Tuesday, January 30, 2007

In order to SELL Real Estate, you have to SHOW Real Estate

It's Tuesday and I'm finally getting around to catching up from the weekend. The past two weeks have been SLOW (Bears in the playoffs and few people doing real estate.) Next weekend the Bears are in the Super Bowl - so nothing will be happeing in Chicago. Given all that - EVERYONE was out shopping this past weekend.

What kills me is that both selling agents and sellers just don't seem to get it. There are many truths to real estate; two of which surely are 1) in order to sell your home you have to show your home, and 2) the person bringing the money (ie- the buyer) gets to say when.

(See our previous post on the unique nature of Chicago real estate showings.)

Here's my experience last weekend:

Wednesday 8am - Start making phone calls to set up Saturday appointments. 10 requests for a morning buyer client and 2 requests for a quick tour with an afternoon client. Result - one confirmation.

Thursday 8am - Starting making repeat phone calls to get appointments. Result - one more confirmation; one outright "no, I'm having an open house on Sunday, come then only", 9 - still no answer.

Friday 8am - Start making calls again to try and get showings. Results - 4 confirmations, 2 no can do's, 1 who said she purposefully ingnored my calls to see if an offer they got earlier would go anywhere (they did come to agreement so she didn't want to bother with any more showings), 1 no because the owner decided the weekend was the perfect time to have the unit unavailable while they had a contractor refinish the wood floors - but please come on Sunday. and 1 still never called back.

So in the end - I was able to get 6 of 12 showing requests, five "no" answers and one who just never called me back.

At the same time, we serviced all our listings and didn't turn down a single appointment request. See a pattern here?

So here is some sage advice for all of you out there who are interviewing agents: Along with all the other questions the pundits tell you to ask, here's one - "Just how available are you to show and sell my house?"

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Stick to business when conducting real estate showings

I had an unproductive real estate showing today, and my first draft of this post came off more like a rant than anything useful to our readers. Here's the second try with some helpful hints to keep you focused on the business at hand - namely: finding a new home for yourself (if you're the buyer) or your client (if you're an agent.)

Earlier today, Saturday, I met a broker who brought her client with to view our loft in St. Ben's. In tow, she brought her real estate partner/husband, and their 3 year old toddler.

I just can't imagine what these agents were thinking - I don't think anything was accomplished with this client today. When showing real estate to clients, an agent's objective should be to:

  • Present the features and amenities of the property you are viewing.
  • Afterwards, determine whether the property meets the needs of the buyer.
  • If at first pass, the property does meet the client's needs, try to establish a ranking of preference of the acceptable properties.
  • At the end of the discussion and ranking, see if the client would like to move forward by writing a contract offer on the highest ranked property.

For each of the points listed above, the client and the brokers were distracted:

  • I was interrupted frequently by the toddler during my presentation of the property as he wanted to press the buttons in the elevator, play with all the light switches in the home and run around in the home.
  • As the brokers were in their family minivan, the client followed in her own car. Time spent in the car right after a showing is invaluable to gauge a client's level of interest and focus him or her on prioritizing what they just saw.
  • Struggling with the car seat and keeping track of lost hat & gloves pushed the brokers further and further behind schedule. It was clear everyone was distracted and anxious.
  • Without coming across too much like a "salesman," the time in the car at the end of a tour is the perfect opportunity to question the buyer as to whether they might be ready to put an offer together on a property. Since the agents and the buyer were in separate cars, the buyer simply shook hands with the agents, promised to call later, and went off on her own. This was a huge missed opportunity.

If the buyer's objective was to tour some nice properties, but isn't in the market, then they accomplished their goal today. The problem here is that no consideration was given to the listing agents who also had to accompany these appointments.

My goal is quite clear: I am showing property today in order to sell it to someone.

Buyers, it's perfectly reasonable to let your agent know if he or she is not productively using your time if you're actively in the market for a new home. Agents, don't let opportunities to move your clients along the decision-making process go by, and show consideration for your fellow agents out in the field.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Quite possibly the best performance of the Chicago Bears Fight Song ever

Lyric Opera's Bryan Griffin

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sales of existing homes down in December - not for long

I was quite surprised to hear that the sales of existing homes was down almost 1% in December from the year before. Most of my collegues and I were busy during the second half of December. I was NOT surprised to learn that NEW home sales were down in December, however.

