Upgrading Finishes? Don’t Go Overboard!

Everyone loves to look at Real Estate and especially the finishes that each home has. The idea that you can haveKitchen copy an amazing top of the line kitchen sounds amazing so you think why can’t I do this to mine? Well in reality you can but should you? Unless you live in a high priced building or area it’s better to upgrade according to the price point you live in.

Let me explain what I mean. Let’s say you live in a building where the price points for 1 beds are around $200K. Do you think it would make any sense to drop $50K in upgrades to put a top of the line kitchen in? Or put $20K into a bath? Heck NO it wouldn’t. Why you ask? It’s because you will never see a return on your investment. I’m sure living in the completely decked out upgraded unit and showing it off to all of your friends and family would be awesome but what happens when you go to sell that unit? It’s not likely that you will be able to recoup the money you spent on the upgrades.

You need to be careful when it comes to upgrading a unit. Take a hard look at the building or area you live in and see what simple finishes can be upgraded. For the kitchen if you have an older counter top put in a new quartz one with a new sink. Maybe add a trendy new backsplash. Or maybe see if something can be redone to the cabinets. Upgrade the appliances if needed but don’t put a $2000 Wolf stove in there. Keep the upgrades reasonable and make them look clean and you will see a return on your investment.

High Rise VS Low Rise

For the sake of argument I’m leaving mid-rise’s off out of this debate.  So you want a condo? Great now do you want to live in the sky or stay more grounded? It’s sometimes a tough decision for people to make and often a sticking point between couples. But all things considered, purchasing a property is a huge investment in not only time but also money so definitely worth taking the time to decide what you prefer. Let me throw some comparison’s out there that might help

High Rise:

Obviously the big difference with these buildings is the height. If you’re looking for a view then this is the way to go.Chicago High Rise Chicago is a gorgeous city and if you want to soak it in each day then you need to focus on the buildings that hurt your neck to look up at. The big difference with these buildings is the monthly assessments. Most of the time these buildings come with all of the bells and whistles: gym, doorman, pool, business center, sun deck, etc. Well these cost money to operate so your assessments are going to be much higher. Also larger units tend to cost more in these buildings.

Low Rise:

With these buildings you typically will be able to get more space for your money. These buildings usually only have a few units in the building so the developer is able to give you more square feet per unit. Plus these buildings do not have many amenities if any so your assessments are going to be much lower and will usually just cover: exterior maintenance, garbage (scavenger), and snow removal for the building.

It’s really a matter of personal preference but it can be a tough decision. Make sure you run the numbers and see what your payments are like in each and what you can afford. It will help make your decision easier.

It’s What you NEED Not What You WANT!

If you ever had a thought about buying a home I KNOW you’ve had the conversation of what you want in the place. Let me guess: photo2Open layout, lots of natural light, good view, parking, location, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. Sound like your list? Of course it does because these are what pretty much every buyer I meet wants. But I don’t care about your wants, what are the things you need???

If you want to find a place and you’re serious about buying take a look at what are the things you absolutely can’t live without and look for these things in a property. Do you work from home? Yes, so you need an office…check! Do you do a lot of cooking? Yes, ok then you need a larger cooking friendly kitchen…check! Do you hate high rise living? Yes, so you need to be looking at smaller buildings that don’t pierce the sky…check! See what I’m getting at here??? When you’re looking for a place you need to focus on the most important things that have to be there for you to purchase the property.


If you try to chase upgrades you will never end up purchasing a place. Think about it; if you’re looking in many different areas trying to find that granite counter top and stainless steel appliances then you could be missing out on the perfect unit in the location you prefer just because you’re focused on a counter top. Counter tops are not that expensive and neither are appliances. You can even redo some of the unit over time. The important thing to know is that finishes change all the time (FYI granite is NOT even in style right now) so why chase them around. See if the unit has the needs on your list. The wants can be done over time!

Why I LOVE Chicago Architecture!

