All photos taken live from Chicago properties & environs

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Could the Incans Build a Temple here?

“Wasn't that the place with the short basement ceilings?” my client asked as if he was Granpa trying to remember his childhood home.

“I think so. Let me check the photos.”

A buyer will see so many homes that eventually he will think the kitchen of one place belongs to the living room of another that has the yard of a completely different place.

Besides the photos, going back for a second visit usually keeps a place in the running, or finds it unceremoniously dumped like an internet date with a falsified photo.

An investor bought the property in foreclosure for $30,000. They renovated the home, two stories and a rehabbed basement converted into a famous Chicago 'in-law,' which should probably be known as an 'out-law' considering the city considers them illegal if not zoned properly. But people need a place to live, and many building owners rent out basements to those looking to save a few dollars and enjoy the fresh smells of Mother Earth. Rarely are the apartments ever shut down.

The new owner wanted $150,000. And people will think, “that's a crazy mark-up, I'll just buy my own cheap place and renovate it.” Except few people today can get a bank to loan them money on a trashed property and then find the additional $75,000 to do the work. Or they don't have the time.

And one major benefit of buying a home from a Rehabber is that often times you can negotiate in your contract to get them to either fix things to your inspector's recommendations, or better yet, they will tear down a wall, build a garage, add fixtures, even put on a dormer. As long as the property can appraise, it's like getting a rehab loan without the work. Your place is ready for move-in at closing.

The date was going well. The top two floors looked exactly how we remembered. Wood trim preserved, hardwood re-finished, windows replaced, and bathrooms completely remodeled. But the basement was the core. The date conversation was changing from 'what's the last movie you saw' to 'how do you feel about an open relationship?'

A home with a finished basement that has separate entrances along with a bath and a kitchen hookup lets an owner have additional 'roommates' or family stay with them. It's tangible security. Many will take their chances with the city and rent it since the new income will be the difference between just making the mortgage and having Alinea money every month. Or Petrillo's.

The descent down the re-built stairs allowed the new paint fumes to excite us with possibility. And a cheap afternoon high. That was a joke. You can't get high on latex paint fumes. I've watched people in the alley try, unsuccessfully, until they gave up and found the nearest 40 ounce bottle of a fine malted beverage gently sheathed by the slight crumpled reveal of brown paper.

The cermaic tile glistened. Basements are the only part of a home, outside bathrooms, that are allowed to have tile. That's a law. An unwritten law that keeps your hard earned money from going to waste on wood floors that will warp or carpet that is bound to asphyxiate your tenants with a moldy stank. My client strolled the large living area with a smile inching up his face until he saw scraping my ear scraping against the freshly drywalled ceiling. I guess I could travel the apartment by office roller chair like Alex P. Keaton.

I turned to the investor/owner/sales guy, my aching head slanted ninety degrees. “You did such a nice job of renovating this place. It shows great. But what happened down here? Did you think Chicago had an under served dwarf population tired of getting on step stools to open their bathroom doors?”

“No, actually, it's funny you bring that up, cause, you know, we debated taking the floor down some, but we figured this apartment would be for a hispanic family. And they're short, you know. They can definitely fit in here. This neighborhood has lots of them hispanics. But you know something, about 90% of the people who come to look at the building are Anglos, like you guys.”

“I'm not actually an Anglo. I'm just White.”

I yelled over to my client, his smile retreating back to neutral, “Hey, are you an Anglo?”

“No, not really. Part German, but mostly I'm just White.”

First dates are always deceiving. The second date predicts the future. And this relationship will be another one of the many, where one kitchen merges with somebody else's perfect master bathroom. The Hunt continues.

No comments:

Post a Comment