Homeward Bound - North

Revisiting Castlewood Lane in Deerfield

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.

679 Castlewood, Deerfield, Illinois

Several weeks ago we took you on a video drive down Castlewood Lane in Deerfield, just north of Deerfield Rd.

The area has an attractive location, close to Deerfield's highly-rated elementary schools, parks and I-294. Property values along Castlewood Lane have, however, fallen by 20% and more since the peak four years ago.

Perhaps falling property values have as much to do with neighbors' concern over the state of the home at 679 Castlewood, a block south of Deerfield Rd. That home, according to neighbors, may have been vacant for as long as 35 years.

Homeowners on Castlewood Lane, in a recent report in Trib Local, are pressing for changes to municipal ordinances that would enable the home to be torn down.

As you can see in the above frame that we extracted from another of our videos, the home itself is essentially invisible to drive-by viewing. If it has in fact been vacant for over 3 decades one has to wonder what's prompting the current pressure to take action.

The never-ending deer debate in Riverwoods

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.



In the latter part of the above video Riverwoods mayor and first lady, Bill and Sherry Kaplan, outline the opposing views among villagers on the subject of deer.

Suburban deer, and what to do about their ever-growing numbers, are also the subject of a recent Tribune article.

Many of Chicago's suburbs are blessed - or plagued, depending on your point of view - with large wildlife populations, both permanent and migratory. It's a topic you want to explore if your idea of nature doesn't include nature's creatures. The tulips you plant are deer delicacies, rabbits appreciate your veggies as much as you do, and coyotes may cast a hungry eye on the family cat.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving feast!

William Ryan Homes offers to lease your home if you buy theirs

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Joseph Askins

William Ryan Homes, MarketPlace Homes

Want to take advantage of historic low interest rates to buy a larger or more deluxe home, but are afraid you can't sell your existing home? William Ryan Homes has the solution for you.

"Many prospective buyers tell us that they have concerns about whether they can sell their existing homes in today's market conditions," said Debbie Beaver, vice president of sales and marketing. "We believe that MarketPlace Homes' new long-term leasing program can remove this obstacle and enable buyers to move forward with their purchasing plans.

Under the offer, MarketPlace Homes will guarantee monthly lease payments on your current home as well as take care of the utilities, maintenance and tenant repairs.

"Why not buy a brand new William Ryan home at today's low prices and wait and sell your current home later, when prices recover?" says Debbie. "MarketPlace Homes takes care of the hassle of your current house so you can provide a new home for your family right now."

"William Ryan Homes has long been dedicated to helping buyers realize the American dream of homeownership. As market conditions change, we have adapted with practical new ways to keep the dream viable for our customers," she said. "We've only just released the program this week and already have our first buyer that can take advantage of this tremendous program.

MarketPlace Homes is a seven-year-old privately owned company based in Michigan that offers a long-term lease program and a rent-to-own program to assist consumers and builders alike. The company has already assisted in the leasing and purchase of hundreds of homes nationwide.

With the lease program, the homeowner receives a rental payment every month, and utilities, maintenance and repairs are handled by MarketPlace Homes. In addition, if MarketPlace Homes sells the home during the lease period, the homeowner receives 100 percent of the asking price. More details about the program are available at William Ryan Homes sales offices throughout suburban Chicagoland.

William Ryan Homes communities include nine locations in the Chicagoland suburbs. For model hours, directions and contact information for the William Ryan Homes communities, please visit WilliamRyanHomes.com.

The William Ryan Homes philosophy of "Customer Driven by Design" has resulted in more than 8,000 satisfied customers since the company was founded in Chicagoland in 1992. The popularity of William Ryan Homes designs and construction has resulted in growth into Arizona, Wisconsin and Florida markets as well as Chicago's suburbs. Every home is built to Energy Star guidelines, and includes their outstanding 1-2-10 Transferable Warranty.

This is a sponsored post for William Ryan Homes.

Condo selling below 1999 price in downtown Deerfield

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.

Virtually every piece of property sells, sooner or later. Sooner or later, the common mantra you see in real estate listings - "hurry, won't last"- comes true for almost every property.

Unit 132, at 1015 Deerfield Rd in Deerfield, is on day 237 of its "hurry won't last" phase.

