moving to chicago

The New Movers Guide To Neighborhoods In Chicago

moving to chicago

Panoramic view of the Chicago skyline.

The New Mover’s Guide to Neighborhoods In Chicago

Moving to the Windy City without much familiarity with the area? Don’t fret. Check out this new mover’s guide to neighborhoods in Chicago

While Chicago has been slowly losing a small percentage of its population to the coasts, that’s great news for prospective buyers looking for a deal. As movers are causing rents to rise in New York, Houston, and Los Angeles, Chicago neighborhoods are spared from overcrowding. If you’re looking at different neighborhoods in Chicago to move to, you’ll find a lot of variety from block to block.

Here are five neighborhoods provided by our Real Estate Agents in Chicago that you should know in the city.

1. Uptown

Uptown is one of the broadest neighborhoods in the city of Chicago. It’s a large area that stretches above Boystown, Lakeview, and bumps up against Wrigley Field.

If you’re looking for good food, nice bars, and a short walk to the lake, this is the neighborhood for you. While it’s always had a steady population of people, it’s one of the areas that’s been growing in recent years. Mostly served by the Red Line, it’s a little out of the way for the people who spend their time on the west side or south of the loop.

If you like Vietnamese food, this is where you want to be. You’re going to find a wide variety of Asian, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern cuisines all across the area.

For live music lovers, you’re close to some great venues that specialize in everything from rock to blues and jazz. You’ll be a stone’s throw from the Green Mill, popular for its jazz history and as one of Al Capone’s favorite hangouts.

If you need a little bit of space between yourself and the loop, this is the perfect locale. You’ll find the dwelling a bit spa

2. West Loop

Culture vultures take heed. If you’re looking for action, the west loop will be the perfect home for you.

Known in recent years for its massive lofts, it’s bustling art scene, and exciting restaurants, this is the closest thing you’ll find the Chelsea in Chicago. On a Friday night, you can hop from one gallery to the next and bump into critics from Artforum, legendary DJs, and restauranteurs rubbing elbows. Everyone from the savviest students to the vanguards of art, culture, and food can be found here.

You might have to get reservations to even your regular burger joint down here, but you won’t be disappointed. Thanks to the recent addition of the Morgan Ave green line station, it’s no longer a transit desert.

If you’re holding down a job in the loop, you can walk to work on a nice day. In the evening, you can take in a beer from one of the many still-existing dives or catch some music at one of the many dance nights and raves that still pop up.

No matter what age you are, if you’ve got a lust for life, this is the place for you.

3. Ukrainian Village/West Town

Ukrainian village is one of the cutest areas of Chicago. While it’s seen a lot of new construction, many of the old buildings remain and are still as sturdy as ever. These brick buildings range from single family homes to walk up apartments and duplexes.

You’ll find parks galore, easy walks to bustling shopping and dining areas like Wicker Park and Logan Square, and plenty of quiet streets. If your dream is to have just enough of a yard for a Pomeranian to make a kingdom and a short and easy walk to the Blue Line, you’ll love West Town.

West Town isn’t one of those neighborhoods that’s cool because of what outsiders have brought in. West Town is cool because of what it already has. While some people try to fake it, there’s no way to fake the real feeling of being in a neighborhood that some people have been in for generations.

Whether you’re there for a short while or planning to make your home, you’ll find shops, parks, bars, and restaurants to keep you entertained for years to come. Head on over to the Innertown Pub or Chipp Inn for an authentic Chicago feel.

4. Pilsen

Pilsen is a lovely neighborhood that’s been the home of a large population of Mexican families for the last few generations. You’ll find the National Museum of Mexican Art here as well as lots of delicious and unique restaurants.

While the neighborhood has faced difficult gentrification in recent years, long-time residents are still friendly and welcoming to newcomers. This is the kind of neighborhood that you should move to if you love Mexican food and culture. Immerse yourself in the local politics and social networks and you’ll find that it will reward you.

