Monday, September 22, 2008

How Uptown Real Estate Stacks Up

A reader was kind enough to let us know about and summarize an article in Chicago Magazine (October 2008, pages 97-103) about Chicago real estate: the up-and-coming neighborhoods and current trends in housing prices.

Uptown's stats:

  • Average Sale Price for a House from 7/1/07-6/30/08: $941,222
    (one of most expensive; comparatively, Edgewater is $720,432)

  • Average Days on Market: 203
    (6th highest neighborhood)

  • Number of Sales: 22
    (fairly low, but not even close to the lowest)

  • % Change in Sale Price since 1994: 335.79
    (definitely one of the highest-percentage neighborhoods)

  • % Change in Sale Price since 2007: 13.14
    (Uptown is one of few neighborhoods that are up)

  • Condo/Townhouse Average Sale Price: $277,141
    (quite low compared to other neighborhoods, including Edgewater)

  • Number of Condo/Townhouse sales: 941
    (one of the highest of Chicago neighborhoods)


  1. I find it VERY difficult to believe prices are up at all over the last year for condo's. I know in my building, which is one of the larger in Uptown, prices are down year over year...

  2. I think that general numbers like this never prove anything. The reason that overall prices have gone up may be from new construction that sold at higher prices. Also, prices may have increased among 1 BR or garden units since they are more affordable, while 2-3 BR stay stagnant. Or maybe townhouse prices have skyrocketed while condos remained the same? Also, how do they define Uptown? Some blocks may increase while others decrease or stay stagnant.

    When you look at very general numbers like this, it's difficult to apply to your specific home. You really have to compare apples to apples and look at units specifically like yours within a few blocks of your place.

    I really hope that the market is increasing, but I don't think we'll know the true value of our homes until the economy readjusts over the next 1-2 years. At least we can be thankful for the write-offs like property tax, mortgage interest, etc. Just my thoughts on it.

  3. I have a hard time believing this too. What with the mass exodus I witnessed the last week in August, along with all the for sale signs on Beacon, I don't see Uptown being a real mecca for Chicago living.

  4. The average price numbers don't mean jack. They're the most misused numbers in housing. I mean, the category is condo/townhouse. Well a 1BR condo costs half as much as a townhouse, so depending on the ratio of condos to townhouses you'll get vastly different numbers.

    I will say this though, real estate has certainly not tanked in Uptown like it has in other parts of the country. My wife and I watch the comps in our area, and real estate prices have pretty much held firm over the last year.

  5. Wonder what will happen to home values in Uptown when the Chicago Democrat Machine completes the Wilson Yard low income project???

  6. "% Change in Sale Price since 1994: 335.79
    (definitely one of the highest-percentage neighborhoods)"

    that is a HUGE increase in sale price! i know that for a lot of people this means that the neighborhood is improving: more tax base, more home ownership, higher profits for property owners, more people with more money to spend and therefore more expensive restaurants and stores, etc.

    but please remember that this stat, and others listed, also mean more low and moderate income people and families (including working people) having to move out of the neighborhood or live on less as property taxes and rents increase. As well as less low and moderate income people and families being able to move to Uptown.

    the arrival of higher income people with the desire to make the neighborhood more affluent has also meant the increased targetting of low income people and people with mental illness by the police. correct me if i'm wrong but part of the mentality is that if there are less homeless people or mentally ill people around, property values will go up. so to deal with this problem one tries to get these people to go elsewhere.

    the human consequences (both helpful and destructive) of this change should be held up next to the numbers on the paper.

  7. stats like those should make it clear why many low and moderate income people would support a development like the Wilson Yards which provides some affordable units to people who are desperately in need of just that in this city.

  8. Those stats are very misleading...22 home sales? That's not a statistically valid sample. Go to for a more realistic view. In the last five years, Uptown has been consistantly in the lower/middle tiers of sales and price increases of condos (which we're constantly reminded are the source of all evil). Uptown's poverty rate remains in the top 100 in the state (so plenty of low income are managing to stay).

  9. The Uptown real estate market seems to have held up relatively well compared to most of the Chicago area.

    My impression is that prices have dropped from the 2006 highs by about 10 percent. Which would be 2005 prices or 2007 or later prices. Market times are clearly longer and many people who might like to sell are staying put. Which is not necessarily a bad thing at least for "da hood". Longer term residents tend to get more involved.

