Monday, June 30, 2008

New-Construction Update: 6/30/08

Park Kingsbury Lofts

Every Monday, with help from our friends at, we present vital data on five condos under construction.

To view Building Profile on, click address. To visit developer’s Web site, click name. To use Chicago's best condo search engine to review in-depth profiles of 900+ new-construction properties and find the unit types that meet any combination of 100 preferences, click here.

660 N. Kingsbury, Park Kingsbury Lofts
13 of 17 units available to buy, 2-3 BR, $470K-$1.6M
Developed by Cataldo/Marovitz, Marketed by Koenig & Strey

416 W. Deming, Deming on the Green
16 of 23 units available, 1-4 BR, $480K-$2.6
Developed by Silverleaf, Marketed by Coldwell Banker

1222-4 W. Madison
, Mod

46 of 92 units available, 1-2 BR, $280K-$490K
Developed by Stillpoint, Marketed by Jameson

565 W. Quincy, 565 Quincy
25 of 54 loft units available, $260K-$440K; Delivery 12/08
NA of 198 condos available, 1-2 BR, $210K+; Delivery 3/09
Developed & Marketed by Belgravia

630 W. Wellington, 630 W. Wellington
2 of 8 units available, $699,000
Developed by Castleview, Marketed by Rubloff

Friday, June 27, 2008

22 Foreclosed Units Up for Auction During July

As an earlier post suggested, if you're in the market to buy a condo and are waiting to buy at the bottom, start reading the legal notices in the classified section of your local newspaper.

As this photo of Eva Mendes suggests: Run, don't walk, to your nearest newsstand.

For example, the June 26 edition of Skyline, a neighborhood paper covering Lincoln Park, Old Town, River North and Gold Coast, carried legal notices on 22 downtown condos that will be auctioned to the highest bidders in July. (It listed 31 for June.)

Here, listed by date of the auction, are the foreclosed units:

July 7: Unit 23H, 21 E. Chestnut
July 8: Unit NA, 1530 S. State, Unit 2603, 201 N. Westshore; Unit 2, 6230 N. Franklin
July 9: Unit 705, 873 N. Larrabee; Unit 3, 2318 W. Rosemont
July 11: Unit 1308, 510 W. Erie; Unit 1E, 928 W. Eastwood
July 15: Unit 1AA, 6301 N. Richmond; Unit 3S, 1032 W. Leland; Unit 202, 7334 N. Ridge
July 16: Unit 817, 758 N. Larrabee
July 17: Unit 1, 650 W. Oak
July 18: 1011 N. Riverwalk (townhouse); Unit 3N, 2525 W. Fitch
July 21: Unit 2107, 2 E. Erie
July 22: Unit 708, 1503 S. State; Unit 3603, 440 N. Wabash
July 23: Unit 3, 1265 W. Columbia
July 24: Unit 3305, 2 E. Oak
July 29: Unit 511, 1503 S. State
July 30: Unit 3107-3108, 30 E. Huron

For details on these sales, contact The Judicial Sales Corp. at (312) 236-7253 or Intercounty Judicial Sales at (312) 444-1122.

If you've never been to a condo auction and don't understand the process, you might want to check with your Realtor or attorney first. Also, see cautions by agent Debbie Maue in previous post.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Saluting: Koenig & Strey's Art Collazo

Ninth in a series of profiles saluting Condo Superstars, agents who ranked in the Top 10 for selling the most Chicago condos in 2007.

Youngest of 10 Excels at Selling Rehabbed Condos

Name: Art Collazo. Brokerage: Koenig & Strey GMAC. Age: 40. Years as Agent: 15. Transaction Rank: 5 (199 sides). Dollar Rank: 6 ($58 million). Resale Volume: $16 million. Condos (of all business): 96%. Source of Statistics: Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), Chicago condos closed in 2007.

Ranking No. 5 on our Top 10 list of Condo Superstars is Art Collazo, an agent with Koenig & Strey GMAC Real Estate. Art also heads Collazo Group, a brokerage team of 11 agents and four non-agent staffers that he formed in 2002.

He also founded CG Development, which, in the past six years, has developed 40 of his own buildings, the largest of which has 88 units. CG accounts for 25% of his business and is currently building projects for four other developers.