So long as you move here hoping to contribute to what the neighborhood has to offer, you’ll become a valued neighbor and a contributor to its already vibrant life. Block parties, street fairs, and cookouts are constant in this neighborhood, which gives you the perfect opportunity to rub elbows with your neighbors.

5. Hyde Park

Hyde Park is a neighborhood steeped in history, both recent and far gone.

If you have an interest in architecture, you’ll love Hyde Park for its several Frank Lloyd Wright houses. If you’re interested in new thought and politics, the various schools at the University of Chicago offer constant guest speakers and presentations.

On top of everything, you’ll see some of the most beautiful parks and lakeside views in all of the city. The nearby Hyde Park Art Center will bring all the culture of the world right to your doorstep.

While Hyde Park is a little bit harder to get to than other neighborhoods, if you’re near Lake Shore Drive, you’ll get express buses galore to bring you to the loop.

Neighborhoods in Chicago For Every Type

No matter what your personality type, there are neighborhoods in Chicago for you to choose from. While amenities will vary depending on what you’re looking for from your new home, you’ll find a lot to love about whatever neighborhood you choose.

If you’re looking to hire the perfect realtor, check out our guide for how to pick the perfect match.

real estate tips

8 Profit-Making Tips for Investing In Real Estate

The real estate industry is experiencing a meteoric rise. More people are buying homes now than they had over the last four years. Given the strong economy and record low unemployment rates, consumer confidence is up, businesses are making more money and are purchasing more commercial locations.

What does all of this mean for you as a real estate investor?

Huge opportunities.

There has not been a more opportune time in recent years than right now to get your feet wet in real estate and start making money. Whether you’re a newbie to real estate or a seasoned professional, it’s always a good thing to do research and figure out methods, tips, and tricks on how you can make the most out of your investments.

To help push you down your path to financial success, our team of real estate experts has put together this list profit-making real estate tips you should consider with your current and future investments!

1. Location, Location, Location

We are going to open up our list with one of the most often spoken phrases in real estate: location, location, location! Just because those three words are uttered so frequently, doesn’t make them any less important.

When you’re investing in real estate, whether your intention with a property is to flip or rent, you need to be mindful of who your consumer is and how your property’s location serves them.

For example, if you purchase a commercial location with the intention of renting to a business, ask yourself, is your property located in a place that gets foot traffic? If it’s not, your options will be limited to non-consumer facing businesses which will decrease competition and what you can ask for in rent.

The same goes for purchasing rental units in an undesirable area. While there is always somebody out there that your location will work for, understanding who that person is and how much they’ll pay can help you purchase your property at the right price and manage your expectations.

2. Look For Wholesale Prices

When buying investment properties, one of the best real estate tips we can offer is to find properties at incredibly low prices. Seems self-explanatory but there is a catch.

Properties that are priced to move typically need a little TLC.

We are here to tell you that the small fixes and minor renovations you put into a property are well worth your time if the price is right.

3. Understand Taxes

There are tax implications to real estate investing both good and bad.

Be sure to understand what property taxes you’ll be liable for and factor them into your rental rates or sale price. On the positive side of taxes, get familiar with things like depreciation write-offs and other benefits to make sure you don’t overpay Uncle Sam.

4. Keep Your Credit Solid

Unless you’re flush with cash, real estate investing will take borrowing some money. That’s why one of the powerful real estate tips you can leverage to ensure you can borrow money fast and cheap is having awesome credit.

Bad credit means borrowing limited amounts at high interest rates and with steep fees. Those expenses will eat away at your profits.

We recommend rehabbing your credit if it’s poor before diving too deep into real estate investing.

5. Help Your Property Outpace Inflation

An inexperienced real estate investor might buy a property, see that it goes up in value over a year by a few thousand dollars and think they’ve turned a profit. Because of inflation, that profit doesn’t mean as much as it seems.