    The "numbers" don't necessarily mean much. Right now relatively larger,higher priced condos are selling better than relatively lower priced units. Which is unusual for this kind of general real estate market. The folks at the lower end of the market are largely not buying.

    The best data, which is difficult to find, is sales of identical or nearly identical units over time. Let's say 4527 Shiller Court unit BS sold in 2003 for 200K. In 2005 it sold for 235K. Today it sells for 234K. Data like that is very good.

    Lots of things can "skew" the numbers. A large condo conversion like Shoreline Park filled with studios and 1 bedrooms would likely drive the average and median prices down. A new construction mid rise would drive the averages up.

    If you didn't buy at the height of the market you are probably going to do ok if you sell soon. Me, I'm staying. I love being able to walk to Jewel, bike to the lakefront, stumble home from Bar on Buena after 12 too many O'Hara's stouts etc.

    There are still serious issues in Uptown, but I've been here since the buffalo roamed the plain and the trannies trolled Broadway. I don't miss the buffalo..........or the trannies........seeing "women" who are taller than me and arguably uglier almost caused me to give up alcohol. That would be sad. I thought I was hallucinating.

  10. Respectfully speaking, Ron. I really enjoy your input here on UU. I agree that the homeless and the mentally ill do need a place to stay as well, but why there is a for sale sign in front of my place is from the gang violence that I experienced here this summer. I am glad I can afford to move. I feel sorry for the people struggling to get by who have to continue to rely on an outdated model that doesn't give them the help they need and keeps them stuck in places they'd rather not be in.

  11. Did I miss something? The link and the charts within the link don't support the post.

    One correction from my earlier comment...please ommit "consistantly". I didn't conduct an annual comparison for each of the last five years, only for the five-year period.

  12. Oh boy, i just love it when people begin using broad generalizations and attempt to convince others that "working class" lower income, those with low income and homeless persons are fleeing Uptown b/c it has become unaffordable. This is simply UNTRUE. Uptown has an extremely high density of housing for low income persons.

    Promoting the growth of affordable housing throughout Chicago makes much more sense than building additional low income housing in an area that has more than ample low income housing. The idea behind scattered site housing is NOT to merely scatter low income housing within a handful of wards, such as the 46th.

  13. but please remember that this stat, and others listed, also mean more low and moderate income people and families (including working people) having to move out of the neighborhood or live on less as property taxes and rents increase.

    Ron, Study after study proves that this is patently untrue. If you're going to spout this nonsense, then you really need to get some data to back this up.

    correct me if i'm wrong but part of the mentality is that if there are less homeless people or mentally ill people around, property values will go up.

    You're wrong. Thanks for playing. The thought is, if there are fewer POORLY CARED FOR mentally ill and homeless than the neighborhood will be a nicer place to live.

    Never forget Ron, your master lives as far away from this stuff as possible, so even she understands that a neighborhood is nicer with less mentall ill people wandering the streets. Whats the ron? Helen's calling, she needs you to massage her feet. Chop to it Ron, go go!

  14. but please remember that this stat, and others listed, also mean more low and moderate income people and families (including working people) having to move out of the neighborhood or live on less as property taxes and rents increase.

    Ron, Study after study proves that this is patently untrue. If you're going to spout this nonsense, then you really need to get some data to back this up.

    Windycityeagle, could you please link or give titles/authors to the studies you're referring to?

  15. One more thing, as to Ron's queen. There used to be a halfway house for mentally ill just a few houses down from her condo. Oddly, she did not jump up and down and encourage public outcry when it was being shut down. Hmm.....I wonder why??? Perhaps she wanted to have the mentally ill anywhere other than in her back/front yard!

  16. I am new to this topic and very new to Chicago politics. Who keeps voting this Shiller woman into office? When is she up for re-election and who is her opponent?

  17. Ron - who is getting "forced out"? There is still a ridiculous amount of affordable housing in Uptown.

    The fact is, other neighborhoods need to absorb some of it. Evenly distributed public housing is the key to a safe and happy community for EVERYONE.

    Compare Uptown's low income housing to our neighbor's... we already have way too much compared to them, and this is where the problems start.

