Okay, where did the summer go?   We Chicagoans impatiently await the arrival of summer and pack just about an entire year™s worth of activity into the summer months, oftentimes participating in multiple events every weekend.   But we have been blessed the last several years with beautiful autumn weather, so there is still time to enjoy the out of doors!

Following is just a sampling of the many events coming up in September in the City.   Enjoy!   For additional information or to find other attractions visit Explore Chicago   and MetroMix Chicago.

Chicago Jazz Festival: The 33rd annual event kicks off at the Cultural Center and Millennium Park, then moves on to Grant Park.   Great Jazz acts promise an unforgettable event!  Thursday, Sept. 1 “ Sunday, Sept. 4:   Free.

Chicago SummerDance:   The   15th annual event takes place each Thursday through Sunday through September 18.   Professional dance instructors offer a one-hour introductory class and then turn you loose for the next two hours to dance the evening away in the largest outdoor dance series in the U.S.!   In the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, 601 S Michigan Ave.   FREE

Lunchbreak Music Series:   Pass your lunch hour listening to some wonderful music.   A wide array of styles is sure to please even the most refined of tastes!   In the Jay Pritzker Pavillion at Millennium Park at noon each day, Michigan Ave at Randolph Street.   FREE

Millennium Park Workouts:   Each Saturday through September 10 join other Chicagoans on the great lawn of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park for a great workout.   The exercise begins at 8 AM with Yoga, followed at 9:00 AM with Pilates and 10:00 AM with Zumba.   Great music will accompany.   At North Michigan Ave at East Randolph Street. FREE

Soul Train Photo Exhibition:   In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the longest running nationally syndicated show in television history, three hundred photos from the set of Soul Train were selected, some featuring the many iconic performs who have appeared on the show.   Extended through October 2 at Expo 72, 72 E Randolph, M-Thurs 8 AM “ 7 PM, Fri 8 AM “ 6 PM, Saturday 9 AM “ 6 PM, Sunday 10 AM “ 6 PM.   FREE

In Fashion: The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival:   Enjoy exclusive shopping events and special promotions in the nation™s first shopping festival on one of the best-known retail strips in the world.   Through September 8 along the magnificent mile, 625 N Michigan Ave.   FREE

The Soviet Arts Experience:   A showcase of the works of various artists in paint, music, dance, and drama during the Soviet era.   Held in various locations throughout the City through January 1, 2012.   Visit website for additional information and ticket prices.

Chicago Fringe Festival:   Enjoy and be surprised by theatrical performances by local, national and international performers on every imaginable topic, and then some!   Part of the worldwide Fringe Theatre movement.   From September 1 through September 11 in the Pilsen neighborhood, 2003 S Halsted St.   Admission is $10.

Colin Quinn “ Long Story Short:   Enjoy the satirical comedy of Colin Quinn as he takes you through the course of world history in this live stage adaptation of his recent HBO Special.   Through September 10 at Broadway Playhouse, 175 E Chestnut St.   Admission is $40 – $65/person.

MCA Tuesdays on the Terrace:   Enjoy some of the finest jazz in Chicago each Tuesday evening from 5:30 “ 8:00 PM  at the Museum of Contemporary Art.   Through September 27, 220 E Chicago Ave.   FREE

Million Dollar Quartet:   Re-live what has been called the greatest rock jam session of all time, when circumstances brought together Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis at Sun Records storefront studio in Memphis in 1956.   Through September 25 at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N Lincoln Ave., Lower Level.   Admission from $59.50 to $70 per person. Visit website for availability and show times.

Suited for Space “ The Museum of Science and Industry:   Follow the evolution of the space suits that have allowed astronauts to explore the most inhospitable surroundings imaginable in space exploration, and see how some of these innovations have found their way into our everyday lives.   Through September 25 at the Museum of Science and Industry, 57th Street & Lake Shore Drive.   Included in the general admission fee for the museum.

œWaiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets:   The classic one-act play inspired by the New York cab strike of 1934.   From September 2 through October 2 at the Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N Lincoln Ave.   Admission is $15 – $25/person.

The Best of Serendipity:   Accompanied by the Michael Lerich orchestra, this annual festival showcases the many musical, theatrical and dance performances by some of Chicago™s most talented senior citizens.   September 8 at 5:30 PM at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park, North Michigan Ave at East Randolph Street.   FREE

Festival de la Villita:   This 22nd annual event celebrates Mexico™s independence from Spain.   Mexican culture at its finest with art, dance, music and delicious authentic dishes.   From September 9 “ 11 in the Little Village neighborhood, 2600 S Kostner Ave.   FREE

German American Fest:   Come celebrate German culture with food, drink, dance and music in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, at Lincoln and Leland Avenues.   September 9 “ 11.   FREE

Wells Street Art Festival:   Come on down to the Old Town neighborhood for this great event featuring over 60 artisans as well as non-stop music, food, drink and much more!   On Wells Street between North Ave and Evergreen St.   Saturday, September 10 (10 AM “ 10 PM), Sunday, September 11 (11 AM “ 7 PM).   $5 suggested donation.  

