Sellers are in Control When Negotiating a Chicago Real Estate Purchase

You know how the market goes: there’s a buyer’s market, and there’s a seller’s market. Not unlike the stock market, it waxes and wanes in either direction, which can make it difficult (if not impossible) to perfectly time a real estate transaction.

We spent a good number of recent years with buyers holding the upper hand in Chicago real estate, but as the market (especially the luxury market) continues to thrive, the advantage has shifted to the sellers. Even with an improving market, the inventory of Chicago homes for sale remains limited, so in turn, buyers are limited as well. With little supply and lots of demand, buyers are competing for homes to buy, and sellers end up with a higher sale price than they may have expected.

Chicago Real Estate Selling Above Asking Prices
Crain’s recently reported that 20 percent of homes sold in the first quarter of 2014 went for more than their asking price—that’s the highest it’s been since 2007. I think there are a couple of things at play here:

• These higher numbers could be explained by a still hefty number of foreclosures and short sales on the market—these are priced low from the start, so there’s not a big surprise that they would sell above the asking price.

• But, even non-distressed sales-over-asking-price are up from last year. These are the types of sales most buyers are looking for, and they are in short supply. If you want a conventional sale, you’ll likely be bidding against one or many other buyers who do as well.

• Luxury buyers especially are moving not for the sake of it, but because they need something—more square footage, additional bedrooms, to escape the suburbs. These buyers want something on par or better than what they live in now, and those properties are also scarce in Chicago real estate.

With all of these factors at work, bidding wars are quick to creep in and drive up the price of the city’s desirable properties.

So what’s a buyer to do? Or even a seller, for that matter?

If you’re a seller, you may have a decision to make when pricing your home for sale: price it low and hope it strikes enough interest and offers that will drive up the price. Or, ask for the amount you want up front, and hope buyers don’t think you’re priced too high.

If you’re a buyer, this certainly doesn’t mean you can’t get a fair deal. Don’t forget that a real estate offer isn’t entirely made up of dollars, and offering good terms can go a long way. An all-cash purchase, a short closing period, a pre-approval on a mortgage can all help you in getting a real estate deal done.

Also, I encourage buyers to really consider what is at the top of your wants/needs list in a new home. If you’re looking for the things other buyers want—a top neighborhood, ample square footage, new construction, etc.—expect that it will cost premium dollar. Prioritize your own needs and see if anything might help shift the expected price.

Of course, this isn’t anything a buyer or a seller has to go at alone. For nearly 25 years I’ve worked with clients in every state of the market, from good, to bad, to worse. The best course of action will vary based on your own situation, and the right agent will help you work through that. If you’re in the market for Chicago real estate, contact me to talk more about what you’re looking for. Call me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Upper-Bracket Luxury Condo Sales in Chicago Were Gangbusters in February

For the third consecutive month in what is often a slow period for Chicago real estate, condo sales in the city have soared, with $90 million in luxury units sold during the month of February.

Chicago saw 54 luxury condos sold (I define “luxury” condos as those sold for $1 million and above). In fact, last month’s sales went all the way up to $4.850 million, with 54 condos sold for a total of $90.9 million. A number of ultra high-end units contributed to that number, as 14 of the luxury condos sold for over $2 million. For a more detailed look at last month’s Chicago condo sales, email me for photos and a list of the top sales.

From the ‘Burbs to a Chicago Condo

I’ve noticed with many of my own clients and on the market in general that many folks are selling their large homes in the suburbs for a condo in the city. Many Chicago condo buildings require a large upkeep, plus there has been a large increase in local taxes. People are also evaluating other conveniences like a commute and access to entertainment and services, and many have realized that relocating into the city puts these things right outside your front door. Plus, many buildings offer amenities and services that make the day-to-day easier on all of its residents by having staff available at a moment’s notice.

Here’s a look at what buildings were popular among luxury buyers last month:

Chicago real estate at Park Tower 800 Michigan Avenue800 N Michigan Avenue, Unit 3501
Original list price: $6 million
Sold price: $4.85 million
Spanning a whopping 5,250 square feet, this Chicago condo is elegance and luxury at its finest. This 35th floor unit offers magnificent sweeping views to the east, south and west. The interior boasts custom cabinetry, hardwood floors, a kitchen with island and breakfast bars, and a media room with drop-down screen and surround sound. The master suite also includes two large walk-in closets.

