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Old 06-07-2008, 01:32 AM
409 posts, read 1,325,182 times
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A good friend of mine and her husband are currently living in Toronto, Canada. They are looking to move to the Chicago area this summer. She is a retired teacher and she now works as an event planner. Her husband works for a large corporation and he has been promoted and they are happy to move back to the United States after several years in Toronto.

They have two kids, one 9 year old boy and a 5 year old girl. Her husband spent his middle and high school years in River Forest and is a product of the Oak Park/River Forest school system. He is a little interested in living in Oak Park or River Forest again and reconnecting with old friends if they can afford it. She says that when they were dating he would always say how much he appreciated going to school and living in a diverse environment and how much that had shaped him as a person. His family no longer lives in the Chicago area, so that is not a factor in their decision.

They are both looking for a diverse community with a small town feel and good public and private schools. Originally, I had recommended some Northern suburbs, but he needs to be within 30 minutes of Naperville and 40 minutes from the loop. They currently live in a row home within walking distance of his work near downtown Toronto. The row home they live in is very small and offers a small yard, no garage, and is only 2,100 square feet. They have it priced at $675,000 canadian. The relocation company has agreed to pay $650,000 american if they cannot sell by August 1st. They are looking for a new construction home and their budget is up to $1.25 million, which also pretty much knocks them out of the North Shore. The relocation company told them to look into Westmont, but they don't really know much about it.

They also want a vibrant town center, low crime, and nice walkability. I have not traveled the western suburbs too much, but I have seen parts of Lombard, Oak Brook, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Western Springs, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, and Oak Park, but I don't know enough to make a good recommendation. Please give me some recommendations so I may send this thread to her so that she may read it.


P.S. They'll also be needing a realtor soon. My realtor recommended Dawn McKenna. Does anyone know her or has worked with her?
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Old 06-07-2008, 07:09 AM
27,908 posts, read 65,323,142 times
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I actually do know the agent you mentioned. Her primary town is Hinsdale. There are MANY MANY agents in that very competitive market and they all have access to same pool of listings. Many good agents to choose from, like any area some clinckers too, but no real "head and shoulders" standouts. All the area offices are chock full of inventory and there are lots of savvy sellers and plenty of people to assist with any needs. Just about any agent in that broad market will have worked with relo...

Considerably less spread of income/narrower racial profile in Hinsdale, but in every other way a good fit -- 30 mins from Naperville, 40 mins from Loop by car, half that by train, every elementary school in D181 is in the state's top 20, Hinsdale Central near top in most every state category, smaller than LT, NT, Stevenson...

Only a completely incompetent relo company would recommend spending $1.25M in Westmont, of course if that relo company is STUCK with inventory that it acquired at market peak it might be looking to UNLOAD on the unsuspecting... Westmont HS basically has the lowest performance scores in eastern DuPage. Not all of Westmont is in the district -- parts are Hinsdale Central or South, makes for a very different comparison.
If you have some crazy notion that the mere presence of low income Hispanics and African-Americans somehow makes a place magically 'diverse' then there ARE apartments complexes where they can be found and those complexes have Westmont addresses, but make no mistake, the nicer new construction in Westmont is as homogeneous regarding income and background as any similar priced area in any north/NW suburb...

The most "vibrant" town center in DuPage is either going to be Downers Grove, which has the edge in festivals (and is probably slightly more diverse) or Elmhurst, which has the benefit of the Jewel supermarket adjacent to its downtown, and has more total traffic, though the configuration of its Wilder Park with library & Elmhurst College and other amenities is not geared toward as many festivals...

I would also put Clarendon Hills on the short list for several reasons: it uses the same schools as Hinsdale, is priced a wee bit lower (especially for new construction), has its own very compact /walkable downtown that has some nicer restaurants and festivals, is adjacent to Westmont and has a bit different layout, with some streets having a bit of twist to the rigid grid, which leads to slighty more variety in lot sizes and such. Also has a great Park District. You can see their well used pool from the BNSF, walking distance from the station. Lots of fun when the weather is hot...

BTW I think that new construction is the least competitive priced now compared to anytime in trackable history. The price spikes that it way way back in the aftermath of Katrina never really subsided. Freight costs are still climbing due to energy prices. Peoples tastes in new construction lean VERY much toward the more costly finish items and fixtures, especially in KITCHENS, in short the cost per sq ft of new construction is near record highs. Meanwhile existing construction may have been completed for a fraction of the cost, sellers are much more motivated with time-on-market MUCH higher than in summers past there are going to be some anxious sellers. While I agree the NEW CONSTRUCTION on the North Shore is extremely hard to find at the price points your friend is interested in I would not rule out anything...

ALLOW ME to rant about something for a moment:

I like Sen. Obama's chances of winning the race against Sen. McCain. Not making any predictions, just say right now he probably has a better shot. The man was born grew-up in Hawaii, was raised by his grandparent from Kansas. Neither spot is know for having a whole lot kids with one parent from the Heartland and another from Africa. The man did well because he had some smart parents, smart hard working grandparents and a lot of good fortune. I applaud his success.