Have you ever really taken a few minutes to look around at all of the buildings of our wonderful city? Ever look closely at what makes each building special? How about how the architecture in each part of the city is different than the next?Printers_Row

Well I have and it’s AMAZING! And I’m not just talking about the Loop area. I’m talking about ALL of the areas of Chicago. We all know that Chicago is a unique market that is made up of so many small specified neighborhoods but the coolest thing is is that each neighborhood has its own personality and style.

Just to name a few:

West Loop – This area used to be a former manufacturing and warehousing area. Now these buildings that used to be used to build and store items have been converted in to beautiful loft condos that have huge ceiling heights, concrete walls and ceilings, and exposed ductwork!

Printer’s Row – This area used to be the home of former printing and publishing companies. Now its home to beautiful open sprawling loft condos in buildings that don’t pierce they sky but provide an owner with lots of room to play in.

Lincoln Park – One of the most popular areas in Chicago is home to large condo high rise buildings but also my favorite smaller 2-4 unit Brownstone buildings. Many of which were build LONG before you or I were even born!

Buena Park – A lesser known area just north of Lake View. At the heart of the neighborhood is the Hutchinson Street Historic District, a tree-lined street that features mansions that make up in my opinion one of the best collections of Prairie-style architecture in the city!

This is just a small sample of what makes this city’s architecture amazing. There’s plenty more to explore if you just take the time to appreciate it!

How Do You Choose an Agent???

There are roughly 10,000 Real Estate agents in the wonderful city of Chicago and likely more coming as the market picks up. So howNAR do you know who is the right agent for you and your family? Well the first thing you DON’T do is just throw darts and hope you land on a good agent! Buying a home is a huge financial decision and one that you need to have full trust in the agent you choose!

The truth is that all agents have access to the same property information but it’s what each one does separately that sets us apart from each other. My suggestion to all of the clients I meet for the first time is interview a few agents. See which one you feel is going to be the best fit for you. Not everyone gets along with each other. Some personalities just don’t match. You have to remember that you are going to be spending a lot of time with this person so you have to like them or its going to make things difficult. (P.S. this also works both ways and some agents will feel you’re not the best fit for them as well.) The whole point is being comfortable and knowing that your agent is one that is going to have your best interests in mind and that you can trust with such a HUGE decision as buying a home.

The last piece of advice I can give is do your due diligence before you meet an agent. Look up agents online and see if one stands out to you. Read their recommendations and even ask the agent if you can speak to a past client of theirs to hear firsthand how that person’s experience was like with the agent.

Just like buying a good pair of comfortable jeans, you need to also be comfortable with your agent!

It’s A Home Inspection, Not a Price Gouging Opportunity

Congratulations you found the home you’ve been looking for. You negotiated and came to terms with thechicago seller. You must feel like you’re getting a pretty good deal or you would not have signed off on the paperwork right? So your next step…have your home inspection. But just know that this is NOT an opportunity to take advantage of the seller.

What am I talking about? Shouldn’t the seller take care of ALL of the items that are wrong with the home? Well let’s look at it another way. Let’s say you’re buying a used car. You look the car over and notice a few dings and dents but you know that you’re not buying a brand new car so you’re OK with them. Buying a property is the same way (unless it’s new construction, but that’s for another blog). You basically buying a used product and there are going to be a few things that you know are wrong but these are easy things that you can take care of like scratches in the drywall or peeling paint.

Going back to the used car example, you go for a test drive and see the car runs just fine so you purchase it even though it’s not in perfect shape. This is the mindset you need when it comes to buying a home. The inspection is going to reveal items that may need to be addressed at some point. Like a tub that needs to be re-grouted or any code violations that have changed since the unit was built. But as long as there are no major issues you should not take this opportunity to try and gouge the sellers on price or ask for everything to be fixed. Of course any major issue needs to be addressed but as they say “Don’t sweat the small things!”