Chicago’s Millennium Park


Chicago’s Millennium Park

Chicago’s Millennium Park is a large public park located in the Loop community area of the city. It covers a 24.5 acre section of North Western Grant Park. This park was opened on July 16th 2004, and since then it has become a top tourist destination in Chicago and the Midwest with over 25 million annual visitors. While there are many of reasons to visit this park at any time of the year, here are some highlights to keep in mind when you visit it.


Jay Pritzker Pavilion

This open air pavilion is the crown jewel of Millennium Park. This open air pavilion has 4,000 fixed seats plus an additional lawn seating area that fits 7,000 additional people. The pavilion hosts a wide range of music acts and performances, which range from mainstream bands, classical musicians, opera singers and others. All events at the pavilion are open to the public, including the rehearsals. You could hire a city guide who would take you and inform you of who is rehearsing and at what times.

Other events include the Annual Millennium Park Summer Film Series, where every Tuesday evening at 6:30 pm, from June 13 to September 5th, classic blockbuster films are shown at the pavilion. The event is also completely free, and the movies are shown with concert-hall quality sound system for a memorable movie going experience. Cinephiles and those looking to explore a different side of Chicago will love attending this festival.


AT&T Plaza and Cloud gate

The AT&T Plaza is a public space that hosts the world famous Cloud gate sculpture, designed by the Indian born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor. This sculpture is a highly polished, reflective steel sculpture that looks like a giant bean made of mercury. This culture reflects the city’s skyline, and it’s a huge hit with tourists, and with those looking for the perfect selfie.


Crown Fountain

The crown Fountain is an interactive piece of public art designed by Jaume Plensa., made up of two black granite monoliths facing each other. Each monolith is about 15 feet in height, and have LEDs sandwiched under glass bricks. There is also a reflecting pool placed between the monoliths. The towers uses the LEDs behind the bricks to display faces and animation. On hot days, water spouts from the towers and the faces projected through its LEDs making it look like the subjects mouths are spouting out the water, just like a gargoyle fountain.


Harris Theater

The Harris Theater is a performing arts theater located along the northern edge of Millennium Park on Randolph Street. It was constructed in 2002, in order to have a venue for small and medium-sized music and dance groups. It serves as a home venue for many different music and dance groups including the Chicago ballet, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Old Town School of Folk Music, Hubbard Street dance Chicago, and many others. The theater has hosted several successful jazz performances, and other unique events such as “Imagine Tap”, a show that features an array of tap dance styles. Unlike many other venues of this kind, the Harris’ theater is unique for its industrial aesthetic.


McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink

The McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink is a venue located along the western edge of the Millennium Park. It opened up on December 20th 2001 and became the first attraction in Millennium Park to open. It is generally open for ice skating from mid-November until mid-march. It hosts over 100,000 skaters annually. It is also completely free if you bring your own skates, but if you don’t own a pair, you can always rent them for only $12.

For the rest of the year, the rink gets converted into Chicago’s largest open air dining facility, which also includes a large walk-up bar. The 150-seat outdoor restaurant offers scenic views of Chicago Millennium Park and hosts various culinary events and musical performances during its months of operation.


Lurie Garden

The Lurie Garden is a five-acre garden that pays homage to Chicago’s motto, “Urbs in Horto” (City in a Garden). This garden features thousands of plants of more than 240 varieties. Most of the plants are native to North America, and all are grown organically, with no extra chemicals. Because of the huge plant biomass, it has become the home of migratory birds, butterflies, honeybees and songbirds. The Lurie Garden offers free educational programs, presentations and events for the whole family year-round, and it focuses on presenting an urban model of responsible horticulture.

New Tax Reform Hits Some Chicago Real Estate Home Buyers & Sellers Hard

New Tax Reform Hits Some Chicago Real Estate Home Buyers & Sellers Hard

New Tax Reform Hits Some Chicago Real Estate Home Buyers & Sellers Hard

Many Chicago homeowners, and those who want to be, are about to get run over by a federal tax reform steamroller, and most of them don’t even know it. Fortunately, the real estate industry calls it “an attack on home ownership”, and has lobbied to get some of the more onerous provisions of the bill dropped or modified. While the effect varies from city to city, anyway you look at it many Chicago area home buyers, owners and sellers will be adversely affected by the new tax plan.
For months now, battered GOP Congressmen have been cobbling together new tax legislation at breakneck speed. It’s billed as the biggest middle class tax cut in decades. However, advocates of the new tax plan usually don’t mention that, for many, particularly some homeowners, their taxes will actually go up, and for some, a lot.
One of the more damaging aspects of this tax reform is how it treats deductions homeowners have had for decades. For home buyers it’s a mixed bag.