In 2007 on the MLS, Art ranked No. 5 in condo transactions, with 199, and No. 6 in transaction volume, with $58 million. Of his sales, 96% were condos. Those transactions include sales by his team, for which he takes credit on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). He personally generates most of the new-construction business; his team handles most of the resale portion of his business.

As the statistics show, Art is primarily a listing agent specializing in serving as the exclusive marketing agent for new construction. Primarily, he works with developers to convert apartment complexes to condos. In dollar volume: 72% ($42 million) of his sales was new construction; 28% ($16 million) was resale. Of those sales, 81% ($53 million) was as listing agent, 9% ($5 million) was as buyer's agent.

Art notes that as much as 40% of his transactions isn't reflected in the MLS and that the numbers recorded by his brokerage, Koenig & Strey, show that his team's dollar volume in 2007 exceeded $100 million. (Other agents who specialize in new construction, also have significant transactions not reported on the MLS.)

Why aren't all transactions reflected in the MLS? According to Art, many transactions are inaccurately reported by the buyer's agent and others are never entered into the MLS because some developers don't want to record all of their sales on the MLS. Why? Because many buyers (family & friends, for example) buy at a significant discounts and developers don't want those prices to become part of the MLS records. (Actual sales prices are recorded by the County, but are more difficult to access.)

He focuses on what he calls up-and-coming neighborhoods: Bucktown, Wicker Park and Lakeview.

In a recent interview in his sprawling, loft-style office in a non-descript building at 1753 N. Damen, Art shared his story:

He was born in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, a few miles from his current office. His father was a maintenance worker for Appleton Electronics; his mother stayed home and raised the 10 kids, of which Art is the youngest.

Following graduation from Shurz High School, Art worked at various odd jobs for five years, then studied business at Northeastern University, while dabbling in real estate as a landlord.

After getting his license, Art worked at Coldwell Banker and The Habitat Company, before joining Koenig & Strey's Lincoln Park office in 1999. Since creating his own team in 2001, he has generated sales between $80 million and $100 million in sales annually.

When asked how he plans to improve his No. 5 ranking in 2008, Art responds that he is more interested in living a balanced life. He mentions the importance of spending quality time with wife and their three children, ages 6, 3 and 6 months. With pride, he notes that he takes the kids to school each day and has dinner with them each night.

To do so, he limits work to about 45 hours a week, half of what many of his competitors put in, and takes most weekends off. Comparing his team to the New York Yankees, he says: "I don't expect us to win the World Series every year, but I do want us to be the in the playoffs consistently."

Art believes the future of Chicago condos is "green." As noted in our previous post, he has teamed with George Sullivan of Eco Smart Building to build condos that meet the federal government's Energy Star requirements. As part of their effort, they recently launched, which lists truly "green" condos by various developers.

To demonstrate his commitment to green, Art sold his gas-guzzling, air-polluting Land Rover and bought a diesel-engine car that is more eco-friendly.

His advice to agents wanting to become Superstars: "Treat everyone equally. By that I mean, give the buyer of a hundred-thousand-dollar condo the same attention and service you give to buyer of a more expensive condo. Why? Because, if you treat him right, the buyer of the less-expensive condo will refer you to his boss, who will buy a million-dollar condo."

Monday, June 23, 2008

New-Construction Update: 6/23/08

4601-17 N. Dover, Dover Court

Every Monday, with help from our friends at, we present vital data on five condos under construction.

To view Building Profile on, click address. To visit developer’s Web site, click name. To use Chicago's best condo search engine to review in-depth profiles of 900+ new-construction properties and find the unit types that meet any combination of 100 preferences, click here.

4601-17 N. Dover, Dover Court
21 of 60 units available to buy, 1-3 BR, $170K-$340K
Developed & Marketed by Bella

474 N. Lake Shore, North Pier
36 of 502 units available, 0-3 BR, $290K+ Delivery now.
Developed & Marketed by 474 Lake Shore Associates

714 W. Division, Parkside of Old Town
52 of 258 units available now, 1-2 BR, $260K-$590K
Developed & Marketed by Parkside Associates

740 W. Fulton, 740 Fulton
35 of 132 units available, 1-3 BR, $270K-$870K
Developed by Thrush, Marketed by Keller Williams

300 S. Western, Jackson Square at West End
2-3 BR, $230K-$370K, available now
Developed & Marketed by AMS Realty

Thursday, June 19, 2008

20 Questions To Ask Prospective Listing Agents

When facing the daunting task of selecting a listing agent to handle the sale of our condo, how many of us are influenced by the agent's personal appearance or charm?

