The West Loop is a Happening Place for Chicago Luxury Real Estate

Photo from flickr/ajdoudt

Mary Bartelme Park in Chicago’s West Loop Neighborhood. Photo from flickr/ajdoudt

Lake View, Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast—these are neighborhoods we know and love when it comes to Chicago real estate in a can’t-beat-it location. But there’s a new neighborhood on the tip of buyer’s tongues: the West Loop.

Historically a factory and warehouse district, the West Loop today is filled with things to do, from dining at a new restaurant to perusing an art gallery. Just west of Chicago’s business district, the West Loop is a calming escape from downtown without leaving the city behind, making it a new destination for young working adults and families alike. The neighborhood was even recently highlighted by the Wall St. Journal as a hot area for working and living in the city.

And real estate buyers aren’t the only ones flocking to the near west side. New restaurants, retailers and businesses (Google, Twitter and Uber to name a few) have all made recent moves or plans to the West Loop, which has in turn spurred the development of luxury condos nearby.

Here are a few things that have folks headed west:

Restaurant Row: This foodie-friendly area is just that. An edible enclave with sushi, bakeries, breweries, butcher shops and more all within a few blocks of each other, including Girl and the Goat, Vivo and many others.

Industrial edge: The warehouse style of the West Loop isn’t gone, nor forgotten. But when it comes to real estate, that urban aesthetic can be found in upscale lofts and other charming converted buildings.

Creative confines: Art galleries, design stores and culture spots in Greektown are just a handful of ways to keep busy in the west loop

Schools: West Loop is home to Mary T. Skinner West Elementary school, which is ranked among Chicago’s top public schools.

Luxury real estate: Smaller communities within the West Loop like the Fulton Market Center and the Randolph Street Corridor have become ideal locations for developing high-end condos that allow for a quick commute to work and plenty to do for play.

Luxury Real Estate in Chicago’s West Loop
There are a number of Chicago condos to choose from in the West Loop. High-end real estate here offer generous square footage, and you get much more for your money in the West Loop than you might along the lake, which can cost as much as $1,200 per square foot. Without a lot of inventory, properties here move quickly–but, here are a few examples of what you might find in the West Loop:

canal st333 N Canal St, Unit 3301
List price: $1,500,000
Square footage: 2,855
Price per square foot: $525
This 3-bedroom condo is currently on the market, offering forever views of Chicago’s iconic architecture. The home is classically appointed with sophisticated finishes and a great floor plan that includes 11-foot ceilings, a 350-square foot gallery/foyer, private master suite and stone flooring throughout. Three deeded parking spaces are also included.

jackson728 W Jackson Blvd, Unit 1001-02
Sold price: $1,547,500
Square footage: 5,619
Price per square foot: $275
This stunning corner unit was sold for an incredible price for the space it offers. The open layout includes a formal dining space, chef’s kitchen with granite, Sub-Zero and Wolfe appliances, custom built-ins throughout and a huge master suite. It also includes 3 heated garage parking spaces.

canal st333 N Canal St, Unit 3702
Sold price: $1,589,000
Square footage: 4,163
Price per square foot: $381
This barely-lived-in penthouse is located in the Riverbend building, with 12-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, 360-degree views of the lake and river and two enormous, private terraces. The floor plan allows for open living spaces and 3 large bedrooms.

aberdeen122 S Aberdeen Ave, Unit 6N
Sold price: $1,601,844
Square footage: 4,286
Price per square foot: $373
A combined top-floor unit just built in 2012, with an elegant interior that features 11-foot ceilings, stone counters, contemporary Italian cabinetry, private elevator access and much more.

canal st333 N Canal St, Unit 3701
Sold price: $1,799,000
Square footage: 4,100
Price per square foot: $438
Another Riverbend unit, this penthouse was completely renovated to include more than $750,000 in upgrades like a chef’s kitchen, Poggenpohl cabinetry and top-of-the-line appliances. You’ll also find breathtaking views of the city and lake, large terraces made for entertaining, walnut floors throughout, a huge master suite with oversized bedroom. Riverbend is also a full amenity building within walking distance to downtown.

