Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Please join me over at my New Blog!

Well, gentle readers, it's taken me two years to finally come to the conclusion that this blogging phenomenon was finally going to take off.

Who knew?

Heck, back in the day, I was known to say "Harrumph! Computers talking to each other! Who needs it?" Kinda like when Bill Gates said 64k was all the RAM any computer would ever need. I think the oldest cell phone in my closet has more memory.

In any case, I have finally taken the plunge and built my own Word Press blog and am hosting it over at www.yourwindycityguide.com. Of course, there's a link to it from trusty old www.darrowwest.com. I hope you'll link on over, and be sure to leave a comment or two.

If you are one of my kinder patrons that links here, would you update the link in your blogroll?

The interface looks a little cluttered today, but I am learning. And I believe I will have the whole template and spacing sorted out within a couple of days. So if you view the blog tonight - you'll see what I mean. If you view the blog in a few days or later - expect perfection!

Looking forward to seeing you over at www.yourwindycityguide.com!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Q & A with your Chicago Real Estate Expert

A loyal reader writes and asks:

Brokers, have you ever bought a property (as an investment, to rehab and flip) for yourself from someone who came to list with you or company you work for?  Do you consider yourself to be to an advantage then others, since you get to it first? Is it fair, ethical and legal? If a client comes in to list their property and you want to buy it from them, who interested are you looking out for? Or if you don't buy it for yourself, did you have a preferred buyer who was counting on you to notify them of hot properties?

Here in Illinois, according to my Real Estate Broker Class Instructor at the Real Estate Education Company, it is ILLEGAL to buy your own listing.  A conflict of interest is created that Illinois License Law will not accommodate any resolution of this conflict.

So, Realtors, if you want to buy a piece of property that you go and see on a listing presentation, it is imperative under the law that you decide whether you want to try to purchase this property before taking the listing.  In fact, during the listing presentation process, it is frequently customary for a seller and the prospective agent to discuss the situation that has brought about the sale.  It can be interpreted under Illinois License Law that the use of this information by the agent in negotiating on the home would also be illegal.

Of course, I am always out there looking for prospective properties to purchase.  Lots of agents do this.  But my first source of property information is usually the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and then popular websites that contain lots of For Sale By Owners (FSBO's.)

It's best to wear only one hat when out conducting business.  When I am on a listing appointment, I am wearing the hat of Marketing Specialist and Real Estate Agent for my company. 

When I am looking at investment properties, I make my phone calls and I introduce myself as a prospective buyer WHO ALSO IS A REAL ESTATE AGENT.  It's best to let people know right away that you are a Realtor when calling on properties that you might be interested in buying.  I have been in court accompanying other close friends who were sued for not disclosing that they were Real Estate Agents at the first point of contact, even though Illinois License Law states that you must list your licensee status on a contract on a piece of property.

And yes, if I go out and list a property that is perfect for one of my clients, I usually call them from the car in front of the house as I leave with the signed listing agreement.  I think that's good service to both the seller and the buyer.

Local Starbucks Closing. Thank God I'm Covered!

Much ado has been made about the closing of several Local Starbucks stores. Some community activists have even suggested that Starbucks is discriminatory as there are more closings in Cities than in Suburbs or in the Country.

In any case, I am losing TWO of my local stores. Thank God I'm still covered...

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Realtor Boquet - seen in Evanston

Hung from the service door to the Evanston Galleria

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bringing you up to speed on Your Windy City Guide

Loyal readers will note the absence of posting by your guide for Three Whole Weeks - an unforgivable eternity in the blog posting world.  We hope you can forgive us our transgression and hope to retain your loyal readership.

The reasons have been threefold:

1.  I have not had an original thought in my head for a solid two weeks out of the last three.  The heat of the Summer must have gotten to me.  Perhaps too strong a desire to go sailing rather than think about anything real estate related. 

2.  On a positive note, we have been crazy busy.  Listing like crazy.  Wrote some contracts.  Listed some more developments.  Not the thing to do in the lazy dog-days of summer.  On top of that, our Trusty Management Expert - Steve West - also got busy.  He took over the management of a 100 unit complex in Old Town which led to a 50 unit mid-rise in Old Town, and a couple more projects coming on line in the next few weeks.  Poor Steve, work is getting in the way of his summertime fun, too.

He'll have some excellent stories to tell from the Property Management side of the business soon, though. 

3.  I have contracted with a technologically superior web-guru to overhaul the www.darrowwest.com website AND this humble blog.  I thought the project would be completed by now, but each day brings a few new wrinkles to the plan.  Before another day went by, I thought I had better get back on the bandwagon before my dearest friends forgot I was here.  Or worse - started removing links.

Boys n girls club statue park 003 

But this week while driving home from my latest listing at 3753 West Dickens (single family home for $359,900) I drove past this odd sight on Palmer out by Kedzie.  How fun is this?!

Boys n girls club statue park 001

Such a weird thing to see inside what appears to be quite an ordinary kiddie playground next door to a school.  It turns out to be the BARNET HODES Sculpture Garden. 

The centerpiece of the Logan Square Boys and Girls Club’s Barnet Hodes Sculpture Garden, this sculptural bench and fountain project holds the distinction of being the city’s first freestanding, community-built artwork-- a feat that involved the use of reinforced concrete, landscape design, and mechanical and electrical engineering. The undulating seats evoke the shapes of reclining figures: the glass mosaics in the fountain basin recall Taino designs and symbols. The form of the work was inspired by Pedro Silva’s Grant’s Tomb Mosaics (1972-1974) and Antonio Gaudi’s Güell Park ceramic-fragment-encrusted benches (1900-1914), as well as by the work of David Harding in Glenrothes, Scotland, who introduce the Chicago Mural Group to concrete as a community art medium in the 1970s.

Boys n girls club statue park 002

Hey, I'll take any inspiration that comes my way these days.  Here's hoping you find me traveling off the beaten path more often in the coming days.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Slightly better news for Chicago from R|E|A|L

From the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory, Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois on behalf of the Illinois Association of Realtors, some news that sales in May were slightly higher than in April.

Housing sales continued to decline in April and May compared to April and May of 2007, but the number of homes rose 17% in Illinois and a little less than 14% in Chicago from April to May, 2008.

Two main factors have been identified by the authors of the report:

An 11.5 month supply of homes are on the market.  The outlook appears grim as a large number of foreclosed homes are coming on the market and more are expected.  The report indicates that foreclosure filings were up 65% in April compared to April, 2007.  A survey of households indicates that the number of people planning to buy a home within 6 months has fallen from 3.4% in March, to 2.5% in April, to 2.1% in May.

The other factor is economic news.  The national unemployment rate jumped to 5.5% with the number of unemployed rising by 861,000 in May.  Economists and analysts were surprised to hear that the Illinois economy added 4,000 jobs in May, however.

With this news, analysts are kicking the projected real estate market recovery into 2010 rather than in 2009.