Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wrigleyville's Historic Groundkeeper's House

circa 1923 Wrigleyville caretakers house
circa 1923 Wrigleyville caretakers house relocation

Built in 1923 for baseball field caretaker and groundskeeper, Bobby Dorr, this historic brick abode (pictured above) was spared the wrecking ball, hoisted up on an industrial strength trailer, and is currently awaiting relocation as renovations continue within the  'Friendly Confines' of Wrigley Field in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood. On a side note: original cost of construction 92 years ago? $6,000.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Top 10 Chicago Real Estate Deals

Van Buren Street Loft
1224 Van Buren St, Chicago 60607

I'm keeping it real this year, folks. To start off 2015, all my Chicago top real estate picks for January are listed below $400,000. Click here to check it. All are 3 Bedrooms/2 Bath with Parking and low HOA fees.

See ya on the street.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

You Only Need One Realtor...Capisce?

Geno Petro

Every couple months the same scenario unfolds in my real estate life: a prospective Buyer happens across my Chicago MLS search engine (usually by means of a long-tail Google real estate search, i.e.,'Wrigleyville MLS search,' 'Uptown Chicago neighborhood property search,' 'Pet Friendly Chicago Rentals,' etc.); they proceed to log on and register; they 'Favorite' several listed properties; and then, usually after a repeat visit or two, request either a 'showing' or 'additional information.' My immediate response to these new registrants is always the same: "Are you currently working with another Realtor?"

^ And here's why >>>: You. Only. Need. One. Buyers. Agent., period.

^ And here's why >>>: The. Listing. Agent. Always. Represents. The. Seller., period.
(unless its a Dual Agency situation, in which case, a very narrow and specific set of real estate laws apply in Illinois.)

^ And here's why >>>: Because while legal in this state, Dual Agency dilutes the negotiating power of both the Buyer and the Seller while simultaneously restricting the powers of the designated Realtor. Period.

**[Things get even hairier when the Buyer has reached out to multiple Realtors during the same property search. It's also worth mentioning that while most web sites (mine included) provide consumer access to every listed property on the MLS--99.9999% of those are NOT the personal listings of the web site owner. So its feasible that the Buyer has not only been in touch with the Listing Agent and possibly their own Agent, but also the Agent(s) whose website(s) they are surfing, and any other part-time licensed relative with a real estate opinion willing to jump into the mix.]

Now of course, there is no law that dictates a buyer must use a Realtor (or even have a Buyers Agent at all) to purchase a property. This is still America, for crissakes. If you are a consumer and feel you are well-versed in Cook County tax pro-ration arrears lingo; closing cost line items; city, county and state tax stamps; all contingency clauses and the earnest money protocol with each; as well as lines 181 through 261 of even the simplest CAR real estate purchase contract (assuming, of course, you have access to such a contract), then by all means...Proceed. With. The. Process.  Otherwise, a clear understanding with your Realtor of choice and a signed Buyers Agent Agreement may be the safest route down that tricky path.

Just understand this: once you open up a specific conversation with the Listing Agent on your own--even at an open house-- 'implied agency' (representation) may occur at any future step and you may find yourself in a 'procuring cause' situation that won't permit you to start using your own Realtor later even if you want to--or at least your own Realtor who expects to be paid for their services. Remember, the Listing Agent directs the distribution of commissions and 'representation' does not automatically dictate 'compensation' in Illinois. It's a fancy way of saying 'you dance with the one who brung ya.'

**So if you want to see things get unsavory quickly, just have three different Chicago Realtors show up at the same closing table for the same deal, expecting to get paid--and have one of them be me. (lol...but not really.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Nighthawks At An Uptown Diner

Golden House Restaurant Uptown Chicago
Golden House Restaurant in Uptown Chicago

The Golden House Restaurant, tucked next to the Riviera Theatre in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, is a 1960s throwback to an epicurean era when 'greasy spoon' trumped 'haute cuisine' everyday of the week and twice on Sundays; or at least for the locals north of Wilson and either side of Broadway. I peeked through the gritty window and snapped this shot of the lone waitress hunkering down over a late night cup of Joe while a patron tried to catch some shut-eye in a crimson booth in the back. And like the sign says: BREAKFAST SPECIAL  2 Large Eggs with Potatoes and Toast $3.75. A pre-holiday nod to 'all the gypsie hacks and insomniacs,' in the spirit of Tom Waits and Edward Hopper.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Steps to Purchasing Property in Chicago

