Is Chicago’s Loop Affordable for Young Professionals?

StreetAdvisor Question this week:

Can a couple live affordably in Chicago’s Loop?

In order to answer the question, we need to know how much it costs to live there, and then based on the current interest rates, determine monthly costs. From that, we can figure out how much income one needs to purchase this mythical condo.

If the couple lives in a One Bedroom condo in Chicago’s Loop, Near North, or South Loop Neighborhoods….

I did research on 1,2, and 3 bedroom condos in Chicago’s Near North (8008), Loop (8032) and Near South (8033) neighborhoods, and I discovered the following:

  • One bedroom sales have increased between 20% and 36% in the 3 neighborhoods
  • Average taxes range between $ 3364 and $ 3723 per year.
  • Average assessments range between $ 445.39 (South Loop) to $ 590.26 in the Gold Coast.

Cost to Live in a One Bedroom Condo

Let’s determine the monthly cost of one of these one bedroom condos.


  • Purchase Price:  $ 230,000
  • Down Payment: $23,000
  • Interest Rate: 4.5%
  • Taxes:  $3500/year
  • Assessment:  $500/month
  • Debt Ratio 28% of Gross Income

Monthly Payment Resulting from these assumptions:

  • Principal and Interest:  $ 1841
  • Taxes:  $291.67 (or, $ 292)
  • Assessment: $500
  • Gross Monthly Payment: $1841
  • Annual Tax Savings for Federal and Illinois:  $3254 (from
  • Net Monthly Payment (not including property tax savings):  $1569

What do you have to Earn To Afford This Purchase?

Lenders usually allow for more debt than this, but when I first became a Realtor in 1987, the 28% rule was always followed. (Part of why we got into trouble in 2008 was our relaxing of this 28/36 debt ratio.)

28% debt ratio means that the gross monthly payment can be no more 28% of the gross monthly income.

For this example, $1841 / 28% = $ 6575 per month.

Annual Income Required:  $ 6575 x 12 = 78,900.

Two Bedroom Condos –

Loop, Near North, Near South

Three Bedroom Condo Prices –

Loop, Near North, Near South


 Want to Learn More about condos in the Loop, Near North, or Near South Neighborhoods?

Are you ready to begin the first steps toward owning a condominium in Chicago?

Contact Anne Rossley

of Baird & Warner today!


Luxury Homes now more Affordable than Ever

Jumbo mortgage rates are inching closer to conforming mortgage rates; what does this mean for purchasers?

With lenders’ renewed confidence in luxury home values, “jumbo” rates have come down dramatically and are nearly the same as “conforming” rate loans.

During 2008 and 2009, when lenders were nervous about the luxury home market, the interest rate spread between a jumbo loan (>$417,000) and a conforming loan (=/< $417,000) was 1.5%.  The higher jumbo rate, coupled with stricter down payment and underwriting guidelines, paralyzed the luxury home market.

During 2012, the differential was .5%.  Today, we are seeing only a 1/8% rate difference in 30 year fixed rates between jumbo and conforming loan amounts.

The reasons for the shrinking interest rate spread are:

–       Higher fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are increasing the rates of conforming loans

–       Demand for luxury homes are on the rise resulting in more stable luxury home prices; lenders are more comfortable with luxury home collateral

–       Lenders are seeking to build a customer base or cement established relationships with high net worth client

Although the jumbo market we have now is very conservatively underwritten, it is the best it has been in the past years.  Some lenders allow up to 85% loan to value with most offering up to 80%.

The lenders are looking at the client in the jumbo loan sector and they see clients with liquidity, strong earnings, and ability to withstand financial shock.  Lenders are trying to find ways to cater to these clients.

And, that’s a good thing for jumbo borrowers right now.

diane pyshos


Article written by terrific lender and friend, Diane Pyshos.

For more information about luxury home loans, contact Diane Pyshos at A&N Mortgage



Real Estate Photos – More Showings, Higher Prices



What do Buyers want to see in an ONLINE LISTING?

Photos   Photos    Photos!

what buyers want to see in an online listing


This research is exactly why I hire the best professional photographer to capture your home.

This photo session ONLY occurs after we have staged the home, getting rid of clutter, cleaning, and moving the furnishings to show off the home’s best features.

The photographer needs to come at the right time of the day – not noon. The best time is when the sun is on the front door of the house.

