Homeward Bound - North

Real estate Archives

Revisiting Castlewood Lane in Deerfield

user-pic
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

user-pic
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!

Condo selling below 1999 price in downtown Deerfield

user-pic
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."

Glenview trailer park in bankruptcy

user-pic
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

user-pic
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

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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?

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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?

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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?

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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."

    Tarns of the Moor in Bannockburn

    user-pic
    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.

    Tracking foreclosures in Chicago's north and North Shore suburbs

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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.

    user-pic
    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

    user-pic
    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.

    Is Skokie Chicago's most diverse northern suburb?

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Old Orchard shopping center, Skokie, Illinois

    Evanstonians like to brag (some would say bray) about their town's diversity, but Evanston is not Chicago's most ethnically and racially diverse northern suburb. That honor probably belongs to Skokie. That's right, Skokie.

    City-data provides the following breakdown for Skokie:

    • White alone - 40,127 (58.7%)
    • Asian alone - 16,579 (24.3%)
    • Black alone - 5,903 (8.6%)
    • Hispanic - 4,083 (6.0%)
    • Two or more races - 1,478 (2.2%)
    • American alone - 79 (0.1%)
    • Other race alone - 55 (0.08%)

    Skokie is served by a number of public elementary and high school districts. The school-age population is more diverse than the general population, due to Skokie's relatively large number of older whites. The median age in Skokie is 41.9 while the statewide median is 34.7.

    Skokie is economically as well as racially and ethnically diverse. The median household income is estimated at $79,596 and the median price of a residential unit at $225,000. Twenty-six percent of the housing stock of Skokie is renter-occupied. School district statistics reflect a substantial low-income population.

    A large influx of immigrants over the past 20 years has resulted in greater religious diversity in Skokie, which was known decades ago for its large Jewish population.

    Juniper Road in Glenview, New Trier School District

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    A small part of Glenview, east of Harms Rd and south of Wilmette Ave, is in Wilmette School District 39 and the New Trier School District.

    Most of the homes in the area were modest but the last 10 years saw a great deal of teardown activity and new construction on the larger lots in the area and on double lots. Homes start in the high $200s and range upwards of $2 million.

    In addition to the schools the attractions include extremely quiet, low-traffic streets with huge trees, and easy access to the Edens Expressway and Old Orchard shopping center.

    Join me for a brief drive along Juniper Road, a narrow 2-block long street. At the time of my drive 824 Juniper, a 3-bedroom, 1 ½ bath home, was on the market for $369,000.

    Home inspector cites structural problems in Skokie, Morton Grove homes

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Split-level homes, Wilmette, Illinois

    I was driving around West Wilmette yesterday, and thinking how familiar it would look to anyone who's spent much time in Skokie or Morton Grove. Many of the homes are split-levels built during the great housing boom of the late 50s and early 60s.

    I was curious about the types of problems homes of that vintage might typically experience, so I put in a call to Robb Packer, a veteran home inspector who I've known for more than 20 years.

    I quickly learned a lot more than I can report in a single post, so I'll limit this one to structural issues.

    "When a home inspector talks about structural issues," said Packer, "he typically isn't talking about your home falling down. We're talking about money / value issues where you need to spend money reinforcing the structure. You may need some type of system underneath the footing to support the foundation wall."

    "The freeze line in the Chicago area," Packer continued, "is 42 to 48 inches. Quite a few split-level homes built between 1958 and 1965 didn't have a deep enough foundation wall. As soon as the land freezes, it forces the foundation up and destabilizes it. If you're lucky, nothing will happen."

    And if you're not lucky, I inquired? "The foundation cracks when it settles. You'll see really distinctive step cracks in the foundation," Packer responded. "The genius of the Chicago market is that builders like a mortar that's slightly different, so it makes that settlement crack really pop out at you."

    Check back later for much more from Robb Packer on typical problems in 50-year old homes in the northern and North Shore suburbs. If you'd like to reach Packer in the meantime, connect with him at Metrospect.

    Morton Grove grows more affordable

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    7533 Churchill, Morton Grove, Illinois

    It wasn't that long ago that $300k was close to the minimum buy-in price for most of Chicago's inner-ring suburbs.

    Prices have tumbled over the past several years and there are currently 39 single-family homes for sale in Morton Grove for under $250,000.

