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Old 05-19-2009, 11:05 PM
mh7
 
102 posts, read 188,947 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lookout Kid View Post
Taxes in La Grange seem to be comparable for similarly priced properties. For instance, 605 S. Maple in Oak Park is listed at $499,000 and had annual taxes of $7,381 in 2007. A similarly priced property in La Grange, 15 N. Poplar, listed at $490,000 and had taxes of $7,796 in 2007. I've found that again and again the taxes in La Grange are comparable or slightly higher than what we're finding in Oak Park.
Those are interesting...I think the 15 n. poplar home was probably over-valued the last time it was purchased (in 2006...probably is) which probably explains at least part of the tax difference. I looked at at least 60 homes between both areas over a 12 month period & the taxes in oak park were for higher pretty much without exception.

I'd be careful about both of those homes - the poplar one is very close to the train tracks & there are a LOT of trains going down that line...and the maple home backs up to harlem, which means traffic noise 24x7 (and that back yard is brutal looking...I'd at least get them to throw in that mona lisa print hah).

What I found while looking at homes in those areas (and what drove me totally nuts) is that it almost seemed like when people price their property they blindly look at comps...like one 4 bed/2 bath that was recently updated would sell for X$'s & then everyone with a 4 bed/2 bath would try to get the same X$'s, even though their home hadn't had work done in like 100 years (sometimes literally).

Both areas are really great too, so it seems like anything that is a really good deal is usually purchased fairly quickly - I've seen a few homes sell in under a week in both areas in the last year.
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:12 AM
 
20,783 posts, read 32,586,354 times
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I carefully read what both mh7 and LK said and I do not disagree with any of their main points, but I think it is important to filter / highlight a few things for them and others:

* There are MANY folks pricing homes off "bad comps" -- my mantra is ALWAYS to try and find comps of SIMILAR age, size and condition. I see problems ALL THE TIME where some one is WAY too blindered and they do not account for the fact that NEWER homes pretty much always are more valuable (as well as older homes that have been brought up to modern standard with regard to operational items like heat/air conditioning/ water/ electrical server/cable tv etc), larger homes are pretty much ALWAYS more valuable EVEN when comparing similar ROOM count, and homes that are WELL MAINTAINED and DECORATED {regardless of age or other factors} are ALWAYS more valuable than those that are in poor condition and not up to current tastes...

* Comparing the LESS DESIRABLE AREAS of a generally more expensive town is not an apples-to-apples comparison! In ANY town if a home backs up to commercial areas or other 'negatives' it is sorta foolish to say it is a good substitute for a home in solidly residential area of less expensive town. Now I know that some people do fine with this calculus, say taking a 'chance' on something right up against the shopping district in Highland Park instead getting something in a quieter section of another town, but that is NOT a behavior you can expect many future potential buyers of your home to follow ESPECIALLY when the 'shifts / turnover' of commercial property CAN BE DRAMATIC and swift!!! I personally know several unfortunate souls that have had very low impact retail / commercial properties near them be reused for things that are highly undesirable -- all night drug stores chains try to be a "good neighbor" but the thing is still open 24x7 and that really puts a crimp on the future marketability of one's home...

*Tax comparisions are a tough thing to do well. In my many years of reviewing the existing tax bill on a home and then 'predicting' what magic the assessor will perform post sale I have learned quite a few things. Homes that have sold FREQUENTLY (like every 3-7 years) are almost with out exception unlikely to see major spikes in taxes. The converse is that homes that HAVE NOT changed hands (in real arm's length sales on the open market, no 'funny business' with relatives / inheritance) will often see MAJOR spike in taxes. Thus, without knowing how "close to market value" the HISTORY of sales places a home in comparison to its LIST (and ultimate selling price) it is NOT PRUDENT to assume that any two homes are NOT going to have major adjustments to taxes. Does not matter if you are comparing inside one town or across several towns, there is a bit of extra leg work involved to do the 'likely future tax burden analysis'. In fact I know a few folks that do this sort of thing as part of property tax appeals and it reveals large inequities. The total tax burden is borne very unevenly, with "low mobility" home owners getting a nice helping hand from those that switch house more frequently. BTW I stand by my assertion that a 'bargin' in OP is unlikely to remain so in comparisons to LaGrange taxes and I suspect that even LK would admit that given all the factors he hinted at (less desirable sections of town, smaller total home/lot, different level of 'urban flavor') there are difference in taxes that favor LaGrange...