    I'm not hating on anyone either, these are FACTS backed up by HUD, not us rich condo owners.

  18. Us Rich condo owners is laughable now more than ever.

    My sub-prime mortgage from Lehman that the government is taking over.

    Yep I am rich. LOL.

    Us rich condo owners are probably poorer than the poor in uptown.

    If the poor has 50 dollars they have no debt.

    I have a negative net worth in 6 digits.

  19. Ron is just mad because this might mean he has to get a real job along with his non for profit aldermen slush fund.

    How much do they pay to paint garage doors in Uptown?

    Times are tough for all. I see "evil condo owners" leaving at a faster pace than the low income residents. Hell a 30+ memeber gang seems to cram in to 12 row houses at Magnolia and Sunnyside. To bad they don't have more units. At that rate they could have a small army with a city block.

  20. When you talk common sense to folks from JPUSA, ONE, COURAJ, Catholic Worker, etc about studies that discourage the building of the type of housing they want (100% low income buildings), they have consistently shown an unwillingness to listen. Anything that does not fit into their world view is ignored. That's why there's no sense in having any type of a debate. They have shown repeatedly over and over again that they believe there can never be too much low income housing. Concentrated poverty – what's that?

    It's the same with public safety. When someone from one of these groups show up at CAPS, their usual purpose for attendance is to deny the existence of a raised problem. A Catholic Worker at one beat meeting thought Court Advocacy was picking on a woman with 384 past arrests.

    It's a complete waste of time to spend any type of dialogue with Ron, another Catholic Worker. He couldn't handle it if he started having doubts about his efforts to be a crusader for the poor.

  21. Windycityeagle, could you please link or give titles/authors to the studies you're referring to?

    Certainly, here the lasted study, as summarized in Time magazine.

    Time Article on Gentrification

  22. I agree with uptown superhero - units in my building are selling at a loss. We've been devalued by the bank - and I've lived here in a brand new condo for 5 years. My house is worth less than 5 years ago. My friends in other neighborhoods are getting double and triple their money back in the same period.

  23. We've been devalued by the bank

    Well thats what you get for being an evil condo owner.

  24. "Well thats what you get for being an evil condo owner."

    Windy could you please link or give titles/authors to the studies you're referring to linking me as an evil condo owner?


  25. chip-

    Copies of those studies are available at the alderman's office, Friendly Towers and Catholic Worker.

  26. The market certainly varies within Uptown. Units in our building and block have sold for significantly more than they did 5 years ago. They have also sold pretty quickly compared to the averages throughout the area.

    Sadly, a number of groups have a twisted sense of logic when it comes to crime and home values. Higher crime leads to lower property values and helps keep the "evil" condo owners and businessowners out of Uptown. The combination also reduces the number of voters against any opponent of Shiller.

    The irony is that reduction in taxpaying property/business owners in Uptown decreases available jobs and keeps people either underemployed or unemployed.

    The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Unfortunately, alderman Shill and those who profit from her dealings will never admit there is a problem.

  27. "A Catholic Worker at one beat meeting thought Court Advocacy was picking on a woman with 384 past arrests."

    At the risk of being off topic I just really felt the need to interject my comments on this claim. I was at that CAPS meeting and the lady from the Catholic Worker was only pointing out that there is a distinction between arrests and convictions. Here in the United States we have a justice system based on the idea that persons are innocent until PROVEN guilty. Just because someone was arrested for doing something doesn't mean that they did it. (for that matter just because they were convicted doesn't always mean that they were guilty but that's beside the point) Even if this woman who had 348 arrests was convicted on every charge (and even if she really committed each crime that she was accused of) The sergeant was suggesting that that was proof enough that she had committed this most recent crime. Again: Innocent until PROVEN guilty.

