Do you know the 4400 block of North Richmond Street? It's a quiet, park-like group of 100-year-old bungalows at the eastern edge of Albany Park—and this riverfront stretch of historic Ravenswood Manor is alive with sales and listing activity.
This one block has seen four bungalows change hands in the last 12 months. Two more are on the market now. For $530,000, there's a deceptively spacious classic 1920s bungalow with a finished basement, charming yard, and 2-car garage. Then, for $499,999, there's a 1912 bungalow with four bedrooms, 2,000 square feet, a heated sunroom, 2.5-car garage, two huge decks, and a perennial garden.
Seller Annie and her family are bound for Rogers Park. “It’s been a great place to live, but I want to be able to walk to the beach,” she called down from the second-floor deck, while I shot photos. “And we don’t need the yard space with our teenagers hooked on video games.”
The attraction to the neighborhood has a lot to do with its garden suburb character—wide streets, deep front lawns, single-family homes, and proximity to the sizable Horner Park (with its man-made sledding hill!). As for transit, the brown line wends through it all—its 1907 extension spurring the first housing tracts by real estate developer William E. Harmon. There’s a tight cluster of retail around the Francisco stop, and Montrose and Lawrence Avenues deliver more services. But once you're in the neighborhood, you feel as if you're fully removed from the bustle of the city.
Of the four recent sales on the block, three have about 1,200 square feet of living space and sold for more than $400,000. It took under three months for each to sell. The remaining sale was for a slightly larger bungalow that sputtered through a year-and-a-half on the market, closing in March for $475,000, after asking $629,900 in the summer of 2012.
With all the sales, the neighborhood has very low overall inventory to start 2014, and there's an almost total lack of new properties. “Not one new construction home was sold in the Manor in the last 15 months,” says Kale Realty’s Eric Rojas, a broker with local experience. During that time frame, according to MRED stats, 23 single-family homes sold in the compact neighborhood—“all original built, early 1900s homes with varying degrees of renovation.”
In Ravenswood Manor as a whole, 2013 was busy, with 21 single-family sales and a median price of $475,000. “Most homes that sell under the median are move-in ready vintage brick bungalows in need of kitchen and bath updates,” adds Rojas.
Even if a buyer has some work to do, it's easy to see why these places are in demand—precious few spots in the city have this garden suburb environs a stone’s throw from dense, diverse urban neighborhoods like Lincoln Square and Albany Park.