Sheldon Salnick, Chicago Luxury Real Estate Specialist, Joins Dreamtown Realty

I’m excited to announce that I’ve recently made the move to a new Chicago real estate firm, Dream Town.

Dream Town is focused on not just successfully navigating how the market works today, but how it will work tomorrow. From rethinking the role of the real estate agent, to evaluating and implementing better ways to communicate with buyers and sellers, Dream Town takes a fresh approach to the real estate market that is both invigorating and necessary.

Here are a few ways Dream Town is making this industry better for each and every one of its clients:

An online focus: Dream Town employs internet-wide marketing strategies and cutting-edge tools including a front-page presence on Chicago’s most powerful search engines and strategic partnerships with other top websites. After all, this is where today’s buyers are, and it’s a key place to be able to communicate with buyers and sellers alike. Dream Town was the first real estate firm in Chicago to realize the importance of the web, and their diligence toward making this the best experience for clients has given them a very competitive edge.

Going social: Dream Town’s social media presence isn’t one to ignore. The company has earned itself more than 50,000 followers on Facebook, making it the most popular brokerage page in Chicago and among the top across the nation. You’ll even find a first-of-its-kind MLS app that allows visitors to search for Chicago homes for sale directly from Facebook.

Database marketing: The exhaustive database employed by Dream Town quickly and accurately matches buyers to the homes that fit in with even the narrowest criteria. The firm has more than 500,000 registered users on its website and the most powerful real estate search engine in Chicago real estate.

This comprehensive strategy has yielded great results for Dream Town clients. Buyers can find a finely tuned selection of prospective homes to find what you’re looking for. For sellers, it earns thousands of qualified buyers will see your home daily across the web. And nothing makes me more excited to be a part of this team than to read the many, many testimonials from happy clients—you can find over 1,000 of them at

And because Dream Town is independently run, agents like myself are able to engage in closely monitored planning to sell your property or work diligently to find the perfect match if you’re looking to buy a home. My past real estate sales include:

Single-family home at 1845 Orchard: $5 million
Single-family home at 1755 N Mohawk: $3 million
4 bedroom/3 bath condo at 2550 Lakeview: $2.75 million
Condo at Trump Tower: $2.7 million
Condo at 65 E Monroe: $1.125 million

…and many others.

I am really looking forward to this new partnership and seeing the results for my clients, new and current. If you’re looking for a Chicago real estate broker, contact me to discuss the difference that comes with working with Dream Town. Give me a call at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Smaller Down Payments Makes Purchasing Chicago Real Estate Easier

Purchasing real estate in Chicago may be getting easier for some buyers, as many mortgage lenders are lowering the amount required upfront for a down payment.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that banks are lowering requirements to as low as 3 percent of the purchase price (and, in some cases, even less) for a down payment, compared to a more typical 20 percent. That combined with other more flexible options could take certain pressures off of homebuyers, making it easier to buy a home.

This is good news for luxury real estate in Chicago, where a standard down payment could mean tens of thousands of dollars. Jumbo loans—mortgages for more than $417,000 in Chicago—are also having the down payment bar lowered, so qualified buyers may be able to part with less cash up front if they’re obtaining a mortgage.

Lending Flexibility for Chicago Homebuyers

Lowered down payments aren’t the only enticing offer coming from lenders. Some are waiving mortgage-related fees, and others are allowing down payments to come from third parties, like family members. But while these exceptions seem to be becoming more available, they may not be advertised—so it’s worth simply asking your lender what might be considered.

Of course, the core lending requirements haven’t changed. Buyers will still need a healthy credit score, steady income and a low debt-to-income ratio. And in some low-down-payment cases, borrowers may need to show a cash reserve that would cover 12 months of mortgage payments after the home purchase.

While these new offerings may make things easier, there are still a number of things to consider if you’re looking to lower your down payment on a Chicago real estate purchase:

1. Property value. A small down payment may mean there could be a greater discrepancy between the amount owed on a mortgage and the value of a property, if home values were to decline.