Overall impact of the new tax reform to the U.S. housing market


According to Moody Analytics, the bill could cut as much as 7% to 10% off the future value of homes across the country, particularly those in high priced and high tax areas. Homeowners, who live in less expensive neighborhoods, with low state and local taxes, will feel less pain and may even see prices drop. The fact is nobody really knows for sure what will happen to home prices.

In Detail

New Tax Reform Hits Some Chicago Real Estate Home Buyers & Sellers Hard

Homeowners will be limited to deducting $10,000 in state, local and property taxes from their federal taxes under the new tax bill. It used to be all state, local and property taxes were deductible. People who live in high tax states like New York, New Jersey, California or high tax urban areas will end up paying more in taxes, not less.
Another gut-punch for homeowners is the lowering of deductions on mortgage interest. As it stands now, you can deduct all of the interest on mortgages that are $1 million or less. The new tax bill reduces that to $750,000.

Home buyers don’t get away clean either because this legislation does not apply to current mortgages. Home sellers, particularly on the coasts where home prices are high, may be inclined to stay put, and not sell because the cost of carrying a new mortgage will rise because of reduced deductions on mortgage interest. This will make the current shortage of housing inventory even worse, driving up prices. However, in states with more modest home prices, home buyers may see prices fall a bit.

Tax Reform: Impact on Illinois Homeowners and Buyers

New Tax Reform Hits Some Chicago Real Estate Home Buyers & Sellers Hard

This tax bill will affect many home buyers and sellers in Illinois, as it does the country as a whole. Illinois has the second highest average property tax rates in the country, just behind New Jersey so a lot of folks are going to take a beating.

In 2014, Illinois taxpayers who itemized deducted $11.5 billion off their federal income taxes, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors. By lowering the amount homeowners can deduct off their taxes and mortgages, hundreds of millions, if not a billions of dollars will, in effect, be transferred out of the state and into Federal coffers. Also, Illinois has one of the highest rates of property tax in the nation. Limiting these deductions will hit homeowners hard, especially those in expensive areas.

This wealth transfer is intended to help cover the cost of the Federal government’s revenue shortfall due to generous tax breaks it gives some in the bill. For example, inheritance tax has been changed and some argue could benefit the wealthy disproportionately. More importantly, corporate tax rates will drop dramatically to 21% from 35%.The tax bill also adds around $1.46 trillion, yes trillion, to the national debt over ten years. The proponents of the tax bill are hoping that the corporate tax breaks will have a trickle-down effect that stimulates the economy and in turn, pays for the tax breaks. Opponents point to a lack of historical evidence that this has worked in the past and call it wishful thinking. Many economists believe that the long-term impact of that ballooning federal deficit will drive up mortgage rates over the long term, leaving many aspiring homeowners on the sidelines because they can’t qualify for a mortgage loan.

Tax Reform: Impact to Chicago Homeowners

New Tax Reform Hits Some Chicago Real Estate Home Buyers & Sellers Hard

Because the average person who owns a single family home in Cook County paid, on average, $5,660 in state, local property and income tax, this legislation will not get whacked by the change in deductibility levels of local taxes. Home owners in Lake County who pay, on average $8,800 in state and local taxes, are also below the $10,000 deduction limit in this bill.

However, homeowners in both these counties and elsewhere will see a lowering of their home’s market value and thus the equity they’ve been socking away for years. A study done by Moody’s Analytics forecasts the gap between what home values would be in 2019 without changes in the current tax code, and what they would be with the GPO’s new tax changes. In other words, the proposed changes would result in lost growth in the following Chicago area counties:

New Tax Reform Hits Some Chicago Real Estate Home Buyers & Sellers Hard

This is important because, like most Americans, many Chicagoans treat their home as a piggy bank or retirement fund. The equity built over decades of mortgage payments can, it was assumed, be cashed-in at retirement time, or used for college tuition. The new legislation will still allow homeowners the ability to sock away money; it’s just that the piggy bank will have fewer coins in it.