Pop Quiz: Given the choice, would you select a typical-looking agent or, assuming she is licensed, Charisma Carpenter (at left)? According to her bio, the actress did once work in property management.

If you answered Charisma, do yourself a favor and read the following article and heed its advice.

Even if you resisted the temptation to pick Charisma, we still recommend the article, as it's one of the best we've read on how to select a listing agent. We are grateful to Christina Hunter (pictured below), an agent with RE/MAX Olson & Associates, in Ventura County, Calif., for this contribution:

For most people their home is their single largest investment, yet when they are ready to sell, most people take little care in finding the right person for the job. Selling your home can sometimes be a challenging and frustrating experience. But with the support and guidance of an experienced professional, it can be a smooth and enjoyable process.

When you decide to sell your home, you should interview several real-estate agents to determine who will do the best job for you in your situation. It is important to choose an agent who is not only knowledgeable about the market and experienced in handling the complexities of a transaction, but it is also important to choose an agent who listens to your needs, shows professionalism and whose personality is complimentary to yours. After all, selling your home should be a joint effort.

Remember, not all agents are the same. Each is an independent contractor with his or her own experience, education and ways of doing business. By asking some key questions, you will be able to determine who will be the right person for the important job of selling your home.

Below are 20 important questions you should ask when interviewing prospective agents.

1. Are you a full-time professional agent or just a part-time sales agent?

2. Are you a Realtor (member of the National Association of Realtors) and a member of all local associations with full Multiple Listing Service access?

3. How long have you been in the business and how many transactions do you close annually?

4. Do you hold any degrees or special real-estate designations?

5. Will you provide me with a list of your most recent customers with their feedback about your service and capabilities?

6. Will you maintain consistent communication with me and guide me through the home- selling process from start to finish, even after closing?

7. What is my competition and how does my home compare? Please provide me with a list of all active, pending, sold, cancelled and expired listings within the last six months.

8. What are the current local market conditions, including average list times, buying trends, local job market and other community-specific factors that would affect the saleability of my home?

9. How will you help me determine a fair selling price for my home that will bring me the best possible selling price in the shortest amount of time?

10. How much would it cost a buyer to purchase my home today and what type of financing is available for buyers in my price range?

11. I am aware that more than 80 percent of home buyers first see a home on the Internet. In addition to a standard marketing plan, do you have a specific Internet marketing plan that will bring my home maximum Internet exposure?

12. What systems do you have in place for attracting buyers and maintaining consistent follow up with other agents and potential buyers?

13. Will you conduct an evaluation of my home and guide me in preparing my home for showing in order to make the best first impression on buyers?

14. Will you help me stay objective during the process by providing me with relevant updates and facts to help me make the best possible decision for my financial future?

15. When an offer is made, will you evaluate the buyer's qualifications, explain my options to me, negotiate the best possible price, terms and conditions, and always look out for my best interests?

16. If I am planning on selling my home and buying another, can you guide me in how to successfully accomplish my goal? Are you experienced in negotiating and handling concurrent closings so my best interests are protected on both sides?

17. Will you review the costs of selling my home, as well as what my estimated net proceeds may be, before I sign the listing agreement?

18. If I must sell and I am not able to sell my home for enough to pay my lender(s) in full, are you experienced in helping people sell in these situations?

19. Have you ever had a grievance or complaint lodged against you with any association or any state real-estate department?

20. If we are unhappy or decide not to sell for whatever reason, can we cancel the listing at any time with no questions asked?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Saluting: @properties' Joe Zimmerman

Eighth in a series of profiles saluting Condo Superstars, agents who ranked in the Top 10 for selling the most Chicago condos in 2007.

He Started, at 15, By Selling His Parents' House

Name: Joe Zimmerman. Brokerage: @properties. Age: 31. Years as Agent: 7. Transaction Rank: 9 (135 sides). Dollar Rank: 14 ($42 million). Resale Volume: $8 million. Condos (as % of business): 97. Source of Statistics: Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), Chicago condos closed in 2007.

Ranking No. 9 on our Top 10 list of Condo Superstars is @properties' Joe Zimmerman. On the Multiple Listing Service in 2007, he ranked 9th in condo transactions, with 135, and 14th in dollar volume, with $42 million.