Despite these two statistics that caught many people by surprise, I am predicting that January's figures will jump considerably. From current activity - listing appointments I am going on this week and next, and contracts that are being written - I think January will show a significant increase over December, and over the previous January.

Our volume of showings of current listing is approximately double the number of appointments over last week. We have also sold two properties this week - and surprisingly the two that sold are properties that we took off the market for the winter months to give them a break after a slow October through December.

Check back on February 20th, or thereabouts, and we'll see if our predictions hold true or if we were off the mark.

UPDATE: Mortgage Broker Dan Green notes that the number of shiny new contracts being brought into his office this week is greater than all the contracts brought his way in the LAST THREE WEEKS.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Legacy of Chicago's Film Industry found at St. Ben's Lofts

We have a cool listing in the St. Ben's lofts and recently discovered the interesting past of this Chicago Film Studio landmark.

This building was part of a silent film production company owned by William Nicholas Selig know as the “Colonel" and Andrew Schustek who was a machinist and model maker. The Colonel found his calling in the world of vaudeville and sideshows and Schustek created a set of plans for building a motion picture recording and projections machine. Serendipity ensued and the two found a film studio called The Selig Plyscope Company.

You will notice the “S" for Selig above the entryway door. The Selig Western Avenue studios opened in 1907 and included both indoor and outdoor facilities, encompassing the area surrounded by Western Avenue, Irving Park Road, Claremont Avenue and Byron Street. Selig developed into a genuine movie mogul. Our location billed itself as “the biggest motion picture plant in the country… with the largest skylight of any west of the Hudson River."

Story hour @ Selzer Library

Live shot from the Selzer Library in Lincoln Square. Story hour is held every Tuesday from 9:30 'till a little after 10:00 am. What a great way to get out of the house in the middle of winter!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Overwhelmed! Can the CTA be fixed? A Crains Investigation

Read this article from Crain's Chicago Business QUICK! The link only stays active for a week.

Real Estate web links worth mentioning

At Block Shopper, a couple of locals have listed all the real estate transactions of note in the Lakeview and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. When possible, details about the buyers or sellers is included along with the basicd details like name, date and price. It's a bit eerie what you can put together from searching public records and matching it up with what's available from some Google searches.


A comprehensive guide to blogs in Chicago can be found at Chicago Bloggers. Weblogs from Chicago and its suburbs are listed here by their closest el, subway, or rail station, from Adams to Zion.


For the Chicago Landlord, a new site called CompleteLandlord.com offers free and timely news and analysis. The site has tons of free info, but also sells forms, leases and management software.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Courtship of your Realtor

I received an email on Friday with a request to show one of our listings. In addition to the request for information on the property for sale, the request also asked:

Also, I am writing to you in regards to buy some real estate in the city of Chicago in the price range of $450k-$650k. However, before I select a specific neighborhood and home I need the following information for this area and price range.

I need to know everything that has just been listed in the last 30 days, what has sold in the last 30 days and what has expired in the last 30 days. In addition, I need to know what the average days are on the market for homes in this price range.
I do have access to this information and I am willing to provide it. After a short courtship ~ for lack of a better descriptive word. What it boils down to is "Agency."

First, this inquiry came along with a request for information about a specific property in our inventory. In an instance like this where I have an established relationship with a seller, but no relationship with our potential inquirer, my duty is to the seller and the buyer is considered a "customer."

My duty to my seller requires that I promote his property to the best of my ability and represent his or her best interestes at all times. Therefore I can not freely divulge information to a "customer" that asks comprehensive market information to aid them in the formation of an offer on the property.

A buyer that wants information like this should get it, but needs to obtain the services of a buyer's agent.

Getting back to working with me: After a brief meeting - and this could be a meeting at the property for a showing or at my office to talk about the "customer's" wants and needs, we could change the nature of the relationship to an agency relationship. That is: I can offer to represent the "customer" as his Buyer's Agent - and she then becomes a "client."

