Open House Chicago Architecture Tour Returns to Beverly/Morgan Park  

On the weekend of Oct/ 19 and 20, more than 250 of Chicago’s most intriguing buildings will open their doors for the Chicago Architecture Center’s annual Open House Chicago tour. Following a fabulously popular debut on last year’s tourOpen House Chicago will return to Beverly/Morgan Park with even more iconic sites for behind-the-scenes visits.  

One of the world’s largest architecture festivals, Open House Chicago is a free, two-day public event with most sites open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.  The event offers the rare opportunity to discover hidden gems in architecturally significant buildings all across the city. 

The Beverly Area Planning Association and 19th Ward office work as Open House Chicago community partners to identify Beverly/Morgan Park locations for the event.  

“We are thrilled that people from all over Chicagoland will have a chance to get an inside look at the diverse architecture and historic buildings that make Beverly/Morgan Park so amazing,” said BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood. “Being on Open House Chicago’s map last brought about 3,000 visitors to our neighborhood. We are expecting even more people to arrive here this year.”  

Sites selected for this year’s Open House Chicago will be announced in mid-September.    

North Beverly House Confirmed as a Hetherington 

 

It all started with a text from Michele Pettiford, a North Beverly resident and real estate agent to Grace Kuikman, longtime staff member at BAPA 

Michele: Happy Sunday. I have a new listing and the owners have the original blueprints. The plans say Hetherington,” but I haven’t found it documented and the people in North Beverly are saying they never heard of the house being one. Any leads on who to reach out to for more information would be greatly appreciated. 

GraceI have a friend with Ridge Historical Society who may be able to help.  

Michele: This could be a hidden treasure right in our backyard!  

Grace to Linda Lamberty, Ridge Historical Society (RHS) Historian: I have a history question for you: a house in North Beverly has plans that say “Hetherington” – can we assume it is?   

Linda: Very interesting! That address is on the “unverified” list for a Hetherington.  

Grace connected Linda and Michele to share particulars of the architectural treasure hunt. Within a short time, plans were made for Michele, Linda and Grace to meet at the house in question, a handsome brick home at the corner of 90th and Hoyne 

People who are interested in local architecture are familiar with the name Hetherington. According to former RHS architectural historian, Harold Wolff, John Todd Hetherington, who lived in North Beverly, was a highly respected architect.  The Graver-Driscoll house, home of the RHS was designed by John T. Hetherington in 1921. RHS is planning an exhibit of Hetherington works and, coincidentally, in June two descendants of the Hetherington family made a trip to visit this mansion-on-the-hill, that their ancestor designed 

John T. Hetherington’s son, Murray, followed in his father’s footsteps and was wildly popular, and quite prolific in the Beverly/Morgan Park community.  Murray’s son, also John, worked with his father, styled as “Hetherington Architects,” in a fully-equipped standalone studio behind their home at 10153 S. Prospect, where Murray’s artist wife, Mildred Lyon Hetherington, worked as well.  Mildred was well-known locally as a portraitist, but also had a successful career as a commercial artist illustrating children’s books and magazines. 

RHS files include lists of many local Hetherington-designed homes, as well as a file of addresses possibly designed by the three generations of architects, so the request from a local realtor that came via BAPA was welcome information.  

A visit to the house to see the blueprints – which say “Hetherington Architects, 10153 S. Prospect” — did indeed confirm this home to be a Hetherington.  

It was clear in touring the place that it has those myriad charming details, so characteristic of this architect-family’s designs,” Linda Lamberty said. The designs were so popular that in years past classified ads contained phrases like “Hetherington style” and “Hetherington-esque,” to describe similar homes by other architects.
“So that’s one unconfirmed Hetherington address down, with a dozen more to go,” Linda said. “Who knows:  Maybe there are even more of them out there!
Interested in learning more about your house? Contact the Ridge Historical Society, 10621 S. Seeley, 773-881-1675 or ridgehistory@hotmail.comIn 2021, RHS will celebrate their own 50th anniversary, as well as the centennial of the Graver-Driscoll House.  
 

