Your Ultimate Guide to Real Estate on Chicago's North Shore

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North Shore Real Estate Report: January-September 2011

Sales of single family homes on the North Shore were flat for the first nine months vs. year ago. Actually three fewer houses sold this year which rounds to flat. That doesn’t sound very promising but, considering that sales were down 11% through the end of June, this is more positive than it appears. Remember that in first half of 2010 we had the effect of the home buyer tax credit, which we did not have in 2011.  Sales for the July -September quarter were up 19%, bringing us to even for the first three quarters.

The communities driving most of the sales growth this year are Glencoe (+40%), Winnetka (+10%) and Kenilworth (+28%). Glencoe’s strong growth this year followed last’s year’s anemic performance, where it only grew 3% through September of 2010.

The median home price for the North Shore declined 2% for the first three quarters, which isn’t too bad when you compare it to other markets that are still falling more dramatically.

Market time continues to decline across the board indicating that sellers have gotten more realistic in their pricing and buyers are getting off the fence.

North Shore Real Estate Report: January – September 2011

North Shore Real Estate Report-YTD 2011Source: MRED – Data for single family homes. Deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Wondering what your neighbor’s house sold for? Just email me with the address of the property and I’d be happy to send you that information (caveat: I can only access the information if the transaction has closed. Until then the information is confidential).

Contact Anne West - Your North Shore Real Estate Connection

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North Shore Market Update: September 2011

There were 163 closed sales in September for the nine North Shore communities I track in this blog. That’s up 26%  vs. a year ago. This was driven by strong growth in several towns, including Winnetka, Glenview, Wilmette, Highland Park and Evanston. Glencoe, Northfield and Kenilworth were all down, but off a small base.

Unfortunately, pricing trends were not as positive. Overall, the median home price on the North Shore was down 10% to $545,000. The only towns showing improvement were Evanston (+13%) and Northfield (+31% off a small base). The greatest declines were in Glenview and Wilmette.

The standard caveat applies about not drawing too many conclusions off one month’s data. Tomorrow I’ll post the year-to-date figures, which should be much more enlightening.

You can see longer term trends and more detailed stats about each North Shore market on the Market Statistics page.

North Shore Market Update
September 2011 vs. Year Ago

North Shore Market Update- September 2011Source: MRED- Data for single family detached homes. Deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Wondering what your neighbor’s house sold for? Just email me with the address of the property and I’d be happy to send you that information (caveat: I can only access the information if the transaction has closed. Until then the information is confidential).

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Spacious & Convenient Townhome in Northeast Evanston

2111 Sherman exterior

Maybe you’re looking to downsize but not all the way to a condo. Or maybe you’re in a condo now and need something bigger. Either way, this three bedroom townhome at 2111B Sherman Avenue in Northeast Evanston might just fill the bill. Tucked in the back of an eight unit complex, it’s got the best of both worlds: lots of space and privacy while at the same time conveniently located within two blocks of Northwestern University and close to trains, town and the beach.

Besides the great location here are some of this home’s notable features:

  • Large rooms, good closets and lots of storage space in the walk-up attic.
  • A beautifully landscaped private patio to enjoy summer evenings.
  • Indoor parking just two steps from your back door.
  • A first floor laundry room just off the kitchen.
  • A large, freshly painted basement just waiting to be finished into a family room or rec room.

This meticulously maintained home has six rooms, three bedrooms and two and a half baths and is listed at $425,000. You can see a virtual tour here. If you’d like to see it in person, please give me a call at 847-687-5957. I’d love to show it to you.

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Lessons from the Canadian Housing Market

Why is it that our neighbor to the north continues to enjoy a strong housing market, while ours stays mired in the muck?

I read a great article by Steve Bulwa on Business Insider today that sheds some light on the subject and offers some lessons for our policy makers going forward. Here’s the summary:

More conservative lending standards
Canada has more conservative requirements in terms of down payment and loan to value ratios than we did during the boom. Before the bust the US had twice as many homeowners with a LTV of over 90%. As a result, a 10% increase in home vales was enough to put all of those purchasers under water. The more conservative lending standards also limited the number of entrants into the market and prevented buyers from acquiring property hey couldn’t afford. This in turn reduced the leverage and riskiness of the whole financial sector.

