: $5.2 million
Now this is luxury. This 4,900 square foot penthouse allows for soaring 12-foot ceilings and three outdoor terraces for taking in jaw-dropping views of the lake, Millennium Park, Daley Park and the city skyline below. Other features include a high-end chef’s kitchen with multiple entertaining spaces, master bedroom suite with sitting area and office space, contemporary finishes, electronic window treatments, plenty of closet space and much more.

Chicago real estate at 65 E Goethe65 E Goethe St.
Original sale price: $6.2 million
List price: $4.9 million
A crown jewel in the Gold Coast, this 5,500 square foot Chicago condo spans two levels and overlooks Goudy Park. This is a great unit for an art collector, as expansive wall space was made for a home gallery. The first floor features custom terrazzo flooring, with hardwood on the second floor, and the unit’s floor plan can be adapted to add additional bedrooms or baths. The building itself was designed by famed Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange and offers an on-site concierge for its residents.

180 E Pearson Chicago180 E Pearson St, Unit 3705
Original sale price: $2.799 million
Sold price: $2.745 million
This 3,400 square foot, three bedroom unit in Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue is one of Chicago’s top luxury buildings, and this unit is in the prime southeast corner, allowing for sweeping views of the lake and city. The unit just went though a complete gut renovation and now showcases the finest finishes and materials with custom cabinetry, wide-plank flooring, electric shades, library, huge closets and plenty of storage. The building offers a wide range of amenities for its residents, including all hotel services from the adjacent Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Chicago real estate at Park Tower 800 Michigan Avenue800 N Michigan Ave, Unit 5802
Original sale price: $2.8 million
Sold price: $2.7 million
Park Tower is one of the coveted luxury condo buildings in downtown Chicago. Soaring above the city on the 58th floor, this property is like a home in the sky, enhanced by unobstructed views to the east, north and west. The unit spans a generous 3,200 square feet, with two bedrooms, two and a half baths, hardwood floors, limestone fireplace, and gracious, open floor plan to enjoy the stunning views.

333 n canal333 N Canal St, Unit 1002
Original sale price: $2.4 million
Sold price: $2.15 million
Spanning a huge 5,700 square feet, this Chicago townhome overlooks the river, with a private elevator, private entrance and much more. The property itself offers and exquisite master suite with two bedroom size walk-in closets, plus a master bath with infinity tub. You’ll also find four fireplaces, two terraces on the river, two parking spots and storage room. The building itself–located between the Fulton River District and the West Loop–includes a bevy of amenities, including a 24-hour doorperson, valet parking, exercise room and party room.

The great thing about Chicago is that condo living is hardly considered “downsizing” as it might be in other cities. You can find the same square footage, if not more, than you would in a single-family home in the ‘burbs, minus the upkeep of a home and plus a plethora of services and amenities made for the luxury lifestyle.

For more information about the best condo buildings in Chicago, or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Chicago’s Gold Coast Has the Most Expensive Home Sale in November

Even though winter has arrived, the Chicago luxury real estate market is still alive as we head into the season. November saw 30 luxury single-family home sales, totaling $47 million for the month. Three of the top five sales were more than $2 million, with the top sale in the Gold Coast coming in at $3.5 million.

Highlights from Chicago Real Estate Sales in November

There are always a few commonalities that can be found among the top sales for the month, and November was no exception. Several of the most expensive homes that sold were on large lots, or anything more than that Chicago standard of 25 feet x 125 feet. Even a lot that’s a few feet wider will allow for more square footage, larger rooms or increased outdoor space.

A larger lot has been at the top of buyers’ wish lists for some time now, but more recently, it’s become apparent that there is definitely a pent-up demand for these oversized lots as buyers snatch them up as soon as they are listed. Particularly for out-of-town buyers coming from places like New York and San Francisco, these buyers are hungry for the extra space at a Chicago price, given that a single-family home cost two to three times more in those cities. These buyers are always surprised at how far their dollar can go in Chicago and eager to make the most of it.