Von Steuben Day Parade:   Celebrating the life and contributions of General Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who came to the colonies to whip General Washington™s troops into shape.   September 10 beginning at 2:00 PM, on Western Ave between Irving Park Rd and Lawrence Ave.     FREE

Mexican Independence Day Parade:   Downtown shuts down for this annual celebration of Mexican independence.   September 10 beginning at 12:00 PM, on Columbus Dr from Balboa to Monroe.   FREE

Ukrainian Village Festival:   Partake in wonderful ethnic food and entertainment as well as handmade Ukrainian crafts on the grounds of Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Catholic Church in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood.   September 10 & 11 on Superior St between Oakley Blvd. & Leavitt St.   Admission is $5 per day.

Chicago Half Marathon & 5 K:   This event kicks off and terminates in Jackson Park and is a terrific way to take in the beauty of the park, lakefront and our beautiful skyline.   September 11 at Jackson Park, 6401 S Richards Dr.

Chicago™s Historic Route 66 Classic Car Show:   Join the anticipated 8,000 spectators who will take the opportunity to appreciate over 200 classic cars on the old ˜mother road™. September 18 on Ogden Avenue between Hamlin Av and Pulaski Rd., from 12:00 “ 6:00 PM.   FREE

Hyde Park Jazz Festival:   A full day of free, non-stop jazz in this fifth annual musical extravaganza.   Held in Hyde Park in various locations.   September 24 from 12:00 PM “ 1:00 AM, September 25 from 12:00 PM “ 9:00 PM.

This list barely scratches the surface of all the things that are happening in our beautiful city in September.   Get out there and enjoy the many things that Chicago has to offer!

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According to the Illinois Association of REALTORS ® (IAR) latest report, statewide home sales (including single family and condominiums) in July 2011 totaled 9,708 homes sold, up 18.4 percent from 8,197 home sales in July 2010. The statewide median price in July was $153,000, down 3.8 percent from $159,000 in July 2010. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half sold for less.

œThe market, like the economy, continues to struggle even though interest rates and prices would appear to suggest favorable conditions for housing purchases, said Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois. œIt would seem that until the economy signals a clear rebound”with sustained employment growth of the order of 200,000 jobs added per month”can we expect to see a sustained uptick in housing sales and some modest recovery in prices. Since April, the unemployment rate has not shown any definitive movement.

Adds Hewings: œThe forecast over the next three months indicates good news for the total number of sales, which will be positive year-over-year in August, September and October for Illinois and the Chicagoland region.

In the nine-county Chicagoland Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA), home sales (single family and condominiums) totaled 6,625 homes sold, up 19.2 percent from July 2010 sales of 5,560 homes. The median price in July 2011 was $182,500 in the Chicagoland PMSA, down 5.4 percent compared to last year in July when it was $193,000.

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central region was 4.59 percent in July 2011, up from 4.53 percent during the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Last year in July it averaged 4.58 percent.

œIllinois home sales saw a strong jump this month and the first year-over-year gain since June of 2010 when sales were still under the influence of the homebuyer tax credit stimulus, said REALTOR ® Sheryl Grider Whitehurst, ABR, CRB, GRI, president of the Illinois Association of REALTORS ® and a managing broker for Traders Realty in Peoria. œMortgage interest rates remain at near-record lows and affordability conditions are still strong for qualified and motivated buyers who are out there studying their options, however, the current level of economic uncertainty and tight credit are taking a toll on buyer confidence.

More than 60 percent of Illinois counties reporting (63 of 100) showed year-over-year sales increases in July 2011 including: Champaign, up 43.4 percent to 195 sales; Cook, up 9.5 percent to 3,598 sales; DuPage, up 41.6 percent to 813 sales; Kane, up 25.5 percent to 502 sales; Lake, up 35.7 percent to 643 sales; Peoria, up 30.8 percent to 187 sales; Rock Island, up 44.0 percent to 108 sales; Sangamon, up 30.9 percent to 212 sales; Will, up 22.1 percent to 535 sales, and Winnebago, up 14.4 percent to 286 sales.

In the city of Chicago, July home sales (single family and condominiums) totaled 1,655, up 4.2 percent from 1,588 homes sold in July 2010. The city of Chicago median home sale price for single family and condominiums in July 2011 was $210,000 up 6.9 percent compared to July 2010 when it was $196,500.