Like several other Top 10 agents, Joe generated most of his business ($28 million, or 67%) as listing agent for new-construction projects. He generated $8 million as buyer's agent for new construction, $4 million as listing agent for resale properties and $2 million as buyer's agent for resale.

In 2007, 77% of his sales (101 of his 135 transactions) were at Vision on State, a 254-unit condo at 1255 S. State in the South Loop. He served as exclusive marketing agent for the developer, Renaissant.

How did he land that important deal? According to Joe, the developer came to @properties and asked for the agent with the most experience selling developer projects. Because of Joe's success in representing 2 E. Erie and City Club in 2005, he was the one recommended.

Seven of his transactions last year were generated at 1718 N. Ashland, a six-unit condo conversion in West Town. He personally generated all his 2007 sales, Joe says, and almost all of them are reflected in the MLS numbers.

In 2005, after he generated $93 million in sales, primarily from 2 E. Erie and City Club, Joe was named to the National Association of Realtors' "Top 30 Under 30" and Chicago's "Top 40 Under 40" lists. In 2006, with no major projects delivering, his sales dropped to a "mere" $25 million.

In 2008, Joe has shifted his focus from large developers to small ones and is working solely with referrals. His secrets to keeping clients happy include being on time, giving feedback, sending gifts, following up with calls, personal notes and client appreciation items, such as stamps when postage goes up. "It's also important to maintain good relationships with other agents and to know your product," he says.

Joe prides himself most on the service, knowledge and enthusiasm for city life that he brings to every client relationship. The Chicago-area native got his first taste for the business at age 15. His parents were selling their family home and it was Joe who ended up showing the house and landing the sale.

"My family experience taught me that buying and selling real estate is not just a business transaction. It can be an emotional experience, and it's certainly one of the biggest financial investments most of us will make in our lifetime," he says. "That's why I commit to my clients for the long-term, and often serve as a resource long after the closing."

As do many agents, Joe provides ongoing counsel and recommendations to clients on everything from mortgage brokers and lawyers to contractors and tradesmen.

He works out of the Lincoln Park office at 1586 N. Clybourn and currently has 28 listings, three of them at 2 E. Erie. He has two agents on his team, Rachel Miner and Danielle Bataglia.

A former resident of the River North area, Joe moved recently to a home in Bucktown, where he lives with his wife, Sarah, and their newborn son, Joseph Thomas.

Joe, a White Sox fan, has experience in the single-family, condo and townhome throughout Chicagoland. "I feel fortunate to be helping my clients buy in the greatest city in the world," Joe says.

Monday, June 16, 2008

New-Construction Update: 6/16/08

664 N. Michigan, Ritz-Carlton Residences

Every Monday, with help from our friends at, we present vital data on condos under construction.

To view Building Profile on, click address. To visit developer’s Web site, click name. To use Chicago's best condo search engine to review in-depth profiles of 900+ new-construction properties and find the unit types that meet any combination of 100 preferences, click here.

664 N. Michigan, Ritz-Carlton Residences
52 of 86 units available to buy, 1-4 BR, $1.5M-$10M
Developed by Prism, Marketed by Rubloff

240 E. Illinois, Fairbanks
34 of 281 units available, 1-3 BR, $396K+
Delivery now. Developed & Marketed by Centrum

1440 S. Wabash, Coliseum Park
11 of 39 units available, 1-3 BR, $300K-$467K
Developed by Deva, Marketed by Koenig & Strey

4180 N. Marine, Polo Tower
83 of 189 units available, 1 BR, $166K-$220K
Marketed by @properties

5346 S. Cornell, Silver Cloud
43 of 72 units available, 2 BR, $238K+
Developed by Creative Designs, Marketed by Sussex & Reilly

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Saluting: C21 Sussex & Reilly's Jeff Lowe

Seventh in a series of profiles saluting Condo Superstars, agents who ranked in the Top 10 for selling the most Chicago condos in 2007.

With Help From Team, He Doubles Business Each Year

Name: Jeff Lowe. Brokerage: C21 Sussex & Reilly. Age: 35. Years as Agent: 10. Transaction Rank: 8 (138 sides). Dollar Rank: 5 ($72 million). Resale Volume: 7th with $22 million. Condos (as % of business): NA. Source of Statistics: Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), Chicago condos closed in 2007.

Ranking No. 8 on our Top 10 list of Condo Superstars is C21 Sussex & Reilly's Jeff Lowe. In condo sales on the MLS in 2007, he ranked eighth in transactions, with 138, and fifth in dollar volume, with $72 million.