Another common denominator among these homes was location–several were also found in the Gold Coast, which is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods for luxury buyers. The Gold Coast has everything—tree-lined streets, beautiful architecture, proximity to downtown and plenty of nightlife, dining and entertainment.

Let’s take a closer look at the top five most expensive sales last month, in descending order:

1337 N Dearborn Pkwy1337 N Dearborn Pkwy
Original list price: $3,999,900
Sold price: $3.5 million
This extraordinary Gold Coast home has been standing since 1880, but is otherwise a brand-new property. The award-winning, landmarked home fits right into the tree-lined neighborhood, with one-of-a-kind style, timeless and elegant design and modern luxury. Features include custom mill work, magnificent lighting, expansive outdoor terraces with fireplaces and grills, sun-filled rooms, wine vault, media room, whole-house audio system, outdoor camera security and much more. The master suite is full of luxury, from full-marble-slab baths to a double rain steam shower. The chef-inspired gourmet kitchen has all of the bells and whistles, including Wolf appliances

3758 N Lakewood Ave3758 N Lakewood Ave
Original list price: $2.799million
Sold price: $2.75 million
A new construction property in the Southport Corridor, this 6-bedroom home has a familiar feature: an extra-wide lot. With a 30 x 125-foot lot, the interior of this Lakeview home features expansive, bright rooms, outdoor space for entertaining and much more. A custom-designed kitchen includes state-of-the-art appliances and features that make it ideal for entertaining, along with a top floor party room and multiple wet bars. The location of this home is one of the best, as it’s within the Blaine School boundaries and also near many trendy boutiques and restaurants and a brown line El station.

53 E Elm St53 E Elm St
Original list price: $2.695 million
Sold price: $2.585 million
Also in the Gold Coast, this 4-bedroom rowhouse has been totally renovated on one of the most charming blocks in the neighborhood. Inside, you’ll find beautifully restored architectural elements throughout, high-end finishes and completely new systems and infrastructure to take this vintage property into luxury modern living. Large bay windows, skylights and a fabulous terrace and desk connect indoors and out, with generous sunlight filling every room throughout the day.

1625 N Wolcott Ave1625 N Wolcott Ave
Original list price: $2.395 million
Sold price: $2.26 million
Located on coveted Wolcott Avenue in Wicker Park, this 6,400 square foot contemporary home showcases pride of ownership inside and out. Features include generous sunlight and ceiling heights, elevator access to all levels, four-car attached garage, plus a custom eat-in kitchen with Subzero and Miele appliance that opens up to a great room and lush landscaped patio. The master suite includes a freestanding Duravit tub and oversized steam shower with a roof top deck that offers city views.

3514 N Leavitt St3514 N Leavitt St
Original list price: $1.995 million
Sold price: $1,986,146
This 6-bedroom new construction property was built on a 30-foot-wide lot in Roscoe Village with plenty to offer inside and out. The stunning open floor plan includes four bedrooms, three baths, chef’s kitchen with custom cabinetry and more. Roscoe Village is an incredibly walkable, family friendly neighborhood within easy distance from schools, entertainment and restaurants.

For a prospective buyer, I recommend taking a look at the most recent sales of luxury real estate in Chicago. Check out the features of the homes that have sold, and from there you can get an idea of what a luxury property might cost in your own search. You can also get an idea for what you might face once you find a home you like (such as all-cash buyers, same-day offers) and plan your negotiating strategy accordingly.

For more about last month’s single-family luxury home sales in Chicago, or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com

Unique Features and Design Trends to Differentiate Your Luxury Chicago Home

Home design “trends” can come and go with a swift season. What was en vogue one year can quickly change, so it’s important for homeowners to evaluate upgrades and changes they want to make to their homes and consider what it could mean for their resale value down the road.

