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Looking back over my shoulder at the 2011 real estate market was akin to reviewing the travel route driven to get to a Florida vacation rental from my home in Chicago. It was definitely not a short drive, there was traffic, and at times, even standstill congestion. The thought came to mind multiple times, 'Are we there yet'? Indeed, there were some unexpected detours and ultimately we arrived, but the drive wore you out. It felt like finally arriving at a Chicago Cubs / White Sox baseball game only for it to be a rain out.
Photo: Lead Casting (4 comments)
Wrigley, Sears, Kraft, Quaker, Chicago...The Only Constant Is Change - 12/30/11 11:16 PM
Is there really such thing as no change? This past week venerable Chicago stalwart, Sears, announced that it plans to close between 100 and 120 stores. The closings include at least 38 Kmart stores, 25 Sears full-line locations and two Sears hardline-only locations. The company will also close 14 Grand/Essentials stores. The closings affect 25 states with Florida leading the list with 11, followed by six each for Ohio, Michigan and Georgia. Fortunately, Chicago and Illinois did not make the list of closures! For those that don't regularly follow Sears or shop at Sears, just think about how the retailing landscape (4 comments)
What Happened in 60 Seconds? More Than You Imagined... - 12/28/11 08:59 AM
No how much is going on your world, there is always a lot more going on in the rest of the world. Whether you consider the rest of the world to be the suburb you live in, the city that surrounds you, your state, even the country, or truly the whole globe we spin around on, there is a whole world out there. This point was recently brought home in the form of a graphic I saw on Business Insider that was compiled and designed by GO-Globe.com (see below). The graphic that was discussed, (seen below) highlights what a number of (13 comments)
Illinois Ranks 8th in Foreclosure Rates - 12/27/11 03:13 PM
As I was reading a recent piece on the real estate market in Illinois, I came across Realty Trac's data that indicated Illinois was ranked 8th amongst the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates. Gosh, it sure doesn't feel good to be ranked so highly. If this was college basketball, a team would be elated to be in the Top 10...but not this ranking. Despite the foreclosure news, Illinois experienced an increase in statewide real estate home sales in November compared to the prior year. Yet, the price declined almost as much as the volume increased....not good. Well, (0 comments)
Happy Holidays Forgot The Chicago Bears & Chicago Real Estate - 12/26/11 02:41 PM
For those who were blessed with a new large TV for the holidays, unfortunately, their Sunday Night Football of the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears didn't bring happy holidays to Chicago. But of course, for the Green Bay fans, there was an awful lot to cheer about....including a first place finish in their division. Nonetheless, the holidays were abysmal for the Chicago Bears and Chicago real estate didn't have much to cheer about either. Even with interest rates at or below 4% and projected, by some, to go notably lower over the next year, if you don't have money (2 comments)
New England Seafood Company, Lincoln Avenue, Chicago - 12/24/11 09:34 AM
Every so often you come across a local establishment that you makes you say, "Wow, I'm glad you're here". Last week, those were the words that came forth when meeting a client near his office. He works south of Roscoe Village (which is west of Wrigleyville) and suggested meeting at New England Seafood Company, at 3341 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657. Having never been there, I said sure. Needless to say, the food is indeed great. Bob and Jeff are the owners and they have their seafood shipped in fresh each day from their East Coast company. Currently, the place (2 comments)
Fast Food and Fast Booze? - 12/23/11 06:37 PM
Given the recent announcements that Starbucks and White Castle are seeking to add alcohol to their menus to increase sales per store, I have started to wonder what might be next. Granted, there are a number of communities where drive-through liquor stores do exist...so from that framework, it is not too far fetched to consider a synergistic combo of food and booze. It really isn't much different than going to the grocery store, picking up food for dinner or a holiday weekend, and then strolling over to the alcohol aisles, for beer and a bottle or two of liquor, and then (5 comments)
White Castle Follows Starbucks To the Bar - 12/22/11 07:05 PM
