Condos are great starter homes. They share some of the top-heavy costs of buying a house (inspections, appraisals, closing costs) but provide a minimal-maintenance lifestyle once you’re in. And, if we set the price ceiling somewhere reasonable, like $250,000, you can find plenty of options for young professionals, couples, or even new families in some of Chicago's best neighborhoods.
You can find something nice and stay under budget in Edgewater—a dense and diverse North Side community with draws like good grocery stores, walkable shopping, leafy streets, and easy lake access.
Real estate turns over quite rapidly around here. But as of this week, at least, here are five noteworthy listings:
There happens to be a top-floor opening at the 55-story Park Tower Condominiums, that unmistakable tubular black building higher than every other tower north of Lakeview. But there's an even better unit 10 floors down: a just-renovated 850-square-foot one-bedroom unit. The kitchen is especially nice, with built-in stainless steel appliances and a granite peninsula island. The asking price is $219,000 with a monthly assessment of $587—steep, but including utilities and building amenities like an indoor pool and health club.
For a little more space and some outdoor access, look at this $200,000 two-bedroom spread in a 1920s courtyard building on Ridge Avenue, the boundary of Andersonville and Edgewater Glen. The highlights include a new kitchen, pristine hardwood flooring, and a sunroom dining area. The private outdoor space basic wood decking, but being on the building’s top level gives you a little more privacy and plenty of afternoon light. Ridge Avenue is busy, but this location is a short walk to the main retail stretches on Clark Street and Broadway. And, notes listing agent Jim Buczynski of Conlon Real Estate, a new Metra station is coming to Peterson and Ravenswood Avenues with construction to begin in spring 2015.
The leafy pocket of homes centered on Lakewood-Balmoral could be considered Edgewater’s sweetspot, with easy access to Clark Street shopping, the CTA at Broadway, and the lake a few blocks further east. For condo buyers, there are a number of vintage multi-family buildings running up and down Glenwood Avenue. One of these, at Rascher Avenue, has an expertly finished two-bedroom condo with bright hardwoods, a Jacuzzi tub, gas fireplace, large kitchen with granite counters, and a respectable deck. The rooms are all a nice size and add up to nearly 1,000 square feet.
Listing agent Dorothy Wulf of @properties and the seller had hoped for—and expected—more aggressive interest at the initial asking price of $249,900. When that didn’t come this spring, they nudged the price down to $234,500. That doesn’t seem like a big change, but small margins count at this price point and in this neighborhood.
A block south of the Rascher listing is a rival pad—minus one bedroom—at Glenwood and Balmoral. The first-floor unit in a dapper 1915 has the unusual feature of a second half-bath, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The open kitchen has tons of counter space and a long seating area. The unit gets extra style points for its heavy vintage doors and abundant wood trim. And, being a one-bed, a little comes off the asking price. Currently listed for $209,900, the home sold in 2009 for $215,000.
For a comfortable amount of space that dips below $200,000, you could get lured into a bleak Sheridan Road high-rise—but you can usually do better on the blocks between Ashland and Ravenswood Avenues. Trackside Ravenswood itself has a mix of houses, flats, and funky converted industrial lofts, whereas the blocks just to the east are quieter and more uniform. At Rascher and Ravenswood, an available condo with one bedroom plus a den hit the market in late June for $199,900.
This third floor spot has the requisite hardwood floors, granite counters, and back deck, but goes an extra mile with nice lighting and cherry cabinets. For a greenspace-challenged part of town, this address does very well: the lovely Winnemac Park is a half-mile southwest, a nice neighborhood garden lines the Metra tracks a couple of blocks south, and, if you like cemeteries, you've got 350 acres to explore in Rosehill just a block north.
Still feeling stuck?
Wait a week and refresh your Edgewater search—there will be a dozen new options to sort through.