If you’ve been biding your time waiting for the perfect affordable townhouse to hit the market in a coveted Chicago neighborhood, you may have missed your shot. True, the typical city residence still costs about 24 percent less than it did at the height of the housing bubble. But property prices in traditional townhouse neighborhoods have proved to be far from typical. Median prices for townhouses and condos in these areas are actually higher now: up 27 percent in Lincoln Park, 20 percent in Lake View, and 4 percent on the Near North Side (which includes the Gold Coast) since 2006, according to Midwest Real Estate Data.
The good news for buyers: Townhouse construction is heating up in neighborhoods where you can get much more for your money. In the past 12 months, 105 developments of five or more townhouses were built in Chicago, up from just eight in 2012, according to Metrostudy, a firm that tracks the real-estate market. (One reason for the boomlet: These days, it’s easier for developers to get loans for townhouses, which can be constructed one by one, than for big condo buildings.) You’ll find brand-new townhouses in up-and-coming Logan Square and Avondale for as little as $450,000, compared with a starting price of about $650,000 in Lincoln Park.
If you love crown molding and elaborate plasterwork, however, expect a challenging search. Most of these residences exude industrial chic rather than Old World charm. Consider 16 new townhouses at Hamlin and Schubert Avenues in Logan Square that came on the market in July. Heated concrete floors, high ceilings, and floating staircases are part of the package (at left). At presstime, the three-bedroom units were listed from $445,000 to $480,000—and each includes a private 49-foot backyard.
Go two miles east, to 2825 North Oakley Avenue in Avondale, and you’ll find 15 townhouses constructed this year that play to more conservative tastes: walnut cabinets, quartz countertops, and hardwood floors throughout. They also feature attached two-car garages (good luck finding that in Lincoln Park for under $700,000). Two four-bedroom, three-bath units were available at presstime for $550,000 each.
And if these don’t appeal, just wait a bit. Three developers have announced plans to build townhouses in Wicker Park, on the Near West Side, and in Bridgeport this fall.