The 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo across the road from Maplewood Park and a few short blocks from the Metra station, is currently priced at $125,000 - just below the $127,000 it sold for in 1999.

A quick scan of condo units for sale within a block of this seems to indicate that the units have quite a lot of staying power. A block to the east, at Deerfield Gardens, 4 units in a small complex are listed as short sales, and have been on the market for 117 to 382 days.

At a 16-unit complex half a block west, one unit has been on the market for 377 days, and another for 1,012 days.

The "hurry won't last" clock is ticking relentlessly on all of these units. And, as a real estate agent once doubtless said to Rip Van Winkle, "if you snooze, you lose."

William Ryan Homes announces pre-construction sales, preview pricing at The Preserves at McDonald Woods in Lindenhurst

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Joseph Askins

Preserves at McDonald Woods, Illinois

A setting of unspoiled natural beauty enhances The Preserves at McDonald Woods, the latest new home community offered by William Ryan Homes. Preview sales are now taking place and attractive pre-construction pricing is offered in addition to historic low interest rates.

Located just off Grand Avenue (Route 132) and Ill. Hwy. 45, The Preserves at McDonald Woods will include 28 single-family homes adjoining 16 acres of nature preserve. Most of the homesites overlook the nature preserve with look-out and walk-out basements, and the homes are set along safe, quiet cul-de-sacs. Prices start at $256,990.

"The Preserve at McDonald Woods offers an exciting combination of advantages, including a close connection with natural beauty, luxurious homes with upscale features on oversize homesites and a location convenient to shopping and other services plus major highways for commuting," says Debbie Beaver, vice president of marketing. "We are now taking homesite reservations at our Autumn Grove community in nearby Volo, and during preview sales we are including in the price of the homes our signature morning room, luxury master bath, a full look-out basement. Prospective buyers are urged to act quickly because this is a desirable community with limited opportunities."

"In addition, buyers who have concerns about selling their existing homes should be aware that we have partnered with MarketPlace Homes, who will lease buyers' homes for up to six years with an 100 percent guarantee when they purchase a new William Ryan home," she says.

William Ryan Homes is a widely respected green builder that exceeding Energy Star building standards and providing greater comfort and lower energy prices while helping to protect and preserve the environment.

Home buyers at The Preserves at McDonald Woods can choose from 10 two-story floor plans, ranging in size from 1,941 to 3,157 square feet with four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and two- and three-car garages. Base prices range from $256,990 to $294,990.

The homes include such luxurious appointments as full basements guaranteed dry for 10 years, 9-foot first-floor ceiling heights, hardwood flooring in the foyer, kitchen and breakfast nook, kitchens with 42-inch upper cabinets, stainless-steel appliances and granite countertops, granite counters in bathrooms, Roman Arch two-panel doors and trim plus natural siding.

Available optional features include William Ryan Homes' signature morning room, deep-pour basements, including walk-out and look-out varieties, finished basements, fireplaces, volume ceilings, loft / tech centers per plan and concrete driveways.

William Ryan's best-selling floor plan is the Savannah, a two-story home that ranges from 2,503 to 2,841 square feet, priced from $269,990. The Savannah features four bedrooms and a loft/tech center, 2.5 baths, and a three-car tandem garage.

Highlights of the Savannah include a two-story foyer, formal living room and separate dining room, expansive informal living area including a kitchen with walk-in pantry and optional island, large breakfast area and morning room plus a large family room available with fireplace, main-floor laundry with garage access, and options for a study or extended family room in lieu of the third-car tandem bay.

The second floor features large bedrooms with walk-in closets and his and hers walk-ins in the master bedroom as well as a tech center. The luxury master bath included during preview sales features a whirlpool tub, separate shower and double-bowl vanity. The morning room features windows on three sides including a sliding glass door to the yard and a volume ceiling.

The Preserves at McDonald Woods blends a location like that of a remote resort destination with every convenience nearby. Ill. Hwy 132 has become a shopping and entertainment destination, with restaurants, movie theaters, Gurnee Mills outlet mall, and Great America, as well as an extensive variety of stores. The Lake Villa and Lindenhurst schools serve the community, and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the many lakes, golf courses and recreational attractions in the area, including McDonald Woods.