2. Other costs and fees. Borrowers should do their due diligence to compare the costs of a loan, from interest rates to upfront fees and other costs. A low interest rate might be enticing up front, but if it’s coupled with higher fees, the savings may not be worth it in the end.

3. Shop around: Some lenders may make private mortgage insurance a requirement if you’re borrowing with a low down payment. But many do not. And costs can vary by lender depending on if it plans to sell or hold your loan after its funded. Shopping around will give you a good idea of all of the offers out there and help you find the right loan for your situation.

Lending Changes a Win for Luxury Buyers

The easing up on lending is due to a few things. One, mortgage originations were down significantly in 2014. The dollars funded were down a whopping 39 percent, the lowest since 1997.

There have also been efforts by the Obama administration to make home ownership more obtainable to more buyers. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently amended their minimum down payment from 5 percent to 3 percent, and the Federal Housing Administration (who has offered a low-down-payment option for some time) lowered the annual mortgage insurance premium.

All in all, this is certainly good news for anyone considering a home purchase, and it makes now a great time to take action. Even luxury homebuyers with cash on hand to make a home purchase may look to a mortgage loan to take advantage of these offers and avoid spending the bulk of their savings.

If you’re considering purchasing a home in Chicago, contact me to discuss your financing options and see what might be a good first step for your home buying purchase. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Confirming Square Footage is Critical When Purchasing Chicago Real Estate

The majority of my clients have one thing in particular at the top of their real estate wish list: square footage. Generally, the more the better. And while a listing sheet should accurately list the square footage of a home for sale, it’s still important for a buyer to do his or her due diligence to confirm that number.

Square Footage Should be Confirmed in Chicago Real Estate
Unfortunately, it’s not terribly uncommon for a real estate listing to claim a square footage that differs from official records of a property. There’s even a case on the west coast in which the buyer expected a home to have a whopping 5,000 more square feet than it did in reality.

For Chicago real estate buyers, it’s important that you have an independent assessment to determine the square footage of a home you want to buy. There are plenty of realtors who don’t list the square footage at all, or they may pick up the number from a previous sale without actually verifying it’s validity.

All-cash deals don’t require an appraisal or any sort of evaluation to confirm the number, so discrepancies are not unheard of. Be aware that many realtors—especially inexperienced ones—may forget to put in a contract that a cash sale is contingent on an appraisal, thus taking away any “out” you have if the number isn’t what the seller or selling agent claims it to be.

But what happens if you’re in a multiple-offer situation and the time for an appraisal weakens your offer? There are ways around this issue, even if you’re purchasing with cash. I would be happy to discuss the ways you can protect yourself if you’re competing for a “hot” luxury Chicago home.

What’s Included in Real Estate Square Footage
It’s not necessarily the seller or selling agent is trying to deceive potential buyers (though that isn’t unheard of, either). More commonly, there is a discrepancy between what is calculated into a square footage number. Some of the areas that might be included in an inflated number are:

Patios: Outdoor space should NOT be included when considering how large the home or condo is, period.

Garage: For a Chicago townhome, the square footage of the garage IS included, since it is contained in the home. However, a one- or two-garage still isn’t living space, so I immediately let my clients know that a property with garage space should be reduced by 200-400 square feet. This becomes trickier when you’re purchasing a very large property, and you may be inclined to confirm the size of the garage and whether that measurement is included in the reported square footage.

Balconies: The space afforded by a balcony should NOT be included in the square footage of a property.

Below-grade living space: This is another tricky one. Nearly all realtors include the below-grade space in square footage, but I still think it’s important for buyers to know how much of that is accounted for in this space. Typically, when pricing a home, below-grade level living space is priced lower per square foot than the main house. So that could make a big difference if you’re looking at a very large space.

I have worked with many developers and on a number of construction projects, and would be happy to discuss in more detail how that number is determined.