Local Agents See Strong Spring Housing Market, Buyers Coming from All Across the City 

By Liam Millerick  

Living in Beverly/Morgan Park is a unique experience, especially when compared to other city neighborhoods. Much of our housing is low-density, historic single-family homes built in the early 1900s, which is a far cry from the towering apartment complexes one might see in other areas of Chicago. Part of what makes our neighborhood so special is the people who choose to live here. It’s not uncommon for people to live in Beverly/Morgan Park for 30 years or moreNew residents are drawn by the fact that the area is less transient and more a place where they can put down long-term roots and call home.  

A community focused website called Niche ranks Beverly/Morgan Park among the best neighborhoods in Chicago to raise families, with Beverly listed as the third best neighborhood in the city for people looking to buy homes. The website, which searches through large amounts of census, crime, and housing data to generate reports on communities across the county, attributes this ranking to our general low crime rate, accessibility, diverse nightlife options, and, above all, our affordability. According to the website, Beverly/Morgan Parks also boasts impressive safety statistics, with fewer property crimes compared to the national averages. 

Bill Biros of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services/Biros Real Estate, operates one of the community’s largest local real estate companies and claims the local housing market “increased dramatically” in the last few weeks of AprilMany of the homes on the market are in good condition but generally, he says, there are two types of properties being sold: homes that are completely remodeled and homes in need of updates.  

The completely finished homes are more likely to be bought by young couples who don’t have the time or desire to finish a large-scale housing project. Houses in need of rehab and modernization are more likely to go to developers who are willing and able to spend the time, energy and resources such projects require.  

Rich Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Real Estate, another local company, concurs with this assessment. “Buyers like everything well done and well cared for, and don’t necessarily have the time for major projects, he said, noting that generally, houses that offer newer amenities and are in good overall condition are the homes more likely to sell.  

Michele Pettiford, a neighborhood resident and agent with Coldwell Banker Homes in Oak Lawn, noted that many of the new buyers in Beverly/Morgan Park are coming from all over the city, and many are new to the area. 

According to Pettiford, these homebuyers tend to be in their late 20s and early 30s and are looking for a great community to begin planting roots and raising a family. “Many are drawn to our neighborhood because of the charm, history, ease of access to downtown, low housing prices, and most importantly the sense of community that they feel while visiting, she said. 

Pettiford added that many of prospective buyers visiting Beverly/Morgan Park sense that this is a community that cares and supports local businesses, and has good public and private school options. 

Bill Biros agreed with this assessment, claiming that there have been “quite a few new people to Beverly” and a rise in “discoveries” in the local housing market. 

Many of these newcomers said they either met someone from this area or heard of Beverly/Morgan Park somewhere, which is “a very good sign,” Biros says. This recent notoriety has led to a surge in home purchases compared to previous years.  

Biros reported a 5% increase so far between 2018 and 2019, with a bigger increase expected as the year progresses.  

“Prices are headed in the right direction”, he said, which he attributes to more information being available to buyers now to educate them on what a fair market value is for a particular home. These days, buyers tend to do a lot of research when it comes to buying homes and tend not to bite at properties listed above a fair market price.  

Local price points, Fitzgerald said, range across the board depending on location and property conditionsBiros and Pettiford both say that homes that are fairly priced and in good condition often don’t stay on the market very long. Both Pettiford and Fitzgerald indicated the need for more local properties, as the fast-moving housing market is starting to generate low-inventory for buyers.  

For those looking to sell their homes in Beverly/Morgan Park, these realtors have a few tips.  

Fitzgerald recommends that sellers should “be doing all the little repairs and updates they have been meaning to get around to” and advises that nothing smells better than a clean house.  

Biros recommends that if buyers are looking for closing cost credit, sellers should look at the net price when considering.  

For those looking to buy homes, all three realtors stress that working with a local real estate agent is the best move to make.  

“We bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of the market to best assist our buyers. We can introduce them to aspects of home buying that they may not be aware of,” Fitzgerald said 

“It’s always easier to sell your own neighborhood, and local realtors know the area and know the right price points. For buyers, clients of the local realtors are the first to get notified about new listings and can get a jump on the market within an hour,” Biros said. 

“I see agents coming in with buyers and they can’t speak to the events going on in the community that bring everyone together. For me, my clients are not just clients – they are my new neighbors. It’s my job as not just the local realtor but as someone who chooses to live here, volunteer here, and raise my family here – to help them feel welcome,” Pettiford said 

With large grassy lots, wide tree-lined streets, and neighbors who will stop and chat with you, Beverly/Morgan Park has historically had a strong, healthy real estate market that gives residents great pride in their homes, a strong sense of communitygood local businesses, and excellent school. It’s no wonder that people from all over Chicago are choosing Beverly/Morgan Park as the place to raise their families.  

