Why do we Fall in Love with Chicago Real Estate?

Maybe it’s the view. The square footage. The architectural details.

There are a lot of reasons why buyers become enamored with a particular Chicago home or condo. Many of my clients say they go home after seeing a property only to learn they can’t stop thinking about it.

A recent survey by realtor.com revealed that “falling in love” with a house is a common affair. Nearly 70% of respondents said they have had a home crush—being drawn to the same property over and over again. They compared home crushes to the same kind of pitter-patter feeling in our hearts that comes with having a crush on another person.

Love or real estate, finding “the one” is often no easy task, and can often be heartbreaking, depending on the outcome. Some of the other interesting findings from the survey included:

  • Women are more likely to crush on a home that is out of their price range.
  • Outdoor living spaces are the most attractive home attributes to both men and women. In Chicago, having a desk, porch or yard to take in our short summers is crucial to many buyers.
  • Open-floor plans and garage space rank on the wish lists for men and women, respectively.
  • Most buyers find their first crush online. The web has made it easier than ever to “stalk” homes that are on and off the market. Once buyers find a home they’re interested in, about one-third opt to see it in person.

Falling for Chicago Real Estate You Can’t Have
It’s not uncommon for homebuyers to fall head over heels with a Chicago home, only to learn it’s already under contract. Some might even put their home search on hold and hope a contract falls through. Others might move on but will always remember the one, and watch the market for years after, hoping it will pop up again.

If you find yourself in love with an unavailable home, here are a few suggestions for making the most out of the situation:

Remember your price range: Sticking to your budget is still a crucial part of home buying. If you’re gravitating toward homes that are out of range, rank what’s most important to you to in a home that could be a big chunk of the budget. For example, if it’s square footage you want, perhaps a different neighborhood might have bigger homes without the price tag of a coveted location. If you want amenities in a Chicago condo building, something with one less bedroom or on a lower floor could bring it down into your price range.

List out what you like: What is it about a certain property that has you so enamored? Many features can likely be added to your list of needs and wants for home shopping. You might even consider remodeling, redecorating or even building a new home from scratch to incorporate the characteristics you love.

Know your deal breakers: Make sure you know what you don’t want so you can weed those properties out early. If you find your #1 choice in a Chicago home isn’t available, you don’t want to find yourself settling for something you know you didn’t want from the beginning.

You can read more about the realtor.com survey here.  To find Chicago real estate that might make you fall in love, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

New Construction Trend: Goodbye to the Open Kitchen

These are often buzz words in the real estate market, among buyers and sellers alike: open floor plan. Specifically, an open kitchen and living space that create a hub within a home for entertaining and gathering.

But the sought-after “open kitchen” could well be on its way out the door. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted this as a luxury home trend among new construction. The closed concept kitchen is being seen in newer homes in New York, and I’m convinced the Chicago real estate market will soon adopt this trend as well.

The Future of Chicago New Construction
Although the open kitchen layout became popular because it allowed hosts and guests to mingle in the same space, there are a growing number of people who hire private cooks and caterers to prepare their meals. This turns the open-floor plan on its head, as many hosts don’t want the clutter that comes about or after-dinner dishes on display. The closed kitchen helps create a dinner party that is reminiscent of five-star dining. With everything coming from behind closed doors, all guests see is perfection.

The act of hiring a private chef to create a meal for you and your guests doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. With the influx of “foodies” putting a real emphasis on culinary perfection, many people are using meals to make a major impression (on say, their CEO boss) or mark a special occasion (like anniversaries). This move to having an expert do the work is certainly a reason I could see luxury buyers looking for a more private kitchen space in Chicago homes.

In addition to hosting, creating a more focused mealtime is another reason many are looking for real estate with a closed kitchen. Families can dine together in a room meant only for enjoying a meal, cutting off distractions from neighboring spaces.

But if putting up walls is off-putting, there are other options for creating a private kitchen in a Chicago home that allow for more flexibility. Architects have designed everything from glass panels, curtains, pocket doors and half-walls that help section off the kitchen without closing it off entirely from the rest of the home.