Most frequently this is perfectly acceptable because the property the "customer" has inquired about is not a good match for their real wants and needs. After the customer decides that the proeprty they inquired about isn't quite right, then we can formalize an agent-client relationship.

These steps should be taken by all agents, but frequenty ignored by the hungry or the inexperienced. Buyers would be well advised, however, to remember the nature of the relationship as they are out and about viewing real estate.

Some tips about Agency. When you inquire about a home by calling the listing Realtor or when you visit an open house, that agent is obligated to:
  • Show you the home
  • Answer any questions you may have about the property honestly
  • Fill in the blanks on a purchase contract but not offer advice on what to put in the offer
  • Assist you with financing - if desired
  • Monitor the transaction until closing

A buyers agent can provide you with these additional services:

  • Provide advice and counsel
  • Keep your bargaining position confidential
  • Disclose to you any confidential information learned about a potential seller or property
  • Disclose any defects in a particular property
  • Point out reasons why you might NOT want to buy a particular property
  • Point out addition properties you might like BETTER than a particular property
  • Assist you in writing an offer (purchase contract) keeping your best interests in mind
  • Promote your best interests during the entire contract process as you go through attorney review and inspection contingency periods.

Keeping the nature of the relationship in mind will aid you greatly in your interactions with Realtors as you're out there hitting the open houses. Shop wisely.

Scheduling your real estate showings in Chicago

I've been caught a couple times this weekend by prospective buyers and Realtors from outside Chicago looking to see properties very quickly.

Here are a few pointers to help you get into the properties you want to see, or to help your Realtor plan his or her weekend:

  • Realtors in Chicago don't use lock-boxes very often. This odd habit started years ago, and the practice survives today.
  • The listing Realtor will come to show the property for sale most of the time.
  • If you are using the services of a Realtor to show you homes, your Realtor will be juggling his or her schedule for the weekend between showing his or her own listings as well as trying to take buyers out on tours.
  • The Realtor who has the listing will be doing the same thing.
  • Homebuyers in Chicago don't always have their homes or their families ready for showings the same day the requests come in.

Therefore, if you want to have the greatest chance of seeing properties, you'd be wise to:

  • If you're using a buyer's Realtor to take you on a tour, reserve time with your Realtor by Wednesday afternoon or first thing (before 9am) Thursday morning.
  • Your Realtor will need to call all the listing Realtors for appointments as soon as possible to guarantee you'll get into the listings you want.
  • If you're doing it on your own, call the listing Realtors by Noon on Friday. I get a rush of phone calls on Friday afternoon - most after 4:00, some after 6:00. By this time, my weekend is usally full.
  • Check the websites for Open Houses. You may get lucky and be able to fill your Sunday with properties that already have open houses scheduled. The Chicago Tribune has a very comprehensive database of open houses.
  • Open houses aren't as popular on Saturday except for developments. If you're looking for a new construction or newly rehabbed property, your favorite neighborhood should have some development open houses on Saturday for you.

Hopefully this explains why you may have not gotten the appointments you've requested here in Chicago, and would ordinarlily be considered quite reasonable anywhere else in the suburbs, or the rest of the country.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


More evidence buyers are choosing new

A great article in the Trib today talks in detail about urban pioneers choosing a new home in an emerging neighborhood as more established areas become ever more expensive.

In a previous post, we discussed the trend of buyers selecting a new construction home, or a condominium in a new conversion.

Gotta have it mobile application

Do you have a Treo handheld device? You should try out the moble Google Maps application available for FREE from Google.

Take the power of Google Maps with you on your Treo.

Stuck in traffic? Need to find an alternate route?

Now you can get the fastest version of Google Maps — with live traffic updates, maps, directions and business locations — designed specifically for Palm OS 5 devices.

Real-time traffic — See where the congestion is, and estimate delays in over 30 major US metropolitan areas.

Detailed directions — Your route is displayed on the map itself, together with step-by-step directions.

Shorter startup time — The fastest access to the local information you want when you're on the go.