œThis is the first month, year-over-year, where we are without a federal tax credit and are encouraged by July’s sales, hopefully a positive outlook for the remainder of 2011, said Mabel Guzman, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS ® and a REALTOR ® with Envision Real Estate LLC, Chicago. œThere is an ongoing absorption of units throughout the city, specifically in the performance of the condo market over 2010, as well as compared to 2009. We will continue to monitor inventory, FHA changes to loan limits and accessible and affordable mortgages for qualified buyers.

Information is courtesy of the Illinois Association of Realtors

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The following article, authored by Michael B. Sauter and Douglas A. McIntyre recently appeared on 247wallstreet.com   as well as on MSN online.   They describe ten metropolitan areas in the U.S. where they feel that housing prices have not yet reached the bottom and, in some cases, have quite a ways to go.   Several cities mentioned have been in the news throughout the housing meltdown but there are a few surprises too.   It will be interesting to see if these predictions hold true.

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The real estate market is already in the deepest depression in modern U.S. history. If you think it can™t get any worse, think again.

In several cities, the real estate market is about to drop even more. Home values in many of those cities, such as Las Vegas, have already collapsed as unemployment has shot higher. And with no hope of quick recovery, housing prices are expected to continue to fall. 24/7 Wall St. identified ten housing markets that are expected to drop by at least another 10 percent by 2012.

Methodology: We used data from the Fiserv Case-Shiller Indexes, which track real estate activity in 380 cities. We selected those that are forecast to have the largest percent price drop between the first quarter of this year and the first quarter of next. We added several other pieces of information to our city-by-city information, including June unemployment levels, median household income, and when home prices are expected to reach their troughs in each market.

Median household income in these cities tended to be near the U.S. median, and in some cases well below. We expected to find high unemployment in these cities. This turned out to be the case. In all but one of the cities we examined, unemployment was well above the national average. The rate was over 18 percent in two of the cities. This link between unemployment and expected future drop in home prices shows again how insidious the housing price problem is.

Home prices fell from all-time highs in 2006. Home equity tapped by second mortgages had been a tremendous source of income then for families who used it for retirement saving, education, and simple consumer purchases. Three years later, many of those homes were worth less than their mortgages. A large population of homeowners still owed a second mortgage. The burden of those two home loans happened to come at a time when national unemployment rose from 4 percent in the mid-2000s to 10 percent. The mix of unemployment and high mortgage payments ripped the home market apart.

The ten markets on the 24/7 Wall St. list of œHousing Markets That Will Collapse This Year, and several other like them, may not see a full recovery in home prices for years. Inventories in these markets tend to be large. Demand tends to be low as the unemployed cannot be buyers. Finally, fear of further price drops all exacerbate the problem. No person or organization, including the federal government, has been able to help support the housing market, although the administration has tried. Not a single plan has built even a thin net under home values, despite the best efforts of the best economic minds in the world.

10. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Expected price drop: -11.1 percent
Median family income: $58,800 (194th highest)
Unemployment rate: 11.8 percent
Median home price: $196,000 (55th highest)
Projected to hit lowest level: Q2 2013

Since 2006, home prices in Fort Lauderdale have dropped by nearly 50 percent. A full 28 percent of that drop occurred in 2009 alone. As was the case throughout most of Florida, the collapse of the housing bubble decimated the construction-based economy. The unemployment rate of nearly 12 percent is evident of the construction sector™s disastrous decline. The value of the 686,000 homes in the Fort Lauderdale area is expected to get even worse through at least the second quarter of 2013. Between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012, the median home price is projected to decline an additional 11.1 percent. Between 2012 and 2013, that number will further decrease by 8.7 percent.

9. Bethesda, Md.
Expected price drop: -11.5 percent
Median family income: $114,100 (the highest)
Unemployment rate: 5.1 percent
Median home price: $417,000 (5th highest)
Projected to hit lowest level: Q3 2012

Bethesda, the extremely wealthy D.C. suburb, has the highest median family income in the country ” $114,100. It also has the fifth highest median home price, at $417,000. That position may change, however, as Case-Shiller projects home values will drop by more than $60,000 by next year.

8. Salinas, Calif.
Expected price drop: -11.8 percent
Median family income: $62,100 (145th highest)
Unemployment rate: 12.8 percent
Median home price: $240,000 (34th highest)
Projected to hit lowest level: Q2 2012

Salinas is a small coastal city located 25 miles south of San Jose. Since 2006, the median value of the of the 125,000 houses there decreased in value by more than 61 percent. This is the fourth biggest decline from peak home value among all major American cities. More than 40 percent of this drop occurred in 2009, the year after the housing bubble burst. Unemployment in the city is at 12.8 percent, well above the national average of 9.2 percent. Several companies in the area, including food processing company Romco, expect to continue to lay off workers in the coming months, which should serve to further depress home values.

