Irving Park Single Family HomeIRVING PARK MARKET REPORT as of April, 2016

The market is shifting in Irving Park. According to Midwest Real Estate Data, the average sales price of 4 bedroom, 4 bath homes in Irving Park is $610,000. There are many more rehabbed homes coming on the market this year, including two new or rehabbed homes just put on the market in the mid to upper $500K ranges.

The overall observations and feedback from recent showings and open houses in the neighborhood.

Competition: Very recently buyers are seeing more new or newly rehabbed homes for sale, and we are seeing price reductions on those homes. While these homes may be slightly smaller or on smaller lots, they do offer the most current features and finishes. This goes beyond paint color, into cabinetry, amenities such a master baths with dual sinks and separate whirlpool tubs in addition to showers. Buyers viewing these homes begin to develop a taste and preference, and it may become their new standard. Here is a recent home for sale in the neighborhood.

A recent article in Illinois Association of Realtors quotes a 2017 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study, stating that Millenials prefer modern or farmhouse styles, while boomers prefer traditional. Both groups prefer white cabinets, grey walls and stainless appliances.

Closed Properties: In studying those homes most recently under contract or closed, the trend is for buyers to choose homes that although slightly smaller than the subject property, rehabbed with new front elevations/porches, and current amenities and features, as well as finishes and color schemes in white, grey and blue. Common elements are expanded master baths as well as stainless appliance kitchens with glass tile or subway tile back splashes, some with high end appliances, and white cabinetry as the new norms.


We’re a few months into the year and many potential buyers and sellers are wondering, is this a good year to get into the market? Many current homeowners are thinking about the value of their homes, even if they’re not thinking of listing anytime soon.

The information for March provides an overview of what’s in store for the American real estate market this year based on expert predictions and current price and sales data. These forecasts provide insight into current trends and paint a picture of what may happen this year. However, while our market may appear similar to the national market, local and regional factors may play a role in specific forecasts for our market.

If you’d like to know more about our local market, want to know how much your home is worth or are thinking of buying or selling, give me a call. I’d love to discuss the market with you and assist you with all of your real estate needs.

(Click on image to enlarge)


2015 05 18 IMG_4549“The number one ingredient for a beautifully designed landscape is an interested homeowner,” said Kim Kaulas, a landscape artist who has a business in Edgewater.

In that vein, here are some tips on how to improve your yard:

Plants can flourish under the right sun and shade conditions, so it’s important to understand how each impacts your property. Plants that do best in the sun can suffer in the shade, and vice versa. Kaulas said sun exposure is defined by the amount of sun shining directly on the plant.

For assistance in selecting plants that will thrive, a good resource is the plant information center at Chicago Botanic Garden, or visit Gethsemane Garden Center at 5737 N. Clark St. in Andersonville and ask the staff for suggestions.  It’s a busy place on weekend afternoons, so it’s often better to visit on weekend mornings or during the week.

Daffodils and Scilla, two types of early spring flowers, do well when planted under deciduous trees that do not yet have their leaves. Meanwhile, lillies, bee balm, roses and peonies can bear four to six hours of direct sunlight, Kaulas said.

For properties that have more shade than sun and are more apt to develop a woodland look, annuals can add colors beyond typical greens and whites.

“Nothing gives you bright color, color, color like annuals,” Kaulas said.

Gardening is a truly multidimensional art, she added. “Plants look different at different times of the year,” she said. Because of this, select plants that will change throughout each season. Sedum, for instance, blooms in September yet is attractive at other points of the year, as well.

Removing grass and replacing it with ground cover is not always a good idea. Kaulas said ground cover requires continuous weeding. “Know yourself,” she said. “If you are retired or work out of your home or are a teacher with summers off, then you have time to weed. Otherwise, no.”

Day lilies are not low-maintenance plants. They need to be deadheaded once a week, she said. This keeps the plant from going to seed. Serviceberry trees will bloom in the shade, but don’t plant them near entryways or walkways because birds — and their droppings — tend to like them, too.

Mulch amends the soil with organic matter and helps with drainage. But you never want to pile the mulch against the tree trunk as this will kill the tree. Additionally, make sure that brick homes are appropriately tuck-pointed before allowing ivy to climb their walls.