    That price range typically buys a split-level 3-bedroom, 2-bath home built in the 1950s. The home at 7533 Churchill St is a good example of what was and what is. The home sold for $325,000 3 years ago and is currently on the market for $199,000 as a short sale.

    Please don't buy my Glenview townhome

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    "I can't think of a single reason why you should buy this townhome" is the message conveyed by this new listing at Redfin.

    The Realtor posted 13 completely unappealing photos (shot with a cell phone?) and the following MLS remarks:

    SOLD AS IS. NO SURVEY OR DISCLOSURES PROVIDED, BUYER RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY AND ALL CITY INSPECTIONS, ESCROW ETC. IF REQUIRED. ALL OFFERS MUST HAVE PRE APPROVAL AND COPY OF MINIMUM 2% EM. CERTIFIED FUNDS DUE UPON ACCEPTANCE, SPECIAL ADDENDUMS REQUIRED AFTER ACCEPTANCE.

    A 3-bedroom, 3-bath townhome in Glenview priced at just over $200k, whatever its defects, must have something positive that could have been said about it. I'm wondering how long this property will linger on the market.

    Live for free in North Chicago?

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    4-flat in North Chicago, Illinois

    If you can keep 3 of the 2-bedroom units in this North Chicago 4-flat fully-rented at the listed rents you should be able to live free in the fourth, and also pocket a small return on your equity besides. All of the units in the single-story property have tenant-paid utilities.

    On the surface this appears to be a great deal - but, the fact that it's been on the market for nearly a year indicates that there may be something lurking beneath the surface.

    Bargain-priced rentals in Waukegan

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    1816 Washington St, Waukegan, Illinois

    There are currently 32 rental listings in the Multiple Listing Service in Waukegan.

    Availabilities range from a 1-bedroom upstairs from a liquor store (a convenience store, for some) renting for $550 a month to a 5-bedroom, 3-bath home with a Waukegan address and Gurnee schools priced at $2,250 a month.

    The median rent, $1,200, will get you a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in Waukegan.

    Living on the edge of The Grove in Glenview

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Kennicott Home, The Grove, Glenview, Illinois

    If you're a nature lover and insist on living near pristine landscapes, Glenview has a lot of options, including vast forest preserves along its borders.

    One of the more interesting venues is The Grove, a history and nature museum first settled in 1836 by John Kennicott. The Kennicott home is pictured above, and The Grove is now a national landmark.

    3844 Grace Ln is just a few hundred feet from The Grove. The 4-bedroom, 2-bath, 2,300 square foot home is priced at $575,000. It's been on the market for nearly 5 months, and was originally listed at $639,000.

    Just a few hundred feet to the north, 1718 Robin Ln has The Grove as its back yard, and boasts a more attractive price tag. This 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bath, 2,400 square foot 2-story home is priced at $478,900 after several price reductions and more than 4 months on the market.

    Who pays the most property taxes in Morton Grove?

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    If you're a data junkie who wants to get a quick snapshot of real estate stats and activity in a Chicago suburb, it's hard to beat the city pages at BlockShopper.

    http://chicago.blockshopper.com/cities/morton_grove

    Want to know which Morton Grove properties pay the most in real estate taxes? Median sales price, recent sales, foreclosures, properties on the market, school districts? BlockShopper offers this, and a lot more - including chatty, sometimes controversial write-ups about who's buying and who's selling. You'll find BlockShopper a useful tool in your real estate shopping efforts.

    Twenty percent off 20 units at Optima Old Orchard in Skokie

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    I stopped by Optima Old Orchard Woods in Skokie on Saturday to check in with Eric Richards, the sales manager at the development. Buyer traffic was brisk, despite the holiday weekend, so I had to wait a bit to catch Eric between showings.

    Optima Old Orchard is offering "20 units, 20% off by September 20." The offer's been successful so far, with 10 of the 20 units spoken for. One, 2 and 3 bedroom condos are still available, base-priced from the high $190s to the low $400s. FHA financing is available.

    $100K price drop in Libertyville

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    The Enclave at The Reserve at the Merit Club in Libertyville. That's not a phrase that rolls easily off the tongue, but it is representative of the increasingly arcane conventions builders have adopted for naming their "communities." Home buyers will doubtless find more convenient ways to describe where they live.

    Whatever small barriers to home purchasing might be imposed by the formidable name of the development may be eliminated by a recent $100,000 average price reduction on the homes.