6 N Michigan Avenue, Unit 1901
Original list price: $4.75 million
Sold price: $3.9 million
The size and space in this unit lives more like a single-family home than a condo, but with all the perks of living in the city. A 4-bedroom penthouse with 6,400 square feet overlooking Millennium Park, this Chicago condo offers some of the most spectacular views in the city. Formerly the Montgomery Ward Observatory, it features four floors of living space, 20-foot ceilings and 2,000 square feet of outdoor terrace space. Its restoration of the vintage building beautifully blends vintage elegance with today’s transitional style.

118 E Erie Street, Unit 33E
Original list price: $3,387,426
Sold price: $3,387,42
Located in the Ritz-Carlton Residences right off of Michigan Avenue, this 2-bedroom condo offers 2,700 square feet on the building’s 33rd floor. The Ritz-Carlton Residences have quickly become one of the most sought-after luxury buildings in Chicago, with its five-star staff, award winning design, and private Landmark Club with its own private art collection.

Chicago real estate at Park Tower 800 Michigan Avenue800 N Michigan Avenue, Unit 4001
Original list price: $3.499 million
Sold price: $3 million
This 2-bedroom unit in downtown Chicago’s Park Tower is totally customized with concrete and wood floors, extensive cherry built-ins and no detail left undone. Technology upgrades like a Lutron light system and Creston audio/visual enhance the interior, along with fabulous east views from every room. Residents here can take advantage of all of the hotel services at the neighboring Park Hyatt Hotel.

415 E North Water Street, Unit 2205
Original list price: $2,999,900
Sold price: $2.85 million
A fairly new unit, this Chicago condo was redone in 2012 with fine new finishes, woods, stones, tiles, trim, updating, surround speakers, lighting and more. This 24th-floor unit boasts 4 balconies with 180-degree views, while the building itself features a newly decorated common area, health club and all building amenities.

The market for luxury Chicago condos has been surprisingly strong this season. Buyers continue to flock to high-end, service-driven buildings with offerings that can’t compare to a suburban home. If you’re in the market for a condo, I think it’s very important to take a look at the previous month’s sales to learn more about popular buildings and what certain types of units are selling for.

For a more detailed look at February’s sales or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Single-Family Luxury Home Sales in Chicago Down for February

We finally saw some of the typical winter slump among Chicago luxury real estate in February, specifically among single-family homes. Only 17 luxury homes–those sold at $1 million or above–closed in February, which was a considerable decrease from the 29 homes that sold the month prior. Total luxury home sales were just over $30 million for February.

This is also in comparison to the luxury condo market, which in February saw its 3rd consecutive month of excellent sales (more on that tomorrow). It appears the single-family luxury market isn’t as strong as the market for Chicago condos.

Chicago Luxury Homes that Sold in February
Still, there are a few noteworthy points among February’s luxury home sales. I think it is especially interesting that 3 of the 5 most expensive homes sold were vintage homes–two found in the Gold Coast and the third in historic Wicker Park. Vintage homes usually spend more time on the market, especially in a time like now when buyers are really gravitating toward new construction.

However, I’ve been noticing that vintage homes that have been redone are now moving quite fast. The inventory for all redone, vintage luxury homes is likely low, so I’d think the vintage buyer is more willing to come up in the price for a property that could be like-new but still has the vintage charm they were looking for.

Here’s a detailed look at the top 5 most expensive Chicago luxury homes that sold last month, in descending order:

1909 N Fremont
Original list price: $3.295 million
Sold price: $3.2 million
In the heart of covetable Lincoln Park, this new construction property takes the prize for the most expensive closing last month. The all-masonry limestone home features everything from high ceilings, Marvin windows, an elevator, custom millwork and cabinetry throughout and a custom staircase. The floorplan allows for a generous 5,300 square feet with 5 bedrooms and 7 baths, including a luxurious master suite with walk-in closets. The outdoor space includes a rooftop deck with skyline views. Because this property was still in the new construction phase, the buyer did have some opportunity to customize certain features to their preference.

