How to Close on a Chicago Luxury Home in a Bidding War

Picture this: You’re shopping for a home and finally find a property that is stunning, special and feels different from the rest. It’s perfect for you, and because you can picture yourself living in it already—well, it must be meant to be.

Odds are, you aren’t the only one who feels this way about that one special home. Because inventories on Chicago homes and condos are still fairly low, it is more the rule than the exception that a great home will go quickly, and buyers will find themselves in a multiple-offer situation with any home they bid on.

Because of this increased competition, I am working with my clients more than ever on how to stand out as a buyer. While it once might have been as simple as throwing more money into an offer, I find it important to explain the different approaches to overcome multiple bids.

The Power of a Real Estate Letter

One strategy that is becoming more commonplace for buyers is penning a letter directly to the seller of a home. Referred to as a cover letter or even a love letter, this more personal communication is said to increase a luxury buyer’s chances of having their offer accepted by 75%. This personal approach can go a long way, which I think speaks to the emotions that are often involved in real estate.

While it might seem to be all about the numbers—highest bid wins, right?—a letter plays into a less black-and-white approach. For one, it gives you the opportunity to stoke the ego of the seller with compliments of their beautiful home. It also shows that a buyer is serious and will be diligent throughout the sales process if anything should come up. And third, it shows that there is a real person behind all the paperwork, and can help the seller feel like they are leaving the home in good hands if that is important to them.

Ultimately, it’s ultimately up to the seller to choose an offer for any reasoning they like. So anything that a buyer can put out there to connect with the seller is a possibility, whether it be to tell them about their family, their work, or their connection to the home or neighborhood via a personal note.

Other Strategies for Purchasing with Multiple Offers

While a letter may be effective for some, real estate is a business after all, and many sellers are just as motivated by knowing that the transaction will go smoothly. The Wall St. Journal recently reported on the various tactics that buyers are using to make their bids more competitive, with more common approaches including:

All cash: Yes, it’s still king. And it’s not just more cash that seals a deal. Cash rules in real estate because, the lower the risk of a sale going through without issues, the greater the appeal of the offer will be to most sellers. Paying in cash ensures a seller that a deal will close, and will do so quickly. High-end sellers in particular tend to be less price sensitive and might take less money for the promise of an all-cash offer.

Escalation clause: This is an arrangement that automatically increases a buyer’s bid if a competing buyer bids higher. It’s like an upfront guarantee to the seller that they’ll get the very best price for their property.

Waiving inspection contingencies: This means the potential buyer cannot cancel or renegotiate the contract based on the results of a home inspection. Not only does this cut down on the time to close, it ensures the seller won’t hit any snags if the home inspection reveals anything that might make the buyer want to rework the terms of their offer.

Waiving financing contingencies: This means the potential buyer’s offer is not dependent on his or her ability to obtain financing. With the influx of all-cash offers, this is becoming less effective of a strategy for buyers, and in some areas might even be mandated for your offer to be considered.

Pre-inspection: This is when a potential buyer commissions an inspection before making an offer. This ensures the seller that the buyer is confident in the property upfront, and that the closing process won’t be held up by an inspection timeline or any issues that get brought up.

If you’re in the market for a Chicago home or condo, it’s important to walk through some of these strategies with your agent so you know exactly what you’re able to offer when you find that home you love. Transactions move quickly and competitively, and my 25+ years of experience can help you navigate some of the less-charted territory we’re seeing in the luxury market today and help you close a sale on a great Chicago home.

For information on purchasing a Chicago luxury home or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Most Expensive Unit Sold in 15 Chicago Luxury Condo Buildings During 2015

Chicago luxury condo sales had a strong year in 2015, but the ultra-luxury condo market was what really stood out. These are the $2 million-plus sales that include every bell and whistle a luxury buyer could hope to find—hence the price tag to go with it. Let’s take a look at what made the most expensive sales last year so special.

