Thursday, December 18, 2014

Nighthawks At An Uptown Diner

Golden House Restaurant Uptown Chicago
Golden House Restaurant in Uptown Chicago

The Golden House Restaurant, tucked next to the Riviera Theatre in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, is a 1960s throwback to an epicurean era when 'greasy spoon' trumped 'haute cuisine' everyday of the week and twice on Sundays; or at least for the locals north of Wilson and either side of Broadway. I peeked through the gritty window and snapped this shot of the lone waitress hunkering down over a late night cup of Joe while a patron tried to catch some shut-eye in a crimson booth in the back. And like the sign says: BREAKFAST SPECIAL  2 Large Eggs with Potatoes and Toast $3.75. A pre-holiday nod to 'all the gypsie hacks and insomniacs,' in the spirit of Tom Waits and Edward Hopper.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Steps to Purchasing Property in Chicago

451 Huron Penthouse
Penthouse rooftop patio of  my SOLD 451 W Huron listing

I've posted these Chicago Real Estate Purchase Steps in varying forms over the years but I believe the message bears repeating. The buy and sell transaction process is handled a little differently here than in other areas of the country (or even in the state of Illinois). For example, it is important that a real estate attorney is retained for the title work as well as the actual 'closing' of the property, i.e., explaining the loan and deed documents and making sure that all the required paperwork is signed and dated correctly. Title companies in Chicago rarely 'conduct' the final escrow activities other than to provide 'instructions' to all parties, collect and distribute checks,  and forward on all documents to their respective institutions (lender, Cook County Recorder of Deeds, current lien holders, etc) after signatures.  Most attorneys, however, are not involved in the initial contract negotiation. They generally step in after the offer is accepted, right before the Attorney Review/Modification period begins. They are free to amend whatever is legally necessary at that juncture. (See Step 10 below.)

But before all of that, a dozen or so other events must occur in a fairly specific timeline. I think we all know that the initial stages of  'pre-purchasing' occurs on-line these days. Generally the consumer 'Googles' a few broad housing terms before finding a real estate web site they like and begin 'drilling down' to a specific property type in a specific Chicago neighborhood. For this reason, my list starts once you're ready to actually start looking in person.

Also, you must know--and be prepared for--the whole 'earnest money' aspect of submitting or accepting an offer in Chicago. While earnest money is not technically required in a real estate offer, good luck trying to buy something around here without it.  Anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 'initial earnest money' is expected once an offer is 'accepted' followed by an additional 5-10% of the purchase price after Attorney Review is complete. Personal checks are generally acceptable unless the closing is scheduled before funds can clear.

Finally, a few rules of thumb to consider when making or accepting an offer: 30 days and under is considered a 'quick' close; 45-60 days, 'usual & customary' length of time to close; 60 days or lmore, a 'long' close.  So, without further adieu, the following are 23 necessary steps you will need to take before popping the champagne on your new balcony: 

1) Initial Consultation (Screen / Interview Buyers Agents)

2) Mortgage Pre-Approval & Letter

3) View Prospective Homes / Identify a Property

4) Present Purchase Contract To Listing Agent

5) Initial Earnest Money ($1,000---$10,000 Made Out To Listing Office / Attorney Trust Account / Title Company)

6) Negotiate Offer (Counteroffer, Price, Terms, Close Date)

7) Acceptance Of Offer by Seller (Agreement) / Final Signatures And Initials On Original Contract

8) Contact, Fax Documents To Attorneys, Lenders, etc.

9) Contingency Periods Begin (Mortgage, Home Close, etc--Usually 30-90 Days from Accepted Offer)

10)  Attorney Period Begins (Usually 5-10 Business Days From Accepted Offer) / Modify Contract/ Acquire Budget And By-Laws (Condominium)

11)  Professional Home Inspection 

12) Both Attorneys' Approval on Modified Contract (5-10 Business Days After Acceptance) / Appraisal Ordered (Lender)

13) Balance of Earnest Money, if Required, Due to Listing Office / Attorney Trust Account / Title Company

14) Await Appraisal (Lender)

15) Loan Commitment After Contingency Period Ends (Usually 30 Days From Acceptance)

16)  Acquire Homeowners Insurance Policy

17)  Interview With Condo/Co-Op Board (Usually In High rise Buildings)

18) Await Closing (UP TO 9 MONTHS IF A SHORT SALE)

19) Transfer Utilities & Change Of Address / Schedule Movers

20) Estimate Of Funds Needed At Closing (Good Faith From Lender including $7.50 per $1,000 City Transfer Stamp to be paid by Buyer)

21) Final Walk Through Or Punch List (New Construction)

22) Closing (Usually 30-90 Days From Signed Acceptance Of Contract By The Seller / UP TO 9 MONTHS IF A SHORT SALE)

23) Celebrate! You're A Home Owner!!!

