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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider Schools for Your Children When Purchasing Chicago Luxury Real Estate

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

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

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

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

Searching for Chicago Real Estate Near Good Schools

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

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

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

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

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

Consider Ceiling Heights for Chicago Luxury Homes and Condos

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

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

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

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

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

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

High Ceilings in Chicago Luxury Condos

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

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

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

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

Chicago’s Lincoln Park Is Where It Is Happening: 4 Of The Most Expensive Luxury Homes Sold In The Neighborhood

When it comes to homes that move quickly on the Chicago real estate market, there are a few factors we almost always see at work.

One is new construction. Brand-new properties are still somewhat hard to find, and high-end buyers are gravitating toward newly developed homes or those that were built in the last several years.

Another is space. Not just square footage, but lot space as well. A standard lot in Chicago are 25 x 125 feet, and amping that up or even doubling it guaranteed to draw buyers in. One of the homes sold this month was on a 50 x 124 foot lot, which means huge rooms inside and a large yard in the back.

And finally, buyers want that extra something that simply stands out. Maybe it’s jaw-dropping outdoor space, a grander than grand staircase or impeccable details in the architecture.

The most expensive single-family home sales in July each showcased one of more of these sought-after features. With 46 luxury Chicago homes sold (those priced at $1 million or higher), luxury sales totaled more than $76 million during the month. And about 20% of those sales were homes that sold for more than $2 million.

Here’s a closer look at the Chicago luxury homes that sold in July, starting with the most expensive sale:

468 w huron468 W Huron St.
Original list price:
$4.1 million
Sold price: $3.85 million
Another absolute stunner, this 10,000 square foot home is ideal for private, sophisticated living and entertaining on the north side. Featuring 6 bedrooms, 6 baths, an elevator, 5 fireplaces, a 58-foot spiral staircase and a 3-car garage, the living space offered by this home in unmatched.

2643 N Dayton St2643 N Dayton St.
Original list price:
$3.999 million
Sold price: $3.8 million
New construction in Lincoln Park is hard to come by, and the features of this home make it all the more covetable. With more than 8,100 square feet on a double lot, this home features 6 bedrooms, 6.5 baths and remarkable details throughout. The formal living room and dining room open up to a side deck for easy entertaining, plus the massive kitchen features custom cabinets, a huge breakfast area and a built-in work station. And a finished attic offers more than 1,000 square feet of living space that can be used for guest quarters, an office, playroom and more.

2739 n lakewood2739 N Lakewood Ave.
Original list price:
$3.295 million
Sold price: $3.2 million
This bran new construction home is a stunning addition to Lincoln Park. Custom built in 2013, the home is on a 37.5” lot, making plenty of space for 6 bedrooms and 7,500 square feet. The interior features 4 large en-suite bedrooms on the second floor, a huge penthouse rec room with putting green and basketball area, a custom designed kitchen, home theater and a wine cellar. Incredible outdoor space, quality millwork throughout and radiant heated floors on the lower level are a few details that top it off.

712 w schubert712 W Schubert Ave.
Original list price:
$3.2 million
Sold price: $2.85 million
One of the most magnificent homes in Lincoln Park, this 7-bedroom beauty is on an oversized lot and spans a generous 7,500 square feet. Exceptional architectural details, upscale finishes and a unique, sophisticated floor plan take this home to the next level, along with additional features like an elevator, grand center circular staircase, and 4 fireplaces. Five outdoor spaces offer a spectacular place to enjoy the open air, with a large backyard, garage deck and rooftop deck with fireplace.

1854 n burling1854 N Burling St.
Original list price:
$2.729 million
Sold price: $2.675 million
This wide brick and limestone home in the heart of Lincoln Park was built by high-end developer Metzler-Hull, with clean and modern updates throughout. Inside you’ll find amazing architectural details, a curved staircase, arched doorways, 12-foot ceilings, 3 fireplaces and custom built-ins. Outdoors, enjoy a magnificent French garden, terrace and a huge roof deck with skyline views.