Features of Ultra-Luxury Real Estate in Chicago

Every buyer has his or her own unique wish list when they start hunting for a new home, but there are definitely trends among luxury buyers and what they’re looking for. The most common features I find luxury buyers want are:

  • Location: Downtown, close to downtown or in a great neighborhood near schools, dining and nightlife.
  • Newness of the building: Buyers want new construction, or as close to it as they can get.
  • Architectural details: A building’s design inside and out can make it stand apart from others, and buyers love a building by a noteworthy architect or designer.
  • Views: It wouldn’t be a luxury property without a built-in panorama of beautiful Chicago.
  • Square footage: Condo living doesn’t mean sacrificing space, and luxury buyers want at least 3,000 square feet, plus outdoor space on decks or terraces.
  • Services: From valet parking to in-room catering, the right luxury condo building puts every service imaginable at their residents’ fingertips.

Any luxury buyer will be happy to find a property that hits on those features. But the ultra-luxury buyer takes it a step further. This is the buyer who not only wants a great building, but the very best condominium in it—a luxury unit that is head and shoulders above anything else at that address.

These are the types of properties that get everyone in the building talking. For the client with the right budget (millions of dollars), it’s as much a statement-making status symbol as it is a place to call home.

Top Ultra-Luxury Condo Sales in Chicago for 2015
We saw a number of these types of properties sell in 2015—ultra-unique Chicago condos with unusual features you don’t find among typical luxury real estate. Of the top 15 individual sales, 13 sold for cash, and not one for less than $4 million.

Here’s a look at 15 Chicago condos that make for the ultimate luxury home:

189ELakeShoreDr189 E Lake Shore Drive, PH18
Sold price:
$10,375,300
The unit: This beauty on the prestigious East Lake Shore Drive is a penthouse in every sense of the word, and it billed itself as the most magnificent one in the city. The interior boasts 7,662 square feet on the inside and almost 3,000 square feet of private outdoor space, including terraces with spectacular lake and city views. And there was one rarer find: this unit included parking for five cars.
The building: This prestigious building recently unveiled a new state of the art exercise facility. It also has one of the most gracious lobbies you’ll find in a Chicago residential building.

 

1300NStatePkwy1300 N State Pkwy, Unit 1201
Sold price:
$6,933,333
The unit: This 3 bedroom, 4.1 bath unit is an exquisite duplex at The Ambassador. Its 6,800 square feet includes a library, private dog run, DeGuillo kitchen with La Cornue range and 5 fireplaces, plus a 1,400 square foot private terrace. Sweeping views, custom fittings, soaring ceilings, a custom staircase and tasteful design throughout add to the features that make this Chicago condo a total standout.
The building: The Ambassador is a pet-friendly building that includes an exercise room, bike room, party room and sun deck. Its Gold Coast location puts it just 2 blocks from the lakefront.

 

159EWalton159 E Walton, Unit 33A
Sold price:
$6.2 million
The unit: Located in the famous Palmolive building, this 5,200 square foot, full-floor unit was designed by Nate Berkus. The lux master suite includes a spa bath and elegant dressing room, and the eat-in kitchen boasts appliances by Wolf, SubZero and Miele. The space in this 3-bedroom unit makes it perfect for an art collector, with additional features such as outstanding lake views, a private elevator lobby, a whole-house smart system for lighting, shades and music.
The building: Architecturally speaking, this building is world renowned for its dynamic art deco design. Amenities include a modern exercise facility, a common entertaining room, a 24-hour door staff and additional storage space for residents.

 

2550NLakeview2550 N Lakeview Ave, Unit S3801
Sold price:
$6 million
The unit: This was a great opportunity for the buyer to turn a new construction condo into their urban dream home. This southeast duplex penthouse in Lincoln Park 2550 spans a whopping 8,167 square feet of raw, un-designed space across two top floors.
The building: Designed by architect Lucien Lagrange, Lincoln Park 2550 is at the top of the list for what Chicago has to offer in luxury real estate. It’s a smaller, boutique building with an ultra-elegant feel and five-star amenities, including a health club and spa, private park, theatre room and more.

