Local Real Estate Trends See Rising Values, Quick Sales 

By Grace Kuikman

Bracketing the beginning of the winter real estate sales lull and start of the spring market were two articles in major publications that called attention to the quality and value of real estate in Beverly.

An article in Crain’s Chicago Business last fall reported that, according to their analysis of Midwest Real Estate Sales Data, sales in the first nine months of 2017 were up 27% over the same period in 2016. Crain’s also reported that, according to the Chicago Association of Realtors, the median sales prices of Beverly homes was up 7.7% from 2016.

“No other place among the city’s 77 officially designated neighborhoods has seen as much growth in home sales as Beverly,” the article said, offering two reasons for the upward trend: the long history of affordability and the new “layer of hipness spreading through the neighborhood.”

Bill Biros of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services/Biros Real Estate, operates one of the local real estate companies seeing the uptick in home sales – he said business was up 11% in 2017 over 2016. But, like the other local realtors, Biros is concerned about the effect the low inventory of homes for sale may have on home values.

“[Prices] have not gone up at the rate we’d like to see,” Biros said. “One problem is appraisals.”  According Biros and other local real estate professionals, appraisers from outside the area don’t understand local demand and value – it’s not just a problem here. But, with the healthy housing market  in Beverly/Morgan Park, Biros expects that “prices will creep up.”

‘Something for Everyone’

Affordability, quality of housing stock and a “formidable collection of food and beverage offerings” are cited as reasons for Beverly’s attraction for potential buyers in an article titled “Here’s What You Can Get for Under $500K in Beverly” in Chicago Magazine’s March issue. “Beverly is surprisingly affordable. No matter your budget, there’s something for everyone in Beverly,” wrote A. J. LaTrace.

“I see lots of North Side people coming in to look at Beverly,” said Michele Pettiford, a Beverly/Morgan Park resident and real estate agent for Coldwell Banker Residential of Oak Lawn. One of Pettiford’s listings made it into Chicago Magazine’s four picks for the real estate article. Even though she’s not “homegrown,” as she put it, Pettiford has lived in the community long enough to experience the high number of home buyers who grew up in Beverly/Morgan Park, moved “up north,” then returned when it’s time to start families. She said the house hunters she’s seeing coming from the North Side, downtown and suburbs are frequently people who have never been to this community.

“It’s not just people coming back home,” she said.

Recent press that underscores neighborhood amenities, enduring home values and expanding recreational opportunities are a factor in reaching young people who may never have looked for Beverly listings in the past, Pettiford said. And when that increasing population of millennials finds their way to one of her local showings, Pettiford wastes no time before winding into a sales pitch that is based on her own positive experience as a neighborhood “transplant.”

Commute + Community

“People are consistently drawn here by the short commute downtown and the value of the homes, but it’s the sense of community they discover here that really appeals to them,” she said. “When I’m on appointments, I talk about the neighborhood and all the great things Beverly/Morgan Park has to offer.” She lists the brew pubs, the boutiques, Bookies, the Beverly Arts Center and more. “It’s amazing what this community has done!”

Mary Ellen Fitzgerald, who owns and operates Fitzgerald Real Estate with her husband Rich, agrees that positive press about new amenities like the Beverly Art Walk, Frunchroom reading series, and brew pubs attracts interested potential buyers to our community. Her recent clients include people from the North Side, downtown, South Loop, south suburbs and more. The Fitzgeralds wish that there were more homes for sale to accommodate all the interested buyers coming their way. “We could use more inventory,” Mary Ellen said. “There are more buyers than sellers.”

All of the real estate agents and brokers interviewed for this article agree that home prices are going up – not as fast as in some other neighborhoods, but steadily, which is historically how the local real estate market trends.

Morgan Park Market

Rich Fitzgerald said that he thinks the local market could be even stronger if potential buyers from outside the neighborhood were searching “Morgan Park” in addition to “Beverly” on real estate platforms like Zillow. “There are a lot of great values in Morgan Park but a lot of new buyers don’t know about it,” Rich said, explaining that the boundary for “Beverly” ends at 107th Street, so that’s where the Beverly listings stop. Although most area residents think of Beverly and Morgan Park as one, close-knit community that they often call “Beverly,” they are technically considered two neighborhoods.

According to the Fitzgeralds, that’s just one of many good reasons to work with local real estate professionals when you are buying or selling. “Local realtors know the neighborhood and will show people all around,” Rich said. “Every part of this neighborhood – east, west, north, south – all have something to offer.”

Dual Market

Another housing trend noted by each of the interviewed real estate agents and brokers is a distinct dual market: People buying distressed homes cheaply to rehab and resell fast at high prices, and those buying what Pettiford called “forever homes.”

“For those properties that need complete rehab or modernization, buyers come from . . . all corners of the city and suburbs,” said Barbara Thouvenell, Managing Broker for PRS Associates. “There are usually multiple offers, they are cash buyers, and this is a business transaction, that’s it.”

Because there are so few homes in this community that need extensive rehab, the rehabbed properties turn over quickly and, according to Thouvenell, “tend to go to first time buyers. They love the fresh new look the house has, and are appreciative of the newest trends in colors, tile and kitchens.”

The majority of neighborhood housing stock is what Thouvenell called the traditional market. “This market tends to be driven by the need for more space, more bedrooms, main level family room, a finished basement, and more baths,” she said, adding that this market is “very tight right now, especially in the $325,000 and under range.”

Move-in Condition a Must

Another trend that real estate professionals believe is here to stay: Homes must be in move-in condition for most of today’s buyers.

“Buyers don’t want to do anything,” said Bernadette Molloy, owner of Molloy Real Estate. According to Molloy, houses have to be ready for market before they’re listed: “Streamlined, clean, as updated as possible within the seller’s budget, and priced properly,” she said.

Harder to sell are the kind of houses that most us live in: Nice, somewhat updated, but loved and lived in.

Across the board, the local realtors agree that, if they can afford it, sellers should invest in making important updates if they want their house to sell relatively quickly.

“Assess the issues and make repairs that will keep your property from selling,” said Biros. Points to consider: Make needed repairs to get your house in good condition; the age of the roof and the furnace is extremely important; replace windows that are old or in poor condition, if it’s within your budget.

Dated Homes = Best Buys

“The best bargains are houses in good condition but dated,” said Bill Biros. “The best deals can be had if [buyers] are willing to do the updates.”

The hallmark of the local housing market has been slow and steady for many years. Most people buy here because they plan to stay, raise their kids, babysit their grandkids, and eventually pay off that 30-year mortgage. In that kind of market, prices go up – and go down – more slowly. That’s part of the value of loving where you live.