Location, location, location
Location is the biggest determinant of stability and growth in real estate, and the most desirable locations around Canada’s big cities are near the downtown core. Vancouver and Toronto have vibrant downtown areas that offer opportunities for work and play, and they are much safer than large U.S. cities due to strict gun laws and social programs that mitigate the disparity between rich and poor that cause strife n U.S. cities.

Resource based economy
Compared the the U.S. the Canadian stock markets are dominated by resource and commodities companies, which are experiencing a global boom. This means that retirement accounts and stock portfolios of Canadians have remained much stronger than the portfolios of their U.S. counterparts.

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Odds of Selling Your Winnetka Home

Yesterday I wrote about the odds of selling your Wilmette home depending on its price point.

For Winnetka, you’ll see that the best place to be if you’re a seller is between $700K and $999K, especially between $800K and $899K, where demand actually exceeds supply. So, if you’re selling and your price is just above $1,000,000, you might consider reducing it to $989K to $999K so as to attract more buyers. If you are buying in the $800K-899K you might not be able to negotiate a big discount. Be prepared to make a strong offer if you want the house.

Odds of Selling Your Winnetka Home by Price Point

Odds of Selling Your Winnetka HomeSource: MRED -single family home sales in Winnetka June-August 2011

57 Money-Making Tips to Preparing Your Home for Sale

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Odds of Selling Your Wilmette Home

If you’re planning to sell your Wilmette home, one of the first things your agent will do is run a comparative market analysis (CMA) to help determine the appropriate list price. She’ll look at properties similar to yours that have sold recently and that are currently on the market. Another tool I like to use to provide additional input on pricing strategy is what I call the “odds of selling” analysis.

It’s a quick and dirty analysis comparing inventory of homes in each price band to the number of sales in that price band. Just divide the last three months of sales by the current active listings and you get your odds of selling in the next three months. Unless the market changes dramatically going forward it’s a pretty good way to see how things are moving in the price band in which you are competing.

Odds of Selling Your Wilmette Home by Price Band

Odds of Selling Your Wilmette HomeSource: MRED single family home sales in Wilmette: June-August 2011

In this chart you can see that the best place to be if you’re a seller is in the $700-799K price band, where there is more demand than there is supply, making your odds of selling 137%. The next best place to be is $500-599K (106% odds) followed by $900-999K (100%).

How does it help you to know this? Let’s say your price is hovering just above $800K. You may want to consider coming down to $789-799K to get into a more active price band. If you’re just over $2,000,000, you could improve your odds of of selling by getting below $1,999,999. On the other hand, if you are significantly over $2,000,000, maybe you want to reconsider putting your house on the market, as there are several listings and few to no buyers in this band right now.

If you’re a buyer in the $700-799K or $500-599K range, recognize that a well-priced and well-presented house will sell quickly, so have your ducks in a row so you can move quickly to make an offer. And you may not be able to get a “steal” in this price range. Contrary to popular belief, some houses are selling quickly and with multiple offers. It all depends on which market and which price band you’re in.

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New Trier Home Sales By Price Point

I always harp that real estate is local and you shouldn’t get too worked up about what’s going on nationally or even state-wide when trying to get a handle on the real estate market. But even if you are looking at the data for your local area, you probably need to go deeper and look at it by price band if you want to understand how your own home is affected. Here’s why:

In the last three months (June-August) there have been 270 sales of single family homes in New Trier Township (Wilmette, Winnetka, Kenilworth, Northfield and Glencoe). There are currently 512 active listings. You can divide the sales by the listings to get a good proxy for your odds of selling in the next three months. For all of New Trier the odds of selling in the next 90 days are 52%. But if you look at it by price band, you get quite a different picture. In some cases it’s much rosier but in some cases it’s pretty grim.

The best place to be if you’re a seller in New Trier is in the $700-799K range because your odds of selling in three months are 90%. On the other hand, if you are in the upper brackets (over $2,000,000) you can expect your house to sit for a while if you try to sell. There just aren’t many buyers in that price point these days. The most active price point in New Trier is $1,000,000 to 1,999,999. It had the most sales (85 in the last 90 days), but it’s also the price range with the most inventory, so the odds of selling are 53%.

New Trier Home Sales vs. Active Listings and
Your Odds of Selling in 90 Days

New Trier home Sales and Odds of SellingSource: MRED single family homes in New Trier June-August 2011

How can you use this data to your advantage? If you are a seller, you may be able to use this information to set your pricing strategy. For example, let’s say your home is priced at $1,050,000 where your odds of selling are about 53%. If you bring your price down to $999,000 or below, you are now in a band where the odds of selling are 82%.

