Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Video: Basics for First-Time Buyers

On this YouTube video, Ilyce Glink, one of our favorite real-estate experts (and a member of our Board of Advisors), explains, in two minutes, the basics of condos and offers helpful tips for first-time buyers.

While on YouTube, you might find other valuable videos, including one in which Ilyce explains about townhomes as condos (or not). But please return.

Sage, Practical Advice for Bargain Hunters

On Deal Estate: The Blog, Chicago magazine real-estate columnist Dennis Rodkin offers this sage and practical advice to bargain-hunting buyers:

"Ask your real-estate agent to look for listings in buildings that have been complete for less than 18 months. There is a good chance that most listings there are never-used resales. (A unit that is also listed as a rental is almost certainly a vacant resale.) Your agent can research what preconstruction prices were to get a good idea what the seller paid and then figure in commissions and fees to help you come up with a reasonable offer. "

Monday, January 28, 2008

Reflection: Why This Blog?

Let's converse about condos in Chicago!

Our mission, for both this blog and its companion Web site, ChicagoCondosOnline.com, is to make it fun to buy, own and sell condos.

Our Web site enables buyers, agents and others to access, and interact with, the most-comprehensive content (data, documents and tools) on Chicago condos. Our blog allows those same groups of individuals to interact with one another. The Web site is one-way communication. The blog is two-way.

(That's our intention, at least. Looks like it will take a while for visitors to feel comfortable enough to use the Comments link at the bottom of every "post" to add their thoughts. You can even do so anonymously.)

We're all about conversation and community around one topic: Chicago condos. Whether you are a condo owner, manager, director, buyer, seller, agent, broker, developer, lender, inspector, appraiser, attorney, vendor, consultant, journalist, critic, or just an interested observer, we invite you to participate.

Communication will be primarily within groups: buyers talking to buyers, agents talking to agents. But our goal is to encourage conversation, including lively discussions, between agents and buyers, owners and developers, buyers and sellers.

And, yes, in all candor, an underlying goal of this blog will always be to encourage visitors to enjoy the benefits of ChicagoCondosOnline.com, the main focus of our parent company, Condominium Enterprises.

Contest: Which Unit Has the Best View?

View from 53rd floor at Lake Point Tower, 505 N. Lake Shore Drive

Of the 250,000-plus condominium units in this city, which one has the best view of all?

To find out, ChicagoCondosOnline.com and this blog are inviting the public to enter photos, like the example above, in "Chicago’s Best Condo Views" contest. Owners of units with views judged to be the most spectacular, including views with lowest ownership cost per square foot, will receive prizes. Photos of winning views will be showcased on the Web site and on this blog.

To submit an entry: E-mail a photo or video taken from any condo unit in the city to: Views@ChicagoCondosOnline.com. Identify the unit, its owner(s), the photographer and, if you want, tell how your window to the world enriches your life.

To enjoy the views and vote for your favorite, visit the Awesome Views section of this blog or of ChicagoCondosOnline.com in the near future.

Each month, the owner of the condo with votes from the most visitors will receive a gift certificate. The winner of the first annual contest, chosen from 12 finalists, will have the interior and views of his or her unit captured, free, by a photographer and videographer.

Residents of Chicago condos, which comprise 64% of our residential market, own and enjoy some of the most awesome views in the world. Not only are those views beautiful, but they are valuable. Experts estimate that good views, especially of Lake Michigan, add 10-to-20 percent to a unit’s value. Great views add 30-plus percent.

Every visitor to our site or blog will soon be able to enjoy the million-dollar condo views found throughout our city and help honor the best ones.

To see a sample video entry, click here.

Fun: Which Condos Would Candidates Choose?

To inject some fun and topicality into our on-going conversations, we invite you to post your responses to this question:

If the Presidential candidates were living in Chicago, which condo would each of them live in and why? Let's see how clever you can be. Don't be shy.

Hint: Which of those aspiring to be President do you imagine would choose The Chicago Spire? Trump International Hotel & Tower?

Instead of posting a comment here, one high-end agent e-mailed us that she thinks all the candidates would, instead, choose a high-end co-op. Why? Her reply: Security, privacy, style. Valid point. Anyone (but The Donald) disagree?

In inviting their visitors to respond to our question, our friends at YoChicago suggested a luxury loft rehab for Hillary and a Drexel Boulevard graystone for McCain. A visitor to that site thought that McCain would more likely choose an independent living, senior-citizen condo in Arizona.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Official Blog for ChicagoCondosOnline.com

Welcome to the official blog for ChicagoCondosOnline.com,
"The Ultimate Condominium Resource."

Launched in 2005, our subscription-based Web site (sign-in page above), is independent of any brokerage. We license our content--including 11,000 Building Profiles, 14,000 floor plans, a 100-preference search engine, Quick Comparison Charts and ownership cost per square foot by unit type--to MAP Multiple Listing Service and to Rubloff and other brokerages, which give access to their agents and buyers; and to Fifth Third Bank, which gives access to its loan originators and their customers.

Consumers who wish to remain anonymous can access our content by paying $300 a year to subscribe. Others can get it free by registering as a guest of any of our 9,000 participating agents or loan originators.

News: City's 2007 Condo Sales, A Silver Lining

Despite 7% Fewer Units Sold,
City’s Condos Appreciate 7%

As sales of houses in Chicago slide 27%,
condo sales, with their fourth-highest year, provide a silver lining

CHICAGO, Jan. 11, 2008--After a downturn in real estate in 2007, who is better off: owners of houses or of condos? In Chicago, the clear winners are condo owners. Condos appreciated 7%; single-family homes, 0%.

According to figures calculated from the Multiple Listing Service by ChicagoCondosOnline.com, “The Ultimate Condominium Resource™,” the number of condo units sold in Chicago in 2007 was 18,120, down 7% from 2006. But the median sales price of those units was $297,000, 7% above the 2006 median. And their combined sales value was $6.3 billion, up 1%.

“Compared to double-digit downturns in home sales in Chicago, and of houses and condos in many other U.S. markets, sales of Chicago condos represent a silver lining,” said Jim Kinney, president of Rubloff, one of Chicago’s top condo brokers. “Our city’s condo market, comprising 64% of all residential sales, is relatively strong,” Kinney added. “The key source of that strength is job growth in our diverse local economy. One reason condo sales fell one-fourth as much as home sales is that contracts for many condos that closed in 2007 were signed two or three years ago, when the market was better, which is not true of homes.

“With more listings than a year ago and hundreds of unsold units in new developments,” Kinney continued, “this is a great time to buy a condo.” For 2008, Kinney predicts a 1% increase in units sold and an appreciation rate of 5%.

The record year for condo sales was 2005, with 21,601 units, followed by 2006, with 19,406. The 2007 sales were just below the 18,544 in 2004, making 2007 the fourth-highest year--16% (3,481 units) below the 2005 peak.

The 36% of the city’s residential market made up of single-family homes (and town homes and duplexes) slid 27% in units sold, 22% in combined value. Their median sales price remained flat, at $280,000, meaning zero appreciation.

Of the city’s 77 census areas, the top three in condo unit sales were Near North (2,805), Lakeview (2,127) and West Town (1,355). Combined, those three represent 35% of all sales.

Statistics on the city’s condo market are updated monthly in Market Overview on ChicagoCondosOnline.com.

NOTE: One savvy business reporter who received the above news release took issue with our equating the increase in median sales price with appreciation. Anyone have a better way to measure appreciation of Chicago condos? (He didn't.)