451 Huron Penthouse
Penthouse rooftop patio of  my SOLD 451 W Huron listing

I've posted these Chicago Real Estate Purchase Steps in varying forms over the years but I believe the message bears repeating. The buy and sell transaction process is handled a little differently here than in other areas of the country (or even in the state of Illinois). For example, it is important that a real estate attorney is retained for the title work as well as the actual 'closing' of the property, i.e., explaining the loan and deed documents and making sure that all the required paperwork is signed and dated correctly. Title companies in Chicago rarely 'conduct' the final escrow activities other than to provide 'instructions' to all parties, collect and distribute checks,  and forward on all documents to their respective institutions (lender, Cook County Recorder of Deeds, current lien holders, etc) after signatures.  Most attorneys, however, are not involved in the initial contract negotiation. They generally step in after the offer is accepted, right before the Attorney Review/Modification period begins. They are free to amend whatever is legally necessary at that juncture. (See Step 10 below.)

But before all of that, a dozen or so other events must occur in a fairly specific timeline. I think we all know that the initial stages of  'pre-purchasing' occurs on-line these days. Generally the consumer 'Googles' a few broad housing terms before finding a real estate web site they like and begin 'drilling down' to a specific property type in a specific Chicago neighborhood. For this reason, my list starts once you're ready to actually start looking in person.

Also, you must know--and be prepared for--the whole 'earnest money' aspect of submitting or accepting an offer in Chicago. While earnest money is not technically required in a real estate offer, good luck trying to buy something around here without it.  Anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 'initial earnest money' is expected once an offer is 'accepted' followed by an additional 5-10% of the purchase price after Attorney Review is complete. Personal checks are generally acceptable unless the closing is scheduled before funds can clear.

Finally, a few rules of thumb to consider when making or accepting an offer: 30 days and under is considered a 'quick' close; 45-60 days, 'usual & customary' length of time to close; 60 days or lmore, a 'long' close.  So, without further adieu, the following are 23 necessary steps you will need to take before popping the champagne on your new balcony: 

1) Initial Consultation (Screen / Interview Buyers Agents)

2) Mortgage Pre-Approval & Letter

3) View Prospective Homes / Identify a Property

4) Present Purchase Contract To Listing Agent

5) Initial Earnest Money ($1,000---$10,000 Made Out To Listing Office / Attorney Trust Account / Title Company)

6) Negotiate Offer (Counteroffer, Price, Terms, Close Date)

7) Acceptance Of Offer by Seller (Agreement) / Final Signatures And Initials On Original Contract

8) Contact, Fax Documents To Attorneys, Lenders, etc.

9) Contingency Periods Begin (Mortgage, Home Close, etc--Usually 30-90 Days from Accepted Offer)

10)  Attorney Period Begins (Usually 5-10 Business Days From Accepted Offer) / Modify Contract/ Acquire Budget And By-Laws (Condominium)

11)  Professional Home Inspection 

12) Both Attorneys' Approval on Modified Contract (5-10 Business Days After Acceptance) / Appraisal Ordered (Lender)

13) Balance of Earnest Money, if Required, Due to Listing Office / Attorney Trust Account / Title Company

14) Await Appraisal (Lender)

15) Loan Commitment After Contingency Period Ends (Usually 30 Days From Acceptance)

16)  Acquire Homeowners Insurance Policy

17)  Interview With Condo/Co-Op Board (Usually In High rise Buildings)

18) Await Closing (UP TO 9 MONTHS IF A SHORT SALE)

19) Transfer Utilities & Change Of Address / Schedule Movers

20) Estimate Of Funds Needed At Closing (Good Faith From Lender including $7.50 per $1,000 City Transfer Stamp to be paid by Buyer)

21) Final Walk Through Or Punch List (New Construction)

22) Closing (Usually 30-90 Days From Signed Acceptance Of Contract By The Seller / UP TO 9 MONTHS IF A SHORT SALE)

23) Celebrate! You're A Home Owner!!!

Simple huh? Perhaps, but having a Realtor experienced in contract negotiation is a big plus in Chicago's high dollar market. 
'Broker Reciprocity' allows for all of us brokers (or at least those of us who actually built and maintain websites) to share each others listings with the general public so anyone can find a property they like on their own. The transparent nature of the industry, with its thousands reciprocal of web sites, allows for this, anymore.  Successfully executing a contract, however, requires great experience. There are several links to my GenoPetro.House search engine on this page and throughout my blog. 

Reach out to me at any time or simply Google 'Geno Petro' for everything else in the property buying and selling universe there is to know about me. There's never a fee for my buy-side representation and my listing (sell-side) fees are aggressively competitive with my peers. Laid back, no pressure advocacy is my hallmark.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

West Town Chicago Condo Open House Today!

