Sunday, September 21, 2008

Will Chicago Magazine Dictates Deal Estate Value? Who is Chaz, Anyway?

I have always wondered what makes Dennis Rodkin tick? Ever since I first met him on his Ravenswood stoop back in the early nineties (eighties?), I've wondered! I mean, what a cushy job! Is he wined and dined by the other neighborhood realtors? Woo'd and Coo'ed by socialites in need of a little satisfaction on the deal estate exchange? Spoiled and oiled by mortgage brokers looking to suck in another $20Gs on the next 'cook the books' closing? Whose to blame for the mortgage mess?

Meanwhile, he gets to dice, slice, and dictate to us. The statistics are with questionable rationale. Pure numbers without any ability to determine what is going on in one neighborhood or another. What do the statistics on home buying really mean? I admit that reporters must remain objective. Perhaps, some of this speculation should be turned upside down. Now, I get to do it to some extent. Where to buy now? Buy where you want to dwell. Don't get fooled, again.

The Rogers Park statistics really mean less than they seem. In all, a measly 17 homes were sold from 7/1/07 to 6/30/08. What does that tell us? Rodkin surmises that it means that the value of our homes plummetted by -13.45%. I disagree. Few want to sell their home unless they are in foreclosure, perhaps. Most of us know that there is not much stock in single family homes in Rogers Park. That is a legitimate factor.

Presuming so, who wants to sell their home below market, when the neighbors know RP life is worth more? The average sale price of those 17 homes is $419,818. Were these distressed property sales? Perhaps, the housing stock stinks? Who wants to buy a home unless it fits expectations? Some may want to buy to fix it up. Others, to live closer to their jobs, the sights, the Lakefront, Loyola, NU, and public transportation.

The natives know that the new Howard Street Terminal is like a lit Menorah at Night. It is a major modern transportation hub. The Terminal is within walking distance of Ridge Boulevard for the more religious on Friday. This, combined with the Evanston Condos to the north will bring further revival to Howard Street. At night, there is always a taxi waiting to bring me home when I'm lazy and arrive after midnight. It is not a matter of if, just a matter of when!

Rogers Park homes have gone up at least 159.81% since 1994. We are not selling any time soon unless distressed. The average Rogers Park Condo sells for $221,452. One example; we visited the Casa Bonita's Spanish Revival Pool with the sliding glass doors, among other significant amenities. There is style and value. The photo is from a property on Hoyne north of Jarvis.

The attractiveness and size of the average RP Condo is a significant improvement over what many see elsewhere. The buildings are much more vintage. More buildings were gutted, renovated and subdivided. We have also seen teardowns and build ups on Touhy, but in so doing the replacements have really brightened up our neighborhood.

Chicago has many neighborhoods. This means that some neighborhoods will remain unknown gems ripe with value. There will be those who think that they can improve the quality of life with pessimism. They may discourage others. They will put fear into the ignorant and rookies. They will make Lakeview and West Ridge Boosters gleem with pride. I am not one of them. It is okay to bring reality to light. However, using a sledgehammer encourages outsiders to poke fun at the natives. I can live with a little humility.

Being the one who walks home late and varies the routine, I find that the walk is worth the exercise. How do you integrate with your neighborhood? Yes, there is security in numbers, but some of us feel secure and others don't. I am sure that they are reasonable. I can read fear a mile away. I think that if you fear fear, then you bring on stupidity. I realize that some areas are in need of better lighting, but some have it. Some of us should pick up the litter and push landlords to retain reliable maintenance contractors.

I realize that there will be apartments. We will have to questionable the ignorance of management from the Long Kogen folks, among others. There is a telephone number at 7239 N. Ridge. Iif you don't like the shrubbery or what is left of the grass (more glass), then contact Sandy and let her know. Her telephone number is strapped to the bricks just aching for attention.

The Challenge of Density v. Ignorance

Rogers Park has density, and with it, the challenges of city living. We are not looking to change the price as much as the quality of life. We need to work with those who have access to the brains of others when they are young. Why more neglect to volunteer or work just a little with the local school councils at Armstrong, Gale, Jordan, etc. confuses me. Perhaps, the kids can start influencing their parents.

Imagine if a kid rebelling against his mother by telling her to 'stash the trash,' only to get hit with a shoe? Imagine what you can do to influence those who need it the most. When kids have kids, then they 'may' develop generations of ignorance. That means that intelligence is often held by great grandma, not the other two generations that proceed her.

I hope that some of us wake up instead of living life through CSI. I am on maggot overload. Perhaps, some of us might learn something from those whom we least expect to learn. Maybe taking a walk is healthier and safer than couching your potatoes? Maybe getting noticed may get your neighborhood noticed? Perhaps a few more merchants and writers will smell the Starbucks and wake up. However, than again, maybe our neighborhood is better off a Duncan Donut Kingdom?


Kristi said...

So many good points in this post that you put into words what I've been struggling to convey since I've moved to RP. I think that the solution to making a closer-knit and safer community lies less in pessimistic ranting and more in positive actions. I love walking around/biking through the neighborhood- I have yet to feel unsafe, but then again I'm not looking for trouble or fearing danger around every corner. I find that by smiling as I pass by my fellow neighbors, 99% of people smile in return. I'm a big believer in the power of getting back what you put out into this world.

lafew said...

