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Chicago Real Estate Blog

Owners may defend against building code violations

Vacant buildings can be more than a nuisance, and Chicago authorities make every effort to hold owners accountable for the safety and livability of their buildings. Understandably, if a property is a danger to its residents or others because of building code violations, the owner will likely receive a citation, and fines will begin to accumulate. However, sometimes those violations or dangerous conditions are not within the control of the owner.

A recent fire in the South Side is under investigation, and police are especially concerned because the fire resulted in one man's death. The fire department received a call around 6:45 one morning that an abandoned building was on fire. A second alarm sounded about 15 minutes later, and rescuers worked over four hours extinguishing the flames that spread to an adjacent building. Residents of the adjacent building evacuated, but they informed rescuers that a man had been living in the empty building.

Residential real estate trends perplex Chicago analysts

Chicago residents looking for a new home may already have an idea of the section of the city or suburbs where they want to live. Often homebuyers look for certain areas within their price range because of the schools, proximity to transportation or other amenities that make living there convenient and enjoyable. Keeping an eye on residential real estate listings with such perks may prove frustrating to those who have a wish list that includes a location on the north side of the city.

The fluctuation of available real estate on the north side is puzzling to many analysts. Only a year ago, trend-watchers reported an abundance of available homes in the more elite neighborhoods. The abundance was considered newsworthy because of the shortage of more modestly priced homes throughout the rest of Chicago. Those who were looking to purchase a home had a difficult time finding suitable properties on the market.

Will Amazon bring commercial real estate gold to Chicago?

When the retail giant Amazon announced its search for a location for its second massive headquarters, cities from all over the country began wooing the giant retailer. Chicago threw its hat into the ring, hoping to win the headquarters and all the benefits that come with it. Among those perks include the potential for revitalizing struggling areas, repurposing vacant commercial real estate and, best of all, bringing up to 50,000 employment opportunities to the chosen city.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is in search of a city that fits certain criteria. His headquarters will require some eight million square feet, and he prefers his new offices to be located in a metropolitan area with a million or more residents. There must be an airport nearby, mass transportation and room to grow. Bezos is willing to consider vacant land or land with existing buildings.

Tips to help with buying your first condo

The time you have been working so hard for has finally arrived. You are ready to buy your first condo in Chicago. While there are similarities in buying a house and a condo, there are different things you should consider and different concerns you should have. For example, when you purchase a house, you typically do not have a shared common area for which you and other residents have to pay maintenance fees.

Since Illinois real estate laws can be tricky, it is important to do your research before you jump into making a purchase. Fortunately, your attorney can help you through the process so that you make the right choice regarding a condo. Read further for some tips on buying your first condo.

Reasons for seeking help with landlord services and evictions

While tenants may complain that landlords treat them unfairly, landlords also have their share of issues with tenants. Fortunately for many in Illinois, rental contracts and leases provide an excellent guide for the rights and responsibilities of those involved in renting property. Nevertheless, eviction is sometimes a necessary step. Because of the complex nature of property management, some managers rely on professional assistance for landlord services and evictions.

Landlords cannot indiscriminately evict their tenants. In fact, the laws protecting tenants allow a landlord to begin the eviction process only for specific reasons. For example, if a tenant is using a unit for an illegal purpose, such as running a business when the property is zoned residential, a landlord may have cause to remove the renter. Of course, any illegal business, such as selling or manufacturing drugs, is certainly a breach of a leasing agreement and may result in an eviction.

Harsher penalties for Illinois building code violations

Cities and communities across Illinois are fighting against decay and crime, and several of these municipalities are holding landlords responsible. By tightening regulations and penalties regarding nuisance properties, authorities hope to reduce the number of properties used as fronts for drug houses and other types of crime. Owners cited for building code violations may find themselves facing hefty fines and more frequent inspections.

In at least one community, police and city council members are working to enforce new codes to force property owners to keep their buildings in safe and livable condition. The city intends to register every unit of every building and institute scheduled inspections at the expense of the building owners. Currently, buildings are inspected only when someone files a complaint.

Urb-suburban is new commercial real estate trend

For many developers and owners of office buildings in Illinois, a big question is whether to focus on real estate spaces in urban or suburban areas. Some have chosen to take advantage of both areas by tapping into the new urb-suburban vibe in commercial real estate. This concept is a way of describing the placement of suburban office properties in pedestrian-friendly settings that offer easy access to urban amenities.

The urban amenities that can easily be accessed from suburban office locations include housing, transit, retail and restaurants. According to industry experts, a suburban office submarket that has urban characteristics is in an ideal position to take advantage of occupier demand. Investors also benefit from the opportunity to buy properties at more affordable prices in locations that could see growth in the future.

Residential real estate bargains found in short sales

House hunting can be an exciting adventure, and sometimes a gem can drop right into the buyer's lap. If the deal goes smoothly, the new homeowners may be able to move in less than two months. However, some Illinois shoppers may be looking for a real bargain, and one option they may consider is a short sale. Short sales are often a complex and frustrating aspect of residential real estate, but if successful, buyers can land a sweet deal at a rock-bottom price.

A short sale typically occurs when the homeowners want to sell their home to avoid foreclosure. They often owe more on the house than the house is worth, and they need to sell the property quickly to avoid going deeper into debt. The problem with purchasing a short sale is that, in addition to being accepted by the homeowners, the buyer's offer must have approval from a series of individuals associated with the lender. This takes considerably longer than a regular sale, sometimes as long as four months.

A delicate balance for Chicago commercial real estate

Chicago has not been immune from the trickle-down effect of recent retail struggles. As large retailers close or downsize the brick-and-mortar sides of their corporations, commercial real estate owners across the country are left with vacancies. However, savvy investors are finding success by planning the right ventures in the best locations.

Property owners in areas with lower population are not succeeding like those in more densely populated areas. Likewise, those shopping centers that lease to retail establishments like clothing stores and electronics may struggle more than those with grocery stores or restaurants, which continue to thrive. Those with property to lease downtown or on the North Side may find themselves with fewer vacancies than those in the west suburbs.

Is a neighbor's overgrown tree scaring potential buyers away?

Buying a home can be a difficult and complicated process. People don't want to inherit baggage when moving into a new home. That could include needing to deal with an inconsiderate or difficult neighbor. If you have a neighbor who planted a tree on or near the property line, that tree could be a source of future issues. Will it produce fruit or flowers that will drop and cause a mess? Will leaves require regular raking? Buyers are concerned about future expenses, including property damage if a branch comes down on your porch or fence.

Trees can be a point of pride and even add value to a home. However, when a tree's branches or roots encroach on your property, it can cause issues if you want to sell. How can you hope to highlight your yard if it's completely overshadowed by limbs from a neighboring tree? Will buyers be able to visualize themselves enjoying time outside, or will they just move on to a place where they don't have to worry about overgrowth, spitting sap or even leaf drop in their yard?