The Future May Soon Be Here with Artificial Intelligence for Chicago Luxury Homes

We’ve all had these days: Returning home after too many hours in the office or on the road, hungry for dinner but lacking the energy to actually cook something. If only there were a machine that could do it for you…

Those days could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the June oven. Equipped with a camera and wi-fi, this artificially intelligent oven can not only cook that night’s dinner to your liking, but identify what it is you want to cook to begin with, set itself accordingly and alert your device when done. This machine-learning technology could very well be the next big thing to bring ultra-luxury to Chicago real estate.

I like to keep abreast of the most exciting luxury home trends, and the possibility of artificial intelligence in the high-end home is certainly one. From apps to dimmers to auto-everything, there is no shortage of gadgets and features available in the luxury home. And once the AI technology is perfected, I have no doubt that this could be a staple of luxury kitchens, just like the wine cellar, movie theater, and basketball court.

The June oven may at first sound like an unnecessary extravagance, but in an article by the Wall St. Journal, the technology was mostly praised for its restaurant-quality meals, from salmon to roasted vegetables to chocolate chip cookies. And the convenience can’t be denied—fitted with a scale for weighing servings, a camera that streams to your device, even heat distribution, a touch screen, a probe to test temperature and more, this oven practically lets you abandon the stand-by of cooking dinner all together.

These are the types of “wow factors” that go a long way in luxury real estate. Here are a few other ways artificial intelligence is changing the way we live in our homes.

  • Nvidia has taken virtual assistance to the next level. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the company introduced its Spot mics: tiny, subtle mics with artificial intelligence that are wired into the walls of a home and could be the next thing in creating a truly integrated smart home.
  • Moen has introduced smart showers in its U Shower System, which allows you to control the heat of your shower via your wifi device.
  • LG brought “deep learning technology” to kitchen appliances at this year’s CES, including a memory-enabled robot vacuum, smart and predictive HVAC systems and washing machines that adjust based on the types of clothing being washed.

Whether you’re in the market for Chicago real estate or not, I think its important (for myself and for readers!) to stay on top of the cutting-edge products that are becoming available in today’s homes. Tomorrow’s luxuries are becoming more and more functional, and will play a big role in what is considered high-end real estate in the years ahead.

For more on what’s trending in Chicago luxury real estate today, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Why a Chicago Luxury Home Should Have a Cutting-Edge Kitchen

Trends certainly come and go in Chicago real estate, but there is one lifestyle change that everyone seems to be adopting: one spectacular kitchen space.

Homeowners today want space in the kitchen—whether for foodie experiments, easier home cooking or entertaining guests year-round. Even a look at your local cable stations shows what an interest the population has taken in food, with shows like Top Chef, Master Chef, Iron Chef—it’s clear people are looking for everything from tips and tricks to unheard of recipes to try in their own homes. And to make it all happen requires a kitchen that was built for efficiency—must like those found in restaurants. And that’s exactly the direction that many kitchens are headed.

With growing trends such as this one, it’s no wonder people are looking to be au current on kitchen trends, seeking the most up-to-date appliances, advanced technology and generous space for any kitchen adventure they can dream of.

Technology and Efficiency a Key Part of Kitchen Trends

For homebuyers and sellers alike, sticking to trends like this do come into play when it comes to real estate transactions. Homebuyers can get an idea of not only what’s popular on the market, but what will be important features in a home when considering its resale value down the line. Sellers can evaluate how their own homes stack up to what’s popular in residential design and use that to help gauge the market accordingly.

One of the key tenets of a lasting kitchen design lies in the accouterments—name-brand, high-end appliances and fixtures are a must. When it comes to building a chef-style space, there are a number of standout names that should be considered when building Chicago new construction or remodeling/renovating:

Sub-Zero & Wolf: Refrigerators, freezers and wine storage designed with advanced technology.

Kohler: High-design, high-performing kitchen fixtures like faucets, sinks and more.

Kraus: A tastefully curated range of sinks, faucets and accessories built with modern convenience in mind.

Dornbracht: Premium fixtures built for sophisticated functionality.

Miele: From ovens to refrigerators, Miele’s high-end domestic appliances are a staple in any luxury home.

Such appliance upgrades also help to up the “wow” factor, which sets one home apart from the other in today’s competitive market. Features like this are what differentiate the home that gets multiple offers in a few short days from the one that sits on the market for weeks with no activity.