7. El Centro, Calif.
Expected price drop: -12.1 percent
Median family income: $43,300 (10th lowest)
Unemployment rate: 28.6 percent
Median home price: $130,000 (70th lowest)
Projected to hit lowest level: Q1 2012

El Centro is located five miles from the Mexican border, and is one of the poorest cities in the country. Median income is just $43,300 per family, the tenth-lowest in the U.S. Unemployment is at a staggering 28.6 percent. Between 2006 and 2011, home prices decreased by more than 50 percent. According to a report in the Imperial Valley press, one home was sold in the El Centro area before the recession for $390,000. In 2009, that home was listed at $200,000. Prices are expected to drop an additional 12.1 percent by the first quarter of 2012.

6. Miami, Fla.
Expected price drop: -13 percent
Median family income: $47,800 (32nd lowest)
Unemployment rate: 13.4 percent
Median home price: $175,000 (76th highest)
Projected to hit lowest level: Q2 2013

At 13.4 percent, Miami has one of the highest unemployment rates of any major American city. Home values are above average, but are down by more than 50 percent since 2006. Partially as a result of the staggering unemployment rate, the value of the city™s homes are projected to decrease by another 13 percent by the first quarter of 2013. What™s more disturbing, prices will then likely fall an additional 10.1 percent. If this second drop occurs, it will be by far the greatest depreciation of property values in the country in an area already decimated by current low prices.

5. Merced, Calif.
Expected price drop: -13.2 percent
Median family income: $42,900 (8th lowest)
Unemployment rate: 18.6 percent
Median home price: $112,000 (38th lowest)
Projected to hit lowest level: Q2 2012

Merced has a median family income of just $42,900, placing it among the ten poorest major cities in the country. In 2008, the city™s property lost 46.1 percent of its value. This was the second-greatest depreciation in home value for a city since at least 1980. The city™s median home prices are expected to drop an additional 13.2 percent by the beginning of next year.

4. Detroit, Mich,
Expected price drop: -13.4 percent
Median family income: $49,000 (47th lowest)
Unemployment rate: 12.7 percent
Median home price: $42,000 (the lowest median home price)
Projected to hit lowest level: Q2 2012

Since the recession began, Detroit has been the horror story for plummeting home values, foreclosures, vacancies, and unemployment. To date, Detroit™s median home price of $42,000 is the lowest among all 385 major metropolitan areas. While the motor city has been languishing for some time before the recession, the drop in home value has been more steady, as opposed to the rapid drop-offs seen in cities in Florida, Nevada, and California. Detroit™s already record-low values are expected to drop an additional 13.4 percent by the first quarter of 2012.

3. Las Vegas, Nev.
Expected price drop: -13.9 percent
Median family income: $58,900 (196th lowest)
Unemployment rate: 12.4 percent
Median home price: $140,000 (90th lowest)
Projected to hit lowest level: Q4 2012

Las Vegas was one of the center points of the meteoric growth in the first half of the 2000s, only to be followed by a catastrophic fall in the second half. Between 2008 and 2011, home prices in the city dropped by 42.3 percent, the second greatest decline in the country. Although home values in the city are already more than 58 percent off their peak, they are projected by Case-Shiller to drop an additional 13.9 percent by Q1 2012, and then 6.3 percent more by Q1 2013.

2. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.
Expected price drop: -15.6 percentMedian family income: $59,700 (190th highest)
Unemployment rate: 13.7 percent
Median home price: $181,000 (70th highest)
Projected to hit lowest level: Q1 2012

Like so many industrial cities in California, Riverside-San Bernadino is being affected by the recession and housing crisis more than most other parts of the U.S. Unemployment has hit 13.7 percent, home vacancy and rental vacancy rates are high, and home values are plummeting. Median home prices are down more than 55 percent from their peak in 2006. By the beginning of next year, prices are expected to drop an additional 15.6 percent, or nearly $30,000.

1. Naples, Fla.
Expected price drop: -16.6 percent
Median family income: $62,800 (137th highest)
Unemployment rate: 10.5 percent
Median home price: $225,000 (40th highest)
Projected to hit lowest level: Q4 2012

Like much of southwest Florida, Naples was one of the fastest-growing communities in the country as it prepared for the millions of baby boomers on the cusp of retirement. When the housing bubble burst, however, the thousands of construction projects for condominiums and retirement communities were halted or lost money, and home values plummeted. From peak home value in 2006, prices dropped by 55 percent. They are expected to keep falling through next year more than any major city in the country. By Q1 2012, home values will drop an additional 16.6 percent, or nearly $40,000  

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The Chicago Department of Transportation announced recently that the second phase of a long-awaited streetscaping project will soon begin in the Sauganash neighborhood.

