Over six months passed between our first offer in November 2014 and our second in May 2015. Very few houses were listed over the winter. Our options were also limited by the dearth of single-family houses on the market and the limited area in which we were searching. Jarrod drives to work in Evanston, the suburb north of Chicago, and I take the train downtown. We wanted to find something that made our commutes as equitable as possible.
Offer Number 2: Albany Porch Party
Location: Albany Park, or to be more specific: Horner Park.
Why We Made an Offer: Again, location. Bowmanville (which you saw yesterday) was a fluke, location-wise. We never expected that area to be within our reach. Albany Park, however, is a sweet spot of affordability on the north side of Chicago.
CTA access is a high priority for us and there are basically only two affordable Brown Line stops left: Kedzie and Kimball. Kedzie feels nicer, and the neighborhood near it is starting to feel more and more like Lincoln Square/Ravenswood (which is immediately to the east). The downside is that the neighborhood is now priced more and more like Lincoln Square.
The trick is to find something that is decent but not fully renovated.
Listing Price: $350k. (Link to Redfin listing)
Our Offer: $360k. This property, like most houses in the neighborhood, was immediately a multiple offer situation, with the seller’s agent requesting “best and final” within two days. That means you have to throw a strong offer in the pile to be considered.
One of the most important lessons we learned during our house hunt is that — in a competitive seller’s market like Chicago is right now — the offer just gets your foot in the door. The inspection period is a safety net and it is very easy to back out of an offer at that time. So, if you’re leaning strongly toward a house you might as well proceed with an offer and then see how everything shakes out. I wouldn’t recommend making bids on homes you wouldn’t be excited to win, but just remember that an offer is a first date, not a wedding.
In this case, a $10k-over-asking-price offer didn’t even earn us a response from the seller’s agent. The house is still contingent, so we don’t know what the winning offer was, but I’m guessing it was closer to $370k.
This house had a few appealing features, namely the porch, the yard, and the location. Inside the house was eh. We would have made it nice over time, but the living room was quite small (don’t be fooled by the realtor’s wide-angle lens) and no amount of money (well, no amount that we’ll ever have) could have changed that. The addition they plopped on top of the house didn’t include a bathroom, so that space wasn’t as useful as it should have been. We weren’t brokenhearted not to get this one and now — looking back — I’m relieved.
Onward to House Offer Number 3!