If you’re a buyer looking in the $700-799,000 range, if you see a house you really  like, you’ll want to act quickly to make an offer or it may be gone. Case in point, my client looked at a house in Winnetka priced at $775,000. He liked it but wasn’t quite ready to put in an offer. The house was under contract within four days with multiple offers.


Contact Anne West - Your North Shore Real Estate Connection

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North Shore Estate Sales – An Interview with Mike Welsh

Mike WelshLast weekend I had a chance to visit an estate sale conducted by a new firm called North Shore Estate Sales. North Shore Estate Sales is the brainchild of Mike Welsh, an attorney and fellow Coldwell Banker Realtor.

After I got done browsing and buying, Mike was kind enough to let me interview him to learn more about his new business.

Anne: How (and why) did you get started doing estate sales?

Mike: I have been involved with senior citizens and the disposition of estates in one form or another for many years. I am a trial lawyer, licensed in Georgia and Illinois, and one of my focuses has been the legal needs of senior citizens. I pursued an auctioneer in Federal Court a few years ago on behalf of a senior citizen who had hired him to dispose of her mansion full of antiques. He gave her a check for only $21,000 several weeks after the auction which emptied her house. After that experience I realized I really like being the solution to those kinds of problems.

I had a good friend start an estate sale company when he retired from real estate – this was in South Carolina – and I helped him set up the business and worked on sales with him. I really enjoyed the hands on aspect of the sale – bringing value just by being part of the process, organizing, smiling at people, making it work.

Then I started as an agent with Coldwell Banker for a lot of the same reasons – being a solution, making things work. And the estate sales just evolved out of that. I consider the two businesses to be very complementary. First, because I meet a lot of people at the sales that I wouldn’t have otherwise met – which expands the network of people I can potentially find solutions for, both in estate sales and real estate.

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North Shore Market Update: August 2011

Home sales for Chicago’s North Shore were up again in August with a growth of 8% over last year. Median price, however, dropped below $600,000 for the first time.

On a market by market basis, results were mixed. Evanston, which had been showing solid growth in recent months, was down 21% in units and 35% in median price, falling to $397,000. Wilmette, Glenview and Glencoe all showed an increase in units sold, but a decrease in median price. Winnetka was down in units and price. Highland Park showed increases in both units sold and median price for the first time in months.

I’ll give my standard disclaimer here, which is that one month’s data does not always provide a good picture of what’s going on in a market. The numbers can bounce around a lot on a month to month basis. Next month I will post statistics for the 3rd quarter, which will give you a much better idea of the overall health of the market.

North Shore Market Update
August 2011 vs. Year Ago

North Shore Market UpdateSource: MRED LLC – Data for single family detached homes. Deemed reliable but not guaranteed

Wondering what your neighbor’s house sold for? Just email me with the address of the property and I’d be happy to send you that information (caveat: I can only access the information if the transaction has closed. Until then the information is confidential).

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Winnetka’s Priciest Home Goes Up for Auction


Le Grand Reve - Winnetka mansion auction

Last year I wrote about the North Shore’s 10 Most Expensive Homes for Sale and the list was topped by a Winnetka mansion listed for $28,000,000. The price was subsequently reduced to $23,000,000 and, when it didn’t sell,  the home was taken off the market this past June.

Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that the property will be put up for auction on October 29, 2011, with no minimum reserve.

That could be the deal of the century for someone, as the house will undoubtedly go for a lot less than the $40,000,000 it apparently cost to build and furnish.

Owners Sherwin and Deborah Jarol spent almost five years building the 27,000 foot complex on two and a half acres in the southwest corner of Winnetka. Designed by architect-to-the-stars, Richard Landry, and modeled after a French chateau, the home has 26 rooms, a 9 car garage, swimming pool, complete spa with massage room and salon, large exercise room flooded with light from three sets of french doors, a wine cellar with reclaimed stones from a a french chateau, ornate Venetian plaster walls and hand-scraped walnut floors. The home is set inside a walled enclave with several rows of trees planted along Locust Rd. to provide additional privacy.

If this sounds like your dream home you can contact agent Tim Salm of Sotheby’s Jameson International or Concierge Auctions, who will be handling the sale.

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