52 E Bellevue Place
Original list price: $3.75 million
Sold price: $3.1 million
A Gold Coast beauty built in 1885, this home is a red brick Georgian with a stunning floorplan. Spanning a whopping 6,070 square feet, there is space for a nanny or in-law apartment in the home’s lower level, plus 5 bedrooms and 4.5 baths on the additional levels. The interior features 10.5-foot ceilings on the living/dining level, plus oversize windows that bring in generous natural light. Other highlights include a totally enclosed patio yard space, a tandem 4-car garage, separate master bedroom level, and sky-lit foyer–not to mention, a truly wonderful location in Chicago’s Gold Coast.

63 E Bellevue Place
Original list price: $3.325 million
Sold price: $2.965 million
This updated home began as a turn-of-the-century Victorian and retains an impeccable adherence to period details with modern updates, such as an in-home theater, Smart Home technology and an elevator. The 5,020-square foot interior boasts Brazilian cherry/walnut inlay floors, a sumptuous master suite on the top floor and 8 gas fireplaces. It’s location also puts you steps away from Oak Street Beach and Gold Coast’s bevy of restaurants, shopping and services.

2046 W Pierce Street
Original list price: $2.48 million
Sold price: $2.3 million
Another old-meets-new Chicago luxury home: This Beau Victorian mansion was recently modernized in historic Wicker Park. The result is old-world ambiance from the home’s architecture infused with style and warmth from a fully-finished living room, added 3rd floor and much more. Its location on an extra-wide lot allows for 6,000 square feet with a grand, fully equipped kitchen, skylight walkway and huge master suite with European showers.

3020 N Kenmore St
Original list price: $2.125 million
Sold price: $2.215 million
This builder-sold home in Lincoln Park gave the buyer the chance to build on a 37.5-foot-wide lot (1.5 times the standard size). The home’s plan included 5,700 square feet of living space, a large yard and 3-car garage, but because this was a builder’s property, the buyer can take the opportunity to make any customization they’re looking for and essentially build their dream home from the ground up.

Even in a winter-logged market, I encourage any homebuyer to take a close look at the prior month’s real estate sales. This gives you an understanding of what’s on the market at what price. Having a grasp on that information can give you the upper hand when evaluating potential homes to purchase and making offers.

If you’d like more information on last month’s single-family home sales in Chicago, including additional images and details, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

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 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 survey here.  To find Chicago real estate that might make you fall in love, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Finding The Best of the Best: Concierge Services in Chicago Luxury Condo Buildings

Many of the luxury Chicago condo buildings we’ve discussed on this blog are more than a notable address or well-known piece of architecture in the city. Living in these buildings means having access to exclusive amenities and services, and many include a concierge that treats each and every resident like a guest at a hotel.

But there are some buildings that even go far beyond basic concierge service. We’re not talking about hailing a cab or making dinner reservations—but what I call extended concierge services that can include anything that will help make life easier for even the most discriminating resident. Things like:

• Organizing vacations
• Assistance in emergency situations
• Stocking refrigerators
• Throwing parties
• Working with executive assistants
• Coordinating dinners, events, meetings, etc.
• Home staging
• Unloading groceries
• Putting away dry cleaning/laundry
• Special/unique requests that go beyond the “call of duty”

Extended concierge services are perfect for executive-level individuals like CEOs, chairmen or hedge fund managers who simply don’t have time to take care of the small things but want to ensure they are handled appropriately. Sometimes these are everyday tasks, other times not-so-everyday. These things are handled by the building staff (often around the clock) and are much like having the finest hotel services right outside your own home. And many of these services come gratis—just a perk of living in one of Chicago’s best luxury buildings.

Since these services have become more personalized and detailed than ever the staff of luxury condo buildings have to become a bit of a one-stop shop. They could go from party planner, to errand runner, to home decorator within a day’s time.

Finding a Chicago Condo for your Concierge Needs

I’ve worked with many clients who can’t live without services, and rely on them for both big and small tasks. They want to be spoiled, and have peace of mind about their to-do list. Extended concierge services fill that void, and therefore the availability of these services is becoming a major factor for luxury buyers who are shopping Chicago condos.

I’d be happy to review with you the various services that are available at various Chicago condo buildings. When I work with a client who is looking for services such as this, I like to sit down with them to “interview” them about their specific needs and wants. From there, I can recommend a building that would be most appropriate for them to consider.

It’s important to note that I hold such meetings on a confidential basis. This is a key aspect of how I work with a client who requires this type of services. For famous/well-known clients, I’m always willing to sign a confidentiality agreement before discussing anything.