  28. in my earlier comments i just wanted to point out the other side of the gentrification story to show that it's not a rosy picture for everyone involved. but leave it to "windycityeagle" to challenge the thought that lower-income people get displaced by gentrification! i personally know many people and families, (many of them white working people!) who can no longer afford to live in Uptown and have moved north to Rogers Park. i'm not saying gentrification is 100% negative but if you can't even admit that low income people are displaced by gentrification, how can we have a debate? and i'm considered the wacko?!!! Do you think that nobody lived in the buildings that are now condos? do you think that the 4700 block of kenmore always housed the higher-income people it does now?

    the community i'm a part of has existed where it is on Kenmore for 34 years so i know a lot of people who could attest that the demographics of the neighborhood have changed drastically.

    the following are all reports specific to gentrification and displacement in Chicago:

    from a 2006 study by Loyola University for the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations (

    "For example, Uptown which has served as a port-of-entry
    for many immigrant groups still had a 33 percent foreign born in 2000. However, this community
    has seen significant displacement of immigrant families in recent years and this figure is likely to
    be lower by the end of the decade. Recently home to immigrant groups as diverse as
    Cambodians, Vietnamese, Thais, Chinese, Filipinos, Ethiopians, Nigerians, Bosnians, Tibetans,
    and Mexicans among others, the community leaders have described a decline in immigrant
    families. Although umbrella organizations such as the Organization of the NorthEast and mutual
    aid societies such as the Ethiopian Association, Chinese Mutual Aid, the Vietnamese Association,
    and the Southeast Asian centers have worked to preserve affordable housing for low-income
    residents—many of whom immigrated to the U.S. in the past two or three decades—affordable
    housing opportunities have declined as the gentrification and displacement cycle has taken hold
    (Haas et al., 2002).
    Focus group participants from Uptown noted a shift of immigrant populations to other
    communities, such as Albany Park, which is now becoming a new port-of-entry for some
    immigrant groups, or to the suburbs."

    This report for the Conference on Chicago Research and Public Policy illustrates how Latino displacement has been the result of gentrification in Uptown, i would guess it has only increased since the report was released in 2004:

    an article about 3 chicago families (all Latino) that have been displaced from their neighborhoods due to gentrification:

    from a 2006 UIC College of Urban Planning and Community Affairs report ( see page 34 for info specific to Uptown!
    "Subsidized housing preservation is one viable strategy for gentrifying and early to mid gentrifying areas as they stand to lose the greatest number of subsidized units by the next decade...preservation of existing rental housing from condo conversion is critical for avoiding displacement in gentrification pressured areas..."

  29. and as far as the Time article about gentrification goes, it seems like the lynchpin to that particular study is this piece:

    "The real force behind the changing face of a gentrifying community, Freeman concluded, isn't displacement but succession. When people move away as part of normal neighborhood turnover, the people who move in are generally more affluent."

    i wonder how the researcher determined what influences "normal neighborhood turnover" and if they actually interviewed the people who were leaving gentrifying neighborhoods to find out their reasons for leaving. because after all, if the neighborhood was improving so much, why would people want to leave? it could be true but i'd be interested to read the actual report.

  30. for clarification, the above quote i included from the Time article is from the 2005 study it referred to by Lance Freeman.

    as far as the most recent study, it seems to fly in the face of a lot of other studies already conducted (including those i listed above), so i would advise people against placing all their faith and good consciences in that particular study. the study might deserve some merit but to take it all at face value and to extrapolate its findings to Uptown might be a mistake (especially if the study excluded Chicago). after all, there are also a few scientific studies out there that say global warming is not influenced by human activity!

  31. RONaramaDINGdong,

    The whole idea behind a "port of entry" community is that people move in and then move out.

    Gentrification certainly displaces some people. Flat out forces some folks out. I've read studies in the past and just based on experience I can say that. I can also say that most of the people who moved would have moved in a relatively short time anyway. With the exception of folks in some form of subsidized housing low income renters generally move extremely frequently. Renters in general move frequently.

    I recall buildings that would get more than 100 percent turnover in a year as immigrants families moved in, got settled into the USA and then moved out to other hoods or suburbs closer to factory jobs.

    If you look at the last 60 years of Uptown history it largely is one group moving in, staying for awhile, and then moving on. Also during that period of "staying" there was largely almost total turnover in the population that was actually here. Again with the exception of subsidized housing you would not and will not find a large non transient population of low income renters in Uptown. There are exceptions to that as I'm sure someone could point out.

    I happen to think gentrification does more good than bad. You likely will disagree. This neighborhood was a multiracial ghetto for decades. Various white, hispanic and black gangs fighting and killing for control. As Thomas Hobbes might say "life was nasty, brutish and short." It was nothing less than a slum with all the problems. Not something to be recalled fondly.