Stylus integration — Interactive, draggable maps let you zoom in or out and move in all directions with a tap or drag of the stylus.

New Lakeview Dominick's - and 80 condos - planned for Broadway

We hear plans are getting underway on a replacement Dominick's grocery store in Lakeview - on Broadway just north of Wellington. This is the site of a fire that demolished the previous Dominick's located there.

The sale of the property to new owners was finalized Tuesday. Plans include the new store plus approximately 80 condominiums. We hear groundbreaking could take place this fall (2007) with construction taking about 9 months to a year.

Residents have been anxiously awaiting news of the prospect of a replacement neighborhood grocery store since the original Dominick's was gutted in a spectacular fire in June 2005. A temporary bank and parking lot occupy the space currently.

Top 5 Home Inspection Finds

Here's a list of the most frequently found items during home inspections. Homeowners - you'd be wise to take a look at this list and make a few repairs around your home if you're thinking of selling - or you've just gone under contract.

If you take the time to fix these 5 items in your home before the home inspector makes a note of them, your home will instantly gain the credibility of a well cared for home with a pro-active homeowner. Always a desirable thing during the sensitive time at the beginning of any contract contingency period.

  • Furnace maintenance: Inspectors ALWAYS note that the furnace should be professionally maintained including a professional cleaning. This will also include changing the furnace filter and humidifier water panel. If you can demonstrate that you already did this, or if your furnace & filters are super clean, you'll save the aggravation of doing it during your move.
  • Caulk around your bathtubs and showers: You know you need this, but it's such a hassle. Plus, you know you can't make a clean bead of caulk the way a pro can. Hire it out and get it done. More hassle saved.
  • Stuck windows: If you know you have a sticky window, or a window that's painted shut, get it unstuck before your inspector finds it. If a window is stuck, the inspector will usually list a laundry list of SCARY reasons that the window doesn't work. Anything from improper installation to structural failure written in a report will cause alarms to go off in your buyers' minds. It's never fun to get a letter from your buyers' lawyer demanding a structural inspection when a squirt of WD-40 would take care if this upfront.
  • Loose toilets: Inspectors love to point out a little bit of wiggle in a toilet. If yours does, it's a pretty easy fix. Your buyer will demand that a licensed plumber perform this easy handyman task. Save the cash - do it now.
  • GFCI Outlets: Most communities require Ground Fault Interruptor Circuits (GFCI) near water and for outside outlets. These life-savers trip off when water gets on the outlet or an appliance shorts out from water. All inspectors will point out that modern building codes require GFCI's to be installed near the sinks in kitchens and baths. Your home might be grandfathered if it was built before the rules were changed in your town. Your buyer is going to ask for these anyway; and will probably demand - again - that they be installed by a licensed electrician. GFCI outlets only cost $25 at Home Deopt. Buy enough and install them yourself.

Take care of these items and your house will most likely sail through inspection with glowing remarks from the inspector and your buyer will have the warm-fuzzies for selecting such a well cared-for home.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why ComEd rate hikes are a rip-off to Illinois consumers

Does anyone remember history? I mean before a week ago, or last year?

ComEd and Excelon keep harping about how ComEd is just a delivery company, and that it doesn't own any electricity generating capacity. Does anyone remember why?

Yes, our rates have been frozen for 10 years, and today, they're artificially low. Can you remember why?

During the energy crisis of the 1970's, Commonwealth Edison embarked on a bold plan to ensure Illinois would have energy to spare well into the future. Even into the New Millennium - 30 years into the future. They built the largest collection of nuclear power plants in the nation. By the mid 1980's, however, it appeared that this initiative was mis-guided as Illinois had the highest electric rates in the nation in order to pay for the wildly expensive plants (estimated at $45-billion) and there was so much excess capacity as to cause politicians to wonder why they were ever built and if the capacity would ever be needed.

Reagan era deregulation further eroded the perception of the plants' value. More regulatory meddling in the name of monopoly-busting led to the creation of a separate Electricity Producing Company - Excelon and our Electricity Delivery Company - the new and improved ComEd.

