Chicago Condo for Sale: Unbeatable Views, Spectacular Updates in Lake Point Tower






Chicago has a number of truly show-stopping buildings—the one that stand out in the skyline and can be often be identified even if you’ve never been to the city.

Lake Point Tower is one such building, and what you see on the outside may only be topped by everything it has to offer on the inside. On the market now is a stunning two-bedroom unit with a long list of sought-after features:

Address: 505 N Lake Shore Drive, Unit 2910

Size: 2 bedroom/2 bath

Price: $695,000 (priced to sell!)

One of the most covetable offerings of this Chicago condo is the view. Uninterrupted southeast and southwest views make for breathtaking panoramas in the main living space and bedroom.

You’ll also find loads of upgrades: marble floors, top-of-the-line appliances, custom cabinetry and built-ins, brand-new carpet and fabulous finishes throughout. The kitchen and baths are both elegantly designed down to every detail.

Plus, a space for 2-car garage parking is also available for $115,000.

And that’s just the unit itself. Lake Point Tower is a favorite among luxury condo buildings in Chicago. Its unique architectural design, list of amenities and supreme location are just a few highlights. Some of the features you’ll find in Lake Point Tower include:

Skyline Park: This 2.5-acre wooded park sits three floors above the street. It includes a playground, duck pond, and an outdoor garden designed by renowned Chicago landscape architect Alfred Caldwell.

A motor court: One of few Chicago buildings with this luxury feature, Lake Point Tower’s motor court is one of distinction. It’s the largest pull-in, circular driveway in the city and sits under a two-story rotunda with an open skylight that illuminates the garden at the building’s entrance.

Privacy: The building literally stands alone on this part of Lake Shore Drive, surrounded by Lake Michigan on three sides. Not only does that create an urban home that feels “away from it all,” it also provides stunning unobstructed views of the lake and city skyline.

Amenities: Indoor and outdoor pools, an outdoor BBQ area with tables for enjoying the upcoming warm weather, and an on-property dry cleaner, dentist, spa, grocery store and restaurants.

Location: Within just a few blocks of Lake Point Tower is a few famed Chicago destinations: Navy Pier, shopping along the Magnificent Mile, Ohio Street Beach, the Art Institute, Symphony Hall, Millennium Park and the theater district are all a walk away.

If you’re in the market for a Chicago condo with an unbeatable location and killer views to boot, come see Lake Point Tower for yourself. You’ll be stunned at everything the neighborhood, building, and condo have to offer for this price. Contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at

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

New Construction in NYC Takes Cue from Chicago Architecture

This time of year, there’s a little thing that could easily put a, damper on the luxury experience that comes with upscale living: curbside slush deeper than your ankles.

But there’s one architectural feature among condo buildings that makes this seasonal struggle much more tolerable: the motor court.

A recent article in the Wall St. Journal highlighted the old-world motor court as making a “comeback” among new construction buildings in New York City. But this architectural perk can be found in several Chicago condo buildings, which makes me wonder if Chicago has provided a bit of inspiration for the big apple’s new construction properties.

Dating back to the early 1900s, the motor court is a driveway that leads to an open area near the entrance of a building, allowing for passenger unloading and pick up. The extra space means residences can unload things like groceries, luggage, etc. away from the street.

New York Luxury Right Here in Chicago

Maybe it’s our especially fierce winters, but Chicago has been onto this for awhile, and I’m wondering if a few well-recognized buildings here perhaps influenced the upcoming trend in Manhattan.

Here are a few luxury condo buildings in Chicago that feature a motor court:

Lake Point Tower: This lakeside beauty was built in 1969 with this exact feature that is popping up in New York. The motor court at Lake Point Tower is one of distinction; it’s the largest pull-in, circular driveway in the city and sits under a two-story rotunda with an open skylight that illuminates the garden at the building’s entrance. Another highlight is Skyline Park, a 2.5-acre outdoor garden designed by renowned Chicago landscape architect Alfred Caldwell that sits three floors above the street.

Waldorf Astoria (formerly known as The Elysian): Famed Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange drew inspiration from French style to design this richly detailed motor court. The result is a European elegance that offers both visual interest and convenience for residents here.

1000 S. Clark: While still in development, the motor court planned for the new luxury building at 1000 S. Clark has been described as “dominating” the entrance. This one is a more modern rendition, large and cleanly landscaped in line with the building’s sleek design.

One of the most distinctive features of luxury real estate in Chicago is the architectural significance of many of the buildings here, from well-designed motor courts and beyond. Perhaps the big apple is catching on, but the beauty of Chicago is that real estate here is a fraction of the price you would find in NYC.

NYC Features for a Chicago Price

The best comparison to real estate in New York and in Chicago is the price point. Luxury real estate that easily compares to some of the finest buildings in Manhattan cost a fraction of the price. Chicago brings all of the benefits of living in a major urban area (major businesses, architectural significance and plenty to see and do) without sacrificing space, budget or quality of life.

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