I often have the photographer come twice – day AND night – to show off the house at various times fo the day.

Here are examples of some bad real estate photos on the MLS today – April 27, 2013

To find out how you can get the best photographs taken of your listing, contact

Anne Rossley

Baird & Warner



Staging your Home or Spring Cleaning? What to Do with Extra Stuff …


Staging your Homes means clearing out, organizing, de-cluttering…

Steps to Organizing your Stuff

Organizing experts say to put each item into one of 4 categories:

  1. Keep and Use
  2. Save in an Organized Place (where you can readily access it!)
  3. Donate
  4. Trash — Throw it Away!

When I’m cleaning my home in the spring, after Christmas, and when certain VIP guests are arriving, I think of my cleaning as Staging My Home for Sale. I guess it’s an occupational hazard. I know, though, that we all love our homes the most when they’re presented well – Spring Cleaning just feels the same as Staging my House for Sale.

With this fabulous Chicago spring weather today, I found the Houzz article timely – it reminds me that other options exist:

Donate to Jones College Prep’s White Elephant SaleStaging your Home-Have a Garage Sale

(Select this link to learn more)


Have a Garage Sale!

14 Ways to Make More Money at a Yard Sale — and Have Fun Too

Annual Garage Sales

The Villa Historic District Garage Sale is in June

Lakewood Balmoral Historic District Garage Sale is the Saturday after Labor Day

What other annual sales do you know about?

Post a comment to tell us when your neighborhood garage sale will take place;

If it’s an annual event, tell me that, too, so I can start keeping track on the resource page

Happy Chicago Spring!


Chicago Condos – Choosing the Right Building

Chicago Condos – when you buy one you’re buying the building as much as the unit.

Yes, you live IN the home, but you use the common areas, and you’re one of several owners who agree to abide by the condominium rules and regulations. The assessment you pay is controlled by the condo board (with a management company’s advice), so you are therefore not the only king of your castle.

chicago condos with indoor poolsCondominiums offer opportunities to

  • Share in building maintenance costs (roof, windows…),
  • Share in building amenities (pool, fitness, doorman…)
  • Obtain support in maintaining systems (plumbing, heat/air, hot water…)
  • Enjoy more free time, since you don’t have to do the maintenance, snow shoveling, etc…
  • Gain security and privacy (with doorman, valet parking…)
  • Enjoy easy access to services (often dry cleaners, mini-marts, package

Chicago Condo Lifestyle…

For those who work long hours, condominiums are a terrific choice.

After 12 hours at the office, you pull in to the building garage, thereby avoiding the sleet that’s raining down on the pedestrians outside. You’re greeted by a friendly doorman who makes sure you safely enter the building and elevator. You see the note which was tucked under your door, describing the leak that the building engineer fixed in your absence. You set down the package that the receiving room that came while you were away, then you open fresh hot soup, purchased in the building’s mini-mart. Click on the TV, whose cable was discounted in a building group-buy, and you gaze out at the restful twinkling city lights. Serenity in your sky-high crib!

Yes, it’s a nice picture.

HOWEVER… A Different Scenario Could Await You…

(Hear the Psycho theme song in the background?)… Eek Eek Eek Eek….

Potential pitfalls to look out for…

  • surprise special assessments ($10,000… $20,000 +) because the condo building didn’t have enough money in reserves to fix (roof, windows, facade, heat…)
  • too many investor-owners – making it difficult to a) get condo financing, b) spend for needed building improvements, c) keep elevators for passengers-the throng of tenants moving in/out can seem never-ending!
  • litigation against the building (condo owners)
  • too many condo owners in arrears for paying their assessments
  • rules and regulations that affect your sale – can you rent your unit out in case you lose your job? Can Fido move in?
  • Extra costs – do the pool/fitness area cost extra? How much to move in?

These are just some of the possible problems. Having an experienced real estate agent is an important part of making sure you enjoy the positive lifestyle described above.

When shopping for condos, keep this list of

10 Questions to Ask the Condo Board 

Download the list here

I always recommend that buyers learn the answers to the

Illinois 22.1 Questionnaire

BEFORE writing an offer.

Download a copy of the 22.1 Letter here:

Section 22.1 Letter for Chicago condos

Make sure you get the best help in finding the Chicago Condo that’s right for you —

both the BUILDING and the unit itself.

