The Marks Realty Group Blog

Jan. 9, 2015

2014 Wrap Up & 2015 Goals

Now that 2014 is squarely in the books, The Marks Realty Group would like to take a minute to thank everyone who used, referred and trusted our real estate services in the City of Chicago!  

In 2014, we were able to help 66 families/people with our real estate services.  Considering that we had only 2 full-time agents, that's no joke!  

In 2015, the aim is larger.  We are aiming to serve 120+ families/people throughout Chicagoland!  Hopefully one of them is you.  

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your business.


Steve Marks

Owner & Managing Broker

The Marks Realty Group

Oct. 24, 2014

Chicago Real Estate Market Stats: Fall Edition

Chicago Real Estate Market Stats: Fall Edition

Happy Halloween everyone!  As the weather is cooling off, the local real estate market is continuing in the opposite direction.  Sales activity has continued it's strong pace since the Summer, and we are seeing continued increases in items such as Median Sales Price, New Listings, and overall Inventory.  There was an inventory decrease for detached single family homes, and we will go over those numbers below.

Here is a closer look at the CITY-WIDE real estate stats, as of October 14, 2014, and below that - our summary:

Detached Single-Family Homes

  • 15.9% more new listings hit the market this September 2014 than in September 2013 (1,811 for 9/2014 vs 1,563 for 9/2013), and +3.5% more YTD.
  • Median sales prices were 11.4% higher in September 2014 than in September of 2013, and +10.8% YTD.  ($195,000 for 9/2014 vs. $175,000 for 9/2013)
  • The average market time decreased by 15.6% in September 2014, from what it was in September 2013. (92 days on average in 2013, decreased to 78 days on average in 2014)  There was also a 13.4% decrease YTD.
  • The inventory of detached homes for sale dropped from 4,794 in September 2013 to 4,399 in September 2014, which represents a 8.2% drop.  No YTD data available for inventory.

Attached Single-Family Homes (Condos & Townhouses)

  • 24% more new listings hit the market this September 2014 than in September 2013 (2,773 for 9/2014 vs 2,237 for 9.2013), and there was also a 12.3% YTD increase.
  • Median sales prices for condos and townhomes rose 2.8% higher in September 2014, compared to September 2013.  ($280,000 for 9/2014 vs $272,500 for 9/2013)  There was an 11.3% increase YTD.
  • Average market time increased by one day in September 2014, compared to September 2013, representing a 2.2% change (71 days in 9/2014 vs 70 days in 9/2013).  YTD, however, market time is down by a whopping 14.8% (76 days in 9/2014 vs 89)
  • Inventory of attached condos and townhomes rose in 9/2014, compared to 9/2013 by 8.3%.  Those numbers are 5,881 attached homes for sale in 9/2014 vs 5,431 attached homes for sale in 9/2013.  No YTD data available for inventory.

Entire City of Chicago

  • Change in New Listings for All Properties: +20.6%
  • Change in Closed Sales for All Properties: -7.6%
  • Change in Inventory of Homes for Sale for All Properties: +0.5%

So... what does it all mean??

If you were interested in purchasing a single family home in September, you likely saw or felt some competition!  The condo market is still tight as well, with slightly higher median sales prices, and lower overall market times.  

If you are interested in selling property in Chicago, these macro trends are in your favor right now.  If you didn't buy for a super inflated price during the boom, even better.  Sellers are starting to move off the fence and list, as evidenced by the upswing in new listings hitting the market as well.  

Are you interested in selling your home and taking advantage of these favorable conditions?  If so, you can grab a free valuation of your property here, and send us your contact info in the process.  

You can also contact us anytime at our home page:


All data current as of 10/14/2014.  All data provided by the Chicago Assn of Realtors and Midwest Real Estate Data.

May 20, 2014

Marks Realty Group Double Feature: Looking at Escalation Clauses and Weekly Sales Stats: Lincoln Square

It's been a while since we've shed the spotlight on a neighborhood in a weekly sales stat post.  I guess that's a good thing, because that means that we've been so busy helping out our amazing buyer clients!  Along the way we've helped plenty of sellers sell for top dollar as well.  