Real Estate Contact Information: 

Bill Biros,Berkshire Hathaway Home Services/Biros Real Estate, 708--422-0011 

bbiros@birosrealestate.comRich Fitzgerald, 773-779-6085 itzfitz@sbcglobal.netMichele PettifordColdwell Banker Homes, 708-424-4000 michele.pettiford@cbexchange.com 

Home Renovation 101: When to Bring in an Architect 

By Kristin Boza 

Among the missions of the recently revamped BAPA Housing and Preservation Committee is to offer design and construction advice while acting as a community resource. Mike Messerle, of Messerle Architects, is one committee member who has deep knowledge of the ins and outs of Beverly/Morgan Park architecture; in fact, he has designed countless projects over the last few decades for local homeowners. 

“We are here to give guidance to homeowners and make people aware that we have resources available to help them with their home improvement projects,” Messerle said. “BAPA has a contractor referral list, which lets the community know who is out there in the neighborhood.”  

Like many local homeowners, Messerle and his family moved to Beverly/Morgan Park because they were attracted to the unique character and great architecture. “Beverly is one of those communities where every house is different. I saw a lot of renovations going on in the neighborhood and wanted to get involved in these projects to preserve the look and feel of the neighborhood, and also because I realized that many homeowners were not using the services of an architect,” he said. 

Many homeowners feel that architects are a luxury and that their project is too small to recruit such experts. Not so, says Messerle. In fact, he advises anyone looking to do a renovation — no matter how large or small — to consult with an architect first.  

“Architects can help homeowners preserve the character of their home, but they also bring a vast expertise to the table,” he said. “Architects will plan and develop how things will go together, and they look at things in a different way than homeowners and contractors will. Beverly/Morgan Park is a prime example of utilizing the services of architects to establish our unique and rich community. 

Architects can act as a liaison between homeowners and contractors, and they can also help with choosing fixtures and tile. “I work with homeowners to understand what their needs are and what they want to get out of the project. Architects can also be on hand to communicate the homeowner’s wishes to the contractor, and help the homeowner interpret what the contractor is saying,” Messerle said. “Sometimes, homeowners have preconceived notions of what they want, but that’s not necessarily the best way to go. I help homeowners explore their options, and then provide them a visual drawing of what it could look like.” 

A surprising use of an architect is having help understanding the project budget and zoning and building codes. “Chicago is changing their building code to better align with national building codes; there will be a learning process for everyone that will help us be more efficient with building materials and increased energy performance,” Messerle said.  

The level of architectural expertise needed can vary, as will the architect’s fees. Architects can help with historic renovations, new construction, structural engineer and interior design — or smaller projects like determining if a wall is loadbearing, attaining permit documents, or providing construction oversight and observation. 

Messerle states that a homeowner’s best bet is to always reach out to an architect for any project, and to interview a handful before making a decision. “Ask about their expertise, project approach, as well as fees and billing structure,” he said. “Be sure to also check their references from past clients and also contractors they’ve worked with.” 

Preserving the beauty and feel of the homes in Beverly/Morgan Park is important to property values and the overall look of the community. “Just because a house is old doesn’t mean that it’s old. We can still enhance the property, identify and capitalize on the good things in the building while bringing it up to current standards and requirements,” Messerle said. “Architects can help homeowners improve the home they live in based on the homeowner’s technology, energy, and entertainment needs and styles.” 

Got a Project? Get a Permit

 

By Liam Millerick 
BAPA Housing Program Coordinator 

With spring here and summer just around the corner, many homeowners may be looking at making some slight alterations to their homes. One big concern is deciding whether to obtain a permit.  

A safe rule is to contact the city’s Building Department and check. However, here is a helpful guide building permits.  

Obtaining a permit from the city, when required, is an important step and failing to do so can have costly consequences. Homeowners who start construction on a permit-required projects without first obtaining a permit face the city issuing a stop work order, which immediately haltall construction. Work can then only be restarted after obtaining the permit and paying a penalty of $1,000. In some cases, work that was illegally completed will be removed. If a homeowner continues to violate permit protocols, they may face a fine of $1,000 per day of violation, up to 100 hours of community service and imprisonment for up to 6 months.  

