When Purchasing Chicago Luxury Real Estate, Consider a Floating Rate For An Adjustable Loan

Adjustable-rate loans were once seen as an enemy in real estate. For some, these loans were a risky financing option, since they came with an eventual jump in your interest rate that brought a higher—sometimes much higher—payment that some borrowers weren’t prepared for.

Also called “floating rate” loans, these are mortgages that offer a fixed rate for an initial period of time, then the rate adjusts based on a benchmark interest-rate index, plus a margin. You can see how that could be an issue for buyers who weren’t prepared for the rate switch, but adjustable-rate mortgages are still a viable option for high-end buyers. Loans over $417,000 in Chicago are considered “jumbo loans,” and jumbo loans with an adjustable rate can be a great choice for qualified borrowers, thanks to lower rates and great terms that are available now.

Jumbo Loans an Attractive Option for Luxury Real Estate in Chicago

The current rate for jumbo loans has become a major selling point for luxury real estate buyers, even for those who have the cash on hand. Because lending standards are still tight, borrowers are low-risk clients for banks to have on their books, and are wooing them with jumbo loan rates even lower than conventional loans. In fact, buyers who took out an adjustable-rate loan several years ago and are reaching the end of their fixed rate and finding a welcome surprise: an even lower rate (and payment) than they started with.

Rates are expected to stay low for the next year, thanks to a modestly growing economy. So for those considering purchasing luxury real estate in Chicago, you may want to consider a jumbo loan over buying with cash.

Today’s low rates mean jumbo borrowers who choose a floating rate could get an especially good deal. Buyers can get a fixed rate for their jumbo loan now and save their cash for other investments. When the fixed period is up, those buyers have options: If it’s anything like today’s market, they may decide to keep that loan if the rate is lower. Or they might opt to refinance into another adjustable-rate loan and avoid rate increases for several more years.

If you’re thinking about refinancing to take advantage of the current low rates, the Wall St. Journal highlights two important considerations:

Watch the rate jump: If you’re stepping up from a lower floating loan to a higher fixed rate, the interest rate difference shouldn’t be more than a half percent higher than the current rate.

If you refinancing into a lower interest rate loan, the rate should be at least 1 percent lower than your current rate. Otherwise, it’s hardly worth it to refinance once you factor in origination costs, fees and appraisals.

If you’re considering a Chicago home purchase, I would be happy to talk about your options for financing and looking at taking advantage of low rates on jumbo loans. To discuses your situation, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@koenig-rubloff.com.

Jefferson Park Condo Offers Great Neighborhood, Plenty of Indoor and Outdoor Space

ilmlsni08616252-14If you’re looking for a Chicago neighborhood that offers everything from history to convenience to family-friendly living, Jefferson Park on Chicago’s northwest side is a community you’ll want to check out.

This community has something for everyone, as its near great public and private schools, offers easy access to transportation, and the walkability of downtown but the feeling of the suburbs.

On the market now is an amazing 2,500-square foot condo with huge decks and an oversized garage:

Chicago home for sale in Jefferson Park4956 N Lockwood Avenue, Unit 2
3 bedrooms, 2.5 bath
Listing price: $374,500

This Chicago condo lives more like a townhome, with a wide open floor plan and plenty of room to enjoy the outdoors. Inside you’ll find:

  • Chef’s kitchen with SubZero refrigerator, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops
  • Huge master suite with a lofted office
  • Cherry floors and oak doors
  • A 20 x 20-foot outdoor deck

ilmlsni08616252-3ilmlsni08616252-6ilmlsni08616252-13The home is also close to transportation, be it car, train or bus. The Blue Line, Metra, and a dozen bus routes are less than a half mile away, and its easy to zip onto the Edens and Kennedy expressways to head to the city or ‘burbs.

Living in Chicago’s Jefferson Park
Jefferson Park is an ideal neighborhood for families, thanks to its proximity to good schools (both public and private), great parks, well-priced homes and community activities. Its namesake park is just a half-mile away, with 7 acres, athletic fields, tennis courts, a playground, outdoor swimming pool and more. The park is also home to seasonal concerts and community events for both kids and adults.

This is also an area rich in history, which shows in its diverse real estate, from townhomes to octagon-shaped bungalows and frame-and-brick homes from the 1920s. Jefferson Park was even recently dubbed the city’s newest theater district, with several venues for the arts and entertainment options not found in other parts of Chicago.