And, soil type matters. Clay soil is full of nutrients but tends to be compacted, preventing water drainage. Sandy soil, however, is excellent for drainage. Adding pine to sandy and clay soil types can improve pH balance, helping the plants.

VGrabnerVictoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.


2015 05 11 IMG_4555See that hosta over there in the corner and that Japanese maple near the entrance of the house? They didn’t settle there accidentally. And they are more than just decoration, too.

According to landscape economist John Harris, good landscaping can add up to 28 percent to the overall value of a house and can cut its time on the market by 10 to 15 percent.

Additionally, a Clemson University study said taking your landscaping to the next level — upgrading, in other words, from “good” to “excellent” in terms of design, condition and placement — can add up to 6 to 7 percent to a home’s value.

“Landscape design is a beautiful mixture of art and science,” said Kim Kaulas, a landscape artist who has a business in Edgewater. “Every site is different, every homeowner is different, and the landscape is always in transition. To me, it’s endlessly fascinating.”

Among other things, well-placed trees and shrubs can provide shade in the summer and lower cooling bills. They reduce carbon dioxide, muffle noise, reduce soil erosion, deflect winter wind, and provide shelter and food for birds.

Outdoor lighting, especially at night, can protect against slips and falls and can paint your home when the sun is no longer in the sky, according to

Lighting makes your property a more difficult target for intruders, reducing burglaries and insurance claims. Some insurance companies even give a five to 15 percent discount on homeowners with reduced or zero claims, the website said.

VGrabnerVictoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.


2015 03 15 yabandersonvilleIf you’re lucky, you hear the phrase every day: You are Beautiful. If you’re lucky enough to live in Andersonville, you’ll likely see it every day, too.

Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $7,312 and ended on Wednesday, March 4, four public art projects dedicated to that concept will be installed in Andersonville, a north side Chicago neighborhood, by April.

“The idea we are going after is, number one, the positivity of it, having a positive message out there on the street,” said Brian Bonanno, the sustainability programs manager for the Andersonville Development Corp. eco-Andersonville, an initiative of the development corporation, has teamed up with artist Matthew Hoffman to bring the project to Andersonville. “But really what it’s about is trying to get people to realize that there are a lot of under-utilized spaces all over the city.”

Whether they are fences, or gaps, or eyesores in commercial districts, with a little creativity, “you can fill those spaces in or activate them, and that generates points of community interaction,” Bonanno added. “It’s kind of a way of making people feel more comfortable in their urban environment.”

Hoffman, of Skokie, Illinois, began the You are Beautiful project in Chicago in 2002 with 100 stickers, according to his video.

Since then, the project has grown worldwide with both temporary and permanent installations. In Andersonville, the project will include floating texts at the corners of Clark and Winona, Ashland and Foster, Clark and Olive, as well as a smaller planned installation on the sign of what was Trumbull Elementary School at 5200 N. Ashland. eco-Andersonville also hopes to establish displays in the neighborhoods of Lawndale and Englewood.

The art pieces will be fairly large, with the letters themselves 3 to 4 feet tall each, and the bigger pieces 50 to 60 feet long. The words will be painted white and silver. The pieces will be made of either wood or plastic.

Bonanno said he saw an example of Hoffman’s work in Gary, Indiana, last winter and that he reached out to him last summer. The Kickstarter campaign started in February and lasted 30 days. Its goal was to raise $5,500 and it successfully raised $1,812 over that benchmark. The You are Beautiful signs will be hung on fences and will likely remain as long as the property owners will allow.

“I think it’s important for people in the community to support this because it gives them an opportunity to shape the neighborhood that they want to live in,” Bonnano said. “They make a community more livable and more vital.”

And livable, vital communities, by extension, raise home and condo values.

VGrabnerVictoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.


Many people are curious about what the housing market will look like in 2013. Since housing is seen as a leading indicator of economic recovery, even people who aren’t looking to enter the market are anxious to see if this will be the year that the market fully recovers.

This month’s information may help you understand the status of both the national and local housing markets. The first page offers predictions and projections for the national housing market this year. Page two provides three reasons why it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in your local market. Although the national market can give you an idea of the overall state of housing, only the local market directly impacts you and your home.

If you want to learn more about the local market, or are thinking of buying or selling your home, contact me for more information.

