A Lincoln Park milestone: Homes average $1 million

Lincoln Park, for decades one of Chicago’s richest neighborhoods, reached a milestone in 2001. For the first time, the average list price of a single-family home there topped $1 million.

To be exact, $1,126,742.

The 2001 average was 14.4 percent higher than in 2000, according to the Lakefront Market Survey, a quarterly analysis by local real estate brokerage Sudler & Co. The average transaction price, the number buyers and sellers actually settle on, was a little lower, at $916,686, but still a new record.

Stock market investors must be kicking themselves now. In each of the last four years, the average price for a single-family home in Lincoln Park has risen by at least $100,000.

“The luxury market in Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast is popping,” quipped James Kinney, president of Rubloff Residential Properties, which posted a record $700 million in sales in 2001. “Despite all the talk of recession, the luxury market appears to be in great shape. Some properties are selling for over asking price. We are busy. I couldn’t be happier.”

Developer Bruce Fogelson, president of Paramount Homes, said Lincoln Park’s luxury home hunters are getting smarter and smarter.

“They feel they are entitled to the best quality and high-end features and as a result, the price point is increasing,” said Fogelson, who is developing 16 single-family homes in the million-dollar range at Wrightwood Park, 2621-2657 N. Paulina, in Lincoln Park.

The Lakefront Market Survey looks at all transactions reported by the Multiple Listing Service of Northern Illinois (MLSNI) involving single-family homes, condominiums and cooperatives in five Chicago neighborhoods: the Loop, the Near North Side, Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Uptown.

However, the MLSNI data does not include sales at many new residential developments and is a more accurate gauge of the resale market.

Even though prices are soaring for luxury homes, the market for single-family houses in the lakefront neighborhoods slowed noticeably. Only 415 detached homes were sold during the year, 9.4 percent fewer than the 2000 total of 458.

But even with a drop in the number of sales, dollar volume rose to $380 million, an increase of 1.9 percent over 2000. The average transaction price for a single-family home rose a robust 12.5 percent, to $916,686 from $815,188 a year earlier along the lakefront.

“Since 1998, when the average single-family home sold for $616,000, the average price is up 48.8 percent,” said Jeanine McShea, executive vice president for Sudler.

The condominium and cooperative category outperformed the single-family market over the course of 2001 in several ways. The number of units sold increased 4.5 percent, to 6,778 in 2001, up from 6,488 in 2000. Sales volume also rose, topping out at $2.25 billion, a gain of 9.6 percent over the $2.05 billion recorded in 2000.

The average price of lakefront condos and co-ops climbed 4.9 percent, to $332,842 from $317,366 in the prior year.

The time needed to sell a home increased for all residential properties last year. Average market time for single-family residences along the lakefront was 61 days, up 22 percent from the 51-day average recorded in 2000.

In the lakefront condo / co-op market, average market time climbed seven days, or 18 percent, from 39 days in 2000 to 46 days last year.

Among individual neighborhoods, Uptown was noteworthy in the Sudler study. The number of condo and co-op transactions there was up 28.3 percent, and the average transaction price rose 28.2 percent, to $215,873 from $179,403 in 2000.

Historically, the average condo price in Uptown has equaled around 57 percent of the average price for all Lakefront Market condo transactions. In 2001, Uptown condos and co-ops closed that gap, averaging 65 percent of the Lakefront Market figure.

“These statistics suggest that buyers are attracted to Uptown as a result of its lower prices, but that the price advantage is slowly diminishing,” said McShea.

Real estate columnist and media consultant Don DeBat has written about Chicago-area housing and mortgage markets since 1968. He is president of Don DeBat and Associates, www.dondebat.net.

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