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Housing Bulletin: House-Hunting at the Mall and in Harbor Country

Scattered around the main concourse of Michigan Avenue’s Shops at North Bridge are the little kiosks where you would usually pick up some fun sunglasses or an iPod cover—and now, maybe, a $2-million condo.
A few weeks ago, Tricia Fox, a high-end agent at Keller Williams on the Gold Coast…

Scattered around the main concourse of Michigan Avenue’s Shops at North Bridge are the little kiosks where you would usually pick up some fun sunglasses or an iPod cover—and now, maybe, a $2-million condo.

A few weeks ago, Tricia Fox, a high-end agent at Keller Williams on the Gold Coast, took up residence at a kiosk just outside the main entrance to Nordstrom. Fox calls it a “permanent open house,” where she and her staff can showcase all of their listed properties at once.

Fox came up with the idea in part because many of her listings are in pricey high-rises where open houses for on-the-market units are not allowed. (Real-estate agents rely on the foot traffic at open houses to bring them potential new clients.) And because her office is on an upper floor AT 676 North Michigan Avenue, she can’t count on any drop-ins there. So Fox decided to go where the people are, hoping to meet potential buyers as they amble past her kiosk. “It’s a little like speed dating,” she says.

On their way to or from the department store, most shoppers won’t spend more than a few moments indulging their curiosity—if they stop at the kiosk at all—but Fox says that at least one actual client found her by way of the kiosk. Transferring to Chicago from another country, the man told one of Fox’s colleagues that he wanted to see units at the Trump Tower two blocks away. They set him up to see several right away.

Staffed by at least one member of Fox’s team whenever the mall is open, the kiosk has hard-copy pictures of listings, as well as images in rotation on a video display. Fox won’t say what she is paying to rent the kiosk—“We’re doing this on a trial basis,” she says—but notes that it has already cost her more than she expected: she and members of her Tricia Fox Group have been lured by the siren song of the shoe department nearby at Nordstrom.

ALSO: If you are in the market for a second home, you may want to drive over to Harbor Country in southwest Michigan this Saturday, April 25th. Real-estate agents there have strung together 150 open houses that day, from noon to 4 p. m. I haven’t been over there yet this spring to gauge the present state of the market, but on the event’s site, I saw several very promising properties with appealing prices. Some businesses in the region, including two wineries, are also involved, with invitation-only receptions that day for home shoppers. You can get an invitation by signing up at the site.

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