You could drive through University Village and never even realize that they have 36 really nice single family homes. That's because they are hidden on Emerald Street on the east side of Halsted behind the usual walk-up condos. This stretch of Emerald is like a mini boulevard with a small park at the north end, one in the middle, and a large playground at the south end. A very nice neighborhood.
The single family homes in University Village were built around 6 years ago and sit on lots that are 31 feet wide and about 114 feet deep and range in size from 3167 square feet to 4299 square feet. On the East side they back up to the Dan Ryan overpass but the West side of Emerald has a much more neighborhoody feel.
Some of these homes sold for as much as $1.5 MM back around the peak of the housing bubble. Since then there have been few sales. In fact, during the last 2 years not a single one of these homes has sold, though several have tried. Only recently did one of these homes go under contract - Joseph Moreno's home that is in foreclosure. That is a home that originally sold for almost $1.5 MM and was listed as a pre-foreclosure (but not a short sale) for $1.18 MM.
The problem is that the sellers in the neighborhood have been totally unrealistic about the price they can get (isn't that often the case when a home can't sell?). And until recently there hasn't really been much turnover of these homes. My guess has been that the owners were waiting for prices to improve. But eventually people have to move and right now there are a record 4 of these homes for sale.
By far the most interesting of these homes is the one at 1454 S Emerald, which originally sold for $1.2 MM at the bubble peak. It then became available in the summer of 2010 as a bank owned property listed at $836,900. It easily needed $30,000 worth of work without any serious upgrades. As long time residents of University Village, my wife and I actually put in a bid for this home starting at $750,000. I can't remember where we ended up but I do know we wanted to stay under $800,000 - not because it wasn't worth more but because we just didn't need a house that big and housing prices were still in decline. The house ultimately sold for $801,000 and in hindsight we should have upped our bid. But hindsight is always 20/20, right?
So now the people who outbid us are trying to get $1,275,000 for the home. While I think they will probably make a very tidy profit on the house I don't think it can sell anywhere near that list price, which is essentially bubble pricing. However, it is a very nice home as you can see in the slideshow below. I can't remember what the kitchen originally looked like but I bet they totally redid it.
Let me be clear on one thing. I really like these homes and the neighborhood. My wife and I lived in University Village for 10 years so we are fans. And if we could have bought one of these homes at a reasonable price a year or so ago we would have. However, when we looked around the city we felt that there were better values around given what the sellers in University Village were looking to get. Consider the following:
- You can get a 6 year old 4800 square foot home in Roscoe Village for less than $1.3 MM. I think Roscoe Village is more desirable than University Village despite my bias.
- We ultimately bought in East Village where recently you were able to get 4000 square feet new construction for under $1 MM with really high end finishes.
The next few months should be really interesting for these homes once the Moreno house closes and if and when one of the remaining sellers break ranks and lowers their price.
If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider's view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think I'm the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.