* FINALLY time on market! Huge! I have to admit there was a BRUTAL period that sorta tied in with the election cycle and the financial melt down that was DEVASTATING on ALL homes. That has cleared to a large extent. Homes that are in TIP TOP condition, well priced and WITH OUT obvious negatives are selling quickly in desirable area FOR THE MOST PART. The greatest hurdle right now appears to be REALLY AWFUL APPRAISALS!!!! I swear I want to strangle some of these people that are totally unfamiliar with the dynamics of the market. When some moron flipper tries to redo a home in "the wrong" school attendance area and does not use quality products and buries themselves in debt and subsequently goes into default and the lender blows the place out for some fraction of what they lent THAT IS NOT A GOOD COMP to a home in the same zip code, with the DESIRABLE school, quality materials / finishes, and a seller that understands the value of their home. One would THINK that appraisers might understand that the MARKET itself gives a very good idea of what true prices should be when a DESIRABLE home is snatched up in 10 days or less of listing while the messed up dogs of flips gone wrong sit on the market for MORE THAN A YEAR and the clueless REO asset managers further mess up the market...
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Old 05-20-2009, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Evanston
725 posts, read 1,199,224 times
Reputation: 195
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lookout Kid View Post
Taxes in La Grange seem to be comparable for similarly priced properties. For instance, 605 S. Maple in Oak Park is listed at $499,000 and had annual taxes of $7,381 in 2007. A similarly priced property in La Grange, 15 N. Poplar, listed at $490,000 and had taxes of $7,796 in 2007. I've found that again and again the taxes in La Grange are comparable or slightly higher than what we're finding in Oak Park.
Out of curiosity, I popped into an open house in my Evanston neighborhood this past weekend. It was a 4 bedroom home selling for $550k. The taxes were about $8,000 per year. I would have thought Evanston taxes were comparatively higher than the other neighborhoods you mentioned - but I guess they're not! Good to know. (I might look into buying a home in Evanston next year when my son enters kindergarten and I'm not paying for daycare anymore.)

eta: LK - have you considered Skokie? There are actually some pretty nice homes there, and a lot cheaper than Evanston. The schools there are really good too.
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Old 05-20-2009, 12:25 PM
 
10,069 posts, read 16,890,300 times
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Well Chet and mh7, I've looked at SEVERAL home listings in the half-million dollar range in La Grange and Oak Park over a period of several months, and the taxes in La Grange have been comparable pretty much every single time. If you go north of Madison Street in Oak Park the lots are larger (and more like La Grange), and the tax bills go up a bit. But I'm simply comparing $500,000 and lower homes in both locales, and you get what you get at that price. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it is a dollars-to-dollars comparison in terms of my family's housing budget. Taxes have not been significantly lower on any properties I've seen in La Grange. The two I mentioned were just the first two I pulled up, and I'm not considering purchasing either. We're not moving for another year or two or three...
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Old 05-20-2009, 12:28 PM
 
10,069 posts, read 16,890,300 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Costa Rica Chica View Post
LK - have you considered Skokie? There are actually some pretty nice homes there, and a lot cheaper than Evanston. The schools there are really good too.
Skokie doesn't have the types of neighborhoods we are interested in (i.e. traditionally planned tree-lined walkable streets with vibrant walkable commercial strips). I've looked at pretty much ever town within 15 miles of the Loop, and have narrowed it down to Evanston, Oak Park, La Grange/La Grange Park, and Park Ridge. We also love Riverside and River Forest, but can't seem to afford much in either.
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Old 05-20-2009, 01:04 PM
 
20,783 posts, read 32,586,354 times
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Default Completely understand!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lookout Kid View Post
... We're not moving for another year or two or three...

As somebody once upon a time tried to make a living with buyer like you I would tell you "poop or get off the pot", but as like minded home owner myself I know EXACTLY what you are facing. I completely sympathize and think that there is really no "right amount of time" to shop.

You are analytical and understand the trade-offs that you make as renter and are not easily misled by emotion. That said, when you do find something that DOES fit your financial situation, if it is does not appeal to your aesthetic sensibilities you won't neglect that part of the decision.

As a client you'd be "money loser", but as neighbor you'd be great guy to have in town!

The other advantage that you will have is that if you keep shopping you will undoubtedly run into some of the really awful real estate agents out there and develop strategies to fend them off.

Keep us up to date on what you encounter!
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Old 05-20-2009, 01:49 PM
 
10,069 posts, read 16,890,300 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
As somebody once upon a time tried to make a living with buyer like you I would tell you "poop or get off the pot", but as like minded home owner myself I know EXACTLY what you are facing. I completely sympathize and think that there is really no "right amount of time" to shop.

You are analytical and understand the trade-offs that you make as renter and are not easily misled by emotion. That said, when you do find something that DOES fit your financial situation, if it is does not appeal to your aesthetic sensibilities you won't neglect that part of the decision.

As a client you'd be "money loser", but as neighbor you'd be great guy to have in town!

The other advantage that you will have is that if you keep shopping you will undoubtedly run into some of the really awful real estate agents out there and develop strategies to fend them off.