 

1021NDearborn1021 N Dearborn St
Sold price:
$5.5 million
The unit: The details are scarce on this 5,835 square foot 4-bedroom, as it was sold before it was even officially listed. But this is an exceptionally elegant Chicago condo, with 4 levels, a 441-square foot wrap-around balcony, and a full-floor master suite.
The building: Located at Dearborn and Oak streets around the corner from Washington Square Park, this modern townhome building is an exquisite design from Smithfield Properties, who also built the neighboring 30 West Oak.

 

340ERandolph340 E Randolph
Sold price:
$5.2 million
The unit: A top-floor penthouse, this 4,919 square foot 3-bedroom in 340 on the Park boasts one of the huge selling points of a luxury condo in Lakeshore East: Endless views of Millennium Park and the city skyline, enjoyed through soaring 12-foot, floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside, you’ll find a high-end chef’s kitchen with multiple entertaining areas, a master suite with sitting area and private office, plus contemporary finishes, smart-wired audio, electronic window treatments and tons of closet space. Three terraces make it easy to enjoy sweet Chicago summers.
The building: 340 on the Park anchors the south entry into Chicago’s Lakeshore East neighborhood, with a stand-out design. The lobby envelopes you in luxury the moment you walk in, and each residence is a perfect blend of traditional elegance and modern living. Amenities here include a sky garden atrium, club room, fitness center with lap pool and spa facilities.

 

435WDeming435 W Deming Pl, Unit 435
Sold price:
$4,999,999
The unit: This brand-new 5 bedroom, 4.2 bath new construction unit was sold before print.
The building: A new construction property from LG Development, 435 W Deming is a group of ultra-luxury row homes across from Lincoln Park.

 

65EGoethe65 E Goethe St., Unit 101
Sold price:
$4.9 million
The unit: With 3 bedrooms, 2.2 baths and a whopping 5,500 square feet, this unit is an ideal property for an art collector, thanks to generous wall space for showcasing work. This two-level unit also includes facing private terraces that overlook Goudy Park, a custom terrazzo floor on the first level, two included parking spaces and an adaptable floor plan to add additional bedrooms and bath if desired.
The building: The Chicago condos at 65 E Goethe are a crown jewel of the Gold Coast. Designed by Lucien Lagrange, the building has a traditional French style that fits right in with the elegance of the Gold Coast. Residents here enjoy an on-site concierge/manager.

 

209ELakeShoreDr209 E Lake Shore Dr, Unit 7E
Sold price:
$4.5 million
The unit: A 5,900 square foot 3-bedroom, 4.2 bath, this thoughtful and meticulous condo was renovated just 3 years ago by Marvin Herman Archiects. Features include a stately living room and dining room that share unsurpassed views of the city and lake, a paneled library, a custom kitchen and breakfast room with Clive Christian cabinetry and La Cornue range, Italian walnut-paneled media room and a master suite with attached sitting room, his-and-her baths and dressing rooms.
The building: This is one of the city’s finest co-op buildings, designed by renowned architect Benjamin Marshall in 1925. Amenities include a 24-hour door staff, an exercise room, private garden and attached parking garage.

 

800NMichigan800 N Michigan Ave, Unit 5702
Sold price:
$4.25 million
The unit: This half-floor residence in Park Tower showcases spectacular details throughout: an Ernestomeda kitchen, fireplace, walnut floors, zen master bath, custom closets, smart house audio-video system, a wet bar and a midnight kitchen. Exceptional 270-degree views can be enjoyed from inside or from the 8 by 14-foot terrace.
The building: Park Tower is one of the most loved luxury condo buildings in downtown Chicago, also designed by Lucien Lagrange. Residents of Park Tower can take advantage of the services and amenities from the adjacent Park Hyatt Hotel, such as the full-service NoMI Spa, 25-yard pool, dry cleaning services and much more.