Design Considerations in Chicago Real Estate
Even if you’re not buying or selling right now, it’s important for homeowners to keep design trends like this in mind. What’s popular in today’s homes can affect your resale value down the road, depending on how in line your Chicago home or condo is with the wants and needs of today’s buyer.

To learn more about trends in the Chicago real estate market, contact me at 312-264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.







Chicago: Second City Becomes World-Class City in Entertainment, Dining and Real Estate

Chicago Real Estate

image from flickr/noisecollusion

I have a bit of a confession to make: I am originally from New York.

I moved to Chicago for a job more than 35 years ago and haven’t looked back since. When I first hung my hat here in the Second City, it was clear that there was no other place in the world like it—not something you’ll hear many New Yorkers admit (though I contend they just haven’t properly experienced everything Chicago has to offer). In fact, I found other parts of the country to be substandard when compared to Chicago’s theater and art, architecture and design and restaurants—you can even find some of the best steaks around right here in Chicago.

For the past 35 years, I’ve never felt more at home, and I wanted to share a few ways that Chicago has moved from a small hometown to a world-class place to live:

Chicago real estate
It’s no surprise that I find real estate in Chicago to be one of the city’s assets. The cost per square foot to live in a Chicago condo or home is just a fraction of what you’d pay in New York City, San Francisco, D.C., and other major cities. Buyers can even get into the most prestigious luxury real estate buildings and the most anticipated Chicago new construction projects for $750 to $1,200 per square foot. Many business people, CEOs and executives around the world have caught on to Chicago’s allure, helping it to become a very international city.

The ease of relocating to Chicago
The internationality that makes up Chicago has made it a comfortable place to relocate to for anyone coming from across the globe, as well as those looking to relocate from other parts of the U.S. A walk down Michigan Avenue will reveal the numerous languages being spoken, and different sections and neighborhoods of Chicago offer a rich experience of many different cultures. Just this year, Chicago ranked #6 among other global cities London, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong, showing how much influence the city has beyond itself. The affordability compared to other U.S. cities makes it a viable option for executives looking for a large city, and our two accessible airports make life easy for those who travel often.

A new survey yesterday found Chicago to be one of the most walker friendly cities in the United States, ranking 5th behind San Francisco, Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Plus with bike-friendly areas, public transportation and many driver services, getting around town is never an issue for Chicago residents or visitors. Many Chicago condos are right in the heart of everything you need, such as groceries, dining, theater, and shopping. Neighborhoods like Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Lakeview (and others) offer Chicago real estate options that put these necessities practically right outside your front door.

Chicago’s fine entertainment, shopping and dining

Chicago Theatre

Image from flickr/kevindooley

Since you know there’s no problem getting there, there’s no excuse not to relish the entertainment scene Chicago offers—first-rate restaurants, high fashion, art, and home-grown theater talent that has gone far beyond they city itself. Second City has bred many talented comedians, from Bill Murray to Tina Fey and several new cast members on this season’s Saturday Night Live. The Steppenwolf Theatre Company has become the nation’s premiere theatre ensemble, with accolades that include 9 Tony Awards. For shopping, Michigan Avenue, Oak and Rush streets offer chic designer shopping from Chanel, David Yurman, Hermes, and Prada. And just about all Chicago neighborhoods put residents near at least one of the city’s upscale restaurants that have received national acclaim.

All of these factors made Chicago a very welcoming place for this New Yorker-turned-Chicagoan 35 long years ago. I have no doubt that the city will continue to thrive and greet new residents from all over the world. If you’d like to learn more about Chicago real estate and why the city is one of the best in the world, contact agent Sheldon Salnick at (312) 498-5080 or by email at ssalnick@dreamtown.com

A Chicago Lifestyle: Where the Rich Don't Have to be Poor

I came across this recent column in the Wall Street Journal that discussed the frantic, often excessive lifestyle that occurs in Manhattan: rents that cost more than many mortgages and offer half the space, to bumper-to-bumper traffic just out your front window, to sidewalk carts that require a trip to the ATM to pay for a snack. Even if you’re not living the life of luxury, you’re probably paying for it.

