Did you have any luck? What has happened?
I saw a house on HUMPHREY that closed for 44% of it's asking price for a 5 bedroom 2 bath home close in September for only $160,000. I can only guess that this house probably was purchased for so low because the buyers convinced the sellers that it was in such bad shape it should be torn down. Oak Park is a wonderful community with so much to offer but you are right, they need so much work to even make them liveable in your price range. If you haven't bought yet, give yourself plenty of room financially to make necessary repairs. Only put down 5% if you can and put the rest in an emergency fund. In negotiating a price, ask the sellers for credits for necessary repairs and assistance with closing costs. Do NOT be afraid to offer much lower than the asking price.
Interesting conundrum you and many buyers are finding themselves in these days... What can you really lose by putting in the offer at your preferred price? Many sellers are negotiating far more than they would have previously. Conversely, many sellers would not be able to afford to sell their homes for much less than they're asking... It's a case by case situation, and you won't know til you try. Best of luck!
Laurie Christofano, Realtor with The Pych Team @ RE/MAX in the Village, your #1 pick for local full service real estate services
Place an offer and see if the seller is willing to go with it. I always recommend my clients write a letter expressing their interest and complimenting the seller's home (everyone is in a more favorable mood when complimented) when bidding in a competitive situation. When writing a letter to the owner, careful to not play the violin for too long. You want to make sure that you let the owner know you are motivated to purchase, love the home, and are capable of closing. This should get you the best response.
I would suggest having your agent look at the recent sales and comparing this home to known closings. If 275K looks like a fair price, include these comparables with your offer.
I too looked long and hard at Oak Park and River Forest during my home search a few years ago. I ended up purchasing a fabulous prairie school home in North Maywood. We love our home and our neighborhood, and still are only a short bike ride/walk to OPRF area. Nowadays, I am a Landmarks Commissioner in Maywood and am proud to be part of the vibrant renaissance happening there. There will be a historic housewalk in Maywood on July 13. Email me if you'd like more info. If you're interested in exploring alternatives, ask your agent to show you properties in Berwyn, Maywood, Galewood, Elmwood Park, etc.
Good luck with the search.
Now, where do you come up with the down payment and avoid PMI. Do what I did and go with bank of America. I locked in at 6.75 and I am only putting 5% down. Also, they are paying for ALL CLOSING costs except taxes, insurance, escrow. So now you have some more money to make a counter-offer.