Navigating the world of city building permit requirements can be complicated, so let’s begin with an outline of what projects a typical homeowner may wish to complete that don’t require permits.  

  • Most interior projects, like carpeting, hardwood flooring, tiling, painting and wallpapering 
  • Cabinetry without an electrical component 
  • Replacing windows and doors, as long as they are the same size and in the same location as the original windows and doors 
  • Replacing plumbing features, as long as they are the same size and in the same location as the original features 
  • Replacing siding 
  • Replacing toilets, sinks, faucets and tubs 
  • Replacing up to 250 bricks. 
  • Shingle work for roofs with a slope of 5 in 12 inches or steeper 
  • Building non-brick or non-chain link fences, up to 5 feet tall. 
  • Building gazebos, up to 150 sq. ft., as long as they comply with all zoning and construction requirements. 
  • Building an enclosed shed, up to 70 sq. ft., as long as they comply with all zoning and construction requirements. (One enclosed shed allowed per lot.) 
  • Up to 1,000 sq. ft. of drywall, as long as there is no alteration to the structural, plumbing, electrical or ventilation systems.  
  • Porches less than 50 sq. ft., excluding the steps, with a maximum of six feet between the ground level and the floor of the porch.  

It’s important to note that some of these projects that don’t require permits are conditional on the property itself. If your home is a designated Chicago landmark or is located in a Chicago Landmark District, you must obtain permission from the city before you replace siding, replace doors and windows, build fences, build porches or replace bricks. This is to preserve the historical significance of the buildings. 

The Chicago Department of Buildings issues many different types of permits, depending on what type of work being done and the size of the project. The city has experts who can guide you through the permit process, which can be tricky to navigate on your own.  

Here is a quick list of common home improvement projects that need permits. 

  • Installing insulation 
  • Installing light fixtures 
  • Installing porches and decks larger than 50 sq. ft.  
  • Building a garage 
  • Installing a green roof, solar panels, skylights, a chimney, dormers, or fixing a roof with a slope less than 5 in 12 inches 
  • Moving windows or doors, moving or removing walls 
  • Installing more than 1,000 sq. ft. of drywall, installing a boiler, furnace, or hot water heater 
  • Installing electrical, ventilation, security, irrigation, or plumbing systems 
  • Finishing or renovating a basement or attic 
  • Home additions, gut rehabs or wrecking 
  • Installing stairs or non-brick or non-chain link fences over 5 feet tall 

Spring Showers: Are Rain Barrels for You? 

By Scott Ware 

For some years now the City of Chicago has been marketing rain barrels as an almost painless step we can take to contribute to the ecology while saving on our water bills. Many homes are still connected to over-loaded city storm sewers. Installing rain barrels can cut you off from the municipal system 

The barrel boosters are a little more enthusiastic than frank when it comes to the costs and benefits for homeowners. Barrels cannot be used in the winter and frequently run dry in summer. Above, they are too small. A simple half inch rainfall would fill 2.5 rain barrels from a typical garage. Think of how many barrels your entire house would need. 

My house was built in 1871, before a storm water system existed in Beverly/Morgan Park. A downspout near my back door drops into a large brick cistern buried underground. This was the traditional solution to runoff from a roof, and to obtaining irrigation water during dry spells. Modern versions of my cistern are available with pre-fabricated tanks and many accessories. One system includes a waterfall and a pump that will connect to a garden hose. But these systems are a pricey to install. 

A cheaper solution is to build a dry well or French drain near each downspout and several feet away from the house foundation. The average “well needto be at least 3.5 feet deep. Run a PVC drain pipe from your downspout to side of the holeFill the hole most of the way with cheap ½-inch gravelplace a piece of landscape cloth on top then fill the remaining 6 inches with top soil. In effect, this is an underground rain barrel and can plant on top of it. 

If you already use a rain barrel, I suggest investing in a small submersible pump (perhaps 500 gallons per hour) to put in the bottom of the barrelThis makes all the difference in getting water where you want it and in a reasonable amount of time. Some pumps are sold as part of kits that have fittings to use with rain barrels. 