For more information, directions, or to reserve a homesite, call Kristine at 847-201-7952, or visit WilliamRyanHomes.com. This is a sponsored post for William Ryan Homes.

Glenview trailer park in bankruptcy

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.

Sunset Village, Glenview, Illinois

Sunset Village would prefer to be known as "Glenview's finest manufactured home community," but it's more commonly thought of as "Glenview's only trailer park." And, it's actually in an unincorporated area of Cook County with a Glenview mailing address.

Manufactured housing is common throughout the country, especially in the southeast, but a rare sight in Chicago's posh northern suburbs, where people don't expect their home to come with a VIN.

There are currently two homes for sale at Sunset Village. A 3-bedroom, 2-bath double-wide at 437 4th St is listed at $37,900. Lot rent is $887 a month.

The asking price on 514 5th St, also a 3-bedroom, 2-bath double-wide, is $47,700, and the monthly lot rent is $899.

The homes are more spacious and have more interior amenities than many of the raised-ranch homes you'll find in Glenview, Skokie and Wilmette, priced in the $300s.

Sunset Village has an excellent location, but also has some issues. Necessary improvements to the park's water distribution system have been delayed by the park owner's having filed for bankruptcy.

Added: I've been forwarded an e-mail from Tom Robb, who identifies himself as a longtime reporter for the Glenview Journal. Robb states that Sunset Village was incorporated into Glenview years ago but maintains a Northfield address.

Curiously, every listing I've seen in Sunset Village over the past several years identifies the area as unincorporated, and the address as Glenview. Robb is correct, per the US Postal Service site, that the correct mailing address for Sunset Village is Northfield.

If you're interested in buying at Sunset Village you should independently verify whether it's in the Village of Glenview corporate limits, which affects the services you receive as a resident.

A roundup of north suburban real estate news

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Joe Zekas

20 years on the North Shore without going native.

Deerfield, Illinois, farmers market

Not all the stories linked below are traditional real estate stories, but they are all news items that may affect your thinking on where to move for your next home.


  • Glenview water rates head higher

  • Library levy pushes Glenview taxes higher

  • Tom & Eddie's setting up shop in Deerfield

  • Glenviewi Plan Commission green-lights a hospital

  • Skokie, the new hub for the Jewish business community

  • Morton Grove water and sewer rates on the rise

  • Glenbrook District 225 to propose higher tax levy

  • Decongesting a Deerfield traffic slowdown

  • Neighborhood meetings on Northbrook's Comprehensive Plan
  • Comparing property taxes in Chicago's near north suburbs

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Downtown Park Ridge, Illinois

    Rising real estate taxes are becoming an increasingly important factor in home affordability, but they're only one of many factors buyers weigh in selecting their next community.

    Property taxes can vary considerably within a community based on the governmental districts and special assessment districts that have authority to levy taxes on a home. The biggest difference is typically attributable to school districts, but park districts and special-purpose districts can also vary within a municipality, so bear in mind that the following estimates may not apply to a particular home.

    For purposes of these estimates, I've assumed a home with an estimated fair market value of $400,000 and the minimum homeowner's exemption of $6,000. You can learn more about how those terms impact the estimates, and see the detailed components of tax rates for various suburbs in this PDF file, one of a number of real estate tax reports available from the Cook County Assessor's office.

    Using those assumptions, here's what you'll pay in property taxes in each of the following suburbs on a $400,000 home:


  • Glenview, School District 34, $6,769

  • Glenview, School District 63, $7,517

  • Lincolnwood, $8,251

  • Morton Grove, $8,156

  • Niles, School District 63, $7,471

  • Northbrook, School District 28, $6,521

  • Park Ridge, School District 63, $7,601

  • Skokie, School District 68, $8,296

  • Skokie, School District 69, $10,575
  • No seasonal downturn in new listings

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    530 N Ashland Ave, Park Ridge, Illinois

    This has traditionally been the time of year when real estate activity in Chicago slows to a crawl. This year may be different.

    Many experienced brokers are telling their clients not to take their homes off the market for the holiday season this year, and not to wait until the new year to bring their home to market.

    The working theory is that the smaller number of buyers who are active at this time of year are highly motivated, and some need to purchase in connection with a relocation.