To see what’s on the market in the West Loop or take a stroll through this up-and-coming neighborhood, contact me. I’d be happy to show you what everyone is loving about the West Loop. Contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Light Is A Major Factor When Purchasing A Chicago Luxury Home

If natural light is limited, there are a number of ways to brighten things up that could improve the value of your home. Photo via Houzz/Traditional Dining Room by Chicago Interior Designers & Decorators Michael Abrams Limited.

There are a number of no-brainers to consider if you’re buying a Chicago home or evaluating the resale value of your own home. Location, size, special features, and…lighting?

It’s true: lighting is an important factor in a home, both in terms of the natural light that is let in and the lighting configurations from room to room. Buyers typically love a home that is bathed in sunshine during the day; bright natural light makes a space feel open and airy, even when winter weather is right outside.

But good lighting is also associated with healthy living. Scientists have found that this seemingly simple functionality can greatly affect our moods, sleep cycles and even our quality of life, as was recently covered by the Wall St. Journal.

So if a home is low on natural light, it is especially important to address the issue with a lighting expert to ensure the lighting inside helps make up for that deficit. LED lighting is at the forefront of home lighting technology, and is credited with providing a finer adjustment of brightness, color and intensity and even mimicking the changes to natural daylight throughout a day’s time.

While the right lighting will depend on the room, what it’s used for, and of course, the lifestyle of those who live there, there are a number of things you can do to ensure you aren’t “in the dark” when it comes to proper lighting. If you’re building a Chicago new construction home, these are important tips you’ll want to consider in the design of your home, not only for your own comfort, but to increase resale value down the line. Here’s a basic room-by-room guide to lighting your Chicago home:

Living room: Brighter, white light is ideal for group gatherings for things like playing games or watching a movie. But having the ability to dim is equally important, so the lighting temperature can be turned down in the hours before bedtime.

Kitchen: Lighting with a high color-rendering index is key in the kitchen, helping colors and details stand out to make food look better.

Bath lighting: Color rendering is also important in the powder room, especially in vanity lighting that illuminates personal grooming activities like shaving and applying make-up. Dimmable lighting is also ideal allow adjustment between different ages and preferences for those using the room.

Bedroom: Dimmable warm light in an adult’s bedroom is ideal for preparing the body for sleep. In a child’s room, bright white light will help wake them up in the morning or tackle tasks like homework, but a warmable, dimmer light is also important for bedtime hours.

Hallways: The guide for hallways and stairs is to provide enough light to navigate, but not so bright that it’s jarring and might cause someone to stumble or bump into something.

Lighting an Art Collection in Your Chicago Home

Achieving ideal lighting in every room is only part of the story. If you display any type of art in your home or even have a vase collection, it’s important to provide the proper lighting for each piece. Lighting plays a huge role in any art collection (big or small) and can make a huge difference in how your home looks. If you’re working with art in your home, I am happy to recommend an amazing lighting expert who has provided lighting for countless luxury homes, including the home of a major contemporary artist who has work in museums all over the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about building the perfect lighting around an art collection or in your Chicago luxury home, contact me and I will be happy to talk to you more about it. Call me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Single-Family Luxury Home Sales Much Lower in September

The weather is cooler, winter months are soon to arrive—and it appears the luxury home market in Chicago may be going into hibernation, if September’s sales are any indication.

Last month, just 17 luxury homes closed in Chicago—those priced from $1 million all the way up to $5.9 million. To compare, luxury home sales just one month before in August hit records, topping $110 in total sales volume.

Even with an unexpected slowdown, the top five most expensive sales should be no surprise. Three were found in Lincoln Park and one each for the Gold Coast and Lakeview. These are the most sought after neighborhoods when it comes to luxury real estate in Chicago. Lincoln Park has a number of coveted blocks lined with gorgeous mansions (one of them making an appearance in last month’s sales), and the Gold Coast is known for its historic atmosphere filled with upscale homes, condos and brownstones.

It’s also interesting to note that many buyers are still purchasing homes with cash. Even as luxury buyers have a number of attractive financing options for jumbo loans from lenders, it’s still not uncommon to see cash purchases for homes priced well into the millions.