 

159EWalton159 E Walton Pl, Unit 18A
Sold price:
$4.4 million
The unit: With 4,700 square feet high on the 19th floor, this 3-bedroom condo boasts unobstructed views of Lake and Michigan Avenue. Exquisite attention to detail is found throughout, such as hardwood floors, top-of-the-line kitchen appliances, two included parking spaces, an eat-in breakfast nook that overlooks Lake Michigan and 4 separate HVAC zones. The unit’s grand master suite includes a sitting room, lux bath with whirlpool tub and lake view, and a separate wing is home to 2 large ensuite bedrooms.
The building: Chicago’s Palmolive building is not only an architectural gem for its renowned art deco style, but one of the most sought-after vintage buildings for luxury living. Residents here can enjoy access to the building’s private health club, concierge services and attached heated parking.

132EDelaware132 E Delaware Pl, Unit 6302
Sold price:
$4.25 million
The unit: This 7,000 square foot duplex was designed by Juan Pablo Molyneaux and architect Marvin Herman high atop the Four Seasons Hotel. The details are impeccable: P.E. Guerin hardware, Beaumaniere limestone floor, a grand staircase to the second level and the highest quality custom finishes and millwork, to name a few. The spectacular double-volume space includes ensuite bedrooms, library, second floor gallery, 2,000 bottle wine cellar, tasting room and home theater.
The building: Residents of 132 E Delaware have a great advantage in sharing an address with the Four Seasons Hotel, allowing them to take advantage of all amenities and service offered by the 5-star hotel group.

 

340ERandolph340 East Randolph St, Unit 5903
Sold price:
$4.138 million
The unit: This luxury penthouse boasts all of the details that put a property in the luxury category: high ceilings, contemporary finishes, maple hardwood floors, Snaidero cabinets, built-in appliances, smart-wired audio and electronic window treatments. Panoramic views of the city skyline, Millennium Park, Lake Michigan and Buckingham Fountain can be enjoyed from a large 11-by-31-foot covered terrace.
The building: A favorite in Lakeshore East, 340 on the Park includes a winter garden, 75-foot, 2-lane lap pool and state-of-the-art exercise facility.

 

401NWabash401 N Wabash Ave, Unit 41S
Sold price:
$4.1 million
The unit: This property is less than 10 years old, but its 4,000 square feet have been highly upgraded, with features including 2 fireplaces, 10-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, Miele, SubZero and Wolf appliances; not to mention, the breathtaking views that are a guarantee at Trump Tower. This sale also came with potential to be combined with the 1,100 square foot unit next door to create 5,100 square feet of wrap-around views.
The building: Not only is the River North location highly coveted for its easy access to the best things Chicago has to offer, but Trump Tower is a sought-after building in itself. Residents here can enjoy the amenities from the building’s hotel, along with 5-star services like in-home catering, valet parking and more.

 

30WOak30 W Oak St, Unit 12B
Sold price:
$4 million
The unit: This 3-bedroom, 3.1-bath was beautifully custom designed throughout its 3,349 square feet.
The building: This Gold Coast building is less than 10 years old and a favorite among luxury buyers looking to be close to downtown Chicago. A south-facing, all glass façade brings in stunning light and neighborhood and skyline views. Each unit inside boasts 10-foot ceilings and a private terrace to take it all in.

 

 

 

 

 

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 ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Confirming Square Footage is Critical When Purchasing Chicago Real Estate

The majority of my clients have one thing in particular at the top of their real estate wish list: square footage. Generally, the more the better. And while a listing sheet should accurately list the square footage of a home for sale, it’s still important for a buyer to do his or her due diligence to confirm that number.

Square Footage Should be Confirmed in Chicago Real Estate
Unfortunately, it’s not terribly uncommon for a real estate listing to claim a square footage that differs from official records of a property. There’s even a case on the west coast in which the buyer expected a home to have a whopping 5,000 more square feet than it did in reality.

For Chicago real estate buyers, it’s important that you have an independent assessment to determine the square footage of a home you want to buy. There are plenty of realtors who don’t list the square footage at all, or they may pick up the number from a previous sale without actually verifying it’s validity.