If you’re unsure of how to confirm the square footage of a Chicago home for sale, contact me and I would be happy to walk you through the process. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Myths of Obtaining a Jumbo Loan for a Chicago Luxury Real Estate Purchase

If you’re a luxury buyer looking to purchase a Chicago home, your strategy for doing so might be obvious—pay cash outright and avoid the “hassle” of a loan.

Buyers who can afford to purchase a home in cash are often turned off by the idea of a mortgage—the burden of an interest rate, paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI) and spending much of your cash on a down payment that you might as well pay cash for the whole thing.

But the answer to many of these objections might lie in a jumbo loan. A jumbo loan (for amounts over $417,000 in Chicago) is more enticing than ever to the wealthy buyer, with lower rates and favorable terms that don’t mean spending your savings in one fell swoop.

I’d like to dispel 3 important myths that Chicago luxury real estate buyers might have heard about obtaining a jumbo loan for their home purchase:

You’ll need a large down payment. Traditionally, banks want at least 20% of the purchase price as a down payment. But luxury buyers who are borrowing a jumbo loan could have a bit of leeway here. For one, a down payment on a jumbo loan is still a good chunk of money. For a $1.5 million home, a 15% down payment is still a significant amount of cash that “invests” the buyer into the purchase and makes them unlikely to walk away.

And while some might see a low down payment resulting in a higher loan-to-value ratio, many buyers see this as a money management strategy that affords them extra liquidity in their funds to keep in the stock market or other investments.

Strict mortgage lending standards also keep high loan-to-value loans from reaching the point of risk that they did several years ago. Borrowers still must have a strong credit score, reserve funds and a debt-to-income ratio under 35% to qualify.

You’ll pay a higher interest rate. Right now, rates are historically low to begin with. And many lenders are offering their jumbo loans with a lower rate to entice borrowing instead of paying for cash. So even if you put down less than 20% of the purchase price, you’ll still be well-positioned for a low interest rate.

You’ll need private mortgage insurance. A jumbo loan is not a conventional loan, which means it’s not a government-backed loan like many mortgages. That makes them privately held, so banks/lenders can decide individually if they want to charge borrowers private mortgage insurance—and most of them do not.

I would be happy to put you in contact with a lending expert who can give you more information on purchasing a Chicago home with a mortgage versus paying cash. With today’s loan market, it might be worth considering for a luxury real estate purchase especially. To learn more about jumbo loans or to see what’s on the Chicago real estate market, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Another Record Month for Chicago Luxury Home Sales in December

Sales in the Chicago luxury real estate market continued to defy expectations over the holidays. Single-family home sales were on a tear through the cold winter weather and the business of the holidays, with 50, $1 million-plus homes sold.

Eight of those homes were actually sold over the $3 million mark. And rather than go over the top five most expensive homes sold last month, I’d like to take a closer look at those top 8 sales to provide the nuances of what is happening on the market. It’s important for buyers to have a clear idea of the features and different aspects of high-end sales to give you an expectation of what the market will look like when you’re considering a home purchase.

And there was one important name found among those top 8: Lincoln Park. This sought-after neighborhood reigned supreme among last month’s single-family home sales, with a whopping 7 of the 8 having a Lincoln Park location.

Top Chicago Luxury Homes to Sell in December

Here’s a detailed look at the top properties sold last month and what each had to offer:

701701 N Kingsbury Street
Original list price: $4.25 million
Sold price: $4.025 million
The only home out of the top 8 not in Lincoln Park, but instead in the heart of River North on a coveted corner lot. Immaculate and recently renovated, this home features over $1.2 million in custom finishes and now features an in-home elevator, home movie theater, a 60-foot spiral staircase, a 1,000+ square foot master suite and a 700-square foot terrace.

19051905 N Burling St
Original list price:
$4.190 million
Sold price: $3,987,500
Magnificence best describes this 7,000-square foot 7-bedroom home on an oversized lot in Lincoln Park. Burling Street is one of this neighborhood’s most esteemed blocks, home to rows of “McMansions” and some of the city’s elite. This home features everything from a grand staircase to a 4-stop elevator to skyline views from two roof decks.

