With so many gorgeous, elegantly designed and finished luxury properties on the Chicago real estate market, it is easy to be dazzled by a stunning interior or a building with tons of amenities. However, whether you are buying a home to live in or an investment property, there are some key elements that you should look for in order to maximize the condo or town home's value. Here are the key questions that our real estate team suggests you ask the agent and yourself before you sign on the dotted line..
1. Will these amazing views stay unobstructed? Or is there construction planned nearby? After all, it would be a shame if your new place's sweeping views from a terrace, balcony, or floor to ceiling window only lasted a year or so.
2. Get the details on all the finishes - flooring, tiles, counter tops, cabinets, customized closets and storage systems, etc. Even if you know you like the look, you want to know the brand names, both so you can research the durability and any special features or unique provenance, and potential resale value in the future.
3. Same goes for appliances, especially in the kitchen. Even if you are hardly an avid cook, a well equipped chef's kitchen (or a butler's pantry, wine cellar, and similar extras) can be a great selling point in the future. Don't forget about in-unit laundry or other luxe touches like heated floors and towel racks in the bathrooms.
4. What is included in the HOA fees and are there any specific rules about what you can and can't do with your unit? This isn't the most exciting part of finding a new place, but you need to know which aspects of maintenance are handled by the property and any unusual restrictions like having grills or other furniture on your own terrace, breeds of pets that are allowed, etc. - before you accidentally break them.
5. Will you really use all the amenities in the building? Sure, tennis courts or multiple pools are nice, but if you're not a fan of either activity, then you might not really need to pay a premium for these. On the other hand, if you work from home, a gym and a business center can be invaluable - the former for sneaking in a quick workout, and the latter for client meetings and back-up printing and tech support.
6. What grocery stores, markets, restaurants, delivery and takeout services, and other dining options are nearby? You need to eat after all, so being able to readily access your preferred sources and types of food can make all the difference in your satisfaction with your new home.
7. Are there green spaces, walking/running/biking paths, and dog parks close by (if applicable)? Even the most hardcore urbanite sometimes needs an escape, so proximity to parks is important - doubly so if you have a dog or two, or children who'll want to play outside.
8. Does the layout work for your lifestyle? An open plan loft can be great if you live by yourself, but with a partner or family it can be nice to have your own space with actual walls and doors - everyone needs their alone time.
9. What is the atmosphere of the building and who else lives there? Of course, this applies more to condo seekers, but you don't necessary want to bring a family into a building full of young adults with a vibrant "party" or social atmosphere - you're likely looking for something quieter close to high quality schools. On the contrary, if you're a young professional, you likely want a place that's a bit more lively and situated near the nightlife.
10. Location, location, location. The ultimate real estate buzzword always applies. Not only should your new place be in a neighborhood that fits your immediate needs as far as parks, shopping, entertainment, schools, and such, but it should be easy commute whether you walk, drive, take the CTA, or rely on cabs, Ubers, and Lyfts. Practice doing the commute at least twice - once in bad weather - so you get the idea of your daily routes and the time they'll take before you commit.
11. Does the idea of coming home to this particular space make you smile? If not, keep looking - there's something out there for you. Need help finding the ideal Chicago condo or home? Let our agents help you out and contact us today!