Chicago Relocation
 

Housing for Vampires

October 31, 2013

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General
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John D’Ambrogio

Some comments from Baird & Warner‘s Elizabeth McGrath.

Vampire foreclosures, homes that are bank owned but the previous owners still live there, are quite an issue for the recovery of the market.  Across the nation, 47% of bank owned homes are categorized as a vampire foreclosures.  Real Estate journalist Kimberly Miller wrote more on this issue in the Chicago Tribune this week.  Click here to read her full story.

 

 

Q3 State of the Market 2013

October 28, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

John D’Ambrogio shares Chicago’s third quarter of real estate for 2013. The market is strong with higher units, volume, and historically low mortgage rates. It was a great quarter during a great year of Chicago real estate.

 

 

 

Chicago State of the Market: October 2013

October 25, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

Happy Friday!  Today we have October’s State of the Market to share with you.  September’s numbers we strong.  Combine that with historic mortgage rates and this October State of the Market highlights why real estate in Chicago is a hot button right now.

 

My Kind of Neighborhood – Goldcoast and Streeterville

October 21, 2013

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Chicago neighborhoods
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John D’Ambrogio

Gold Coast, Streeterville, Mag Mile, North Loop……yes, if you live there you have your own particular fondness for which name is most accurate.  Oops, I forgot the New East Side.   Let’s talk about these subset, adjoining neighborhoods since they all share great residential housing, a rich history and great entertainment/shopping/nightlife.

Back in the day life along Pine Street (Michigan Ave.) got pretty quiet north of the Chicago River.  Then 1871 arrived with the Great Chicago Fire which pretty much flattened the city from the near south to the mid-north.  In fact, the Gold Coast hosts the only surviving public buildings pre-fire – The iconic Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station.

The area really began to pick up in the late 19th century and early 20th. when Potter Palmer, one of the richest guys around, made a bold statement by leaving the south Gold Coast on Prairie Ave. for life north of the river.   Speaking of the river, the coastline north of the river ran about even with Michigan at this time.  There were sand bars that extended out and, some say, rubbish from the Chicago Fire was dumped there as well.  This made the area est of Michigan ave. a pseudo inhabitable, if not wet, space.

Back to our story, enter (so-called) Capt. George Streeter  claimed that his boat which was stuck in a sandbar now owned that piece of Chicago.  Just like a 19th century Columbus.  I wish I knew the guy.  He had some gumption.  Streeter even sold and taxed portions of “Streeterville” (ah, now you see where I was going).  He waged lengthy court battles attempting to validate his claim. Guess what? In 1918 the courts ruled he did not own the land. But it was too late! The name stuck.

In the 1920s some semblance of today’s “Magnificent Mile” began to take shape.  The addition of The Michigan Ave. Bridge with the “canyon” of beautiful steel and stone emerged (check out Jack Nixon’s lovely pencil drawings of the bridge.  The bridge kicks off the mile starting at the Wrigley Building (as Old Blue Eyes sang and Sammy Cahn wrote back in ‘64).   Much of the Mile’s development was lead by real estate newcomer Arthur Rubloff.  He was new compared to the Baird Family.  I had the true pleasure of working with a student of Arthur Rubloff’s for many years while I was at Arthur’s namesake real estate firm (and now franchise). Wow, I’ve been able to work at some good companies in my career…..

As development down the Mag Mile continued, luxury condominiums followed suit. Today this is known as one of the most upscale, pricey, and truly luxurious areas in the country.

The neighborhood also hosts Navy Pier and a lovely  bike and jogging path along the lake (well, institutional concrete, but the view is lovely).  You can also drive between the Gold Coast and the lake up and down Lake Shore Drive (LSD).  Buy if you do drive, please slow down.  Us old timers remember the “S” curve at Oak but it seems many weekends some yokel fails to recall the treacherous “S” and manages to tangle up traffic.

If you want a great “from the bathtub” view of Streeterville/Gold Cost, swim along LSD among the triathlete training at Ohio St. Beach.  It’s a one-of-a-kind view.

It’s easy to enjoy this neighborhood without living here.  Stroll up North Michigan Ave all the way to Oak Street Beach where the Lake comes back into sight .  You might as well do a little shopping on the way.  Where? Burberry? Armani? Chanel? Versace? Louis Vuitton? Prada? Cartier? I bet you’ll find a place.

If you’re just visiting and need a place to stay, well you’ve got places to choose from!  Within a block or two you’ve got The Peninsula, The Ritz Carlton and The Four Seasons.   Of course if you need to get out of town quick you can buy Bentley or Lamborghini right in the neighborhood.  Not too shabby….

I could rattle off the A-List restaurants there, including classic Chicago institutions like the 95th at the Hancock, Spiaggia, Tavern, Le Colonial, or the myriad of great steak houses (think institutions like Cap Grille, Gibsons).  OR I could go on about Viagra Triangle’s night life at State/Rush/Bellevue  (I’ll let you look that up).  Just don’t forget the more quiet places, like the BASEMENT at the Hancock where you can grab a slice or a fantastic arancini at L’Appetito. Or head over to Pizanno’s Pizza and Pasta on State.

