The Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, is a huge population center in the upper Midwest portion of the United States. Nearly 10 million people live in this region, and Chicago has long been a hub for all kinds of commerce, culture, entertainment, recreation, and more. Nicknamed the ‘Windy City’ for the breezes that often roll in off the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is the third most populous city in the country behind only New York and Los Angeles. Real estate is a hot commodity in Chicago thanks to ever-present demand and limited inventory in desired neighborhoods. Those seeking to own their own home anywhere in Chicagoland will need to have a specific plan and be willing to search out all possible options quickly after they hit the market.
Chicago is a business center that is a major player on the world stage. Producing over half a trillion dollars in commerce per year by some estimates, it is no surprise that many of the world’s biggest corporations call Chicago home. Financial exchange is a popular industry in Chicago, with the Chicago Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange being just a couple of the major influences over business in the city. Retailers also have made a home in Chicago over the years, with the headquarters for businesses such as Sears, Walgreens, OfficeMax, Ace Hardware, and Crate & Barrel being found in and around Chicagoland. For businesses not located in Chicago, the city still serves an important purpose as a convention center. With a location that is easy to reach for people all around the U.S., and a large hotel infrastructure, Chicago is an easy choice for many top trade meetings during the year.
As a general rule of thumb, the closer a property is to Lake Michigan in Chicago, the more expensive it will be. Of course this is not a hard and fast rule, but it is a good guideline when starting to learn about the city and the housing market as a whole. The neighborhoods on the lake side and to the north of downtown are the most expensive. Some of those include Near South Side, Forest Glen, North Center, Goose Island, Wicker Park, and DePaul. Each of those neighborhoods are more than $500,000 for an average listing. When looking for lower priced housing, Chicago features many neighborhoods that are less than $200,000 on average. Some of the more affordable areas in the city are O’Hare, Hermosa, Galewood, Morgan Park, Canaryville, West Elsdon, and Brighton Park.
As a world-class city that is home to international business, it is not surprising to learn that Chicago is a very diverse city overall. The population of more than 2.5 million within the city includes 31% Whites, 33% Blacks, 6% Asian, and 29% Hispanic. The city has a rather high median income of nearly $44,000, representing all of the career-minded employment opportunities that can be found in the city. Unlike most cities, the population of Chicago has actually been on a steady decline over the last few decades. The population peaked in the 1950’s, but has since seen a drop of over 1 million residents, most likely moving out to suburbs in the surrounding Chicagoland areas.
Single family homes and condo buildings are about equally common in the city of Chicago. The farther away from downtown a property is, the more likely it is to be a single family home as opposed to a condo. More people own their own homes in Chicago than is seen in other major cities, with almost 44% being owners who live in their property full time. Most major metropolitan areas see a lower number than that, indicating that those living in Chicago are committed to staying in the long term and wish to own their property and build equity in time.
So far in 2013, the real estate market in Chicago is on the rise. Prices are rapidly increasing, including an almost 25% rise in the median sales price, which is now at $248,000. The average listing price of properties in Chicago has also climbed a couple percent, reaching nearly $415,000. Most notably, houses are being listed and sold more frequently in Chicagoland than they have been in recent years. The number of sales within the city of Chicago has gone up 46% as compared to last year, with more and more homeowners being able to sell their houses for a profit as prices continue to rise.
Prospective buyers in the Chicago area will have a number of choices in both price range and location for their new property. While most will want to buy in an area close enough for an easy commute to work, the train system in the city makes commuting a distance a little easier to manage. Once a neighborhood or a group of neighborhoods has been picked out, it is just a matter of finding the right opportunity come available and beating out any other bidders. As the market continues to improve in 2013 in Chicagoland, prices and competition seem sure to increase rapidly. Being the third-biggest city in the country means Chicago is rarely boring, and real estate is almost always fast paced.
Bell Real Estate - Broker
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