    One hundred and thirty-one new home and condo listings came on the market in the near north suburbs during the past week. They ranged from a one-bedroom condo in Morton Grove priced at $79,900 to a 4-bedroom home in Park Ridge priced at $1,395,000.

    The Park Ridge home, pictured above, has 3 full and 2 half-baths. It's said to be an "authentic Williamsburg Cape Code." I've never encountered that phrase apart from a real estate listing, so I'm not entirely certain what it means. If anything, I find it baffling, since the style homes one sees in Williamsburg are very much unlike the Cape Cod style.

    Glenview, Deerfield property taxes on the upswing

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Deerfield Public Library, Deerfield, Illinois

    Several weeks ago I was chatting with a friend, a Winnetka resident, who said she would never even consider living in neighboring Kenilworth. The reason? Kenilworth has no public library to speak of. It had never occurred to me, a lifelong book junkie, that some people would decide against a community on that basis. On reflection, I'm sure she's far from alone.

    Deerfield residents apparently value their public library, since they recently approved a 20-year special tax to fund a library improvement plan. The special tax will cost the owner of a home valued at $500,000 an additional $89 a year.

    In Glenview, home owners will see a 3.4% rise in the portion of their tax bill that funds Village operations.

    Municipal taxes are, of course, only one component - often one of the smaller components of a property tax bill.

    A drive down Deerfield's Castlewood Lane

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Castlewood Lane has convenient access to major highways and, more important to parents of young children, a walk-to-school and parks location.

    Join us for a look at a street of homes, mostly built in the late 50s, and typically selling for less than they did 5 years ago.

    Glenview, Northbrook schools rank high

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Metra Station, Glenview, Illinois

    Families with young children often make school quality their highest priority when relocating to a new community. Everyone who's even in the market for a new home has noticed that school quality and housing prices are related. Some academic studies (PDF) find the impact of school quality on housing prices to be fairly minor, but anyone looking at North Shore versus North suburban home prices knows the difference can be huge.

    Test scores are, of course, only one measure of academic quality. Several city high schools have higher test scores than New Trier, but few of us have ever heard of parents relocating from the North Shore to the city for those "superior" schools.

    Recently published test scores show Glenview and Northbrook school districts ranking very high, higher than some of the North Shore districts.

    Those numbers might give pause to some parents who are pondering whether to spend $600,000 in Northbrook or Glenview, or $900,000 in Winnetka for comparable homes. Other community amenities and intangibles beyond schools account for some of the pricing discrepancy, but if schools are the primary driver of a housing decision, Glenview and Northbrook look like viable options. Parents will need that extra $300K when college bills start coming due.

    Who knows - not paying for New Trier might make it feasible to pay for Harvard.

    Your crazy aunt in the attic lives in style in Northbrook

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Park sculpture, Northbrook, Illinois

    I don't know where the phrase "crazy aunt in the attic" originated, but if you Google it you'll get more than 90,000 results. The phrase is often used as the equivalent of the "elephant in the room," i.e. a topic no one wants to talk about but that can't be ignored.

    Well, attics have been talked about quite a bit in Northbrook recently, according to a recent Pioneer Press report.

    It seems that new home builders in Northbrook have commonly shown attic space as unfinished when applying for building permits, then built out the space as additional bedrooms or home offices once the inspections have been completed and a certificate of occupancy issued.

    The motivation for doing this is easy to understand: the home buyer gets more space, and the builder is able to command a higher price than if the home had been built in strict compliance with the Northbrook zoning code. Everyone benefits, right? No harm, no foul?

    There is the potential for harm if the completed space violates fire safety codes and a fire occurs. And, physical risks aside, there's the possibility that aggressive code enforcement prohibits use of the space.

    The latter risk appears low if Northbrook officials adopt the laid-back, philosophical stance expressed by Village Trustee Michael Scolaro, noting that "the houses have already been built,"

    The attention that's been drawn to the problem recently, however, should raise a flag for anyone looking at new construction in Northbrook where a finished or to-be-finished attic is involved. A home buyer counting on that space might not have a place to stash their crazy aunt or uncle.

    Price slashed to rock bottom in Northbrook?