    The Trib quotes Merit Homes' president as describing the price reductions as a "win-win situation for everyone," although it isn't easy to see how a price reduction of this magnitude is a win for the builder. See the details at the Chicago Tribune.

    Lincolnwood is a suburb not a Chicago neighborhood

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    The transition from the City of Chicago to north-suburban Lincolnwood is so subtle that it's easy to mistake the village for a Chicago neighborhood.

    Lincolnwood's close-in location and strong schools contribute to housing prices that remain relatively high, with a median price hovering around $400,000, despite recent housing market conditions. Relatively high property taxes help to put a cap on housing prices.

    In recent years Lincolnwood has become a bit of an ethnic enclave, with Asians accounting for more than 20% of the population.

    Mundelein foreclosures go upscale

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    I spent some time yesterday with one of my firm's newest clients, Frank DeNovi, a Coldwell Banker agent who has specialized in selling bank-owned properties for 25 years.

    The video from my interview is still in our editing queue, but in the meantime you can watch Frank give a basic overview of foreclosures, short sales, and the shadow inventory in Chicago area in this recent interview with First Business.

    One of the topics Frank touched on in my interview with him was the increasing prevalence of foreclosures in higher price ranges. This Mundelein home - with 6 bedrooms, 5 full and 2 half baths, 9,000 square feet of living space and a 2-story great room overlooking a pond - is a good illustration of the trend. A few years back it would have fetched well over $1 million. The current price: in the $720s.

    Condos for rent at Optima Old Orchard Woods

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Old Orchard Woods, Skokie, Illinois

    Optima's Old Orchard Woods is a dominant presence on the western edge of the Edens Expressway in Skokie. It appears as a complex city skyline but is actually just three towers comprising the largest recent condo development in Chicago's near north suburbs.

    As of this writing 5 units are listed for rent in the MLS through private owners. A 3-bedroom, 3-bath with 2-car parking is listed at $2,600 a month and is also offered for sale at $419,900. Four 2-bedroom, 2-bath units are priced from $1,950 to $2,000 a month. A selection of units is still available for sale from the developer.

    A pedestrian-friendly Higgins Road in Park Ridge

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Tribune photo, Higgins Road, Park Ridge, Illinois

    If you're thinking "pedestrian-friendly Higgins Road" is an oxymoron, you're right. But that might change if a recent plan reported by the Tribune comes to pass.

    And, if the plan is successful it may have a positive impact on Park Ridge home values in the area immediately adjacent to Higgins Road.

    The state of the condo conversion market

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    We've recently received the Second Quarter 2010 Suburban Chicago Apartment & Condo Conversion Benchmark Report from Appraisal Research Counselors ("ARC").

    The ARC report's summary of the state of the suburban condominium conversion market is stark and simply stated: the "market remains at a stand-still." Many sales offices have been closed, and others have scaled back their hours of operation.

    The ARC report, which covers a 7-county suburban Chicago region, has better news for property owners in the apartment market. ARC found an overall 6% year-over-year increase in net effective rents, and an increase in occupancy levels to 93%.

    ARC expects continuing strength in the rental market, anticipating that rents and occupancy levels will continue to increase.

    $150K below 2005 price at Clublands of Antioch

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    967 Timber Lake, Antioch, Illinois

    Sales at Clublands of Antioch slowed well before its developer, Neumann Homes, filed for bankruptcy several years ago. Just over 300 homes had been sold in a development platted for more than 900.

    Clublands is on an attractive piece of ground, surrounded on 3 sides by forest preserve and encompassing the 47-acre spring fed White Lake.

    If you're enamored of going fishing or launching a canoe from your back yard you might want to take a look at 967 Timber Lake Dr at Clublands. This 4,600 square foot 5-bedroom, 3 ½ bath, 3-car garage home with White Lake in its back yard is currently priced at $375,000. When built in 2005 it sold for over $500,000.

    My son bought a home at Clublands almost 4 years ago, and enjoys living there. By the time he bought all of the prime lakefront lots in the early phases of the development had been long since sold.

    Visiting high-end foreclosures in Mundelein and Long Grove

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Foreclosed home in Mundelein, Illinois

    I spent several hours yesterday rambling around, visiting foreclosed properties with Coldwell Banker's Frank DeNovi. Frank is little-known to consumers, but well-known to the lenders on whose behalf he manages and sells hundreds of foreclosed, bank-owned properties year after year.

