Click to play Chicago Business Today videoLast Thursday I was featured along with one of my clients in a Crain’s Chicago Business video reporting on the recent rise in Chicago home sales.

I’d like to make one important correction.  The reporter states in the video that in September, I received three “offers” on the luxury properties I had listed for sale. Actually, I’ve had three multiple offers (i.e. buyers bidding against each other for the same property) plus additional offers on four more homes I have listed, for a total of ten offers so far in September.

The fact that there are once again multiple buyers vying for the same properties (in high price points, no less) is a major development. I am feeling very encouraged about our prospects for a healthy fall market.

Chicago Air and Water ShowDon’t plan on any peaceful afternoon naps this weekend if you live anywhere near Chicago’s lakefront! High performance civilian and military aircraft will once again fill the skies over Lake Michigan for the nation’s biggest free air show, the 51st annual Chicago Air and Water Show.

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why-sell-in-this-marketOn the surface, it’s a very logical question: “Why would anyone willingly sell a home in a down market?” If the typical news story is any indication, it seems that the only reason to sell these days is out of financial desperation – selling at a potential loss in order to hastily make ends meet. For the large majority of the sellers I’ve met these days, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

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on-targetAs one of Chicago’s top ten residential real estate agents (and #77 in the nation according to The Wall Street Journal), I am a frequent source for the media. I always enjoy the opportunity to share my “in-the-trenches” perspectives on Chicago’s residential market, as I believe that what is happening locally is more relevant to Chicago homeowners than generalized national reports.

Unfortunately, as with any interaction with the media, there’s the risk of having one’s comments taken out of context, and that is precisely what happened in my July 2009 interview with Stephane Fitch for his Forbes magazine story entitled “America’s Most Troubled Luxury Neighborhoods.” Fitch distilled our 30 minute interview into two quotes that, out of context, contradict the key points I made in our interview. Having my name associated with misleading information about Chicago’s real estate market, and especially about the Lincoln Park neighborhood where I was the #1 selling agent in 2008, is troublesome.

So, I’d like to set the record straight: Chicago’s Lincoln Park is not a “troubled” neighborhood. While I cannot comment on the other neighborhoods mentioned in his story, I disagree with his assertion that home prices in Lincoln Park are on the verge of “collapse.”

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Sad doggyWhile much attention has been paid to the human side of the foreclosure crisis – and justifiably so – pets are being left behind both figuratively and literally. As families have been foreclosed on or have abandoned homes with underwater mortgages, some, for whatever reasons, have chosen to leave their pets to fend for themselves.

Thankfully, many struggling pet owners in Chicago have done the humane thing by taking their pets to shelters. Even though some people are only turning over their pets until they get back on their feet (such as through the PAWS Chicago foster program), Chicagoland shelters are feeling the strain.

If you want to help with the rising needs of Chicago shelters and animals, consider volunteering at a shelter, adopting a pet or donating to a related cause. You can find resources on all of this at the PAWS Chicago website. There’s even a REALTORS®-based pet outreach program in Chicago: REALTORS® to the Rescue!

And should you need a nice, big backyard for a new four-legged friend, I’m always available to help with that.

Tax Credit

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced recently that lenders will now be permitted to allow homebuyers to use their federal tax credit as a down payment on their purchase. Previously, the tax credit could only be received after buyers had filed their tax returns.

This development is good news for sellers as it adds yet another incentive for buyers to come off the sidelines. The tax credit is also, of course, beneficial to buyers (depending on how much upward pressure the additional buying puts on prices).

On another note, I apologize for the recent drought in posts on this blog. I’ve had the fortunate problem lately of being very busy with the recent increase in buyer activity. Specifically, my Team and I have seen the under $400k market pick up in the last month with more multiple bids and more sales.

Don’t worry, though! More great posts are still on the way, so stick around.

Chicago Street Sweeper

It’s that time of year again! City street cleaning starts on Monday, March 30th and runs through November. During street cleaning days, you cannot park your car on a specific side of the street in order to accommodate the street cleaner.

The way the city communicates the schedule varies by neighborhood. In parts of the Gold Coast for example, you are notified of street cleaning by permanent signs. In other areas, temporary bright orange cardboard signs are posted one day before the street will be cleaned. The problem with both methods is that depending on where you park, your view of the sign may be obstructed. So, if you notice an entire block of mostly open parking, look carefully before deciding that the parking gods must be shining upon you.

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Weathering the Storm

Spring is on its way, a welcome change after a brisk Chicago winter. Bulbs are starting to sprout, buds are on the trees, and nature’s marvelous rebirth is right around the corner. Historically, spring is also that time of year when our real estate market comes alive, often with vigor. In years past, my residential real estate sales team and I averaged approximately 40% of our total year’s sales during Chicago’s “spring market.”

Believe it or not, our spring market is off to a healthy start this year. We have now written about the same amount of dollar volume as we did at this time last year, possibly a bit more. I attribute the fact that we are on course to our constant attention to pricing. All the beautiful brochures and online photos in the world won’t sell a home in this market if the asking price is too high. So, we have shifted how we communicate with our seller clients, and spot-on pricing is a frequent topic of discussion. While we are rarely getting the prices we would prefer, our clients who sell are relieved to be out from under their home and able to get on with their lives.

But our spring is not all joyful…

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When did you buy your house?

“When did you buy your house?” writes real estate reporter Marcie Geffner in her recent Inman article by the same name.

That was the question my friend Marilyn Stotts asked me during a recent gathering at a local restaurant. Not, “Where is your house?” “Do you like your house?” “How big is your house?” Or even the open-ended conversation starter, “Why did you buy your house?” But instead, “When did you buy your house?”

The fact is that with the rise and then fall in home values that has taken place in the last decade, the timing of your purchase is a good indicator of whether your home is worth more or less than you paid.

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Time to clean out your closets!

It’s spring cleaning time! If you are busy sorting through your closets preparing to sell your home (or just because you need to), consider donating your unwanted men’s and women’s professional attire, handbags, accessories and shoes to the Bridge to Success program. The program also accepts unused cosmetics and toiletries, including all those little bottles you may have collected from hotel bathrooms.

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