Everything You Need To Know About Luxury Condos in Chicago – June 2018 | Zenlist

A Luxury Condo in Chicago

Chicago is seeing an increasing interest in luxury condominiums throughout the city.

Despite their higher price and often smaller square footage, Chicagoans are gravitating toward these properties for their unique designs, layouts and finishes, as well as their prime locations and high-end amenities.

Particularly popular are small- and mid-size boutique condos – ones with three to five bedrooms and around 1,800 to 2,100 square feet. Though their price per square foot may be more extravagant than most traditional condos in the area, they come with an air of luxury and elegance those other properties just can’t offer.

The Luxury Difference


What Defines a Luxury Condo?


When compared to traditional ones, luxury condos usually differ in three main areas: design/layout, finishing, and amenities.


Design-wise, luxury condos often offer a non-standard layout that really speaks to Chicago buyers. They might have intermingled indoor and outdoor spaces, integrating the living area with the balcony, or they could have unique corridors or bottom-floor bedrooms that offer added privacy. Luxury condos also typically come with slightly higher square footage – one of the many the reasons they fetch a higher price tag.


The finishes in Chicago’s luxury condos also set them apart from traditional properties in the area. Timeless, classic and simple, they utilize top-notch materials that enhance the space’s aesthetic, while also standing the test of time. Many luxury condos also utilize innovative or sustainable finishes, which improve the property’s value and branding, as well as cut down on the resident’s energy bills and environmental footprint.


Amenities are what really set luxury condos apart for most buyers. Many units come with high-tech smart home technology, extra-large master bedrooms, rain showers and balconies with a view. The buildings they’re housed in often have serious perks, too – things like wine rooms, 24-hour security, fitness centers, rooftop pools and indoor or even heated parking.

Who Buys Chicago’s Luxury Condos?

Luxury condos are particularly popular with buyers moving back into the city after leaving a more suburban living arrangement. They’re often used to more space, have multiple vehicles and just want to enjoy the city life with more perks than traditional condos offer.

Many couples purchase luxury condos in hopes of raising their kids there – especially if the condo building is located in a great school district, and young, tech professionals also gravitate toward more expensive condos, due to the status and amenities they have to offer.

Most luxury condo buyers are looking for a long-term, permanent living space. They want more room and somewhere they can put down roots for the long haul. (This is likely why the three-bedroom, 2,000-square foot + luxe condo is generally the most popular!)

Where to Look for Luxury Condos in Chicago

There are two types of luxury condos Chicagoans typically look for: lakefront ones with city views and non-lakefront condos with quieter, more private surroundings.

Popular areas for lakefront luxury condos are the West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. Condo buildings in these areas typically have “blended price” options, meaning they’re housed in the same community as non-luxury units, but demand a higher price point because of their better views or more square footage.

The West Loop is Chicago’s top spot for lakefront condos, offering great views of the city and the lake below. For many, city views are more desirable. (Lakes look great in the sunlight, but at night they’re not visible. The city’s alive 24/7 no matter what time of day it is.)

Lakefront condos have the highest price points of all luxury condo options and can run anywhere from $700 to $800 per square foot. The average lakefront three-bedroom, 2,000-square foot condo starts at $1.2 million.

Non-lakefront condos are popular in River North, Bucktown/Wicker Park and North Center, which includes Roscoe Village and Lincoln Square. These condos are often situated in smaller buildings that leverage their neighborhood’s unique branding, personality and vibe.

Chicago’s non-lakefront condos come with top-notch amenities and amazing rooftops, and though they lack city or lakeside views, they don’t typically come cheap. Generally, they run between $400 and $500 per square foot and about $750K to $900K for a three-bedroom, 2,000-square foot home. In River North, prices are even higher. Units in this in-demand neighborhood are often just below those of the West Loop – the city’s hands-down most expensive area for luxury properties.

