Finding your first home

200 North Dearborn

The average sales price of a downtown or North Side home in the first few months of 2008 was more than $500,000, according to Midwest Real Estate Data. Even on the city’s Northwest Side, hardly the seat of new residential construction, homes were selling at an average price of $315,000 earlier this year.

Those kinds of numbers at first can seem disheartening to buyers whose budgets can’t accommodate a half-million-dollar mortgage. What some buyers fail to realize (or renters who have never considered the prospect of purchasing a home, for that matter) is that the Chicago market is filled with new-construction and rehabilitated condominiums priced at or below $250,000.

In the July issue of New Homes, I use the New Home Notebook to guide me through just a few of Chicago’s starter-home options.

Young professionals drawn to Michigan Avenue’s stores and massive lakeside parks can find a place to live in downtown Chicago, although the few starter-priced condos found inside the Loop itself may be better suited for pieds-a-terre than full-time homes.

American Invsco’s conversion at 200 N Dearborn St has studio condominiums priced in the $230s, but each of those units has less than 600 square feet of living space. The studios may not be roomy compared with similarly priced condos outside the Loop, but residents do have the benefit of living around the corner from Chicago’s many theaters and just blocks from Millennium Park and the Michigan Avenue shopping district. Living in a high-rise has its benefits, too: 200 North Dearborn’s on-site amenities include a fitness center, indoor swimming pool, sun deck, party room, laundry facilities and White Hen convenience store.

VetroFor larger homes, buyers should look in two of downtown’s most popular residential neighborhoods: The South Loop and the West Loop. In those areas, buyers can find one-bedroom, new-construction condominiums in the high $100s and low to mid-$200s at developments such as Vetro at 611 S Wells St, Astoria Tower at 8 E Ninth St, Glashaus at 1327 S Wabash Ave, and Terrazio at 1935 S Wabash Ave. All of those homes have features common to most new condominiums, such as hardwood floors, granite kitchen countertops, stainless-steel appliances, and wiring for Internet and surround sound, as well as access to building amenities like fitness rooms and rooftop decks.

Read the entire article here.

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