    Our first stop was at a 9,000 square foot 6-bedroom, 5 full, 2 half-bath home (pictured above) on a nearly 2-acre site in Mundelein priced in the $760s. A highlight of the home is a 2-story family room with a wall of windows overlooking a tranquil pond. Frank guesstimated the home's value at well over $1 million in the heated market that prevailed several years ago.

    We moved on to Long Grove, to a Richard Meier-style contemporary on a large wooded lot. The 5-bedroom, 5 ½ bath home opened into a soaring, light-filled 2-story living room overlooking a lower-level party room with a pro-quality bar. One unusual feature was a dual set of kitchen appliances enabling the kitchen to be kosher and non-kosher.

    Both homes were in surprisingly good condition - the result, Frank informed me, of lenders' recent willingness to invest in bringing them up to and maintaining them in the state that buyers are demanding rather than limiting the market for the homes to investors.

    Check back in a while for video walk-throughs of these homes, and a lengthy video interview with Frank DeNovi on foreclosures.

    Home shopping and Skokie's Backlot Bash

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Shopping for your next home is a lot more than finding the right house. It's also finding a community that suits your needs and where you'll feel comfortable.

    One great way to get a sense of what a community's like and who lives there is visiting a high-profile community event. The big event in Skokie this time of year is the 3-day Backlot Bash.

    The Backlot Bash will be held this year on August 27 - 29, on Oakton Street between Lincoln and Laramie. If your ears have had enough after 15 hours of free live music you can find some respite at a silent film festival, a classic car show, an arts and crafts show, or a game of bingo.

    Save more than a little time for house-hunting, however, since there are well over 700 homes and condos currently on the market in Skokie, at prices ranging upwards of a million dollars. The median priced home is in the mid-$200s, and that will typically get you a 1950s 3-bedroom, 2-bath ranch house with about 1,110 square feet of living space.

    Selection of luxury townhomes for rent at The Glen in Glenview

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Glen Town Center, Glenview, Illinois

    The depressed housing for sale market has resulted in a robust and highly competitive rental market. Home buyers who aren't quite ready to commit to a purchase have a wide range of rentals to choose from in many communities, including some that are still offering units for sale.

    In Glenview, for example, Toll Brothers is still selling townhomes at its Patriot Commons development in The Glen, near the Glen Town Center. Current offerings are priced from the $440s to the $490s, with a number of homes available for quick delivery. The units range in size from 1,549 to 1,689 square feet.

    Seven townhomes at The Glen, all on Admiral Court, are currently listed for rent in the MLS from $4,000 to $5,000 per month. They're substantially larger units than the Toll Brothers offerings, ranging up to 3,800 feet in size.

    Round and Round and Round and Round - Beach, Heights, Park

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

     A home in downtown Round Lake, Illinois

    Northern Lake County has four villages with the words "Round Lake" in their name, and they're all clustered near each other: Round Lake, Round Lake Beach, Round Lake Heights, and Round Lake Park.

    The villages are similar in many ways, due to their geographic proximity, and different in many others. They all have populations younger than the Illinois' median age of 34.7, with Round Lake Beach at 28.5 the youngest, and Round Lake Park at 34.4 the oldest.

    All of the villages have a substantial Hispanic presence, ranging from 21.4% of the population in Round Lake Heights to nearly half the population of Round Lake Beach.

    The communities are relatively affluent, with median household incomes well above the state average, except for Round Lake Park whose median household income of $52K is just shy of the statewide average.

    Round Lake Beach and Round Lake Park have seen little growth in the last 10 years, while the population of Round Lake Heights has more than doubled and that of Round Lake has nearly tripled.

    Each of the villages has its own police department and several have "gang units," reflecting the relatively long presence of gang problems in the area. All of the villages are served by the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District, which has fire stations in Round Lake and Round Lake Beach.

    The Round Lakes all have access to Lake Michigan water, although individual homes and subdivisions may have private wells.

    Home prices in all of the Round Lakes peak below $500k, and all offer a wide variety of relatively affordable housing options.

    Luxury apartment complexes scarce in Chicago's north suburbs

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    If you're looking to rent in a luxury apartment complex in Chicago's northern suburbs, you don't have a lot of options. There are very few newer apartment complexes in the area with the kind of high-end amenities (including in-unit washer / dryer) that affluent tenants are looking for. You'll find more viable options in the host of condos and single-family homes available for rent.