If you’re in the market for a great Chicago home, give me a call to learn more about this property. It’s a terrific option for those want to be conveniently near the city, but enjoy the neighborhood feel of the city. Contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@rubloff.com.

Chicago home for sale in Jefferson Park

Sale Records Made In June For Chicago Luxury Condos & Luxury Co-op

Not unlike single-family home sales, luxury Chicago condos sales for June brought in some impressive numbers: 49 properties sold for a total sales volume of $85.5 million. Luxury Chicago condos are those priced $1 million or higher, but 11 of the units that closed in June actually sold for more than $2 million, with the highest priced property (a co-op) going for a whopping $7.4 million.

Here’s a closer look at the top 5 most expensive properties sold on the Chicago luxury condo market last month, in descending order:

209 E Lake Shore Dr209 E Lake Shore Dr. Unit 11-E
Original list price: $7.9 million
Sold price: $7.4 million
One of the pricier sales we’ve seen among luxury real estate in Chicago the last several months, this co-op was noted as one of the most beautiful and elegant apartments in the city. The building was built in 1920, but this home was completely custom renovated by the design team of Gregga and Herman, using the finest materials and finishes to give it the details that take it to the next level. The East Lake Shore Drive address is not only a highly sought-after location, but offers residents unparalleled lake views from the 11th floor.

This unit was a co-op, which many of the buildings along East Lake Shore Drive are. But the truly noteworthy part is that this unit sold for cash in just 19 days. Luxury co-ops typically do not sell as fast as condos because there is much more involved—potential buyers must go before a board to provide all of their financials up front. Buyers coming from cities like New York or San Francisco are often clients who appreciate  pre-war buildings and units that are hardly cookie-cutter, so finding an out-of-town buyer often doesn’t happen quickly either. So the fact that this unit sold in just 19 days is truly remarkable.

2550 n lakeview2550 N Lakeview Ave, Unit C8-13
Original list price: $3.999 million
Sold price: $3.999 million
If you’ve been paying attention to recent sales of luxury condos in Chicago, you’re no strange to this building: Lincoln Park 2550. This is a stunning new construction building in the heart of one of the city’s best neighborhoods and parks, with amenities, services and more all at its residents fingertips. This 3-bedroom, 3.5 bath Lincoln Park condo is luxurious and roomy from the inside to out, from the 750+ square foot terrace to the high-end appliances in the kitchen to the marble spa bath in the master suite.

2550 n lakeview2550 N Lakeview Ave, Unit C8-12
Original list price: $3.854 million
Sold price: $3.795 million
Another Lincoln Park 2550 unit, this 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath spans 3,965 interior square feet, plus an additional 758 square feet on the terrace, which offers amazing southeast lake, park and city views. Inside is a fully appointed cooks kitchen with a large granite breakfast bar, Subzero, Wolf and Miele appliances and a gracious living room and dining room with oak floors and floor-to-ceiling windows. The large master suite features a walk-in closet and marble spa bath. Residents here can enjoy everything from a private ¼-acre park to a pool and fitness center, to the stunning lobby that greets you as soon as you walk in the building.

1100 n lake shore1100 N Lake Shore Dr, Unit 40B
Original list price: $4.299 million
Sold price: $3.2 million
Its location on North Lake Shore Drive gives this penthouse triplex unbeatable lake and city views. This 8,000 square foot unit is on a full private floor with a rooftop deck. Inside you’ll find 4 bedrooms, polished porcelain floors, rosewood walls plus custom tile and millwork throughout. The spacious rooms were designed for family use and entertaining, with 4 wet bars, a huge living room/dining room media room with built-in humidor and a top floor solarium with seating and eating area.

130 n garland130 N Garland Ct, Unit 5603
Original list price: $3.299 million
Sold price: $3.06 million
On the corner of beautiful Millennium Park, this Chicago condo was a custom designed and decorated penthouse unit with wraparound views to the east, south and west. The 4,400 square feet of living space includes 3 bedrooms and 3 full baths, plus a large open kitchen and family room. Lux details like custom marble, hardwood floors, electric blinds and the best finishes make this a one-of-a-kind condo in downtown Chicago.

