Written by Center Coast Agent Brendan O’Donnell.
After five years as a Realtor and helping more clients than I can count buy condos here in Chicago, the tables finally turned. I bought a condo, everyone!
My wife Tamara and I have always known 2018 was our year to become homeowners. We’ve been renting in East Humboldt Park for seven years, saving up for that perfect condo that we’d want to call home for the foreseeable future. We were open to moving to Logan Square, but our heart was really set on staying in our current neighborhood. It’s where Tamara grew up, where we’ve lived our entire adult life in Chicago, and where a lot of our biggest relationship milestones have taken place (we had our first real date and got engaged at Bite Cafe down the block)
I know from working with so many clients that it’s important to separate the search criteria that you absolutely have to have from the stuff that doesn’t matter as much. I have to say, I might be the simplest client I’ve ever had because I really had only one absolute must-have that I couldn’t budge on – a spacious and bright living room. That’s where I spend all my time when I’m not in the office. I work in there, I eat in there, and I unwind in there. I’m not a hang out in my bedroom or a master-chef kind of homebuyer – Tamara’s the master chef type, though. As the cook in our family, a nice big kitchen was her big must-have during our search. Based on those two criteria alone, I pretty much knew that we were either going to be buying a spacious vintage unit that was built a hundred years ago, or a newer construction building that was completed in the last ten years or so.
Our lease was up August 1st, and Tamara travels a lot for her job, so I worked our timeline backward and pinpointed the 3-week window in mid-late May that would work for us to kick the search in high gear. We’d been casually searching before then just to get an idea of what we liked, and because of course as a Realtor, I find these things fun.
One weekend in May, we went on a marathon day of showings and saw ten different places. We made an offer on the one that we liked the best, but given that it was late May, we weren’t surprised when it got multiple offers and sold for over asking price that same day. Then, the next day, another condo came on the market that was nearly identical to the one we’d liked over the weekend. I knew that if this place was still available by the weekend, it would surely be a repeat of what we’d just experienced and sell for over asking price. So instead of letting that happen, Tamara and I checked it out mere hours after it was listed, and made an offer that same night. It was a good enough offer that I thought the sellers wouldn’t be able to refuse, basically solidifying that we wouldn’t have to partake in another bidding war and pay over asking price to make the condo ours.
So which was it – the spacious vintage unit that was built a hundred years ago, or the newer construction building that was completed in the last ten years or so? It was the latter. Not only did this place have the big, bright south-facing living room, but I wouldn’t have to mount my TV over the fireplace, which was a big win for me! And it had a nice open kitchen for Tamara that opened up right into that living room, so we can be together while hanging out in our two favorite rooms in the condo. Possibly the funniest part about this was that this condo was literally right around the corner from our apartment – we could practically see the building from our window. Moving approximately 70 feet sounded pretty nice. Our cat, Miss Moneypenny, approved as well.