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Why A Chicago Home is Perfect for Empty Nesters

Chicago real estate offers many options for many types of buyers—another perfect pair is a Chicago home for empty nesters. With children who are now off on their own, you might find yourself ready to downsize to something smaller, upgrade to something more luxurious or just move into a new neighborhood that lets you walk out the front door to enjoy some of Chicago’s finest activities. An urban lifestyle is a great fit for the newfound freedom of empty nesters.

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Buy Chicago Real Estate in Neighborhoods With Staying Power

When hunting for a Chicago home, you’ll find a lot of properties marketed as being in up-and-coming neighborhoods: new condos, shopping developments, aldermen looking to put extra funds to revitalize different areas.

But it’s tough to take a gamble hope that a Chicago neighborhood going through changes will turn into a place you want to own real estate. Looking at an area with proven staying power—such as the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park or Lakeview—will ensure that you’re buying a Chicago home that will meet your needs—whether you’re looking for the perfect place to live, the just-right investment, or the ideal big-city getaway.

Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is a dream for Chicago real estate, and is especially an indulgence for architecture buffs. You’ll find canopied streets lined with upscale brownstone homes, many of which boast classic moldings, high ceilings and unique sized lots. Because it’s a well-established area, buying a Chicago home in Gold Coast means you can get to know your neighbors without the potential of losing them to the next high-rise condo building. Chicago homes for sale in the Gold Coast share the neighborhood with upscale restaurants, shopping at Hermes and Louis Vuitton, the famed 19th-century homes on Astor Street and the chic Elysian hotel/condo high-rise. If your real estate budget is about $2 million and above, the Gold Coast is the perfect place to begin searching for your Chicago home.

Lincoln Park
Woven with several key streets lined with gorgeous homes ranging from $5 million to more than $100 million, Lincoln Park has never slowed down as one of Chicago’s best neighborhoods. Hyatt chair and Obama comrade Penny Pritzker built a Lincoln Park home that later went for about $40 million. And while Lincoln Park has endurance for being a supreme place to live, that doesn’t mean there’s no buzz about what it’s bringing to the Chicago real estate table. Lincoln Park 2520 is merely in the ground-breaking phase, but it’s already breaking more figurative ground as a leading building in Lincoln Park than the region has seen in awhile. With access to its own park, spectacular views of Lake Michigan and endless lavish amenities, Lincoln Park 2520 will add long-term prosperity to an already desirable neighborhood.

Even as it’s often more affordable than the Gold Coast or Lincoln Park, Lakeview doesn’t skimp on opulent comfort. The dense neighborhood provides easy access to nightlife, shopping, restaurants, parks and anywhere else your feet can take you. Lakeview’s diversity means you can embrace the eclectic mix of food and entertainment that helps define Lakeview for many of its residents. Chicago homes in Lakeview tend to be on wider lots, so your real estate dollar could go a bit further when it comes to more space. If you’re looking for a tighter knit community, Lakeview is also home to many communities such as Wrigleyville, North Halsted and Lakeview East. Because Lakeview is an affordable but classic neighborhood for many, real estate buyers are turning here to stretch their investments further in an area that just seems to get better and better.

Think these neighborhoods sound like home? Visit Sheldon’s Web site to search online Chicago Real Estate Listings.

To find a Chicago home or Chicago condo that offer the features you’re looking for, please contact Chicago real estate agent Sheldon Salnick at (312) 498-5080 or email him at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Luxury Chicago Homes Are Still Selling

It’s no secret that real estate has been a bit topsy-turvy. But the good news is that Chicago homes are still selling – particularly high-end properties in coveted neighborhoods like Gold Coast, Lincoln Park and Lakeview.

In today’s Chicago real estate market, these high-end homes go from anywhere from $2 million up to $15 million. Looking at these sorts of properties that sold in the last month paints a detailed picture as to what is happening now in Chicago real estate. Upscale Chicago homes stacked with amenities don’t seem to be facing the same troubles as the real estate market as a whole. Along with location, lake views, square footage and large lot sizes go a long way among Chicago homes for sale.

