At Downtown Apartment Company and Downtown Realty Company, we live and breathe the downtown real estate market on a daily basis. Recently, we’ve shared some of our insider tips with many real estate publications and wanted to highlight some of our favorite key takeaways. Here are our top 6 tips from Ben Creamer and Ericka Rios, co-founders of DAC and DRC.
1. Your Realtor Can Be Your Quarter Back
There are many things to coordinate in a move– from insurance, electricity set up, and furniture, to movers, reserving elevator time, and changing your address at the post office. Your real estate agent likely has experience with moving related services and vendors and can help you quarter back all the “moving” parts. “One of the things we do is to connect clients to many vetted relocation service providers such as furniture rental and moving companies,” Creamer says.
Read the article in Apartment Therapy, 6 Things You Never Knew Your Real Estate Agent Could Do for You for more insider moving tips.
2. Winter = Apartment Sales
“As we get into the fourth quarter, demand ticks down,” says Ben Creamer. “You’ll see one to two months free concessions, which has been pretty common in new downtown construction…If job growth continues in Chicago, the thousands of new apartments currently under construction downtown will likely be absorbed”.
Check out the article, Rents May Be Stabilizing in Hot Chicago Neighborhoods, in Chicago Mag for more info!
3. Make Use of Storage Options
Many downtown apartments and condos offer on-site storage to minimize clutter in smaller apartments. “It’s particularly helpful to have storage available in the building for larger items and seasonal things you don’t need on a day-to-day basis,” says Ericka Rios, co-founder and director of leasing at Downtown Apartment Company. “For example, some buildings have free bike storage on the ground level, while others have basement storage units for larger or less-used items.” Take a look at more of Ericka’s tips in Apartment Therapy’s article, 6 Things Everyone Seeking a Small Apartment Should Know for more information.
4. Ask the Right Questions to Predict Your Average Utility Bill
In order to get an accurate picture of your total monthly expenses, ask your realtor, the utility provider, and your property manager the right questions. Some utilities tend to have an average historic range. “Your agent should be able to see the annual utility costs for similar homes that are a year or two older and give you a reasonable range,” says Creamer. Other, more fixed utilities, will just require a quick phone call. “Internet and cable can be calculated with a quick call to your local cable provider,” says Rios.
In response to any ambiguity over total costs, many downtown luxury high-rises are offering predetermined utility packages. “Most new apartment communities recognize that this is a concern for new residents and have established utility packages with prices that vary based on unit size,” Rios says. “(At most buildings) the major utility expenses – heating, air conditioning, gas, water, trash removal – are covered in a single monthly fee, eliminating much of the budget guesswork.”
For more information on estimating your total monthly costs, check out our article, How to Estimate Utility Costs, in U.S. News & World Report’s Money section.
5. You don’t need to put 20% down to buy a home or condo
Find a knowledgeable mortgage broker who can educate you on the financing options available. “Some financing options require as little as 3 percent of the purchase price. Others require 10 to 20 percent,” says Ben Creamer, a principal and managing broker at Downtown Realty Company. Check out our article, Think You’re Ready To Buy A House? Ask These 6 Questions First, in Huffington Post for more info!
6. Amenities are in Hot Demand
For an article about Apartments of the Future, Ben Creamer sat down with Mult-Housing News about trends in demand for high-rise amenities. He says:
“I think the future of multifamily will continue to trend towards enhancing service amenities and creating social spaces that encourage resident engagement. Many properties are adding wow-factor social amenities—spa-inspired pools, gourmet kitchens, music lounges, and entertainment spaces—in dramatic areas, such as rooftops or penthouses, to stand out with prospective renters. Equally important, hotel-style concierge services like on-site dry cleaning, housekeeping and in-home package delivery can ease the burdens of day-to-day life. Multifamily properties will continue to find new and creative ways to both socially engage residents and deliver white-glove service. Today’s tech-savvy renter wants everything at the touch of a button, and multifamily communities will have to keep up.”