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    4095 Sunset Ln, Northbrook, Illinois

    Perhaps the tenth price change will be the charm for the new construction 5-bedroom, 7 ½ bath home at 4095 Sunset Ln in Northbrook.

    The 7,100 square foot home has been on the market continuously since August of 2008, when it was listed at $2,999,000. The current asking price, 816 days later, is $2,195,000, which the listing describes as "slashed to rock bottom" making it "the best deal in Northbrook."

    It's interesting to note that not all of the price changes have been reductions. The price has floated up and then down a number of times, perhaps reflecting anticipated changes in the level of the home's finishes.

    The home is not completely finished, which enables a buyer to customize it to some extent.

    Chapel Crossing at The Glen, in Glenview

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    The Chapel Crossing subdivision at The Glen consisted of large single-family homes. When completed, around 2002, they sold in the $700s to $900s.

    Buyers who resold in 2005 and 2006 in some cases saw substantial appreciation in price, but prices appear to have reverted to 2002 levels. Recent resales have approximated 2002 purchase prices, and several homes are currently lingering on the market at prices barely above what they sold for in 2002.

    There have also been several foreclosures over the years in this subdivision, typically on homes that were purchased at peak resale prices in 2005 and 2006.

    Are current sellers crying at the chapel?

    On and off the market for 40 months in Lincolnwood

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    6818 N Kildare, Evanston, Illinois

    It's "Just listed" - but not for the first time. During its 40-month odyssey on the market, the newly-built home at 6818 N. Kildare in Lincolnwood has been listed, delisted and price-changed a total of 53 times.

    Given that lengthy tenure, home buyers have apparently been focusing on something other than the "unsurpassed quality," "high-end designer finishes" and "uncompromising elegance" touted in the listing description.

    On the surface, at least, the home is very attractive. It has 5 bedrooms, 4 full baths, a 2+ car garage and sits on a 62-foot wide lot. The block is book-ended by a large park on the north and a golf course on the south. The current asking price is $1,249,000.

    What have home buyers seen beyond the surface to account for this home's lengthy tenure on the market?

    Will the seventh price reduction do the trick in Hawthorn Woods?

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    33 Red Tail Dr, Hawthorn Woods, Illinois

    The 3-bedroom, 2 ½-bath townhome at 33 Red Tail Dr in Hawthorn Woods first came to market nearly 5 months ago, priced at $425,000. After its seventh price reduction, the asking price - on a short sale basis - is $291,900.

    The current list price is 38% below the $470,000 sale price of the property in 2006.

    The home is in a gated community with a raft of country club-like amenities: clubhouse, pool, paddle tennis, fitness center and golf.

    If you head out for a visit, let us know how 6 people could possibly be seated around the deck table pictured above.

    Waukegan tops north suburban foreclosure list again

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    When we last reported on foreclosure filings in the northern suburbs, Waukegan topped the list with 265 filings.

    For the third quarter of 2010, Waukegan again led with 219 filings.

    Round Lake Beach and Skokie swapped positions during the third quarter, with Skokie showing 148 filings and Round Lake Beach 118. Fourth and fifth place went to Zion, with 90 filings, and Mundelein, with 80.

    Foreclosure filings are typically far more numerous than completed foreclosures.

    See third-quarter foreclosure filings and completed foreclosure auctions in the latest report from the Woodstock Institute, and read the Tribune's recent story on the report.

    Are price reductions the norm in Deerfield?

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Farmers market, Deerfield, Illinois

    According to Redfin market data, approximately two-thirds of the homes and condos for sale in Deerfield have experienced price reductions averaging over 9% of the original list price.

    A number of homes, especially those offered as short sales and fixer-uppers, have seen asking prices reduced by a third or more, and it's not uncommon to asking prices approaching selling prices from a decade ago.

    As with many local markets today, there's a substantial gap in Deerfield between the September median list price ($449K) of homes on the market and the median price of homes that have sold ($385K).

    Deerfield real estate agents do their best to associate the community with its tonier North Shore neighbors to the east, and there are Deerfield homes and neighborhoods that are similar to those on the North Shore. It would be equally fair, some might say, to call Deerfield Arlington Heights North based on the physical characteristics and vintage of much of its housing stock. The differences, however, quickly emerge when you consider the implications of the disparities in median household income: Deerfield $125k, Arlington Heights $82K.

