Saturday, February 28, 2009

$100,000 Loss in Value?

I'm sorry, but I refuse to believe my primary residence (pictured) in the Forest Glen/Sauganash area of Northwest Chicago has dropped $100,000 in value since the purchase in September of 2007. Say it ain't so, Joe.

Cut me some slack, Jack. I sold it to myself. I did the comps. I know my market. Hell, I even talked my wife into it. So, wassup with the Bank Appraisal?

Just so you know, my Lender is a little reticent about allowing us to refinance right now. Something about reduced LTV (Loan to Value), a Declining Market, Back End ratios and other sundry real estate talkspeak. Oh yeah, and the fact that I'm a Realtor. Ironic huh? I'm having my best year since 2006 but hey, The Ministry has spoken. Okay, fine. I'll play along for... another 12 months.

But I'm going on record now to my current Mortgage Holder---and you may or may not know who you are: When this whole credit crunch blows's HASTA LA VISTA, BABY. (and I won't be back.) No way, Jose...

ps...enjoy the extra $50,000,000,000 you just received from our favorite uncle Sammy. All I received was a letter from you saying....ah, forgetaboutit!

Geno Petro

pictured: 'our house, is a very very very fine house...'

Thursday, February 26, 2009


This is my iLife in a screenshot---From Left to Right & Top to Bottom:

No Service=I'm so screwed.

6:33 PM=Haven't eaten and the day is still not over.

Battery Low=I'm so screwed.

Touch to return to call=Sure, (if only that function actually worked).

14:54=Elapsed time of important conversation just a nano-second before I dropped my iPhone into the gutter at 6:33 on Thursday, the 24th, starving to death.

Calendar=The Here and Now of it all at my fingertips.

Stocks=I'm so screwed.

Notes=My deepest random thoughts.

Photos=What I thought I saw.

You Tube=My comic relief and mindless willing suspension of disbelief.

Maps=How I get to where I'm going from Chicago.

MSNBC=What I deny 24/7/365. Oh, the spin.

Facebook=How I mingle with people I've either never met or haven't seen in 35 years.

Flashlight=How I roll in the dark. Mothership website where I sink 30% of my after tax income.

ConnectMLS=Chicago real estate world in my pocket.

Twitter=How I say it in 140 characters or less.

Real Estate=How I feed the bulldog, shelter the wife, get my fix and send my clients GPS Chicago Real Estate links via Smarter Agent .

Phone='Leave a message, maybe I'll call.'

Email=My electronic voice.

Google=My continuing education.

Text=? U C is ? U get

Camera=What I think I see.

...And that's just the main screen of my iPhone. I have two more just like it on the tarmac jammed full of apps.

post script: "What was iLife like before Apple?" Eve seductively asks Adam on the 8th Day or thereabouts.

Geno Petro

photo: an image that mysteriously appeared on my screen at 6:33PM on Thursday the 24th, when I accidently dropped the phone into the gutter outside my garage and instantly broke my Lent promise of no profanity and only pure thoughts for 40 days and 40 nights. (I'm such a recovering Catholic. I'm so screwed...)

It's 'Match Day' For The Medical Profession

Calling all Medical Residents planning their housing futures: Doctor's Loans, Doctor's Loans

Sunday, March 1st is 'MATCH DAY' (reprint)

I was working with an out-of-state client last summer who had just completed the last stage of his Medical Residency and was planning a move to Chicago. He was hoping to purchase a condominium along Lake Michigan that was walking distance to his new hospital and priced around $300,000. The two big, lingering questions on his mind were:

1) 'How would his accrued Medical School debts affect his ability to purchase a first home?'


2) 'How much down payment and closing cost money would be needed for such a purchase?
I immediately shot off an email to Edwin Hahn at Bank of America, the only professional source in Chicago I know of who specializes in such a program.

This is what I found:

While some loans are available with No Money Down, a nominal amount of capital (3-5%) is generally required. Still, this is far less than many conventional conforming loans on the market today.

PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) is usually NOT required.

Student Loans are NOT counted in the Debt Ratios.

Flexible Loan Programs (such as ARMS and Interest Only) are available.