As did many of the Top 10 agents, Jeff generated most of his business ($42 million, or 58%) as listing agent for new-construction projects. With help from his five team members, he generated $8 million representing buyers of new construction, $16 million as listing agent for resale and $6 million representing buyers of resale.

Jeff did not respond to requests for an interview. The following information is from his profile on

"I am from Cincinnati and moved to Chicago after graduating from Miami of Ohio in 1995 with a degree in finance and international business. My wife, Molly, and I are residents and homeowners in Lincoln Park.

"I have been in real estate for 10 years and with Century 21 Sussex & Reilly since it opened in early 2000. In that time, my business has doubled virtually every year.

"My personal philosophy of business is quite simple. I believe in effective marketing, personal service and, most importantly, hard work. I work over 80 hours a week. I am reachable via mobile phone or e-mail at virtually all times of the day.

"I pride myself on my personal commitment and long-standing relationships within the community. As a result, the majority of my existing home sales are generated through previous clients and referrals.

"I was named No. 1 agent in Lakeview from 2002-2006, and in Lincoln Park for 2002. I have also been the highest grossing agent at Sussex & Reilly for the past six years.

"In 2006, my sales exceeded $136 million, elevating my team to one of the top-producing groups, not only in Chicago, but nationwide.

"By having qualified people constantly available, we can ensure that all showing requests are accommodated and that personal attention is our top priority. We believe that this continues to elevate us to the top of our profession."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oakwood Shores Tops Good Neighbor Awards

Eleven condo developments, led by Oakwood Shores, were among the 30 winners of the 2008 Good Neighbor Awards presented recently by the Chicago Association of Realtors.

Excerpts from Celeste Busk's report in the Chicago Sun-Times:

The annual awards honor rehabilitation and new construction efforts by local homeowners and developers in the city who have made a positive impact on a neighborhood. The awards also acknowledge sweat equity, vision, courage to tackle stigmatized buildings and efforts to salvage historical properties or rescue architecturally significant buildings from the wrecking ball.

"We want to recognize people who have revitalized and reshaped Chicago neighborhoods," said Michael P. Golden, CAR president and co-founder of @properties. "It's also fabulous to see people stepping up to do things, not just to make money, but to better a neighborhood."

The top honor, named the Bruce Abrams Award, was given to the developers of Oakwood Shores, a mixed-income development that is helping to revitalize the Kenwood area. Oakwood Shores is a 94-acre development replacing the 127-building public housing developments that formerly occupied the site along Oakwood Boulevard (39th Street) between Langley and Cottage Grove.

Developed by Granite Development, MB Real Estate and UJIMA Venture, Oakwood Shores replaces a deteriorating and crime-ridden area with a mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood. Plans include 1,000 market-rate condos, 1,000 affordable condos and 1,000 Chicago Housing Development Authority rental apartments.

Residences in Oakwood Shores' first two phases are priced from $179,900 to $700,000. Pre-construction sales also are under way for the 83-unit Grove Place, a seven-story mid-rise condo where prices start at $179,900. For more information, call (773) 538-0001; or visit

Other winning condos include:

340 on the Park, 340 E. Randolph: This premiere green building by Related Midwest is at the edge of Millennium Park and is the first residential tower in the Midwest to receive a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The glassy 62-story building has 344 condos.

627 West Buckingham Place, 627 W. Buckingham: LakePointe Development received the award for transforming a run-down three-flat in Lakeview into a four-unit condo building that blends peacefully with the neighborhood's vintage architecture. The brick Victorian's facade boasts a stack of Old World-style open porches across the front.

2663 N. Ashland: When LakePointe Development first approached the owners of this West DePaul neighborhood property, the 68-foot-wide lot housed a single two-flat. Working with an architect, attorney and local alderman, LakePointe created eight wide, spacious condos. The four-story building has elements of the Prairie School of Architecture and features front and rear balconies and deck space.

Clybourn Point at Larrabee, 1322 N. Clybourn: This four-story, modern, glass-and-brick mixed-use building is now one of the most prominent buildings in the changing area of Cabrini Green. The unique, eco-friend building developed by RADA Architects and RADA Development has six residential condos, with a parking garage and commercial space.