    There are currently more than 60 homes in Deerfield priced at or below the median asking price, including a number under the $200k mark. If a 2-car garage is one of your must-have features in a home, you may be surprised to learn that many Deerfield homes have only a single-car garage.

    A little house near the prairie in Morton Grove

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Within just a few years patches of prairie grass - often in pots - have popped up almost everywhere you look in Chicagoland. When I hear the phrase "invasive species," I think "prairie grass."

    Naturalists, of course, have a different view of invasive species. In Illinois, prairie grass is not among them.

    If you don't consider naturalists to be an invasive species, and have a hankering to live near a piece of the Illinois that existed 100s of years ago, you can find an affordably priced little house near two prairie patches: the Morton Grove Prairie Nature Preserve and the Wayside Prairie.

    The modestly-sized 2-bedroom ranch at 9020 Linder Ave in Morton Grove is offered for sale at $215,000 on an "as is" basis. An open house is scheduled for this coming Sunday afternoon, October 24, from 1 to 3.

    Flexible lease terms at Grayslake apartments

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

     Wetlands, Grays Pointe Condominiums, Grayslake, Illinois

    Has the completion of your new home been unexpectedly delayed? Have you sold your home and want to take a few months to search for your next one? Been transferred to Grayslake or a nearby community?

    Those are just a few of the many reasons why you might need a temporary place to live. The good news for people who need short-term housing for a month or more is that many apartment complexes offer lease terms to accommodate them.

    Grays Pointe Condominiums, in Grayslake, leases apartments for one to twenty-four month terms. Rents for one-bedroom apartments range from $850 to $895 a month, while two-bedrooms are $950 to $995.

    Grays Pointe has a wide range of amenities, including a jogging trail around a pond, garage parking, a pool and playground, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, a clubhouse and on-site management.

    If you have children, I'd recommend exercising a healthy skepticism about Grays Pointe's reference to the local "excellent schools."

    Fenton Lane, teardowns in Park Ridge

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Between 2000 and 2003, Park Ridge lost 251 homes to teardowns.

    The video takes you on a drive along Fenton Lane, a one-block long street that illustrates the teardown phenomenon, which was driven by rapidly-rising land values in this desirable area just south of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. Fenton Lane is less than a mile from an I-294 interchange and a Metra stop.

    Three and 4-bedroom 1,500 to 1,900 square foot ranch homes, built in the 1950s, were replaced by 4- and 5-bedropm, 4 ½ bath 5,000 square foot homes on the original third-acre lots.

    Teardowns came to a virtual halt within recent years, but a return of a robust real estate market will likely see an accelerated pace of teardowns. Recent sales of the smaller homes along Fenton Lane were in the high $300s to low $400s, an indication that land values may favor replacing smaller homes with larger ones.

    Tarns of the Moor in Bannockburn

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    30 Aberdeen Ct, Bannockburn, Illinois

    Some subdivision names glide easily off the tongue. Tarns of the Moor, in Bannockburn, not so easily.

    My best guess is that a marketing type thought that "Tarns of the Moor" sounded appropriately Scottish, in keeping with builder Orren Pickell's latest concept home, the "Scottish Manor," and named the subdivision accordingly.

    High concept, after all, seems the logical explanation for the subdivision name, since aerial views of the site disclose no traces of tarns (a word of Scandinavian origin) or of a moor. Tarns, in any event, are generally found at higher altitudes and moors (i.e. wasteland) at higher latitudes than Bannockburn's.

    I may have a tarnished misreading of the references. Tarms of the Moor may refer to an on-site tsunami-warning system (PDF) staffed by someone of Moorish descent.

    Logical explanations and exotic speculations are insufficient to explain an Orren Pickell home, which is typically an idiosyncratic and highly individualized product that eschews a mass-market appeal.

    An Orren Pickell home is distinctive, and not always "distinctive" in a way that a majority of buyers would favor. Sooner or later, however, the right buyer finds an Orren Pickell home and falls in love with it.

    The Scottish Manor features 6 bedrooms, 5 full and 3 half-baths, and 7,200 square feet of living space at a current asking price of $3,618,750. The price was reduced in March from $4,299,000.