3733 N. Lakewood St. – Sold for $2.4 million, this new construction 5-bedroom in Lakeview boasted 3-car garage parking, a media room, a wine cellar, a patio-and-bar-equipped penthouse and home automation.

2444 N. Orchard St. – This 6,200-square foot Lincoln Park home sold in a short sale for $2.5 million. It was built last year with walnut floors, an elevator, wine cellar and a separate master floor with a bath and library.

73 E. Cedar – This Gold Coast greystone was newly renovated before selling for $2.7 million. The home features an elevator between all floors and includes a media bar, wet room and 2-car garage.

1302 N. Ritchie Ct. – With 5,200 square feet, this rehabbed Chicago home sits on a premier Gold Coast street. Offering lake views and an elevator, this property is a prime example the value being found among high-end Chicago real estate.

2141 N. Clifton Ave. – A sun-lit four-story in Lincoln Park presents a grand staircase, sweeping rooms, 2-car garage and a limestone exterior. Sold for $3.2 million, this 4-bedroom beauty also features hardwood floors throughout and a marble-floored media room.

1318 N. LaSalle Dr. – A Chicago home with great square footage is rare, and this new construction property in the Gold Coast is a vast 9,200 square feet on a 150-foot-deep lot. Sold for $3.2 million, this property includes a coach house and guest suite, two terraces, a theater room, elevator and six bedrooms.

To find a Chicago home or Chicago condo that offer the features you’re looking for, please contact Chicago real estate agent Sheldon Salnick at (312) 498-5080 or email him at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Visit Sheldon’s Web site to search online Chicago Real Estate Listings.

Purchasing Chicago Real Estate Buys A Lifestyle As Well

While Chicago real estate offers all of the glitz and glamour of any big city, a major perk is that luxury living doesn’t come with the same luxury price per square foot as homes on the East and West coasts. Plus, Chicago has no shortage of the splendor that comes with private clubs, cultural wealth and an opulent lifestyle.

If you’re considering relocating to Chicago or purchasing a second home in the second city, it’s promising to know that a home purchase here is considerably less than New York, Boston or even California. Chicago offers real estate for nearly every budget — at the low end, the cost per square foot for Chicago real estate could be about $325 per square foot; at the high end, a square foot might cost you about $1,200. Like all real estate, the location and age of the building and the type of home (condominium or co-op) also plays a role in the cost of a Chicago home.

The high end of Chicago real estate might cost $1,200 per square foot, but that will typically buy you into a concierge-serviced luxury building in a fabulous location. That same lifestyle would most likely cost $3,000 to $3,500 in New York or San Francisco. But in Chicago, a home even in the famed Trump Tower offers spectacular views and seemingly unlimited services — and can cost even less than $1,000 per square foot.

Looking for more than just great value in Chicago real estate? Once you’ve settled in to a Chicago home or Chicago condo, you can take advantage of the city’s private clubs. This year, the Club Leaders Forum ranked the Union League Club of Chicago as the No. 1 private city club in the United States. What earned such high remarks was Chicago’s first-class dining, magnificent guest accommodations, a vibrant athletic facility, art collections, staff and involvement with non-profit foundations. The club also ranked on top among all categories of private clubs in Illinois.

To learn more about all the things the Chicago real estate market has to offer, please contact agent Sheldon Salnick at (312) 498-5080 or ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Visit Sheldon’s Web site to search online Chicago Real Estate Listings.

Chicago's Gold Coast Comparable to New York's Upper East Side

I know, it’s sacrilegious to compare Chicago to New York, but humor me for just one moment. There’s no doubt Chicago is just an all-around better place to live and be. I’ve been told on many occasions that Chicago holds all of New York’s best qualities and none of the bad. But Chicago’s Gold Coast is an example of one of these good qualities. This prestigious neighborhood compares to New York’s Upper East Side with its prestigious shopping, historic buildings and luxury homes. If you’re looking for exquisite Chicago real estate with all the luxuries of New York, then the Gold Coast is the place for you.