37443744 N Wayne Ave
Original list price:
$3.595 million
Sold price: $3,513,966
The extra-wide lot size (35 feet compared to the standard 25 feet) allows for 6,500 square feet, six bedrooms and an ultra-spacious interior. Ceilings reach up 13 feet, over a dramatic elliptical staircase, chef’s kitchen and great room, and multiple entertainment areas.

19031903 N Howe St
Original list price:
$3.595 million
Sold price: $3.415 million
Designed by Cannon Frank, this home is a significant piece of architecture in the coveted Lincoln Park. There is an unprecedented level of upgrades, details and features, including a dramatic entry, 11.5-foot ceilings, 4-inch walnut floors, custom built-ins, smart home automation, roofdeck and skyline views and a jaw-dropping glass conservatory on the penthouse level.

18381838 N Hudson Ave
Original list price:
$3.595 million
Sold price: $3.375 million
Fitted with 5,800 square feet and 5 bedrooms, this spectacular home in Lincoln Park is brand new construction on a prime block. On the outside, this masonry home showcases a limestone façade on the outside and plenty of luxurious details on the inside: a stunning chef’s kitchen with custom cabinetry, a master suite, 2 decks on the top floor, total home automation and three gas fireplaces.

19211921 N Dayton St
Original list price:
$3.295 million
Sold price: $3.295 million
This new construction property in Lincoln Park was built by Savane Properties to feature everything a luxury buyer is looking for: refined finishes, a superb floor plan, designer custom chef’s kitchen with commercial-grade appliances and a spectacular master suite. While the home was mostly complete, the buyer still had some leeway to work with the builder to customize it to their liking. It’s also important to note that, despite the upper-end price tag, this buyer paid cash for their new home.

19271927 N Cleveland Ave
Original list price: $3.595 million

Sold price: $3.275 million
This spacious 6-bedroom home in Lincoln Park offers 6,400 square feet over a spacious floorplan that welcomes abundant natural light throughout. This home includes 2 laundry rooms, walnut floors, and elevator with access to all floors, a DeGiulio kitchen and a number of outdoor spaces: a patio with fireplace, three terraces and a roof deck over the garage. The East Lincoln Park location is just a short walk from parks, the Lincoln Park Zoo, Lake Michigan and shopping and fine dining.

19061906 N Burling St
Original list price:
$3.59 million
Sold price: $3 million
This Lincoln Park mansion stretches over 7,525 square feet with a stunning French architecture design. The features within the home’s 3 floors include 9 natural stone fireplaces, 2 decks with skyline views off of the penthouse room, a chef’s kitchen, a master suite and spa bath that’s dressed to the nines, a grand staircase and a paved patio with an outdoor kitchen and shower.

For more information on these Chicago luxury homes or to see what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Record Sales for December Chicago Luxury Condos

Luxury real estate does it again—despite the winter weather (which typically means a home-buying slowdown), sales for high-end condos were particularly strong in December.

Sales of Chicago condos especially had a good showing. Not only was there a total of 53 units sold, for the first time in a long time, there were a healthy number of properties that sold over the $2 million mark. In fact, 15 condos sold last month had a selling price more than $2 million, and that price tag ran all the way up to the most expensive sale at $3.6 million.

Chicago Condos Offer Space, Lure Cash Buyers

It’s no surprise that all five of the top luxury sales had an excess of 3,000 square feet–we’ve continued to see this nearly every month. Square footage is more important than ever to luxury buyers, especially as many opt to move into the city from the suburbs and don’t want to compromise space. Many of the city’s condos offer just that–plenty of room for living, but with all of the conveniences of services and amenities.