After swimming in this market, let's just get this exclamation out of the way: THIS MARKET IS BANANAS!!  Here's the executive summary:  Inventory continues to be in short supply, which means that buyer demand is strong.  There are multiple offers out there, and it's very competitive.  It's not uncommon to see between 2-5 or even 6 offers on the good properties.  This is bringing about the use of something that's been a "secret" in the realtor's tool belt until now: the "escalation clause."  


An escalation clause is a tool that a realtor and buyer can use to help give them an edge in a multiple-offer scenario, whereby they're basically saying "our initial offer is X, and we are willing to go up to Y if you get another offer."  In this example, the buyer is putting an ultimate cap on what he or she is willing to spend.  Most clauses stipulate that they will top other offers in increments of $1,000, but you should be able to "fine tune" any escalation clause with the help of your realtor.  

In extreme circumstances (often with very affluent buyers), some escalation clauses offer to top the highest offer by $1,000 with no cap!  Talk about paying top dollar.  Sometimes when you gotta have it, you just gotta have it.   


The risk in using an escalation clause, of course, is that as a buyer, you are putting all of your cards on the table.  You lose any and all negotiation, because the seller knows how far you are willing to go.  

The big takeaway in all of this is that you should use Escalation Clauses carefully.  Make sure to ask your realtor to check with the seller's agent about how the offer and review process is going to go.  Will there be a single round of submitting "highest and best" offers, or will there be multiple rounds?  You will want to formulate your strategy with your realtor, so that you have the best chances of nabbing that new home or investment property!



Lincoln Square - that perennial neighborhood on the North Side - is a popular favorite among buyers and renters.  It's got great schools, a robust restaurant and nightlife scene, and amazing park spaces.  Here's a look at what's happening in the real estate market up in that awesome neighborhood.

All data is collected for previous 30 days market activity - April 2014 - and is current as of May 14, 2014

Attached Single Family Activity (Condos & Townhomes)

New Listings: 77 (up 48.1% from April 2013)

Closed Sales: 23 (up 21.1%)

Median Sales Price: $267,500 (up 5.7%)

Percent of Original List Price Received: 96.7% (up 0.3%)

Market Time: 55 days!  (down 59.3%!)

Inventory of Attached Single Family Homes for sale: 112 (up 16.7%)

** This last stat goes against the city-wide trend of lower inventory - possibly an indicator that more 2007 and 2008 buyers are moving off the fence to sell.


Detached Single Family Activity

New Listings: 21 (down 19.2% from April 2013) 

Closed Sales: 10 (up 100%)

Median Sales Price: $707,000 (up 128.1%)

Percent of Original List Price Received: 95.5% (up 5.5%)

Market Time: 48 days (down 74.1%!!)

Inventory of Homes for Sale: 27 (up 12.5%)



There you have it!  Market time is Lincoln Square so low.  Listings are flying off the shelves!  Good thing that inventory is creeping back up a little bit, but, will it be enough to satiate all those hungry buyers out there?  The numbers are saying "not yet!"

Are you interested in selling in Lincoln Square or other areas of the city?  We've just rolled out a new property CMA / Valuation tool for FREE, if anyone is interested in getting a very basic idea of what their property is worth now.  (This uses very basic property tax metrics, so it's best to talk to your realtor to fine-tune your results)  

Our buyer services are free, and our seller services are competitive.  Let's talk!


April 5, 2014

The 606, The Bloomingdale Trail, The Reason All Those Bridges are Out


The 606

As springtime looms, we are getting closer to the official unveiling of "The 606."  For those of you who aren't well acquainted with this project, "The 606" or the Bloomingdale Trail is an elevated set of old rail tracks that begins at about Ashland and 90/94, and heads due West all the way from Bucktown and Wicker Park to Western Humboldt Park / Eastern Hermosa.  From the spec drawings, it is going to be landscaped and lovely, and provide a similar feeling to NYC's The High Line.  