All-cash deals don’t require an appraisal or any sort of evaluation to confirm the number, so discrepancies are not unheard of. Be aware that many realtors—especially inexperienced ones—may forget to put in a contract that a cash sale is contingent on an appraisal, thus taking away any “out” you have if the number isn’t what the seller or selling agent claims it to be.

But what happens if you’re in a multiple-offer situation and the time for an appraisal weakens your offer? There are ways around this issue, even if you’re purchasing with cash. I would be happy to discuss the ways you can protect yourself if you’re competing for a “hot” luxury Chicago home.

What’s Included in Real Estate Square Footage
It’s not necessarily the seller or selling agent is trying to deceive potential buyers (though that isn’t unheard of, either). More commonly, there is a discrepancy between what is calculated into a square footage number. Some of the areas that might be included in an inflated number are:

Patios: Outdoor space should NOT be included when considering how large the home or condo is, period.

Garage: For a Chicago townhome, the square footage of the garage IS included, since it is contained in the home. However, a one- or two-garage still isn’t living space, so I immediately let my clients know that a property with garage space should be reduced by 200-400 square feet. This becomes trickier when you’re purchasing a very large property, and you may be inclined to confirm the size of the garage and whether that measurement is included in the reported square footage.

Balconies: The space afforded by a balcony should NOT be included in the square footage of a property.

Below-grade living space: This is another tricky one. Nearly all realtors include the below-grade space in square footage, but I still think it’s important for buyers to know how much of that is accounted for in this space. Typically, when pricing a home, below-grade level living space is priced lower per square foot than the main house. So that could make a big difference if you’re looking at a very large space.

I have worked with many developers and on a number of construction projects, and would be happy to discuss in more detail how that number is determined.

If you’re unsure of how to confirm the square footage of a Chicago home for sale, contact me and I would be happy to walk you through the process. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Strategies for Bidding Against a Cash Buyer for a Chicago Luxury Home

Even with the high-end price tags of luxury real estate in Chicago, it’s not uncommon at all to find buyers snapping up covetable properties with an all-cash purchase. And it’s not just about offering the highest price with cash in hand. Buyers who pay cash often have the upper hand in a multiple-bid situation, since the financing is guaranteed and the sale can close quickly.

So in a competitive market, what’s a non-cash buyer to do? As long as you have the financials to back it up, a jumbo loan is still a great option for luxury real estate buyers. Even when pitted against cash buyers, jumbo borrowers can still bring a strong offer to the table with the right negotiating strategy.

Here are a few steps for jumbo borrowers, as recently highlighted by the Wall St. Journal:

1. Go beyond the pre-approval letter. A pre-approval letter from a lender is a no-brainer when shopping for a home; it shows your able to secure the right amount of financing for the purchase. But they aren’t foolproof. Jumbo borrowers should take this one step further and get a pre-underwriting letter from a lender. This requires a deeper analysis of the borrower’s income, assets and tax returns and therefore holds more weight than a pre-approval alone. It can also help you close a loan in just 14 days, compared to twice as long for a pre-approval.

2. Waive the financing contingency in the purchase contract. This is what allows a buyer to walk away from the deal if their loan isn’t approved or if an appraisal comes back higher or lower than expected. This is attractive to sellers who don’t want to deal with a potentially shaky deal. And while they aren’t paying for the home in cash, jumbo borrowers may very well have enough cash to cover any appraisal/loan differences, so they wouldn’t need to back out of the deal.

3. Consider waiving the title or property inspection contingency. This is another part of the contract that lets the buyer walk away from the deal if anything comes up in the property inspection. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t do your due diligence before choosing this option. Buyers can conduct a title search, review a building’s financial history or other research to see if everything is in line. And many luxury buyers plan to make significant changes or upgrades to a home, so you may not even be too concerned with what is there to begin with and won’t require an inspection.

