Franco J. Go…, Home Buyer in Chicago, IL

Condos in West Town: your thoughts, please...

Asked by Franco J. Gonzales, Chicago, IL Fri Feb 8, 2008

I have noticed a number of new (2006-2008) condo buildings on Van Buren (btwn Damen and Western), along Western (btwn I-290 and Madison), and along Madison. New, nice interiors, good value per sq. ft. as of Jan08. Considering buying in the area (for prim residence).
I hear all extremes from friends regarding the area (from hot and up&coming to rough and don't even think about it). Prices in two of the buildings I have seen have already dropped ca. 20-25% in the last 4 months, are still not finished, doens't look like anybody's moved in (public records show sales in Sep 07)... are these major red flags? Chi police maps for the area are serious. Can't tell if all that new construction will clean the area a little or if there is not much hope for it.

Your expertise and any info (and/or predictions) on the appreciation/depreciation behavior of this area would be much appreciated.
Also, can't really tell if that much supply is drowning or improving the area - your opinion?


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Bill Hope’s answer
I dont live in WestTown but Humboldt Park rather and love it. The park is the key feature and there is a ton of new construction with young professionals moving in with their families here. I live very close to the park and feel very safe. There are two police officers that just moved in across the street as well. The neighbors are great and consistently helping each other out. If you purchase in the Humboldt Park area anywhere near the park itself, you will definitely see a huge return within 3 - 5 years.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 12, 2009
I bought in West Town 3 years ago and it was the BEST decision I've ever made. We are planning on renting out our place since we've outgrown it and will easily cover costs (including taxes) which shows people want to be living here in West Town!

The growth and development has been tremendous and seems bigger than ever now, even with the 'recession' talks. Get more for your money now in this area and watch your investment grow and grow and grow (like I have).
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
I disagree with the last post about getting the heck out of West Town. Sure the area has some room for improvement but based on the restaurant/bars moving in on Chicago and Grand, the remodeling done on Chicago avenue and the multiple developments still going up each week I would say that the area is a great investment. I am looking to buy again in the neighborhood for me and my fiancee. If anyone seeing this post knows of any great deals send me an email to I LOVE WEST TOWN.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
Honestly I wouldn't touch west town I have a friend that just got the heck out after 5 years. That's one of those areas I discussed in another post that was on the cusp and when the market went down it will revert back to bad area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
The detailed nature of your post leads me to one conclusion- you need a buyer's agent before you make any serious moves. You need to see CMA for whole area, analysis of absorbtion rates, reputation/financial condition of developer, etc. One rule of thumb to remember, it does not matter what the sales price is or whether it was dropped. The issue is what the home is worth (and will most likely be worth). Also, realtors get quarterly reports on each neighborhood that will shed a lot of light on your question. It is just not an easy question answered here so be careful!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
How long do you plan to live in your primary residence? Two-Three-Five years? If it's less, then I would suggest you choose a more established neighborhood. Don't get me wrong, West Town is a great up and coming area. Long term, it will be a great investment. Short term, you would have to deal with various construction projects and certain nuances of any new (non-established) neighborhood. With the prices being so reasonable you will see a lot of first time home buyers, singles and couples alike.

Depending on the location of the property, size of the developers construction loans and other fees coupled with the credit crunch that banks are now implementing, it's harder for first time home buyers to purchase those homes (these are the clients that developers had in mind when they set out to build) Now there is a surplus of properties that not many people with credit scores under 680 (Newly established for Fannie Mae) can obtain. This isn't to say that once all the guidelines are set in place that there won't be a surge of people buying in West Town....because there will be.

Bottom line is that it's going to be a great neighborhood. Can you stick it out until it is? Keep in mind that a lot of your equity can come from purchasing at the right price (at a 20-25% discount, a developers loss can sometimes be your gain). Get the best deal you can!

I'm happy to help with any additional questions you have.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
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