Finally, raise your hand if you ever had “one of those nights” in Rock and Roll Heaven at Ye Olde Hanggee Uppe. OK, put your hands down.

 

 

Budgeting for a Future Listing

October 14, 2013

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General
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John D’Ambrogio

Some comments from Baird & Warner‘s Elizabeth McGrath

Planning on moving in a few years? Looking to renovate your home but not sure where to start?  The following list is the three areas we suggest to fix, update or replace now in order to get the best price for your home down the line.

The hardware – The dishwasher, fridge, furnace, water heater, these all come first. Figure out what is going to need some restoration and what will need to be replaced.  The key here is to keep the appliances in the kitchen consistent.  They don’t have to all be stainless steel but don’t collect a rainbow hodgepodge.

The bones - Roof, gutters, windows, layout etc.  Styles and trends come and go and majority of home buyers acknowledge that.  They look beyond the paint color to the structure and layout of the property.  So instead of installing the flashy, new insert current trend here take time to secure the roots of the home.  Schedule the necessary updates well before an inspector or agent is involved.

The energy – Technologies such as programmable thermostats, insulating the house and caulking the exterior are all at the top of home buyer’s lists.  Not only that, these updates can also save you money now.

Budget your time, resources and, most importantly, your money.  Effective, purposeful renovations can pay off whenever you approach the market, plain and simple.

 

 

 

Take me down….to Chinatown

October 7, 2013

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Chicago neighborhoods
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John D’Ambrogio

A neighborhood that embraces its culture – Chinatown

My early morning runs often take me down past the South Loop to CHINATOWN. I really dig Chinatown. It’s a very urban, very cool area. Many of Chicago’s ethnic communities have in large part dispersed (Little Italy, Ukrainian Village, etc.).  But Chicago’s Chinatown still has largely maintained its culture and heritage and still has a vibrant residential community.

According to hearsay, our Chinatown is the second oldest in America.  Originally it was settled by Chinese fleeing from persecution in sunny CA. Wikipedia says that in 1869 the Chinese originally settled in Printer’s Row – on MY BLOCK actually. In 1912 things migrated a bit further south to Chinatown’s current location.  Oh these neighborhood overviews are so intertwined.  Of course now my block just has a hair salon and the Fed Building.  Obviously things have changed.

As usual Chinatown lives in multiple Chicago communities – i.e. it’s a part of the greater Armour Square community area.  The main drag starts at Wentworth and Cermak (22nd) and goes on about 4 blocks south. Wentworth and Cermak is the big corner for the New Year’s Parade – always a blast.  That’s the touristy piece (not to say it’s not cool and authentic).  There is also “Chinatown Square” which is really a space (32 acre community) anchored by a very 80s looking two story mall.  The mall is filled with every type of Chinese cuisine you can imagine plus some other little shops, beauty parlors, etc. Something tells me it’s more like what you’d find in….well in a town in China.  I cannot, however, say for sure.

On Cermak there is a GREAT piece of artwork you’ve just gotta see – the Nine Dragon Wall.  It’s a shortened version of a glazed tile wall in the Forbidden in City and one of only three replicas around the world. The original wall was created to highlight Chinese imperial power since nine is a prestigious number in Chinese culture and the dragon is a revered figure.

What to eat, where to eat? Well, everywhere and anywhere. You’ve got Chicago institutions like  Three Happiness, and Phoenix.  But don’t forget to go a block or two in and just wander Chinatown Square.  You can always walk in somewhere where no one speaks English and just point to stuff on the menu. That’s what Chinatown (and Chicago) is all about – exploring and embracing the culture.

There are also a number of “gift shops” – which are just what you might think. Touristy gift shops. But hey, they’re fun. The few little grocery stores  are great. Play it safe with an affordable bag of fortune cookies (or better yet, almond cookies) or live it up by asking what the heck those crazy green vegetables are over there – and buying some!

Now, a cool place where I hang with my kids is Ping Tom Park, over on 18th Street. It’s NOT touristy. It’s a huge park that runs along the river. There is this guy there who is a PRO with kites. Kind of scared the kids (and me) the first time since he talks a lot, but not in English. But he gently took our kites and brought them to new heights, with the addition of an official Chinatown Walgreens bag as a tail! It made for a great spring afternoon.

And in addition, Chinatown is the southernmost stop on the Chicago Water Taxi.  If you’re um..frugal…like me (and you’ve already taken the fantastic Chicago architectural boat tours) $7 will get you an all day pass on the water taxi. Start at Chinatown and ride all the way to Michigan Ave. and the bridge (and back….and forth….and back). Kids love it.  Of course I give free lectures on all the buildings so my kids kind of hate it now….  Regardless, chugging up and down the river is a great way to see the city, and this is the hands down most affordable way to go.

So come by boat, by train, or by car.  Check out Chinatown.