If you’re looking for Chicago luxury condos that offer this type of service to its residents, give me a call. I’d love to introduce you to some of my favorite buildings that cater to every need of its residents and make them feel like a VIP day in and day out. Contact me at (312) 264-5853

State-of-the-Art Ovens Make for a Showstopping Kitchen in your Chicago Luxury Home

In real estate, the term luxury can be a bit relative. For one person, a certain feature or amenity could be run of the mill, while for another it could be something very impressive, depending on your background or where you’re from. But some things—think about a Bentley or a Rolls Royce-—are showstoppers no matter what, and will make most people stop and say, “Wow!”

That level of luxury has made its way into Chicago real estate, particularly in the kitchen. Between the foodie movement and kitchens becoming the “hub” of the home, this room is getting more attention than ever. To meet that demand, the “Rolls Royces of kitchen appliances” are here, matching today’s technology-embedded lifestyles with kitchen ovens that go far beyond simply “high end.” These products really up the wow factor in a kitchen, which is a space that homebuyers are evaluating carefully when considering a home purchase.

Even having sold a $5 million home, I have to look twice at these kitchen ovens and am amazed at the product features that come with it. The design is stunning–both aesthetically and functionally–and is sure to wow future buyers when you get ready to resell your home.

The Wall Street Journal recently covered 6 hot (pun intended) ovens that are hitting the market and upping the level of luxury in the kitchen. From griddles to precise food temperature, to apps, these stoves have it all. Here are a few favorites among these superstar kitchen appliances:

Viking Professional 7 Series Range: This luxury range features a wireless temperature-monitoring system, a temperature probe and a device that plugs into the range to show the food temperature as it is cooking. The temperature can also be monitored through a smartphone app from up to 200 feet away. Price: $14,699

Molteni Ranges: Talk about a Rolls Royce of the kitchen. This made-to-order French range can be made in any size, shape or configuration and can include a range of options: a pasta cooker, fryer, shelves, sinks, electrical sockets and heated or refrigerated cabinets. Residential customers have even spent as much as $140,000 to add one of these to their homes. Price: Starting at $50,000

Five-Oven AGA Total Control: This range does double duty for cooking and for warming the kitchen. A smartphone app lets users send remote commands to the appliance, which features separate ovens for roasting, baking, simmering, slow-cooking and warming. Price: $20,299

60-Inch Dual Fuel Range by Wolf: Wolf has long been a favorite among homebuyers and builders in luxury Chicago real estate (often recognized for their signature red knobs). The 60-inch Dual Fuel Range is a dual convection oven that includes two 30-inch electric ovens and 10 cooking modes, ranging from pizza stones to a dehydrator. Price: $16,865

Grand Palais 180 by La Cornue: Another French company, La Cournue is known for the vaulted shape of its oven, along with its sleek design and seemingly endless customization options. Buyers can choose from 30 colors and 12 different trims. Price: Starts at $46,000

Thermador: The Thermador Pro Grand Steam oven combines multiple cooking elements into one: stovetop burners, a griddle, a grill, a conventional oven, a warming drawer and a steam oven all live within the one appliance. Later this year, the company is expected to introduce an indoor grill with lava rocks that infuse meat with more flavor.

Focus on Kitchens in Chicago Real Estate
Whether its a fancy oven to meet every cooking need or a built-in coffee shop in your own kitchen, kitchens are certainly having their proverbial day in the sun when it comes to home design. With the attention being paid to this space by buyers and sellers alike, it’s important to keep on on kitchen trends to have a handle on what defines “luxury” in the Chicago real estate market. A stand-out kitchen could easily be what differentiates one home on the market from the next.

It’s obvious that building a “wow” kitchen doesn’t come cheap. But all things considered, putting in new features, upgrading appliances or adding that something extra are sure ways to ensure you obtain premium dollar when you’re ready to sell.

Up the ‘Wow’ Factor with a One-Stop Coffee Shop in your Chicago Luxury Home

Will that be a grande or venti? It's easier than ever to create a one-stop coffee spot in your luxury home. Here: The TopBrewer from Scanomat, which can be controlled through a smartphone app.

When it comes to luxury real estate in Chicago, it seems the next big thing is always right around the corner—a smarter home technology, the trend du jour, or a device that promises to take luxury living to the next level.