In one of the most ridiculous moves ever approved by the Illinois Legislature, the sale of all nuclear plants to Excelon Corp. was approved, and as the price was based on prevailing market energy rates and the plants had tremendous excess capacity, the sale price was established at mere dimes on the dollar.

Fast forward to today. The rate freeze is ending, but somewhere in the middle, bureaucrats pretty much gave away the power plants we've all been paying for. What was envisioned for the end of the rate freeze was an energy utopia where Illinois consumers had paid up front for the capacity to enjoy cheap electricity for a couple more generations.

Well, we paid. But Illinois regulators - seemingly asleep at the helm - allowed the proverbial rug to be pulled out from under us.

I do not pretend to understand how to undo decades of legislation and corporate monopoly-busting. All I know is that Illinois rate-payers paid a dear price for these nuke plants. And now we have to listen to ComEd whine about being a simple delivery company while at the same time parent company Excelon can freely sell electricity to whoever will pay the most on the open market.

Those plants are ours and I'm not opposed asserting our rights to them. Call your legislator and tell them to look back in history ~ say, longer than the last election, and try to do right by their constituents. Extend the freeze. Undo the sale. Transfer the ownership of the plants to a new energy co-op. I don't care, but to let Excelon profit while proclaiming innocence in all this is a total rip-off to Illinoisans.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Famous or nondescript?

I can't believe I've been walking past this nondescript building two blocks from home for five years and hadn't a clue. Can you name the famous event that took place here? Hint: It's at the corner of Wolcott and Wellington.

Bears game time scheduled

The Bears game on Sunday, January 21, is scheduled for 2:00 pm local time.

This gives a slightly better opportunity for Real Estate business this weekend compared to last. The Noon gametime pretty much killed all interest in viewing homes either by appointment or touring open houses.

One interesting deviation from the convention were a couple of grand openings my company had up in Rogers Park and Lakeview. These first-time open developments had 14 and 15 groups of visitors.

Dumped by Trump

Ouch! I haven't seen the contracts that are mentioned in the article below, but I can't imagine that the contract contains a provision that allows the developer to cancel the contract without some significant event occurring - such as the building's destruction or cancellation of the project.

In our experience, a developer contract contains a provision that allows a developer to cancel a contract if the nature of the development changes materially. We have frequently seen attorney review modifications that contain the addition "so long as the contract is not canceled in order to sell the unit at a substantially higher price."

What I can't imagine is - the buyers of these condos are experienced investors and some of Chicago's elite. These players seem to me to be the guys most likely to have attorneys who are on-the-ball enough to add a clause such as this.

Anyhow, this can't enhance "The Donald's" reputation in Chicago.

From Crains Chicago Biz:

At The Donald's tower, 'friends and family' buyers see deals nixed

The Donald wants it all.So say some buyers in Donald Trump's downtown condominium tower who are in a standoff with the celebrity developer over his plan to cancel their purchase contracts and take back their condos, along with millions of dollars in paper profits.

The move allows Mr. Trump to recapture profits he gave up by selling the units at a discount through a special "friends and family" program back in 2003.


"This guy is just jerking us around," says Nathan Diamond-Falk, who signed a contract to buy a condo with his wife, an interior designer who worked on the project's sales center. "It's just tacky. It may be the way they do business in New York, but I certainly don't think it's the way they do business in Chicago."

Mr. Trump is presenting the discount buyers with a stark choice: pay more for their condos or give them up.

He makes no apology for the hardball move."They are profits we're entitled to," says Mr. Trump, who contends that he can legally terminate the deals.


Why do people hate the cable company?

This cable company van comes by my house pretty much on a daily basis. I think the guy who drives this van thinks North Ravenswood is a pretty nondescript and quiet street. He parks the van here for anywhere between 2 and 6 hours, 3 or 4 days a week. Today, you can see from the photo above, he strung a new cable from the overhead wires to his van. I guess he wants to catch all the Animal Planet reruns today. Oh, you've gathered that I'm inplying he's goofing-off on the job? I've walked by the van to satisfy my curiosity on several occasions. I've seen him sleeping and reading a book. Sometimes I can't see the guy ~ I can only guess what he's doing in the back of the van. What's worse is that the van is running all day; you can't sit in that van all day on a day like today. In summer, the A/C is running full blast.