OPEN HOUSE TODAY @1516 W Grand Ave, Chicago 60642   11:00-1:00PM (see vid below)
2 Bedroom/2 Bath Condo For Sale - 1516 West Grand Ave. Unit 2W, Chicago, IL 60642...
See More
Property Site: 2 Bathrooms: 2 bathrooms Square Feet: 1500 Price: $348,500 MLS ID: 08760598 For more informati...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Calder Red at the Chicago Fed

red Flamingo Calder sculpture
'Flamingo' by Calder. Chicago Federal Plaza

Vermilion; they call it Calder red. Constructivist; smaller pieces joined together to form one large stabile. Mies van der Rohe backdrop: Forty years later, less is still more.  In 1974 Alexander Calder's 'Flamingo' was unveiled at the newly christened Federal Plaza in the 'Loop' district of downtown Chicago. Standing more than fifty feet high and complex in its artistic restraint, this promontory sculpture catches my eye each time I pass it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Calling All Uptown Chicago Hispsters (ok... Indies, too)

Uptown Chicago Riviera Theatre
The Riviera Theatre In Uptown Chicago

The Riviera Theatre in Chicago's Uptown Neighborhood is perhaps the most iconic concert venue on the city's North Side. Here are a few local (and historic) facts:

*Location: 4746 N. Racine Avenue

*CTA 'L' Stop: Red Line -- Lawrence Avenue (or get off at Wilson and run like hell for two blocks)

*Built: 1917 as a neighborhood movie house

*Seating Capacity: 2500

*Architectural Design: French Renaissance Revival by Rapp and Rapp

*1917 Ticket Price: $0.10 for 'Cleopatra'

*2014 Ticket Price: $60.25 for 'Wilco'

*Hip Factor: 8 on a 1-10 Scale (gotta knock off points for no AC in the summer)

Additional notes: as I mentioned above, it can get a little stuffy in there (especially in August) so you may want to tuck a flask of H2O into your summer flannel--but there is a bar in the back if you're so inclined, i.e. age 21+ and not in a 12 Step Recovery program. Also, word is: 'Security' can get a little rough at times so behave yourself. Remember, it's Uptown and they're not above yanking you to the sidewalk by your lumberjack beard.

Friday, December 05, 2014

My Free Chicago MLS Search Mobile App mobile app screenshot Chicago MLS mobile app <<< mobile download only

Looking for a 2 bedroom condo on the North Side of Chicago?'

...Click any link on this page for full access to my Chicago MLS search engine and web site of neighborhood pages including Wrigleyville, River North, Andersonville, and Lincoln Square.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Chicago Style Condo-ments

Chicago Style relish
Vienna 'Chicago Style' hot dog relish @Mariano's on Ashland Ave

LOL. (or maybe I just think the title is cute because I'm a Chicago Realtor.) Anyway, I haven't eaten meat in years--although calling myself a 'vegetarian' is a little misleading since 50% of my culinary consumption is some form of pizza--but I can report with certainty that the neon green concoction pictured above is a condiment unique to this neck of the Midwest woods. Walk into any hot dog stand in any Chicago neighborhood: the Wiener's Circle (oh yeah, there), Jimmy's in Humboldt Park, or even Wolfy's on Peterson (hey, they're still technically in the city limits), order your dog 'Chicago Style,' and everyone knows what you're talking about. And don't mention the word ketchup unless it's for a side of fries. But if you're from around these parts, vegetarian or not, you already know better.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Under The Wells St 'L' (Brown Line)

Wells and Jackson Chicago intersection
Wells St & Jackson, Chicago

Idling in afternoon traffic on Wells St under the Brown Line 'L' tracks as a second-shift wave of commodities traders make their way over to the CBOT for some overnight market trading (or perhaps, to the corner bar around the block). I actually have a real estate client who lives and dies by the future of milk. "One day its cream, the next its curd," he once told me. "At least you Realtors have an MLS with a set inventory. Us milk guys are hanging out there on our own."  Not for the lactose intolerant, I suppose...