Here is a closer look at the top five properties that sold last month:

21 E Huron St21 E Huron St, Unit PH4801
Original list price:
$4.5 million
Sold price: $3.6 million
This penthouse unit sits atop The Pinnacle, a 49-story, Lucien Lagrange-designed luxury condo building in River North. An elevator opens right into this 5,180-square-foot unit, with an interior that boasts unobstructed views through floor-to-ceiling windows. You’ll also find a spectacular master bedroom, 3 additional bedroom suites, a large eat-in kitchen, a wine cellar and included parking. The Pinnacle is a full-service, amenity building with a health club, indoor pool, sundeck, entertainment suite, private theater and business center.

Trump Tower Chicago real estate

401 N Wabash
Original list price:
$3.4 million
Sold price: $3.15 million
Trump does it again, this time high on the 74th floor with an immaculately designed 3 bedroom unit. Views to the north, east and west showcase the Chicago river and city below through floor-to-ceiling windows. All 3,100 square feet of the Chicago condo are graciously appointed, from the two fireplaces to the high-end luxury stainless steel appliances in the kitchen. Living in Chicago’s Trump Tower also means living the Trump lifestyle, from the service of the building’s top-notch staff to taking advantage of amenities like the world-class health club and spa.

30WOakSt30 W Oak St, Unit 7B
Original list price:
$3.1999 million
Sold price: $3 million
This 3-bedroom Chicago condo is the epitome of Gold Coast living, with luxurious details, vast space and a contemporary design. Walls of windows along the 7th floor flood the unit with natural light. And room by room, you’ll find extraordinary spaces, from the expansive open kitchen, to the gracious outdoor patio and a spacious master suite.

Chicago real estate at 840 N Lake Shore Dr840 N Lake Shore Dr, Unit 401
Original list price:
$2.85 million
Sold price: $2.8 million
This Lake Shore Drive beauty enjoyed some time on the small screen, featured nationally on NBC’s real estate segment. Just under 4,000 square feet, the 3-bedroom unit is in one of the most iconic buildings on the iconic block. Although the building was built in 2004, this unit has never been lived in, now pristinely designed and with the option to purchase the adjacent unit and create a 6,000+ square foot home.

lp-25502550 N Lakeview Ave, Unit C6-29
Original list price:
$2.745 million
Sold price: $2.661 million
A 2,600-square foot 3 bedroom in one of Chicago’s most coveted new condo buildings, this unit features everything from great views to outdoor space to a kitchen made for entertaining. High on the 29th floor, this Chicago condo showcases southeast views of Lake Michigan, Lincoln Park and the city skyline through floor-to-ceiling windows. A large master suite features a walk-in closet and marble spa bath, while the cooks’ kitchen includes a large granite breakfast bar, Italian cabinetry, luxury appliances and much more. The building offers some of the finest amenities in Chicago luxury real estate, including an indoor pool, fitness center and private park.

One other noteworthy trend among last month’s sales was that four out of the top five properties sold were purchased with cash. We’ve mentioned over the last few months that lenders are making it more and more enticing for wealthy buyers to take out a jumbo mortgage rather than liquidating assets or spending their savings. But it seems that last month’s luxury home buyers were subscribing to the old adage that “cash is king,” as it often is in real estate.

If you’re in the market for a new Chicago, these trends are important to take note of. That way, you’ll go into your own home-buying search knowing what size home you can expect for your budget, if you may have to compete against cash buyers or what buildings many buyers are gravitating toward for luxury condos. For more information on last month’s sales, or to take a look at current Chicago condo listings, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Purchasing A Chicago Luxury Home When You’re A High Net Worth Retiree

As we continue to see more and more enticing loan offers from banks, wealthy buyers are more and more considering taking out a jumbo loan to buy a luxury home. Even with the cash or assets to purchase a home outright, many luxury buyers are opting to take out a jumbo loan instead of spending or liquidating their assets; especially considering low interest rates and other various incentives offered by banks to jumbo borrowers.