4. Look for cash. See if you can get temporary access to cash by liquidating assets or borrowing against them, then refinance after your home purchase is complete. Even a part-cash offer brings some weight to the negotiating table, even if you still plan to take out a mortgage for the long term. Though, don’t forget about your taxes—cash buyers who plan to refinance need to do so within 90 days of the home loan in order to deduct the mortgage interest on your income taxes.

5. Be flexible with the seller. Does the owner have certain move-out terms? Accommodating any special requests from the seller can make your offer even more attractive, so be sure to communicate any extra factors like this in your offer.

Above all, it’s important to work with an experienced real estate agent who has successfully won deals for borrowers in multiple-bid situations. Like I said before, it’s not always just about who is bringing the highest price, but who is bringing the right price on the right terms.

There are a number of nuances involved in this process that I would be happy to walk you through if you’re considering purchasing luxury real estate with a jumbo loan. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Consider Ceiling Heights for Chicago Luxury Homes and Condos

Next time you check out a Chicago home for sale, look up.

Like what you see? The height of a property’s ceilings is increasingly important to buyers, whether they are shopping for a single-family home or a luxury condo. How tall the ceilings—even a difference of just a few feet—can have a substantial impact on how open or dramatic the space is.

Whereas 8 feet is the standard height for a ceiling, and 9 feet used to be considered a high ceiling, 10 feet is the new must-have height for a luxury property. It’s something a number of my clients are interested in these days, and when visiting a property in person, they can really feel the difference between a standard and a high ceiling.

A high ceiling like this one in Chicago’s Trump Tower creates a more open space and allows architectural details and great views to stand out. Via Houzz/KIS Interior Design

High ceilings allow for more space for tall windows, which lets in more natural light and brings certain elegance to the space. A tall ceiling also allows for architectural details that can enhance a space: a dome at the top of the foyer, a coffered ceiling in the dining room or parlor or a vaulted ceiling in the living room.

When I’m working with a client building a new Chicago luxury home, I actually recommend 10-foot high ceilings as a minimum. If the budget allows, I say go even higher than that. And if the possibilities are truly unlimited, I’d recommend considering a vaulted ceiling or adding other architectural details to add that understated sophistication to the home.

High Ceilings in Chicago Luxury Condos

There are a number of newer condo buildings in Chicago with 10-foot ceilings as a standard. That height allows for some magnificent views with floor-to-ceiling windows. The space from the added height and the huge windows are the perfect combination for a gracious living space.

Trump Tower at 401 N. Wabash is one of my favorites. The views from this building are made that much sweeter thanks to 10 foot, floor-to-ceiling windows. Each room in one of these Chicago condos is open and elegant, thanks to the extra vertical space. Another favorite is 30 West Oak, which also boasts 10-foot ceilings in each unit and floor to ceiling glass to take in the panorama of the city.

I would be happy to take you to some of these buildings to demonstrate the nuances that come with different layouts for Chicago luxury properties. Ceiling heights is a big one, and you’ll see for yourself the difference between 8 feet, 9 feet, 10 feet or even higher and the impact that height has on the home. The Chicago condo buildings with higher ceilings certainly differentiate themselves from the rest, and its not wonder that units in these buildings are moving more quickly than others.

If you’re in the market for a Chicago luxury home, give me a call to see what’s on the market now and what may be best fit for your situation. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or ssalnick@dreamtown.com

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.

A Chicago Lakeview Luxury Home is the Most Expensive to Sell in February

February was an interesting month for Chicago real estate sales. Luxury homes that sold during the month ranged from $1 million to $2.75 million, which is quite a bit lower than the highest price sale we’ve seen in recent months. A total of 20 single-family homes closed for a total of $30.9 million.

When looking at the previous month’s sales, it’s often apparent that the luxury properties moving on the market are following some sort of trend—i.e., they are mostly new construction, or in the same neighborhood, or boasting incredible space or square footage. The most expensive home sold in February certainly stands out on the market, but for different reasons than we often see, including a few unique features, its location in a coveted school district and the fact that it’s actually not located on a lot-and-a-half or a double-wide lot—something many recently-sold homes have been.