This program is available to Medical Residents, Medical Doctors, Licensed Dental Surgeons specializing in oral and maxillofacial surgery and full-time Medical Instructors who are Licensed Doctors.

Feel free to comment below or simply email Edwin Hahn at:

Bank of America

10000 Skokie Blvd,

2nd Floor Skokie, IL 60077

Equal Housing Lender

or call him direct at:


Friday, February 20, 2009

Spykers, Models, and Egg Foo Young

I was strolling through the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place this morning, flanked on either side by office mates Joe Pinto and Petey Basili (my friend Janis Lee calls them my 'bookends'), when I came across this strange, hand crafted beast on display (pictured above); a Spyker. (Notice the sick, sick air dam on the roof.) My guess is it's fairly quick not to mention...ahem... pricey. There was no sticker in the window but hey, if you have to ask...

Anyway, I tried to grab Petey to have him take a gander but he had wandered off and was fixated on the supermodel hawking the new Ford Taurus SHO one section over. Joe was on his cell phone the entire time and was concerned with neither cars nor girls but rather, you guessed it, a New Construction Condo deal. An hour later we were all in Chinatown eating dim sum like fat Americans. Halfway through, I gave up and asked for a fork.

So now you know what Fridays are like for me in the Chicago Real Estate market these days. Oh's snowing again. And an FHA loan just got declined after 75 days in Underwriting. And the Loss Mitigation Department at Countrywide won't return my calls. And every Listing Agent I ran into this week wants 'feedback.' And it's a Buyer's market, baby...

Geno Petro

photo by geno petro

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fulton Market Nighthawk

I've always enjoyed the dark and sullied gangways of Chicago's West Loop neighborhood...from a comfortable distance, to be sure. The angle of the downtown skyline from this iron bound perspective is both fresh and gritty at the same time. The Meat Packing District, with its alleys of bumper to bumper empty and open delivery trucks parked in formation under sodium-sulphate street lights, is at its silent brooding best between the dusk and dawn hours.

I came upon the corner pictured above just after sundown last Saturday night. The Fulton Market landscape struck me immediately as an Edward Hopper scene study, particularly the way the back light was pooling on the sidewalk as I rolled up to the dead end stop sign on west May Street. I put the vehicle in PARK, jumped out, and quickly snapped the above image with my iPhone before I lost the frame in my mind forever.

I spent the next twenty minutes looking for parking and a decent place to eat.

Geno Petro

photo by geno petro

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


2009 Oscars Dress Designer Finalist


Subject: VOTE! Maria Pinto Oscars


I would appreciate your help on an exciting development. And, in these challenging times, it is nice to have the opportunity to focus on more positive matters.

I am forwarding to you an exciting announcement concerning my good friend, Maria Pinto. She has been chosen to participate in the Oscars Designer Challenge. As explained in the following message from her public relations office, she is one of seven designers competing (the original field consisted of over 200 nominees).

We, the public, have a chance to vote and participate in the Academy's decision on the best designer. The winning designer will have her dress/model as the 'trophy girl' during the most watched award show of the year! In a nutshell, here's how you can participate:

The public can vote once a day for Maria's design starting NOW through 5 p.m. on February 17 at:

Click on Oscars Designer Challenge in the lower left corner of the page.
Please vote (each day for the next seven days!). Also, we would appreciate if you would forward this on to your contact group and ask them to cast votes for Maria Pinto. Please help us send her on to the next leg--THE OSCAR RED CARPET!

Thank you all,

Friends and Family of Maria Pinto

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Mark Davidovich Maria Pinto In Emerging Designer Competition Consumers can vote at

(FEBRUARY 10, 2009) Los Angeles, CA -The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected Maria Pinto to be one of seven emerging designers to showcase an originally designed gown at its annual Oscars® Fashion Preview. Pinto and others are competing for the chance to have their gown worn on the 81st Academy Awards® telecast. The public can vote once a day for Maria's design beginning at 3 p.m. PT on February 10th through 5 p.m. on February 17 at


This is Maria Pinto's first time participating in the Fashion Preview held at the Academy's headquarters in Beverly Hills, CA. The designer who receives the most votes will have his or her design worn onstage by one Awards Escort during the Oscar® telecast, which airs live on ABC Sunday, February 22, from the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Center®.