Going Luxe in Chicago

Chicago’s luxury condo market has the edge over other big cities. With larger properties than typically seen in New York, San Francisco or other major metros, Chicago’s luxury condos offer residents big city living with more space and more amenities. Plus, spread throughout the city’s unique neighborhoods and locations, they also allow buyers to pick and choose the absolute best spot for their preferences, budget and lifestyle. It’s this flexibility and versatility that has luxury condo purchases on the rise in Chicago.


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#framethathood Photo Contest – Chicago Neighborhoods We Love | Zenlist




@rosi.visuals, with a view of Chicago’s River near River North and Streeterville.

Here’s the collection of images from our contest

Our team picked this image because it’s matching the competition criteria, and we believe it catches Chicago’s mood and feel. There are other honorable mentions such as danny_7raceur, who didn’t follow our guidelines by uploading more than 6 images. Nonetheless, his pictures are great! Scottterry submitted some awesome drone shots and hennytron had some great, real street photography shots.

We’re looking forward to our next contest, we will be posting more images from this contest later on.


We thank everybody for your participation!

We are on a mission to represent the uniqueness of Chicago’s Neighborhoods. It is a big challenge considering there are over 240 of them! We want to start from our top 10 picks. Submit your best, original images with the hashtag #framethathood and get the chance to win a $150 Gift Card.


Submit your best pictures of the following neighborhoods*

Gold Coast
Lincoln Park
Hyde Park
Lake View
Wicker Park
West Loop
Logan Square
Near North Side

And get the chance to win a $150 Amazon Gift Card!

* Each participant can submit a maximum of 6 images. Only 2 images per neighborhood are allowed. The winner will be publicly announced on the Zenlist.com blog and social profiles. More images = Higher chances to win!

Step 1. Follow our Instagram account @zenlistcom

Step 2. Tag your image with #framethathood and tag us @zenlistcom


Zenlist’s “#framethathood” Photo Contest begins May 10, 2018, at 1 a.m., and ends Jun 10, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST).


To be eligible, a participant must:

– Be at least eighteen (18) years of age or older
– Have an established Instagram profile with a proven history of posting & engagement
– Submit only own work and prove ownership of the images if requested

Individuals affiliated with Zenlist, including employees, trustees, interns, volunteers, fellows, research associates and their immediate families (children, siblings and spouses) are not eligible for any prize. Zenlist will determine winners’ eligibility in its sole discretion.


Images will be judged on originality, technical excellence, composition, and number of likes. The judges are a panel of Zenlist staff members and/or guest judges, familiar with photography and responsible for Zenlist’s overall design and creative direction.

Zenlist shall determine winner eligibility in its sole and absolute discretion. All decisions made by the judges are final. Zenlist will notify the winner via the contact information provided at the time of entry; Zenlist may disqualify anyone who fails to respond to the notification within five business days. Please do not contact us about the status of entries or judging.


The winner will be rewarded with a $150 gift card approximately 10 business days from the end of the contest.


All photographs should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared, however, photos may be digitally altered beyond standard optimization (removal of dust, cropping, reasonable adjustments to exposure, color and contrast, etc.), and multiple exposures that have been combined to produce a single high dynamic range (HDR) image are acceptable. Images with text watermarks exhibiting the photographer’s name may be entered, but will not be considered for judging.

By entering the contest you retain your rights to your photograph; however, you grant Zenlist (and those authorized by Zenlist) a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or later developed, for any Zenlist purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion of Zenlist and its website, exhibitions, and commercial products, including but not limited to Zenlist publications. Zenlist will always attribute the image to the author. Zenlist will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses.

For a photo in which a person is recognizable, you must secure a model release from the subject or, in the case of a minor, the subject’s parent or guardian and provide it to Zenlist upon request.

Your submission indicates that you have read and agree to all of the rules and regulations.

What Does Contingent Mean In Real Estate? – Real Estate Market Guides | Zenlist

What does contingent mean? In real-estate contingent means the seller has accepted a purchase offer, but the sale is contingent upon certain conditions which have to be met.