University Commons, 1000 W. 15th (left): An Enterprise Companies project, built within the historic walls of Chicago's South Water Market, University Commons is a 926-unit loft conversion featuring six former warehouses.

3816 N. Fremont: Ronan Investors maintained the historical graystone facade with new construction that included two levels and rear addition. The four-story building now contains three simplexes and one duplex condo.

3946-48 N. Marshfield: Originally built in 1896, the vintage brick building was rumored to have once been used as a horse barn. Chicago Properties & Investments purchased the property in 1995 when it contained four two-bed, one-bath apartments with a vacant attic and basement. Today, the four-story brick building has four condos.

Deming Place, 466-468 W. Deming: With curved bay windows, stained-glass elements and a private brick entry, these four condos reflect their historical context with a new, contemporary twist on the inside. The section consists of four duplex condos by the 460-462 W. Deming Building Corp.

Converge Condominiums, 744 W. Fullerton: After closing in 2005, the Parkway Tavern was left vacant and dirty. PEAK Development purchased the property, and with the help of Hartshorne and Plunkard, developed the five-story, modern, brick-and-glass building featuring 16 condos.

4154 W. Berteau: An old Catholic church reincarnated into two luxury condos was the award-winning criteria for Zbigniew and Beata Banas. The couple bought the 8,000-square-foot church in the Old Irving Park neighborhood. Today, the church contains 10,000 square feet of living space within two three-level condos. The couple incorporated the 25-foot-tall cathedral ceiling, and the church's belfry tower, its bell intact, was fitted with skylights. The Banas plan to sell or rent one of the units and live in the other.

Monday, June 9, 2008

How Credit Score Affects Mortgage Payment

How much does your credit score affect your mortgage payment?

We're indebted to Rhonda Porter, at RainCityGuide, a Seattle blog, for this insight:

The following are based on a 30-year, fixed-rate, conforming mortgage with a $500,000 sales price and a loan amount of $400,000, with taxes and insurance included, priced with one discount/origination point.

720 Credit Score = 6.00% (APR 6.149%). Principal & interest payment: $2,398/month. That is $65 a month (nearly 3%) less than for those with a credit score between 719 and 680.

719 - 680 Credit Score = 6.25% (APR 6.276%). Principal & interest: $2,463/month. that is $33 a month (1%) less than for those with a credit score between 679 and 660.

679 - 660 Credit Score = 6.375% (APR 6.529%). Principal & interest payment: $2,496/month.

Of course a borrower with a 719 or less credit score could always pay more in fees (points) to have the same rate as the 720 credit score borrower.

New-Construction Update 6/9/08

Solstice on the Park

Every Monday, with help from our friends at, we present vital data on condos under construction.

To view Building Profile on, click address. To visit developer’s Web site, click name. To use Chicago's best condo search engine to review in-depth profiles of 900+ new-construction properties and find the unit types that meet any combination of 100 preferences, click here.

420 E. North Water, Chicago Spire
842 of 1,194 units available to buy, 0-4 BR, $750K-$40M
Delivery 2010. Developed by Shelbourne, Marketed by @properties

5526-40 S. Cornell, Solstice on the Park
NA of 147 units available, 1-3 BR, $480K-$2.6M
Developed & Marketed by Antheus Capital

1600 S. Prairie, Prairie Pointe at Central Station
10 of 156 units available, 1-3 BR, $380K-$1.8M
Developed & Marketed by Gammonley

2131-41 S. Indiana, Lexington Park
160 of 333 units available, 1-2 BR, $228K-$728K
Delivery 12/08. Developed & Marketed by Chieftain

1200 W. Sherwin, The Breakers
NA of 27 units available, 1-3 BR, $300K-$1.3M
Marketed by RE/MAX NorthCoast

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Saluting: Koenig & Strey's Chris Feurer

Sixth in a series of profiles saluting Condo Superstars, agents who ranked in the Top 10 for selling the most Chicago condos in 2007.

With His Developers, He Juggles 1,000 Units at a Time

Name: Chris Feurer. Brokerage: Koenig & Strey GMAC Real Estate. Age: NA. Years as Agent: NA. Transaction Rank: 3 (323 units). Dollar Rank: 3 ($107 million). Resale Volume: 5th with $22 million. Condos (as % of business): NA. Source of Statistics: Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), Chicago condos closed in 2007.