  32. Dear, dear Ron, I have a hard time with your evidence (mostly because I couldn't locate it). To wit: 3 families is not statistically valid; "focus groups" (perhaps a poor choice of words on your part?) are not scientific samples, they're marketing tools... very focused (hence the name)and directed for a purpose; anecdotal evidence, while interesting and informing, is not sttistically relevant. I don't believe anyone is claiming "not a single instance of displacement occurs". I believe most of us evil condo owners aka scourge of the earth simply believe in balance. I don't accept that a community can thrive with a 30% poverty rate. I don't 9and won't apologize for wanting Uptown to thrive.

  33. Ron, you have one thing right - gentrification often displaces lower-income people. It has been defined as "the restoration and upgrading of deteriorated urban property by middle-class or affluent people, often resulting in displacement of lower-income people."

    Displacement of low-income people and creating a more diverse, vibrant, working community is not a bad thing. Change is good. You need money to fund charities, provide food and build hospitals. If those with low-income or no-income cannot provide the money, then someone needs to do it (i.e. middle class and affluent).

  34. bradley,
    i tried to cut and paste the website for each report but it wouldn't fit into the comments section, sorry for the difficulty, if only i were more computer savvy...the articles are on the web though, if you look you'll find 'em.

    focus groups is the language the study used, not my choice. it is in a quote directly from the Loyola study i think.

    if many of the higher-income people just want balance, i think that is good. but i know that a lot of low and moderate income people (including myself) find that hard to believe as it seems the attack on low income people and buildings is unrelenting. maybe it's an inaccurate perception, but it is a prevalent one!


    in my earlier posts i never said Uptown was paradise and i even said that there are both positive and negative (in my opinion) consequences to gentrification. i was only trying to point out examples of both (as i did) because i think oftentimes the destructive consequences are ignored or easily rationalized by those who don't have to suffer them. but everytime someone tries to raise an issue like that on this blog there is a very strong defensive knee-jerk reation against it.

    enjoy the weather, get to the lake if you can! it's great to live so close to it. one love.

  35. I'll grant you there's a lot of guilt by association and erroneous logic e.g. while a very high percentage of gang activity is associated with low-income sudsidized housing a relatively low percentage of low-income subsidized residents are associated with gangs. (I hope my beliefs can be substantiated otherwise I'd be for eliminating all of it.)

    I do maintain though there is a dispropotionate amount of such housing in Uptown. I don't believe a community in the 100 poorest zip codes in Illinois (I think it's about 60-65) needs more poverty.

  36. Just a few discussion points here.

    First, people generally live in the best place they can afford. Boystown on Halsted has gotten very expensive, and Uptown is cheap in comparison, so (my gay friends tell me) that's why there's a relatively recent influx of gays moving to Uptown. When I moved from Buena Park to Truman Square, I could afford to buy a 1-bedroom condo in Lakeview, or a 2-bedroom condo in Uptown, for the same money. My decision to get double the housing for the same price isn't hard to understand.

    So it's not just "the poor" or "middle-class" or "gays" or "working class" getting displaced. It's across the board. Housing prices go up, people move, either to a more expensive or less expensive neighborhood, whatever their personal circumstances dictate.

    Second, Uptown had many vacant lots that were caused by the landlord arsons of the 1970s. When real estate prices went up in every single community adjacent to Uptown, developers looked here and saw lots of empty lots to build on. No one was living on or in the empty lots. Yes, the percentage of condos in Uptown went up. Not to say that some people weren't displaced, but the great majority of condos here replaced vacant, derelict lots, not rental housing.

    The flip side of the same coin: the reason that there are so many scattered-site CHA housing units in Uptown is due to the same phenomenon. CHA saw that the huge amount of empty lots and built low-income housing on them. They played the same card as the developers.

    Take a walk down the 4600 block of Winthrop. There are many new developments on this one block. How many renters were displaced? Zero. There were six empty, derelict lots on this block alone, and now there are five new condo buildings and one scattered-site building. Not one single person was displaced to make room for any of them.

    My last point: Uptown lags woefully behind the rest of the city in the number of units that are owned by the people living in them. If anything, we need MORE condos to keep up with the rest of the city, not more rentals, to keep us from lagging even further behind the rest of Chicago as a stable and economically healthy community.

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