Between new construction and older, pre-war buildings like the East Lake Shore Drive co-op, last month’s sales were quite varied, which speaks to how the luxury real estate market in Chicago is going. New properties continue to move quickly, as many buyers are on the hunt for brand-new homes and there hasn’t been much being built in the last few years. But older buildings are having their day as well, with resales seeing quite a discount when comparing listing prices to sold prices. It ultimately comes down to what the buyers are looking for, and that will be different for everyone.

For more information on the Chicago condos that sold in June, or to see what’s on the market now, give me a call at (312) 264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@koenigrubloff.com.

Luxury Chicago Home Sales for June Were on a Tear

Even though the weather has improved and life has typically slowed down for many, June is usually a slow month for luxury home sales. Unusual—this June was certainly an exception, with 60 Chicago luxury homes sold for a total of $99 million during the month of June.

I define “luxury” as homes that sold for $1 million or more, but what is interesting about last month is that 12 of them sold for more than $2 million. The most expensive sale was a $3.9 million home on West Webster in Lincoln Park.

Of the five most expensive homes sold, only one sold for cash, which is also atypical from recent luxury home sales. The rest of the homes were sold through conventional mortgages, which have become more obtainable for luxury buyers in the last few months.

The final thing to note is that even though Chicago real estate prices have increased, buyers in the upper luxury bracket are continuing to make deals below the asking price for purchased properties. Because luxury homes in Chicago aren’t moving as quickly as other types of real estate, sellers are more willing to discount off the list price, particularly to make a deal before summer ends. Sellers don’t want to risk the luxury market turning out of their favor in the second half of the year.

Chicago Homes Sold in June Offer Space and Stand-Out Details

Luxury homes almost always come with generous square footage—but some of the homes sold last month take “space” to the next level. Here’s a look at what helped the top 5 most expensive properties sell, in descending order:

Chicago homes sold in June843 W Webster Ave
Original list price: $4.5 million
Sold price: $3.895 million
This Lincoln Park estate recently underwent an extensive renovation. Sitting on 2 city lots, the second level is a gracious 42-feet wide with a large wall of windows. The north and south exposures combined with tall windows and high ceilings allow plenty of light to come in so the interior feels light and airy. The first floor features an acoustically perfect music room, along with a media room/private office. The front and back exterior space boasts a Zen garden, while the back opens up to 3 terraces for enjoying the outdoors.

June Chicago luxury home sales1874 N Burling St
Original list price: $3.95 million
Sold price: $3.75 million
Custom built home in Lincoln Park, this 7,500 square foot home is a stunner on one of the city’s most coveted blocks. On an extra-wide 132-foot lot, this home features a number of details that take it to the next level, including high-end finishes, an elliptical staircase and elevator, expansive roof deck with views, chef’s kitchen with top appliances, full-floor master suite, top-of-the-line millwork and more.

Large CHicago luxury home sold in June1239 N Wood St
Original list price: $3.5 million
Sold price: $3.1 million
One word to describe this home built in 1903. Incredible. It’s three stories, spans over six city lots to offer a total of 22,000 square feet. Three of those lots are occupied by a private garden oasis with pond, walking terrace and custom lighting. Inside, you’ll find more than 22 rooms, 5.1 baths, a huge private gallery and a ton of open space. The second floor boasts a mahogany library, bar, offices and 2 large bedrooms, and on the 3rd floor is something you don’t see in many Chicago homes: a massive 58 x 56 ballroom.

Lincoln Park luxury home sold in June1111 W Wolfram St
Original list price: $2.9 million
Sold price: $2.7 million
A beauty in Lincoln Park, this 6,600-square foot home is pristine. On a 40 x 125 foot lot, the interior includes a formal living room and dining room, great room, build-in cabinetry, a library and much more. The huge chef’s kitchen was made for a culinary artist, with 3 ovens, 2 dishwashers, a 6-burner stone, full refrigerator and freezer, island and breakfast nook. Crown molding accents the home throughout, along with 4 wood-burning fireplaces.

Lincoln Park luxury home June sales1942 N Cleveland Ave
Original list price: $2.695 million
Sold price: $2.55 million
This one-of-a-kind single-family home was just built last year with no expense spared in its 6,400 square feet of luxury living. High ceilings, a custom staircase, hardwood floors, large, open rooms, state-of-the-art mechanicals and designer Calcutta baths are just a few of the unparalleled details found inside. The home also features a formal living/dining space, an eat-in kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a large deck over a 2.5-car attached garage and a full roof top deck. Wine lovers can also take advantage of the 650+ bottle wine cellar. Not to mention, the home’s location can’t be beat and is in the Lincoln School District, which many parents are eager to get their children into.