Conversely, it’s also important to think about what characteristics and features will set your home apart when you’re ready to sell. In today’s luxury real estate market, there are a handful of go-to features buyers are always looking for—square footage, location, outdoor space, etc. But it is the unique, luxury aspects of a home that can wow a buyer from the get-go and make sure your home sells quickly.

Keeping that in mind, it can be tricky to navigate which home improvements are worth the investment, which can range from small to big (and so can the return on investment) I’ve recently read about three interesting home features that I think are worth considering in order to make a home stand apart from the rest.

kohler faucet

Photo via Kohler

Professional grade kitchen updates: The sink faucet may seem like just a functional piece of the kitchen, but for luxury buyers, this is one of those details that goes a long way. I find that many of my clients looking to purchase luxury real estate in Chicago are usually into cooking, and the kitchen design and features are extremely important in what they’re looking for. One common way to upgrade the kitchen is to use professional-grade appliances or fixtures that add to the luxury and wow factor of a home, as mentioned in this Wall St. Journal article.

For the home chef, a commercial sink faucet is one of those additions that could be a major plus when it comes time to sell your home and you want to differentiate it from other high-end properties on the market. Industrial fixtures are typically larger, with taller spouts, detachable sprayers and a bevy of other ultra-functional features. Kohler, for example, sells a professional-style faucet with a squeezable handle that will run you around $2,000.

mailbox

Add a warm welcome: Seemingly just a functional piece of the home, the mailbox can easily become a showpiece for a luxury home, and was also recently highlighted in this article from the Wall St. Journal. The mailbox is one detail that each and every guest sees before they enter your home, so it’s no surprise that it might get a little extra attention, especially in neighborhoods like Lincoln Park where homes run up into the $3 million to $5 million range.

Since I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, where every detail counts, I thought this was a great design element to explore and take a look at the various custom options that are available. A high-end mailbox helps provide a luxury house with the pizzazz it deserves.

When it comes to upscale mailboxes, you can find everything from clean and modern styles to bold and bright to more classic shapes. Finding one that pairs well with the style of your home is your best bet, as this is yet another detail that people will notice (before they’ve even stepped inside!)

aquarium architecture

Interactive art pieces: This is truly one ultimate way to add major wow factor to your home: A freshwater fish tank. The Wall St. Journal recently highlighted the home aquarium as an “interactive piece of art” in luxury homes. A custom aquarium can be designed with the homeowner’s imagination. Companies specializing in custom fish tanks can create just about anything—an underwater garden that spans an entire wall, an aquarium in the shape of a favorite object or even a technology-driven tank that can be maintained via an app on your phone.

While visually, an “aquascape” is a powerful design element in a home, there could be other benefits as well—researchers have found that aquariums can lower blood pressure. And a custom tank can run as little as $10,000, which may not sound like a small cost, but compared to the potential return on investment when it’s time to sell your home, it may definitely be something to consider.

If selling your Chicago home is anywhere on your radar for the next several years, I’d certainly consider evaluating what improvements might be made that could pay off when that time comes. For luxury buyers, it’s all about the details, so while some changes might seem minor, they can speak volumes to the buyer who is looking for that certain something in a new home.

For more information on home design trends or to take a look at what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Luxury Chicago Townhomes Among Top October Sales

If you’re a frequent visitor to this blog, you know that each month I recap the previous month’s top luxury sales in both single-family homes and the Chicago condo market. It’s always interesting to see how each type of real estate fares month to month and season by season, and seeing what has recently sold can be a key factor in helping a potential buyer decide which route they’re going to take in their own search.

But there’s another category of Chicago homes that perhaps doesn’t have as robust of a market, but is certainly a regular part of the mix: Townhomes. Last month, the Chicago townhome market wasn’t off the charts, given that only 20 townhomes sold, starting with a sales price of $600,000 and moving up into $1 million territory. Three townhomes sold in the luxury category in October, and like the top sales in homes and condos, these are townhomes that set themselves apart from the rest.