    A new luxury rental complex, The Commons at Town Center, recently opened in Vernon Hills. It's adjacent to the Hawthorn Center Mall, which is anchored by Sears, Macy's and Carson Pirie Scott.

    The Commons at Town Center offers 1, 2 and 3-bedroom, 1 to 2 ½ bath apartments, renting from $1,455 to $2,850. Units feature kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, private terraces and in-unit washer / dryers. The complex has indoor heated parking and a fitness centre.

    Zion is home to many affordable homes

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Zion, Illinois

    You can find homes priced upwards of a million dollars in Zion, but the median price of a single-family home there hovers around $130K, and dozens of homes are available for less than $100K, some far less.

    What does the median-priced home in Zion look like? More often than not it's a 3-bedroom, 2-bath ranch-style home. Less typically it's the 4-bedroom, 3-bath remodeled home pictured above, just a few short blocks from Illinois Beach State Park. The home could be a primary residence or a year-round vacation home.

    If you haven't been to Illinois Beach State Park you'll definitely want to check it out. It's one of the wonderful natural treasures in Illinois, and well worth exploring.

    Seller underpricing builder at Churchill Hunt in Gurnee

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Not that long ago Gurnee was one of the hottest housing markets in Chicago's north suburbs. That would have been about the time when Toll Brothers was the nation's hottest upscale builder, the subject of a feature-length profile in the New York Times.

    Those were the days my friend. We thought they'd never end.

    The home at 5573 Chancery Rd in Gurnee was purchased in November of 2005 for $663,000, including a reported $75K in upgrades. And then the busy years went rushing by... It was listed in December of 2008 for $809,000. After 8 price reductions it's currently offered for $615,000 - well below the $637,995 base price at which Toll Brothers is offering the same model. The listed home, curiously, has 400 more square feet than the builder reports.

    Morton Grove new construction lingers on market

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    7446 Foster, Morton Grove, Illinois

    Morton Grove is one of those easily-overlooked near north suburbs. It had some notoriety in the 1920s for its slot machines and roadhouses, but that faded with the Depression.

    The opening of the Edens Expressway in the 1950s kicked off a wave of development. Relatively small homes sprouted on relatively large lots, attracting city dwellers. In the more recent past the lot sizes and functionally obsolescent homes attracted developers. Teardowns and new construction became the order of the day.

    One of those newly-built homes, 7446 Foster, has been languishing on the market for nearly two years. The 4,000-plus square foot home includes 4 bedrooms, 4 ½ baths and a 2 ½ car garage. The price was reduced a month ago to $799,000.

    A handsome Riverwoods home with an indoor pool

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    In this part of our tour of Riverwoods we arrive by car at a 10,500 square foot, 6 bedroom, 5 ½ bath home for sale at $2,950,000. We take a brief look at the living areas and indoor pool.

    In separate video segments we tour the basement ballroom and karaoke stage and an over-the-top master suite.

    This was my first look at higher-end properties in Riverwoods. I'd been in many far more expensive homes, primarily on the North Shore and in other parts of the country, over the years. I hadn't seen anything comparable to this home in this price range.

    Bill Kaplan, who's been in real estate as an agent, broker and developer for over 50 years, suggested the home would be priced far higher if were in Winnetka or Lake Forest rather than Riverwoods.

    The tiny (population 4,000) Village of Riverwoods is an easily overlooked enclave in Chicago's northern suburbs, bordered by Lincolnshire, Bannockburn, Deerfield, Northbrook and Buffalo Grove. Driving through Riverwoods it's easy to believe you're in a forest preserve rather than an inhabited place.

    I recently re-connected with old friends, Bill and Sherry Kaplan, who happen to be the Mayor and First Lady of Riverwoods, and they took me on a guided tour of their bailiwick, including stops at several beautiful homes.

    See more Riverwoods video at YouTube.

    A sprawling, luxurious master suite in Riverwoods

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    I recently re-connected with old friends, Bill and Sherry Kaplan, who happen to be the Mayor and First Lady of Riverwoods, and they took me on a guided tour of their bailiwick, including stops at several beautiful homes that are currently for sale.

    In this part of our tour of Riverwoods we trek through a master suite with a spa-like bath and closets that might make Imelda Marcos green with envy. The 8,400 square foot home is listed for sale at $2,500,000, but almost certainly cost more than that to build.