You can decrease overflow problems by hooking up a second barrel to the first. And in the absence of a pump, raising the height of the barrels will help with the water flow a little. Getting a barrel on top of a platform about knee high is a good compromise between water flow and safety.  

I found one unique solution in the front of my house. The house has wide eaves that keep rain from reaching soil near the house. The rhododendron plants there as a result do not get enough water. I therefore ran a 25-foot soaker hose from my corner rain barrel past the four shrubs and left the valve open. The barrel is never full and my shrubs now get as much water as the rest of the yard. 

Scott Ware owns a Beverly based landscape design and build service. He can be reached at 773-445-8479 or by email at scottware@aya.yale.edu. 

BAPA Home Expo

Connect With Experts on Home Improvement and Restoration

Since the 1970s, the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) has been connecting area residents with local tradespeople when they need help maintaining and repairing their vintage homes. On Sun., Feb. 24, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the BAPA Home Expo will showcase professionals offering foundation-to-ceiling advice on everything from renovation to decorating. The event will be held at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., and feature vendors, workshops and historic preservation resources.

“Every day we get calls from people looking for a reliable local business to hire for small and large jobs,” said BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood. “People trust BAPA and trust the businesses we recommend. The BAPA Home Expo will bring together people with questions about caring for their homes with experts in every aspect of home improvement.”

Audience admission to the BAPA Home Expo is free.

Home Improvement businesses interested in learning more about becoming vendors can call BAPA. 773-233-3100, for more information.

BAPA is also accepting applications for trades referrals listings from carpenters, contractors, roofers, electricians, plumbers, painters, plasterers, handymen, exterminators, landscapers and more.

The popular trades referral program requires that participating businesses provide three letters of recommendation from local customers and be fully licensed and insured. Businesses that receive complaints are subject to being removed from the list. Business owners interested in applying can email bapa@bapa.org or call 773-233-3100 for information and applications.

 

Association Campaigns to Stop Bungling Bungalows

We’ve all seen them: Classic Chicago bungalows with “pop out” roof additions that don’t come close to matching the architectural design and distinction of these classic homes, and frequently are lower quality than the original house.   

Since 2016, the Chicago Bungalow Association (CBA) has been campaigning against what they’ve termed “bungled bungalows,” targeting developers who tear off the homes’ upstairs level to build additions that CBA says “destroy the architectural and aesthetic value of homes and streetscapes, as well as neighbors’ property values.”  

The campaign – called #StopThePop – spread awareness about alternative additions that could put an end to what the Association sees as the destruction of Chicago’s iconic homes. The campaign got a lot of attention on social media as well as in Crain’s Chicago Business and the Chicago Tribune as well as on WGN Radio and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. 

“Because there are sensible alternatives, we believe pop-tops and all of their consequences are preventable,” said CBA Executive Director Mary Ellen Guest. 

#StopThePop is still getting attention, and after two years of work has unveiled the Bungalow Expansion Project  and Expanding Your Space guide on their website, www.chicagobungalow.org. The Bungalow Expansion Project design schemes were created in partnership with AIA Chicago residential architects. The project features detailed information on projects that include system upgrades, finishing basements, adding dormers and additions.  

Each project area offers complete information on how to plan, prepare, complete and even pay for projects that will preserve the integrity of the Chicago bungalow while enhancing its lifestyle opportunities. For example, the finished basement design offers step-by-step instructions for expanding a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom bungalow into a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom bungalow with a basement suite and remodeled first floor kitchen. The project does not change the existing house footprint.  

Exterior alterations call for redoing the back porch to add heat and adding egress windows for the basement. Interior alterations provide a complete list of tasks from adding rooms to widening the staircase, and includes system upgrades, like heating and plumbing. Project considerations cover dealing with basement water issues and meeting Chicago code requirements. Each project includes plans and renderings of the finished project, as well as cost estimates, broken out so homeowners can make informed decisions. 

Each project is designed to enhance the quality of living in the house, and plans provide more affordable options.  

“Our goal is not to tell homeowners what they can and can’t do with their homes,” said CBA Deputy Director Gillian Wiescher, “Rather, we want to educate on sensible attic additions that provide the desired added space while protecting the value of the home and streetscape. We encourage people to expand their spaces, open up kitchens, and finish their basements. That’s the beauty of bungalows. They are adaptable for the modern family.” 