Monday, December 01, 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Highland Park: Smashing ZuZu

Madame ZuZu's in Highland Park

Dropped in for a spot of tea and a vegan sandwich yesterday at Billy Corgan's Highland Park, (Illinois) tea house; Madame ZuZu's. Cool space. Cozy decor. Piano & small music area. Tucked into a MCM strip of storefronts in the old Highland Park business district. Took me right back to '1979' grad school--kind of eerie for a moment--until I looked at the menu (which snapped me in warp-speed back to 2014): one of those 'small plate' & $14 cup of tea sort of offerings you'd expect to find in LA or NYC...tasty, if not filling. Pickle sandwich, almond butter & jelly, humus & arugula, etc. Obscure 1940s music piped through the sound system was predictable and maybe just a little tired (Don's Coffee House in Rogers Park had this pre-retro vibe nailed in the 1990s). The place was (surprisingly?) empty except for a North Shore faux-hipster dad and his giggling tween daughters in matching private school hoodies at the next table, knocking into the back of my chair, snapping selfies, and jabbering about their new Tesla. After 45 minutes or so of silent judgement I finally got up, paid the bill, and crawled away in my Prius. Then I drove to Costco for my real lunch: a $2.17 slice of pizza & jumbo cup of Sierra Mist. They say Billy (and the occasional Pumpkin or two) pops in from time to time to take the small venue stage. Now he's a faux-hipster I might pay $14 to have my chair bumped into for an hour or two--although years ago, I did drive by B & Courtney Love snapping at each other on N. Southport Avenue, one Sunday morning. That was kind of cool and it was free. 

Madame ZuZu's interior photo

Friday, November 28, 2014

Chicago Neighborhood Average Home Prices 2014

Chicago NeighborhoodAverage Price
(All Homes)
Average Price
(per sq ft)
Average Price
(2 Bedrooms)
Lincoln Park $862,524$364$441,166
Near North Side $716,673$411$604,014
North Center  $638,158$275$337,971
Loop $536,739$370$498,334
Lake View $507,736$270$357,816
West Town $501,502$260$360,573
Forest Glen $490,025$247$283,576
Logan Square $473,710$235$298,499
Near South Side $457,265$318$422,743
Lincoln Square $399,601$225$252,513
Near West Side $365,791$261$337,805
Edison Park $353,389$223$207,285
Irving Park $351,501$174$187,656
Bridgeport $340,102$171$214,972
Avondale $334,120$182$220,375
Norwood Park $314,836$206$215,275
North Park $313,132$171$185,396
Beverly $306,085$160$142,427
Hyde Park $302,208$158$156,465
Jefferson Park $296,014$177$195,937
Armour Square $290,575$207$229,237
Uptown $289,169$190$243,046
Edgewater  $279,854$180$241,306
Portage Park $267,189$165$163,524
Albany Park $264,828$166$161,349
Oakland $261,598$118$118,392
Dunning $238,736$168$177,386
Douglas $229,350$108$143,089
Lower West Side $226,446$156$197,413
West Ridge $220,478$133$115,015
Montclare $217,560$153$141,739
Belmont Cragin $209,908$127$138,654
McKinley Park $207,561$125$149,256
Rogers Park $205,530$134$150,684
Garfield Ridge $204,443$159$154,085
Mount Greenwood  $197,474$155$148,548
Hermosa $188,244$122$131,563
Clearing $181,281$136$120,913
Grand Boulevard $177,916$86$77,233
O'Hare $177,201$146$140,519
Archer Heights $167,504$126$112,934
Morgan Park $163,649$103$102,266
West Lawn $146,857$111$87,343
Ashburn $143,259$113$102,886
Humboldt Park $142,194$90$87,843
Brighton Park $140,517$97$104,957
Austin $122,883$86$91,257
Avalon Park$120,199$76$74,473
South Shore $119,594$63$52,705
East Garfield Park $115,568$60$67,764
Calumet Heights $113,717$84$86,558
Woodlawn $112,012$73$80,193
Hegewisch $110,370$90$74,729
Chatham $108,714$76$65,213
Washington Heights $106,828$76$75,369
New City $103,380$80$123,677
Gage Park $102,761$80$70,506
North Lawndale $100,631$46$43,056
South Lawndale $100,238$71$72,761
East Side $99,285$87$76,007
Auburn Gresham $96,664$63$59,037
Chicago Lawn$95,751$75$65,996
Washington Park $90,837$49$45,684
South Chicago $87,573$55$58,305
West Garfield Park  $85,057$38$28,400
Pullman $76,372$59$64,270
Roseland $69,689$54$53,590
Burnside $68,765$48$63,111
Englewood $66,394$28$18,836
West Pullman $56,828$46$48,356
West Englewood$56,047$31$26,344
Fuller Park $54,182$30$41,440
South Deering $53,680$42$26,743
Riverdale $26,579$22$17,310

And don't forget to click the link below for 2 bedroom condo listings in Chicago