Ranking No. 3 on our Top 10 list of Condo Superstars is Koenig & Strey's Chris Feurer. In condo sales on the MLS in 2007, he ranked third in both transactions, with 323, and dollar volume, with $107 million.

As do most agents on the top 10 list, Chris generated most of his business ($68 million, or 64%) as exclusive listing agent for new-construction projects. He generated $16 million as buyer's agent for new construction, $16 million as listing agent for resale properties and $4 million as buyer's agent for resale.

He is also president of CRF Marketing.

Chris did not respond to requests for an interview, so we offer this from his profile on the Koenig & Strey Web site:

“To me, there is nothing as exciting as seeing a development project take shape, from the first plans to the final sale and closing of the last unit. To know that I have been part of a creative process that will provide homes for people to enjoy for years to come is especially fulfilling.

"In less than a decade, Chris has become not only a dedicated Realtor and marketing specialist, but also the top agent for Koenig & Strey. He led the company in sales in 2004 and again in 2005 with closed sales of more than $143 million. Chris has also been the top agent for the entire GMAC system nationwide for the past two years.

"He specializes in new and rehabbed multi-unit residential projects in the Chicago metropolitan area and plans to begin representing projects in Chicago’s suburbs soon.

"On average, Chris works with 900 to 1200 units under development at any given time. Chris’s approach to each development begins with a detailed and customized business plan. He is involved with his clients from day one, supplying advisory services on the development itself as well as complete real-estate services. He provides customized support to each development, including total project and marketing management.

"While Chris specializes in working with developments, he is also committed to his buyers, helping them find the residence that will best satisfy their requirements and assisting them throughout the buying process.

"Though born in Indianapolis, Chris was raised in suburban Chicago. He became an entrepreneur immediately after college when he became the owner of a firm that handled cleaning, restoration and sales of residential flooring. Seeing a friend rehab several homes, which realized a profit, prompted Chris to consider real estate and development as a career.

"Today, Chris and his wife and their young son live in Old Town. Free time is devoted to his family and motocross, snowmobiling and racing cars."

Monday, June 2, 2008

Text @properties for Listings Information

Chicago's No. 1 seller of condos, @properties, has partnered with Image Architecture on a mobile-marketing initiative it cleverly calls "Cell This House," which will allow consumers to instantly receive information on its listings, via text messaging.

The 600-agent brokerage is utilizing technology from Cellit Mobile Marketing to provide this platform and is the first brokerage in Chicago to do so company-wide.

Each listing will be assigned a code, which will be displayed on all corresponding advertising, including Web sites, signage and newspaper ads.

Consumers, including Jennifer Aniston, can text message that code to 30364 and, within ten seconds, receive more information, interior photos and, if applicable, a short video.

Users can then scroll over the listing agent’s e-mail address or phone number to set up a showing or request more information, including full listing information.

Beginning in May, every new @properties listing will be assigned a corresponding text code. Some current listings will be assigned a code retroactively. For samples, text ATP1248 or ATP2723 to 30364.

Consumers can opt to receive quarterly market updates via text message.

Breaking News: Dollar Volume Down 12% YTD

Year to date, the number of units sold on the Multiple Listing Service, operated by Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), is down 25%. With median sales price up 11%, the combined dollar volume of Chicago condos closed so far in 2008 is down 12%.

At the end of April, year-to-date dollar volume was down 8%, compared to 4% in March. So, it appears that the city's condo market is still searching for a bottom. (Prices, however, continue to remain positive, which is not the case in many other major markets around the country.)

Units closed year to date were down 24% at the end of April, 18% in March, 24% in February and 36% in January.

On the MLS, at least, there is still no evidence of a glut of condos. New listings are down 18% compared to this time last year and average market time is down 2%. The supply increased from 9.4 to 9.5 months during May. (Anything over six months is generally considered a buyer's market.)

Many units unsold by developers are not listed on the MLS, so it is impossible to get an accurate snapshot of the inventory.

Units closed in May were up 9% over April and dollar volume was up 12% over April. But comparing May 2008 to May 2007, units closed were down 37% and dollar volume was down 25%.

For the raw numbers on which the above percentages are based, see the Condo Market widget on this blog. For more details, go to Market Overview on

When asked to comment on the above report, @properties' Bob Darrow, a veteran top-producer whose sales are in the top 5% of all Chicago agents, offered this perspective:

"What I am seeing in my market (Northside Chicago) is that sellers who do not need to sell are simply choosing not to sell rather than take a loss on their property. This is evident during showings, when I am seeing typical condos in the Gold Coast, for example, listed for sale that are clearly lifestyle choices to sell rather than necessity.

