In my more than 20 years helping clients buy luxury real estate in Chicago, I’ve come to learn that there are a handful of considerations—some obvious, and some less so—that are key to making a good purchase. It’s not only important to look at the attributes of a Chicago home for sale now, but also to consider how those elements might be in the future when you’re ready to resell the property.
Here are 10 key things to think about when purchasing luxury real estate in Chicago.
1. Location. Sure, this seems obvious, but it’s important to consider your lifestyle when shopping for Chicago homes for sale and think about how that will factor in. If you have children, are you close enough to their school? If you’re empty-nesters, perhaps you want to be near the excitement of Michigan Avenue.
2. Unit differentiation. Two different three-bedroom Chicago condos for sale could have drastically different square footage, floor plans or views. I recommend buyers see how a specific unit they want to purchase compares to the rest of the units in the building.
3. Building differentiation. Luxury real estate buyers want to see a sophisticated, upscale look as soon as they enter the building’s lobby. Buyers typically take note of the number of doormen, the ambiance of the building and if the units have ceilings of 9 feet or higher.
4. Details and finishes. I suggest clients make a point of looking for details like genuine wood flooring, customization of baseboards and ceiling moldings and top-of-the-line kitchen appliances. These finishes are key for those looking for the ultimate in luxury, and is also important to consider when thinking about a home’s resale value down the line.
5. Services. Chicago real estate buyers must consider what amenities and concierge services they are looking to have at their service as a resident of a particular building. Think about outdoor space and event rooms, and if the building offers concierge services that apply to your lifestyle.
6. Lifestyle. I’ve always probed buyers to think of any lifestyle issues that would be important to consider when purchasing luxury real estate in Chicago. For example, if a client is a major art collector, factors like building security, wall space, ceiling height and light issues should all be taken into consideration to optimize that lifestyle. For architecture buffs, we might focus on buildings with architectural significance, like 880 Lake Shore Drive, which was designed by Mies van der Rohe.
7. Décor. Once you’ve moved in, of course the décor of a Chicago home or Chicago condo is up to you. But the building itself may not be optimal for just any upgrades or changes. For example, if a building has concrete walls, think twice about putting moldings on the unit’s ceiling, so as not to compromise the property’s integrity and future resale value. For luxury real estate in Chicago, I think its most important to take decorating cues from the ambiance of a building. Whether its vintage and classic or modern and minimalist, you’ll want to ensure your unit fits in so future buyers can know what to expect.
8. Cost per square foot. The best way to evaluate a unit’s price is to take into account the cost per square foot. This way, you can compare it to various buildings in Chicago, plus real estate properties on the east and west coasts and around the world. The high end of luxury real estate in Chicago falls around $1,200 per square foot and is still less expensive than other parts of the United States.
9. Building assessments. Many more buyers are hunting for luxury real estate that doesn’t come at the cost of enormous monthly assessments. The assessment costs can greatly affect the resale value and appreciation of the property, so it could be worth it to find a luxury Chicago home that has a monthly assessment that is not excessive.
10. Building plan. A building may look pristine inside and out, but I believe it’s important to be as diligent about the building as you would the unit itself. Buyers should consider a Chicago condo building’s 5- or 10-year plan, its cash reserve, and if the building is financed through a loan to ensure it meets their expectations.