Simple huh? Perhaps, but having a Realtor experienced in contract negotiation is a big plus in Chicago's high dollar market. 
'Broker Reciprocity' allows for all of us brokers (or at least those of us who actually built and maintain websites) to share each others listings with the general public so anyone can find a property they like on their own. The transparent nature of the industry, with its thousands reciprocal of web sites, allows for this, anymore.  Successfully executing a contract, however, requires great experience. There are several links to my GenoPetro.House search engine on this page and throughout my blog. 

Reach out to me at any time or simply Google 'Geno Petro' for everything else in the property buying and selling universe there is to know about me. There's never a fee for my buy-side representation and my listing (sell-side) fees are aggressively competitive with my peers. Laid back, no pressure advocacy is my hallmark.

Geno Petro | Chicago Realtor

Sunday, December 14, 2014

West Town Chicago Condo Open House Today!

OPEN HOUSE TODAY @1516 W Grand Ave, Chicago 60642   11:00-1:00PM (see vid below)
2 Bedroom/2 Bath Condo For Sale - 1516 West Grand Ave. Unit 2W, Chicago, IL 60642...
See More

Property Site: 2 Bathrooms: 2 bathrooms Square Feet: 1500 Price: $348,500 MLS ID: 08760598 For more informati...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Calder Red at the Chicago Fed

red Flamingo Calder sculpture
'Flamingo' by Calder. Chicago Federal Plaza

Vermilion; they call it Calder red. Constructivist; smaller pieces joined together to form one large stabile. Mies van der Rohe backdrop: Forty years later, less is still more.  In 1974 Alexander Calder's 'Flamingo' was unveiled at the newly christened Federal Plaza in the 'Loop' district of downtown Chicago. Standing more than fifty feet high and complex in its artistic restraint, this promontory sculpture catches my eye each time I pass it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Calling All Uptown Chicago Hipsters (ok... Indies, too)

Uptown Chicago Riviera Theatre
The Riviera Theatre In Uptown Chicago

The Riviera Theatre in Chicago's Uptown Neighborhood is perhaps the most iconic concert venue on the city's North Side. Here are a few local (and historic) facts:

*Location: 4746 N. Racine Avenue

*CTA 'L' Stop: Red Line -- Lawrence Avenue (or get off at Wilson and run like hell for two blocks)

*Built: 1917 as a neighborhood movie house

*Seating Capacity: 2500

*Architectural Design: French Renaissance Revival by Rapp and Rapp

*1917 Ticket Price: $0.10 for 'Cleopatra'

*2014 Ticket Price: $60.25 for 'Wilco'

*Hip Factor: 8 on a 1-10 Scale (gotta knock off points for no AC in the summer)

Additional notes: as I mentioned above, it can get a little stuffy in there (especially in August) so you may want to tuck a flask of H2O into your summer flannel--but there is a bar in the back if you're so inclined, i.e. age 21+ and not in a 12 Step Recovery program. Also, word is: 'Security' can get a little rough at times so behave yourself. Remember, it's Uptown and they're not above yanking you to the sidewalk by your lumberjack beard.

Friday, December 05, 2014

My Free Chicago MLS Search Mobile App mobile app screenshot Chicago MLS mobile app <<< mobile download only

Looking for a 2 bedroom condo on the North Side of Chicago?'

...Click any link on this page for full access to my Chicago MLS search engine and web site of neighborhood pages including Wrigleyville, River North, Andersonville, and Lincoln Square.