Here is a link to the official website for the 606 (or trail):   Once they're all done, it will be pretty cool to stroll along the boardwalk up there on a nice Summer Day.  

For those of you who are real estate minded (hence, the entire reason for this site!), it's been interesting to see the impact that the 606 is having on the communities through which it runs.  We here at TMRG are seeing prices shoot up for multi-family investment properties within 2-3 blocks of this thing, and it's proving to be a really positive thing for the people in these communities.  If you're eyeballing a property to purchase near the 606, jump on that!  

March 11, 2014

Weekly Sales Stats: The Loop

Weekly Sales Stats

The Loop Edition

Greetings real estate readers!  It is time for another edition of "Weekly Sales Stats!"  This time we are focusing on the densest of Chicago neighborhoods: The Loop.  That's right - the place that's famous for Cloud Gate (the Bean), Fortune 100 mega companies and some of the prettiest skyline in the world!  

The story with the loop right now?  Everything is trending upwards EXCEPT for inventory.  This seems to be a city-wide phenomenon right now, and responsible for the rise in pricing and competition out there.  Great if you want to sell, tougher if you want to buy!  

Without further adieu, here are the numbers, as reported by the Chicago Association of Realtors, in mid-February.  Please keep in mind that these correlate to the condo/town home market only - there aren't really any single family homes in the Loop.  


Attached Single-Family Activity

New Listings: 109 (up 9%, YTD)

Closed Sales: 52 (up 20.9%, YTD)

Median Sales Price: $297,500 (up 11%, YTD)

Percent of Original List Price Received: 95.4% (up 3.4%, YTD)

Market Time: 115 days (up 4.5%, YTD)

Inventory of Homes for Sale: 268 (down 5%, YTD)


And there you have it.  Do you have any market insights or anecdotes from The Loop's housing market, or any other area of the City? If so, please share in the comments!

As with other parts of the city, this is a great time to SELL.  Let us know if we can help - we are batting 1.000 so far for listings, with 100% of Original List Price Received in 2014.

If you're looking to buy, search the entire Chicago MLS, using our search tools that feature data refreshed every 15 minutes.  It's the easiest in Chicago:

Our buyer services are 100% FREE for buyers!

March 7, 2014

Weekly Sales Stats: North Center

Weekly Neighborhood Sales Spotlight (Week of 3/3)

North Center Edition

Greetings weekly sales stats readers!  This week brings a brand new blog, and a brand new website!  

In order to kick off this, as the new home for "weekly sales stats" blog posts, we thought we'd take a look at the market activity in a fairly established North Side enclave: North Center.  Situated in between (and overlapping with) Roscoe Village and Lincoln Square, North Center is famous for awesome public schools, some rather excellent eating (Big Bricks, Brown Trout, Endgrain) and a rare thing to be so close to Wrigleyville: quiet!

The executive summary?  North Center is affluent, established, and continuing to develop up on the higher end of the pricing spectrum.  

Here are the numbers for January of 2014, as reported mid-February 2014:

Detatched Single-Family Homes

New Listings: 24 (up 33.3% YTD)

Closed Sales: 9 (up 28.6% YTD)

Median Sales Price: $850,000 (down 2.3% YTD)

Percent of Original List Price Paid: 97.5% (up 1.7% YTD)

Market Time: 23 Days (down 51.1% YTD)

Inventory of Homes for Sale: 31 (down 11.4% YTD)

Attached Single-Family Homes (Condos & Townhomes)

New Listings: 44 (up 69.2% YTD)

Closed Sales: 16 (no change YTD)

Median Sales Price: $387,750 (up .5% YTD)

Percent of Original List Price Paid: 96.6% (up 1.9% YTD)

Market Time: 70 Days (down 63.1% YTD)

Inventory of Homes for Sale: 71 (up 26.8% YTD)

*All data provided by Chicago Association of Realtors


Two words: MARKET TIME!!!!   Look at those dramatic drops up both the Single Family Home and the Condo/Townhome markets.  For single family homes, the market is a little more competitive and tight right now, with less inventory overall.  Hopefully we will start to see more new listings come out as the Spring moves into Winter (will that ever happen?!).  