If you know anyone in the media, please forward this post. I'd love to see an embarrasing Mike-Wallace-esque intervention rather than having this jerk quietly disappear.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Number of open house visitors down, expectations mixed

A survey to all my co-workers about the number of visitors to their open houses yesterday - which of course was a very important game day for the Bears - gave clear indication that traffic was slower, but that expectations were varied.

Some highlights:

  • 64% of agents did NOT take the game time into consideration when scheduling their open house.

  • 82% of agents had their open house at the same time as the game. The remainder had early open house, and no-one had a late open house.

  • Expectations were evenly distributed

  • But clearly - traffic was down from the prior week when there was no game.

This means I probably won't schedule an open house this weekend, or for Superbowl weekend. We do have a window of opportunity two weeks from now, however. Expect January 28 to be a crazy weekend with open house signs everywhere!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mortgage insurance is finally tax deductible

If you’ve been holding off on a decision to buy a home or refinance, your wait is over. Congress has just passed the long-awaited legislation that will make mortgage insurance premium payments tax deductible for anyone who purchases or refinances a home with a closing date on or after January 1, 2007. It’s the news you’ve been waiting to hear to make your dream of homeownership a reality.

How A Mortgage Insurance Tax Deduction Helps You:

If your family earns $109,000 or less a year, the new legislation allows you to deduct the cost of the MI premium2 on your federal tax return. It could mean an estimated $4003 in your pocket if, for example, you finance a $166,667 home with monthly borrower-paid MI and zero down payment.

Some comparisons to popular combo-loan packages many buyers have taken advantage of in recent years:

A mortgage with MI is now as affordable or cheaper
than most combo loans.

MI can be canceled, further reducing the monthly payment. Second mortgages must be paid in full.

MI payments are not rate-sensitive like many adjustable rate second mortgages.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Take a walk along Altavista Terrace - The Street of 40 Doors

Friday, January 12, 2007

Market Stats

It's interesting to note that for the week ending January 9, the median sales price of condos closed is significantly higher than last year, but the number of condo units is lower.


Buyers definitely expressing a preference for new

During 2006, and reinforced repeatedly in the first few weeks of 2007, buyers decidedly made their preference known for new, newer and more new.

Last year, my buyers purchased new product 50% of the time. Add in buyers that purchased fixer-uppers and renovated to new condition before move-in, and the percentage was more like 75%.

Listings that were new flew off the market, and there was demand for condo conversions in vintage buildings as long as there were all new finishes inside. The dark clouds in inventory last year were condos with perfectly servicable kitchens and baths from 10 years ago or longer.

We clearly saw buyers willing to travel out to up-and-coming neighborhoods for new or rehabbed, rather than purchase the listings in Premium neighborhoods but with tired (or worse) fits and finishes.

Sellers may have to make improvements to kitchens and baths just to get their property sold rather than choosing to undertake the work as a way to make additional profit.

CTA doing a slow crash and burn

The latest news from the CTA about delays starting this spring couldn't come at a worse time for the system.

This spring, one of the four tracks that serve the Red, Brown and Purple lines will be closed while the Belmont station is being renovated and upgraded. Of course, I can't fault the need for the upgrade and renovation, but this comes after riders have spent the last year complaining about how bad service has gotten.

In my personal experience, I cannot depend on the CTA to get me into the loop in a timely fashion anymore. Dependability has dropped to zero as I rode the Red Line several times last year from Belmont into the Loop, and from Clybourn into the loop. Just a couple years ago I could rely on the train to get me down to State Street or to a downtown closing faster than traffic would allow about 75% of the time.

In the second half of 2006, it became a certainty that the train I was riding would experience slowdowns and stops that could add over 30 minutes to my trip.

