In this season of extreme markdowns, everybody is offering closeout prices—including the developers of two South Side real-estate projects. The McKinley Park Lofts and Jazz on the Boulevard, a condo and townhouse complex in Bronzeville, have both seen sales slow down dramatically, so the last blocks of units are going up for auction next week.
McKinley Park Lofts
The McKinley Park event is Tuesday night, Jazz on the Boulevard is Wednesday, and on Thursday night, a bank-owned single-family home in St. Charles gets auctioned. All three have open houses this weekend, and all details on bidding and buying are available here. “It could be a very good week for homebuyers who are looking for outstandingly low prices,” says Rick Levin, whose auction company is handling all three sales.
The two South Side auctions are not foreclosures; in both cases, developers started out with good sales a few years ago, but more recently “they have been disappointed and want to close out the projects,” Levin says. At McKinley Park, the developer Habitat is trying to offload the last 34 condos that it built in an old factory in a neighborhood that a few years ago was poised to take a lot of spillover development from Bridgeport. The one- to three-bedroom lofts, which the developer had priced at up to $374,900, have a minimum opening bid of $85,000.
Jazz on the Boulevard
Jazz on the Boulevard’s developer, Thrush, had been capitalizing on the mid–South Side boom, but it has 10 townhouses and 12 condominiums still unsold. The one- to three-bedroom condos, originally priced to $363,000, start bidding at $130,000, while the two- and three-bedroom townhouses, whose prices topped out at $625,000, start bidding at $150,000.
In both cases, the developers have made the first several auctions “absolute,” meaning the winning bid is guaranteed to be accepted. Winning bidders get their choice of any available unit. After the absolute sales—12 at McKinley and 7 at Jazz—what’s left gets auctioned one-by-one. Whether those get sold absolute or only above a “reserve” (the developer’s minimum sale price) will be determined the day of the auction. “It depends on how [developers] feel about the prices they got at the absolutes,” Levin says.
Out in the far western suburbs, Levin’s company has a six-bedroom house with four-plus bathrooms and a swimming pool up for auction. The house was last priced at $649,900; the opening bid is $250,000. Levin would not disclose the name of the lender or the circumstances of the former homeowner.
Levin can’t predict what the assorted properties up for auction next week will go for, but he does know what’s been going on at most of his recent auctions of residential real estate. “The sellers have been disappointed in what they got,” he says, “but they’ve taken it because they don’t see any alternative now.” Translation: Serious buyers might grab some serious bargains.
Finally, there is a new site that showcases possible bargains all over Chicago. It’s part of a national startup, with its picks in the Chicago region being handled by Geno Petro, a Chicago real-estate agent and triple-blogger. This guy looks at even more Chicago real estate each week than I do, which suggests if anyone knows where the bargains are now, Petro’s the one.
Photos courtesy of Rick Levin