The condo market is in a bit of a different situation.  We are seeing much more inventory come out right now.  And even though the "closed sales" for January is only at 16, the realtime market sense that we're getting over here (now that it's March 7) is that the condo market is moving quickly as well.  Buyers definitely want to buy, and multiple offers are not uncommon for the good units.   It's a great time if you want to sell.  (Call us! :)

Do you have any observations on local market activity in North Center or your neck of the woods?  Please - share with us in the comments below!  

Search for Chicago Properties from the entire Chicago MLS, and see updated data, refreshed every 15 minutes:

Our property search tools are the easiest to use in Chicago, and our buyer services are 100% FREE, and our seller services are competitively priced, extensive, and we can help you move that property quickly!


Feb. 24, 2014

Buyer Representation: It pays to get representation!


These days it doesn't take a real estate professional to find listings.  Let's be real.  Anyone can turn on a computer and pull up a website to show them active single family home or condo listings for sale in Chicago.  (Perhaps that's why you're here!)  Whether or not the data you're seeing is good is one issue, but the issue we're here to talk about today is that of BUYER REPRESENTATION in Chicago Real Estate transactions.

A searcher might wonder, "Why do I need someone to help me buy a listing, when I can just find it myself, contact the listing agent, and go see it?"

In a 2011 NYT article called "The Buddy System, or the Buyer's Broker," Susan Stellin makes the argument that you'd want a broker to represent you on the buy side "to protect (your) interests in an expensive, often complex purchase."

"A buyer who relies on the seller's agent to handle both sides of the deal may not hear about problems with the apartment or the building, or have a real advocate during contract negotiations."

When you connect with a dedicated buyer's agent, their "fiduciary responsibility" (a big buzz phrase in Chicago Real Estate) is to the buyer - NOT THE SELLER.  A seller's agent ultimately works for the property seller.  In Illinois, agents need to show clients a pamphlet titled The Consumer's Guide to Real Estate Agency in Illinois, which outlines the different roles a real estate agent can play as your "designated agent."  Call your Marks Realty Group agent to see a copy of that.

In the NYT article, Neil Garfinkel of the Real Estate Board of NY says, "Obviously if you're representing a buyer and a seller in a transaction, you can't have undivided loyalty."  A "Dual Agent" can maintain each party's confidence, but things can get a little hairy when it comes to price negotiations or talking about property issues/flaws.


  • Provide efficient, targeted search assistance, based on specific input from a would-be property buyer
  • Provide localized market analyses
  • Suggest financing options if the purchaser is interested, and share mortgage broker contact info
  • Evaluate comparable sales
  • Help the buyer arrive at an opinion of a property's "Fair market value" based on property features and market activity
  • Advise on fair contract terms
  • Suggest inspectors to perform neutral 3rd party evaluations of subject property
  • Suggest attorneys to represent the purchaser once "under contract" (a commonality in Illinois)
  • Prepare co-op board packages, condo packages, navigating various speed bumps that might kill deals (like delayed seller responses)
  • Be a general guide for the purchaser throughout the entire process


Many savvy shoppers are happy to go to open houses on their own, and many are happy to acknowledge that they're unrepresented when they sign the "visitor's log."  "Brokers recommend finding an agent before making an offer or at least scheduling an appointment for a second viewing.  By engaging a buyer's agent later in the process, a buyer may have chatted too much with the selling agent, revealing information that could influence the outcome of the deal.  You may have lost your negotiation power because you've already told them what you'll spend."

It's best to involve your own representative - the buyer broker - as early in the process as possible.


Our buyer services are ALWAYS FREE.  Even more of a reason to get a seasoned Marks Realty Group representative agent on your side early in the process.  

If you're looking to purchase a Chicago condo, house, parking spot, apartment or multi-unit building, let us answer any questions you may have.  We have some great search tools on this website, and a free buyers guide.  Please feel free to give us a call or email.