If the system cannot guarantee getting me to my destination in a reasonable - and repeatably dependable - time frame, then it becomes irrelevant and useless. It has become the same for most of my neighbors, too. When we all moved into our Lakeview development in 2001, just under 50% of my neighbors took the Brown Line into the Loop. Now I only know TWO neighbors riding the CTA. The other folks that used to ride are now all driving, paying for parking and adding to congestion every day.

As a Realtor, this is killing me. Our transportation system is one of the largest economic engines that helped grow Chicago into the city it is today. I'd say it's one of the top three. Every single person that comes to Chicago asks about transportation. 20 years ago, College courses on urban development ranked the CTA as one of the best urban mass transit systems in the nation. I'm afraid to know what they think of the system today.

This is so shortsighted. The economic engine that makes Chicago vibrant would be severely crippled without the CTA. To let it continue to deteriorate is a grave mistake.

All of West Lakeview in only two blocks

Near Hamlin Park, the 2 blocks of West Nelson just east of Damen contain a perfect microcosm of what's happening all over the neighborhood. You've got old vintage frame homes, renovated versions of those frame homes, apartment buildings, new condominiums and the latest teardown phenomenon mega-houses. Take a walk along with me to see what's going on and listen to my comments.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New law requiring the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in ALL homes in Chicago

There’s a New State Law Requiring the Installation of Carbon Monoxide Detectors In Your Home. What Do You Need To Know?

In 2006, the Illinois General Assembly passed a new law which requires the placement of Carbon Monoxide Detectors in residences. Find out what you should know about detectors and your compliance with this law.

Public Act 94-741 mandates that every dwelling unit in Illinois must be equipped with at least one carbon monoxide alarm within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes.

This law is effective January 1, 2007.

Continue reading...

Indicators show no signs of Chicago real estate bubble

According to experts who monitor the local condo market, although 2006 unit sales were down 11% compared to 2005 (9% in volume), there is no evidence of a price bubble or even of overbuilding. One appraisal firm that tracks new construction and conversions in the downtown market reports that the number of units coming onto the market may have set a record in 2006, but is about equal to the number of such units sold in recent years.

According to experts who monitor our condo market there is no evidence of a price bubble or even overbulding. Data from the MLS of Northern Illinois (MLSNI) shows the number of condo units sold in 2006 was down 11% from 2005 (down 9% in dollar volume.) Statistics are still being compiled, but 2006 may still be the third highest year on record for units sold or dollar volume.

Would you want Donald to be your developer?

From Richard Roeper's column in the Chicago Sun Times on Wednesday, January 10:

Who wants to live in a place named for Donald Trump?


It's a nice hotel with spectacular views, and on the four or five occasions when I've stayed there, the staff has been as down-to-earth, efficient and courteous as any hotel staff I've ever encountered. They don't sport Trumpian comb-overs and bellow "You're fired!" when you check out or anything.


But to LIVE in a building named after the most egomaniacal businessman of our time -- a building not in New York, but in Chicago, a building that was trotted out as a glorified prop on the first season of "The Apprentice" -- what about that? Are there some Chicagoans who have the means and the inclination to live in a building like the Trump, but would never do so because of the name and all that it implies?


rroeper@suntimes.com and also ~ please comment below. I'd like to hear, too.

Deck Envy

We just listed this large (3-beds) loft in West Lincoln Park and it has one of the best outdoor terraces I've seen in a long time. The view is pretty much over the entire West Lakeview neighborhood including all the new homes along Paulina and the new Chi Che Wang Park.


Hi Folks, thanks for reading. The mission here is to bring you as much news, advice and collective wisdom as we can muster and at the same time break away from one of my traditional favorite forms of media - a paper newsletter. We started writing a paper newsletter over 10 years ago and have mailed out thousands of them on a semi-monthly basis. We're getting the feeling that fewer and fewer of them are getting read. A couple months ago, a good friend and real estate magazine publisher invited me to start writing for his Chicago real estate web portal as a guest neighborood journalist and the response has been great. Our thanks to Joe Z. at YoChicago for getting us started. Our neighborhood journal can be found at YoWestLakeview. Here - we hope to share info more broadly real estate related and keep YoWestLakeview focused on homes in West Lakeview and the folks that live in them.