Here’s a closer look at those three and what makes them a special find on the Chicago real estate market:

image465 N Clinton St
Original list price: $1.5 million
Sold price: $1.475 million
Located in Kinzie Park, this townhome has been beautifully redesigned with the finest materials on virtually every surface, resulting in a home that is nothing short of fabulous. The 3,500 square foot home features custom built-ins throughout, along with a dream kitchen with appliances from Subzero, Worf and Fisher Paykel. There also are multiple outdoor spaces, including a penthouse rooftop with beautiful city views. This unit is also in a riverfront gated community, which includes every imaginable amenity for its residents, and is located just west of the East Bank Club.

image316 W Willow St
Original list price: $1.4 million
Sold price: $1.355 million
Designed by renowned architect Harry Weiss in Chicago’s Old Town, this contemporary row home spans four full floors, offering outdoor space on every single level. A first-level family room includes heated floors and a wall of windows that looks out to the perfectly landscaped backyard. On the second level, you’ll find the bright living room, dining room and large kitchen with eat-in space. The third and fourth floors are home to a spectacular master suite, 4 additional bedrooms, and a den with an attached balcony that offers views of downtown Chicago.

image1000 N State St, Unit 3
Original list price: $1.4 million
Sold price: $1.304 million
This Gold Coast townhome billed itself as a “magnificent, renovated townhouse in an urban oasis,” and it seems like that could be an understatement. Nestled in a premium location in one of Chicago’s most sought-after neighborhoods, this 4-bedroom unit spans 3 levels and 4,000 square feet. A skylight helps bring generous daylight into the open floor plan that was made for entertaining. The interior includes a chef’s eat-in kitchen with high-end appliances, sitting areas and balconies for most of the bedrooms, a master bath with an outfitted dressing room and a lofted office with built-ins. The outdoor area includes a landscaped courtyard, a patio with fireplace for grilling and lounging, plus a 3rd level balcony that overlooks the pool and sundeck.

Although these townhomes were in varying neighborhoods, Lincoln Park saw major sales volume last month overall, with 7 out of the top 20 properties sold in this much-loved community. Chicago residents love Lincoln Park for mix of quiet residential streets and urban living, great schools, and an ideal location not far from downtown Chicago.

Buying a Chicago Townhome
The nature of a townhome—sort of a hybrid between a single-family and an attached home—means there are a number of nuances that can vary, and therefore should be considered before you look into purchasing one. You’ll find a list of important tips for buying a townhome on my website, but here are three I want to highlight as the most important to think about when purchasing a Chicago townhome:

Width: When it comes to townhomes, wider is generally better, at least if you’re looking for space. The widest you’ll probably find is about 24 feet wide, which puts a townhome in the $800,000+ price range. There are many more narrow sizes, but as I have found with both single-family homes and condos, buyers are typically looking for the greatest width they can to allow for more square footage, a more open floor plan and more rooms. A townhome that offers this not only might be what you’re looking for in a home, but offer greater resale value down the line.

Community: Some of Chicago’s townhome developments are like mini communities, whether that’s because the townhomes lie within a gated neighborhood or a campus-like area that is set apart from the surrounding homes. Determining if you’re looking for a particular development will help you narrow down your search quickly, since the types of townhomes in Chicago vary greatly.

Assessments: Like a Chicago condo, townhomes generally include assessment costs for the upkeep of the grounds, security, amenities and services and other features offered by the community. I have found that clients in Chicago are usually looking for a townhome with monthly assessment dues under $500—if they are expecting higher, they are typically looking for a condo that offers top-to-bottom amenities to its residents.

To learn more about the nuances of buying a luxury townhome in Chicago, or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Ultra-Expensive Condos Sell in Chicago’s Hottest Buildings in October

If you look at sales volume, Chicago condo sales were basically flat in October from the month previous, totaling $51 million. But what’s really noteworthy from last month’s condo sales are the ultra-luxury properties—of the 31 properties that sold, 9 sold in excess of $2 million. Not to mention, these sales were found in five of the most sought-after buildings in the city.