Sliders to follow Lattes in line for a adult beverage. So it seems that Starbucks is not the only fast-food type establishment looking to expand into the cocktail consumption market. Today, I read that White Castle is moving forward with a beer and wine strategy in Indiana and one day Illinois could follow. Picture this: carload of college grads wrapping up a night of partying, hungry from their evening's activities, driving through Chateau Blanc, er, White Castle, for a midnite hunger quencher and everyone but the driver of the car, gets their hunger quenched and quenches their thirst. Now that is (6 comments)
Two For One In The Shadows? - 12/21/11 10:59 PM
Just when you thought it was safe to go outside, there's something lurking. No, not a holiday ghost. No, not a deceased pine tree. No, it is the the inventory of homes owned by GSEs, otherwise known as the shadow inventory. Based on a report by CoreLogic, the inventory of distressed properties not listed for sale on a multiple listing service was 1.6 million. This represents approximately 1/2 of the of the 'visible' inventory of homes for sale. So, the good news in this stat is that it is lower than a year ago when the total inventory of shadow properties (5 comments)
24 Hour Starbucks on Tap? - 12/20/11 11:55 PM
One of the benefits to being a professional real estate appraiser is that you get to meet a lot of interesting people and those people know an awful lot about a lot of things. Today, during a pre-listing appraisal in the South Loop (south of Chicago downtown), the client mentioned Starbuck's test-market in Chicago for 'adult-beverages' at some of the busier locations. From what I've seen and been told, the North Avenue location is one of the busiest. It is located at North Avenue and Wells Street, in Chicago, in the Old Town neighborhood and just south of Lincoln Park. That (5 comments)
Another Enron? - 12/19/11 11:22 PM
So, with the news that a branch of the Federal government is suing executives of another quasi-federal government run firm, what is the likely outcome? Just in case you are not familiar with the circumstances, on Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission waded into the Fannie/Freddie wars by filing a lawsuit against three executives at the company. The complaint charges them with making “materially false” disclosures about the size of the companies’ subprime portfolios. Granted, Enron was a very different form of fraud, perpetrated by Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, and Andrew Fastow in an effort to prop up values and pump (2 comments)
Lincoln Park Lost It's Groceries - 12/17/11 06:00 PM
For those that are aware of or intimately familiar with the Lincoln Avenue and Webster Avenue intersection, the ongoing battle for redevelopment of this corner has taken a turn akin to soap opera drama. Most recently, the former hospital was slated for a new Fresh Market grocery chain to serve the local community. Given the limited penetration of grocers in the higher density neighborhood, this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Nonetheless, achieving approval for such a retail business to go into the existing facility required compromises with local residents and neighborhood groups. Obviously, one of their concerns are deliveries made by (4 comments)
What If My Hands Are Tied? - 12/16/11 11:12 AM
What about air time? No not that future radio DJ spot you always dreamed of. No not that the dream of being able to dunk on a 10' rim or jumping out of airplanes from 15,000 feet. I'm talking about the proposal by the NTSB, National Transportation Safety Board, to ban all electronic devices in cars that could distract drivers. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman says it's too much of a risk to leave these rights in the hands of motorist citizens. She comments, "According to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents. It is time for (0 comments)
FHFA vs City of Chicago: Update - 12/15/11 04:27 PM
Whenever there is a disagree, there is always more than 1 side to the story. Digging a little deeper, the suit filed in the U.S. District Court by Plaintiff Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA” or the “Conservator”), on its own behalf and as Conservator of and on behalf of the Federal National Mortgage Association(“Fannie Mae”) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”) notes the following first point: This case arises because the City of Chicago is interfering unlawfully withFHFA’s federally mandated oversight and exercise of discretion, as Conservator and regulator ofthe Enterprises, to preserve and conserve the value of (0 comments)
FHFA vs City of Chicago: Lawsuit Over Abandoned Property - 12/14/11 10:56 PM
Boxing fans are in for a treat that started on Monday.....In the north corner, wearing red, white and blue is FHFA, Federal Housing Finance Agency, and in the south corner wearing blue, white and a dash of red is City of Chicago. The match pits the local municpalities being represented by the City of Chicago who desperately want abanded properties secured and attended versus FHFA which says the ordinance by City of Chicago is illegal....it is all about vacant building responsibility. As noted in the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday, "the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, (2 comments)