In the real estate world, contingency clauses – also referred to simply as “contingencies” – exist to protect both sides of a transaction. They provide an escape hatch of sorts, allowing the buyer or seller to back out of the contract should certain conditions not be met.

How Do Contingencies Work?


A contingency clause defines a specific action or condition that must be completed before the contract can be considered binding. You will often find these clauses in real estate contracts or as part of the initial purchase offer on a home.

To get an idea of how contingencies work when buying a home, it’s important to first understand how a real estate transaction functions. These typically go as follows:

  • A buyer makes an offer to the seller, who then accepts or rejects the bid.
  • The seller may choose to counter the offer or negotiate parts of the deal until both sides are in agreement on the terms. If the parties cannot agree, they go their separate ways and no obligation is made.
  • If they agree to the terms, the buyer makes an earnest money deposit, indicating their good faith and intent to purchase the property. This is typically 1 percent of the sales price of more. These funds are usually held by an escrow company until closing day.

Contingencies may come into play as part of:

  1. The initial offer. The buyer may include contingencies in their bid from the outset.
  2. The negotiation phase. Either the buyer or seller may opt to add (or remove) contingencies as part of the bargaining process.


Contingencies: The Nitty Gritty


Contingencies always come attached to a deadline. If the buyer or seller has not canceled the contract by the deadline, they can no longer back out of the deal.

Contingency clauses also include details as to what conditions must be met, as well as the precise steps of the cancellation process should a party decide to pull out.

Regardless of what side of the transaction you are on, you should always make note of these contingency details when considering an offer or contract. Make sure to add them to your calendar to prevent missing any important deadlines.

Types of Contingencies


There are generally four types of contingencies you’ll come across in real estate transactions. These include:

  • The Appraisal Contingency – This is a buyer-initiated contingency that offers options should the property appraisal comes in under the purchase price. The buyer can choose to either renegotiate the purchase price or back out of the deal if an agreement cannot be reached.
  • The Home Inspection Contingency – This is another contingency designed to protect the buyer, giving them a “due diligence” period during which they can have the home inspected by a professional. Should issues arise during these inspections, the buyer can negotiate repairs, renegotiate the price to account for the condition of the home or cancel the contract entirely. Home inspection/due diligence periods typically last anywhere from three days to two weeks.
  • The Mortgage Approval Contingency – This contingency protects the buyer in the event their loan terms change significantly or they are unable to secure financing. Typically, if a lender offers a different deal than states in the initial offer, changes the loan type or requires more of a down payment, the buyer can cancel the contract and will no longer be on the hook for the purchase. Almost all buyer use these contingencies unless they are paying with cash.
  • The Insurance Approval Contingency – Another common contingency, this one says the buyer can back out of the transaction should they be unable to secure homeowner’s insurance at an affordable price. Though it doesn’t happen often, sometimes insurance companies will refuse to cover a home if it’s had mold or other serious issues in the past.
  • Right to Assign Contingency – A standard contingency for real estate investors. A wholesale contract could include an Assignment of Contract, which gets an investor the option to back out of a deal if unable to assign the real estate contract to another buyer in a certain timeframe. This contingency is used by wholesalers to protect themselves in the event a buyer defaults.


It is important to understand what does contingent mean because a home is usually the biggest purchase of a person’s life, and contingencies such as these ensure that investment is a sound one. They afford buyers the chance to assess the property, make sure its value is appropriate and secure financing to cover the costs. If the conditions of the contingencies aren’t met, the buyer can back out and find a property that better suits their long-term financial needs.

Keep in mind, as each contingency period ends, you must either remove the contingency from the contract (in writing), elect to move forward with the transaction or cancel the contract.

Waiving Contingencies


In some cases, you may want to waive contingencies, either when first presenting an offer or during the negotiation phase. You should only waive contingencies if you are absolutely sure of your decision. Canceling the contract without a contingency would cause you to lose your earnest money deposit.