Starting with the most expensive sale, here are the details on September’s top luxury home sales:

1863 howe1863 N Howe St
Original list price: $4.55 million
Sold price: $5,866,704
This 6,000 square foot five-bedroom is a brand-new addition to Howe Street, one of Lincoln Park’s (and even Chicago’s) most affluent blocks. On an extra wide lot, this home promises plenty of space, but wasn’t yet designed so the buyer can have a head start on building their dream home customized just for them. The home was built by BDG&C, a well-known design/build firm for high-end custom homes. The fact that this home sold more than a whopping $1 million above its original list price also offers insight into how interested luxury buyers are in new construction properties in Chicago.

2112 Sedgwick2112 N Sedgwick St
Original list price: $$3.695 million
Sold price: $3.45 million
Nestled in East Lincoln Park, this is a one-of-a-kind home on a massive double wide lot more than 50 feet wide. The home was built from lot line to lot line, creating a generous 7,000 square feet on the interior with 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. The space in this home doesn’t end with the square footage, however—the ceilings are 11”6” high with tall windows. Hardwood floors, a deluxe chef’s kitchen, a sunroom and multiple entertaining spaces grace the interior, while a huge private yard and gardens enhance the exterior.

1235 w belden1235 W Belden Ave
Original list price: $2.75 million
Sold price: $2.8 million
A corner home in Lincoln Park, this 5-bedroom, 4.1 bath boasts gracious room sizes from the master suite to the great room to the fabulous kitchen. Other features include a wine cellar, built-in outdoor kitchen, infinity bath in the master suite and two outdoor spaces.

74 e elm74 E Elm St
Original list price: $3,199,999
Sold price: $2.36 million
Old world class meets new world amenities in this Gold Coast beauty. The 6,500 square foot home is an original 1891 structure that has been fabulously restored with all the bells and whistles you can imagine: 4 levels of living, extra tall ceilings, a chef’s kitchen, second community kitchen with wine room and 4 en suite bedrooms. The home also includes ample outdoor space with a terrae and roof deck.

3717 bosworth3717 N Bosworth Ave
Original list price: $2.45 million
Sold price: $2.325 million
Another custom home built in 2013, this 5-bedroom in Lakeview boasts fine craftsmanship throughout. With a huge kitchen with double SubZero appliances, a great room with a built-in banquette and direct access to a heated terrace, this is a great space for entertaining year round. The beautiful master suite includes a spa-quality shower and separate soaking tub. Other features include a 3rd floor den, two rooftop decks, and the “best mudroom ever,” according to the listing.

It will be interesting to see what October brings for the Chicago real estate market and if the sales slowdown continues among luxury homes. I recommend buyers keep an eye on recent sales trends to know what they are expect when they begin their search for a home or are ready to make an offer. To see what is on the market now, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

September Luxury Chicago Condo Sales Turn Lower in September

The September market is generally the start of the fall market for real estate in Chicago. Any potential buyers usually want to start their search for a new home so they can be moved in before winter weather moves in.

But this September didn’t quite show signs of that fall market moving in. Sales of Chicago condos last month were not nearly what would be expected for this time of year. Only 11 Chicago luxury condos—those sold for $1 million and higher—sold last month, with the highest sale peaking at $4.8 million. Total sales for the month were a mere $20 million.

Comparatively, August saw more than $90 million in luxury condo sales and July clocked in at close to $75 million. So September sales were significantly lower than recent months.

Here’s a look at the Chicago luxury condos that sold last month, starting with the most expensive sale:

Chicago real estate at 65 E Goethe65 E Goethe St, Unit 5E
Original list price: $4.95 million
Sold price: $4.8 million
This 3-bedroom unit spans 3,800 square feet in Chicago’s Gold Coast. 65 East Goethe is one of architect’s Lucien Lagrange’s masterpieces, with an eclectic architectural style on the exterior and large, airy units on the inside. This building is full of elegance and character, with 8 stories, a rooftop terrace garden, portal windows, French doors and Juliet balconies of hand-forged iron.

1040 n lake shore1040 N Lake Shore Dr, Unit 7A
Original list price: $2.685 million
Sold price: $2.575 million
Nestled on the coveted Lake Shore Drive, this 3-bedroom, 3,020 square foot Chicago condo was totally recently rehabbed, leaving flawless attention to detail. The interior was fitted with custom millwork, cased openings, 5-inch walnut floors, new windows throughout and an open floorplan to maximize views. The baths are built with Calacatta, Crema Marfil and Dakota stones, plus top-of-the-line appliances, integrated AV systems and a paneled alder wood library.