In this month’s edition of CS, the magazine takes a look at the historical importance and future of Chicago’s Gold Coast. “When compared with the Upper East Side, New York City’s bastion of old money and privilege, the Gold Coast stands up to the competition and, from a personality perspective, does it one better.” This Chicago hot spot has always been a place to see and be seen. Within walking distance to the lake, the Magnificent Mile, and fantastic architecture and parks, it’s no wonder the Gold Coast has continued to grow all these years.

As CS writer Amalie Drury points out,

“Like any neighborhood, the Gold Coast is always evolving, but a walking tour of its grid—particularly the area south of Division Street, north of Chicago Avenue and west of Clark Street—reveals a remarkable amount of growth over the past two or three years.”

Some of the changes Drury speaks of include the development of two luxury condos at 30 W. Oak St. and 11 E. Walton St. While these developments veer from the neighborhood’s smaller, street-level buildings, they are still in line with the community’s dedication to luxury. The space at 30 W. Oak St. boasts 10-foot ceilings, Poggenpohl wood cabinetry, Miele appliances, custom millwork, built-ins and a private terrace.

30 W. Oak St.

30 W. Oak St.

30 W. Oak St.

30 W. Oak St.

The high-rise at 11 E. Walton St., designed by Lucien LaGrange, will rest just above the Elysian Hotel. Each residence will have 180-degree views, two terraces, 10-foot ceilings, gourmet kitchens and spa baths. Residents will also enjoy access to the hotel’s indoor pool, concierge services and valet parking.

11 E. Walton St.

11 E. Walton St.

11 E. Walton St.

11 E. Walton St.

Other additions to the neighborhood include the restaurant Fred’s just above Barney’s and The Cedar Hotel bar on 1112 N. State St. Rumors are also flying that hotelier Ian Schrager may purchase “State Street’s Ambassador East hotel and its famed Pump Room restaurant, once the stomping grounds of stars like Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra.” But amid all the rumors, one thing’s for sure, the Gold Coast will continue to be a classic Chicago neighborhood in the years to come.

If you’re interested in purchasing a Gold Coast Chicago condo, please contact Chicago real estate agent Sheldon Salnick at (312) 498-5080 or email him at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Staying Conscious of the Current Market: Buying a Chicago Home

Despite recent depreciation of Chicago home values and recession-induced foreclosures, new data shows that the housing market is looking up. While many individuals continue to struggle with mortgage rates and payments, efforts from the loan industry combined with recent market figures indicate a not-so distant light at the end of the tunnel.

The market, which bottomed out this past March, has taken an upward turn with the emergence of more confident and optimistic buyers. Because many individuals have been able to receive helpful loans, their perspective on home-buying has also changed for the better. This increased sense of positivity, though intangible, is a definite way to increase morale, and thus interest in Chicago real estate.

Being in a buyers’ market can entail a variety of options and setbacks. Primarily, though, it indicates the need to be absolutely sure of your ability to keep-up with payments and other related expenses. Because Chicago homes are already much more affordable than those in major coastal cities, affordability in top neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast is less severe than it would be in coincident areas in New York or California.

According to MSNBC, an 18.1 percent decline in the Case-Schiller index of 20 major cities (calculated in April) marked the third consecutive month for which the index wasn’t at a record low. Although this trend may seem initially like the lesser of two evils, it also has great potential to move us out of the real-estate slump. Loan-success projections for the remainder of 2009 may be questionable at this point, however the market is still hoping that exceptionally low home prices will help to curb foreclosure rates.

In addition, buying a foreclosed home is a definite option for prospective buyers. These homes are especially appealing to new families looking to get more square-footage for their money, first-time buyers, and existing homeowners looking to score a second property. Although the persistent woes of the housing market are far from resolved, the general consensus suggests the situation is definitely improving.

Economist Patrick Newport comments on this philosophy. “Prices are still dropping. They’re just no longer in freefall,” Newport said. The most significant aspect of this idea is quite simple – direction. Sure, home values are still less-than spectacular, but the bright side of the matter rests in the growing assurance that we no longer exist in a state of chaos.Regardless of the situation, prospective buyers should be anything but frightened.

For more information on finding an amazing Chicago condo in the current market, don’t hesitate to contact Chicago real estate agent Sheldon Salnick at (312) 498-5080 or ssalnick@dreamtown.com.