    This was my first look at higher-end properties in Riverwoods. I'd been in many far more expensive homes, primarily on the North Shore and in other parts of the country, over the years. I hadn't seen anything comparable to this home in this price range.

    Bill Kaplan, who's been in real estate as an agent, broker and developer for over 50 years, suggested the home would be priced far higher if were in Winnetka or Lake Forest rather than Riverwoods.

    The tiny (population 4,000) Village of Riverwoods is an easily overlooked enclave in Chicago's northern suburbs, bordered by Lincolnshire, Deerfield, Northbrook and Buffalo Grove. Driving through Riverwoods it's easy to believe you're in a forest preserve rather than an inhabited place.

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Open house at a downtown Glenview farmhouse

    I love a great front porch and, if I owned this home I'd be likely to neglect the great back yard you'll see in the first part of our video tour, above, and hang out on the porch.

    The 3 bedroom, bath-and-a-half home at 1745 Henley St in Glenview was built in 1909 as a farmhouse and moved to its current location some time in the 1940s.

    In the second part of our 2-part video tour Koenig & Strey's Julie McWilliams shows me around the interior and we gain a better understanding of why the home was thought to be worth moving rather than razing.

    The home is listed for sale at $500,000, and will be open for viewing Sunday, July 18, from 1 to 3.

    What $280K buys in Northbrook

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    2220 Valencia Dr, Northbrook, Illinois

    If you're shopping for a single-family home in Northbrook in the $250-$300K range you'll find several dozen choices available. What you'll typically get in that price range is a 2 or 3 bedroom, 1 or 2 bath well-maintained ranch with an attached two-car garage and a basement. And, of course, you'll get Northbrook's sought-after public schools.

    After a recent $20,000 price reduction the home at 2220 Valencia Dr (pictured above) is listed at $279,999. It's in the Villas Salceda subdivision, built in the 1970s, and features 2 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a family room with fireplace and a large living / dining room area. There's also a finished basement with rec room.

    Quick-delivery townhomes t Patriot Commons n Glenview

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    It's just about a year since I visited Toll Brothers Patriot Commons at The Glen, in Glenview in the above video. The development was advertising "quick delivery" homes at that time, and it still is.

    Current offerings range from the high $370s to the low $500s.

    New furnished models at Lincolnshire Place

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    One of the reasons I enjoy visiting with Weiss Development's Helen Weiss is that I learn a bit about consumers' changing perception of their needs and how builders are responding to them. You'll see some of that in the above video walk-through of a new furnished model, and in the video linked below.

    Lincolnshire Place's current offerings are priced from the $370s to just shy of $500K, after significant price reductions.

    There's also a furnished model for sale at Lincolnshire Place (video) for $469,000 plus the cost of the furnishings.

    Rent, rent-to-own or buy a 6-bedroom home in Skokie

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    8548 Gross Point Rd, Skokie, Illinois

    The 6-bedroom, 3-bath newer home at 8548 Gross Point Rd in Skokie is offered for rent at $3,200 a month or for purchase at $599,000. The home also has a 3-car garage.

    The listings indicate the seller will consider a rent-to-own or owner-financing arrangement.

    Skokie has always been one of the more popular north suburbs due to its access to public transportation, proximity to the Edens Expressway and good public schools. It currently has a wide range of rental homes and condos available.

    A fresh look at Pulte's Cypress Park in Zion

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    My assistant - and son - Jordan visited Cypress Park last week for an updated look at a new home development he'd last visited a year earlier.

    The development has seen a few changes in the past year. The landscaping is more mature, improving the curb appeal of many of the homes. A few homes are under construction, and a few more have been completed during the year.

    The promised park, however, is still just an open field. Pulte's sales office remains open, unlike the scene at a number of other developments in Lake County.

    A year without sales in Lindenhurst

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    The Preserves at McDonald Woods has seen a year pass without any sales. Only one home was ever built n the subdivision, and only the weeds are making any progress.

    It's a story that's representative of many far-flung suburban developments during the past year.

    Price reductions at Optima Old Orchard Woods

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Optima Old Orchard Woods, Skokie, IL

    If you've only seen Optima Old Orchard Woods from the Edens Expressway you've missed the vast expanse of forest preserve that borders the development to the west.