The-Legacy-Condos_exterior460 E Monroe, Unit 6201
Original list price: $2.035 million
Sold price: $2.02 million
THis 3-bedroom, 3.5 bath condo stretches more than 2,000s square feet in The Legacy at Millennium Park, one of the Chicago luxury market’s hottest buildings that continues to have a presence on each month’s sales report. The building offers 2, 3 and 4-bedroom condos with enviable views of the park, lake and city. Amenities for residents include a pool and steam room, 24-hour door service, fitness center and access to the University Club.

10 E Delaware10 E Delaware Pl, Unit 14E
Original list price: $1.7999 million
Sold price: $1.78 million
10 E Delaware is one of the newest buildings available in the Gold Coast, and a favorite among luxury buyers. This condo in particular was a former model unit, with more than 2,000 square feet and upgrades like whole house audio, video, lighting, motorized shades, custom wall coverings, draperies and built-ins. You’ll also find the best of the best in the kitchen, with Poggenpohl cabinets and Subzero and Wolf appliances.

2608 lakeview2608 N Lakeview Ave, Unit 9A
Original list price: $1,812,500 million
Sold price: $1,757,500
This rarely available unit in an upscale luxury building is an east-facing penthouse with a private elevator foyer. The gracious layout allows for sweeping park and skyline views, with a fabulous new kitchen and master bath. With three bedrooms and 4.5 baths, this Chicago condo spans more than 3,700 square feet.

With buildings that offer buyers the same square footage of a single-family home, plus the services and amenities that come with luxury condo living, Chicago condos are a covetable choice for those moving from the suburbs or who want to live in the heart of the city without a lot of maintenance. I encourage my clients who are considering a condo purchase to take a look at the units that sold last month to get a feel for what’s selling, for what price and what you might be able to expect for your own situation.

To see additional details on last month’s sales or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at


Consider Independent Schools in Your Chicago Luxury Real Estate Purchase

Along with location and square footage, there’s been another hot topic for Chicago real estate buyers and what they want in a new home: schools. Parents and even would-be parents are more interested than ever in what their real estate purchase means in terms of education options for their children.

Luckily, Chicago has a number of choices, all the way from pre-kindergarten to high school. There are various top-rated public schools, many that require students to live within a surrounding boundary in order to enroll (these are known as neighborhood schools). Private schools are another option, with schools like Parker and Lab consistently being ranked at the top, and students here go on to attend the most prestigious colleges in the country.

Progressive Schools a Growing Consideration
Another option is an independent progressive school, which has garnered the interest of many parents who feel that traditional curriculum is too heavily focused on standardized metrics like test scores.

Progressive education uses a hands-on, individualized approach with students, emphasizing problem solving and critical thinking along with social skills and responsibility. The idea is to focus on education with a “real world” approach, versus traditional curriculum which progressive proponents say is focused more on rote learning.

I’ve found that more and more clients are planning the future school attendance for their children, and they want options when shopping for Chicago real estate. Luckily, Chicago is home to a number of independent schools that take a different, progressive or more specialized approach to education—especially in elementary schools, as high schools still must prepare students for the testing and coursework that comes with (traditional) higher education.
Here’s a look at some of the independent schools you’ll find in Chicago:

Catherine Cook School, Old Town
Serving students from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade, the mission of this independent school is to “create experiences that go beyond the acquisition of knowledge.” The school aims to build students to be global citizens through a personal learning approach that tailors to students as individuals.

Bennett Day School, West Loop
A brand new school in downtown Chicago that models itself after more historic progressivism, promoting “co-constructive learning” that facilitates the development and curiosity of individual students.

Goddard School for Early Childhood Development, Lincoln Park
This global pre-K-12 academy is part of an international network of schools, and students are frequently in contact with other GEMS students that span more than 150 different nationalities and 4 continents. The program here focuses on physical, expressive and creative arts for a “holistic education.”

Lycee Francais de Chicago, Uptown

Combining the best of the French and American education systems, the multi-cultural, dual language curriculum here stresses diversity and global citizenship.