The project will be funded by the Cicero-Peterson Tax Increment Financing district (TIF) and was created in 2004 to rehabilitate the northwest corner of Cicero and Peterson.   This is now the site of an upscale condominium building and a Whole Foods Market.

The upcoming project is actually the second phase of a streetscaping effort that was initiated in 2009, when sidewalks, streetlights and pedestrian countdown signals were replaced along Cicero Avenue from Peterson north to Glenlake Ave.   Work has already begun to install ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps at the northeast and southwest corners of the intersection.   Additional improvements will include the installation of neighborhood signage on street poles, urns for plants will be installed on the sidewalks, and planter baskets will be hung on light poles.   Crosswalks of stamped asphalt painted to resemble bricks will also be added at the intersection.   The bulk of the work is expected to be completed during the month of August.   All streets are scheduled to remain open during construction although some traffic congestion can be expected.

This project is just the latest in an ongoing effort to improve the visual appeal of the ˜downtown™ Sauganash business district and to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.   The Sauganash Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th Ward) and area business owners over the last few years to bring these projects to fruition.

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I am always surprised by the number of Cook County residents who do not claim a homeowner™s exemption on their property tax.   When I mention it to people they usually don™t know what the exemption is or how to go about claiming it.   And of course our friends in the Cook County taxing authority aren™t overly communicative about it either, seeing as it reduces their tax revenue.

But all homeowners are entitled to an exemption for their principal residence in which they pay property taxes.   To qualify, the residential property must have been occupied as the principal residence of the current or former owner as of January 1 of the tax year in question.   An exemption reduces the assessed valuation of the property, kind of a ˜reward™ for living in the property that you own.   Commonly the exemption form is completed during the closing process when the property is purchased but sometimes it™s missed, and the exemption is not filed.   As a result, the homeowner pays more property tax than necessary.

To determine if you have a homeowner™s exemption on your property you can visit the Cook County Assessor™s website and look up your property by its parcel identification number (PIN) or by address.   You can also check on the Cook County Treasurer™s website by clicking on the Exemptions / Savings link and entering your PIN.   The Treasurer™s website also provides a handy exemption history covering the last four years so you can see whether the exemption was claimed in previous years.

If you find that you have not claimed the homeowner™s exemption, you can visit the Cook County Assessor™s website and complete a œHomeowner/Senior Citizen Exemption Application form under the FORMS “ EXEMPTIONS menu link.   This will insure that you receive the proper exemption for the current tax year and going forward.  

But it gets even better¦ if you did not receive the exemption in prior years you can complete a    œCertificate of Error “ Homeowner™s Exemption form under the FORMS “ EXEMPTION menu link.   This downloads a pdf of the form with instructions and you can complete the information and mail it in (or bring it in person) to the Cook County Assessor™s office along with the necessary documentation.   You will need to complete a form for each year in which you wish to retroactively claim the exemption, going back at least three years prior to the current tax year.   There might be a little work involved in filling out the forms and copying the necessary documentation, but it is well worth it!   Once the Certificate of Error applications are received and processed you will receive a letter confirming that a Certificate of Error has been certified, along with information as to how to obtain any refund due you for your overpayment of property tax.

Please do not hesitate to contact me or visit my website  if you have any questions on this or any other real-estate related topic!

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Single Family

The volume of single-family home sales in the City of Chicago in the  second quarter of 2011 was, in general, below that of the corresponding  second quarter of 2010, continuing a trend we saw in the first quarter of the year.   The number of single-family homes sold citywide stood at  2,073 units, down from  2,598 a year earlier.   Undoubtedly this was due in part to the first-time homebuyer tax credit that was in effect in 2010.   The tax credit expired in June 2010.

As one would expect, results vary greatly between neighborhoods.   Fifty-four of the 77 community areas in Chicago experienced fewer sales in the  second quarter of 2011 than in the  second quarter of 2010.   The data  reflects an increase  in the number of sales from the first quarter of 2011 of approximately 29%.   This appears to be a seasonal increase, however; the corresponding increase in sales between the first and second quarters of 2010 was 36%.

Neighborhoods experiencing the largest drop in sales compared to the  second quarter of 2010 include Lincoln Square (down 67%), Forest Glen (-29%), Dunning (-29%), Montclare (-32%), Austin (-48%), West Garfield Park (-71%), East Garfield Park (-57%), Near West Side (-44%), Kenwood (-75%), South Chicago (-56%), South Deering (-67%), East Side (-40%), Hegewisch (-46%), Gage Park (-35%), Clearing (-32%), West Englewood (-40%), Englewood  (-44%), Greater Grand Crossing (-40%), and Morgan Park (-30%).