Geno Petro | Chicago Realtor

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Chicago Style Condo-ments

Chicago Style relish
Vienna 'Chicago Style' hot dog relish @Mariano's on Ashland Ave

LOL. (or maybe I just think the title is cute because I'm a Chicago Realtor.) Anyway, I haven't eaten meat in years--although calling myself a 'vegetarian' is a little misleading since 50% of my culinary consumption is some form of pizza--but I can report with certainty that the neon green concoction pictured above is a condiment unique to this neck of the Midwest woods. Walk into any hot dog stand in any Chicago neighborhood: the Wiener's Circle (oh yeah, there), Jimmy's in Humboldt Park, or even Wolfy's on Peterson (hey, they're still technically in the city limits), order your dog 'Chicago Style,' and everyone knows what you're talking about. And don't mention the word ketchup unless it's for a side of fries. But if you're from around these parts, vegetarian or not, you already know better.

Geno Petro | Chicago Realtor

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Under The Wells St 'L' (Brown Line)

Wells and Jackson Chicago intersection
Wells St & Jackson, Chicago

Idling in afternoon traffic on Wells St under the Brown Line 'L' tracks as a second-shift wave of commodities traders make their way over to the CBOT for some overnight market trading (or perhaps, to the corner bar around the block). I actually have a real estate client who lives and dies by the future of milk. "One day its cream, the next its curd," he once told me. "At least you Realtors have an MLS with a set inventory. Us milk guys are hanging out there on our own."  Not for the lactose intolerant, I suppose...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Highland Park: Smashing ZuZu

Madame ZuZu's in Highland Park

Dropped in for a spot of tea and a vegan sandwich yesterday at Billy Corgan's Highland Park, (Illinois) tea house; Madame ZuZu's. Cool space. Cozy decor. Piano & small music area. Tucked into a MCM strip of storefronts in the old Highland Park business district. Took me right back to '1979' grad school--kind of eerie for a moment--until I looked at the menu (which snapped me in warp-speed back to 2014): one of those 'small plate' & $14 cup of tea sort of offerings you'd expect to find in LA or NYC...tasty, if not filling. Pickle sandwich, almond butter & jelly, humus & arugula, etc. Obscure 1940s music piped through the sound system was predictable and maybe just a little tired (Don's Coffee House in Rogers Park had this pre-retro vibe nailed in the 1990s). The place was (surprisingly?) empty except for a North Shore faux-hipster dad and his giggling tween daughters in matching private school hoodies at the next table, knocking into the back of my chair, snapping selfies, and jabbering about their new Tesla. After 45 minutes or so of silent judgement I finally got up, paid the bill, and crawled away in my Prius. Then I drove to Costco for my real lunch: a $2.17 slice of pizza & jumbo cup of Sierra Mist. They say Billy (and the occasional Pumpkin or two) pops in from time to time to take the small venue stage. Now he's a faux-hipster I might pay $14 to have my chair bumped into for an hour or two--although years ago, I did drive by B & Courtney Love snapping at each other on N. Southport Avenue, one Sunday morning. That was kind of cool and it was free. 