Faith-based, Montessori and Waldorf schools are also options for independent education in Chicago. If you’re in the market for a new Chicago home, opting for a private school may offer more options, since you won’t be limited to the boundaries of a neighborhood public school. But, the price tag of a private education can grow quickly, especially if you have more than one child.

If schools are an important consideration for you in your Chicago real estate purchase, give me a call. I can provide you with more information on neighborhoods, types of schools or connect you with an expert if you are looking closely at what type of education might be available for your children. Contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Luxury Chicago Condos Hit Record Sales in August

August was a highly unusual month for Chicago condo sales. Luxury condos in particular—those priced from $1 million up to $5.25 million—had a robust month for what is often a slower summer month. Luxury condos totaled $92.6 million for the month, with 13 properties selling for more than $2 million.

The growing number of homes sold for more than $2 million shows that luxury condos are certainly holding their ground and even growing in sales month after month. And large luxury properties are moving especially quickly, as buyers continue to gravitate toward properties with ample square footage—luxury condominiums that offer the space of a single-family home rather than a condo. Of the top five properties sold last month, each one is in excess of 5,000 square feet. Each of them also boasts a number of unique features that set it apart from the other homes on the market.

Here’s a detailed look at the top five Chicago luxury condos that sold in August:

palmolive159 E Walton Pl, Unit 21A
Original list price: $5.75 million
Sold price: $5.25 million
Inside the exquisite Palmolive building, this spectacular 21st-floor unit spans 4,700 square feet. Unobstructed lake views and spectacular details throughout help this condo stand out, along with ceilings of 11+ feet, hardwood floors and surround sound. The gracious formal dining room features lake views, while the spacious kitchen includes its own eat-in area overlooking the lake. A grand master suite features a sitting room, walk-in closet and a luxurious master bath with—you guessed it—its own view of the lake as well. A separate wing includes plenty of extra space: 2 bedrooms with ensuite baths, and office, sitting room and laundry room.

lp-25502550 N Lakeview Ave, Unit D5-36
Original list price: $4.742 million
Sold price: $4.5 million
We’ve seen many luxury sales at this address this year. Lincoln Park 2550 has been embraced by luxury buyers, as one of the most anticipated new construction properties. This Chicago condo takes up half of the 36th floor and offers exceptional panoramic lake and city views. Perched on the building’s northeast corner, this unit stretches over 4,400 square feet on the inside with 2 terraces that make up 325 square feet on the outside. With 11’10” floor-to-ceiling windows, exquisite oak floors, crown mouldings, marble baths and state-of-the-art kitchen appliances, this condo clearly shows why luxury buyers love Lincoln Park 2550.

The Elysian Residences11 E Walton Pl, Unit 4301
Original list price: $4.6 million
Sold price: $4.37 million
Formerly known as the Elysian, this Gold Coast building shares the hotel services and amenities available at the Waldorf Astoria, which shares the building. This half-floor residence on the 43rd floor features more than 4,000 square feet and highly customized finishes including: hand-rubbed mahogany panels in the library, herringbone marble floors in the master bath, a crotched walnut cabinetry in the office, a marble mantel from England and an onyx pedestal sink in the powder. The kitchen is fitted with Miele appliances, a breakfast bar, eat-in area and walk-in pantry.

55eerie55 E Erie St, Unit 5401
Original list price: $5.7 million
Sold price: $4.25 million
This River North condo is a stunning half-floor residence on the penthouse level. With 3 huge terraces, spectacular lake and skyline views and extra-wide ceilings, this 4,200 square feet Chicago condo also offers several building amenities, including an indoor pool, fitness center and a steam and sauna room. Additional stand-out finishes include dark wide-plank flooring, a custom Italian kitchen and a master suite with his-and-her walk-in closets. Not to mention, this unit comes with a whopping 4 parking spaces, a rarity among downtown Chicago condos.

Chicago condos in Trump Tower401 N Wabash Ave, Unit 48A
Original list price: $4,199,999
Sold price: $3.985 million
Another building that’s never a stranger to our top condos list, Trump Tower is the best of the best among luxury condos. This 4,000 square foot unit on the 48th floor was completely upgraded and redesigned by John Robert Wiltgen in 2012. This unit is one of only 9 of its size, with unobstructed northeast views, an open design, 3 custom-designed fireplaces, and his-and-her walk-in closets and baths. Parking was also available at an additional cost.