    If you do stop for a closer look you'll find a lot to like at this architectural stunner. And, you'll be able to enjoy it at what Eric Richards, Optima's managing broker, refers to as "new special pricing" on selected units.

    A one-bedroom that had been priced at $234,000 is now available for $199,320, for example, and it's move-in ready.

    "We've also extended our $9,000 credit," Richards related. "It's a flexible incentive that buyers can apply to closing costs, interest rate buydowns or options."

    Optima Old Orchard Woods has been FHA-approved, says Richards, enabling down payments as low as 3.5 percent.

    Pre-approved short sale at Grant's Grove in Lindenhurst

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    The 4-bedroom, 2 ½ bath, 3-car garage home at 751 Porter Cir in Lindenhurst offers, according to the listing, "plenty of upgrades." It originally sold in January of 2006 for $416,710 and is now offered as a pre-approved short sale for $275,900. That's one-third off the 2006 price.

    The listing cautions readers not to miss this opportunity. But then, it's been on the market for 283 days, so not everyone is listening. Perhaps the $9,875 property tax bill is one factor.

    The developer, Pulte Homes, still has homes for sale at Grant's Grove. A Birmingham model, which appears to be very similar to 751 Porter, is base-priced from $355,990. The overall price range at the development has dropped by $30K to $40K since we last shot video there, just over a year ago.

    Lakefront living in Mundelein

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    26720 Countryside Lake Drive, Mundelein, Illinois. Microsoft Bing aerial image.

    The Village of Mundelein's population has grown by more than 65% since 1990. That's nothing compared to what happened to Mundelein's population on a single day in June, 1926 when over half a million people descended on the village for a Roman Catholic Eucharistic Congress.

    Mundelein has seen many changes - including name changes - over the years, but one thing has remained constant: the lakes that provide much of the village's character.

    You'll almost always find a decent selection of waterfront homes for sale in Mundelein, ranging upwards in price from under half a million. The highest-priced active waterfront listing is at 26720 Countryside Lake Drive.

    The 20-room, 13,000 square foot residence has 6 bedrooms, 7 full and 2 half baths, a 6-car garage and a 2-acre site with an in-ground pool. It's been on and off the market for two-and-a-half years, undergone several price changes, and is currently listed at $1,890,000 with Prudential Rubloff.

    A converted barn on acreage in Libertyville

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    15611 West Rockland Rd, Libertyville, Illinois

    The 7,000 square foot, 5-bedroom, 4 ½ bath converted barn at 15611 West Rockland Road in Libertyville is sited on 1.75 acres and accessed by a long drive.

    Before you begin objecting that 1.75 acres doesn't amount to "acreage," consider the following. The property is surrounded on 3 sides by forest preserve (i.e., property tax-free acreage) and backs up to the 31-mile Des Plaines River Trail, which begins just south of the Wisconsin border and ends in Deerfield.

    Extensive windows and a 1,000 foot wrap-around deck immerse the home in its natural surroundings. The asking price is $1,400,000, through Coldwell Banker's Highland Park office.

    Not familiar with Libertyville? It's home to one of the state's top 10 high schools (in a virtual tie on achievement tests with Lake Forest High School), and a community that fits its friendly, small town description in this recent Tribune profile.

    A great front porch on a newer Park Ridge home

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    401 S Vine, Park Ridge, Illinois

    Park Ridge ranks alongside Evanston and Oak Park as one of the jewels of Chicago's adjacent suburbs. Its Maine South High School, however, far outranks Oak Park River Forest High School and Evanston Township high school on state achievement tests.

    Park Ridge is closest to Oak Park in the loyalty it inspires among long-time residents, many of them second and third-generation Park Ridgers. Newcomers, move-ups and returning residents can choose from a wide range of homes, apartments and condos. Single-family home prices start in the mid-$100s for a fixer-upper and peak well over $1 million.

    Park Ridge, unlike Oak Park and Evanston, saw a great deal of teardown and new construction activity during the past decade, some of it tasteful, some in the style that can only be called Eastern European Norman Mediterranean McMansion.

    I'm a sucker for a great front porch, so I find the newer (built in 2002) home at 401 S. Vine, pictured above, more appealing than most. It features 4 bedrooms, 3 ½ baths and a 3-car garage. It's a few minutes walk from downtown Park Ridge and the Metra station. The home is priced at $1,075,000 and listed with Coldwell Banker.