Here’s a closer look at that top sale in Lakeview, along with the next five priciest sales in February:

3735 N Greenview Ave
Original list price:
$2.7 million
Sold price:
$2.75 million
The most expensive home to sell in February, this 6-bedroom, 4.2 bath stunner has all the bells and whistles you would expect. On a 30 x 125-foot lot in Lakeview, this year-old home features a custom chef’s kitchen with commercial-grade appliances, a built-in banquet, a huge family room, spectacular master suite and a unique attached breezeway. The outdoor space includes a private raised rear yard patio with an outdoor fireplace and roof deck. And, it’s Southport Corridor location puts this home in the Blaine School District, which is one of the city’s best and a key factor for many buyers today.

35 E Elm St
Original list price:
$2.575 million
Sold price:
$2.425 million
This Chicago home in the Gold Coast has all the newness of a new construction property with the vintage charm of its neighborhood—the home was rebuilt from the ground up, leaving the front facade but fitting the interior with 4 bedrooms, 2 full kitchens and 5 living areas. The home also features generous outdoor space in 3 separate areas, an elevator, designer appointments throughout, and a full separate apartment.

1434 N Mohawk Ave
Original list price:
$2.499 million
Sold price:
$2.105 million
Truly one of a kind, as this Old Town home was custom built on a 31 x 132-foot lot, allowing for a wide-reaching space and huge backyard. Five bedrooms and 4.1 baths span approximately 7,000 square feet with 3 bars, a huge living and dining room, family room and kitchen, vaulted ceilings with skylights and a stunning office overlooking the first floor. The amenities read like that of a four-star hotel, with an outdoor hot tub, gym, steam room and large movie theater room. A huge recreation room and full kitchen sit on the lower level that can serve as in-law or nanny quarters.

1720 N Cleveland Ave
Original list price:
$2.35 million
Sold price:
$1.9 million
An extraordinary property in Old Town, this 4 bedroom, 4.5 bath home receives amazing light through large windows that allow for views of the city skyline and St. Michael Church. With a Southern California style, this home spans over 5,000 square feet with a terrace, deck, office and media room, and generous storage space. and an all-over open floor plan. A finished lower level features a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, laundry and recreation room.

2342 N Wayne Ave North
Original list price:
$1,799,900
Sold price:
$1,752,000
This new construction property in Lincoln Park was a must-see on the market. A five bedroom, 3.2 bath, this home featured everything form stunning custom millwork to coffered ceilings to a theater room and wine cellar. An incredible kitchen boasts custom cabinetry, Subzero and Wolf appliances and a butler’s pantry. Other enviable features of this luxury home include custom closets, four fireplaces, a steam shower and great outdoor space with a main level and 3rd level deck.

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

Check Out the Stats for the Most Expensive Chicago Home Sales in December

I’ve said before that, despite the volatility in real estate markets across the country, luxury real estate in Chicago has done relatively well holding its own. And despite the ups and downs, high-end buyers seem to be driven to the same features in luxury properties: lots of square footage, large lot sizes and great neighborhoods.

Last month, 34 luxury homes (those starting at $1 million) sold, totaling $61 million in sales. The five most expensive homes ranged in price from $2.9 million up to $6.2 million. It’s a great idea for buyers to review these sales, as it can give you great insight into what’s selling at what price and how that fits into your own situation.

If you would like to take a closer look at past sales or what is currently on the market, call me or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com and indicate the price range of homes you’d like to see. I can send you links for the photos and descriptions of the properties you can review, as well as information as to why certain properties sold at the price that they did—no cost or obligation on your part.

Luxury Chicago Homes Sold in December 2012

In the meantime, here is a more detailed look at the five most expensive Chicago home sales during December, in ascending order:

4431 N Hermitage Ave4431 N Hermitage Ave.
Original list price: $2.85 million
Sold price: $2.85 million
This 6 bedroom/6 bath Chicago home in southeast Ravenswood sold as quickly as it was listed. Built in 2003, this home sits on a huge lot spanning 50 x 165 feet.