Maximize Resale Value in Chicago Real Estate

Even if you aren’t buying, selling, or building Chicago real estate right now, design trends like this are important for homeowners to keep in mind. In the eyes of a buyer, it’s characteristics like this that take a home from average to spectacular and make them willing to pay for it. Considering these trends now or during a renovating or remodeling project will help you me more competitive when it does come time to sell.

To learn more about what’s hot in the Chicago real estate market, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Customizing Chicago Luxury Homes for Lifestyle Interests

Blueprints - Building a Chicago Custom HomeWhen it comes to building Chicago new construction, the customization options are nearly endless. The Wall St. Journal wrote this month about a trend in building amenities specifically designed for teen children. Other building considerations include entertaining-centric spaces and kitchen upgrades built for the “foodie” generation.

No matter what custom amenities and characteristics you’re looking for in a home, one of the most critical communications when designing a new home is between you, the builder and the architect. It’s important that you discuss your lifestyle, wants and needs, and the important features that will make the home built just for you.

Communication with your builder or architect is critical when designing a new Chicago home. There are several key points that you’ll want to discuss in detail, including:

Lifestyle: Talk with your builder about your wants and needs for the home and what features are important for you to be included. For example, you might be planning on high ceilings to accommodate an art collection, and working with the architect can ensure there’s a place for everything just as you envision. You might be a film buff, an artist, or have disability issues, and these are all important considerations when developing your custom Chicago home.

Finishes: You’ll want to discuss the level of finishes throughout the home—for example, what materials you’d like to use for the floors, hardware, countertops, cabinetry, etc. Finishes for these areas are available in a whole range of levels, from very basic to the ultra-luxury. There can be very big differences in price and in the final look and result, so it’s important that you and the builder are on the same page about what finishes you’d like in your home.

His and hers: One of the great things about building a Chicago home is that you can customize to your heart’s (and wallet’s) content. Consider spaces that are designated as “his and hers,” like closets/dressing rooms, bathrooms and office spaces. You and your spouse’s needs can both be met by creating custom spaces for each of you.

Working with an Architect on Chicago New Construction
Reviewing the architect’s drawings is a key part of the home designing and building process. Depending on the architect, these drawings can range from the bare minimum (all that is required to obtain permits) to drawings that include all details and specifications like lighting, plumbing, etc.

Of course, the more detailed approach from a residential architect will help you nail down all of the little details and determine the final cost of all of your design decisions. It can also bring up many important questions that you’ll want answered before diving into the building process.

Building Chicago real estate is a great opportunity to create something that fits your lifestyle exactly. I have extensive experience guiding buyers through the building process, from assisting with location choices to design decisions that will affect resale value down the line. To further discuss considerations for your Chicago new construction project, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Bidding Wars, Short Turnarounds Point to A Very Active Chicago Real Estate Market

Chicago real estate market 2012

The Chicago real estate market has been active in April, with an uptick in buyers making offers on desirable properties in luxury buildings and coveted neighborhoods.

 

In the last month or two, the Chicago real estate market has definitely picked up–a sign that winter is behind us and that reports of a 2012 real estate recovery could be a very real possibility. I’ve been fortunate to be working with a number of buyers in the last few weeks, and with the increase in activity, there are a number of trends I’m seeing in the market:

Time to sell: One thing that has absolutely surprised me is how quickly properties are moving on the market. Since the beginning of April, where I’ve really seen this is among the “good stuff” on the market–the newer, pristine properties that are selling in just two to three weeks. I’ve had clients who have decided to come back to a Chicago condo for a second showing, and it turns out the property is under contract and pending a sale. A listing I have for a condo in downtown Chicago, went to contract just three weeks after being put on the market, despite assessment fees over $900 per month, which can be a big deterrent for buyers.

Importance of assessments: Speaking of assessment costs, I’ve noticed that these are playing an important role for buyers overall–buyers may consider a higher assessment cost, but they expect a bevy a concierge services and amenities in the building (a pool, an outstanding workout facility) to go with it.

Seller flexibility: Despite the uptick in activity, sellers do realize that buyers still have the upper hand during the negotiation process. I’ve noticed that sellers are more prone to be flexible with their sale prices, given the number of years the Chicago real estate market has been down.