Call Anne Rossley of Baird & Warner today!

chicago real estate Anne Rossley Baird & Warner



Staging Your Home to Sell – Tips for Making Rooms Larger




Living Room Staged to Appear Larger
No matter what size your home is, being stuck inside all winter can make anyone claustrophobic. While this isn’t the best time of year to build room additions, there are simple steps you can take to make any space seem larger.Do use mirrors. The best and least expensive way to make smaller rooms appear bigger is to decorate walls with mirrors. Choose locations where the mirror will reflect the light back into the room to add warmth and depth.

Home Staging Tip #1:    Don’t neglect lighting.

Lighting is crucial when it comes to opening your space. Maximize any natural light available by getting rid of heavy draperies. Add more lamps at varying levels to give the room a glow, and install track lighting to make sure every corner is well lit.

Home Staging Tip #2:    Do choLiving Room Staged and Photographed to Appear Largeose a lighter color scheme.

Pale, cool colors will reflect the light and make the walls appear farther apart. Add visual impact to your space by separating the walls into blocks of color using gentle tones.

Home Staging Tip #3:    Don’t get hung up.

Your wall art should be hung at eye level or about 60 inches from the floor. Hanging items too high will make your ceiling seem lower.

Home Staging Tip #4:    Do space things out.

Instead of pushing your furniture against the walls, give pieces some breathing room by playing with interesting angles. You can also choose one large statement piece – like an armchair or coffee table – and fill in gaps around it.

See my previous post – BEFORE/AFTER/VACANT photos

Also – check out my Pinterest Boards – Staging your Home to Sell and Before & After …

Call Anne Rossley of Baird & Warner


For personalized help with staging your home, call or email me!

Anne Rossley
Baird & Warner




Chicago Real Estate Free Book Give-a-way!


Chicago Real Estate Giveaway

 –   Ilyce Glink’s book   –

Buy, Close, Move in!


buy close move in book cover

How to Navigate the New World of Real Estate-

Safely and Profitably –

and End Up with the Home of Your Dreams

This is a terrific book for both first time buyers and time-tested real estate investors.  It’s not limited to Chicago Real Estate – the information on buying and selling real estate is applicable to everyone who’s considering a real estate purchase.

The fantastic book includes chapters on

  • The New World of Mortgage Finance
  • What Can you Afford to Buy?
  • Fixing Your Credit History and Credit Score Forever
  • Down Payment and Reserve Money – Where to Find it
  • Identifying Amazing Opportunities
  • Savvy Real Estate Investing

There are 3 ways you can enter –

  • LIKE the Anne Rossley Real Estate Facebook page,
  • Share this post with your friends on Facebook, and/or
  • Sign up for my Monthly Email Newsletter

Sign in to Rafflecopter using the links below or visit the Anne Rossley Real Estate Facebook Page and Select “Giveaway”

Winners will need to either pick up the book or provide a mailing address for the book to sent to you by January 31, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sell Your Chicago Home with a Real Estate Video

How to Sell Chicago Real Estate

In addition to the typical marketing avenues (MLS, open houses, etc),

I  endeavor to be always “techno-forward” in finding ways to get my listings in front of potential buyers:

–  Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin
–  Web and this blog
–  Web Feeds (Trulia, Zillow, Homefinder…)
–  Web advertising sites – Craigslist, Postlets, etc
–  Mailings – postcards to clients, neighbors, renters and other potential buyers
–  Email Newsletter to clients
–  Advertising – Chicago Tribune, Crain’s, Chicago Magazine, WSJ, local neighborhood papers…
–  and more…

Another avenue of Chicago Real Estate Marketing that is gaining popularity:

Real Estate Videos


I’ve done YouTube videos using professional photography (see 5359 N Magnolia), and

Dennis Rodkin featured 3141 N Clifton on his DealEstate videos (see below), but I haven’t moved into making my own professional videos yet.

Perhaps I’m afraid I’ll end up with videos like the three I’ve included here…

What do you think?

Do these make you want to buy?

Would you want your home on YouTube?

Funny videos may get the real estate agent noticed, but I don’t believe they make you want to buy THAT PARTICULAR property.

I’ll continue creating professional home tours, and from time to time, I hope Dennis Rodkin will do more videos of my properties.

