Shark bites: Finding the perfect REO for a determined first-time buyer

Fordham, 25 E Superior StBy mid-2009, Max knew his search for distressed properties wasn’t going as planned.

“I was working with an agent for a while and wasn’t seeing anything compelling — it felt like we just weren’t on the same page,” he says. “So eventually I decided to go it alone. I know Chicago’s neighborhoods, I know value really well, and I really didn’t intend to work with anyone else.”

That was his approach until last fall, Max, a first-time buyer and an avid reader of YoChicago and other real estate blogs, came across one of our posts about Matt Garrison’s CondoShark.com, which tracks price reductions on distressed properties in the downtown and North Shore markets. He shot an e-mail to Garrison outlining very specific needs, from the areas he was interested in to the way he wanted an agent to execute his search.

“Matt wasn’t going to send me thousands of listings, so I knew when he did send me something, it would be something of substance,” he says.

In Max’s case, the perfect fit arrived earlier this year, in the form of an 1,800 square-foot three-bedroom / three-bath REO at The Fordham, located at 25 E Superior St in River North. Although the unit wasn’t listed at the time, Garrison was able to track down the unit’s asset manager, who negotiated directly with Max instead of through a seller’s agent and even let him see the home a few days before it was relisted. The day it hit the MLS, Max put in a bid, and last week he closed on the home for $630,000.

According to Garrison, the condo’s comps come out to around $800,000 (a home in the same tier, one floor above, is currently listed in the $940s), and the home appraised for $750,000.

“This was an engaged, well qualified buyer that we worked with for several months, and we had a very successful result,” Garrison says. “Lots of buyers are reluctant to work with an agent, because they feel they are going to get a hard sell, but that isn’t how we operate.”

Buyers interested in distressed properties see CondoShark’s Top 10 lists of overall price reductions in seven neighborhoods, or they can sign up for custom Deal Alerts directly from Garrison’s team.

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