"Properties that go unsold are simply taken off the market. Sellers are either keeping their properties or renting them out. I am not seeing the distressed sellers who are represented so typically in national and regional media."

About the inventory of developer units, Bob adds: "According to Appraisal Research Counselors [which monitors the downtown market], in 2007 and 2008, the greatest numbers of condos are scheduled for completion in Chicago’s history. Many of these units are unsold even though they are not in the MLS yet.

"Many of the units that are sold are under contract by investors who may simply walk away from their earnest-money deposits rather than take ownership of a property that will not offer a profit on re-sale or cash flow opportunity."

New-Construction Update: 6/2/08

Waterview Tower, 121 W. Wacker

Every Monday, with help from our friends at, we present vital data on condos under construction.

To view Building Profile on, click address. To visit developer’s Web site, click name. To use Chicago's best condo search engine to review in-depth profiles of 900+ new-construction properties and find the unit types that meet any combination of 100 preferences, click here.

111 W. Wacker, Waterview Tower
74 of 233 units available to buy, $780K-$8.8M
Delivery in 12/09. Developed & Marketed by Teng

3133 N. Lakewood, 3133 Lakewood
18 of 25 units available, 1-4 BR, $280-$680K
Delivery now. Devleoped & Marketed by Macon

400 N. LaSalle, 400 N. LaSalle
145 of 453 units available, 0-2 BR, $230-$660K
Delivery NA. Developed/Marketed by DK/Equity

1720 S. Michigan, 1720 S. Michigan
59 of 498 units available, 1-3 BR, $202-$400K+
Delivery in 60 days. Developed & Marketed by CMK

900 W. Huron, Mondial River West
NA of 142 units available, 1-4 BR, $230K-$1M
Delivery in 2009. Developed by Citta, Marketed by Koenig & Strey

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Oscar at Home in Hudson's Chicago Condo

Among the most distinguished residents of any of Chicago's condos is Oscar, of Oscar Night fame.

According the Sun-Times, Jennifer Hudson, who won the Academy Award for her role in "Dreamgirls," lives in a Chicago condo, though she has been urged to move to Hollywood.

Currently co-starring in the movie version of "Sex and the City," Jennifer keeps Oscar in her condo. "My Oscar is on its own mantle," she says. "It lights up and sings when you walk through the door. It sings 'Ahhhhhhhhh.' No, seriously, it's on a lighted stand, and the light beams up at Oscar. People want to touch it and see it. Who am I to deny them?"

Jennifer credits the condo for her new, skinnier figure. "I walk up to my place on the 23rd floor. I take the steps," she says. "I can do it six times in a row. I've counted and it's 300 steps. I don't walk down because those steps are too narrow. I walk up and take the elevator down. I leap up some steps. Switch it up."

If we had an Oscar waiting, we, too, might be tempted to skip the elevator and take the stairs. On second thought . . . .

Are You Better Off Buying or Renting?

Need a really cool and sophisticated calculator to help you compare the costs of renting and buying equivalent condos?

Visit this page on the Web site of The New York Times (

With any luck, the calculator can help you stretch your income as well as Jennifer Lopez (above) is stretching her lithe limb.

How Associations Can Save By Going Green

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Jim Stoller, president of Building Group, a property-management company, suggests ways condo associations can incorporate eco-friendly "green" into their operations. Among the suggestions made by Stoller (and, we bet, are A-okay with Diane Lane):

* Replace incandescent bulbs in exit signs with LED (Light Emitting Diodes), which can save up to $24 a year per fixture.

* Replace incandescent hallway lighting, especially heat-generating halogen bulbs, with fluorescents, saving up to 70 percent a year.

* Install movement-detection sensors to turn on lights.

* Clean or replace HVAC filters monthly during peak seasons.

* Reduce water usage up to 70 percent by replacing faucets and shower heads with models with aerators and flow restrictors. (Repairing a leaky faucet can save 2,200 gallons a year. Fixing a leaky toilet can save 7,200 gallons a year.)

* Turn off computers and other electrical devices at night and on weekends or unplug when not in use for extended periods.

* Seal and weather-strip windows, or upgrade to low E or a double- or triple-paned windows.

* Install variable-speed pumps.