Keep us up to date on what you encounter!
We currently own a condo that we bought in 2005, and our equity has been largely wiped out... So we need to save up money again before we move--or hope for prices to increase (we're not holding our breath). Otherwise we'd jump on it sooner! Our 2-BR condo is actually quite spacious and will be fine with two young kids, but we will grow out of this space quickly as the kids grow. And our families live out of state and it's hard to sleep guests comfortably.
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Old 05-20-2009, 04:17 PM
 
20,783 posts, read 32,586,354 times
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Default Argh, uptown condo...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lookout Kid View Post
We currently own a condo that we bought in 2005, and our equity has been largely wiped out... So we need to save up money again before we move--or hope for prices to increase (we're not holding our breath). Otherwise we'd jump on it sooner! Our 2-BR condo is actually quite spacious and will be fine with two young kids, but we will grow out of this space quickly as the kids grow. And our families live out of state and it's hard to sleep guests comfortably.
Yep, I can see how equity might be an issue.

Live and learn. A year or two or three, might do it. If the condo complex is smallish work HARD with the other owners to keep the whole place desirable.
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Old 05-20-2009, 04:37 PM
 
10,069 posts, read 16,890,300 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
Yep, I can see how equity might be an issue.

Live and learn. A year or two or three, might do it. If the condo complex is smallish work HARD with the other owners to keep the whole place desirable.
As long as I'm out of here before my oldest starts Kindergarten, that's all that matters. Our neighborhood CPS elementary school (Brenneman) is absolutely terrible. We'll rent out our condo and get an apartment in a good school district before we'll send our kids there.

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Old 05-21-2009, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Chicago
2,932 posts, read 2,671,085 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by US-Traveller View Post
You have to take Evanston's scores with a grain of salt because there are more low-income children from other neighborhoods attending your neighborhood school. If you take a look at GreatSchools.net, ETHS, in particular is rated very highly.
The best word I can think of to understand ETHS:

tracking

It may be one of the most tracked high schools in the Chicago area or arguably the nation. The result? For many kids on the accelerated track, ETHS offers a similiar experience that Chicago offers its students at Northside or Payton.

One other (unrelated) thought:

truthfully the age of Evanston being demographically different from the rest of the North Shore and north suburban areas is loooooooooooooong over.

You would be hard pressed to find many communities today that do no deal with the issues of diversity in both race, ethnicity, and very importantly socio-economic issues that are vastly different from Evanston.

First rule of reality: SCHOOLS, MADE UP OF THE YOUNGEST IN POPULATION, DO NOT REFLECT THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF THEIR COMMUNITIES ANY MORE.

Americans seem to know somewhere between 2040 and 2050, our white population will fall to plurality status. What a lot of people don't realize that school age population is expected to reach that milestone in the early 2020s...or less than two decades from now.

Skokie, Morton Grove, and Niles certainly deals with a similiar range of demographic issues as Evanston and even places like Glenview have schools that would surprise many people in how diverse they are and where differences do rise up as issues.

Happily with each year going by, we become more and more accepting. I would expect in ten years or so, looking at Evanston schools will be no different than looking at virtually all north suburban communities.

****

If I may throw out a personal observation here that many might disagree with:

I've taught school on the elementary level in Glenview for many years and am experienced with other north suburban schools. I have seen so many changes in my teaching career, including the 1970s forced integration that took place throughout Chicagoland and nationally.

And it has always amazes me how quickly things do change and how even after a 4-5 year span, schools like and feel vastly different.

The old paradigm saw much of the black community (again in Chgo area and nationally) as being vastly different from the experiences of white and even other racial groups in the US. There was the notion that for black youth, particularly boys, it was not considered cool to embrace education or, in many ways, to be close to whites.

If there were elements of truth in that (and I would have to say there were), from what I see we are in vastly different world for black children and, more importantly, al children today. My experience is that most kids of all races do not see race as an issue. My experience with white kids is a complete abhorance of how blacks were treated through slavery, Jim Crow, and the civil rights era, a sense of WTF...how could this have happened....and virtually no connection, association, or link to the whites who perpetrated the varying and often horrifying range o prejudice and discrimination.

For most black youth I've seen today, their "blackness" takes a back seat to their shared identity with other students and MOST IMPORTANTLY, I see both vast numbers of black kids who value and work at their education every bit as much as their white counterparts as well as seeing white kids who have no expectations that black kids differ from themselves in educational aspirations.

The US is loaded with problems today and our divides politically are legendary and scary. But those divides when it comes to race are going in the opposite direction. The kids don't see things like their parents and grandparents did and it will be their world. And when it comes to diversity based on race (if sadly, not on economics) things are gettng much, much better.

The result? Any parent looking to buy in Evanston or any community will see vastly different schools in 4 or 5 years and continuing time increments with race becoming less and less of an issue. If you have fears, let's not forget: a good percent of them are disappearing and will disappear. Again, that's just....IMHO....but for what it is worth and for what I've seen, I'm pretty convinced I'm right.

Last edited by edsg25; 05-21-2009 at 08:34 AM..
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