Monday, February 26, 2007

The New '30s'

I try to constantly evolve as a Buyers Representative and thus, continuously explore different 'urban niches' in this Midwestern prairie setting I now call home. In the past few years I have come to work with many 'middle aged' out of town buyers (as I once was myself) as well as a steady drip of suburban empty nesters wishing to 'reverse migrate' back into the city. For me at least, these groups have become part of the most exciting demographic movement in the Chicago housing market today. I'm here to tell you...50 is the new 30----or at the very least, a 40's 'Mulligan.' Like in golf...that first swing (or two) into the lake doesn't count...get it?.... Second wife's a charm, as they say. Anyway, "Bring on the Platinum Years," is my new housing mantra.

Let me take a few moments and share with you the most common 'requirements' I receive on an almost daily basis from this newly emerging demographic. If you're here on my site then you already know its all about the internet with me. Thousands of new visitors pass through these pages each month and while I haven't done the precise research I can say with much certainty that a great portion of my readers are Relocation Buyers and very few of them come from My Space. Over half of my Buy-Side transactions in 2006 came from this 'relocation' and 'move back' market. Anyway, here's the prix fixe menu I've prepared for your perusal this evening:

Heated Garage Parking is a must at whatever cost. Upwards of $40,000 per space is not unusual in these Near North neighborhoods and when it comes to secured spots for the Bimmer and E-Class, the 'more the better' is the order of the day with my typical client.

Same with the Bedroom requirements. Three plus a Den is an optimum layout for these newly urbanized 'tweener' couples. The bedrooms need not be sizable--just comfortable enough for a long weekend stay by the 'nest crashing' kids home from college or for the obligatory bi-annual visit from the folks back in Iowa. Believe me, three days in this city is enough for my parents and in-laws alike and my clients are usually quick to echo the same about their own loved ones. 75 is still the old 75 apparently. And since 21 is also the same 21--an 8x9 cubby space with a Jennifer Convertible off the living room is just fine for starters. The perfect appetizer. Three days and out. "Oh by the way...we're spending your inheritance. We're just not putting the bumper sticker on the Bimmer."

Walking Distance. My clients have a strong desire to walk everywhere and to everything. After 20 years in the suburbs, be it Naperville or Los Angeles, not having to start up the car for a coffee run or Dim Sum to go seems almost utopian---at least in an urban context. And a brisk stroll through the steel and concrete canyons of River North after dinner and drinks at MK is an oh so much hipper experience than a Friday evening power walk through the Woodfield Mall Food Court.

Ahh, the Terrace. Its so much more than a balcony and from much richer breeding stock than the simple suburban deck. Toast the Summer Regalia beneath the stars of skyscraping lights!....premium outdoor space is paramount and, almost across the board I've found, a river view trumps a lake view with this migrating crowd. (And an occasional handrolled Cuban might just be in order if the weather is fair and the Cardiologist concurs. There's a good chance he resides a few buildings away.)

Public 'greenspace' within peeing distance of Rover. While these people definitely are fond of their children, they are simply obsessed with their pets--more specifically, their dogs. Dog Walking is a cottage industry in this town. Mine gets a 1099 from me at the end of the year.

"Try and keep it under a million," one of my favorite clients recently told me. "We're moving here to work less, not more."

I sell across many markets in Chicago and in any given month I market and show listings throughout the North, South Loop and near West sides of the city. I've helped a recent college graduate buy his first condo with 103% financing and was just recently referred to a couple born in 1926 by my Mortgage Guru who also structures the majority of my deals. I like everybody! But there is something special to me about helping those who are new to this town find their housing groove. The MLS Search Engines available these days are awesome--and I believe ours is the best in Chicago--but there's just no getting around the two dimensional aspect of the typical internet drill.

And I'm especially fond and admiring both, of those 'mid-life' couples who choose to re-define themselves and their domestic situation by moving into the rush and shuffle of the city. I believe I'm cut from the same fabric as these folks and while my wife is currently experiencing her own new 20's of the 40's (I'm in trouble no matter how I put it), she takes my word for it and has come along for the ride. So you see, I know what you are looking for. And whenever possible, I do my best to keep it "under a million." Way under in most cases!

photo by alibaba

Geno Petro

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"No Deal, Howie..."

True Story:...I was having a discussion with another Realtor this week when he mentioned to me that he had just been 'fired' by his client. The scenario followed along these lines: The young agent had identified and scheduled Saturday showings for a series of condominiums in Chicago. At the end of the showing itinerary his clients (a young couple) expressed serious interest in one particular property but needed to board a plane and fly out of town the next day. The agent promised to get 'more information' and would 'touch base' again when they returned to town the following week. As luck would have it, the condo went under contract with another buyer and another agent that very evening and was subsequently agreed upon, signed off on, and faxed to the attorneys of both parties by the end of the night--unbeknownst to the young storyteller.