With home amenities evolving quickly, a walk-in closet or hardwood floor doesn’t quite cut it if you’re looking to evoke the “ooohs” and “aaahs.” I’m finding more and more that my clients are looking for the wow factor, not only to make a purchase worth their dollars but also to ensure a healthy resale value down the line. When they’re shopping for a luxury home, there almost certainly has to be something that induces a surprise-and-delight reaction.

The kitchen space is especially en vogue with new homebuyers or clients who are contemplating building a new luxury home. Lately, the spotlight has been on one very specific kitchen feature: anything and everything to upgrade your morning cup of Joe.

Having a one-stop coffee shop in your own kitchen can single-handedly differentiate a property from others like it. Manufacturers are creating espresso machines that fit seamlessly into upscale kitchens, with remote features and advanced technology that make a morning routine more luxurious. Here’s a look at some of what’s out there, as recently highlighted by the Wall St. Journal:

Fully Automatic Coffee Machine by AEG Appliances
Cost: $2,999
This home espresso system has two pour spouts for simultaneous serving—a great option for those who entertain or host often. It can brew up to four servings in one cycle, and is kept warm in a thermal coffee pot.

CM210 from Gaggenau
Price: $3,249
This German coffee system includes an LED clock and timer that can easily be pre-programmed. But its showstopper feature is a self-cleaning system, various grind functions and a matching drawer that keeps coffee cups warm.

Fully Automatic Coffee Machine from Thermador
Price: $2,549
This coffeemaker may completely eliminate the need for a coffee shop around the corner. It produces six grind options and 12 drink sizes, with a steam wand that froths milk and dispenses hot water for tea or other drinks.

Whole Bean Coffee System by Miele
Cost: From $3,199
This modern home espresso machine includes a high-power grinder for consistent granule sizes and to preserve bean oils. Several grind options ensure that coffee is best suited for the drink type.

TopBrewer from Scanomat
Cost: $10,999
Remote features are becoming huge in the kitchen, and this Danish coffee system can be controlled by mobile devices through an app. A single stainless-steel tap doubles as a self-cleaning milk foamer, and the device can product traditional coffee, espresso drinks and cold beverage. It also includes a cabinet hidden below the counter surface that includes a commercial-grade grinder and refrigerator unit.

You can see that differentiating a kitchen in Chicago real estate doesn’t necessarily come cheap–these in-home devices can carry a hefty price tag. But because buyers are hunting for the next big thing, it is built-in features like this that they get excited about a property. So investing in new and alluring features can be worth it in the end.

For more information about home trends in Chicago real estate, or to find a “wow” property for yourself, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Brand New Chicago Luxury Construction Perfect for an Art Aficionado

The right property for an art collector is often unique. It should be somewhat of a blank canvas, with high ceilings that allow for large-scale pieces; it should be a space that can protect pieces from bright sunlight; and many include architectural details that create spaces ideal for showcasing paintings or sculptural pieces. It’s also an added bonus if the building itself lends itself to art appreciation.

While amenities like outdoor space and a state-of-the-art gym were once things to set a Chicago condo building apart, art has taken a front seat as a way to differentiate among new high-end developments. Many integrate art into the building’s public spaces, which makes it not only appealing to potential buyers, but others in the community as well. The Wall St. Journal recently covered this trend, highlighting one building in Chicago that was made for art aficionados in particular: The Ritz-Carlton Residences.

For the person who has his or her own art collection, or even if you simply enjoy art, this building was designed with you in mind. This is a unique new construction building that stands out from all of the luxury condos in the city, in part due to its gallery-like spaces in common areas and private art collection available only to the building’s residences. The units themselves feature high ceilings and ample wall space that allows for large, museum-quality artwork on each wall.

If you’re an art collector, I would be pleased to give you a personal tour, especially highlighting the ways your collection can work really well within this building. I also have access to an architectural lighting expert who has done the lighting for Chuck Close’s private art collection and can work with you on all of the fine lighting details to protect and showcase your art properly.

Buying a condo at the Ritz-Carlton Residence can even translate into buying a share of the building’s art collection. The pieces displayed throughout the building’s common areas are collectively owned by the homeowners, who could conceivably opt to change it out or sell it and divide the proceeds amongst themselves. The collection includes seven pieces worth around a half-million dollars, including works from local artists and noted Brazilian artist Vik Muniz.