I have no doubt that your friend had a nice experience growing up in Oak Park. The AMERICA of 2008 is not the same place that existed when you friend grew up in Oak Park. Back than OP may have been the ONLY some what "integrated" town west of Chicago. NOW all the towns that were LILLY WHITE that surrounded Oak Park are almost certainly a majority of racial minorities. America is on the verge of having a President with a father FROM AFRICA, what the heck kind of mindset are we fostering if we say one most live in some artificially manipulated town that renters are 'steered' based on the color of their skin??? I don't want to have responses to that in this thread, but if anyone has polite debate in mind maybe a thread in the top Illinois forum would be appropriate...

Last edited by chet everett; 06-07-2008 at 07:22 AM..
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Old 06-07-2008, 09:02 AM
409 posts, read 1,325,182 times
Reputation: 48
Default Information

Thank you for that information. I printed it and faxed it to her. She called me back imediately to tell me how funny and odd the part about Obama was. I faxed her the three new homes in Oak Park that fit their criteria and she along with her husband feels that Oak Park is not going to be a good choice because it seems like you get less bang for your buck. Her husband spoke to a guy currently working at the corporate office in Naperville and he lives in Wheaton. He says that he couldn't think of a better place to raise a family. Apparently this man grew up in Brookfield and says that the closer in communities are not as nice as the far western suburbs. But, her husband still is interested in a closer in community like Western Springs, La Grange, Hinsdale, or Clarendon Hills. He is also wondering if it is possible to take a train from those communities to Naperville so that he may take a cab or carpool to the headquarters. I pulled some housing listings earlier this morning from Wheaton and Glen Ellyn. I found new construction in North Wheaton, where they would want to be, priced from $740,000 to $1,149,000. In Glen Ellyn I found some places in North Glen Ellyn from $674,900 to $1,249,000. I was thinking that maybe they could get a better deal on housing, even though the western burbs seem to have good deals all around, in Naperville or St. Charles. They also are wondering how the area in Oak Park south of the Eisenhower Expressway is, and what schools are in that area? Her husband was told that they should not look at property east of Ridgeland Avenue and they are wondering why? If they decide to go with Oak Park I recommended them to also take a look at the local private schools, so what are they? They also are wondering if anyone has had experience with Cherryfield Homes of Oak Park? About Wheaton and Glen Ellyn, how are the schools in the Wheaton North school district along with those in Glenbard West? She was told that some are good to very good and some are just average. She also noted that Wheaton is pretty large for a Chicago suburb and she wanted to know if there is still a community feeling? She has been told that the Lake Ellyn area of Glen Ellyn is very nice, but if you have kids you should stick to the Ben Franklin school district. She also wants to know if anyone has had experience with R. Whalen Homes or Rite-Way Custom Homes? She says many thanks for the information!

- Nysee
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Old 06-07-2008, 10:48 AM
27,908 posts, read 65,323,142 times
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You absolutely CAN take the BNSF from the DG-Westmont-CH-Hinsdale-WS-LG stops into Naperville and use Pace to get to MANY office locations, but the total commute time is considerably lower to DRIVE especially from CH-Westmont-DG.

As far as "south Oak Park", while some folks like its less touristy aspects, the homes generally look more like Berwyn or Forest Park than the "classic" core of OP. You give up a lot of the "walkable downtown" too...

Glen Ellyn and Wheaton have many activities that certainly encourage a community feeling. You might be right that prices in GE are bit higher than other places, but the desirable 'core' is pretty small, so there is a tighter supply/demand. You certainly CAN find many spots not close to Lake Ellyn at all that are still VERY MUCH in demand. Similarly, while Wheaton is larger the various sections of spanking new south Wheaton, more established near south Wheaton, the historic core, north Wheaton, and the unincorporated areas EACH have distinct homes and folks that are attracted to the various trade offs. OF COURSE the guy that lives there NOW things his neighborhood is best -- he also has the prettiest wife, and makes the best chilli! Grew up n Brookfield? Closer communities not as nice? Wonder if he'd trade for a historic mansion in Riverside? A FLW in Oak Park?? I don't know WHAT he is talking about...

I have no idea why anyone would pay HUGE premiums to live in OP and not be trying to get maximum value from the PUBLIC schools. Here are the local private schools. No idea how they compare to anything...
Elementary Schools in Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois

CLOCK IS TICKING -- kids are out school. He & spouse have to GET TO TOWN and do some SERIOUS shopping in big way SOON!!!
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Old 06-07-2008, 07:45 PM
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Default Narrowed Search

They think they are going to go with the communities of Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, or Downers Grove. They'd like to know some more about those towns, schools, amenities, and some helpful web page links. I told them personally that I would definitely take a look at Glen Ellyn because it is so pretty, but they think Wheaton is nice because, someone told them so!!!! Does anyone have any info?
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Old 06-07-2008, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Nysee53 View Post
They think they are going to go with the communities of Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, or Downers Grove. They'd like to know some more about those towns, schools, amenities, and some helpful web page links. I told them personally that I would definitely take a look at Glen Ellyn because it is so pretty, but they think Wheaton is nice because, someone told them so!!!! Does anyone have any info?