Those in the Chicago area who could really feel the impact are homeowners who live in Oak Park, for example. On a $400,000 home, the average homeowner pays around $15,000 in property taxes. When this bill takes effect, that homeowner can only deduct $10,000. The rest has to be eaten. It is, in effect, a tax hike for these residents, and others in similar high property tax areas.

Impact to Chicago home buyers: some win, some lose.

Home buyers in expensive or high property tax areas in metro Chicago are going to get hammered once the new tax plan will take effect.  The reduction on the amount a home buyer can claim on their Federal taxes are making buying and paying for a home more expensive, particularly if that buyer chooses to live in an area with high property taxes (which often means in neighborhoods with good schools). In less expensive areas, if home values decline as many economists predict, the cost of buying a home should be cheaper. However, the current shortage of homes on the market may only get worse, driving up prices.

If you are a home buyer and take out a mortgage for over $750,000 the cost of maintaining that home will be much higher, especially at the outset. For example, the first years of home ownership sees mortgage payments that are almost all interest, and very little principal. Given that most Americans move every seven years or so, new home buyers and owners will get hit hard by the lowering of mortgage interest deductions.

New Tax Reform Hits Some Chicago Real Estate Home Buyers & Sellers Hard

So How Will the GOP Tax Reform Bill, also known as Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affect Chicago’s real estate market? Jury is still out

It remains to be seen if home prices will fall, as the NAR claims, or rise because sellers refuse to put their homes on the market because they will loss mortgage interest deductions on a new home purchase, thus driving prices up and inventories down.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The tax reform legislation contains other key changes whose impact is still being analyzed but also has the potential to increase or decrease tax burdens based on individual factors.   These could offset some of the more disadvantageous parts the bill that target some homeowners, sellers, and buyers.  Accountants and IRS agents alike are scrambling to understand and clarify the details.

One thing is for sure; this bill tax reform is becoming law, and a whole bunch of people are going to be angry in Chicago, and across the U.S.

The Value Of Working With An Experienced Real Estate Agent

Working with real estate agent

The Value Of Working With An Experienced Real Estate Agent (To Sell)

The 21st century is what I would call the Do-It-Yourself era. Everyone has access to amazing technology that can provide them with the information they need to do just about anything on their own. That’s why it isn’t surprising that many people who are thinking about selling a home wonder if they need a real estate agent.
The answer is yes. Despite the ability to do some of what an agent can do for you, having a real estate agent on your side is essential. Here’s why.

Real estate agent market

1. Understands the Market

The real estate market can be tricky and includes things like the number of houses versus the number of buyers, days on the market before being sold, economic factors, and even seasonal factors. An experienced agent knows how to look at these numbers to help you determine the best plan of action for selling your home. Although you can get this information online, understanding what the numbers mean and how they affect the sale of your home is part of an agent’s responsibility.

Real estate agent price

2. Determines the Asking Price

With technology, sellers feel that they can easily determine the market value of their home. The truth is that although information abounds online, it is impossible to know which information is correct. In fact, using information on different sites can easily produce different results.
This means that it will be far more difficult for you to create true comps to determine the correct asking price. However, an agent has data that a homeowner does not have.

Real estate agent points

3. Identifies Key Selling Points

You love your house and know why you love it. Nonetheless, you may not be aware that buyers in your area are looking for things like tiled showers or a working fireplace, for example. An agent, however, because they work with buyers and sellers all day long, knows exactly what they are searching for and can help you list points about your house that will create a buzz among buyers.

Real estate agent marketing

4. Marketing

Most buyers begin their search online. That is why marketing a home has become even more important in today’s world. An experienced agent knows how to aggressively market your home. They will:

  • Suggest home staging techniques to make your home stand out from the crowd

  • Use professional photography for all listings

  • List your home on the MLS and all major online listings
  • Use technology such as video tours

Not only do they have access to the latest technology, but they also have access to a database of potential buyers for your home. If you were to try to do-it-yourself, you would have to start from scratch.

