Home Buying in 60611>Question Details

George Miller, Home Buyer in 60611

I am from out of state and looking to retire to Chicago. In particular, I am interested in living in the John Hancock Center.

Asked by George Miller, 60611 Thu Jan 7, 2010

If I buy instead of rent, I would pay cash in the amount of about $400K, maybe a bit less. Is it a well-run building? Would I be better off renting to see if I like it? Is it a "quiet" building (that's important to me)? I've seen some of the units and like them. I want to run along the lake, and it seems like this area is safe, and fun. Thanks for the input.

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi George,

Welcome to Chicago.

While the John Hancock offers a great location, it rarely comes up in my conversations with clients when we look in the area. For instance yesterday a client and I discussed prospective units in and around Streeterville and we included the usual suspects of well-run buildings - 900 Lake Shore, 1030 State, we even stretched to 1660 LaSalle.

This is not to degrade Hancock, but I don't perceive it through the prism of being a good investment (where you get on the back end more than what you set on the table on the front end). The other issue at Hancock is cross-patterned bars that occlude views from various units. These bars grant Hancock its pleasing exterior aesthetic but can be a headache from inside.

Currently there are four active units, including one just north of $400k that is striking in its appearance. Listed today at $417k, the seller bought in 2007 for $394k. I would imagine any transaction, to the seller's chagrin, will be south of what he paid.

Two additional things: some economists say there is a bit more decline before us. And yet others say the opposite. The point is that now is as good a time as ever to make the purchase you desire. This would be the only reason to buy rather than rent.

If I might provide any other information, please do me the favor of contacting me through my profile.


Tom McCarey
Expertise in Negotiation, Buyers' Representations and Luxury Home Marketing
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010

I'll keep it simple, the market is not going anywhere any time soon. Rent at first!!

Good luck,

1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 27, 2010

I would also recommend that when someone is new to Chicago that they rent first in the neighborhood that interests them before they make a commitment to buy - especially in this market renting is a good option. If the neighborhood ends up being the neighborhood that you fall in love with - then consider buying. I'm sure a sublet in the Hancock will give you the time that is required to make an informed decision.

Good luck with the move George!
Planning on a move to Chicago - contact me for honest advice.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 24, 2010
You picked one of Chicago;s landmarks. I live five minutes away and love all the fabulouis thigs
about the building. I would be delighted to show you The John Hancock and several other
beautiful building with all the amenities. Please email me your phone number so that we can chat. Thanks for your email. mLOis Schwarz-Charles
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 23, 2010
There is asbestos in the building but it is easily encapsulated by professionals, if you talk to building mgmt they have list of guys who have worked in the building
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010

Perhaps you should consider a lease with an option to purchase so that you can lock in today's price without making the long-term commitment to a building that you are not yet sure about.

Eric Marcus
ESM Realty
Your Real Friend in Chicago Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
Do some of your own homework first--real estate professionals are prohibited from enticing a buyer to purcahse, or not, in any building/neighborhood--after all opinions are just that and what may be good for one is not necessarily the case for another. Visit more than once and different times of day, see if you get a sense of belonging, decide if your comfort level can be reached. As far as safety is concerned, your best source of information is the local police department, why not visit and and ask all your questions--you'll be glad to have heard all firsthand. Then take it from there.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the asbestos in the building. It has been remediated to some extent but I would be sure to get that clarified.

As for the milieu of the building...just hang out in the residential areas for a while to see what you think.

Renting is a pretty good option in Chicago - often much cheaper than buying. There's a lot for rent in the building.
Web Reference: http://blog.lucidrealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
George, with your buying power I suggest you consider all your options. Obviously you want to be happy with the area and building you choose, but you should take full advantage of the market and get the best deal possible. This may mean buying a distressed property in need of renovation.

Moreover, being a cash buyer, I'd think short-sales and foreclosures should be your primary focus since mortgages tend to be the single greatest obstacle to closing on an REO property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
I have shown many units in the Hancock. The majority of my clients that have seen units in there really enjoyed the building. It is a well established landmark building. I would say that right now is a great time to buy. However, my main questions to you is have you ever lived in Chicago? How many times have you visited here? I am asking this because if you have only been here a few times, and dont really know the different areas amd buildings Chicago offers, it may be best to rent first. If you are very familiar with Chicago though, I would start browsing the Hancock now!