But applying for a mortgage can be complicated enough, and for those who are retired, the process can be especially tricky. Having a high net worth but no “traditional” income can prove difficult to prove to a bank that you’re a qualified candidate for a mortgage, as recently highlighted by the Wall St. Journal.

As with many home-buying tasks, the key is to plan ahead. If you’re looking at a high net worth as a retiree, that likely means years of smart investing and savings, and the portfolio to show for it. It’s a matter of lining up your documentation and reporting assets in a way that is considered eligible income for a home purchase.

Here are 4 important considerations for retirees looking to obtain a mortgage for a Chicago luxury home purchase:

The standard rules apply: Retirees still must meet a 43% debt-to-income ratio mandated by federal mortgage rules. This is where it’s important to work with a lender who can help you report your assets to be considered eligible income. You’ll also still need a strong credit score, despite your net worth. And if you’re planning to hold the home and mortgage in a trust, it’s still necessary to demonstrate your ability to repay the loan.

Have your paperwork in order: Tax returns, bank statements, documentation of social security payments, IRA distributions and the like–any and all of these will be needed to demonstrate your financial health, and those documents should also show that your sources will continue to provide income for at least 3 years into the future.

Work with a financial adviser: An adviser can look at your entire portfolio upfront and inform you if it makes more sense financially for you to take out a mortgage or pay cash for a Chicago luxury home. An adviser can also help you calculate distributions from retirement accounts that could be helpful in qualifying for a loan.

Consider capital gains: If you’re thinking of cashing out your investments, be sure to calculate any lost returns, but also any potential capital gains tax hits to ensure you won’t end up losing money in the end.

I’ve helped many of my clients connect with lending experts who can help you assess your own situation and weigh the pros and cons of taking out a jumbo mortgage. Those who are retired should definitely do their due diligence to determine their options, and I would be happy to help you get the process started. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Chilly November Doesn’t Stop Chicago Luxury Home Sales

While last month’s sales numbers certainly showed signs of a seasonal slowdown, sales for luxury homes held relatively steady in November, especially considering the arrival of snow and the start of the holiday season—two things that typically contribute to near radio-silence on the real estate market.

But sales didn’t stop entirely, and November saw a total of 30 luxury homes sold (those priced at $1 million and up) for a total of $50 million. If the December market sees relatively strong sales as well, I am anticipating that the spring 2015 market should be rather strong for Chicago luxury real estate.

Chicago New Construction Sells in November

Of the top five most expensive homes to sell last month, the majority of them were new construction—brand new homes, a few of which were still in development and allow the buyer to work with the developer to complete. Since new construction is still fairly light compared to what it once was, these homes seem to move very quickly on the market.

Another trend among last month’s sales was how real estate is being bought. High-end real estate buyers are becoming more apt to take out a mortgage for their home purchase, rather than using cash. We’ve discussed a few times this year that banks have made it especially easy for wealthy buyers to obtain a jumbo mortgage and retain their cash assets.

Here’s a more detailed look at what helped sell the top 5 most expensive homes last month:

18701870 N Orchard Street
Original list price: $4.975 million
Sold price: $4,883,623
New construction was a major part of last month’s luxury sales, and this brand-new home from Environs Development helps showcase why. Built on an extra wide, extra deep lot in Lincoln Park, the home boasts 6 bedrooms, 7,260 square feet and a huge backyard. An elevator services the 4+ floors, which are topped with a massive penthouse roof deck that offers exceptional views of the city. Because this home was still being developed, the buyer had the opportunity to work with the developer on the final floor plan and façade and customize it just to their specifications.

4141929 N Cleveland Avenue
Original list price: $3.75 million
Sold price: $3.525 million
Nestled in East Lincoln Park, this single-family home was just renovated to offer 6,400 square feet, 5 bedrooms and significant upgrades throughout. A spacious interior includes dramatic ceiling lights, a den with built-in office, new bathrooms and an attached garage. The outdoor space is ideal for entertaining, with an outdoor kitchen and a private landscaped garden deck with wood-burning fireplace.

