Bidding Wars Are Pushing Chicago Home Sales Above the Asking Price

Multiple offers have recently pushed prices beyond sellers’ expectations on several homes in the Chicago area.

A recently sold house in River Forest

Photography: Dennis Rodkin

The home in River Forest, recently sold for $810,000

List Price (Lincoln Park, inset at right): $999,000
Sale Price: $1,026,000

List Price (River Forest, above): $799,000
Sale Price: $810,000

Here are two homes among the many that have recently set off bidding wars and wound up getting sold for more than the sellers were asking.

In these tight-inventory-meets-eager-buyers days, bidding wars have been flaring up all over the country. Redfin reported last week that in each of four major California markets, more than 80 percent of the offers that the company’s agents were involved with in June got caught up in bidding wars. By comparison, Chicago came off as a relatively pacifist place, with just 49.2 percent of June offers getting into fights.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re lovers, not fighters: While Redfin saw a slight decline in competitive bids nationwide, in Chicago the number went up a little, from May’s 48.4 percent. (To clarify: this is the proportion of all offers Redfin agents were involved in that got into bidding wars, not the proportion of all offers from all agents; that figure is harder to come by.)

A recently sold house in Lincoln Park
The Lincoln Park home, recently sold for $1,026,000

Think of it as crowdsourcing the price. Since the quick turnaround in the housing market began earlier this year, prices in some areas have been going up so fast that it’s hard to know how much higher than the recent comps a new listing will go for. Even agents, some of whom are experts at pinpointing a likely sale price, can be proven wrong: The micro-market that a particular home is in may inch up a bit in the short time between their making a price recommendation and the house officially getting onto the market. “You get very close to what the market value will be,” says Teresa Cosantini, a downtown Koenig & Strey agent who’s had several listings involved in bidding wars so far this year, “and then the bids go the rest of the way.”

The Lincoln Park house had been trying to figure out what its sale price was for a couple of years: It had been on and off the market since 2009, its asking price starting over $1.1 million and dipping down to $924,500 in late 2012. It came back on the market in May at a higher price, $999,000, and then bidders took it up another 2.7 percent from there. The deal closed July 8.

In River Forest, after the French-styled beauty came on the market in late May at $799,000, bidders took it up 1.3 percent. Clara Prouty, the Better Homes & Gardens Gloor agent who represented the winning bidders, says she wasn’t at all surprised to find they weren’t the only ones smitten. “It’s set back on the lawn under nice mature trees,” she says. “The slate roof, and the whole package inside is charming and comfortable, not ostentatious.” In other words, it was seductive. The deal was consummated July 10.

Other homes that have had multiple suitors include:

• This three-bedroom Winnetka house, whose sellers put the house up in May for precisely what they’d paid 10 years earlier: $857,000. It sold July 8 for 1.7 percent more: $872,500.

• A Lake View three-bedroom with an inviting garden that was on the market at $699,000 for just two weeks. It sold July 7 for $767,000, or 9.7 percent above the asking price.

Bidding wars can be nerve-wracking for both buyers and sellers; in my Ask Rodkin post tomorrow, I’ll have advice from the agents on these sales on how to deal with the situation.

Listing Agent (Lincoln Park): Jenny Ames of Coldwell Banker, 312-266-7000, jenny@jenniferames.com

Listing Agent (River Forest): Clara Prouty, 708-261-9855, cprouty@gloor.com

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