Median sales across Chicago’s north side are trending toward a steady pace of appreciation, measured growth. Inventory is still well below normal level with less than 4 months supply in most areas, well priced and well cared for properties are not on the open market long. There are still some distressed properties on the market, but they are selling much closer to market value.
It’s an urban (and suburban) myth that proximity to public transportation systems decreases property values and increases crime rates. In fact, just the opposite is true.
Riding the rail to increased property values
How much value does a close-by public transportation option add to a house? After looking at 41 studies of 15 rail systems across the county, researchers at California State-Fullerton concluded “…light rail transit has enhanced residential property values 2% to 18% in Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, and Santa Clara, with larger changes in cities with commuter rail systems.”
In San Diego, properties near commuter rail stops enjoyed consistent price premiums of 17% compared to properties further from public transit options, according to a study by the Urban Land Institute.
Light rail service in Dallas had an even bigger influence. Properties near stations increased an average of 39% more than comparable properties not on the rail lines, according to a study by the University of North Texas Center for Economic Development and Research.
Nearby transit can also help preserve home values during real estate downturns, according to a study of home sales activity in Chicago by RE/MAX Northern Illinois. During the first six months of 2009, while overall suburban Chicago home prices fell 19%, 32 Chicago suburbs served by Metra commuter trains saw the average price of a home decline by 15.2%.
However, not as many homes sold during the same time period in the Metra towns, perhaps an indication that home prices held steadier because owners refused lower purchase offers. On average, home sales were down 19.2% in the Metra towns, compared with a 15.6% drop in the suburbs as a whole.
There’s also a difference between being close to public transportation and being right on top of it. A house that’s so close to a rail line that the homeowners hear and feel train noise and vibration may be difficult to sell–or sell for less than a similar property that’s within walking distance, but not right next to, public transportation.
“[N]ot all residences benefit equally,” the study found. “Properties located too near a station may suffer nuisance effects, and it appears that in California the largest premiums accrue to owners of multifamily residential properties.”
Homes located along the rail line, but far from a station, will also be negatively affected. They’ll suffer noise and vibration without gaining the benefit that homes within walking distance of a station will gain.
Will it bring crime?
Another stereotype about public transportation is that it brings criminals into the neighborhood. Research shows, however, that the existing socio-demographic makeup of the neighborhood is what drives crime, not its proximity to public transportation.
As the Department of Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Policy and Social Research found when it studied the issue, transit stations and surrounding neighborhoods in L.A. “are no more unsafe than other city streets. In fact, if we consider only serious crime, rail stations are safer than many city streets because of the higher rate of police deployment.”
The study did find that the type of crime committed was influenced by the environment. Pick-pockets work in crowds, while car theives work park-and-ride lots.
What you can do
Use it or lose it. If you’d like to show your support for public transportation, start by using it whenever possible. Systems with high ridership numbers are better able to expand routes, upgrade services and technology, and qualify for government funding.
Spend less on gas. By riding public transit, not only will you reduce the size of your carbon footprint, you’ll save money. Transit riders spend about $1,500 less on gasoline per year than commuters who drive to work, and transit availability and use can annually save $8,400 in a household budget, according to PublicTransportation.org.
Contact government officials. Let local and federal officials know you support public transportation in your community. Voter support helps build political momentum for mass transit funding.
Get involved. There are any number of ways to actively support public transit. Need something small and easy? Wear a button supporting public transit. If you’re really dedicated, volunteer for your community’s transportation advisory board.
Cook County Sheriff’s Central Warrants Unit will be housed in the 13th District Police Station site, 927 N. Wood St., 1st Ward Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno just announced. “This is a promise I made and I have kept.”
The proposal to repurpose this site went to the County Board of Commissioners meeting today, Feb. 27. The proposal was voted on and passed after 9 months of negotiations. Next Wednesday, Moreno will introduce an ordinance at the City Council meeting that will finalize the plan.
At least 100 Sheriffs will be based at the location for the next 10 years. The current plan is for the county to enter into a $1 annual lease through 2023 for the site.
“I made a promise to the community that this site would retain a law enforcement presence. Persuading the administration and the Sheriff’s office to make this a reality has been an endeavor, which could not have been done without the help of the community,” Moreno said.
In early 2012, he formed a 5-person working group of community leaders to identify the most preferred result for the location. The members of this group were Catherine Garypie, Peter Frisbee, Ronda Locke, Grace Rappe, and Audrey Rath. Members of this working group were informed of the collaboration with the Sherriff’s office last month, and were overwhelming pleased with this news.
Next Wednesday, it is likely that Sheriff Dart and I will have a press conference to further explain the specifics, including project timeline.
“When the announcement that the 13th district police station would be closed and consolidated with the 12th District Station, I vowed to fight for a police presence on the site. Today, I am extremely happy and proud to have kept this promise,” Moreno concluded.
Before you put your home up for sale, use the right comparable sales to find the perfect price.
Knowing how much homes similar to yours, called comparable sales (or in real estate lingo, comps), sold for gives you the best idea of the current estimated value of your home. The trick is finding sales that closely match yours.
What makes a good comparable sale?
Your best comparable sale is the same model as your house in the same subdivision—and it closed escrow last week. If you can’t find that, here are other factors that count:
Location: The closer to your house the better, but don’t just use any comparable sale within a mile radius. A good comparable sale is a house in your neighborhood, your subdivision, on the same type of street as your house, and in your school district.
Home type: Try to find comparable sales that are like your home in style, construction material, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, basement (having one and whether it’s finished), finishes, and yard size.
Amenities and upgrades: Is the kitchen new? Does the comparable sale house have full A/C? Is there crown molding, a deck, or a pool? Does your community have the same amenities (pool, workout room, walking trails, etc.) and homeowners association fees?