(Click on image to enlarge) Jan. 2013 Newsletter























The picture is starting to improve in the real estate market. The Chicago real estate market traditionally kicks into gear right after Super Bowl Sunday and this year it got an even earlier start. We are seeing many more first time buyers out this winter when compared with last year. More buyers are planning to purchase in the $200,000 to $350,000 range. The increased activity will help to sell off some of the existing distressed inventory that includes short sales and foreclosures, and eventually prices will rise.
I believe the recent rise in the stock market is the reason for increased activity. For a while now Boomer parents have wanted to help their children with a down payment on their first home, but have hesitated to take money out of their mutual funds because the share values were so low. Now that the stock market is showing steady growth, they are more comfortable in pulling out money to gift to their children who need help putting together a down payment.
That said, it’s not too early for condo owners who are planning to sell to get their places in shape. A well maintained building can increase your sale price by up to 10%. And in our current market that is described as a price and beauty contest, we see over and over again that buyers purchase well priced places that look really good.
It’s still not a market where you can afford to lose a potential buyer because the outside of the building doesn’t look well maintained. As a Realtor®, I experienced many instances where buyers won’t even step inside a condo building that is poorly maintained on the outside, even when they have an appointment to see the home. It all goes back to what we call curb appeal. It is well known that homes and condo buildings with high curb appeal command higher prices and take less time to sell. Buyers will pay thousands of dollars more for a well-kept condo or home because they trust that it has been cared for rather than neglected.
Nothing can sour a buyer on a property faster than if they see litter on the street and up against the curbs, unkempt parkways, and alleys with graffiti and garage doors that are dirty. I’m not talking about replacing major elements such as bricks or siding. I’m talking about regular maintenance and beautifying tasks you’d like to live with anyway. It can add up to thousands more on the purchase price of your home or condo.
Stay tuned later this week and I’ll give you projects that will have the most impact.
Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


There are many choices for buyers planning to relocate to Chicago. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent can guide and help to focus your search, based on your lifestyle, location preferences, amenities desired, and needs for access to transportation.

The City of Chicago is on a grid system with State Street and Madison Avenue being the starting point. Streets are numbered going north from State and Madison. There are 77 official neighborhoods in Chicago, each having its own unique number. For those wanting the downtown lifestyle, there are five areas to focus on. They include Loop-Downtown, Gold Coast, Streeterville, South Loop and West Loop.

Price per square foot varies and the average square feet in a 2 bedroom varies, depending on proximity to the Loop, building amenities and features and finishes of a condo. Amenities within a building such as swimming pools, and health club will also determine price. And of course newer buildings with higher end finishes and features will be higher in price. Parking, in unit laundry and private outdoor space tend to be large determining features.


Loop: The median sales price for 2 bedroom 2 bath condos sold in last three months is $325,000. Units are relatively small. Lakefront condos, neighborhood is best known for access to major cultural museums, opera, Broadway Theater, upscale shopping. Michigan Mile includes many upscale shopping destinations, Water Tower Place. Housing stock consists of mostly condos in high rises, plus hotels. Some very high end such as Trump Tower.

Near North: Median sale price $345,000. Includes neighborhoods such as Gold Coast, Streeterville, part of Old Town: Offers upscale shopping, dining, great access to services, lakefront condos in high rises.

West Loop: Median price $310,000. Condos in general are larger. Bargains can be found here, especially west of Greektown/Halsted. 7-10 minute drive or plentiful cab or buses to downtown. Loft spaces with soaring ceilings, great light. Proximity to loop, also to University of Illinois and Rush Medial University. The 1301 W Madison building is a good value. The University Village area offers townhomes and spacious condos, under $400,000.

South Loop: Median price $299,000. Established neighborhood five minutes from the Loop. Some bargains can be found here, in the Dearborn Park area; Housing stock includes low to mid rise townhouses and condos, midrise to highrise. It’s an established neighborhood with shopping and elevated train transportation to airport nearby. Closer to the lake is mostly high rises.


Lincoln Park: Median price $265,000. Lakefront and starts at 2400 north (Fullerton). Known for its proximity to the lakefront, bike paths, wonderful zoo, restaurants. Includes the DePaul area. Housing would be high rise.

Lakeview: Median price $324,000. Begins at Diversey (2800 north) and the lake. Located just north of Lincoln Park, starts at the lakefront. Offers mostly high rise and some mid rise buildings. Some older buildings offer more spacious units. Lakefront is mostly high rises. Elevated train stops.