A few communities experienced an uptick in single-family home sales compared to the second quarter of 2010,  including Avondale (up 47%), West Town (13%), South Lawndale (27%), Calumet Heights (38%), Archer Heights (19%), Bridgeport (144%), West Lawn (11%), Chicago Lawn (25%), Beverly (21%), and Edgewater (58%).

Median sale prices of single-family homes fell in sixty of the 77 community areas in the second quarter of 2011 as compared to the same period a year before.   Median sales volume and price performance in some community areas swing dramatically due to the small number of single-family homes.

Feel free to contact me for neighborhood-specific information.

Condo/Townhouse

Attached housing (condominiums and townhouses) saw a 27% decline in the volume of units sold in the  second quarter of 2011 as compared to a year earlier, to  3,012 from  4,085.   Again, the first-time homebuyer tax credit that was in place in 2010 undoubtedly had an impact on these numbers.

Forty-three of the 77 community areas in Chicago experienced a decline in the number of units sold.   While twenty-four  community areas  saw an increase in the number of units sold, it is important to note that these communities had only 178 total sales representing 6%  of total condo sales in the City, and the net increase in condo sales in these twenty-four communities was only 49.

The areas with the highest number of attached housing sales all experienced declines, including Rogers Park (down 26%),  West Ridge (-12%), Uptown (-37%), Lincoln Square (-28%), North Center (-37%), Lake View (-33%), Lincoln Park (-30%), Near North Side (-16%), West Town (-27%), Near West Side (-22%), Loop (-32%), Near South Side (-42%), and Edgewater (-42%).

Median sale prices of condos and townhouses declined in forty-nine of the 77 community areas including all of the communities listed above except Lakeview, where the median price appreciated 2%.

Summary

Fewer existing family homes (single-family as well as condominium and townhouse) were sold in Chicago in the  second quarter of 2011 than in the  second quarter of 2010, but climbed from the first quarter of this year.   Continued lack of confidence in the economic recovery and job market, along with overly stringent lending requirements are contributing to the continued lackluster performance in the housing market.   For the most part the housing market has been absent from this economic expansion to date.   The ongoing flood of short-sales and foreclosures are also putting a damper on sale prices, with some neighborhoods impacted more than others.   Inventories have been dropping, however, and most forecasts indicate that prices will begin to firm as the year progresses.

Do you have questions about how a particular neighborhood is performing in the current real estate environment?    Contact me  and I would be happy to provide additional details for you!

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Summer in Chicago.   It’s the same old story… so much to do, so little time to do it in!   There is ALWAYS something going on in the Windy City, and the following is but a small sampling of summertime attractions that you may find of interest.

Chicago Summerdance:   Each Thursday through Sunday from July 7 – September 28 participate in a one-hour introductory dance lesson conducted by professional dance instructors, followed by two hours of live music and dancing on a 4,900 square foot outdoor dance floor in Grant Park’s Spirit of Music Garden.   Thursday – Saturday 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM, Sunday 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM, weather permitting.   FREE.

Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays:   An eclectic mix of free musical events held in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park.   Every Monday evening beginning at 6:30 through July 25.   FREE.  

Family Fun Festival Presented by Target:   A wide variety of family performances and hands-on activities for kids of all ages.   Everyday, from June 13 – August 21 between 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM on the Chase Promenade North at Millennium Park. FREE

Grant Park Music Festival:   Enjoy the 77th season of free summertime concerts by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, and many guest artists.   Held most Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings in Millennium Park, usually starting at 6:30 PM on Wednesday and Friday, and 7:30 PM on Saturday. FREE  

After School Matters:   Offers hands-on programs for Chicago teenagers in the areas of art, science, sports, technology and communications.   Every weekday 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM through August 12, in Wrigley Square at Millennium Park.   FREE

Lunchbreak Music Series in Millennium Park:   Enjoy a wide variety of musical performances daily through September 5 at lunchtime.   FREE

Under the Picasso:   Daily musical, cultural, and educational events in Daley Plaza.   At noon each day.   FREE

Family Adventures:   Fully guided affordable tours for the family offer one-day adventures to unique Chicago neighborhoods and parks. Tours begin at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E Randolph, 9:30 AM – 2:30 PM through August 27. Tickets are $12 per person inclusive of lunch, transportation, and admission fees. Subject to availability.

Chicago Landmarks Before the Lens:   A permanent display of 72 black & white photographs of iconic Chicago attractions and districts.   At the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E Randolph St. FREE

Lurie Garden Free Walk: Summer Stroll in the Lurie Garden:   Enjoy a peaceful summer evening walk through beautiful Lurie Garden led by a park staff and volunteers.   6 PM at the south end of the boardwalk in Millennium Park, through August 30.   FREE

 Millennium Park Workouts:   Free workouts on Saturdays set to music in Millennium Park through September 10. Yoga at 8:00 AM, Pilates at 9:00 AM, and Zumba at 10:00 AM. FREE

Theatre on the Lake:   The 59th season includes Collaboractions production of ˜1001′ from July 20 – 24, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble’s production of ˜Big River: The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn’ from July 27 – 31; and Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s production of ˜Sweet and Hot: The Songs of Harold Arlen’ from August 3 – 7. Performances are Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30 PM, and Sunday at 6:30 PM at 2401 N Lake Shore Drive. Single tickets can be purchased for $17.50. Seasonal subscription available.