It’s especially important for potential buyers to take a look at the previous month’s sales if they’re looking to make a purchase. In an unusual month like this one, it’s important to see what condos are selling for and what is being offered to evaluate what you should look for within your own budget.

For more details on the homes sold last month or to see what luxury Chicago condos are on the market now, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Luxury Single Family Sales for August Hit Records

Much like condominium sales, luxury single-family homes in Chicago sold at a record pace in August, topping $110 million in a summer month that often slows down the real estate scene. Luxury homes are those priced at $1 million or more, though August saw over 13 homes sell in excess of $2 million, with the most expensive selling for a whopping $7.4 million. Out of the top five most expensive homes sold, 3 of them topped the $4 million mark.

If you’re familiar with single-family homes in Chicago, it’s no surprise that three of the five homes were found in the Gold Coast while the other two were in Lincoln Park. The most expensive homes boast generous square footage, well over 5,000 square feet for each.

Here’s a closer look at the luxury single-family homes that sold in Chicago in August, starting with the most expensive:

n astor1518 N Astor St
Original list price: $9.995 million
Sold price: $7.4 million
The difference between the listing and sold price for this home shows that, despite a strong luxury market in Chicago, buyers are still negotiating the price they are willing to pay. This 7-bedroom beauty is on the fabled Astor Street, where homes are rarely available. A brick Georgian residence, this home sits on a double lot with extensive south-facing stone terraces, generous living space that includes separate staff quarters, a rooftop deck and ample storage.

e cedar21 E Cedar Street
Original list price: $5 million
Sold price: $4.83 million
Just built in 2010, this stunning single-family home sits on an extra-wide 30-foot lot, stretching 7,900 square feet on the interior. The ceiling heights range from 10 to 12 feet on each level. Inside, you’ll find custom walnut flooring, DeGiulio kitchen, a theater room, full master level and a unique penthouse level.

w huron460 W Huron St
Original list price: $4.95 million
Sold price: $4.4 million
When it comes to square footage, this Chicago home takes the cake for the month of August. The living space inside stretches over 10,300 square feet, plus an additional 4,500 square feet of deck space outside. In additional to the generous space, this home was made for entertaining, including a fabulous chef’s kitchen with high-end appliances, a elevator, au pair suite, huge walk-in closet, and a master suite that includes a steam shower, sauna and exercise room.

n mohawk1843 N Mohawk St
Original list price: $4.2 million
Sold price: $4.247 million
This brand-new home is a stunner in Lincoln Park, with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from luxury new construction today. A superb 6,500-square-foot floor plan with 6 bedrooms, refined finishes and huge family room, this home features a custom chef’s kitchen with commercial grade appliances and a built-in banquette. Because it’s a new construction property from the developer, this property also offered the buyer a chance to make additional customizations if desired.

n howe2041 N Howe St
Original list price: $3.999 million
Sold price: $3.8325 million
In Lincoln Park, this 6,200 square foot home in steps from Oz Park. The interior features high-end finishes like incredible millwork, plus an amazing chef’s kitchen, state-of-the-art home automation, a rec room on the lower level, wine cellar and elevator. The exterior showcases a gorgeous limestone façade and granite steps that lead to a warm welcome inside.

Chicago Home Sales Stronger than National Reports
The Wall St. Journal recently reported that U.S. home sales took a dive in August, so it’s especially interesting to see the opposite happening in Chicago for luxury homes and condo sales. Chicago’s luxury property sales have remained healthy, bucking national trends and staying strong month after month. Of course, the real estate market can vary all over the country, but Chicago—and the luxury market here in general—seems to be particularly unique.

To learn more about the Chicago homes sold in August or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Selling Your Chicago Luxury Home: It’s All in the Smell

From beach breezes to woodsy cabins, a number of smells are considered when creating the perfect unique aroma for a luxury property.

From beach breezes to woodsy cabins, a number of smells are considered when creating the perfect unique aroma for a luxury property.

One of my favorite things about the real estate market is seeing what it is that gets buyers going. Sure, there’s the standard “location, location, location,” but over the years, I’ve seen buyers gravitating toward everything from high-tech kitchen contraptions to his-and-her master baths to smart toilets.