What makes a building stand apart from the rest? Buildings like those found in last month’s sales tend to well, have it all. Location. Views. Newness (in terms of construction, compared to other condos on the market). Many luxury condo buildings also carry architectural significance, and three of the buildings on this list—2550 Lakeview, 840 Lake Shore Drive and 270 Pearson—were designed by Lucien Lagrange, the beloved Chicago architect whose name is behind some of the city’s finest buildings.

Not only do the buildings themselves have plenty to offer, but the condos within them must stand apart as well, whether that’s via a great floor plan, incredible views, outdoor space or other upscale features. Last month’s most expensive condos sold each have their own set of distinguishing features—here’s a closer look at the top five in descending order.

30WOakSt30 W Oak St, Unit 12B
Original list price: $4.1 million
Sold price: $4 million
Inside a popular building in downtown Chicago, this 3,349 square foot, three bedroom unit was custom designed to showcase the luxury that is felt the moment you lay eyes on the building. The building is an stunning combo of contemporary design (with an elegant curved glass façade that offers spectacular city views) and elegant Gold Coast living (with features like 10-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and expansive terraces). Building amenities include state-of-the-art fitness facilities, separate storage rooms and an interior heated garage.

lp-25502550 N Lakeview Ave, Unit C7-34
Original list price: $2.895 million
Sold price: $2.75 million
This condo in one of the city’s hottest buildings has plenty to offer indoors and out. Outside, find 2 terraces totaling 84 square feet that look out to amazing east lake and park views. Inside, 2,884 square feet include a fully appointed cooks’ kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, oak floors, floor-to-ceiling windows and a large master suite with marble spa bath. The building (designed by famed Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange) includes incredible amenities like an indoor pool, fitness center, dog park and more.

Chicago real estate at 840 N Lake Shore Dr840 N Lake Shore Drive
Original list price: $2.75 million
Sold price: $2.6 million
Lake Shore Drive is an address that’s no stranger to our top monthly sales report, and for good reason. Chicago condos along this stretch of LSD offer incredible lake views, a great location not far from downtown and a number of architecturally significant buildings from architects like Mies van der Rohe and the aforementioned Lagrange. This one was designed by the latter, and has become one of Chicago’s finest buildings. Just shy of 3,000 square feet, this condo was custom designed from a raw space into an elegant home made for the most discerning buyer. Stunning details are found throughout, from the finest finishes to a space made for entertaining.

270EPearson270 E Pearson St, Unit 1001
Original list price: $2.49 million
Sold price: $2.39 million
A unit inside this downtown Chicago condo building rarely becomes available, which tells you a lot about the building it’s in. This sun-filled Chicago condo spans nearly 3,000 square feet, with spectacular views to the south and east that provide a stunning backdrop of Lake Michigan, Millennium Park, Navy Pier and the city skyline. Each of the unit’s 3 bedrooms includes an ensuite bath, plus a den with built-in cabinets, powder room, beautiful open kitchen with large granite island, a spacious living room with fireplace and a large balcony. You’ll also find beautiful details like gleaming hardwood floors, crown molding and high ceilings. Plus, one highly sought-after bonus: 2 included parking spaces.

340 on the Park340 E Randolph St East, Unit 2101
Original list price: $2.49 million
Sold price: $2.375 million
This 2,300+ square foot 3-bedroom is one of the building’s most coveted floorplans, with stunning south view of the lake and harbor, Millennium Park and Buckingham Fountain. The unit includes everything from contemporary finishes to a spacious kitchen to an open floor plan, all just steps away from the best downtown Chicago has to offer. Cultural hot spots, Michigan Avenue and a bevy of great restaurants are all within walking distance.

Consider last month’s Chicago condo sales when you’re embarking on your own search for Chicago real estate. Doing so will help you prepare for what features and amenities come at what price and line that up with your wish list and expectations for your next home.