    A renovated 5-bedroom home in downtown Glenview

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Downtown Glenview is a suburban venue with the ambience of an urban neighborhood.

    On a quiet tree-lined street, just a block from the main thoroughfare of downtown and close to the Metra station, you'll find 1766 Grove St, a renovated 5-bedroom, 3 ½ bath home with great curb appeal priced at $930,000. That's after a $300,000 price reduction, according to agent-owner Ana Anita Morel of Coldwell Banker.

    Join us for a video walk through the home, which was formerly the rectory for Our Lady of Perpetual Help church, just across the street.

    Talking about Lincolnshire with developer Helen Weiss

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Weiss Development may just be the longest continuously-active condo developer in Chicagoland.

    Yesterday I visited Lincolnshire Place and sat on the patio with Helen Weiss, talking about some of the advantages of the location of her Lincolnshire Place condos.

    Lincolnshire, despite its affluence and location, remains little known due to the small size of its residential population. Corporate headquarters, other offices, retail and dining venues swell the daytime population to perhaps 10 times the residential population.

    Hope you get a clearer picture of Lincolnshire from my chat with Helen.

    Little Bear Garden, at The Glen, in Glenview

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    The Glen is a master-planned community on the site of the former Glenview Naval Air Station in Glenview.

    The Glen sprawls over 1,121 acres of mixed-use new development, with a vartety of new homes, apartments. townahomes, offices, and retail space, including a "town center." Public amenities include Lake Glenview, parks and prairie areas, two golf courses, schools and a Metra station.

    One of the highlights of The Glen, if you're a kid of a certain age, has to be Little Bear Garden. Join me for a brief look around it.

    New prices and a new model at Lincolnshire Place luxury condos

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Several months back I visited Lincolnshire Place, met developer Helen Weiss of Weiss Development, and toured several models, including the one in the above video. Part two of the video is at YouTube.

    I called Helen today for an update, and learned that there have been price adjustments at the development and that a new model recently opened. I'll be heading out later this week to check out the new model.

    Weiss Development is the oldest continuously-active condominium developer in Illinois. Its experience shows in the Type A plan (pdf file), a 2-bedroom, 2 ½ bath, 1,784 square foot home. Note the well-defined foyer and its adjacent walk-in closet, the half-bath that preserves residents' privacy when entertaining guests, the dual walk-in closets in the generously-sized master bath, for starters. One of the more creative features is a kitchen nook that can easily function as a home office, averting the need for a third bedroom.

    Homes are priced from the $370s and both quick-delivery and customizable plans are still available.

    Waukegan tops foreclosure list in Chicago's northern suburbs

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    There were 265 foreclosure filings in Waukegan during the first quarter of 2010, gaining it the top rank among Chicago's northern suburbs, according to data compiled by the Woodstock Institute.

    Other northern suburbs which saw more than 100 foreclosures filed during he first quarter are Round Lake Beach (154) and Skokie (116).

    Development deadpool: Center of the Northshore

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.



    Plans for the inappropriately-named Center of the Northshore called for more than 200,000 square feet of retail space, a hotel, 74 condominiums and office space, according to Crain's Chicago Real Estate Daily.

    If the project had gone forward it would have marked the largest development in Northbrook in more than 30 years. Late in 2008 it went into foreclosure and, as you'll see in the video, into the development deadpool.

    The "Center of the Northshore" -- what were they thinking. Northbrook isn't a North Shore suburb and the only thing this project's site is at the center of is major traffic corridors along Dundee Rd and Skokie Blvd, just of Interstate 94.

    Did the pretentiousness of the name help kill this deal?

    Wish you were homeward bound to Chicago's northern suburbs?

    user-pic
    Joe Zekas

    20 years on the North Shore without going native.

    Fountan at The Glen, Glenview, Illinois

    If so, you're part of the never-ending restless migration that continues to reshape and revitalize Chicago's northern suburbs.

    I hope to bring an outsider's perspective and an insider's familiarity to the task of helping you navigate to your first or next home in the northern suburbs. We'll also offer up a ton of video and photography of north suburban places, faces and spaces.

    What will you find here? Everything and anything you might want to know about real estate and how life's lived in Chicago's northern suburbs. If you don't see what you want, comment on a post with your suggestion or request.

    You can see a list of Chicago's northern suburbs at our About us page

    .

    Most Active Pages Right Now

    ChicagoNow.com on Facebook