Home flipping in Chicago is on solid ground again, according to a recent report by brokerage firm Redfin. And, as this June article said, established developers are very involved, especially on the high end—in places like this newly renovated house that just hit the market, for $1.385 million, on Paulina Avenue north of Addison Street.
Jeff Wong of JW Real Estate (also operating under the name Viking Ventures) intends for this space to rival new builds at or above a $1.4 million price point. The company has been in the biz for more than a decade, with suburban new-builds being their original specialty. They revamped the business model in 2008 to weather the bust, and now focus on renovations in the city and suburbs with the occasional new construction home. With renovations, there’s a risk in the unforeseen—termites, rot, cracked foundations—but there’s considerably less cost than with a teardown and rebuild.
Another advantage to renovating is being able to shrug off today’s required setbacks. New construction on a standard 25-foot-wide city lot would only be allowed to fill 20 feet of that width. It so happens that this four-bedroom home is built to the property line on the north and to within 18 inches on the south. The benefit to interior space on all levels is pronounced, particularly in bedroom size and where the kitchen and living room meet at the back of the main level.
The home is very much in line with custom new construction sprouting up all over central Lake View and North Center. Thanks to a finished basement and a dormered attic, the former two-flat now just about hits 4,000 square feet—about double the prior finished square footage. And the high-end finishes, selected with the help of listing agent Karen Pence in her dual role as interior designer for her client, include coffered ceilings, slick lighting and cabinetry, and ample stone, marble, and hardwood.
The wall colors—grays and off-whites—are apparently what the masses are clamoring for nowadays. “Everybody used to go for the Pottery Barn tans,” says Pence. “Those colors are basically out.” No hints remain of the 1894 structure. According to Pence, the place was stripped to the studs, and that even the siding had to be peeled away for the Hardie boards to lay correctly. One endearing structural kink is the presence of a small alcove at the top of each flight of stairs—perfect office or library nooks, or even additional closet space.
JW Real Estate paid $570,800 for the two-flat in September 2013. Relatively few developers or investors get involved in flips at this price level, because there is so much cheap stock in neighborhoods like McKinley Park, Bronzeville, Portage Park, and Avondale. Generally, you can turn a $200,000 bungalow flip faster than a four-story single-family place at well over a million bucks.
Price Points: Just around the corner on Grace Street, a renovated 5,200-square-foot Greystone with comparable finishes sold in October 2013 for $1.7 million. Large new construction homes make up more of the nearby sales comps.