I’ll sell your property by employing all methods to sell, including videos.  Clients receive guidance to

  • stage their home for sale, then we’ll get
  • professional photographs that show your home in the best light. These photos, along with
  • neighborhood maps, walk scores, floor plans, and links to info about lifestyle/resources will showcase your home in the best possible light. This video home tour will be
  • plastered everywhere on the internet that buyers search for Chicago Real Estate for sale.


The goal is to get buyers to want to VISIT the house, NOT forward it to friends as a joke.

And one more — you don’t need to watch more than 30 seconds of this one…

Here’s the Dennis Rodkin video of Clifton — it’s a professional work, and one I’m proud to share.  Thanks, Dennis!!

Chicago Real Estate -The Time to Buy and Sell is NOW!

Wondering when you should get in the Chicago real estate market?



Whether you’re buying for the first time, selling and buying, or downsizing ….


Interest Rates

Rates are the lowest in over 30 years — Freddie Mac reported September average rates at 3.38%!

Prices have stabilized – in some places, they’re reporting increases. Yes, prices dropped between Jan 2008 and July 2011, but prices are now showing a stabilization.

This chart shows average prices on condos/homes on Chicago’s North Side:


Consumer Confidence
is up again in November – 3.8%, but here in Chicago, properties are flying!

Inventories are low – while at one time, condo listings represented 24 + months of inventory, today there are only 3.8 months’ worth of units on the market. (Lenders use 6 months as a benchmark for determining market health.)

On a personal note, I have been helping clients find investment property. We are having to put in offers immediately – 6 properties have sold within a week, sometimes with multiple offers.


Don’t wait to read this in the newspapers – by then it will be too late to take advantage of the opportunities

Expect the following:

  • Declining inventories between now and Feb 2013
  • Increasing demand around Feb 2013
  • Mar-May 2013 — prices will rise &  inventories will remain low — but where will interest rates be? Ad 1% difference on a $250K loan means more than $49K in payments over the life of the loan (and $1647.48 more per year!)


      If you’re thinking about buying or selling, call or email me right away!


Need to Find a home in one of the Chicago Neighborhood Elementary School Districts?


Search for homes in the districts most often requested by buyers over the last year:


These are not the only neighborhood searches available – email me for other school districts or CPS elementary school information in general.

And, if you’re participating in the selective enrollment lottery, remember the December 14 deadline — good luck!



Which Home Improvements Yield Higher Sales Prices?

Which home improvements will make your home sell better and at the highest price? The answers could fill a library!

The survey from reports that sellers and Realtors agree that improvements help in getting both a higher sales price and a shorter marketing time.Kitchens, baths, landscaping are all mentioned as hot areas. Realtors, according to the survey, recommend painting, organizing, and landscaping.

On every listing appointment, I’m asked by the sellers what I would recommend. I seldom recommend high-priced improvements. So much can be accomplished with very little money, as long as it’s well spent.

Remember, you’re not going to sell for significantly more than the comparable sales in your area. Sellers’ goals should be to sell at the TOP of the comparable range, and in as short a time as possible.

How do you accomplish that?

And how do you do it for as little money as possible?

Here are my 5  tips for getting ready for sale:

1. Repair all broken items in the home – windows, doors, appliances, wood floors, etc

2. Paint!  Giving a fresh coat on the outside,  like window trim, handrails, or doors, can make a huge difference. Inside, paint can neutralize a room, making it possible for buyers to visualize their belongings in the home. Paint makes the home clean and fresh, and it can minimize dings in the doors and moldings, making them appear newer.

3.  Stage the home. Staging includes de-cluttering, organizing, moving furniture.  Usually, we work with what the seller already owns, moving it around to show off the home’s space, light, and best qualities.

4. Clean! This seems obvious, but you would be surprised just how important and overlooked this step is. If you can’t do it, hire a professional. The home should sparkle — including ovens and refrigerator.

5. Get rid of all smells! If you have read The Power of Habits, you know that P&G discovered that homeowners don’t realize what their homes smell like – they’re used to it. Visitors smell what homeowners don’t, so sellers need to proactively get rid of smells, even if they think their home isn’t an offender.

I highly recommend AGAINST traditional smell cover-ups — too much lavender, bleach, or gardenia – like scents will hurt your cause, too. Instead, I suggest using Fresh Wave or odor-free Febreze. Neutralize odors – don’t add more on top. Odor-free is “IN”, and while you may be tempted to overwhelm your house with bread or cookie baking smells, it’s just best to keep it simple.

Other sources for home staging:

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