When my agent friend called for a 'second showing' at the request of his clients the following week he received the bad news from the listing agent. His clients were not only dissappointed but more than a little upset and immediately fired him over the phone. He was slated to take their listing (current home) as well and this opportunity too, was lost. They felt he should have kept them 'in the running' and were also upset he didn't 'know' what the condo eventually sold for. After that story even I was unhappy just hearing it.

So here are my thoughts on the whole thing. First, as a Realtor, I never want to be overbearing but I've lost enough deals in my own career to know that I'm just not doing my clients any favors by letting them wait on a property they love. Period. It only makes sense that when one place stands out from the rest at a particular price point then it will be the most desirable to everyone who sees it and thus, be the most likely to first go under contract. I call this the 'Prettiest Girl In School Theory' for all the obvious reasons. Its my job as a Realtor to let my clients know the perfect place might very well be gone in short order and to pose the following two-part question:..."So how would you feel if you found out in a day or so that someone else got the property? And later on found out that is was purchased at a price you would have paid?"

Now in support of my colleague, its been a long, cold, slow winter season and even the best of the best listings have lingered on the market for longer than usual. And I guess if you dress a pretty girl in a snowsuit with scarves, a hat and boots then shove her out in a winter blizzard with sub-zero windchills, then one might just miss the otherwise obvious 'beauty' as they pass her on the street in January. (And then there's the whole 'inner beauty' thing as well, but that's another theory for another day.)

The other thing, and this is probably my most important point, is that as Realtors we need to let our clients know the series of events from beginning to end. I always forward a copy of the following Purchase Steps piece fairly early on in the relationship. I borrowed it from someone a few years back and rewrote to fit my own real estate marketing needs. It touches all important bases in the buying process with the possible exception of 'The Multiple Offer.' (The MO is a whole different walk in the park---and again, is fodder for another day. Now that's something to get fired over. Perfect strategy is in order to be sure, with the big MO.)

As far as 'knowing' what a subject property sold for prior to Closing (of escrow)---well, this is highly guarded knowledge. It is unethical for a listing agent to reveal or even hint at this information until it is recorded. Can you imagine the mess if a Multiple Offer was in play? I've even heard of a 'losing buyer' going around all agents involved and submitting a high bid to the seller after the negotiations were concluded, trying to get back in the deal through the back door.

Also, there is no 'in the running' in real estate--not without a submitted written contract. 'Verbal Interest' is just that...verbal and interest. The above mentioned Purchase Steps clearly shows that the initial 'written offer' is a long way from the 'final walk through.' You might as well be the first to put it in writing on your own terms and let the negotiations begin rather than wait too long and be boxed out of the deal completely. Just remember, all you agents and buyers...anything that isn't submitted on paper in a timely fashion is simply, "No deal, Howie..."

picture by tv.msn

Geno Petro

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Loft At First Sight

I never saw a Loft in person until I relocated to Chicago 12 years ago. Coming from the more traditional housing stock of the East Coast, the name alone (for me, at least......Loft...ahhhh) denoted not only the promise of a unique and hiply appointed dwelling space but a heightened state of mental being. Only the coolest of cool people lived in Lofts, I was certain. A separate breed--Loft people, more than likely. Magazine people, for sure.

And speaking of self-perception, I dared not peek too closely in the mirror back in that first blustery winter, nor into the passing panes of storefront glass as I briskly traversed the Chicago sidewalks searching for that perfect spot to hang my Kangol. I needed to drop 20 pounds quickly (by the following weekend preferrably) if I planned on choosing a Loft for my new home/lifestyle/image. Many people lose weight after a divorce but that wasn't the case with me--- and while there are many, many cool, portly people, I just wasn't one of them. Contrary to what they say on television, I look better when I'm starving to death. (But they are correct when they say that winter clothing adds an extra forty pounds in front of the camera.)

As I stared off into the condoscape of Lake Shore Drive I envisioned my future Chicago abode to be a mixture of a Fraiser Crane Seattle soundstage and Bud Fox's Wall Street Manhattan makeover (post Daryl Hannah redo after Gordon Gecko made him rich). At least half of the established Seven Deadly Sins would surely play an integral part in this new lifestyle of mine. My Housing Dream (Wish) List read as follows...(ps...I wasn't a Realtor yet):
  • Parking Spot in living room (ala the 1970's Vegas, starring Robert Urich in a red vintage Thunderbird)

  • View of the Lake (come to find out, this generally can't occur with above mentioned wish at the below mentioned pricepoint)

  • Chef's Kitchen with concrete floors/countertops and a restaurant quality refrigerator for my take-out menus (I ordered most meals out in those days)

  • Concrete columns, timber beams, and glass block everywhere

  • Bathroom in the middle

  • One sofa, one pool table, one bed, one giant media center. One fork, one spoon...