To make sure that your property grows in value at a pace that exceeds inflation, consider making cost-effective upgrades to it that will pay for themselves multiple times over in increased rent or sale price!

6. Don’t Knock Renting

One of the most common real estate investing avenues new investors go down is flipping homes. While lucrative, flipping homes isn’t for everyone.

For an alternative money-making real estate venture, consider becoming a landlord. Purchase a property then charge in rent just enough to cover your taxes, mortgage, and maintenance expenses.

Once your mortgage is paid off, most of the rent you collect will be profit!

7. Think of Incremental Income Opportunities

Not all of your real estate profits need to come in the way of selling a property or rent. If you own a property in a good location, consider finding creative ways to increase their margins.

For example, if you have a centrally located apartment complex that has a big parking lot, make that lot permit-only and rent out a-la-carte additional spaces to tenants and even people who live elsewhere!

8. Remember the 1% Rule

This is one of the golden real estate tips for soon-to-be landlords. If you’re purchasing a rental property, be sure that what you can charge in rent covers at least 1% of your purchase price each month.

So, if you purchase a rental property at $100,000, ask yourself, “Can I rent this property out for at least $1000 per month?”

If you can, you’ve found an excellent deal!

Wrapping Up Real Estate Tips for Current and Prospective Investors

Whether you’re new to or a veteran in the real estate trade, there is serious money to be made. To claim your piece of the pie, start by taking into consideration the real estate tips we’ve listed above.

With those guiding principals at your back, you’ll significantly boost your chances of making worth-while investments and paving the way to the financially successful future you desire!

Are you looking to buy your first investment property in the Chicago area? Maybe you’re looking to sell an existing property for top dollar? Either way, our #1 ranked Chicago real estate team can help.

At Chicago Real Estate Agents, we’ve been helping investors, business owners, families and more get incredible outcomes for all of their real estate related needs.

Check out some of our glowing testimonials and, when you’re ready, contact us to get the wheels turning on your next big real estate venture!

home seller

The Ultimate Guide for First Time Home Sellers

Are you soon to be a first-time home seller?

If so, you’re not alone. 5.5 million people sold their homes in 2017, many for the first time.

While buying a home often centers around sentiment and emotion, selling a home is more about numbers and logic. What can you do to maximize your home’s profit potential and get the best possible sale price?

If you’re looking for home seller tips, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll reveal 10 expert tips for the first-time home seller.

1. Start with a Plan

Few things in life can you feel less in control than selling your home. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by outlining a clear plan and your top priorities.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Will you hire a real estate agent?
  • How will you set your price?
  • How will you stage your home?
  • What will you leave behind or take with you?
  • Are you more worried about closing quickly or getting your asking price?

There are no right or wrong answers here. The idea is to determine what you want out of the sale so you can focus your attention where it’s needed most.

As an example, what if you’re experiencing financial distress and hope to get sell your home fast? It might be possible to find an agent who will make a cash offer and buy your home “as is” — no repairs required.

2. Consider the Timing

Did you know that the time of year you list your home can make a major difference in the selling process?

It’s true. While it’s possible to buy and sell homes at any time of year, research shows that May is the optimum month to place your house on the market.

You also need to consider what’s happening in your personal life. Have you recently gone through a divorce, a death in the family, or another stressful life event? You may want to allow some time to pass before making the major decision to sell your home.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

The seemingly endless websites to help you sell your home may convince you to try it on your own.

You’re welcome to take this route, of course, but there are compelling reasons not to. The real estate industry is a complex world. Your best bet of navigating it smoothly (and getting the best price for your home) is with the help of an agent.

Are you selling a home in the Chicago area? Click here to learn more about our team of experienced agents.

4. Set the Right Price

We’re sure your sister’s husband’s former roommate who dabbles in real estate means well.

But dabbling in real estate is not the same as the ability to expertly analyzing home values in your neighborhood.

Again, this is where a trustworthy agent is your most valuable ally. They’ll prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) to determine a fair and accurate price to list your home.