Real estate agent paperwork

5. Paperwork

The list of paperwork needed to sell a home is quite long. Much of this paperwork is legal paperwork that, if done incorrectly, can stop the sale of your house. It could even cost you money in fees and penalties.

An experienced agent understands:

  • Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): To help you know what other similar homes in your area are listing for

  • Preliminary Title Report: Report that lets you know if anything negative has been reported on your property before the sale begins

  • Mandatory Disclosures: This is information that is of interest to a buyer. Each state has different rules determining what must be disclosed.

  • Contract: Once the written bid from the buyer is accepted, a contract is created stating the terms of the contract. Specific items must be listed in order for the contract to be valid

  • Closing Paperwork: All the legal paperwork needed to close the house successfully

Although there are sites online that offer paperwork for those selling without an agent, these sites simply contain templates that do not have the intricacies needed for your specific property.

Real estate agent negotiation

6. Negotiations

It is possible to read about selling a home. However, having an expert that has been there and done that makes things easier for you when it is time to negotiate a contract on your home. An experienced agent will guide you through the negotiation process, making sure you the deal on the table is a good deal for you.
During negotiations, you’ll want to get the highest price for your home possible. However, the buyer will be looking for the best deal. In order to find the right middle ground, you’ll need to negotiate. From the moment an offer is received, everything is negotiable. These can include such things as:

  • Price

  • Timeline

  • Contingencies

  • Items to convey

Without great negotiation skills, a seller can be left with no deal…Or worse yet, a bad one.

Real estate agent time

7. Time

Selling a home takes a lot of time, time that you would rather spend working, being with your family, or relaxing. On average, your agent will field 40 calls from potential buyers, show the home ten or more times, prepare hours of paperwork, spend time in negotiations, respond to agents wanting to show your property, and much more.
Not only that, but experienced agents are available during the day and evening when you might not be. This allows them to show your home and respond to potential buyers even if you happen to be busy.

Real estate agent success

8. Success Rate

Finally, real estate agents are far more successful selling a home than someone trying to sell on their own. The problem is that 88% of homes that go on the market this way never make it to closing. Those are terrible odds. The likelihood of selling your home faster and for more money is much better when using an experienced agent.
Experienced real estate agents are there to help you be successful in your home sale. Despite the DIY era, their expertise is valuable and should not be ignored.

The Best Neighborhoods in Chicago

Chicago's best neighborhood center

The Best Neighborhoods in Chicago

The 5 Hottest Neighborhoods in Chicago

Chicago is known as the city of neighborhoods and for a good reason – with 77 distinct communities and over 200 “unofficial” neighborhoods, anyone can find a place to fit their personality and style. When you looking for the best neighborhoods in Chicago make sure to check out these ‘5 ‘hoods’.

Chicago best neighborhoods lincoln

Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park is one of the largest neighborhoods and is situated in the city center. If you need a place that is close to everything but still leaves you with a bit of separation from the busy city life, Lincoln Park can deliver.

You have condos, apartments, and housing options to choose from. Take a short train ride and you will be in the Downtown, which is near the Central Business District. Your ride to work will be short and pleasant. Aside from work, Lincoln Park is loaded with restaurants, parks, and entertainment facilities. You will also have an easy access to North Avenue Beach.

Armitage Avenue is lined with high-end retailers and boutiques. Clark Street offers casual cafes, sweet shops, and ethnic restaurants. Lincoln Avenue buzzes with nightclubs, bars, and taverns that cater to the younger crowd from the nearby University. In addition to some nice dining and shopping, there are plenty of arts and entertainment destinations as well as theaters, museums and live music clubs from which to choose.

If you prefer green space, there is a lot of outdoors and natural beauty to enjoy. The North Side Park features over 1,200 acres of greenery with a free zoo, a conservatory, and a nature museum. And when the weather is good, you can head to the beaches, where surf and sand are set against skyscrapers.

Chicago best neighborhoods hyde

Hyde Park

Hyde Park has amazing educational opportunities with different private and public schools for students and the University of Chicago nearby. The median home prices here are a bit above the average and most of them are mansions and stately homes.