21512151 N Magnolia Avenue
Original list price: $3,050,000 million
Sold price: $3,007,500
This just-built home sold even before the listing was printed, and it’s easy to see why. On a quiet, tree-lined street, the all brick and limestone home features 5,200 square feet of luxury: custom cabinetry and millwork throughout, professionally designed natural stone baths, tremendous outdoor space, and an oversized two-car garage.

19231923 W Wabansia Avenue
Original list price: $2.995 million
Sold price: $2.75 million
This contemporary new construction home has a long list of things to love about it: 1,400 square feet of private outdoor space (including roof decks and a private garden), a dramatic staircase, a custom kitchen with commercial-grade appliances, Duravit and Grohe fixtures, radiant heated flooring, a steam room, a lower level wine cellar and bar that leads to an outdoor fireplace, and a 3.5 car garage.

414414 W Grant Place
Original list price: $2.95 million
Sold price: $2.375 million
Located on an extra-wide corner lot, this luxurious Lincoln Park home is bright and airy, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and a 3-story atrium with a huge skylight. The architecture is highlighted by modern, clean lines, with details like oak hardwood floors, a custom Poliform kitchen with a dome skylight, and a private elevator that services all 3 stories. The home’s 4,885 square feet includes 4 bedrooms, each with an en-suite bath.

If you’re shopping for Chicago mansions or a luxury single-family home, contact me to see what’s on the market and what might be available for your budget. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Luxury Chicago Condo Sales Continue in Cold Weather

November was another unexpected month for Chicago real estate, with the condo market continuing to deliver strong sales despite the winter chill that’s moved in.

Last month saw 35 sales of luxury condos (those priced a $1 million or higher) for a total of $57 million—right on par with the sales volume from the month prior to that. And that wasn’t the only trend hanging on—square footage was abundant in last month’s sales, as it has been for most of the year when it comes to Chicago condos.

The top sales each month continue to prove that buyers are looking for plenty of space (3,000 square feet and up), and that city living doesn’t mean sacrificing it. This has been the case with many of my clients transitioning from the suburbs into the city who still want a large home. Many clients are often surprised to learn that the move doesn’t have to be synonymous with downsizing. In fact, moving to the city opens up a whole new world of everything downtown has to offer, from shopping and dining to a shorter commute.

Packed with panache and square footage, here’s a detailed look at the top 5 most expensive sales last month, in descending order:

The-Legacy-Condos_exterior460 E Monroe St, Unit 3301
Original list price: $4.4 million
Sold price: $3.9 million
The Legacy is a showstopper among luxury condos in downtown Chicago, and this one is no exception. With 5,200 square feet of professional designed space, this combination unit spans the entire east face of the building, offering unobstructed views Lake Michigan and Millennium Park. Entertaining here is easy with a chef’s kitchen that adjoins a stunning great room, wet bar and balcony; not to mention a formal living and dining room with marble fireplace, a fabulous master suite with spa baths and walk ins, plus details like custom lighting, fixtures, AV and built-ins.

11 E Walton St11 E Walton St. Unit 3002
Original list price: $3.5 million
Sold price: $3.45 million
This 3-bedroom condo is another example of a lifestyle that comes with certain Chicago addresses. This one is located in the Waldorf Astoria, where residents can take advantage of 5-star amenities and services from the neighboring hotel. Its 3,436 square feet starts with a spacious foyer upon entering the unit, which then opens up to a large living room, a separate dining room and a spacious gourmet kitchen with a great room. All 3 bedrooms include private baths, and the unit includes two private terraces and wonderful views throughout. z

1340 N State Pkwy, Unit 1S1340 N State Pkwy, Unit 1N
Original list price: $2.995 million
Sold price: $2.781 million
This Chicago condo building is certainly one of a kind—it was formerly the Playboy mansion, converted now into 7 luxury units. This 3,250 square foot condo offers 3 bedrooms, 2.1 baths, plus a library, family room and expansive living and dining space. The thoughtful floorplan leaves plenty of room for entertaining in the front of the home while sleeping areas are toward the back. Details include high-end finishes and hardwood floors throughout, a butler’s pantry, custome Grabill cabinetry in the kitchen and a large private patio off of the kitchen and family room.