The most common reasons for waiving contingencies are:

  • To stand out from other buyers – If you’re in a bidding war or making an offer in a particularly competitive market, waiving contingencies may make you a more attractive buyer to sellers. Many buyers will waive inspection or appraisal contingencies in order to stand out and secure a property when competition is hot. In San Francisco, a seller’s market, waving contingencies and all cash offers are very common and often the best way to win against other bidders.
  • To speed up the closing process – You can waive contingencies after you’ve already put an offer on a home, skipping things like appraisals, inspections, and other time-consuming steps. This can speed up the purchase process — often a benefit to both buyer and seller.

In general, sellers are always going to favor offers with fewer or shorter contingency periods, as this gives them more confidence in the buyer and their ability to follow through. Most sellers want to avoid going back to the drawing board, which would only draw out the process and delay their move.

Days on Market (DOM) – Real Estate Market Guides | Zenlist

Days on Market is the age of a real estate listing. It’s how many days the specific home listing you’re looking at has been up and active on market.

If you’ve ever looked at an online home listing, or more in general at the real estate market, you’ve likely seen the initials “DOM” somewhere on the page. An acronym for Days on Market, DOM might seem like just another one of the million data points listed for a home, but the truth is it’s actually quite important. Days on Market, along with median home price is one of the key metrics to evaluate a real estate purchase.

What Does Days on Market Mean?

Put simply, average Days on Market is the age of a real estate listing. It’s how many days the specific home listing you’re looking at has been up and active.

Typically, showings start the day a home is listed, so if you’re looking at a property that was listed 14 days ago, other buyers have been considering the property for about two weeks.

Every day a home is listed as active, which means it’s sellers are currently accepting offers, the DOM stat will go up. When the home’s status is changed to pending (after the seller has accepted a bid), days on market will stop accruing.

Hot or Not?

The DOM stat is a great gauge of how a specific housing market is performing. In a hot market, where demand from buyers is high, DOMs tend to be on the low end. In markets where demand isn’t so great (or inventory of housing is particularly high), DOMs are usually higher.

If you’re considering multiple cities or markets to buy in, you can typically get a feel for how competitive each market will be by looking at the average DOM for each area. The lower the number, the more competition you’ll likely face in your home search.

How is average DOM calculated for an area?

To determine the average days on market, agents take the last 30 days to six months of sold listings, add together the days on market (before each listing went pending) and divide that total by the number of listings.

For example, say an agent had six listings in December. Three of those listings were on the market for five days, one listing was on the market for 21 days, and two were listed for 30. The average days on market for December, in this example, is derived by adding 5 + 5 + 5 + 21 + 30 + 30, which equals 96 days. Then dividing 96 by six listings will equal 16 average days on market. In most markets, this is a on the low end of DOMs, indicating a “hotter” area and rising buyer demand.

What DOM Means for Home Buyers?

DOM can be a powerful tool to use as a home buyer. Both long and short DOMs can give you insight into the marketplace, the sellers and their potential for negotiation. All of this can help guide your approach to buying.

A long DOM, for example, means a home has been on the market for quite a while. Knowing this, it’s safe to assume the seller is becoming desperate to get the property off their hands. This can mean they’re more willing to negotiate on price.

Long DOMs can also indicate something is wrong with the property, and that buyers are visiting the home but not putting in any offers. You can do two things with this information: avoid the property knowing it may have some flaws, or use those flaws as leverage to negotiate a lower price.