  • Private terrace with sauna and a tree

  • Under $200,000...

Well, needless to say... there was no mad rush to drop the extra divorce weight. I apparently wasn't wealthy enough to be one of the cool Loft people. And as one impatient, downtown Realtor was quick to point out (and I use his quote myself whenever the moment calls for it),... "Face it. You can't even get a really good Ferrari for $200,000..."

I personally don't believe this, though. There is an abundance of condominiums in and around downtown Chicago at the $200,000 pricepoint... 725 to be exact as of this writing. I just don't think any of them have a sauna and a tree on the terrace (although many of them do have a view of the Lake).

I never did buy a Loft and I'm fairly certain now that I never will---my wife won't let me. She'd never go for a bathroom in the middle of anything unless it was a Four Seasons. And although my present pricepoint is a multitude of what I previously stated, my only present sinning is of the least deadly variety. I still love the Loft, though. It's just a shame we couldn't work things out between us. The timing was all wrong. The stars and Moon, or vice versa, were all out of alignment. And although it wasn't 'meant to be' for me, I live vicariously through the people I sell them to. (dangling preposition, I know)

I ended up renting a Studio Apartment with a view of the Lake back in 1995. I soon thereafter upgraded to a One-Bedroom in the same building on a higher floor before eventually changing neighborhoods completely and opting for a series of Turn of the Century, Post Fire/Cow/War vintage Flats throughout the northern sections of the city. I now reside, quite happily mind you, in a sensible Lincoln Park Duplex with outdoor parking, a fully stocked pantry, double door refrigerator, and bathrooms in all the traditional places--I just don't look too closely into any of the mirrors.

photo by baanyindee

Geno Petro

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Chicago Market Trend Reports

Each week I publish detailed market research reports for many Chicago neighborhoods. The charts below always reflect the current market. Bookmark this page to keep an eye on the real estate trends in your neighborhood.

If you'd like to receive the detailed reports, just contact me
and you can have the latest local details every week!

Chicago Near North Side Real Estate Market (60610)

Get Geno's

60610 Market Update Report

Subscribe now to learn dozens of Near North Side real estate trends and other important market measures!

Chicago Lakeview Real Estate Market (60657)

Get Geno's

60657 Market Update Report

Subscribe to my Lakeview Market Intelligence report for weekly neighborhood trends.

Chicago Lincoln Park Real Estate Market (60614)

Get Geno's

60614 Market Update Report

Subscribe to my Lincoln Park Market Intelligence report for weekly neighborhood trends.

Chicago Wicker Park Real Estate Market (60622)

Get Geno's

60622 Market Update Report

Subscribe to my Wicker Park Market Intelligence report for weekly neighborhood trends.

Chicago Uptown Real Estate Market (60613)

Get Geno's

60613 Market Update Report

Subscribe to my Uptown Market Intelligence report for weekly neighborhood trends.

Chicago Edgewater Real Estate Market (60640)

Get Geno's

60640 Market Update Report

Subscribe now to learn dozens of Edgewater real estate trends and other important market

Chicago Bucktown Real Estate Market (60647)

Get Geno's

60647 Market Update Report

Subscribe to my Bucktown Market Intelligence report for weekly neighborhood trends.

Geno Petro

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Old Town City Living

1421 N Halsted St Unit 3N

Chicago, IL 60622
2 Bedroom Condo
offered at $299,900
Year Built
Sq Footage 1,100+

2 Bedrooms
1 Full Jack & Jill Bathroom (Double Entry)
1 Uncovered Parking Spaces
Maintenance: $171 Per Month
Taxes: $3227 Per Year


Put it on your Old Town, 2 Bed showing list. This 1150+ sq ft Condo with a super smart living design is just a quick jog to Lincoln Park shopping, The Steppenwolf Theatre, and the heartbeat of Near North Chicago. Lovely city unit has oak floors, a separate space for dining, gas fireplace with hutch mantle for flatscreen media, do laundry in your unit, Jack & Jill Master bath has double vanity bowls and double entry. Enjoy the cityscape from a private 5x13 walk-out and park with ease in this North Village complex. Immediate Occupancy.


Central A/C
Central heat
Walk-in closet
Hardwood floor
Tile floor
Living room
Dining room
Balcony, Deck, or Patio
Private Parking Included


Geno Petro
Chicago Home Estates
For sale by agent/broker
Equal Opportunity Housing

Geno Petro

Monday, February 05, 2007

Stay In Shape...(and keep your cool)

I am not without my own personal demons and shortcomings mind you, so I think I can speak freely. I never was a supermodel or even a regular model (well, maybe a role model but quite possibly only to, in the words of a former coach, serve as a 'bad example') but when I knew that all eyes were upon me, I made certain to clean up real good and bring my best game. And when it became 100% evident that a career in professional sports, film acting, or music were off the table for good, I did what many Liberal Arts majors with advanced degrees do---I entered the arena of Professional Sales instead.