Bidding Wars Among Chicago Real Estate Buyers

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal confirms some of these trends. The article noted that buyers are increasingly caught off guard to learn that they’re competing for the same properties on the market.This is further evidence that housing demand is starting to pick up after a 6-year slump of low activity and tight inventory.

The Journal article also notes several other national trends that I’ve seen reflected in the Chicago market as well–most notably, that inventory continues to be low across the board for desirable properties. In talking with other realtors, I’ve learned that frustration has increased due to the lack of properties especially under the $1 million price point.

The lesson for buyers here? Acting quickly and being competitive continues to be important in today’s market. But it’s a great time for buyers to work their advantage and make a deal on a Chicago home. To talk further about the trends I’m seeing in the market, give me a call at 312-264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

The Right Move to Make Now: Buy Chicago Real Estate

It might just be the most pressing question of 2010: is it the right time to buy Chicago real estate?

The quick answer is an enthusiastic yes. With a down payment for 20% or more and good credit, the timing couldn’t be better and likely won’t last much longer. Sellers are more motivated than ever to move their properties, and for several reasons. One is that the winter season is ideal for buyers, because sellers don’t want to hold real estate during the cold weather. And with the future of the real estate market still relatively unknown, sellers are anxious and don’t want properties sitting on the market for months after months.

A recent article from CNN also lists a few reasons why all signs point to now when timing a real estate purchase. One is mortgage rates. While home values may continue to be volatile, rates are lower than ever—at 4.5% in August for a 30-year mortgage. Whether you’re looking for Chicago homes for sale to find your primary residence or find the right investment property, buyers making a move now means they can take advantage of these practically unheard of mortgage rates.

Another reason the article mentions is demand. The article notes that real estate trends have moved toward an urbanization in American housing—much like New York has sustained its real estate market, cities like Chicago are expected to follow suit in a similar way. Urban, efficient Chicago homes, such as Chicago condos, are likelier to keep up in demand than large, high-maintenance homes in the suburbs that create long commutes, the article says.

Using proprietary research information from the market and my 22 years of Chicago real estate experience, I’ve also identified several special cases where buyers are able to get a deal on certain properties. If buyers are qualified and can produce a down payment, there are many Chicago homes for sale—including condos and new construction—that a buyer should be able to get the property at a spectacular price.

Buyers now have an opportunity not likely to reappear, so those on the fence should certainly begin searching to find the perfect Chicago home for them. To learn more about what Chicago real estate properties are prime for creating a deal for buyers, give me a call at (312) 498-5080 or email at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Should I Purchase Chicago Real Estate In 2010—Or Wait?

The Chicago real estate market has endured a lot of ups and downs this year—and with each new report, the market is picking up, slowing down, or not moving at all. Lots of potential buyers are left wondering if this is the time, if the time already passed, or the best buyer’s market has yet to come.

The opinion of the herd says buyers should wait to buy Chicago real estate. I, on the other hand, have found that simply following the popular opinion never fares as well financially. I’m better off sitting down and looking at the facts that have been generated by professionals who evaluate economic conditions in and outside the box.

As we all know, today’s market has changed drastically. The herd may be saying that no one is buying Chicago real estate right now, but I would argue the opposite. The savvy, sophisticated financial-types are purchasing real estate, because they understand the current dynamic and how it will lead to increased property values in the years ahead. Here are a few signs and signals that now is the time to buy:

1. Following the Federal Reserve
The first thing to look at to understand the current economic environment is what the Federal Reserve is doing and what the ramifications of its actions are. Right now, the Federal Reserve is introducing an inflationary bias in monetary policy, to maintain a annual rate of increase in the inflation level of 2%. This is expected to heighten economic uncertainty—what if it breaches 2%? What if unemployment increases to 8.5% (not unheard of) but inflation reaches 3%? This new approach from the Fed means the value of our dollars could now be at their peak compared to coming years.

That’s why those savvy buyers that are making real estate purchases now. As the rate of inflation and interest rates go up, so do commodities. And real estate is a commodity.

2. Benefits from Long-Term Investments
Four years ago, realtors left and right were suggesting to clients that they buy real estate, flip it and make a fast, quick buck. And I realize that’s a tough decision to weigh when the buzz is that there will be a huge payoff. The herd mentality was that this is how real estate transactions were supposed to work. But even then, I recommended that buying real estate for flipping—especially Chicago new construction—wasn’t the right strategy for buyers. Since the stock market was tanking, the answer I received was that real estate was the place to make a buck.

