Garrison: West Rogers Park's glut of condo conversions "devastated" by downturn

Yesterday I reached out to local correspondent Matt Garrison to pass along some insight on two topics: the types of buyers who are active now that the federal tax credits have expired, and neighborhoods that are continuing to suffer in today's market. Garrison, an accomplished Realtor and founder of the CondoShark foreclosure / short-sale tracker, offered these comments in response:

I have dozens of CondoShark buyers who are just waiting for the right deal. Some have found them, but lots are being patient, with many thinking they'll see more deals in Q3 and Q4. The buyers who are still out looking tend to be cagey and pretty sophisticated after living through the last 4 years. Its like natural selection, the buyers who have held out this long are conditioned to wait. Only time will tell if they are right, because we will only see the bottom from the rear-view mirror.

Quality inventory is moving if priced well, but the fringes are being devastated. If you need an example, check out condo conversions in the Western / Devon area, where I'm seeing some prices down 75 percent. Excess is being flushed out here -- these buildings should have remained apartments and the market is correcting this inefficiency.

CondoShark focuses on seven "hot" 'hoods, primarily centered around downtown and the North Side, so I was intrigued by his singling out of a Far North neighborhood like West Rogers Park. I used Redfin to pull up the current condo listings for the area within a few blocks in any direction of Devon and Western avenues (what could fit in Redfin's map window, basically), and here's just a sample of what I found:

  • 157 condos listed, 60 of which are short sales.
  • A median price in the $120s.
  • Of the 76 condos that have seen price reductions since going on the market, 29 have dropped at least 20 percent, 21 by at least 30 percent, 13 by at least 40 percent, and 9 by at least 50.
  • The loss leader in the area is a short sale inside the converted 77-year-old building at 6527 N Mozart Ave. The two-bedroom / two-bath unit #2A was listed in April 2008 for $235,000 and has dropped in price 15 times, to a current list price of $80,000. The unit has all the expected features and finishes -- granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, 42-inch kitchen cabinets, hardwood floors, crown molding, new windows, in-unit laundry, and central heat and air.
  • Even closer to Western and Devon -- just one block north and one block east, in fact -- is the neighborhood's second biggest reduction. The converted two-bedroom / one-bath unit #3E at 2331 W Arthur Ave is priced in the $50s after starting off more than a year ago in the high $130s.

(Note: Matt Garrison is a client of our parent company, Data Based Ads.)

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