5. Learn How to Stage Your Home

If you haven’t already, now is the time to boost your home’s curb appeal.

You don’t have to make major renovations, but there’s a lot you can do to make your home more visually appealing. A fresh coat of paint, a well-maintained yard, and a pressure-washed driveway can make a world of difference.

You’ll also want to declutter your home before you schedule any showings. Experts recommend removing about half the furniture from your home, if possible.

6. Hire a Professional Photographer

This is another step many first-time home sellers overlook.

Hopefully, if you’ve hired a reputable agent, they’ll arrange for professional photographs of your home. If this isn’t included, don’t try to sell your home with a few hastily snapped pictures from your smartphone.

A skilled photographer will know exactly how to photograph each room to make it appealing to potential buyers. You should also consider a video or virtual tour of your home, as this can entice more buyers to schedule a showing.

7. Be Flexible About Showings

Showings can feel like an imposition on your life, but they’re a necessary part of the selling process.

If possible, arrange to go away during the first weekend or week your home is on the market. This will allow your agent to schedule multiple showings (or even an open house) without infringing on your personal life.

8. Consider Hosting an Open House

Is your home located in an area that receives a lot of traffic?

If so, you’re in an ideal position to host an open house. Not all home buyers spend hours scouring the internet for listings–some prefer to get in the car and view houses in person.

Who knows? Your ideal buyer may pass your open house and take the opportunity to view it on the spot.

9. Review Your Online Listings

Your agent will do their best to ensure accurate listings. Still, the person who knows your house best is you.

It doesn’t hurt to double-check your online listings to ensure they’re accurate and complete. If you notice an important feature is missing, be sure to contact your agent and let them know.

10. Respond Quickly to Any Offers

So, you’ve listed your house and had a few showings. Now your very first offer has rolled in.

Congratulations! You’re one step closer to selling your house.

Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long before you respond to the offer. Many offers have an expiration date, and there’s always the chance the buyer could find another house in the meantime.

Now’s not the time to waffle about accepting the offer, making a counteroffer, or waiting for a better offer. Respond promptly to all offers that come your way to maximize your chances of selling.

First-Time Home Seller: Don’t Go It Alone

Now that you’re familiar with these real estate tips, you’re better prepared to put your house on the market.

The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. Whether you’re a first-time home seller or you’re looking for expert guidance on the selling process, we’re here to help.

And whenever you’re ready, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. We look forward to helping you sell your home as smoothly (and profitably) as possible!

home buyers guide

The Ultimate Home Buyers Guide

Buying your first home will be one of the most significant moments in your life. It’s a huge step toward stability and financial happiness. But if you’re like most first-time home buyers, you have no idea how to do it.

To make things easier, we’ve put together the ultimate home buyers guide to get you started off on the right foot. Don’t be intimidated, it’s easier than you think.

So, read on and become a home buying expert with this article provided by our team or Chicago Real Estate Agents.

But first.

Are You Actually Ready to Buy a Home?

We don’t mean to insult you. We know you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t think you were ready. But buying a home is a big deal, and it deserves a lot of thought.

If you have a steady career, money in the bank, and a desire to settle down, then by all means, buy a house. But if you’re uncertain, there’s no shame in renting. And in competitive buying markets, renting might actually make more sense.

If you’re still confused, this tool is a good place to start.

Save up for a Down Payment

So you decided you’re ready to buy a home. Now, you need to figure out how to pay for it.

If you’re like most buyers, you’ll take out a mortgage. But even with a mortgage, you’ll need to have a lot of cash on hand to make the down payment.

To get a low-interest rate loan, you’ll want to make a down payment of at least 10% of the house’s value. With the median American home selling for more than $300,000, that’ll be thousands of dollars

Yes, it’s true you can take out a mortgage with a smaller down payment, and we’ll talk more about that below. But if you have good credit and want a low-interest rate, 10% should be your goal.

