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Questions To Ask When Buying A Chicago Condo

Here are the best questions to ask when buying a Chicago condo. We’re going to start with the assumption that you’ve already decided on a condo vs. a townhouse or single family home.

As a refresher, with a condo some parts (your actual residence) are owned privately. While others (common areas) are owned collectively by all of the condo’s residents. Phew, glad we’ve gotten that clarified!

Best Questions To Ask When Buying A Chicago Condo

1. What’s The Best Chicago Neighborhood For Me?

First things first, where do you work and how do you feel about commuting?

The answers here will inform your decision regarding neighborhoods. For example, if you work in the Loop and want to walk to work rather than drive or take the CTA, research the West LoopRiver North, Streeterville and the New East Side.

best questions to ask when buying a Chicago condo

Ask Mark: What are the best questions to ask when buying a Chicago condo?

Generally, we advise our clients to try and live close to where they work. Because Chicago’s neighborhoods all have so much to offer, there’s normally a neighborhood close to work that offers what our clients seek. (Tip: You can use a buyer’s broker to buy real estate in Chicago…and it’s free.)

Maybe you secretly like people watching on the red line and a short commute is even a little desirable. Or you want to live where there’s a lot of night life. Or opportunities to get outside and run or bike along the lake.

If yes, check out two of our favorite neighborhoods Lincoln Park and Lakeview. Both are on the red line and offer what you seek. Use our map of neighborhoods to learn more about all the urban core Chicago neighborhoods. Plus see all the latest listings for sale.

2. What Are My Space Requirements?

So you like shiny new things? Don’t we all! That 800 square foot super sleek modern new condo with floor to ceiling windows but limited closets might appeal to your 24 year old single self. But how will it work when you’re 29 and living with that special someone who wants a closet? Not so shiny anymore right?

Nobody can predict the future but when buying a condo it’s a good idea to buy just a little extra space. Room to grow so you don’t feel forced to sell and move after a few short years. That might mean bypassing the shiny new but tiny condo for one that’s a tad more practical. And yes many of the new construction condos have significantly smaller room sizes and fewer square feet than those built earlier.

3. What Are My Amenity Requirements?

Chicago high-rise condos often offer a ton of amenities like door staff, a nice gym and pool. These of course can be appealing. But they also have high monthly assessments that need to be in the budget. If you don’t need a gym or concierge then why pay for them? Go for a low amenity low monthly assessment condo. Learn more about buying a Chicago high rise condo.

If on the other hand you get a lot of packages delivered or feel you want better security then door staff are valuable for you.

All are full amenity high rise and mid rise buildings worth exploring. An often overlooked but well-located West Loop mid-rise building with lower assessments is Monroe Manor. It’s located from 841 – 849 W. Monroe. Our office is in the building so contact us about it.

Have you always wanted to live in an authentic vintage brick and timber loft? Well Chicago has tons of them and they can be a great option. Many loft buildings offer the same high level of amenities as upscale high rise condos.

Different condo buildings offer different amenities. Here are six favorites:

No. Ten Lofts – 1040 W. Adams

The Emerald – 123 S Green

Beacon Lofts – 203 S. Sangamon

933 W Van Buren Condos

One River Place – 758 N Larrabee

Harrison Street Lofts – 547 S Clark Street

And to learn more about buying a loft, explore the latest Chicago lofts for sale.

4. How Much Can I Comfortably Afford?

Note that the correct question is not “what’s my maximum approved loan amount”. There’s a need to balance your answers regarding neighborhood, space and amenities with the key question of price. This can be challenging so now’s when your real estate broker can really earn their keep and help you make some fine tuning adjustments. If you’re on a very tight budget then you might try reversing the order of these four key questions and start with price. Use a mortgage calculator to get an idea of what you can afford. Better yet, go ahead and get pre-approved for a Chicago mortgage, it’s more important than ever.

Ask your agent where you can find the best value for the price given your space requirements, amenity needs and desired lifestyle. One of the best things about Chicago is that there are so many neighborhoods offering excellent condo choices at a wide variety of price levels.


So, now you know best questions to ask when buying a Chicago condo. If you’re a first-time buyer, here are our Best Tips For First Time Home Buyers In Chicago.

Ready to get started? Contact us, we’ll help you get it done right!