Built between 1910 and 1940, bungalows make up about one-third of the city’s single-family housing stock, with an estimated 80,000 of them existing in dense neighborhood clusters that arc around the city center. During the bungalow building boom, the narrow, one-and-a-half story buildings provided efficient and well-built, yet inexpensive, housing options for many families. Originally purchased with unfinished attics, a growing family had the option to convert the space into a spare bedroom later on. 

When CBA started in 2000, bungalows were not desirable. First time homebuyers discounted them as “grandma’s house.” It’s evident now that bungalows are highly sought after. CBA’s approach is a practical one that developers and homeowners of all socioeconomic levels and geographic locations will benefit from. 

For more information on the Bungalow Expansion Project – Solution to Pop-Tops, as well as a considerable rescources for all aspects of upgrading, maintaining and “greening: bungalows and other vintage homes, visit www.chicagobungalow.org. 

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.

 

The Way I See It

By Scott Smith

Back in October, Crain’s Chicago Business published an article about how home sales in Beverly are on the rise and some of the reasons why.

Before saying more about that article, a couple of declarations are in order.

I serve on the board of the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) and I’m a board member with the Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative (where we’re working on the launch of a spring festival that highlights the need for more bike- and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods). I  also work with the Beverly Area Arts Alliance, where I produce a live storytelling series called The Frunchroom that tells stories about the South Side that don’t always make the headlines.

Like most people, I volunteer because of a belief about where neighborhood development should and must come from: a participatory community that has a voice in our neighborhood—and city. It’s the opposite of the typical top-down, politically driven model Chicago has often embraced.

Over the past few years, I’ve watched as small businesses here have created niche communities that become economic drivers, particularly in those places that elevate artists and writers.

Crain’s Chicago Business backed up what we’ve all seen with data and reporting: At the end of September, Beverly showed “a steep increase in home sales for the year to date.” How steep? An increase of 27 percent over the same period in 2016.

The piece goes on to quote real estate agent and Morgan Park resident Francine Benson Garaffo, who says that new groups and businesses formed in the past few years have “brought a new energy into Beverly,” and highlights two new breweries and a meadery, as well as the Arts Alliance and The Frunchroom. (The Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery on the border of Beverly and Washington Heights grew out of a brewing supply store on Western Avenue.)

We have to recognize what a hard turn this was, especially when the Arts Alliance’s Art Walk and Horse Thief Hollow (one of the two breweries mentioned) debuted. At the time, there was nothing like those breweries in the neighborhood. While both were warmly embraced, Western Avenue was (and still kind of is) a haven of shot-and-a-beer joints.

And while there were some art galleries in the neighborhood, most are like the Vanderpoel Art Museum—hidden away gems, and not something the neighborhood was known for to outsiders.

The changes are due to individuals who envisioned change and put entrepreneurial thinking behind it. It wasn’t thanks to a city or the ward office. It was people—many of them volunteers—banding together in common cause who then attracted like-minded folks to follow behind them. Horse Thief begat Open Outcry and the Meadery. The Art Walk begat The Frunchroom. Et cetera.

You see this spirit of volunteerism-meets-entrepreneurialism in BAPA as well. Though it has only three full-time staff members, it has an army of volunteers, homeowners, and local businesses who make it possible to create a yearlong slate of events like the Ridge Run, the Beverly Home Tour, Bikes and Brews, and more. They’re also not afraid to take on the city and advocate for the neighborhood, like in the current campaign to save the Ridge Park fieldhouse.

The Crain’s article also had something interesting to say about public schools in our neighborhood. In an interview with a new Beverly resident, schools were cited as “the top draw.” The elementary school they moved here for is Kellogg School, a public school with CPS’s highest rating, 1+ and scores a seven out of 10 points on the Great Schools rating service.

In a time of upheaval for Chicago Public Schools (CPS), it’s worth noting that people are moving to the 19th Ward because of our public schools.

It’s great to see the neighborhood’s arts scene, new restaurants and public schools creating an atmosphere where home sales and prices are on the rise. There are two lessons here:

If you have a vision for change in your community, you and your friends have the power to make it happen.

Decisions about our communities—especially our schools—should be participatory.

During the 2019 political campaign season, I’m sure many people will want to take credit for the rise in Beverly’s sales and home prices. I just hope they’ll mention the people who actually made it happen.