Start Shopping Around for a Mortgage

But you haven’t even chosen your new house yet! We know. But trust us. It’s important that you talk to lenders and get pre-approved for a loan before you start your house search.

Note that we said ‘lenders’ not ‘lender’. Take your time and talk to as many lenders as possible; you want options. With interest rates on sums this large, every fraction of a percent counts.

Prepare all your financial documents to make your search easier. You should even bring proof of employment and a list of references.

This is also when you’ll be deciding which type of loan to take out. Again, if you have good credit and a large down payment saved up, you probably want to go with a low-interest conventional loan.

If your financial situation isn’t quite as rosy, an FHA loan may be a good option. You’ll only need to pay 3.5% of the loan value for your down payment and interest rates are very reasonable. The downside is that you’ll have to pay for mortgage insurance.

There are other options for buyers with special circumstances, such as the VA loan for veterans and the USDA loans for rural buyers.

The best way to prepare yourself for this process is by doing some extra research on the mortgage process before you set out.

Ultimately, your goal is to be pre-approved for a mortgage before you start shopping. That way, you’ll know how much you can afford to spend on a house, and sellers will know you’re trustworthy.

Start Your Search

You’ve finally arrived at the fun part. But try to keep a cool head on your shoulders. It’s easy to get carried away and make mistakes.

Remember that it’s ok to look for a house that costs less than your pre-approved loan amount. Once you’re living in a new house, you’ll be paying for a lot more than you realize. On top of your mortgage, you’ll be paying insurance, taxes, and maintenance, not to mention the initial cost of furnishing your new home.

Rather than aim for the most expensive house, look for a house with good value. A house is an investment after all.

Investigate any projects the city is planning to build in your area. A new park could increase the value of your home, while a new overpass could mean trouble.

Pay attention to the quality of local schools even if you don’t have kids. School quality not only raises your home value in the long term, it’s also a good indicator of the area’s overall economic health.

And, of course, make sure you like the neighborhood.

What about the house itself?

Make sure your new house has a great kitchen and nice bathrooms. Other rooms can be spruced up with new furniture and a paint job, but remodeling a kitchen or bathroom is difficult and expensive.

Don’t get tricked into buying a fixer-upper. Little fixes here and there will add up, and if the fixes were easy, the seller probably would have taken care of them.

Choose a house with natural light and a tasteful floor plan. You want your new house to feel good, right?

And, remember, you don’t need to do all this alone.

Find a good realtor to help you out. Now, we know what you’re thinking. Why do you need a realtor in the age of online real estate?

First, a realtor can provide you with advice and local knowledge that you’d never be able to find online. Second, having a realtor will be hugely beneficial in the final negotiation process. And third, you won’t actually have to pay for a realtor because their salary comes out of the sales commision.

Your Ultimate Home Buyers Guide

Now that you’ve read our ultimate home buyers guide, you’re ready to start your journey toward homeownership. But, just to be safe, we recommend you read it over again. This is a big decision after all.

If you have any further questions about the process, don’t hesitate to contact us. And if you’re looking for a home in the Chicago area, we’d love to work with you. Let’s start today!

how to hire a realtor

How to Hire a Realtor You Won’t Regret

Selling your home is a big deal with so much to do.

You need to pack and move your stuff. Maybe say goodbye to your neighborhood and the familiarity of routines and knowing where everything is.

There’s no question, moving is stressful. So much so that many people find it more stressful than divorce, according to one poll on the subject.

One way to not add to stress and anxiety of selling your home and needing to move is to hire the best Chicago Real Estate Agent for you. But choosing an agent isn’t something people do every day. That can make it an overwhelming experience.

To help you know how to hire a realtor, we’ve compiled these valuable tips:

Check Their Credentials

Before you hire a real estate agent, check his or her credentials.

To legally sell real estate, a person must receive specialized training from authorized educators. They also must pass state-regulated exams in order to receive a license to sell real estate.

Those licenses are issued and managed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). You can use their license lookup tool to check the status of anyone’s license.