But new trends indicate there may be an even simpler factor at play when it comes to making your home attractive to buyers: the smell.

Both the New York Times and the Wall St. Journal recently covered this movement, in which condo developers are infusing multi-million dollar new construction properties with a whiff of beach breeze or a scent of fresh floral. The smells are custom created to represent the design and atmosphere of the building and enhance the experience for a potential buyer.

While this trend is making its way into residential real estate, it’s hardly a new idea. Abercrombie and Fitch has been pumping their signature smell into malls for years, effectively branding the air to young shoppers. Disneyland has sent the smell of peppermint candy out of the vents near its main entrance to welcome guests into the park. It seems that the specialized scent is an idea that can really catch on when selling expensive luxury homes and condos.

I used to tell my clients that baking cookies helped in selling a home, no matter how expensive it is. But these scents are going far beyond the fresh-baked aroma, and a sophisticated fragrance can really differentiate a home from others.

The idea is to engage another sense for a potential buyer and give them another thing to remember about a property. Just as they might feel a marble bath, taste a cool drink during a walk-through or hear soft music playing in the background, adding a layer of subtle-but-memorable scent is another marketing tool on top of that.

But bringing in the olfactory sense isn’t a matter of spritzing from an aerosol can before opening the front door. For the scent-centric companies behind these specialty smells, the goal is to have it smell like anything but perfume. One company told the Wall St. Journal that they consider everything from cultural preferences to what’s nearby when creating that one-of-a-kind aroma for a property.

For more on what’s trending in Chicago real estate and what buyers are looking for, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Consider Schools for Your Children When Purchasing Chicago Luxury Real Estate

Whether you’re raising preschoolers, high schoolers or even just thinking about starting a family, there’s a good chance you’ve given some thought to where they’ll go to school. Being in the right school district has become an incredibly important factor in Chicago real estate, with proximity to well-rated schools correlating with quick sales and higher prices.

In today’s luxury market, the mere mention of a home being within the limits of a particular school sends the phones ringing off the hook between brokers and their clients, all at the prospect of their children attending these coveted schools. We’ve previously talked about some of the most coveted K-8 schools—Audobon, Blaine, Bell and others. But several of Chicago’s public schools were recently listed among top-ranked institutions by U.S. News:

Ranked 1st: Northside College Prep
Ranked 2nd: Payton Prep
Ranked 3rd: Jones Prep (selective enrollment)
Ranked 4th: Whitney Young Magnet (selective enrollment)
Ranked 8th: Lane Tech (selective enrollment)

U.S. News says the ranking identify top-performing schools in the United States, based on standardized test performance, how well students are prepared for college and even demographics. A school must perform better than expected on standardized tests given its proportion of economically disadvantage students.

Searching for Chicago Real Estate Near Good Schools

While many potential homebuyers are on the hunt for a property near a good school, I think it’s important to take a step back and consider: what makes for a “good” school, exactly? The answer is, it really depends on you.

While these schools are certainly considered “top” in the Chicago area, it is important to consider what a “good” school entails for you and your children. Whether its rankings, college readiness or a focus on a special interest like art or science, a “good” school might be different from one child to the next.

It is also important to understand that there are private and magnet schools, plus outstanding public schools that enroll children directly from the district in which they live. So if you do have your heart set on your children attending a particular one, you want to make sure you are working with a realtor who can guide you within the limits of a certain school.

Some schools also allow in-person visits, so you can see first hand the education the students are receiving and get an idea for if your child will fit in.

If being near the right school is at the top of your real estate wish list, discuss what you’re looking for with your real estate agent. I will be happy to talk with you about the educational strengths and goals you want to accommodate for your child and whether you want him or her to attend a neighborhood school, a magnet school, or a private school. I can also recommend a knowledgeable person in the field who can help provide suggestions of schools and programs you may want to consider. Contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Consider Ceiling Heights for Chicago Luxury Homes and Condos

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

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

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

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

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

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

High Ceilings in Chicago Luxury Condos

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

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

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

If you’re in the market for a Chicago luxury home, give me a call to see what’s on the market now and what may be best fit for your situation. Contact me at (312) 264-5853 or