In the summer, there’s one natural attraction that makes certain Chicago-area properties a coveted part of the real estate scene: water.
A home overlooking a lake, river or pond has special appeal this time of year, offering dreamy views of water rippling in the breeze and reflecting the sun.
”Water people are a breed apart:’ said Alice Scifo, real estate broker and owner of Re/Max Advisors in Lake Villa “They are willing to pay extra. With today’s hectic lifestyles, they love to come home and unwind watching the calmness of water.”
Of course, you’ll have to dig deeper in your wallet to pay for desirable water views.
“People have an emotional connection with water,” said Tricia van Hom. Vice president of marketing for Chicago- based Related Midwest real estate development company. “Residential property owners take advantage of that and charge premiums for water views.”
The water factor is evident at Newport Cove on Bluff Lake in Antioch.
“Many people want to be on the water, but not all can afford it;’ said Susanne Tauke, president of New American Homes, which is building Newport Cove.
The development has 21 lots with lake views and 1,800 acres of waterfront property. Units are about 2,500 to 3,500 square feet each, ranging from $600,000 to $900,000. That’s about $200,000 more than the cove’s 46 inland lots, Tauke
The premium didn’t deter homebuyer Trung Thai, who is looking forward to moving into his new 3,000- squarefoot, four-bedroom house at Newport Cove. He is thrilled about the sliding glass doors and the deck overlooking the lake.
“The views were the focal point for me,” Thai said.
Lake Michigan properties are extremely popular, especially downtown, where buildings are designed to showcase lake views.
For example, The Legacy at Millennium Park, a 360-unit condominium building at 60 E. Monroe St., features stunning views. The 72-story tower’s dramatic lakefront vistas sealed the deal for George and Carolyn McLaughlin, who bought a penthouse in 2012.
”We’re water people,” George McLaughlin said. ”We bought the penthouse for the spectacular lake views. Water is soothing and relaxing. There’s also action on the water. We watch sailboat races, regattas of 50 to 75 boats. It’s almost like a painting. At night, we see the lights of sightseeing boats from Navy Pier.” James Hanson, principal of Mesa Development, which developed The Legacy, that premiums for units with Lake Michigan views range from 25 to 30 percent more than units without views.
“People will pay more for water with its sense of peace and tranquility,” according to real estate agent Carolyn McLaughlin. “But reselling may take longer because of the higher price of units with water views.” Lake views are just as pricey on the affluent North Shore, including a 21-acre Lake Bluffestate with two of its seven lots overlooking the lake with private beaches. The estate, on 600 Lansdowne Lane, features a mansion built in 1911 that was designed by Drake Hotel architect Benjamin Marshall. With 18 rooms and 12,212 square feet, it’s valued at $4.9 million.
A 3.5-acre vacant $3.4 million lot next to the restored mansion also has views of the lake. Jeff Ohm, a real estate agent for Lake County’s Premier Realty Group Inc., said the premium is 25 to 40 percent for lake-view properties on the North Shore.
Water views were also created at Meadow Ridge, a gated 164-unit community of town houses and duplexes in Northbrook. Two ponds and four man-made streams are interspersed between rows of duplexes in the 40-acre gated community. Water lots cost 5 percent more than other lots.
“Despite the extra cost, we have no trouble selling water-view homes,” said Joe Giampa of Gibson, Giampa & Partners Inc., marketing agent for KZF Development at Meadow Ridge.
Prime waterfront properties dot the Chain 0’Lakes, about an hour’s drive from Chicago. But taxes are “out of sight and flood insurance is costly,” said Re/Max Advisors’ Scifo.
“Summer is not the time to buy on the water,” she said. ”Wait for winter, when prices are lower.”
These days, with a higher concentration of new apartment high-rises, renters have more choices for prime water views.
Floor-to-ceiling windows and a rooftop terrace offer vantage points for river and lake views at Optima Chicago Center, a new 42-story, 325-unit rental building in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.
“Renters in Chicago may pay a $100 premium per month for water views, depending on the location and height of the building,” said Diana Pittro, executive vice president of RMK Management, a Chicago-based real estate company.
Water views of man-made ponds at suburban rental properties command about a $20 to $30 premium per month, she said.
At Versailles on the Lakes Apartments in Schaumburg, units facing the pond in the eight-building complex are the most popular and expensive. A water view is a point of pride for Joanne McLeod, who landed a unit at Versailles overlooking the pond.
“I was lucky to get it,” she said. “It’s worth the additional rent.”