If you’ve been shopping Chicago homes for sale and want to find a home to live in for the long term, I believe this is the most appropriate time to buy. Not to flip. Buyers who are able to make a good down payment and have an excellent FICO score are in a great position to purchase property and invest in the future. Putting your money into an investment like real estate means the government can’t touch it, plus you’ll benefit from tax deductions from your mortgage and city real estate taxes.

A quote from John Paulson, who is described by Forbes as the investment genius who made a fortune betting the subprime mortgage market would cause real estate to collapse, says it all: “If you don’t own a home, buy one. If you own one home, buy another one. And if you own two homes, buy a third and lend your relatives the money to buy one.”

3. Rates and Economic Indicators
Interest rates are at an all-time low—near 4%. Rates are projected to increase by 2012 to as much as 5.8%, according to projection rates from the National Association of Realtors.

The facts as to where the economy stands now don’t necessarily play into the idea that we are still in a recession. Liz Ann Sonders, Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Strategist for Charles Schwab & Co. said in their Investing Insights Magazine that:

• Leading economic indicators have turned back up for the second consecutive month.
• The savings rate is at a healthy 6%.
• Commodity prices are surging, suggesting strong global growth and trade.
• Home prices are up more than 3% from a year ago.
• Housing affordability is near all-time highs.

4. ‘Tis the Season
When it comes to Chicago real estate, the last quarter is probably the best time to purchase property, as most sellers on the market are very motivated. Most don’t want their homes on the market during the notoriously slow winter period.

The bottom line is that interest rates are low, inflation is low, and it is a buyer’s market. If you have a Realtor who knows the ins and outs of negotiating prices, then you’re in a great position right now. But these are variables that can—and will—change. Just as you cannot time the stock market, so too is it with the real estate market. There’s not much time to avoid coulda-woulda-shoulda down the line. The 4th quarter of 2010 is the time to commit if you’ve got an ample down payment, good FICO scores and steady employment.
To learn more about taking advantage of the economy now or to search Chicago homes for sale, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or by email at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Chicago Condo Buyers: OK to Downsize

Chicago Real Estate with views

With a view like this, buyers might be willing to sacrifice extra space.

Like any other type of property, one of the things buyers traditionally want in a Chicago condo is enough space. But does size really matter? While the square footage needs vary from buyer to buyer and from lifestyle to lifestyle, many buyers shopping for Chicago condos are willing to rethink and renegotiate the amount of space they need or want.

An article this month from MSNBC says homebuyers are willing to make this trade off—living in the city and sacrificing space versus community from suburbia where square footage isn’t at the same premium. For younger generations, location is often more important than size. While empty nesters are willing to return to the city to live and reside in 2,000 to 3,500 square feet, compared to perhaps a 5,000-square foot home in the suburbs. Those who buy Chicago real estate because they are frequent international travelers in many cases are willing to live in as little as 1,600 square feet.

An important thing to note is that downsizing to a smaller Chicago condo does not mean sacrificing the luxury that many buildings have to offer. Those who are willing to give up space are still looking for sophisticated environments, newer properties, concierge services, and the walkability that comes with city living. Many buyers of real estate in Chicago want to live right off of Michigan Avenue—usually within a block or two east or west of the Magnificent Mile. A great selling point is the magnificent views offered from high-rises in this area—a panorama of Lake Michigan on the east and the city’s skyline all around. Another added plus for Chicago condo buyers are high ceilings (at least 9 feet high) and balconies to take in the aforementioned view.

If you’re looking for luxury but can scrimp on space, here are a few options for Chicago condos that make downsizing worth it:

Olympia Centre (161 E Chicago Ave.)
One and two-bedroom condos in the Olympia Centre might average around $494 per square foot—far more affordable than comparable properties in New York City and San Francisco. A smaller home in the Olympia Centre still gives residents access to the building’s amenities, including a 24-hour door staff, a pool and exercise room, full-time concierge, a party room and a sundeck. Not to mention the Olympia Centre is a ½ block from the posh shopping of Michigan Avenue.

