Chicago Relocation

Hyde Park, From the Midway to the Museums….

August 25, 2014

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John D’Ambrogio

If you’re not familiar with Hyde Park, you probably only know its two big landmarks – The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) -(always a big treat for me when I was a kid), and the University of Chicago (kind of our version of an Ivy League school out here in the Midwest).

And who wouldn’t want to see the home of the first controlled self sustaining nuclear reaction? Yup, right here on the southside of Chicago, the fate of the Second World War was sealed.  And seeds were sewn for a lot more of history to come.  But nuclear war aside, it’s a beautiful campus, and filled with a lot of people way way smarter than me.

Take a stroll down the Midway Plaisance for a breathtaking University view.  Joining two of our gems, Washington and Jackson Parks, and developed by Taft and Olmsted, it’s gorgeous.   “Monsters of the Midway?”  Yup, that’s where the bears get their nickname, although U of C maroons stopped as a big ten presence the year “The Wizard of Oz” was released….

A perfect Hyde Park afternoon for me is heading down to the MSI with the kids, parking (for free!) on a side street north of the museum ($20 parking is for suburbanites), hitting the museum for a bit (with a family pass, it’s permissible to just visit for a bit, so there’s not the crush to see it all in one day – maybe visit a coal mine, German U-Boat or one of the other kabillion cool things they have there), and then walk under LSD (Chicago term) with a picnic lunch or supper with the kids and a little swimming at 57th Street Beach. (But wait 45 minutes after you eat).  Clean beach, diverse and friendly crowd, and parking.  I’ll put it up against North Ave. or Oak Street any time!

And OH – The park there has the beautiful Promontory Point - And I mean beautiful!  Field house (with restrooms!), planned “prairie,” and built high enough and far enough into the lake to provide unparalleled city panorama!

Then stop by the DuSable Museum of African American History. The museum’s mission is to “collect, preserve and display artifacts….to promote understanding and inspire appreciation of the achievements, contributions and experiences of African Americans.”  It’s named in honor of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the first permanent non-native resident of Chicago.  Of African descent, he had a little place where the river meets the Lake.  Bet that piece of property is worth a lot now.  It’s basically Michigan Ave meets the river!

Now don’t forget Robie House, one of the loveliest and best preserved Frank Lloyd Wright homes anywhere.  The FLW Association offers tours, and they’re well worth it.  It’s a great organization run by people with a passion.  I got to host a relo event back in the day there when my buddy Jim was the chair of the FLW society – Talk about impressing your pals!

The neighborhood’s famous locales and steady competition for upscale housing has helped keep it a more stable neighborhood, in terms of real estate, than some of its neighbors.  You see a lot of sturdy brick, brown and greystones in HP, with the obligatory fence of highrises along the lakefront – can’t beat that view looking north to the city!

And while you’re there, walk over and see if Mr. Obama is home!  He lives in the 5000 block of South Greenwood.  2 things – Some people call that neighborhood Kenwood. And #2 – Actually…don’t go visit, he’s not home and the block is more secure than his other place on Pennsylvania Ave.  Looks like a lovely house online anyway….Better yet, just stop in at Jimmy’s Woodlawn tap - I hear the bar food is great there….Tell ‘em Dylan Thomas sent you.


A picture is worth a thousand words

August 18, 2014

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Chicago Real Estate
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John D’Ambrogio

But sometimes a well placed word or two can get another ten grand or so!  This according to a recent WSJ article that reported on an analysis of property descriptions and their effect on sales price.

What were award winning words?  Well, in today’s market phrases like granite countertops and wood burning fireplace seem to make a big difference.  I might beg to offer that simply having these items is what makes them sell, but I am not an analyst.

Bennie Waller, a professor of finance and real estate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., told the Wall Street Journal that property characteristics described in each listing increases the sale price by almost one percent and the probability of selling by over nine percent. “That means a listing with 15 additional property characteristics sells for roughly a 13.5 percent price premium,” according to Waller.  Included in the helper words were any ‘positive’ words like gorgeous and beautiful.

The study looked at a Virginia MLS and analyzed some 16,000 transactions over a decade.

My unscientific spin?  Those ten years saw a boom and bust market, making it tough to monitor outside forces at play.  And the report doesn’t say if they compared apples to apples (incredibly hard to do) when isolating phrases like granite countertops, etc.

Nice study, but what it tells me is old school – It is important to appropriately accentuate the positive!  Maybe they can do a study on next?


The Future of Green

August 11, 2014

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John D’Ambrogio

Some comments from Baird & Warner‘s Sean Hyland

The green initiative has become a major trend in America over the past several years.  Everyone wants to reduce their carbon footprint and live healthier and do things that involve the word “sustainable.”  As a major trend in the country, we have seen this initiative affect many different areas of life, including the real estate industry.

We have already experienced the infiltration of certain green products in our living spaces and how many eco-friendly homes have popped up in the market.  Green products and houses attempt to lessen the hazardous effects that humans may have on the environment and create a healthier lifestyle for all.  As people become more knowledgeable and careful with the environment, we will continue to see eco-friendly ideas as major trends of the future.

But what will those trends lead into?  Currently we are working toward a greener and more environmentally friendly lifestyle, but what is the ultimate goal of these practices?  Many would say we want to achieve true sustainability, where we live harmoniously with the environment and are able to benefit from nature without destroying it, allowing for future generations to do the same.  The green initiative helps us do just that.

In terms of real estate and the housing market, this means that we are trending towards greener living arrangements, AKA eco-cities.  An eco-city is an entire city that is designed to function smoothly for human life while, at the same time, producing no negative externalities for the environment.  There are already many eco-cities in existence (with Tianjin, China being the largest) and others in still in the planning stages.  Chicago is currently not considered an eco-city, but it has become considerably more eco-friendly.  However, as the green trends continue, we can expect more eco-cities to rise up.

The more popular these cities become, the higher the demand will be for people to build and purchase these homes.  As the market becomes more densely inhabited by green homes and eco-cities, it may be who of you to better understand the ins and outs of the green market.   And if you find yourself on the buying end of an eco-city property, don’t think that these homes are just for hippies trying to become one with nature.  These houses offer many benefits for humans too.


Q2 2014 Chicago Real Estate Market Update

August 4, 2014

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John D’Ambrogio

The second quarter of 2014 held consistent – a great sign for the Chicago market. John D’Ambrogio breaks down the Chicagoland Real Estate Market.