There are a few other assumptions that can be made from a long DOM:

  • The property is overpriced. This is very common. Maybe the seller is overzealous about what they can get for their home, or the agent has looked at comparables and believes the property may be worth more than other properties in the area. Either way, approach the home with caution and have your agent evaluate the home’s price before you put in a bid.
  • The seller is not interested in selling quickly. This could be because it’s an extra property they own, it was inherited from a family member, or the sellers have already moved into their new home. Either way, they’re not motivated to get it off the market quickly and are willing to wait around for a higher bid.
  • The market is “cold.” If there’s lots of housing inventory in the area or buying demand is low, homes will simply take a bit longer to sell.
  • Showings haven’t been possible. If the property has tenants, is being refurbished or has other factors at work that preclude buyers from seeing the home, this could result in a longer-than-average DOM.
  • The seller’s agent is unqualified. The problem could be the agent or their lack of skills and experience. Poor listing images, bad marketing, unattractive descriptions or just poor selling skills can all affect a property’s DOM. If the agent is working for a reduced commission, and therefore has less motivation to sell the home, this can also have an impact.

Short DOMs, on the other hand, are typically the sign of a seller’s market, meaning homes are selling fast and properties are in high demand. These hot markets often have a low level of housing inventory as well.

When a home has a short DOM, it indicates the property was just listed. In most cases, sellers are unwilling to negotiate this early in the process unless they are very motivated to leave the property. A short DOM may also mean you’ll need to act fast. Homes sell quickly in hot markets, so if you see a property you like, you’ll want to put in a bid ASAP if you want a chance. Work with your agent to put in a right-sized offer that will get serious consideration from the seller. You may even need to go above listing price to get noticed.

Zenlist Insights: How Agents Relist a Property and Reset Days On Market (link)

Chicago Real Estate Market Sales | 2017-2018 Zenlist

Every city has its own unique real estate market, and Chicago is no different.

We took a look at the last few months of data and found some pretty interesting changes going on in the Windy City – even some that buck national trends. From a surplus of inventory to a penchant for expensive areas and detached homes, Chicago’s buyers are paving their own way in today’s housing market.

New listings are outpacing sales by a big margin

We hear a lot about housing inventory being low, but it seems that’s far from true in Chicago. According to 2017’s data, only about half of the city’s listed properties sold last year. Out of a whopping 61,245 listings, a mere 33,001 sold – just over 53 percent.

And it seems that trend is likely to continue, too. Over the last five years, the number of sales has grown just 5 percent. New listings? Those jumped 22 percent.

The trend is a curious one, especially as much of America faces a severe dearth of homes on the market. Continuing population loss in the city could certainly play a role. Out of the nation’s biggest cities, Chicago experienced the greatest drop in population in 2017, losing about 20,000 residents over the course of the year. It marked the second consecutive year the city netted a loss.

There’s no shortage of detached properties

If you’re on the market for a detached property, you’re definitely in luck; Chicago appears to have them in spades.

Over the past five years, detached property listings have jumped a whopping 25 percent. Demand isn’t keeping up though; sales on detached properties notched up a mere 4 percent for the same period. And in 2017? They rose only 2 percent.

Meanwhile, new listings on attached/condo and multi-unit properties are keeping on point with demand. It begs the question: with all this inventory available, could prices on detached properties soon be on the downturn? Only time will tell.

The best-selling neighborhoods are also the most expensive

Chicago’s most popular neighborhoods certainly aren’t that way for their bargain-basement prices. In fact, many of the city’s top spots are also its costliest.

Take Near North Side, for example. The community claimed the title for most properties sold, but its average price is in the budget for very few. For 2017, the median sales price in the neighborhood was a shocking $1.075 million. This number’s likely influenced by a handful of detached properties in the area, which tend to go for around $1.9 million each. The average condo in the area is just $405,000.

Lincoln Park is another similar region, taking a top-five ranking for most sales and also claiming an average median sales price of $999,000. Detached homes in the area run for a cool $1.58 million, and 200 of those were sold there last year. The neighborhood also has the city’s most expensive condos, averaging about $490K each.

A little pro tip? If you’re interested in either of these communities but don’t have pockets deep enough, you may want to lean toward Near North Side. The average property sold for 31 percent under its listing price last year, so there may be a little wiggle room when it comes to price.