Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Open House Sunday

Our Forever House should definitely have one of these
Like many of our Sundays lately, Nightingale and I visited some Open Houses this weekend.  We are meticulously scouring the Real Estate listings looking for a home that meets the majority of our Unicorn Criteria since once we purchase a house, we are likely to be stuck with it for a long time.

We were ambitious because there were six OH on our list.  I thought about checking out a 7th that was in OIP but decided against it because while I'd love to see what a $900K home looks like, it doesn't seem like its a good idea to waste our time or the seller's time.  Because agents use all kind of tricks to make a house appear new on the market even though it's been re-listed and de-listed to death, I'm going to include address, price and links to the properties.  The links may disappear or the price might change so this is just a snapshot of what they were a few days ago.

House No 1:  Old Irving Park (OIP)
4122 N Kostner Ave
4 bd/2 bath, $375,000

The first house we looked at pleasantly surprised us. It was a home in Old Irving Park, though it wasn't one of the fancy Queen Annes or large Victorians that reside south of Irving Park Rd. It was also listed with Burt Fujishima, whose name I've seen at a variety of hard-to-sell-yet-eventually-do listings, so I was hopeful to see what he does that other agents don't.

It surprised us because while the outside was fugly lacked curb appeal, the inside was actually quite charming.  Lot's of original woodwork and hardwood floors throughout.  It had nice deck and a well manicured garden on a double lot all for $375K.  Compare that to my favorite doublelot in Jefferson Park that only has 1.5 bathrooms and is $100K more. 

The downside is that the kitchen and bathrooms need updating.  Major Updating.  As in drag the bathroom kicking and screaming into the 21st Century updating.  It's also about 200 yards from the expressway overpass which means pollution does seep into your yard.  As for Agent Burt, I'd say his m.o. is he doesn't bother the buyer while they are looking. 

House No 2: Sauganash
5942 N Kostner, Chicago
4 bd/1.1 bath. $400,000

This house was located in Sauganash or Forest Glen, depending on who you ask.  It also had a kick ass deck but no garage.  There was space to build one and since it was a corner lot, we could have it face either alley.  The kitchen would need updating and the bathrooms were just blah.  The basement was not big enough to finish and turn into a rec room -- it would more likely be just storage and laundry.

Both houses were priced adequately for their neighborhoods...if this were 2008 and the start of the bust.  The prices, while competitive, do not reflect the cost to the buyer to implement the necessary updates. 

House No 3: Edgebrook Glen (barely)
5651 N Parkside, Chicago
4 bd/2 ba, $319,999

Was a little bungalow on the border of Jefferson Park/Edgebrook Glen.  It was a complete gut rehab and thank goodness it is $1 under $320 or else we might be in a bidding war.  The agent apparently arrived late and had just turned on the A/C which gave us a good opportunity to see just how hot the upstairs bedrooms can get. 

We decided to skip House No 4, 5512 W Pensacola because it is an octagonal bungalow and we pretty much knew it wasn't really the home for us.  It just fell out of contract so that means the sellers probably feel that their $349,900 price is about right.  We used the opportunity to grab a quick bit at Central Kitchen and Tap because we were in that lull between Open House timeslots. 

House No 5:  Portage Park
5408 W Windsor,  Chicago.
4 bd/2.1 ba for $349,900.

This is a house that intrigued Nightingale because it has a big backyard and an awesome looking kitchen.  It had a problem with its garage - there wasn't any though the listing agent swore it was possible to put one in.  Yes, you could build a garage.  However, access to that garage would be tricky since you ahve to go through about three neighbors' yards in this landlocked property.  

The realtor was a handful as well.  She wanted to know who our realtor was, what brokerage she was with and if we had seen her other listing that allegedly closed within days of going on the market.  We also got into a slight debate whether the subject house was Jefferson Park or Portage Park. 

House No 6:  Forest Park - The Suburbs (barely)
118 Elgin Ave, Forest Park.
4 bd/2 bath   $385,000.

While we haven't completely ruled out the suburbs, Nightingale's new job does make it less feasible.  I saw this one because Forest Park is one of those close enough to the city suburbs and the house had a wrap-around porch which Nightingale loves.  The agent was lovely and offered to help us out if our search continued in Forest Park.

This house had a nicely put together backyard with a 3 car garage and a patio with firepit that I loved.  The kitchen was a good size.  The basement was very clean and the floor appeared to be recently painted.  It too would only be a storage area.  Alas the rooms were rather small and awkwardly shaped and didn't allow for a king size bed in the master.  Removing any walls to expand a room would eliminate the upstairs stackable laundry that someone had the foresight to install. 

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