Inside the Landmark Club at the Ritz-Carlton Residences. Photo via Ritz-Carlton Residences Chicago

The Ritz-Carlton Residences a Jewel of Luxury Living in Chicago
Art aside, the Ritz-Carlton Residences are one of the most sought-after buildings for luxury real estate in Chicago. A new construction property, its location right off of Michigan Avenue is ideal for shopping, dining, and a swift commute into the loop.

This is another building in Chicago real estate that goes beyond an address—living here is a lifestyle, filled with unsurpassed services and amenities that cater to every need. Other highlights of the Ritz-Carlton Residences include:

The best staff and service: The expert staff is trained and managed by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, ensuring five-star services down to every detail. Whether its having the concierge get you last-minute dinner reservations or having dinner ready when you return from a business trip, the staff here will attend to even the most discriminating residents.

The Landmark Club: Residents here have exclusive access the building’s private club, designed for everything from unwinding to socializing to conducting business. This is also home to the building’s private art collection, along with a billiard room, wine storage, and screening room. A private chef can create custom meals in the club’s dining room or in the privacy of your home.

Resident Amenities: Valet parking, a private storage locker, and the Landmark Club and Spa are additional building amenities at the residents’ fingertips. The staff includes housekeepers, doormen, security and many others.

If you’d like to learn more about the Ritz-Carlton Residences or see this building in person, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Transportation a Key Factor in Chicago Real Estate Value

Being close to public transportation, like the El Train, can greatly impact the value of Chicago real estate.

While the old adage of “location, location, location” still rings true when it comes to Chicago real estate, there’s an another factor at play: transportation, transportation, transportation.

The proximity of a Chicago home or condo to transportation plays a key role when it comes to a property’s desirability and its value. But still, within limits, the closer a home is to transportation, the more value is usually assigned for resale.

Transportation is a hot topic right now, since the City of Chicago announced that it will be bringing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to the central loop this year, which will be a new public transportation option for getting around downtown. The system will use dedicated bus lanes with limited stops, which is expected to be faster and more reliable than current buses or train routes.

Transportation Considerations for New Chicago Real Estate Buyers
Public transportation is a subject that often comes up with new clients of mine, particularly younger, first-time buyers. For them, transportation around the city is key, especially for morning and evening commutes. Many buyers want to be within walking distance to an El train, or at a minimum, being near a bus stop that will get them to a train in a short ride.

If a home’s location requires a car to get around from day to day, that’s generally not a plus for real estate in the city. Between traffic and the cost of parking, taking a car into downtown everyday is simple not a feasible option for many. The ease of public transportation eliminates the hassles associated with having and driving a car, so the easier it is for a homeowner to take advantage of it, the better.

A few of my top transportation-friendly areas for Chicago real estate include:

Lake Shore Drive: Not only is this one of the most prestigious blocks for Chicago condos, there are a number of busses that travel right from stops along Lake Shore Drive into downtown. During heavy commute times, many of these run express so you could make it into the heart of the loop in a quick 10-15 minutes.

Lakeview: Many of the El lines converge in Lakeview, making it a short walk to a stop and/or to swap train lines to head in another direction.

Lincoln Park: Like Lakeview, Lincoln Park is a hub for several different train lines at the Fullerton stop, which is an easy jaunt away from condos and luxury homes alike.

Gold Coast: This is a great neighborhood for luxury real estate in Chicago, and provides simple access to downtown via bus or train. It’s also centrally located that much of the Gold Coast neighborhood is walkable into parts of downtown and to other neighborhood features.

Of course, being the right distance from transportation can be a fine line: Having a 5 minute (or less) walk from an El stop is good; but having the red line roar right past your master bedroom window may not be. Still, being steps away from public transportation is still a huge factor for today’s homebuyers, and something worth considering if you’re scouting a site for a new construction property.

For more information on neighborhoods ideal for public transportation, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

January Weather Was Icy Cold, but Chicago Luxury Home Sales Were Sizzling Hot

Much like last month’s condo market, Chicago single-family home sales paid no attention to the weather in January, bringing in another strong month with luxury sales (homes $1 million an up) totaling $55 million.

About 1/3 of the homes sold were priced over $2 million, with the highest price sale coming in at $4.1 million.

