Chicago’s Real Estate Market – What’s Hot, and What’s Next?

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According to Crain’s Chicago, private-sector jobs in Chicago have hit their highest levels in 14 years. An influx of tech jobs has helped propel enormous growth over the past decade and dubbed Chicago as “Silicon Prairie.” In addition to this, we’ve been able to see the real estate market improve. 14 years is a lifetime in real estate. Since that time, Wicker Park and Bucktown have exploded in growth, Pilsen is booming, and the family-oriented north side continues to expand. This is all great news for the city – and in my line of work, I’ve witnessed it first-hand.

So, without further ado, here is my take on the hottest Chicago neighborhoods for real estate investing:

All in the Family – Lincoln Square

Lincoln Square is on the north side of Chicago and it’s one of the hottest real estate markets. Wide open community spaces and family-friendly, eclectic restaurants have attracted families to this area for some time now. By living in Lincoln Square, you have the big city benefit of being close to public transportation and nightlife without the overwhelming congestion of downtown.

One of the main reasons why this area is blowing up: double income. Having two household earners allows families to be more flexible in terms of investing money into their home. Establishing roots in a neighborhood is an investment in itself. After families purchase a home, renovating a house is much easier than packing up and leaving.

Nevermore, Nevermore – Ravenswood

This market has grown significantly over the recent years due to the Metra station renovation and the addition of a high-end Mariano’s market on Lawrence Avenue. Ravenswood has a lot of similarities to Lincoln Square: it’s on the north side between the interstate and Lake Michigan and it’s very heavily influenced by families. The housing structures tend to be a bit different. While Lincoln Square is primarily single family homes, Ravenswood tends to consist of 2-flats and 3-flats. These structures are ideal from a gut rehabilitation aspect for their versatility. It’s common for families to renovate buildings to accommodate a rental – whether living in one unit and renting out the other or duplexing two units and renting one unit.

Go West My Friend – Humboldt Park

Lake Michigan makes eastward expansion a bit difficult unless you’re into buying houseboats or ice fishing during the winter. So, the logical step is to head the other direction. If you haven’t visited the 207-acre park, you’re missing out – the park itself is enormous and gorgeous. Another huge advantage is the city’s implementation of the 606 Trail offering easy bike transportation, community events, and multiple outdoor activities which encourage economic growth and family influence in the neighborhood. Humboldt used to have a bad reputation (let’s be honest – all Chicago neighborhoods had a bad rep at one point…), but things have changed drastically. The west side began changing with Wicker Park becoming popular about 5 years ago, then Logan Square, next Ukrainian Village, and now Humboldt Park. The area has a mix of 2 and 3-flats ranging from 3 bedrooms to 12 bedrooms – which makes it great for investors who want to focus on either renting or selling.

Which area is next? Not Gold or Silver – think Bronze

Right now, Bronzeville is poised to explode. If you have the chance, drive between 31st and 47th street – tons of mini-mansions exist throughout the area. This area is prime for growth because of the classic cliche – location, location, location. It’s very accessible to the Loop, and within minutes to all major expressways. Additionally, major business growth has already occurred – to the south, Hyde Park has had over $500 million in major retail, residential, and commercial developments, to the north McCormick Place has completed their 2.3 million square foot convention center and continues to expand their footprint with hotels, to the near north and near west, Motor Row is beginning to establish itself as the brewery and automobile mecca for Chicago. As the trend continues, Bronzeville has nowhere to go except up in value.

What should you look for in the next “it” area?

Different developers and investors have various answers. I like to look for major public works campaigns such as the 31st Street Harbor construction, the Obama Presidential Library, CTA expansion or refurbishing, and new commercial developments such as Amazon’s newly announced warehouse in Goose Island. Any of these occurrences mean that other people are seeing potential – and their money is following. Follow the money.  

What do you think? Are there any new hot areas?

Interested in betting on the market? Reach out to us to talk about our Private Equity Group – this is a group of investors partnered with Integro to purchase and renovate properties for profitable resale.

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