For more information on last month’s Chicago condo sales or to see what’s on the market now, don’t hesitate to contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Ultra-Luxury Homes in Chicago’s Lincoln Park Were Strong in October

Last month’s luxury single-family home sales in Chicago may not have been as high as usual, but there were a few noteworthy takeaways. During October, Chicago saw 45 luxury home sales (those sold for $1 million or higher), and about a quarter of those sales fell into the ultra luxury category (those sold for $2 million or higher). Eleven of the 45 sales were ultra-luxury, with the most expensive sales coming out of Lincoln Park, and at $3+ million to boot.

So why might a buyer care about the ultra-luxury properties that recently sold? Seeing what homes are selling and evaluating their price with included features helps a prospective buyer understand the value of homes on the market. If you are making a wish list of everything you’d like to find in a new home, looking at recent sales can give you a look at what those features are going to cost.

Let’s take a more detailed look at the top five most expensive single-family home sales in Chicago last month, in descending order:

image1623 N Wolcott Ave
Original list price: $4,818,784
Sold price: $4,818,784
A brand-new, custom single-family home in Bucktown, this 5–bedroom, 7.2-bath home was designed by the award-winning Osterhaus McCarthy architect team. This modern new construction home property is situated on a double lot, which is one feature we see time and time again among luxury home sales. High-end buyers love an extra-wide lot that allows for ample square footage, open floor plans and often even generous outdoor space. It’s also worthy to note that this most expensive sale sold to a cash buyer.

image1637 N Burling St
Original list price: $3.975 million
Sold price: $3.85 million
Spanning more than 6,000 square feet, this 6 bedroom, 5.3 bath-home sits on one of the most prestigious blocks in Lincoln Park. The exterior features a limestone façade, penthouse roof deck with terrace and skyline views, and an attached heated garage. The interior boasts a long list of coveted features: an elevator, 2 limestone fireplaces, an eat-in kitchen with luxury appliances, master suite with his-and-her closets, a rec room, a wine room a four zones of radiant heat.

image2231 N Fremont St
Original list price: $3.995 million
Sold price: $3.6 million
Situated on an extra-wide lot in Lincoln Park, this award-winning home was designed by renowned Chicago architect firm Wheeler-Kearns. No detail went overlooked in this 6,500 square foot stunner, from the wide-plank, hand-scraped oak flooring to the custom elm built-ins to the total home automation. Other features include the finest appointments and amenities, extra-wide living spaces and soaring ceiling heights.

image1250 W Schubert Ave
Original list price: $2,899,900
Sold price: $3.055 million
Although it was just built in 2012, this home boasts “better than new construction,” with contemporary, one-of-a-kind style on an extra-wide lot. The list of features is extensive: A curved staircase takes you up to four of the six bedrooms on the second floor. Floor-to-ceiling windows with motorized shades. An enormous kitchen includes a huge seating island, custom cabinetry, Miele appliances, and butler’s pantry. The floors are 5-inch hand-beveled oak, lighting from designer Jonathan Adler and Japanese and Italian tiles are found throughout. A lower-level theater room includes surround sound, a projector/screen and 4 televisions. A dreamy master bath includes a steam shower, double vanities and dual-sided fireplace. This long list of features continues on the exterior as well, with a custom-designed roof deck with built-in grill.

image1534 N North Park Ave
Original list price: $2.749 million
Sold price: $2.6 million
Built in 2013, this 6,500-square foot has much to offer by way of location and features. For location, the home sits on a tree-lined street with plenty of natural light that’s just steps from the park and beach. Features include professional design throughout, with a professional-grade kitchen, spa-caliber baths, penthouse family room with 1,300 outdoor living and entertaining space, and an attached garage with heated driveway.

It’s important to note the commonalities among these ultra-luxury properties: extra-wide lots, impressive details, outdoor entertaining spaces and the proverbial location, location, location. Those are the features we see month after month in the top luxury sales, so buyer can expect them to come at a price.

For more information on last month’s luxury real estate sales in Chicago, or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.