    Describing an Orren Pickell home further would tax the skills of the most adept wordsmith. If Bannockburn is in your future, and $3.6M within your budget, you ought to make a visit.

    New condos selling from the $290s at Patriot Commons at the Glen in Glenview

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    Joseph Askins

    Patriot Commons at the Glen, Glenview, Illinois

    (The following is a sponsored post for the Chicago Tribune's Fall 2010 Festival of Homes.)

    With double digit sales in the last two months, Patriot Commons at The Glen has quickly become one of the fastest selling luxury condominium communities in the region.

    "The combination of affordable pricing starting at $299,995 and the all-time lowest mortgage rates on record is drawing buyers in," says Brian Wulfestieg, senior project manager. "When they see our incredible location within The Glen and tour our homes, they are sold."

    Located in the heart of The Glen, Patriot Commons is a community of luxury condominiums and townhomes built by national luxury home builder Toll Brothers. This popular new community boasts a walkable lifestyle with everyday conveniences just a few steps away such as The Glen Town Center.

    All residents in The Glen enjoy easy access to the Metra station and year-round recreational amenities such as Gallery Park and the Glen Park Center.

    The condominiums all feature a private balcony and many offer golf course views. Interiors include 9-foot ceiling heights, hardwood floors, granite kitchen countertops, and a complete stainless steel appliance package including a washer and dryer. Pricing begins at $299,995 for a spacious one-bedroom design.

    Stylish single-level and two-story townhomes, priced from $443,995, offer two to four bedrooms and two and a half baths and range in size from 1,550 to 1,700 square feet. A decorated model, the Randall, is open to tour.

    The builder has condominiums and townhomes completed and ready for occupancy for those ready to move in. Other units near the end of construction are available.

    The community's sales center is open daily 10-6. To visit, from I-94, exit Willow Avenue west for 3 miles, turn left on Patriot Boulevard. The sales center is one quarter mile south of Chestnut Avenue.

    Call 847-998-0400, or visit PatriotCommonsatTheGlen.com for more information.

    Tracking foreclosures in Chicago's north and North Shore suburbs

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    "I like to keep track of what may be lurking in the shadows out there that can come out and bite us," says local correspondent Honore Frumentino of Prudential Rubloff.

    "Last year we had a lot of foreclosures dumped on us, and it really affected the spring market this year," Frumentino reported. "The appraisers were using distressed properties as comparables for our conventional sales, and that impacted our closings."

    Frumentino subscribes to RealtyTrac data as one means of anticipating what's "lurking in the shadows," and watches pre-foreclosure activity carefully. Pre-foreclosures are properties where the borrower is more than 60 days late on mortgage payments.

    With the exception of Lake Bluff, pre-foreclosures are less than two percent of households in each of the north and North Shore suburbs Frumentino monitors. "Lake Bluff," she notes, "is unusual due to the number of condos in unincorporated areas that have a Lake Bluff address."

    Frumentino interprets the current level of pre-foreclosure activity and other market indicators as signaling a bottoming-out of price declines.

    Homes under $250K in Skokie

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    9458 Lorel Ave, Skokie, Illinois

    If you had asked, just a few years ago, what you could buy for under $250,000 in Skokie, the answer would have been either "a condo" or "you've got to be kidding."

    The firm answer today is "any of 78 homes listed for $250K and under," with the lowest asking price coming in at $129,000. The slightly more tentative answer is "quite a few homes asking between $250K and $300K."

    The three 3-bedroom, 2-bath ranch pictured above, at 9458 Lorel Ave, is representative of what is available nearer $250,000. A fourth bedroom, and the second full bath, are in the basement.

    The home is east of the Edens Expressway and just south of Old Orchard shopping center. It sold for $323,000 in 2004 and is currently listed as a short sale at $239,000.

    Downtown Deerfield apartments in an urban setting

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Whole Foods, Deerfield, Illinois

    If your morning slog up the Edens Expressway to your job in the northern suburbs is wearing you down, and you want to rent a spot closer to work but with an urban feel, you might want to consider downtown Deerfield.