For additional details on the homes that sold last month, or to see what’s on the market for Chicago luxury homes right now, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

Square Footage, Location Sell Chicago Luxury Real Estate in July

The buzzword of Chicago luxury condos sold in July? Space. Of the five most expensive units to sell last month, just one was a tad under 3,00 square feet, while the rest were over the mark. One stood out with a whopping 4,705 square feet. These are square footages more commonly associated with a single-family home, rather than a condo, but the expansive space offered by luxury condos, paired with building amenities and services, has buyers flocking toward the high-rise life.

The other factor that continues to be a key in quick-selling Chicago condos is that a building must stand out among the rest. Trump Tower, for example, offers some of the best service its residents could find in all of Chicago. Living on East Lake Shore Drive puts you into an exclusive club, as its one of the most coveted, upscale blocks in the city. And the views from a building like the Legacy are in a class all their own.

Here’s a closer look at the top Chicago condos that sold in July, starting with the most expensive sale:

20090518_Trump_International_Hotel_and_Tower,_Chicago401 N Wabash Ave., Unit 79D
Original list price: $3.355 million
Sold price: $3.355 million
Trump Tower trumps again. The sweeping views from this 3-bedroom Chicago condo are unbelievable, letting the city, lake and skyline be a backdrop to its 3,000+ square feet. An expansive master suite features an extra-large bath and double walk-in closets. The large kitchen includes only the best appliances from Subzero, Viking, Wolf and Miele, paired with Snaidero cabinets. And of course, the best in luxury amenities from the hotel are available day and night to Trump Tower residents.

189 East Lakeshore Drive Chicago Exterior189 E Lake Shore Dr., Unit 7E
Original list price: $3.35 million
Sold price: $3.1 million
The coveted Lake Shore Drive is no stranger to the top sales in Chicago real estate. This is one of the most prestigious blocks in the city, after all. This unit is no exception, as it’s a magnificent half-floor 3 bedroom swathed in perfection from the design, to the layout, to the finishes. With 3,800 square feet in total, the expansive living/dining room feature windows that look out to Lake Michigan. A new eat-in kitchen includes the finest custom cabinetry. And a gorgeous master suite showcases lake views from end to end.

415ENorthWater415 E North Water St., Unit 2505
Original list price: $2.999 million
Sold price: $2.86 million
A dream unit for someone who loves to entertain, this Chicago condo features an elegant, open layout and 180-degree views of the lake, river, park and skyline. With 4,705 square feet, this home features a formal entryway with a gallery, neutral wood and stone finishes throughout and a see-through fireplace between the living room and dining room. The views from the 25th floor can be enjoyed from four balconies.

270EPearson270 E Pearson St., Unit 1501
Original list price: $2.715 million
Sold price: $2.715 million
This 15th floor condo in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood sold before the listing even made it off the printer. With 3 bedrooms and more than 3,400 square feet, this condo is located in The Belvedere, a boutique building with a European feel in Lake Shore Park.

The-Legacy-Condos_exterior460 E Monroe, Unit 6702
Original list price: $2.35 million
Sold price: $2.325 million
Located at the Legacy at Millennium Park, this elegant 2,930-square-foot 3-bedroom boasts the building’s signature views of the park, lake and city. The Legacy also offers numerous sky decks, a resident lounge, pool, hot tub, steam rooms, fitness centers, and 24-hour door service and concierge. Residents here can even access certain club services at the University Club, located just across a skybridge.

These are all buildings with that special something, whether it be views, amenities or something else that sets it apart from many other options. Combine that with a great location and tons of space, and you have the just-right combination of what many of today’s upscale buyers are looking for.

For more information on the Chicago condos that sold last month or to take a look at what’s on the market now, contact me at (312) 264-5853 or email me at

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

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

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

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

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