 

3743 N Greenview Ave3743 N Greenview Ave.
Original list price: $3.25 million
Sold price: $3.05 million
Located in Lakeview in the Southport corridor, this 6,481-square foot home was built in 2010 and features over $500,000 in upgrades, including custom decorating, custom finishes, fine millwork and cabinetry throughout. A breezeway attached to the 3-car garage overlooks a private courtyard. This home also features a penthouse rec room, two green roofs, amazing outdoor space and five fireplaces.

632 W Belden Ave632 W Belden Ave.
Original list price: $2.75 million
Sold price: $3.05 million
Also located on an extra-wide lot of 50 by 135 feet, this East Lincoln Park home boasts five bedrooms with a wrap-around porch, greenhouse kitchen, beautifully landscaped grounds and a 2-car garage with a coach house adjacent to an additional 2-car garage.

461 W Superior St461 W Superior St.
Original list price: $3.945 million
Sold price: $3.6 million
Spanning a whopping 11,000 square feet of a 34 by 109-foot lot, this huge Chicago home is found in the coveted Kingsbury Estates. Custom built with dramatic rooms and architectural features, this Chicago home features a grand staircase, a custom kitchen, three terraces and a 1,700 square foot rooftop garden with south city views.

1525 N State Pkwy
Original list price: $6.995 million
Sold price: $6.225 million
Chicago’s Gold Coast is one of the most desirable neighborhoods for luxury real estate, and this elegant and timeless home is right in the heart of it. With more than 8,000 square feet and 6 bedrooms, this home has everything from a paneled library to a landscaped terrace, to an media room and 6 fireplaces. With 40 windows facing the Cardinal’s mansion, this home received abundant light and offers fantastic views of this coveted neighborhood.

If you’re looking to purchase a luxury Chicago home, reviewing last month’s sales is a great start to give you an idea of what’s out there. To see more of what sold last month or see what is on the market now, give me a call at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Chicago Real Estate Poised for Recovery in 2012

If you’re in the market to buy or sell a home in Chicago, chances are you’ve been following Chicago real estate news for the past few years–the ups, the downs, and all the predictions of what’s next.

Because of our early spring and the unusually warm weather, I am seeing a lot of potential buyers looking at open houses already, which is quite a bit earlier than normal. I’m also finding that some of my past clients are calling to find out what’s happening in the marketplace, and I’ve talked to a number of clients looking to purchase luxury property anywhere from $1 million to $5 million.

With activity like this popping up, it seems like a good time to consider the economic outlook for 2012, particularly in Chicago real estate. It appears that luxury buyers (those looking to purchase properties from $500,000 and up) have a bit of pent-up demand, and many may be ready to pull the trigger on a new home before the opportunity passes by.

Outlook for Chicago Real Estate

A DePaul economics professor recently wrote in Chicago Realtor Magazine that there are several signs of recovery for real estate and the housing market this year. He also refers to that same pent-up demand for real estate. With an increasing working population and more young adults living at home, there is a great want and need for housing among potential home buyers.

But what buyers will need to bring to the table isn’t any different from what I’ve said before: sufficient funds to make a down payment and an income that will allow them to make monthly mortgage payments. If the labor market can continue to improve and provide jobs to these potential buyers, the housing market will improve. That will lead to improving wealth and confidence, will continue to stimulate economic growth. With things looking up the way they are, the Chicago real estate market certainly is well-poised to improve in 2012.

Opportunity for Chicago Home Buyers

With increasing demand for Chicago real estate and a recovering market, buyers must keep in mind that the ideal window to buy could soon be gone. As demand goes up, so will home prices and mortgage rates, and buyers likely won’t be able to negotiate the kind of deals they can now.

If you’re considering buying a home in Chicago, give me a call so we can discuss the market’s outlook for the coming months and take a look at what’s available now. Contact me at 312-264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.