In this installment of Sell It To Me, our house hunter looks at three homes in Beverly and writes about the one that won her heart.
For my family, it's that time when the next generation is making its way into the real world of adulthood and home ownership. The oldest of my mother's 11 grandchildren is newly married. Another has a ring on her finger too. All but two grew up in Beverly and Morgan Park. And some have said they want to move home to Beverly to raise their families.
With that in mind, we set out to look at neighborhood properties that would entice young couples as they begin to plan for family life. We're sure that in addition to the neighborhood's charms, they've also thought about the proximity of grandmothers, aunts and cousins as babysitters.
Beverly is a small enclave on Chicago's South Side, distinguished by lots of trees, a few hills and architecturally significant homes with lots of character. It bills itself as a village in the city and I tell friends that the best thing about Beverly is that it's like a small town. That's also the worst thing about Beverly — it's like a small town. You can't go the grocery store with dirty hair and sloppy gym clothes without running into three or four people you know.
It's also a neighborhood of families, with many generations living within walking distance. One of my brothers lives a block away and we're close enough to share ovens on the holidays. It's common for young people to move back to Beverly after college and a few years living on their own downtown or in other areas of the city that have more nightlife.
Bill Biros of Prudential Biros Real Estate showed me three Beverly homes, each with loads of character, ranging $300,000 to $369,000. That price range is a typical entry point for first-time buyers looking for a Beverly house that they can stay in for awhile, perhaps to begin raising their families. And Biros said the current housing market is kind to Beverly buyers, giving them a chance to get that charm at a lower price point than in previous markets.
"The prices are down, the interest rates are down and the selection is there," Biros noted, commenting that desirable homes used to be on the market in Beverly for less than 30 days. "That's not happening anywhere now."
Any of the three houses we looked at would be great for a young family.
A Victorian "painted lady" built in 1891 seemed to be the best financial deal. The house was on the market as a short sale — where the bank has agreed to accept less than the homeowner owes — with a price that's been dropped to $300,000 for a 5-bedroom, 3-story with intricate woodwork and built-ins, an eat-in kitchen and a fabulous covered front porch.
A three-bedroom Queen Anne with a turreted entryway, a beamed-ceiling living room with wood-burning fireplace and a kitchen with custom hickory cabinets was listed at $335,000. It was newer than the Victorian, built in 1936, and had a built-in dining nook and butler's pantry. One of its most outstanding features was the elaborately landscaped front and back yards. And I loved the stone path to the entryway.
I thought it would be easy to pick my favorite of the three houses. It wasn't. I could have enjoyed living in any of them. But practicality is what helped me decide on the house at 9727 S. Winchester Ave. Listed at $369,000, this three-bedroom was the most expensive of the homes we looked at. But it also was closest to move-in ready, had updated decorating and didn't sacrifice any of the typical Beverly charm while having quite a few features desirable for a busy young couple hoping to start a family.
The two-story brick Georgian has great curb appeal. It's nicely landscaped and clear that the outside is nearly maintenance free. And what grabbed me as I stepped inside the front door was how comfortable it would be for a family with young children. The first floor is nicely decorated in neutral, natural colors. Like many of the homes in Beverly, this house has hot-water radiator heat. But the radiators in this house are recessed into the walls, taking up a lot less space. It also has small recessed spaces in the walls that once housed telephones. The jacks are still there if you have a land line.
The 21-by-15-foot living room is bright and airy, with hardwood floors and woodburning fireplace with a lovely marble mantle. The newer windows all are outfitted with pristine plantation shutters.
The kitchen is a real selling point. Remodeled about a year ago, it has hardwood floors, Corian counters, loads of cabinets, stainless-steel appliances and stunning stone tiles in natural hues. The kitchen connects to a 14-by-13-foot formal dining room on one side. At the back, the large eating area is open to an airy carpeted family room, which also connects to the dining room. French doors at the back of the kitchen lead to a wrap-around deck overlooking the oversized back yard. The deck leads around the side of the house to a screened-in porch that also is accessible from the living room.
A side drive leads to a two-car brick garage that anchors the lush yard, perfect for toddlers to play in. And those were the thoughts attracting me to this house. The nice, modern kitchen and attached family room leading to the back deck and large yard seem the perfect ingredients for happy family life. I could see either of my children — or any of my nieces and nephews —beginning their married lives there.
Upstairs are three bedrooms, a master bedroom with hardwood floors and two smaller bedrooms, both carpeted. The master bedroom has a door leading to the roof over the screen porch, which was a really attractive feature. It would need some kind of decking to be used as a balcony, but that would be my first project.
The home has one full and two half baths, one in the basement, but the bathrooms may not appeal to everyone. The tile is likely original to the house. A yellow-and-blue tile combination is in the first floor half-bath and peach-colored tile and fixtures decorate the main bath on the second floor. I liked the retro feel. A mostly finished basement would be perfect for a growing family. It is divided into several rooms, the largest with another working fireplace.
The house is a short walk from Ridge Park, a popular neighborhood gathering spot and just a few blocks to the Metra train that is a 25-minute ride to the South Loop, but the block is lovely and quiet. And just a few blocks from the relatives.
Where: 9727 S. Winchester Ave.
List price: $369,000
--1,916 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 1 full bath, 2 half baths, plus full, partially-finished basement
--Walking distance to Metra
--Deck, screened porch, large grassy yard on 48-by-172-foot lot
For more information: Bill Biros, Prudential Biros Real Estate, 708-422-0011