I always encourage potential buyers to take a look at the previous month’s sales to see what has sold for what price, so you can get an idea for what might be available for your own home search. For more details on these Chicago luxury homes that sold last month, or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@rubloff.com.

Jumbo Loans Key to Chicago Luxury Home Sales

As we’ve seen in the past few months of luxury sales, there are a number of buyers who purchase luxury homes with cash. But even if you have the cash, buyers might consider keeping it on hand and getting a mortgage. For high-priced properties, jumbo loans can offer buyers a number of incentives that keep cash in their pockets.

Jumbo loans in Chicago are those in excess of $417,000. That is the dividing line between a conforming loan and a jumbo, though it is higher in locations like California. After the housing downturn, many were shying away from jumbo loans, as they were seen as risky for lenders or too stringent for buyers.

Jumbo Loans Coming Back Strong for Lenders and Buyers

But today, lenders are embracing jumbo loans, even as mortgage activity has slowed down overall. In May, the number of mortgage applications had decreased, more than likely due to rising home prices, cash-only buyers and tight credit standards. But through that, jumbo loans remained stable.

So why the influx of jumbo lending? Lenders are eager to woo low-risk, wealthy clients with strong credit and substantial assets to back up a jumbo loan. And luxury real estate buyers are taking advantage of attractive jumbo loan offers with low interest rates, flexible underwriting and credit availability.

Even for buyers with plenty of cash, there are a number of things to consider if you’re buying Chicago luxury real estate with a mortgage loan:

Lower down payments: To encourage upscale buyers to consider a mortgage loan, some lenders are relaxing the standard requirement of a 20% down payment in favor of lower amounts. That could leave buyers with more cash on hand to invest elsewhere or keep liquid.

More choices among lenders and loans: Small banks and credit unions are putting their cards into jumbo lending, offering aggressive pricing and features to compete among big-bank loans. Borrowers have plenty to choose from to find a loan that fits their needs best.

Tight borrower standards: Jumbo loan borrowers must be in excellent credit standing—these stringent standards are precisely what help jumbo loans remain viable for lenders. A good credit score, sufficient reserves and strong income are all required for jumbo lenders.

If you’re considering purchasing Chicago luxury real estate, give me a call to talk about what your options might be with a jumbo loan. Contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@koenigrubloff.com.

New on the Chicago Real Estate Market: 3-Bedroom in Jefferson Park

Chicago home for sale in Jefferson Park

One of my favorite things about real estate in Chicago is that there really is something for everyone—modern high-rises for urban aficionados; quiet, tree-lined streets for those who love the feel of the suburbs; and of course, many things in between.

Newly available is a Chicago home right with the best of both of those worlds. It has the residential feel of a suburban neighborhood—but it’s right here in the city, in Jefferson Park.

Chicago home for sale in Jefferson Park

4956 N Lockwood Avenue, Unit 2
3 bedrooms, 2.5 bath
2,500 square feet

This home is part of a gorgeous brick two-flat, similar to a townhome with a wide open floor plan. Here’s a look at what this home has to offer:


Outdoor space: A 20 x 20-foot deck is the ideal space for entertaining and taking advantage of Chicago’s summer weather. There’s also an additional terrace off of the master suite.



Chef’s kitchen: With stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and 48-inch cabinets, this kitchen is fit with everything you need for hosting parties, dinners, or a simple family breakfast.

Chicago home for sale in Jefferson Park

Convenient location: This Chicago home is close to the 90/94 freeways, Blue Line and the Metra for easy commuting to downtown or around the city.

Room for kids: This home is directly across from a wonderful park with a playground for kids and a mere two blocks from an excellent elementary school.



Plenty of space: The master suite boasts a lofted office, plus two additional generously sized bedrooms. There’s also garage space with room for two cars—something you’ll surely be grateful for once winter returns.

Details: The home is impeccable tailored, with super finishes, cherry floors and oak doors.

This Chicago home for sale would be perfect for Chicago teachers, police or firefighters who have to live in Chicago but want an environment that feels more like the ‘burbs. To learn more about this property or to check it out in person, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@koenigrubloff.com.