    Storey River at right, Deerfield, Illinois

    At the Deerfield Village Centre apartments you'll find yourself within walking distance of a Whole Foods, Storey River steak house, Red Star Tavern, Chipotle a Metra stop, and a host of other conveniences.

    One-bedroom apartments at the complex start at $1,265 and 2-bedrooms at $1,915.

    Prices and sales volume decline in Grayslake.

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Microsoft Bing aerial, College Trail, Grayslake, Illinois

    According to BlockShopper, the number of homes sold in Grayslake peaked at 883 in 2003 and has declined every year since. In 2009, only 227 homes were sold, and 2010 sales are at a similar pace to 2009's.

    Some of the sales volume decline is due to developers filing bankruptcy and / or simply shutting down or walking away from uncompleted projects. Crain's Chicago Business recently reported on a Neumann Homes subdivision where only a quarter of the planned homes were built, leaving owners concerned about plummeting home values.

    Sales volume declines have been accompanied by price declines in many developments, including established ones.

    The College Trail townhome development in Grayslake (aerial view, above) was completed about 15 years ago. A 2-bedroom, bath and a half unit at College Trail that sold for $122,000 in January, 1999 and resold for $175,000 in March of 2006 is currently for sale at $89,900 - well below the 1999 price.

    Check Redfin's market data page for Grayslake for more detail on market conditions and price reductions in Grayslake.

    Golf, Chicago's tiniest and least diverse north suburb

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    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    20 Dover Ln, Golf, Illinois

    According to City-data, the Village of Golf's population consisted of 444 whites, 4 Asians and 3 Hispanics, making it Chicago's least populous and least diverse north suburb.

    The Encyclopedia of Chicago quotes a longtime resident describing the half-mile square village as "a small town somewhere in the middle of Kansas."

    One thing that sets Golf far apart from small-town Kansas is its housing prices. At the moment, five homes are listed for sale in the MLS at prices ranging from $525,000 to $1,599,000.

    The 4-bedroom, 4 ½ bath home pictured above is priced at $1,185,000. It's a few steps from Diedrich Park and less than two blocks from the Golf Metra station.

    Custom ranch homes announced for Libertyville's Enclave at the Merit Club

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    Joseph Askins

    Enclave at the Merit Club, Libertyville, Illinois

    (The following is a sponsored post for the Chicago Tribune's Fall 2010 Festival of Homes.)

    Merit Homes has announced new exceptional pricing for their two to three-bedroom ranch or two-story homes at The Enclave at the Merit Club, a picturesque community in Libertyville, affordably priced from the upper $400s.

    "This is a win-win situation for everyone," says Merit Homes President Bert A Getz Jr. "We've reduced our prices without compromising our inclusions and amenities. Our buyers receive the same superior construction, first-class product specifications and superb finishes that we are known for in the industry."

    Every home is distinguished with upgraded luxury features that come standard such as site-stained oak flooring, Kohler fixtures, maple, oak, cherry, and alder cabinets, granite countertops, all major appliances, full masonry fireplace, extensive trim details, Pella wood windows, cedar shake roofs, and zoned temperature control.

    Empty nesters who are ready to downsize into a well-designed home and young professionals who want the convenience of single-level living can choose a ranch plan or a two-story design with a first-floor master bedroom. Stunning homes have two to four bedrooms and up to 3,000 square feet, priced from the upper $400s.

    Sales and marketing manager Jeri Szatko believes there is a large built-up demand among young professionals who desire single-level living and mature buyers who are ready to downsize and that this substantial price reduction will help stimulate sales.

    Merit Homes has two ranch models open for touring. To customize their home, buyers start with a plan and are permitted to change the footprint of the house and eliminate or add rooms. There's a lot of flexibility and they can select from the same finish level as a custom home buyer.

    Part of a gated community called the Reserve at the Merit Club, the 17-home Enclave is surrounded by semi-custom homes and one-acre custom homes on 100 acres of beautifully landscaped rolling terrain. A magnificent natural landscape of scenic rock gardens, sparkling ponds and colorful wildflowers enhance the tranquil setting.

    To visit The Enclave, take I-94 to Route 137, go west to Route 21 (Milwaukee Avenue), then north one half mile to entrance. Follow signs to the sales center, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Monday.

    Call 847-680-0090 or visit MeritHomes.net for more information.


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