When does renting out that hard-to-sell Chicago condo make sense?

When does it make sense to move from trying to sell your Chicago condo to trying to rent it?

For Adam Hrejsa, that point came after he reduced the asking price of his condo in Chicago’s River West neighborhood twice. When his real estate agent suggested he reduce the price a third time, Hrejsa took his one-bedroom condo off the market.

In August, he found a tenant to rent the unit.

“After lowering the price the second time didn’t generate any offers, I decided it was time to quit,” Hrejsa said. “I didn’t see any point in keeping it on the market.”

Hrejsa isn’t alone in his experiences. Selling a Chicago condo today is no easy task. There’s too much competition out there.

Moving from selling to renting makes sense for some owners. It gives them a chance to earn more equity in their condos. At the same time, they can pay off a good chunk of their mortgage payments with the monthly rent checks that their tenants provide them. It’s a way of buying time until the Chicago condo glut eases.

Hrejsa, who originally bought his condo for $229,000 six years ago, admits that he’s fortunate. He didn’t have to sell. He lives in the suburbs now, Roselle, with his wife, a move the couple made after their recent marriage. Hrejsa estimates that the rent he receives from renting the condo covers about 99 percent of his mortgage payments each month.

And he’s hopeful that he’ll be able to sell his Chicago condo for a good price once the Chicago housing market turns around, whenever that happens.

“I always knew that if I was going to rent, I was going to do it with the intention of renting for a few years,” Hrejsa said. “I don’t sense the market turning around anytime soon. There are too many foreclosures out there.”

Trying to sell the condo was a frustrating experience. Hrejsa put it on the market in February and took it off in July. During that time, despite reducing his asking price from $239,000 to $229,900 to $225,000, Hrejsa didn’t receive a single serious offer. The condo attracted several showings, even some second showings, but no real offers.

It seemed that buyers were always debating between Hrejsa’s unit and one other one. The other units always won out.

It didn’t help that the unit was competing with a new condo development about a mile away. The developer of that building was aggressive, offering new units for bargain prices. It was hard for Hrejsa’s condo, which was in a 10-year-old building, to compete with that.

“It was the second showings that really got frustrating,” Hrejsa said. “You’d get your hopes up for those.”

Today, Hrejsa is enjoying life in the suburbs. He’s also grown fond of the idea of all those rent checks coming his way. And when the housing market finally does rebound? He’ll be ready to put that condo unit on the market again, this time, hopefully, with better results.

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