20090518_Trump_International_Hotel_and_Tower,_Chicago401 N Wabash Ave, Unit 38A
Original list price: $3 million
Sold price: $2.766 million
This River North beauty offers all of the exclusivity and panache that comes with living in Trump Tower. Perched on the 38th floor, the unit’s floor plan follows the dramatic eastern curve of the building, showcasing a panorama of Lake Michigan and the Chicago river through floor-to-ceiling windows. Its 3,400 square feet includes a spacious master suite with his-and-her baths and walk-in closets. Residents here can take advantage of all of the amenities and services that come with the Trump lifestyle, ranging from valet parking to in-room catering to the building’s state-of-the-art health center and spa.

Search Luxury Condos for Sale in Trump Tower

21202120 N Lincoln Park West, Unit 7
Original list price: $2.495 million
Sold price: $2.45 million
With just over 3,000 square feet, this full-floor Lincoln Park condo offers fabulous views of the park, lake, skyline and the zoo in Lincoln Park. It’s located in an intimate boutique building that is full of character, featuring an upgraded kitchen, master suite and plenty of storage space. Other details include wood floors, cove lighting and built-in speakers throughout the home.

You too may be surprised to learn what kind of properties are available in downtown Chicago if you’re considering a move from the suburbs, and I invite you to give me a call to discuss. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

Chicago Real Estate In A Class By Itself

Trump Tower Chicago

Trump Tower in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Photo by Flickr/John Pickens Photography

Many of my clients shopping for luxury real estate are looking for anything but a run-of-the-mill property. They want something that stands apart from everything else on the market, whether that includes special features or amenities, a prime location or an iconic name that’s synonymous with luxury living.

The first building I always introduce my clients to is Trump Tower. This is one of my favorite buildings in the entire city of Chicago. And I’m not alone—a 14,000 square foot raw penthouse just sold in the building, marking the most expensive residential sale ever in Chicago real estate.

I think what appeals the most to my clients (and myself!) about Trump Tower is the endless list of amenities and the impeccable design that stands out in the Chicago skyline. I am originally from New York, and this building reminds me so much of Manhattan, with all of the panache but a considerably lower cost of living. Having sold two units in the building—one for $1.2 million and one for $2.7 million—I think buyers interested in Trump Tower are interested in the pampering that comes along with it. Take a look at some of the amenities and services offered here:

  • A 23,000 square foot health club and spa
  • In-building dining and nightlife at Rebar, Sixteen or the Terrace at Trump
  • Around-the-clock service from a top-notch staff, who provide everything from valet parking to in-room dining
  • A riverwalk made up of 1.2 acres of outdoor space, with retail shops, public relaxation areas, pristine landscaping and unparalleled views of the city.

Photos from the raw interior of Trump Tower’s 14,000 square foot penthouse, which just sold for $17 million.


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View Luxury condos for Sale in Trump Tower

Trump Tower Sale Breaks Chicago Record for Priciest Sale

With 14,000 square feet of un-designed space, the 89th-floor penthouse is a blank canvas for the new buyer, who paid all cash for the unit. This Chicago condos boasts 360-degree views of the city below, including a sprawling Lake Michigan, the Chicago river and the architectural skyline.

As far as getting it move-in ready, the buyer told the Chicago Tribune that he plans to work with the floor plan to customize it for entertaining and guests as well as a second home for his family. He also said Trump Tower in Chicago is unlike anything else in the city, saying “There are other high rises, but nothing quite as exotic as this.”

I must say, I couldn’t agree more. If you’d like to experience Trump Tower Chicago in person or see what’s on the market now, contact me for a personal tour at (312) 498-5080 or email me at