A smile and a hello help, even if a few grimace or ignore me. Some have actually warmed up after seeing me. The puppy has better introduced me to more of the neighbors, as well.

After ten years as a resident, I am enjoying more of the architecture, merchants and sights. However, I started riding the bicycle downtown as of last year from Ridge. However, we have great neighbors and enjoy an annual Glog party, among other events like RPs Garden Walk and upcoming Garden Sale.

Groups like the RP Parents Group on Meet up with its link on encourages families to get together for playground and story time. Their use of Gale, Potawattomi Park and other Playgrounds in the area may help to promote a sense of community.

I have yet to hear much about the group from anyone other than its members. However, there are quite a few.

In fact, some meet at the Disney Magnet School Bus pick up at Armstrong School at 6:40 a.m. at Greenleaf and Hamilton.

lafew said...

Too many 'howevers' however. We all struggle with words. It just takes time.

Kristi said...

By the way, I have to mention that I'm disappointed that I didn't get an answer to who Chaz was, other than what all Chicagoans already know about him as being a purveyor of HOT PROPERTY. LOL

lafew said...

Chaz was the first Chicago Real Estate agent bold enough to market a short blurb, his first name, and image on Chicago Billboards. As a result, a magazine or newspaper wrote an article on him. Perhaps, Dennis Rodkin wrote that article, as well.

I think that he owned/owns an agency and teaches/taught the trade to others. We are given the impression by the report that he is quite capable. Perhaps, getting the right listings is half the battle.

Chicago Laser Hair Removal said...

The aggregate Chicagoland home sales numbers as reported in Inman... this may not affect your particular block or home, but these numbers are not bad considering the Apocolypse talk. You'll see a seasonal uptick in the spring. The market times will be longer than last season, but people still want to live here. Sell on...

From the Inman story:

"In the Chicagoland Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), total home sales (single-family and condominiums) totaled 9,005 in October, down 15.4 percent from 10,640 home sales in the same month last year. The median single-family home price for the Chicagoland PMSA was $242,800 last month, up 0.3 percent from $242,000 in October 2005."

Anonymous said...

I know Dennis and he's a pretty level-headed guy. He lived on our own Rogers Park, on Farwell, for a number of years. I have not read this book and I guess he doesn't tap RP as a hot neighborhood. I'm no real estate expert and I love living here. But it doesn't seem like a hot spot to me.

Western Avenue is one of the ugliest stretches of crummy malls and drab storefronts in the city. Clark is crowded and low-rent. The Gateway project is an improvement, but it failed to really lift that area. (Though we sure need the grocery store!) There are many homes for sale where I live, between Ridge and Western and few new neighbors coming in. I mean, this wasn't a "hot" area before the financial problems got so bad.

What we do have is a good number of committed families and households who watch out for one another. There's a steady trickle of people remodeling and upgrading instead of moving to the 'burbs. The parks and playgrounds are well-used and cared for.

So we don't have a lot of hip new restaurants and stores and coffee shops. On the other hand, it's pretty easy to park and I'm not real afraid to let my kids cross the street because there isn't much traffic. If I had to sell my house right now I'd be an unhappy camper. But as long as I stay employed, I can live here and I'll enjoy it.

If I lose my job, well, it isn't Dennis' fault.

dennis rodkin said...

Hey, lafew, it's Dennis Rodkin, checking in to let you know that my job isn't really that cushy. And that I agree with you on Rogers Park; it's a great place to live (I lived there 2 different times, for a total of 7 years, in the 80s and 90s) with many great attributes and nice people.

Our real estate chart is not intended to portray the fullness of life on the streets and in the back yards of a neighborhood or a suburb. It's just one piece of the picture--the hard numbers piece on real estate prices. Please keep in mind that our data doesn't come out of my hat but from MRED, the real estate data service.

With our October real estate chart, which we've been doing for a dozen years, we use the data to draw a unilateral picture of more than 275 city neighborhoods and suburbs. But then throughout the year, in both the printed magazine and online, I write up fuller portraits of neighborhoods, individual properties and transactions, and real estate trends. My point is that we hope readers won't take that chart to be the only information on a particular area. It's limited to one aspect only: prices as they are reflected in recent sales.

BTW: I don't know who it was you met on a Ravenswood stoop several years ago, but it couldn't have been me, as I've never lived in Ravenswood. I'd like to; it's a great part of the city.

On Chaz: I didn't write that story. A colleague, Ted Allen, did. Ted is a discerning guy who went on to star in "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

And while I'm flattered by the portrait you paint of me being lunched and cooed at by real estate agents, socialites and others, I gotta say: that's a way more glamorous life than I lead. I wander around the city and suburbs looking at houses and condos that sold recently or are for sale. It's a lot of fun, but there's none of the wining and dining you mentioned. I never go to real estate parties, I don't hang out with builders and mortgage agents, and if I ever find myself sitting down to lunch with somebody from the real estate business, I pay for my own lunch. It's all about staying independent so nobody can claim to have influenced the magazine's coverage of real estate.

You sound like an insightful observer of Rogers Park. Let me know if there's a house or condo development there that you think I should check out.

See ya.