Even though Pinto's luxurious women's accessories collection debuted at Bergdorf Goodman in 1991, she debuted her first ready to wear and evening collection in 2004. However most consumers didn't know her name until Michelle Obama started wearing her dresses on the campaign trail in 2007.

For more information about Maria Pinto, log on to <> or contact Studio PR, 212-696-1321.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dear Assh...uh...I mean neighbor,

This is just one small example of the residual fallout that can occur after a condo owner pays upwards of $50,000 for a deeded parking space in Chicago (See the picture). And no, this was not directed at me---I found it laying on the icy sidewalk before a showing---although, I did once receive a similar love note from a married couple upstairs demanding me to stop smoking cigarettes in my duplex.

I believe the husband's exact words to me began with, "Just so you know, I am an attorney" to which I promptly replied, "What a coincidence, I have an attorney..." and on it went for several months. They ended up selling their condo and moving away and I shortly thereafter, kicked the habit for good. I also brought the buyer for their unit. So there, I won on all counts. It's one of my favorite real estate agent/condo living/unfriendly neighbor stories.

Now I don't know Javier & Laura personally but I do know the River North building they live in and yes, 50K buys you an 8 by 17 foot patch of individually taxed and assessed concrete in the bowels of their garage. It's sick when you start doing the $$ math per square foot for unlivable space. Unbelievable, really.

...And thus, it really pisses an already heavily mortgaged condo owner off when someone else in the building parks his Hummer over the surveyed yellow line and onto their assigned (and also mortgaged) parking space. It makes for unfriendly condo association cookouts on Sunday afternoons in the summer. It makes for dead silence and lack of eye contact during the long elevator rides up to the Eighth Floor. It calls for nasty notes like the one above to make a point. It can even culminate in...yes, fist-a-cuffs.

I've noticed on the news that more than a few people have been clobbered over parking space incidents in this white city since I arrived a dozen years ago. The truth is, guys like Javier can only take so much inconsiderate neighbor-related angst before they snap. It can turn poor girls like Laura into instant median strip mud wrestlers with one honk of the horn too many in rush hour traffic. I've seen it and it ain't pretty. It makes city dwellers in oversized SUVs (which I love by the way---the vehicles, not the people) vessels for bad condo karma, dude.

It makes relying on the CTA for urban transport sound like a good idea. All you have to worry about then is how to spend the extra 50K you pocketed...and of course, all the lunatics on the bus.

Geno Petro

Gold Coast Trash

I pulled up behind this experiment in socio-economic human squalor (pictured) the other morning near the intersection of Goethe and LaSalle in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. I couldn't tell if an actual person was buried beneath all the trash inside or if the vehicle was just being used as an alternative composte bin by an eccentric limestone entried resident. But then again, I didn't get that close.

I looked up and down the sidewalk to see if I could match a house or condominium with the vehicle. Nothing meshed. Little if anything in this particular area sells for less than a million dollars even in the worst of real estate markets. Rents hover above $3,000 per month as well. Heck, even garbage pick-up (referred to as 'scavenger service' here in Chicago, can run a couple bills per week for a medium sized condo association). Still, that's no reason to live in it, I thought to myself....

Then I recalled a time in my own life, in a world far far away and long long ago, when my car was too, my castle for a brief period of time. I was in between room mates in college at the time or more accurately, between NDSL student loan distributions. My only credit card was Sears--good for plaid shirts, beef jerky from the Camping Department, and tires, but not much else. Oh, I did have an ATM card too, with a balance of $7.00, but I'll be damned if they ever let me withdraw it whenever I tried to use the machine bolted to the outside Bank wall.

I smugly referred to my roving address during this stint as 1972 Riviera, Slippery Rock, PA. Zip Code...depends. But unlike my slovenly subject pictured above, I made it a point to at least park behind the coin-operated car wash on the edge of town at night so I was always close to a trash bin, slightly running water, and the occasional discarded 'New Car Smell' thingy jiggy you hang from the rear view mirror. After all, Cleanliness is next to Godliness, even in a declining housing market.

Geno Petro