Chicago?s Fall Market 2009: Buyer, Seller, and Agent Expectations

September 8, 2009


The week after Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of Chicago?s fall real estate. As this has been a period of non-traditional activity, I have thought carefully about what are my expectations. The strengths and weaknesses in the marketplace will depend on what type of property in what area at what price. There is no blanket citywide answer. The one constant about Chicago real estate is that it is local to the building, the block, and the neighborhood.


The Jay Pritzker Pavilion

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Overall there will be fewer home buyers out there than in years past but more than we have seen in the first months of this year. The majority of buyers have gotten themselves in a stronger position financially, coming into the transaction with larger down payments or just paying cash. Those who have the wherewithal to purchase are now actively engaging. These buyers have the opportunities to take advantage of short sales and well priced homes. If they are contracting to purchase a short sale they must have a clear understanding, no matter how financially qualified they are to buy, that the transaction is controlled by the sellers’ lenders.

The strength of the lower end/first time buyer will depend on how the government reacts to the rising default rates on Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loans as reported in the Wall Street Journal. If FHA is forced to tighten its guidelines it will impact a large number of new construction and conversion condominiums which have typically been entry level products. FHA loans became popular with the demise of subprime mortgages, enabling purchasers to get into homes with only 3.5% down payments.


Regardless of market conditions it is still about the space. If the space works for the potential buyer then pricing becomes equally important. Over the last months home values have been leveling off. With that said, overall values are significantly lower than in years past. A home?s value is based on the last three sales in the last six months of comparable properties. Because of specific areas of high inventory levels, high rates of default, and foreclosure there are still pockets of the city that will continue to see devaluation.

What you paid for the home factors into your decision to list. Can you afford to sell it now for the current market value or do you have to sell? If you have to sell, will it result in a short sale? Most listings will not get many showings but each and every one is an opportunity.


There continue to be far fewer of us. It is down to 10% of real estate professionals doing 90% of the business. To get a transaction closed is a combination of the years of expertise, number of transactions, and the experience of working as a REALTOR® in this perfect storm of the last eighteen months. These are the agents who have the skills to bring the offers, get them negotiated, and get a higher percentage of successful transactions in an environment where many contracts never get to the closing table.

The marketing of properties has changed as quickly as the real estate market itself. It is no longer about the Sunday paper, the glossy magazine ads, and entering listings into the MLS. It is all about Web 2.0 and social media. Knowing how to use the brand your brokerage offers, supplemented by the brand you have created for yourself as an agent to get your listings the greatest exposure. A professional agent must know where listings go and how to get them optimized. Saying, ?the listing will go into the MLS and will be on the Internet? is not providing a service.

With a decade of experience as an active REALTOR® I am optimistic. It is about overcoming objections, finding solutions, and understanding how to market. It is also gaining knowledge from my transactions as well as from the expertise of my colleagues. It is about constantly educating myself to accomplish what I am hired to do: the sales and marketing of real estate.

We would like to thank Sergey Gabdurakhmanov for sharing today’s photo via the Creative Commons License.
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About Andrea Geller

Andrea Geller, Realtor® with Sudler Sotheby?s International Realty, specializes in residential real estate sales and marketing of resale properties and new construction homes. Acknowledged as an expert in the real estate industry, Andrea has been interviewed for industry related articles for print and online media including the Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, Reuters,, and Illinois Realtor Magazine. Andrea's commitment extends to the community as an active member of several professional associations. Her appointments include the Board of Directors of the Chicago, Illinois, and National Association of Realtors® and the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce. She markets herself under HOT PROPERTY®, an innovation in the real estate industry led by Chaz Walters that has been marketed since the 1990s. This unique real estate concept is always a step ahead of the industry providing marketing from cutting edge interactive exposure to targeted innovative advertising opportunities. Visit her at or 773.868.3090.

View all posts by Andrea Geller


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