Luxury Chicago Real Estate Continues to Move Briskly with May Single-Family Home Sales

With inventory still fairly low in the Chicago real estate market, luxury properties with much to offer are moving quickly. The location of May’s single-family home sales are no surprise: Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast and Lakeview all topped the list of the most expensive homes sold in May. These neighborhoods are a dream for home buyers, with plenty of trees and residential-like streets, walkability to dining and shopping and within the boundaries of great schools.

There were 33 luxury homes (those priced at $1 million and above) that sold in May, totaling $57 million in sales. Here’s a look at the top 5 most expensive, in descending order.

astor1207 N Astor St
Original list price: $5.875 million
Sold price: $5.875 million
This 7,500 square foot home sits on an extra-wide lot on storied Astor Street in the Gold Coast. It was recently renovated to include high-end finishes and fixtures, radiant heat and home electronics, but the bones of the home offer much to be desired as well. An elegant living room and dining room each have their own fireplace; the chef’s eat-in kitchen features Christopher Peacock cabinetry; the great room features a 20-foot ceiling and stone fireplace; and a sun-filled penthouse opens up to a skylight and has two terraces.

hudson2138 N Hudson Avenue
Original list price: $5.2 million
Sold price: $5.1 million
A custom home stretched on an extra-wide lot in Lincoln Park, this home features 8,000 square feet on the inside and a large yard on the outside. It’s hardly your “typical” city home, surrounded by a park-like setting that floods the home with light. Inside is a huge eat-in kitchen with great finishes, an adjacent great room with dining terrace, a formal dining room, gracious living room and a 2-story living room. The master bath on the top level is spa-like, with a separate sitting room, dual closets and 2 bedroom suites.

division43 E Division Street
Original list price: $4.5 million
Sold price: $4.15 million
This 5,500 square foot beauty in the Gold Coast was wonderfully revamped into a contemporary designed space on the inside, while retaining its 1870s Italianate exterior. This home has plenty of space, from formal rooms on the upper levels to coach house spaces and a floor plan idea for living and entertaining. This home also includes heated stone floors, heated sidewalks and a heated 2-car garage to combat Chicago’s winter chill.

magnolia2238 N Magnolia Avenue
Original list price: $2.849 million
Sold price: $3.05 million
From Platinum Homes, this 4-bedroom home was a new construction property on one of the most coveted streets in Lincoln Park. The great floor plan allows for superb natural light to showcase interior highlights like the amazing chef’s kitchen or the array of designer finishes throughout. An outdoor space includes a yard, rear patio with grilling station and fireplace, garage roofdeck, and an additional covered/open rooftop deck with great neighborhood views.

lakewood3646 N Lakewood Avenue
Original list price: $2.395 million
Sold price: $2.3 million
A new construction home near the heart of Southport Corridor in Lakeview, this single-family home is 4,800 square feet of interior with a full masonry/brick construction. With 6 bedrooms and 5.1 baths, this home also boasts details like fine cabinetry, SubZero/Wolf appliances, custom millwork and hardwood flooring. The outdoor space includes a breezeway, raised patio with fireplace, and a rooftop deck with an outdoor room. It’s location near Blaine Elementary makes this a coveted property, as buyers are eager to be in the enrollment boundaries of well-rated schools like this one.

To learn more about the these recently sold properties in Chicago real estate or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@rubloff.com.

Excellent Sales for Luxury Chicago Condos in May

Luxury condo Sales in May matched the heat of the summer, with a total sales volume of $70 million. There were 43 luxury condos sold, ranging in price from $1 million to over $3 million.

One building was the star of May’s sales: Lincoln Park 2550. Of the five most expensive sales, this new construction building took the 3rd and 5th spots for the month. This was a project that was highly anticipated for a number of years, and the excitement has only gained momentum now that it is complete. It’s like no other building in the city, with a stunning, elegant lobby and a 1 ¼ acre private park right on the grounds. It’s also close to private schools and offers the same amount of space as a single-family home, making it ideal if you have a nanny or other assistants during the day to day.

I’ve said many times that the buildings that do well for resale are those that differentiate themselves from everything else on the market. Lincoln Park 2550 certainly does that to the nth degree.

