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Finding a Bargain

Naomi Vazquez and her family buy a foreclosed two-flat in Englewood for $10,500

Vazquez poses proudly with her sons (and assistants) inside the Englewood two-flat that she is rehabbing.
Vazquez poses proudly with her sons (and assistants) inside the Englewood two-flat that she is rehabbing.

 

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That was because this single mother of three, a special-education teacher with Chicago Public Schools, expected to be living in the rehabbed house with her sons by the end of the summer, leaving behind the single bedroom they had been sharing in her mother’s apartment.

Starting in mid-2008, Vazquez had put away $1,000 a month—half her monthly take-home pay—for ten months so she could afford the startup costs of a new apartment. But when she learned that the $10,000 she had saved might buy her a foreclosed property, she was hot on the case.

With help from her agent, Clemencia Garcia of Rising Realty, Vazquez scoured the North and South Side neighborhoods that had been hardest hit by foreclosures in the wake of the predatory lending years. She ultimately settled on a vintage two-flat at 57th and Morgan streets, not far from Sherman Park. She paid $10,500. No, there isn’t a zero missing; that’s the total price Vazquez paid.

The previous owner had taken out a $165,000 mortgage in June 2007—a lot of money for property in this hardscrabble neighborhood—and by March 2008, the bank had started foreclosure proceedings. (The parties involved could not be reached.) The bank then sold the property to Vazquez at a 93.6 percent loss, not an uncommon markdown these days for foreclosed derelict properties in low-income neighborhoods.

Vazquez took possession of a house that had been partially renovated—nobody knows exactly when, for certain—but then left to molder. She is now setting aside $1,000 every other month for rehab work on the place. During a work break, a cloud of plaster dust settled over Vazquez as she described plans for a study room for her sons, murals on the walls, and a recording studio and a sauna (for her) down in the basement. Then Vazquez laughed and said, “That’s the plan, at least.”

 

Photograph by Bob Coscarelli; photo assistant: Flint Chaney

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