As a college neighborhood, there are several libraries and bookstores in Hyde Park. There are also plenty of entertainment areas managed by the University, such as a theater, athletics, and other offerings. In addition, the food is amazing in Chicago and you will be able to try it in some of the best restaurants and cafes in the city.

Chicago best neighborhoods edison

Edison Park

Edison Park has some of the lowest crime rates in the city and it’s perfect for families who are looking for houses for sale in Chicago. There are both expensive and inexpensive condos and single-family dwellings in the area with various floor plans, square footage, and age and the choice is entirely up to you.

Edison Park is known as one of the quietest and most peaceful neighborhoods in Chicago and the park itself is the center for lots of entertainment and activities in the area. Families with children can take art classes and there are outdoor and indoor activities for children of all ages year-round.

Manicured lanes accommodate beautiful homes with Georgian architecture, Cape Cod, English Tudor, and brick-style. In addition, commercial corridors are spread throughout the neighborhood with several options for dining, shopping, and many other convenient services.

It has the feel of a countryside. It is very family oriented and the Chicago River slowly sprawls along Sauganash and provides a sense of peace and calmness. It’s one of the main reasons why people live here. The neighborhood is easily accessible to areas such as Wrigleyville, which has a lot to offer, but Edison Park also has bars and family restaurants for an evening out with children or for a date night for adults.

Chicago best neighborhoods sauganash

Sauganash / Forest Glen

This neighborhood gets high safety ratings as well, probably because there is a police station right in the center of the neighborhood. It offers good schools, too. Sauganash Elementary, for example, is one of the best schools in the city.

It is one of the most affluent neighborhoods and the prices are a bit more than the average. This neighborhood is loved by families with children and adults who choose calmness in a busy city.

In contrast to other neighborhoods, this is a quiet area and life there is slow-paced. Some prefer to travel to the city center for shopping, dining, and entertainment, but there are churches and golf courses in the area to keep your weekends busy.

Chicago best neighborhoods beverly


Chicago residents can tell you that Beverly is one of the most popular places to live in the city because it is one of those rare places that have a small town feel. It is totally safe and there are plenty of things to do for both children and adults. It is located in the city center and you might think it has high crime ratings but Beverly actually has an A-grade, which is pretty impressive.

Beverly has plenty of public and private schools to choose from. With Ridge Academy, St. Barnabas School, and Beverly Montessori, it’s obvious why families choose this neighborhood. For the same reason, homes are more expensive here than the national average. Anyway, even though homes are expensive in Beverly, it gets the highest rating for housing because the quality of homes is unbeatable.

Many homes offer more square footage, especially newly constructed homes. If you prefer older homes, there are a lot to choose from and they have splendid architecture. As you would expect, older homes usually have a character and a story.

Beverly has a lot to offer when it comes to entertainment and amenities as well. There are Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the area. Along with high-end shopping and restaurants, there are art galleries, historic districts, parks, an arts center, and a forest preserve.

Whether this article about the best neighborhoods in Chicago has encouraged your family to move to the city or you were browsing through houses for sale in Chicago, you have 5 safe neighborhoods with good schools, affordable housing, and convenient access to amenities such as entertainment, dining, and shopping. Essentially, they are the best in Chicago and can fulfill anyone’s need.

Are you looking at a houses for sale in Chicago? Let us help you. Sign up for our newsletter which shares the best available properties in the Chicago area and of course – Download this mobile app to get up to the minute housing info.

How To Buy A House In Chicago

Buy house chicago

How to Buy a House in Chicago

Are you thinking to buy a house in Chicago – The Windy City? Do you have your eye on the bustling historic West Side – Logan Hood? Maybe you’ve got that sought after career promotion and have your heart set on the views from Lincoln Park? Perhaps you want to buy into the next big neighborhood to be gentrified, like Avondale. Whatever suburb you have chosen, there are a plethora of options in Chicago for first time home buyers or seasoned veterans.

Getting ready

Pre-Approved or Pre-Qualified?