Hey Bartender, I'll Have A Starbucks Whiskey Latte On The Rocks - 12/14/11 09:13 AM
Yet again, more incarnations of Starbucks caffiene and alcohol combos that could arrive at five or Chicago area Starbucks locations as new 'products' and store 'formats' are tested. So, you walk into your local Starbucks at 3pm and instead of ordering a Double Soy Light Chai Latte, you opt for a Whiskey Latte on the Rocks. Or maybe, you head over to your local well-trafficked Starbucks on the way home from work at 630pm for a Tall Strawberry Vodka Vivanno and 'hang out at the Starbucks bar'. Who knows..but surely will be an interesting social experiment. Definitely curious to see the (1 comments)
Starbucks Booze & Boost - 12/14/11 12:40 AM
Ok, so I was thinking about the announcement that Starbucks is seeking to expand its presence in the local communities by including alcohol in its offerings. As a business owner and retailer, I admire the ingenuity to bring more 'product' to the existing establishment to increase sales. As a local consumer, I can't say I am all that thrilled to have Disco-ball Starbucks, Happy Hour Starbucks, and Bloody-Mary Starbucks intruding on my little gatherings with friends, clients, prospects, etc. As a consumer, all I can say is hmm, quite interesting....gives a whole new potential meaning to 'wanna meet for a drink (6 comments)
What Will They Think of Next @ Chicago Starbucks Locations? - 12/12/11 09:05 PM
Just read the headline that Starbucks is seeking to increase their sales per square foot by garnering afternoon and evening traffic in 5 to 7 Chicago area stores. Wow, what a great concept, it is like being Walmart but of the 'corner watering hole' but actually being able to get a liquor license (which for those of you not familar with Chicago politics, is akin to getting the Golden Letter for Charlie in the movie Willy Wonka...it just doesn't happen very often) Picture it, instead of a local drinking establishment in Chicago previously called PUBLIC HOUSE will now be called Public (2 comments)
What Is Old Is New Again In The South Loop - 12/11/11 10:14 PM
2100 S Indiana, Chicago, Illinois ...once the province of emerging and expanding South Loop, became a bit of ghost town when condo buyers fled. Things are changing again.
Yet, the wheels of progress appear to be turning in the South Loop....At 2100 S. Indiana, there are plans to convert the building into 50 apartments. As noted in a Crain's Chicago Business article, the acquisition illustrates the megashift in the housing market away from condos and in favor of apartments. Surging rents have emboldened developers to start building apartments again —- nine downtown high-rises are under way, with about 5,600 units (0 comments)
When Convicted Governor Blagojevich Leaves Prison.... - 12/10/11 08:31 AM
In the industry of real estate, most of the energy is spent on discussing and acting on the present if not reminiscing on the past, but little is spent on the future. In light of the recent conviction and sentencing of former Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, who will serve 14 years in prison, it seems appropriate to look ahead. Granted, there is a new boss in town. Granted, some things are different since Blago's departure, but the state is still in a financial mess and the economy is not well, not to mention the real estate market is sickly. Based on (5 comments)
Mortgage Delinquencies Forecasted To Decline in 2012 - 12/09/11 10:44 AM
It is nice to see some positive news around the holiday season....according to Transunion, the current year will close with a 7 percent yearly decline in mortgage delinquencies, matching last year’s decline. Tim Martin, VP of TransUnion’s financial services business unit, believes house prices and unemployment will continue to pose problems for the market in the coming year, but the market will see some positive movement due to “improving credit quality of new originations, consumer confidence, and GDP.” “If things go as expected, there are no additional negative shocks to the U.S. economy and the average borrower’s situation, mortgage delinquencies could (4 comments)
Another Portage Park Property Was Apparently Stolen - 12/09/11 10:23 AM
Granted, this time of year people's attention turns to holiday and shopping for clothes, toys and electronics. Yet, not all shoppers were focused on those items. Several people took note of real estate deals and showed up ready, willing and able to avoid a 'missed opportunity'. In talking to Bardan Azari, of Cherry Picker Investments, there are a lot of holiday real estate shopper. According to Mr. Azari, for real estate investors, another shopping opportunity was siezed. The property at 5107 W. Grace, Chicago was being foreclosed on due to nonpayment of the first mortgage and there was a second mortgage. (4 comments)