Andersonville/Edgewater: Median price $230,000. Starts at 5200 north and the lake. Includes hi rises to mid rises to low rise walk ups in lovely rehabbed vintage buildings. Some newer construction units with indoor parking, decks, and garages available in the $300K range. Proximity to lakefront beaches, bike paths, shopping and dining in nearby Andersonville. Elevated train stops.

Ravenswood/Lincoln Square: Median price $252,000. Starts at 4400 North and 2000 West. It’s a walk able, historic and with lovely housing stock. Home of Lill Street Art center and Old Town School of Folk Music. There are some newer construction extra wide units with indoor parking and balconies very affordable.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


RISMEDIA, May 17, 2011”In the current complex housing market, it is critical for real estate professionals to evaluate their individual markets for short-term and long-term real estate investment potential for their clients. In every fluctuating housing market, there are opportunities. The real estate professional who has a command of these nascent opportunities will be a sought-out source for advice-hungry buyers.

Home value shifts combined with employment levels and income growth can determine the short-term and long-term potential of a market. Ingo Winzer, President of Local Market Monitor, states that in over-priced markets, the momentum of home value changes is more important than income growth in determining future home values.

But home values and employment data in geographic areas as large as cities or SMSA are irrelevant to investors. Sophisticated purchasers need information for areas no larger than zip codes to make informed decisions.

How can a real estate professional provide information to investors that will spotlight homes with the greatest probability for strong near term and long term appreciation?

Home valuations at zip code level compared with the foreclosure inventory for that same zip code can render a glimpse into the vibrancy of housing in any zip code.

The quantity of foreclosure homes in any area gives a better picture of the employment in the area compared with city-wide employment figures. An area with less than one foreclosure per 10,000 dwellings indicates low unemployment for that zip code”even if pockets within the same city are experiencing high unemployment.

By comparing the asking price for foreclosures in a zip code to similar non-foreclosure houses in the same zip code, real estate professionals can gauge the short-term and long-term investment opportunities for that zip code. If there is no greater than a 20 percent difference between the two, the area will recover quickly. The smaller the percentage of difference, the more quickly that zip code will rebound.

To contact Elaine Zimmermann, email For more information visit

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team

Copyright © 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Recently I began working with a couple planning to purchase a small apartment building in Chicago as an investment. They plan to live in one unit and rent out the other.   We walked thru a Logan Square 2 flat building after work. The building was “winterized” with the electricity turned off.   So we crept through, using flashlights and cell phones to light the way.

They asked me a few good questions, like “Is this a good building?” and “How much will the apartments rent for?”   What they were really asking is “What determines value in income property?”

I just emailed them a building analysis worksheet, so we can plug in the numbers on the building, and see the bottom line. Value is all about rental income, expenses, and deferred maintenance.   A building has greater value when the rent taken in covers the expenses (mortgage, insurance, common utilities, and taxes).   That is the obvious answer, and the formula that the mortgage lenders use.   Feel free to contact me for the building analysis worksheet.

In Chicago, heat is a political issue. Do you know that the city dictates the minimum temperature that landlords must provide?   I shared with the couple that it’s not easy to determine beforehand whether a tenant will be happy living in a man cave, or whether they are of the hothouse variety.   Since winter weather can vary greatly from year to year, a building that has individually controlled heat with renters paying for their own heat generally has greater value.   It’s fairly easy to estimate the other expenses of a building, and realtors can be a big help in estimating things like insurance, taxes, water, etc. on a property.

Estimating income is a lot more fun. You can estimate rents of a building by doing a quick study of local rents (use Craig’s list or Chicago Reader to determine this).   Buildings in areas that have higher rents generally have greater value.   They are also in locations where it may be easier to find tenants.   However, the prices of buildings in the best locations are disproportionally high, relative to the higher rents they bring in.

My advice to the couple was, find a building where the numbers make sense, in a location that is rentable, and where you will enjoy living. We will keep walking thru buildings, and I will point out anything that shows signs of needing repair or maintenance, such as walls, floors, plumbing. Like the flooded basement in the 2 flat building. Why is it flooded, they asked me.   The short answer is, let’s come back during daylight, and perhaps you will want to invite your contractor friend.   The story continues.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team