Madame ZuZu's interior photo

Friday, November 28, 2014

Chicago Neighborhood Average Home Prices 2014

Chicago NeighborhoodAverage Price
(All Homes)
Average Price
(per sq ft)
Average Price
(2 Bedrooms)
Lincoln Park $862,524$364$441,166
Near North Side $716,673$411$604,014
North Center  $638,158$275$337,971
Loop $536,739$370$498,334
Lake View $507,736$270$357,816
West Town $501,502$260$360,573
Forest Glen $490,025$247$283,576
Logan Square $473,710$235$298,499
Near South Side $457,265$318$422,743
Lincoln Square $399,601$225$252,513
Near West Side $365,791$261$337,805
Edison Park $353,389$223$207,285
Irving Park $351,501$174$187,656
Bridgeport $340,102$171$214,972
Avondale $334,120$182$220,375
Norwood Park $314,836$206$215,275
North Park $313,132$171$185,396
Beverly $306,085$160$142,427
Hyde Park $302,208$158$156,465
Jefferson Park $296,014$177$195,937
Armour Square $290,575$207$229,237
Uptown $289,169$190$243,046
Edgewater  $279,854$180$241,306
Portage Park $267,189$165$163,524
Albany Park $264,828$166$161,349
Oakland $261,598$118$118,392
Dunning $238,736$168$177,386
Douglas $229,350$108$143,089
Lower West Side $226,446$156$197,413
West Ridge $220,478$133$115,015
Montclare $217,560$153$141,739
Belmont Cragin $209,908$127$138,654
McKinley Park $207,561$125$149,256
Rogers Park $205,530$134$150,684
Garfield Ridge $204,443$159$154,085
Mount Greenwood  $197,474$155$148,548
Hermosa $188,244$122$131,563
Clearing $181,281$136$120,913
Grand Boulevard $177,916$86$77,233
O'Hare $177,201$146$140,519
Archer Heights $167,504$126$112,934
Morgan Park $163,649$103$102,266
West Lawn $146,857$111$87,343
Ashburn $143,259$113$102,886
Humboldt Park $142,194$90$87,843
Brighton Park $140,517$97$104,957
Austin $122,883$86$91,257
Avalon Park$120,199$76$74,473
South Shore $119,594$63$52,705
East Garfield Park $115,568$60$67,764
Calumet Heights $113,717$84$86,558
Woodlawn $112,012$73$80,193
Hegewisch $110,370$90$74,729
Chatham $108,714$76$65,213
Washington Heights $106,828$76$75,369
New City $103,380$80$123,677
Gage Park $102,761$80$70,506
North Lawndale $100,631$46$43,056
South Lawndale $100,238$71$72,761
East Side $99,285$87$76,007
Auburn Gresham $96,664$63$59,037
Chicago Lawn$95,751$75$65,996
Washington Park $90,837$49$45,684
South Chicago $87,573$55$58,305
West Garfield Park  $85,057$38$28,400
Pullman $76,372$59$64,270
Roseland $69,689$54$53,590
Burnside $68,765$48$63,111
Englewood $66,394$28$18,836
West Pullman $56,828$46$48,356
West Englewood$56,047$31$26,344
Fuller Park $54,182$30$41,440
South Deering $53,680$42$26,743
Riverdale $26,579$22$17,310

And don't forget to click the link below for 2 bedroom condo listings in Chicago

Geno Petro | Chicago Realtor 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The River North Neighborhood of Chicago

Chicago river north neighborhood boat dock

"River North is where the hip meet the moneyed (not to say that a person can’t be both) in 21st century Chicago. It’s obvious, however, that this 'Near North’ neighborhood (also known as the Gallery District) on the historic Chicago River houses an eclectic demographic community unlike most others in the city...."  click here to read my entire article.

Geno Petro | Chicago Realtor

Wrigleville DIY: For Rent By Owner

Wrigleyville neighborhood two-flat rental
Wrigleyville Duplex Down for 'Rent by Owner' -- $2395/month

Not every private owner needs a Realtor to fill a vacancy. In a rental market with tight inventory -- like Chicago's West Lakeview or Wrigleyville Neighborhoods -- a landlady can simply place an ad in Craigslist, hang a .99 cent sign on the fence with a scribbled description, and if she's not smoking crack with her morning whiskey when she decides on a price, probably get the unit rented after a weekend or two of showings. Even in the 'Off Season.'

Below are the three traditional rental seasons in Chicago:

1) May 1 through April 30 the following year.

2) October 1 through September 30 the following year.

3) Off-Season (any 12 month lease that begins or ends outside of the parameters of 1 & 2 above.)

And if she is 'Pet Friendly', i.e., allows a dog or two-- then she can even be a little crack smokey on her rental price.

Still, there are several other (and more important) issues concerning the Application/Acceptance Process: Fair Housing, non-discriminatory qualifications & advertising, background & credit check, references, security deposit requirement per Chicago Ordinance, etc., in which case, the services of a Realtor may well be worth the usual/customary fee of one month's rent.

If you think you got all that handled then by all means, DIY.  If not, I'm a Chicago Realtor... let's chat.

Geno Petro | Chicago Realtor

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Recycle or Rehab?

Chicago condo recycle room

The peeps sure like to party in Wrigleyville, and my Park Place Towers condo building is no exception. This is what the Recycle Room (for just one of the 55 floors) looks like every Monday morning after a big game; and the Bears won! (It's even worse when one of our Chicago sports teams lose.) Betty Ford would do well to set up a rehab recruiting kiosk in the lobby--or at least post a toll-free Help Hotline number over the trash chute--especially during baseball season.