Noble Horse Theatre:   Features riders and horses from around the world.   The show is held in a historic Riding Hall constructed right after the Chicago Fire.   Shows and times vary – call 312-266-7878 for details.   For additional information visit http://www.noblehorsechicago.com/.   Fee is $18 – $30 per person.

Navy Pier Summer Fireworks:   Magnificent fireworks display set to music, every Wednesday and Saturday evening , through September 3.   The display begins at 9:30 PM on Wednesday and 10:15 PM on Saturday. FREE

Beauty and the Beast:   Appearing at the Ford Theatre for Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre (24   W Randolph St) through August 7, this Disney show features unbelievable sets, spectacular costumes and show-stopping songs and dance numbers.   Admission is $18 – $85 per person. Showtimes vary – visit http://www.broadwayinchicago.com/ for additional details.

Cirque du Soleil presents OVO:   Another fantastic Cirque to Soleil production visits Chicago, through July 31 at the United Center Parking Lot K (1901 W Madison St) under the blue and yellow big top.   Ticket prices and availability varies: visit the Cirque du Soleil website (http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/ovo/tickets/chicago/prices.aspx) for ticket prices, showtimes and availability.

Cirque Shanghai Extreme:   Many heart-racing and death-defying acts high above the crowd at Navy Pier’s Pepsi Skyline Stage.   Every Sunday (12 noon, 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM), Wednesday (2:00 PM, 4:00 PM, 7:30 PM), Thursday (2:00 PM, 7:30 PM), Friday (2:00 PM, 4:00 PM, 8:00 PM), and Saturday (2:00 PM, 6:00 PM, 8:00 PM) through September 5.   Tickets are $15.00 – $32.50.

Jammin’ at the Zoo:   Once-monthly summer concert series at Lincoln Park Zoo.   Upcoming shows are July 22 and August 26, from 6:00 PM – 10:30 PM on the south lawn at the zoo, Cannon Drive & Fullerton Pkwy.     There is an admission fee.

Jazzin’ at the Shedd:   Take advantage of the Shedd Aquarium’s 17th annual summer concert series held every Wednesday evening through August 31 from 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM.   Aquarium exhibits are also open. Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for kids.   1200 S Lake Shore Dr.

Jellies at the Shedd Aquarium:   Fascinating exhibit of creatures that have survived without bones, blood, or brains for a half billion years.   The exhibit runs through May 2012. 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM weekends, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM weekdays (6:00 PM in summer), 1200 S Lake Shore Drive. There is a fee for admission.

The Adventures of Pinocchio: The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s production of this classic tale runs through August 28 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, 800 E Grand Ave.   Visit http://www.chicagoshakes.com/ for additional information.

Whales: Giants of the Deep:   Exhibit at the Field Museum explores the world of whales through actual whale skeletons, film, sound recordings, science and storytelling.   Through January 16, 2012.   Open every day except Christmas 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, 1400 S Lake Shore Drive.   There is a fee for admission.

West Side Story:   The modern-day version of Romeo and Juliet comes to life with the historic Bernstein and Sondheim score still thrilling audiences to this day.   July 19 – August 14 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W Randolph. Ticket prices range from $32 – $95. For performance times and ticket availability visit http://www.broadwayinchicago.com/

Celebrate Clark Street Festival:   Visit the 6th annual event sponsored by the Rogers Park Business Alliance – plenty of music, food and spirit for everyone! On Clark Street between Touhy and Morse, on July 23 & 24 from 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM.

Sheffield Garden Walk and Festival:   More than 100 gardens and yards will be available to tour in the 43rd annual event on July 23 & 24.   Master gardeners will be on hand for questions and advice, and visitors can enjoy great music and refreshments.   On Sheffield between Webster and Belden.   The event is FREE but the suggested donation is $7 – $10. Garden tour runs from 12:00 noon – 5:30 PM, festival from 12:00 noon to 10:15 PM.

Wicker Park Fest:   Two stages provide continuous live music during this 8th annual event showcasing the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods.   Enjoy delicious food, drinks as well as arts & crafts from local artisans.   Proceeds benefit the Wicker Park and Bucktown Chamber of Commerce.   July 23 – 24 from 12:00 noon – 10:00 PM in Wicker Park and Milwaukee and North Avenues.