After 25 continuous years without a guaranteed salary I can say with great certainty that, although not as glamorous, Sales is indeed a profession. And while it may not be the 'oldest profession' I would guess that it provided at least some of the 'start up captial' for the latter back in the original day. And for those of us who continue down this more 'reputable path' of the former, it is to be sure, equal parts Art and Science.

I try and call my parents back East at least once a week if for no other reason than to hear their voices and find out about the traffic and the weather in Chalfont, PA. Even though they are both fast approaching 80 years on this Earth (and I myself, am on the north side of 50) they still worry about me. They think I should have become a teacher in a nice school district or taken the Civil Servants exam back when I still had a full life ahead of me. My father worries that I may never sell a house again (thank you media) and my mother would not mind it a bit if I were to move back in with them, wife and all. So you can understand why I don't mind talking jet streams, wind chill and gridlock during these weekly chats. I remind them that I consistently strive to produce a million or two a month in volume even during the slower cycles but this apparently is no consolation to my parents. They love me and wish I had a regular salary. Thank God I finally met a 'nice girl.'

An old mentor of mine once whispered in my ear as I was about to pick up the phone to set my first sales appointment back in the 1980s, "Some sales people have 20 years experience. Some have the same one year experience, 20 times. Stay in shape and keep developing. Don't keep repeating your first year over and over. And lose the 'Sales Talk.' It's a Profession, not a car lot..." or something like that. Oh yeah, "...and keep your cool. The best Sales Professionals are very cool."

I made $30,000 that first year and won a company trip to someplace in West Virginia. (Then they made me a Manager and I took my first pay cut.) I figured if I couldn't be a running back for the Steelers, or act in a Scorsese film, or play guitar in a 1970's rock band (I went bald at a young age), then I was left only with Teaching, Civil Service, or Sales as possible career paths. (The Priesthood had been ruled out years earlier for all the obvious reasons). So I did what any 'Boomer' era, middle class, first born male would do---I went against my parents' wishes and chose Sales. Option three.

Today this translates into Professional Realtor and although it occasionally pains me to hear what 'new' sales ideas come out of the 'mouths of babes,' I'm always a little tickled when I watch a young agent try and make his or her own way in this business and am silently delighted when I see one of them succeed. Their enthusiasm reminds me to 'stay in shape' and, (since one never knows when a camera might pointed one's way) 'keep cool.' As our business moves more and more towards consumer transparency, the Professional Realtor can ill afford to be caught in an unflattering light. I've witnessed it on occasion and believe me folks... it ain't pretty. It's like catching the worst moments of a very bad day in the afore mentioned 'first year,' for the twentieth time,... on film.

tyra banks photos lifted from my refrigerator door...

Geno Petro

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Changes On My Site...

Well, I finally completed my 'transition' over to the newest version of Blogger today. I only kicked my CPU twice before my web guy gently reminded me I was rebooting incorrectly---again. Anyway, as in real life there is good news and bad news. Bad news first....(remember my saying: "Even a half-empty glass is very desirable to a thirsty man."---my own retort to the overchanted 'half full/half empty' glass PMA mantra):
I lost a Comment Section. I hate it but I had to choose. Previous to the transition I had figured out a way to have two Comment sections; one that posted comments in the sidebar (Haloscan) for you guys and another for my responses back to you (Blogger). The Blogger Comment section also allowed anyone to leave lengthy and repeated correspondance if they so desired without eating up limited sidebar space. In turn, I only responded to comments in that section whether it was Blogger or Haloscan. So that's gone along with the comments of anyone who left their literal '2 cents' over the months since I launched my site. Sorry. Looking back, it was pretty confusing anyway. Continue to comment as you wish although sidebar space limits much response, if any, on my part. Now the good news:

I'm adding a real time Market Analysis of Chicago's Northside
. This nifty visual and printable graph report is the 'brainchild' of Mike Simonsen (Altos) and was introduced to me by Pat Kitano. Both are based out of San Francisco. The 'Single Family Home Market Stats' will be rolled out on this Blog by next week. Real Estate trends from Andersonville to the Gold Coast and west to Bucktown will be flashing in my sidebar soon so you can sort your reports by Zip Code. Very cool. It's not linking yet but LOOK TO YOUR RIGHT FOR A PREVIEW------>

So to sum it up, comment as you wish but my comment back will either be one sentence or in an e-mail; look for the dynamic new Altos graphic in my sidebar; and the new and improved Blogger better be new and improved or the electronic police will be serving me with a cease and desist.

image by a2computers

Geno Petro