If the agent you’re considering hiring also lists awards, verify those with the relevant organization.

Google Them

This is basic but often overlooked so it’s worth stating. Searching for the real estate agent’s name can give you insight into their style, interests, and impact on previous clients.

So much of finding the best realtor is being on the same wavelength. If you find it difficult to talk with a real estate agent or you don’t like the way they conduct business, they aren’t the one to help you with this important life and financial transaction.

Read their profiles on business sites likes LinkedIn. But also check their personal social media feeds and Google reviews.

Ask About Their Experience

Checking their digital footprint can give you a general sense of who they are and how they might be able to help you sell your house.

But there’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation to find out more about their experience at selling real estate.

Think of it as a job interview where you’re the boss. Because you are. You’re looking to hire a real estate agent and they want the job.

Through conversation, ask questions such as:

  • How long have you been in real estate?
  • How many houses have you sold?
  • Have you sold houses in my neighborhood? If so, which ones?
  • What do you understand my situation to be? (This helps you know if the real estate agent knows how to listen.)
  • What’s your recommended strategy for getting the best price for my home?
  • Do you have a network of recommended professionals such as lawyers and home inspectors?

A good “interview” conversation should be no less than 20-30 minutes. Try to hold the meeting in your home or a neutral place like a coffee shop.

Meeting for your first serious conversation with a potential real estate agent in their office can make it tough to remain objective.

Look at Their Current Listings

If the agent you’re thinking of hiring has other active listings, spend a little time looking at them.

That doesn’t mean visiting the properties. It means taking a close look at key aspects of the listing. These include:

  • Price
  • Number of days on market
  • Special conditions
  • Quality of description
  • Quality of the photos
  • Where it’s promoted

Paying attention to these aspects of a listing can tell you a lot about the realtor’s style and skill.

If a real estate agent doesn’t have current listings, ask why. Maybe they’re new to the business or just sold several properties at once.

Ask for References

Few people know how to make asking for references a valuable use of time and energy.

It’s not enough to just get names and verify that, yes, they loved working with the real estate agent in question.

Dig a little more. Ask unexpected questions. Listen. Especially to what isn’t said.

Consider asking questions like:

  • How did the experience line up with your expectations?
  • Did the real estate agent deliver on his/her promises? Even the tiniest ones?
  • What was the best thing about having this real estate agent sell your home?
  • Nothing is perfect. What was something that didn’t go as planned? How did the real estate agent handle it?
  • Would you hire this real estate agent to sell your grandmother’s home?

If the reference is a couple, make sure to talk to them together. Watch the face of the person not talking. That’s an easy way to pick up clues that there were some differences in their experiences.

You can then ask the other person a simple question: “Was that your experience too?” Most times, the answer will be yes. But a no could help you know if the real estate agent you’re talking about is right for you.

How to Hire a Realtor When You’re in a Jam

What if you need to sell your home on short notice?

A new job in another state, critical financial burden, and sudden marital breakdown are common reasons for needing to sell your home now.

If you’re in that kind of jam, you want an agent with experience selling homes as-is in Chicago. When there’s no time for staging and engaging marketing campaigns, not every real estate agent knows what to do.

In situations like these, look for a realtor with a track record for finding legitimate buyers who are prepared to close deals quickly and, many times, in cash.

Making a Decision

No matter your situation, do your homework. Find an agent who understands your situation and financial goals related to selling your house.

We, Chicago Real Estate Agents, are a local, family-owned and operated business committed to getting you the greatest profit when selling your home.

We use advanced marketing technology and consistently sell homes within a month. Plus, our listing fees are lower than those of our competitors.

But more than that, we’re here to help you at every step of the journey of selling your home. We focus on customer service and experience at all times and never place a sale before our clients.

And, now that you know how to hire a realtor, we’d be honored to among the real estate agents that you screen. We’re confident that we can meet and exceed your expectations!

Contact us today and start the conversation!

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