Pakistan Independence Day Parade:   Annual parade held by the Pakistani community in the Rogers Park neighborhood commemorates the country’s independence.   Parade begins on July 24 at 12:30 on Devon from Ridge to Western Avenue.    FREE

Fiesta del Sol:   A celebration of Mexican culture with live entertainment, an arts pavilion, along with fantastic music and delicious cuisine.   July 28 (5:00 PM – 10:00 PM), July 29 – 30 (11:00 AM – 11:00 PM), and July 31 (11:00 AM – 10:00 PM) on Cermak Road between Morgan and Ashland Avenues.   FREE

Taste of Lincoln Avenue:   The 28th annual event kicks off on July 30 with dozens of musical acts on five stages, along with plenty of attractions for the kids and great food and drink.   July 30 – 31 from 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM on Lincoln Avenue between Halsted St and Wrightwood Ave.   FREE with suggested donation of $7 – $10.

Summer on Southport:   This annual event showcases the lovely Southport community.   Local artisans participate as do the many fine restaurants in the neighborhood.   Live music is also featured.   3700 N Southport, July 30 & 31 from 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM.   FREE with a suggested $5 donation.

Whatever you choose, I hope you take the time to appreciate and enjoy the rich cultural diversity of our City!

 

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Our weather so far this year in Chicago has been wacky!   We™ve had a much higher than average amount of rain and the violent storms that have come through have blown down trees and power lines, causing power outages lasting days for thousands of customers.

The rain is often torrential, coming in squalls that dump several inches of water over a short period of time.   If you have issues with water pooling against the foundation of your home, causing seepage into your basement or crawl space, you may wish to consider a French drain.   Following is helpful information that you can use to determine if a French drain would work for you.

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Copyright 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS ®

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According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the CoreLogic Home Price Index, sale prices for existing homes showed a month-over-month increase in May for the second consecutive month.   Year-over-year prices are still negative nationally.

According to the CoreLogic Home Price Index national home prices increased by .8% in May 2011 from April.   This figure included distressed sales.   Year-over-year prices declined 7.4% from May 2010 to May 2011, and 6.7% from April 2010 to April 2011.   Excluding distressed sales makes a significant difference: the decline from May 2010 to May 2011 omitting distressed sales was .4%, and .8% from April 2010 to April 2011.

œTwo consecutive months of month-over-month growth and continued relative strength in the non-distressed market segment are positive seasonal signs in the housing market. Slowly declining shadow inventory and stabilized negative equity levels are also positive signs. Nonetheless, the fragile economic recovery is still critical to the long-term recovery in the housing market, says Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

Price performance varies greatly from one state to the next, as one might expect.   Inclusive of distressed sales, the states showing the poorest price performance over the last year include Idaho (-16.4%), Michigan (-12.9%), Arizona (-12.1%), Illinois (-11.8%), and Nevada (-11.6%).   The list changes if distressed sales are excluded: the five with the greatest price depreciation then become Nevada (-9.8%),  Idaho (-7.9%), Arizona (-7%), South Dakota (-6.1%), and Minnesota (-5%).

The best price performing states inclusive of distressed sales included New York (4.4%), Vermont (3.9%), North Dakota (3.8%), Hawaii (2.5%), and the District of Columbia (.5%).   The best performing states omitting distressed sales were West Virginia (10.1%), Hawaii (9%), North Dakota (8.6%), Vermont (6.3%), and New York (6.1%).

Since the peak of the housing market, which is considered to be April 2006, the national home price index (including distressed sales) has fallen 32.7% and has come down 21.2% if distressed sales are excluded.

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It’s hard to believe, but the next presidential election is already on the horizon with what seems like a thousand presidential candidates saying anything they can to get some media coverage.   There is always a period of ‘shakeout’ where some of the candidates will fall by the wayside, but in the meantime they will be working as hard as they can in the hope of finding a ‘niche’ that will propel them into the center ring.

Amongst the campaign trail ‘blather’ it sure would be nice for someone to have the foresight and maturity to begin a competent, thoughtful discussion on one of the most important areas of our economy – housing.   There has been ridiculous remarks made in the hope of grabbing sound bytes – eliminating Freddie and Fannie, nixing the mortgage interest deduction – without thoughtful consideration of the impact to housing and the overall economy.   Come on  candidates – we deserve better than this.   If you can’t come to the table with some viable solutions, just stay home.

  • The White House

    Hey, Presidential Candidates: Where are the New Ideas to Fix Housing?

    Fixing the housing market is perhaps the most important step toward fixing the economy, so you would think those who want to win the next presidential election would be talking about how housing creates jobs, the ways consumer confidence is tied to home prices, and what the heck they will do to fix the housing market and turn the economy around. Read

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Copyright 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS ®

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