The Park Tower (800 N Michigan Ave.)
This Lucien Lagrange-designed building on Chicago’s North Side is above the Park Hyatt Hotel, so residents can take full advantage of the hotel’s services. Luxury 2 and 3-bedroom units in the Park Tower might average about $960 per square foot and put residents steps from world-class shopping and dining, beaches, museums and theaters. The building is so chic, it touts itself as not only a place to live, but a way of life.

55 E Erie
Mostly one and three bedroom units, 55 E Erie brings residents luxury amenities like a fitness center, steam room and sauna, 24-hour lobby staff, a valet and a hospitality room. Smaller units go down to about 1,000 square feet for a one bedroom, and the building’s units overall carry an average cost per square foot of about $580. Most units include balconies that let residents experience breathtaking views year round.

The Palmolive Building (169 E Walton)
One of Chicago’s most iconic buildings, the Palmolive Building was renovated into condominiums in 2002. With a few one-bedrooms, the building is mostly comprised of 2 and 3-bedrooms with an average price-per-square-foot of about $730 This prestigious building includes concierge services, health club, 24-hour doorman, steam room and sauna, and is steps from Michigan Avenue.

The Fordham (25 E Superior)
This River North building was built in 2003 and includes many 1-3 bedroom condos (as well as 11th floor town homes and executive penthouses). Luxury services at the Fordham range from daily maid service, an in-house wine cellar, room service, spa services, a humidor room and a private theater. The building’s more modest units might cost about an average of $580 per square foot. Plus, your four-legged friends can enjoy the luxury of the Fordham with it’s rooftop pet recreation area.

If you’re interested in finding a Chicago condo with the space you need—or don’t need—with all the amenities you want, contact Chicago real estate agent Sheldon Salnick at (312) 498-5080 or by e-mail at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Hot Property for Buyers: A 3-Bedroom Chicago Condo

While there’s no shortage of good deals among Chicago real estate, there is one type of property that you might find at even more of a discount: the 3-bedroom Chicago condo.

An article in November’s Chicago magazine said three-bedroom condos have been a tough sell in a down real estate market. The reason? Those who want to downsize—such as empty nesters—need to sell their current residence before finding that perfect Chicago condo. Many empty nesters desire 2,000 square feet of living space, and a three-bedroom condo allows them room for an office and a guest room in addition to a bedroom.

Chicago home buyers may be more apt to get a deal on a 3-bedroom condo these days since they aren’t moving on the market the way other properties are. Deeper discounts are often negotiable on properties with higher assessments—resulting in a better value for the purchase price.

And it’s not just empty nesters that could benefit from these slow-moving 3-bedrooms. Depending on the size, a 3-bedroom Chicago condo could be perfect for a single person who could enjoy the extra space, as could newlyweds or those looking to start a family. A 3-bedroom in the right condo building with the right amenities and floor plan could be the answer for any home buyer, especially those who want to negotiate a good deal right now.

If you’re looking to get the best value out of your Chicago condo purchase and want to find a property that fits your lifestyle, please contact agent Sheldon Salnick at (312) 498-5080 or email him at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.com.

Buying Chicago Real Estate: Obtain Statistical Data By Zip Code

Moving is tough, especially in an urban city. There are many factors that come into play when looking for a potential real estate investment. Researching the pros and cons of a particular neighborhood can take hours, and some of the information isn’t easy to come by. Instead of spending precious time googling and creating spreadsheets, why not have someone sort the information out for you? Email Sheldon the Chicago zip codes that interest you and he’ll provide you with all the data you need to determine what part of Chicago is perfect for your lifestyle. Once you’ve settled on a neighborhood you’ll be well on your way to finding that perfect Chicago home or Chicago condo. Below is a list of the specifics Sheldon can provide you with to assist you in your search:

  • Number of home sales transactions
  • Home sales price trends
  • A list and ratings of nearby establishments: eating, shopping, personal services (cleaners, tanning salons), attractions, banks and financial institutions, government (post offices and police departments), schools and education, hotels, hospital and health facilities, pet services, travel services, and organizations (chambers of commerce, special interest clubs)
  • Population density and growth
  • Resident demographics: median age, level of education, type of employment, median household income
  • Weather risks and trends
  • Fair market rents
  • Detailed crime statistics
  • Cost of living comparison to other zip codes

To learn more about a particular neighborhood, contact Chicago real estate Sheldon Salnick by emailing ssalnick@dreamtown.com or calling (312) 498-5080.

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.