At the risk of being berated for plugging Wheaton, I hope all will leave me alone, as I am not trying to sell "my home" in this particular post (it's been a "hot topic" on other posts- we are trying to sell and already moved to our new home, also in Wheaton!). Your clients are way above the price range of our home so.......with that said, Wheaton is a wonderful town, and chett evertt is correct, downtown and north Wheaton, in particular with the better of the 2 Excellently rated HS being Wheaton North. One of the north side elementary schools was given the "blue ribbon award" last year and Dist. 200, overall, is highly rated, award winning. South Wheaton does not have near the amount of "luxury homes" and is very congested, in the commercial sense.

There are several wonderful builders in the area, including the 2 you mentioned, (R whalen and Riteway- with Riteway being the better), but another great builder is Patrick Murphy Builders so google him and go to his website. They build absolutely gorgeus homes and are well over a million. And downtown Wheaton is fast growing with great restaurants, starbuck, etc... and there is also the Wheaotn Sports Center (we are longtime members) that is more like a "racquet club" than a health club, with many members knowing each other and being long time members, and a great place for year around tennis and fitness. It's located on the north side of Wheaton as well. Great town!

hope this helps.
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Old 06-08-2008, 06:16 AM
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Default fairmarketvalue

Thank you for that great information. Wheaton does sound like a great place for them. I will definitely google Patrick Murphy Builders. How is the Hawthorne Elementary School district in Wheaton? That is where Rite-Way builds their homes. Also, how is that neighborhood? Do you or anyone else have opinions or insights into Glen Ellyn, Downers Grove, or Downtown Naperville?
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Old 06-08-2008, 09:56 AM
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Riteway builders does have a few lots in the Hawthorne elem. school but also Washington elem. I truly don't think there is a bad school, in ANY way in Wheaton, just some that are even better than great. Riteway bbuys teardown lots and will build wherever they have already done so, but they, like most builders, will build for you on your own lot as well. Some people around here are buying their own "teardown" lots, in all of North Wheaton and hiring a builder to build them a home on it. The price of the lot depends greatly on the price of the completed home. There are many small homes, huge lots (1/4-1/2 acre) on the market in the North part of Wheaton that are in the low 200's but in downtown Wheaton, small, tight lots (with teardown homes) that are nearly $500,000 or more. It all depends where you want to build.

Riteway purchased most of their lots over in those 2 elem. areas for over $300,000 in most cases. This area consisted of small ranch homes on nice sized lots, and has converted/transitioned into teardowns with large homes now. It still is about 1/2 and 1/2.

An area west of Pleasant Hill Rd. and South of Geneva Rd., same type of homes with the "teardown" phase starting to happen. This is where you can find the less expensive lots (and bigger), which is how the other area started out. Now that the trend has happened, those small, ranch homes' value has gone up since the demand for them to "tear them down" is in existance. This area has at least one new home on every street, in a 5 block radius. Pleasant Hill Elem is the Elem. School- excellent! And all these ares are Wheaton North HS.

I might add that most builders, if reputable, will do this. They will help you with the "tear down" process as well as help with a construction "draw loan" to go through it all.
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Old 06-08-2008, 01:00 PM
Location: Humboldt Park, Chicago
2,686 posts, read 6,687,860 times
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Default wheaton is nice but...

Wheaton is a great town with decent schools and a nice community feel BUT Glen Ellyn is nicer with better schools and a much better planned downtown. Given your price range you can afford Glen Ellyn. There is a reason why the same house in Glen Ellyn costs more.

Downers Grove and Elmhurst are also good.

I still think you should still consider River Forest/Oak Park but commute-wise Glen Ellyn may make more sense as the trains are much more reliable than the expressways.
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Old 06-08-2008, 02:13 PM
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Very True, Glen Ellyn is a wonderful town, one we considered in a few of our moves. We just stayed in Wheaton so kids didn't have to change schools. They put up quite a protest. Glen ellyn is a great town, and Riteway and PJ Murphy build in GE as well. I think both communities posess great similarities, in reference to the North side and downtown of Wheaton with Glen Ellyn. You will not go wrong in either community. It is also correct that their is a reason homes are more expensive in GE than Wheaton, just as it is that homes on the North shore or Hinsdale or a lot of these other fine communities are higher than GE. Schools are great in all of these areas, and some offer better and easier commutes than others, which is why the house prices fluctuate. The same Metra line that runs through GE, runs through 2 different stops in Wheaton as well.

It sounds like your clients are looking to possibly build. Most of the area builders build in both communities, so you won't go wrong there, either. I say GE is a solid choice and know they'll be happy in that choice as they would also be with Wheaton.

I'm sure someone has the same great feedback for Downers Grove and Downtown Naperville. Both great suburbs, great schools, easy access to train, as well, with the careful choice when looking at Naperville, to stay near downtown Naperville, in school dist. 203, and not getting lost in the huge 115,000 thousand population and finding housing in Naperville dist. 204. Good luck with your move. You will surely find a beautiful place to live and with the affordability your clients posess, build or find a beautiful home!
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