The Chicago suburban real estate market is hot! This year, there have been 14 Chicago area western suburbs that have made pricing records. Towns such as Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, and Westmont have seen the highest home sale prices EVER in their towns! Others, including Lombard, Burr Ridge, Naperville, and Oak Park, have recorded their respective highest sales prices since 2007/08. Regardless of a record or not, the consensus is the western suburbs are HOT!
Inquiring minds want to know: why? Many Illinois realtors believe part of the reason for this trend in the Chicago suburban real estate market is that the western suburbs have accelerated in sales and appreciation is because they’ve historically been priced lower than many north suburbs. Couple this with the migration patterns of the city of Chicago, especially the West Loop and West Town, and it all makes sense. Those moving from downtown, or just west of it, feel very comfortable continuing a little further west vs. heading north to a suburb like Evanston.
Perks of the Suburbs
Proximity to Chicago
Illinois suburbs such as Oak Park, Riverside, and Forest Park are about 10 miles from downtown, and maybe 7-8 miles to the West Loop. That’s some close proximity! For those that are thinking ahead about downtown commutes, towns like La Grange, Western Springs, Hinsdale, and Elmhurst, have Metra trains that run express routes during rush hour resulting in sub-30 minute rides to work.
Throughout the western Chicago suburbs, towns with train lines equal downtown districts! This means buyers do not have to give up the amenities associated with many city neighborhoods, including small grocers, bars and restaurants, and boutique shops. While the raw number of options might be fewer, buyers in the suburbs oftentimes are younger families that realize they might be going out to eat fewer than 7 times a week. And it’s easy to hop over to another suburb, just as someone who lives in the West Loop might head to Wicker Park or River North to eat for an evening.
Chicago housing market costs have also been at record setting levels pre-coronavirus pandemic. City rents in neighborhoods like the West Loop, Lincoln Park, or Wicker Park make taking on a mortgage payment on a $500,000 to $700,000 home very doable. And many find that suburban asking prices make it easy to purchase a single family home for what a two or three bedroom condo would cost in the Chicago real estate market.
Are you sold yet? Your answer is probably already “YES!!” but home buying isn’t that easy these days, as western Chicagoland is seeing record setting low inventory levels. In real estate, housing inventory is measured in months supply. A balanced market should hover around 5-7 months of supply; in Cook County, there are 2.6 months of supply, and in DuPage, there are 2.4 months of supply. These figures are for inventory of single family homes, over $500,000, which has become very attainable for many buyers due to low interest rates. The bottom line is that the Chicago west suburban real estate market has become hyper-competitive in the last year, especially in the western suburbs, creating the perfect environment for bidding wars. But not to worry, even a first-time homebuyer can still be successful in this market!
- Expect Multiple Offers – Chicago area homes are selling extremely fast. Many properties will list mid-week and have multiple offers on them prior to the weekend. Be prepared with the idea that you will likely see a home one time prior to purchasing, and if you are drawn to a home, you need to act fast. Have a strong pre-approval from a known lender, submit with a high amount of earnest money (think 3-5% of purchase price), and proactively include the as-is clause (as discussed below). Many sellers want to know more about who’s purchasing their home, so including a personalized letter about your household can help you stand out too.
- Get ready for “as is” – The Chicago suburban real estate market is by far a sellers market. As such, a seller can dictate many terms of a contract. This means homes are being conveyed “as is”, where a seller is essentially saying “take it or leave it”. A buyer can still perform an inspection, but they cannot request repairs or credits as a result. The reality is that a buyer may only receive a few hundred dollars in repairs anyway, so the “as is” really is not something you should be afraid of. After all, most existing homes are occupied and being lived in just the way they are and still have a great home value.
- Utilize the “private network” – The multiple listing service has an entire set of listings that can only be viewed directly from the MLS or an MLS search. The way for buyers to connect with these listings is through their broker. When a home is in the “private network”, it is not displayed on major websites such as realtor.com or Zillow. Think of it as a “holding tank” for a home about to hit the market. This lets other brokers know that the listing is coming, but perhaps the sellers need to make final preparations, take photos, etc. It also is a place where sellers list their homes to “test the waters”. Some sellers will show their property while in the private network, while others don’t. Sometimes, you can make an offer the seller can’t refuse before it hits the bonafide market.
- Know someone! – People in the western suburbs are very friendly, and love talking to their neighbors. Of course, when someone is moving that typically comes up in conversations. If you have friends that live in an area you would like to move to, tell them to keep their ears open! Maybe they can get you inside information to help connect you with a homeowner prior to them listing the home on the bonafide market.
An Intro to Chicago’s Western Suburbs
Now that you know HOW to get your home in the Chicago suburban real estate market, let’s take a look at some of our favorite places in the western suburbs.
Tucked away in a quiet thicket of trees and curving residential roads, Riverside is the best kept secret of the western suburbs. As one of the first planned communities in the United States and a national historic landmark, the village has a peaceful and timeless presence. 8,700 residents enjoy Riverside’s downtown area that offers a selection of restaurants and hangouts. Equipped with walking trails, parks, and great schools, Riverside is known for being a safe, nurturing environment to raise a family. Home prices in Riverside range from $250k – $1M+ and have a median price of $460,000.
Another vibrant family town with a lively downtown area that circles the train depot, Brookfield is populated by about 19,000 residents. While the Brookfield Zoo is the prime attraction, the village is also home to a thriving collection of small business, including bars, restaurants, retail shops, and coffee shops. Home prices in Brookfield range from $200k – $600k and have a median price of $271,000.
La Grange is a popular place for families moving from the city and the perfect middle ground between a high-end suburb and a family-friendly, midwest town. With more than 15,000 residents who enjoy the highly-rated school districts, safety, and thriving downtown center, La Grange is a well-rounded suburb with a lot of advantages. Spacious and well-kept single-family homes in the area allow families to sprawl out and plant roots in this suburb. Home prices in La Grange range from $350k – $1M+ and have a median price of $539,500.
Western Springs, Illinois is yet another suburb west of Chicago that has a lot to rightfully boast about. Easy access to a short Metra commute into the city via the train station that has been a central location the town’s train commuters for over a century, and a downtown area featuring shops, restaurants, and a market are just a few of the advantages. Home prices in Western Springs range from $224.5K-$2.4M and have a median price of $650,000.
Hinsdale is the ultimate up-scale western suburb and a highly sought after community for homebuyers in the Chicago suburban real estate market. Known for its spacious homes and picturesque village center, it’s a standout location in the Chicago metro area. Hinsdale has maintained many of the historic buildings of its downtown area, while also bringing in a charming collection of shops and restaurants. Home prices in Hinsdale range from $179.9K-$8.9M and have a median price of $900,000.
Find your Home in the Western Suburbs
If you’re ready to explore the Chicago suburban real estate market and find your new home, contact Scout Real Estate Partners to get started.