While this building was certainly the showpiece of May’s luxury condos, there were a number of other noteworthy sales as well. Here’s a closer look at the top 5 most expensive condo sales, starting with the most expensive:

50-E-Chestnut-St-60611_unit-1801_Chicago_IL-114368350 E Chestnut St., Unit 1301
Original list price: $3.295 million
Sold price: $3.195 million
At the corner of Rush and Chestnut in Chicago’s Gold Coast, this is a full-floor residence spanning more than 3,800 square feet. This unit was the last of the developer’s units, featuring a private elevator foyer, floor-to-ceiling windows, two oversized terraces, highly upgraded finishers, Wolf/Subzero appliances, designer cabinets and counters, upgraded light fixtures, built-out closets and hardwood floors throughout. The home is also pre-wired for audio, video and Lutron lights throughout.

Chicago condos in Trump Tower401 N Wabash Ave., Unit 77D
Original list price: $$2.95 million
Sold price: $2,837,500
Trump Tower reigns again on our top sales list. This 3-bedroom unit sits on the 77th floor, allowing for unbelievable sweeping views of the city, lake and skyline. The 4 baths include an extra large master bath with double walk-in closets. A spacious living room opens up to the dining room, which follows the dramatic curve of the building, and a large kitchen includes Subzero, Viking, Wolf and Miele appliances with Snaidero cabinets. Residents of Trump Tower can enjoy all of the amenities of the building’s hotel, including room-service, in-room dining, valet parking, a state-of-the-art fitness center and spa and much more.

25502550 N Lakeview Ave., Unit D1-24
Original list price: $2.854 million
Sold price: $2.73 million
This unit is found in one of the finest buildings in Chicago luxury real estate: Lincoln Park 2550. With 4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths, the interior stretches more than 3,500 square feet with a 254 square foot terrace that boasts lake, park, pond and city views. The fully appointed cook’s kitchen includes a large breakfast bar, Italian cabinetry, and SubZero, Wolf and Miele appliances. The home also includes oak floors and floor-to-ceiling windows and a marble spa master bath. The building is beautiful, but full of conveniences and amenities as well, such as an indoor pool, fitness center, dog run and much more.

Residences at 900 Chicago77 E Walton St., Unit 23F
Original list price: $2.7 million
Sold price: $2.7 million
Just off of the Magnificent Mile, the Residences at 900 is one of Chicago’s best residential addresses in downtown Chicago. The building offers a private residential lobby on Walton, valet parking, huge storage and state-of-the-art technology. This 3-bedroom unit spans 3,400 square feet with floor-to-ceiling windows, fabulous views, 10-foot ceilings, 4” white oak floors throughout, a Snaidero kitchen and a lavish master bath.

25502550 N Lakeview Ave., Unit C6-30
Original list price: $2.791 million
Sold price: $2.66 million
Here it is again: Lincoln Park 2550. This unit is a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath unit with 2,655 interior square feet and 188-square foot terrace that offers amazing lake, park and city views. The large master suite includes a walk-in closet and marble spa bath, while the kitchen boasts Italian cabinetry, luxury appliances and more. This is one of the hottest buildings in Chicago right now, in the heart of scenic Lincoln Park and with practically limitless features and amenities for its residents to enjoy.

To learn more about the Chicago condos that sold last month or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 264-5853.

Excellent Schools Bring Premium Prices for Luxury Chicago Homes

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

Today in Chicago, just the mere mention that a home for sale is within a particular district sets the phones ringing off the hook from broker to clients. A good local school can be one of the biggest drivers in a community, and parents are willing to go to great lengths to to live in a neighborhood that has one. Chicago was even recently named in a list of top 10 U.S. markets where booming real estate values and good school districts had strong correlations.

There are a few schools that parents are gunning to get into as they shop for a Chicago home:

Audobon School: A neighborhood school in Roscoe Village, Audobon enrolls students from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade. It boasts state-of-the-art technology, award-winning programs in a variety of subjects and National Board-Certified teachers.

Blaine Elementary School: In Lakeview, Blaine is classified as a fine arts magnet school and was ranked one of the best schools in Chicago in Chicago Magazine. More than 90 percent of the students here meet or exceed the district average in test scores.

Alexander Graham Bell School: Another K-8 school in North Center, Bell is known for its diversity and 3 school programs within the school: a neighborhood program with standard statewide curriculum, a regional gifted program and a deaf students program all the say from Pre-K through 8th grade.

