I’m a worrier by nature. I like to think being a worrier is less about living life with the “glass half empty” but more about being prepared to handle negative situations before they arise. Fortunately, I’m often pleasantly surprised when things go better than my worrying mind allowed me to imagine. Most recently, the sale of my Chicago condo has been my main focus of worry.
If you read my columns regularly, you know that in October 2019 I began the process of selling my condo. And, of course, my anxious brain was moving at a high-rate of speed, throwing out every possible catastrophe that could occur while I tried to sell my unit. First, I dealt with the condition of my condo, which had hosted three tenants in five years (see the November-December 2019 issue’s “Point of View”, page 10).
While living 500 miles away from the condo, I made the necessary repairs to bring it back to its once beautiful condition. Then, I had many showings, a couple of which caused me more anxiety because showing agents couldn’t get keys to work or left my unit in disarray. Thank goodness for my next-door neighbors who are great friends; they not only were my eyes and ears during the process, but also my assistants, constantly checking on the unit and answering my regular phone calls and texts.
In January, I received two offers—one of which finally began to set my mind at ease. The prospective buyers included a letter and photo of themselves with their offer. I read through their letter several times and quickly realized they are everything I wasn’t when I left the neighborhood.
When I moved out of my condo—after living there seven years—I was fed up with Chicago, particularly with my Albany Park neighborhood, a place that was up and coming when I bought in 2007 but never went anywhere because of the 2008 economic downturn. This young couple shared in their letter how dedicated they are to improving Albany Park through their professional work, as well as through volunteer organizations. I believe they truly will be a benefit to the community and condo building itself. It felt right to accept their offer.
After I accepted, the universe stepped in to show me I had made a good decision in selling the unit to this young couple. (You also know by reading my columns I’m a big believer in looking for signs that will lead me on my proper path in life. See “Point of View”, March-April 2019 issue, page 10.)
For example, my next-door neighbor who was my eyes and ears told me he ran into the prospective buyers during their inspection. My neighbor is originally from Philadelphia and was wearing a Philadelphia Eagles ballcap at the time. Turns out, one of the prospective buyers also is from Philadelphia, so they struck up a conversation and developed an immediate rapport.
In another serendipitous moment, my real-estate agent, who is a friend I met while we both worked for a large, b-to-b publishing company in Chicago, was chatting with the appraiser of my unit. Turns out, the appraiser also once worked at the publishing company at which my real-estate agent and I had worked. What are the odds of that in a metropolitan area with a population of 9.5 million people?
As I was reading this issue, my condo situation reminded me a bit of our “Multifamily” feature. In 2008, Parkland Properties, a Muskegon, Mich., real-estate and development company that specializes in the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, purchased Muskegon’s first skyscraper, the Hackley Union Bank Building, for $1. Parkland Properties’ team intended to transform the building into condominiums but the economy spiraled and the developer tried to sell it for nine long years. In 2017, recognizing the increasing demand for downtown housing, Parkland Properties representatives undertook a $9.5 million restoration and redevelopment of the building into Highpoint Flats Apartments, a 56,000-square-foot mixed-use building, containing apartments and retail and office space. Today, the project has motivated five new market-rate housing projects in downtown Muskegon, proving that patience and the right vision can lead to successful outcomes.
The sale of my condo was finalized in February and, although a small part of me is sad to not have a physical connection to Chicago anymore, I am thrilled I was able to sell my condo to people who will do better by being in the neighborhood than I did. Maybe now I can stop worrying—at least about Albany Park anyway.