Date of sale: You may want to use a comparable sale from two years ago when the market was high, but that won’t fly. Most buyers use government-guaranteed mortgages, and those lending programs say comparable sales can be no older than 90 days.
Sales sweeteners: Did the comparable-sale sellers give the buyers downpayment assistance, closing costs, or a free television? You have to reduce the value of any comparable sale to account for any deal sweeteners.
Agents can help adjust price based on insider insights
Even if you live in a subdivision, your home will always be different from your neighbors’. Evaluating those differences—like the fact that your home has one more bedroom than the comparables or a basement office—is one of the ways real estate agents add value.
An active agent has been inside a lot of homes in your neighborhood and knows all sorts of details about comparable sales. She has read the comments the selling agent put into the MLS, seen the ugly wallpaper, and heard what other REALTORS®, lenders, closing agents, and appraisers said about the comparable sale.
More ways to pick a home listing price
If you’re still having trouble picking out a listing price for your home, look at the current competition. Ask your real estate agent to be honest about your home and the other homes on the market (and then listen to her without taking the criticism personally).
Next, put your comparable sales into two piles: more expensive and less expensive. What makes your home more valuable than the cheaper comparable sales and less valuable than the pricier comparable sales?
Are foreclosures and short sales comparables?
If one or more of your comparable sales was a foreclosed home or a short sale (a home that sold for less money than the owners owed on the mortgage), ask your real estate agent how to treat those comps.
A foreclosed home is usually in poor condition because owners who can’t pay their mortgage can’t afford to pay for upkeep. Your home is in great shape, so the foreclosure should be priced lower than your home.
Short sales are typically in good condition, although they are still distressed sales. The owners usually have to sell because they’re divorcing, or their employer is moving them to Kansas.
How much short sales are discounted from their market value varies among local markets. The average short-sale home in Omaha in recent years was discounted by 8.5%, according to a University of Nebraska at Omaha study. In suburban Washington, D.C., sellers typically discount short-sale homes by 3% to 5% to get them quickly sold, real estate agents report. In other markets, sellers price short sales the same as other homes in the neighborhood.
So you have to rely on your REALTOR’s® knowledge of the local market to use a short sale as a comparable sale.
Make friends and influence your property values by creating neighborhood holiday traditions that build community spirit.
In turn, you’ll help foster higher property values, strong schools, and lower crime rates in your neighborhood, according to studies by Dennis Rosenbaum, director of the Center for Research in Law and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Start strengthening your neighborhood with these seven holiday events:
1. Sing songs
Home owners in the Clinton Hill neighborhood near Brooklyn, N.Y., have been caroling together since 1967. They only missed the event once for a pretty good excuse: It was below freezing.
Their advice for a successful neighborhood holiday event? Identify neighborhood streets heavy with holiday decorations. Festive residents will likely be most receptive to carolers. Ask volunteers to print song lyric sheets, post fliers announcing the event in advance, and bring a thermos or two of hot cocoa.
Residents have come to look forward to the neighborhood holiday song fest. “Sometimes we’re invited in, and some people even plan their parties so we’re the entertainment,” says resident Marge Othrow.
2. Holiday parties with a purpose
New Orleans’ historic Strachan House is the site of the Coliseum Square Association’s annual Christmas party, where the highlight is an award ceremony honoring emergency first responders who’ve made a difference in the city’s Lower Garden District neighborhood.
The CSA spends about $1,000 for the food and the several-hundred-dollar cash awards for the first responders, says CSA President Matt Ryan. The holiday event not only thanks first responders, but builds neighborhood spirit, he says.
3. Swap holiday food
With a holiday cookie or dessert exchange, no single neighbor bears the burden of providing food for the entire neighborhood. Audra Krell of Scottsdale, Ariz., uses Evite and Facebook to manage her annual holiday dessert exchange where friends each bring one tray of any kind of dessert.
Managing the neighborhood event takes Krell less than 10 hours, but the good feelings the event generates last all year long.
4. Organize a search party
Families compete in a neighborhood-wide holiday scavenger hunt in Maineville, Ohio. Tracie Watkins, who runs this fun event, comes up with a list of holiday items, like tinsel and candy canes, and gives everybody a half hour to collect them.
The family that comes back first with everything, or has found the most items when the game ends, gets a $50 gift card. She’s had as many as 15 to 20 neighborhood families join in the fun.
5. Share holiday giving
In Logan, Utah, Jenny Johnson and 50 to 60 of her neighbors forgo giving holiday gifts and goodies to each other, instead purchasing gifts, food, and personal hygiene items for three to four needy families through the Sub for Santa program. The average family’s financial contribution runs about $30, and the families get together at a neighborhood party to wrap the gifts they’ve purchased.
6. Feed your friendly neighbors
Hold a progressive holiday dinner party at neighbors’ houses. On the Sunday before Christmas, Margee Herring of Wilmington, N.C., and her neighbors eat their way through three host homes. Each home owner foots the food bill for about 100 guests, but you can share the cost by asking neighbors to sign up for a potluck dish.
Create a twist: Announce a different theme each year, or ask home owners to prepare the holiday cuisine of a different country.
7. Light up the holiday
Many neighborhoods come together to line their streets with candles on Christmas Eve. And this effort doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Save milk and water jugs throughout the year, and put 12-hour votive candles inside the jugs.
Setup and removal take 30 to 45 minutes. An alternative to luminaries is a neighborhood holiday lighting contest in which neighbors vote on the home with the best holiday display.
Time to get out and enjoy your favorite neighborhood(s),
or experience a new one! Wishing you an enjoyable summer.
Hope to see you at an event very soon!
|2012 Chicago Summer Events|
|CHICAGO FARMERS MARKETS 2012
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