Buy house loan approval

There are a few things to consider before embarking on your Chicago house hunting expedition. Before you start the process, make sure you have pre-approval, which is different from pre-qualification. With pre-approval, you have a guaranteed loan. Knowing when you search and find your dream home, and can make an offer, makes the journey stress free. Part of the home buying process involves determining a purchase price as well as the subsequent repayments you are comfortable paying every month. These payments include property taxes, potential homeowner association fees, maintenance fees, etc.

Second Highest Property Tax in the State of Illinois

Chicago house tax

One downside to buying a home in Chicago is that property taxes have increased by as much as 50% in the last five years. The taxes may affect what you’re able to afford. However, the bonus of buying a home in Chicago is that there is no city income tax that you have to pay. Once you have decided on your spending cap, you can shop with ease in that price bracket.

The home buying process

So Many Houses at Bargain Prices

Buy house chicago graph

Figure1: Northern Illinois/Chicago’s Region real estate market statistics

At the moment, there are over 14,000 houses for sale in Chicago, which means you have plenty of choices (for now). The current situation is ideal for the home buyer because you have an excellent chance of finding and getting your dream home. But that situation is steadily changing, and inventory will lessen, so now is the perfect time to invest in buying property. Chicago’s population is large but slow growing. It’s only grown at approximately half the national rate for some time now, which has resulted in home prices being pulled down to well below local income levels. That is why houses for sale in Chicago are such a bargain at the moment.

The city is also becoming a regional hub of high wage manufacturing jobs, which impacts the real estate market positively. We see that in Chicago, home prices are meager compared to the average income. Properties are currently on sale for 25 percent below the average price level. The median price list is about $234,900 for a new home, but it is still possible to buy a house in Chicago for under $200,000. When you see that the median household income in Chicago is $47,010 you can see how buying your own home becomes an affordable option.

“It’s always a good time to buy,” Matt Silver, President of the Chicago Association of Realtors

Location Near The Loop

Chicago subway station

Chicago’s famous Loop ‘L’ Train

A great perk of living in Chicago is that the city focuses on commuters. You do not have to own a car in the city and pay all of the gas, insurance, parking and maintenance costs; you can only use the super efficient and affordable public transit system. The famous Chicago Loop ‘L’ train is an elevated system traveling above the street congestion, and services all neighborhoods. The closer to the loop, the shorter your commute time. Even if you choose to drive around the city, the average commute time is around 32 minutes.

Steps to Closing the Deal on Your New Home

You’ve been pre-approved; you’ve decided on what you can afford every month, and now you can actively start searching for homes online or via apps that have huge numbers of listings. Your pre-approval can make viewing the house (and the sale) smooth and effortless. You can even drive around your favorite neighborhoods to get a feel for the area. Location is an essential factor in your ultimate choice. When looking at houses for sale in Chicago, always try and see past any exterior surface problems like a bad paint job –you can solve that quickly, but if it’s in the right location, that gives the home a tremendous resale value.
While you can create your short list of ideal homes, the next step is to go and see the property in person before making your final decision.

Put it in writing

When you finally find the home you wish to buy, the next step is writing an offer. If the seller accepts the offer, you can then negotiate the final terms and price. Once you have negotiated terms, the final sale will be contingent on a home inspection and an attorney’s approval. Never waive the home inspection process as you want to be sure there are no hidden problems. A professional will be able to access the property and assure you that the home is safe and secure.

The last step is doing a final walk through. It is your last opportunity to check for any damages and make sure that everything you agreed upon to the terms and conditions has been met. You can now sign the papers for the transfer of the property from the seller to you, and then it’s a closed deal. You will also sign all of the necessary mortgage paperwork.

Signature buy house

Now you are ready to move in.

Final Thoughts

If you’re contemplating to buy a house in Chicago, remember these great attributes going for the city:

  • Overall crime rate is down and is at a historical low

  • There is an architectural style to suit all tastes –postmodern, traditional bungalows, Chicago cottages, etc.
  • The grid system of the city is easy to navigate with wide streets

  • Streets are clean

  • Cost of living is lower than in other big cities like New York

  • Every person in Chicago is in walking distance from a park
  • There are 29 miles of beach in the city

  • Huge theater and restaurant scene

Ready to start looking at a houses for sale in Chicago? Let us help you. Sign up for our newsletter which shares the best available properties in the Chicago area and of course- Download this mobile app to get up to the minute housing info.