Hawthorne Scholastic Academy: This K-8 public school in Lakeview is a literature and writing magnet school known for its high ranking in the city and the state. Students are accepted here through the Chicago Public Schools magnet lottery.

John C. Coonley School: A premier school also located in North Center, Coonley serves students from preschool to 8th grade and offers gifted and talented classes and special education programs as well as standard statewide curriculum.

The Ogden International School of Chicago: This neighborhood school serves students from preschool all the way up to 12th grade. The school has an international gifted program for 6th to 8th graders as well as several baccalaureate programs.

Note that most (if not all) of these schools have an important enrollment note: they are neighborhood schools, so they enroll and teach those within the boundaries of their neighborhoods. Being in proximity in one of these schools is the way to get in. So for many parents, location is at the top of their real estate wish lists in order to enroll in the school they want for their children.

Finding a Chicago Home Near a Great School

Location near some of these schools can quickly drive up the price of Chicago real estate. But many parents are willing to pay premium dollar for a new home than the alternative for their children’s schooling: attending an extremely expensive private school. There are a number of options in terms of private schools, but the ones that are at the top are certainly very expensive—around $25,000 per year. If you consider going private all the way through high school, that can easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The cost of private school surely factors into wanting a location that’s near one of these well-ranked public schools. The Wall St. Journal recently covered this same topic, and offered a few great tips for getting in a neighborhood with a good school:

  • Know your definition of a “good school.” Is it solid test scores? An award-winning music program? What makes a school well-known for being a “great school,” may not be the same goals you have for your children.
  • Is private school an option in a more affordable neighborhood? A competitively priced private school could actually end up being the same or even less expensive than a hefty mortgage you may have to take on to get into a coveted district.
  • Are there up-and-coming areas? Communities that are growing around a school can increase property taxes and those tax receipts can flow back into the school district, allowing the neighborhood school to thrive along with a new neighborhood.

If you’re in search of a Chicago home near a great school, give me a call. I’d be happy to talk about your options and introduce you to some of the neighborhoods that these schools call home. Give me a call at (312) 264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@koenigrubloff.com.



Navigate the New Construction Sales Center with a Chicago Real Estate Agent by Your Side

If you’re in the market for a Chicago new construction home, chances are you’ve been in a building’s or development’s sales center to check things out.

The sales center is a wealth of information—you can usually see renderings or models of properties that are available. You can learn about the building or take a tour. It may seem like a casual introduction—you may find yourself just “dropping by” if you’re in the neighborhood of a building you have your eye on.

But if you’re serious about a particular property, I encourage buyers to always bring a realtor with them, particularly when dealing with luxury new construction. Your Chicago real estate agent represents you and you only. The agents at the sales center represent the building. While they’re a great resource for information about your potential home, they aren’t being paid to get you a good deal. But a realtor who represents you only knows the right questions to ask, can negotiate on your behalf, and can walk you through the nuances of a building that you won’t get from the standard introduction.

Once you walk into a sales center without an agent, you can lose the opportunity to be represented by one down the line. The developer will not pay a commission to a broker you choose for negotiation, as the broker did not do the due diligence to lead you to purchase the property. Your options would then be to find an agent who will work for you without a commission (which is unlikely) or to go into a deal unrepresented by a professional—neither of which sound like a good plan for negotiating in your favor.

Your broker can also walk you through any required earnest money—some new construction buildings (2550 Lakeview is an example) require a certain percentage of the purchase price upfront with your offer. It’s extremely important to have a realtor who will discuss any potential issues with you that could put your earnest money at risk. You don’t want to just write a check to the sales center and walk away without knowing what could come up.

Avoiding Dual Agency in Chicago Real Estate

If you walk into a sales center without an experienced realtor by your side, you are effectively giving up representation. If you find yourself negotiating and working with the real estate broker from the sales center, you’re looking at a dual agency situation—this is when the same agent works with both the buyer and the seller. According to the law, it is required that you’re made aware of this important aspect of the sale.

In short, walking “blind” into a sales center rarely works in your favor. Even if you think you’re “just looking,” consult with a realtor you trust first. I would be happy to guide you through the various aspects that come with purchasing luxury real estate in Chicago and ensure you don’t end up in a dual agency or in a deal that doesn’t represent your needs.

For more information on purchasing new construction in Chicago, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@koenigrubloff.com.