Not surprisingly, the homes sold last month were in many of the same neighborhoods we see luxury buyers gravitating toward month after month: Lakeview, Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast. These are arguably the most sought-after areas for luxury real estate in Chicago, and judging by last month’s sales, they certainly delivery. Out of the top 10, 3 were in the Gold Coast, 4 in Lincoln Park and 2 in Lakeview.

Luxury Single-Family Home Sales in January
Several sales were even able to shave a bit off of the asking price, proving again that winter is a great time for negotiating in real estate.

Here’s a detailed view of the top 5 most expensive homes sold in Chicago last month, in descending order:

469 W Superior St
Original list price: $4.95 million
Sold price: $4.1 million
Neighborhood: River North
A home built for the most discriminating buyer, this 11,000 square foot residence is stunning, dramatic and sophisticated. Features of this Chicago home include 5 bedrooms and 6+ bathrooms, a master bedroom suite with his-and-her bathrooms, and 2 lush terraces. Other show-worthy characteristics like a stainless steel and mahogany staircase, state-of-the-art AV control system, wine cellar, and a 27 x 70 sq. ft. rooftop with city views take this home to the next level.

38 E Elm St
Original list price: $3.875 million
Sold price: $3.6 million
Neighborhood: Gold Coast
An ideal blend of classic style and modern luxury, this redone 1920s home spans a generous 7,200 square feet. Inside you’ll find 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, 2 gracious foyers, a winding staircase, and a 2-floor room and dining room filled with light by 9 Cathedral windows. Other features include a library, elevator, DeGuilio kitchen, 2 family rooms, wine cellar, 3 fireplaces, au pair apartment with a 31-foot rooftop terrace and a 2.5 car attached garage.

2055 N Fremont St
Original list price: $3.475 million
Sold price: $3.63 million
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
A brand-new construction home in a new development, this home is on a reverse-corner lot with the same square footage of a 25 x 125 foot lot. Inside you’ll find a formal living room and dining room, an expansive kitchen/great room, master suite with his-and-her closets and a luxurious master bath. Six fireplaces cozy things up throughout, and the home boasts fantastic natural light on all 3 levels.

1643 N Burling St
Original list price: $3.195 million
Sold price: $3,077,500
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Just completed last summer, this Chicago new construction property spans a magnificent 5,580 square feet, with 6 bedrooms and 5.5 baths. The interior features top-quality custom millwork, hardwood floors, and high-end fixtures and lighting. Ceiling heights range from 10 to 13 feet, with a penthouse library and a lower level media room. The kitchen is a stunning Clive Christian masterpiece, with a butler’s pantry, SubZero, Miele and Wolf appliances.

654 W Hutchinson St
Original list price: $2.75 million
Sold price: $2.6 million
Neighborhood: Lakeview
Hutchinson Street is one of the most historic, prestigious blocks in the city, surrounded by prominent mansions. This home was originally built in 1939 by actress Betty Hutton and gut-rehabbed in 2005 by Nate Berkus interiors. On a 50-foot double lot, this home boasts lush terraces, 42 windows and blurs the line between indoor-outdoor living. The interior includes custom walnut millwork, Smart Home technology, a 13-seat theatre, radiant heat and 7 fireplaces, while the outdoor space includes a 30-foot heated salt water pool with waterfall and outdoor fireplace.

The Best Neighborhoods for Chicago Luxury Homes
It’s no wonder that the same familiar neighborhoods are always in my monthly round-ups of home sales. Lincoln Park, Lakeview and the Gold Coast are all areas that wonderfully blend an urban lifestyle with a residential feel. Here are a few highlights of my favorite parts from each:

Lincoln Park: Lincoln Park is a great neighborhood for families, thanks to great schools, community parks, and the residential neighborhood atmosphere. There are great neighborhood dining spots, boutique shopping and entertainment options. Several blocks in Lincoln Park have become known for their ultra-luxury mansions upwards of $2 million.

Lakeview: One of the oldest areas in the city, Lakeview can be broken up into even smaller neighborhoods within, each with its own urban feel. It’s only about a 10- to 15-minute drive from downtown and many areas are just a short walk to Lake Michigan.

Gold Coast: The Gold Coast neighborhood is close enough to downtown Chicago for a convenient commute, but the area itself is full of lush trees and beautiful brownstone homes. Some of the city’s most expensive homes are in the Gold Coast, fitting right in between ultra high-end shopping and dining.

To learn more about neighborhoods for luxury real estate in Chicago or last month’s single-family home sales, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at