Go out and get an experienced broker that can help you through the buying process. I would interview two or three agents and go with the one you mesh best with, Whichever agent you choose, make sure you go with one that has experienced working with an out of state/country buyer. I would be happy to help!

Matt Laricy
Americorp Real Estate
Brokers Associate, e-PRO
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
Good morning, George.

The Hancock is a gorgeous, iconic Chicago landmark, as are more than a handful of buildings on the Magnificent Mile. The views can be spectacaular as well. I agree 100% with the Chicago Viewpont guys. Now is the time to act decisively and make the purchase. Understanding that you may well purchase with all cash, you should also be aware that interest rates are set to rise this Spring. The Fed is going to terminate the Liquidity Facility that has been instrumental in untangling the gridlock that was the mortgage industry last year, thus keeping rates artificially low. Between now and April/May, mortgages for the well-qualified should continue to hover in the 5% range. According to my lender partner at WinTrust (the only lendtr of 3 personal contacts that have survived this economic environment), once the Liquidity Facility is terminated, it is very likely that rates will rise sharply. Financing, even just taking out a small mortgage, rather than paying cash could actually help you save in the long run.

My best advice to you is to engage a full time veteran professional Buyer's Agent with experience in both the rental and sales markets. Knowing a number of the agents who have responded to you, I advise that you interview at least 3 of us. We all have access to the same real-time data, yet it is often the chemistry between Agent and Client that makes the experience a win-win.

Best of luck,
John Astorina
Keller Williams Realty
Chicago, IL
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
Mr Miller,

There are two 2br 2ba units at $475,000 and one at $417,000 on the market. There are three 1br units priced at $327K, $369K, and $369K/ The building is beautiful and the location is great. I am not sure what you consider "quiet" but do keep in mind that the building is a tourist attraction with storefronts and restaurants on the first floor. If you'd like to see what is available there click the below link and click on "search now" .

Jeff Nobleza
Baird & Warner
773-770-7530 office
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
The Hancock is well run based on the standards of the reserve fund is well over 1M and the % of owner occupancy is on the 80% range. These are better than average numbers compared to many buildings in the area, but there are a huge number of buildings in that area and others that are very nice also. At 400K you can get a one bedroom that needs some updating and possible one that does not. It's a huge building with many layouts/views/etc, but there have not been a huge number of 1 bedrooms available in the past year.
I do not think there are any noise issues in the building, but the assessments are a bit on the high side compared to some others, but on cost/sf basis still reasonable. The SF of the units in the Hancock tend to be bigger than many other buildings and closet space tends to be better than average.
While it is agreat time to buy, since you are coming from out of state, perhaps you might like to rent for a while and get a better 'feel' for the area.
I can send you a sample of units available in the Hancock and other similar buildings if you want to see what I mean.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
John Hancock can be a great investment it is a great building with excellent amenities. The building is very well run and very safe. I recently sold unit 6208 it was listed for $650k and we got it for 524,800 it was about 1800 sq ft. The assessment is $1299 a month. There are a variety of units in this building. I live blocks from here, why don't you call me and we can talk about the available inventory.

Simir Shah
630 835 4042
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
I'd be than happy to send you additional information on the bdlg. To get started you may want to also take a look at what is currently available. This can be done easily, I just need your email address & you would receive available properties direct to your email. When you see one that meets your specifications just mark your interested & we can set up an appointment for you. Would you be looking for a 1bd?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
The John Hancock property is one of the best managed condominium buildings in Chicago-its units are quiet and there is a separate residence entrance. Regarding rent vs purchase-you probably will not see a better buyers market as it exists now. If you want to avoid the "I could have-I should have bought syndrome" a year from now then do what a number of smart investors are practicing-carpe diem!
Web Reference: http://thescovellteam.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
John Hancock can be a great investment it is a great building with excellent amenities. The building is very well run. I recently sold unit 6208 it was listed for $650k and we got it for 524,800. The assessment is $1299 a month. There are a variety of units in this building. I live blocks from here, why dont you call me and we can talk about the available inventory.

Simir Shah
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
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