Where is the BEST PLACE to Buy a Condo in Chicago?

When the real estate market boomed in Chicago people forgot the old adage in real estate “Location, Location, Location.” Instead, people followed pricing trends and focused on areas that saw massive price increases, some above 20% per year. When the real estate market crashed, however, these areas were the first to feel the blow. Why? Because the location never justified the price increase. What should you look for in a location in Chicago?

1. YOU – Think about what YOU want. What type of restaurants do you like to visit? What sorts of shops do you want to be able to walk to? How easily can you get to work? Chances are many people will share your wants and needs as well.

2. TRANSPORTATION – Proximity to the CTA and in some cases the Metra is HUGE in Chicago. Cutting down on commute time to work and play can easily entice someone to pay more money for a unit in one location versus another. When you are looking at locations always think of Chicago winters. A 7 block walk to the train or bus may seem great on a summer day in the city but on a blustery cold day in January it will not. Think about the worst weather conditions in Chicago and THEN think about proximity to transportation.

3. WEEKENDS – Can you enjoy yourself on the weekends? Prices in the loop may be high for instance but in many cases they are lower than prime areas of River North and the Gold Coast. Even though the loop may appear more crowded it only offers advantages during the week. On the weekends the streets and businesses become desolate. This can easily influence price. You need to think about both – your work week and your weekends.

All these things I mentioned may seem very elementary and you may be saying to yourself “I could have told you that.” The reality is you could have. The difference is so many people get side tracked when looking for a place that they forget the very basics of real estate…location, location, location. Those who remembered these basic items still were affected by the real estate crash but much less than those who forgot these important real estate principals.

Rental Market in Chicago starting to slow?

Is the rental market in Chicago starting to slow? I have yet to run any statistical analysis from the MLS regarding rental data but my pulse on the market has accurate in the past and now I’m getting the feeling that the rental market is starting to slow. The fall is always a slower time to rent and December will be even slower than previous months, but I have noticed activity slow in the market place in comparison to last year.

While I have seen rental activity slow I have seen buyers come out of the woodwork, many of whom plan to buy this winter!

What do I believe is causing the slow down? I think we are seeing more renters turn into buyers. This is evident by inventory levels of homes for sale decreasing month after month in Chicago. The rental market slow down I speak of is only very minor. Prices are still at record highs and rentals are still renting quick but when I am starting to get the sense that rental prices are hitting a plateau. In Chicago we will see over 3,000 rental units hit the market in the coming year. While all these rental units target the class A downtown rental market (studios near 2,000/mo, 1 beds from 2,500, etc) other rental markets such as Lakeview, Lincoln Park, etc. can still feel the impact of increased inventory levels if a price war ensues downtown.