Illinois Has Other Problems Beyond Housing - High School Dropouts! - 12/07/11 11:55 AM
While we cannot choose who we are born to, and we cannot routinely choose which household we are brought up in, we can choose what we will do with our lives. I for one am a proponent of education. Upon reading Greg Hinz article in Crain's Chicago Business Blog, I Based on a report prepared for Chicago and Illinois school and civic leaders has some frightening statistics and insights. Namely, the rate of those dropping out of high school is alarming and accounts for a large percentage of those incarcerated. Some of the report findings: - high school dropouts can (2 comments)
Is Lack of Development In Chicago A Bad Thing? - 12/06/11 08:48 AM
Recently, it was announced that Chicago-area construction will likely experience its 6th straight year of falling sales due to a market too weak to support new construction. The market has declined approximately 6% from the prior year according to McCraw-Hill Construction. Depending on how you look at it, either the glass is half full or half empty. Although many would happily argue that a glass which was a little fuller would be better for both sides. Given the vast and deep impact of the recession on so many industries, it is not surprising that there is no rush to return (0 comments)
Tsunami-sized Shadow Inventory Out There - 12/05/11 09:59 AM
In case you didn't see the article at inman.com, there is a summary of the recent foreclosure, REO, and distressed real estate inventory that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA are dealing with. Seems like they could use several more arms and legs to get a hold of the bugger. Although the government has taken the step to request 'outside' thinking on the topic, and received 4,000 responses, they are now having to sort through all of it. Said one official, "the three agencies face a tsunami-sized shadow inventory that is now heading their way -- a combined 1.4 million delinquent (0 comments)
Black Friday Prices For Mortgage Rates!!! - 12/04/11 10:47 PM
In the heydey of Black Friday sales on lots of 'stuff', possibly a number of buyers and owners missed the ongoing Black Friday deal on mortgage interest rates. The raw rate on a 3 year mortgage is slightly more than 2% right now and the APR comes in at 3.5%. For those seeking the security and longevity of a fixed rate mortgage, the rates are closer to 4% for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage. Yet they are even lower for a 15 year fixed rate mortgage, approaching 3%. I don't intend to extol the benefits for buying for the benefits (2 comments)
FHA Fell Off Cliff In Chicago - 12/03/11 05:40 PM
Possibly you heard it? No, you didn't? Well, sometimes it is tough to hear the sound of silence. That was pretty much the case for FHA loans in the Chicago area, as FHA-insured loans fell nearly 40% in a one year period per the Mortgage Bankers Association. Granted, compared to 2005, 2006 and 2007, FHA-insured loans have skyrocketed because back then people had sub-prime mortgage options. Today, they no longer have sub-prime mortgage options. Additionally, in today's market, FHA mortgage is a purchase option opportunity, not a refinance opportunity, therefore it is not as suprising of the decline. Think about it, (3 comments)
Possibly you turned your attention away from Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and advertisements to observe the wave of housing data that is starting to come out.
Corelogic announced that the Chicago-area experienced a slight improvement in the number of houses which were worth less than the mortgage, otherwise known as a negative equity position. Hence, the quantity of underwater homes was still approximately 25%, which is a significant amount given that real estate is not a quickly trading asset like stocks or bonds. Unfortunately, they also noted that the outlook for housing in Chicago remains 'bleak', primarily (0 comments)
Virgin In Chicago? - 12/01/11 12:38 PM
I know, in today's environment, it is hard to believe, but yes, indeed there will be a Virgin in Chicago. Recently, Virgin Hotels announced their expansion to Chicago. This follows a recent expansion of Virgin Airlines flying to and from Chicago O'Hare International. So, it definitely seems that there is going to be a lot more Virgin activity in the Chicago market for 2012 and 2013. Plans for more Virgin activity in Chicago were accompanied by the announcement of a partnership with John Buck. Currently, the announcement revolves around an east-Loop property which was previously distressed and will be converted to (0 comments)
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