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posted: 5/19/2012 4:57 AM

Move In Now: Homebuyers seek more than just bricks and mortar

Great views and an abundance of amenities attract homebuyers

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  • Many homebuyers are attractive to clubhouse communities like Highland Woods in Elgin, which has this splash park as part of its swimming pool and community center. There are eight builders active in Highland Woods, with two offering homes for immediate delivery.

      Many homebuyers are attractive to clubhouse communities like Highland Woods in Elgin, which has this splash park as part of its swimming pool and community center. There are eight builders active in Highland Woods, with two offering homes for immediate delivery.
    Courtesy of Highland Woods

  • Shodeen Residential has 12 immediate occupancy ranch and two-story homes for sale at its 1,600-acre Mill Creek community in Geneva, which encompasses two public 18-hole golf courses.

      Shodeen Residential has 12 immediate occupancy ranch and two-story homes for sale at its 1,600-acre Mill Creek community in Geneva, which encompasses two public 18-hole golf courses.
    Courtesy of Shodeen Residential

  • Mike and Tanya Ketchum and their three young children recently moved to Elgin in a house built by William Ryan Homes in Highland Woods.

      Mike and Tanya Ketchum and their three young children recently moved to Elgin in a house built by William Ryan Homes in Highland Woods.
    Courtesy of the Ketchum Family

  • The West suburban city of Northlake is offering incentives for move-in ready units at Wolf Ridge Condominiums.

      The West suburban city of Northlake is offering incentives for move-in ready units at Wolf Ridge Condominiums.
    Courtesy of Catapult Real Estate Group

 
By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent

Summer is right around the corner. So, many people who have been renting for years or who have suddenly been able to sell their existing home are anxious to find the perfect house, get settled and start enjoying their new locale.

That is particularly true of people who long to find a house in a community where there are abundant amenities like pools, walking and biking trails, tennis courts and other facilities best enjoyed during warm weather, as well as walk-to shopping and restaurants.

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The management team of DR Horton is making a conscious effort to maintain the greatest selection of quick delivery homes in the Chicago area market, said Chris Naatz, vice president of sales.

"We make sure we have quick delivery homes at all stages of construction available at all of our communities because we know people always have leases that are ending, or they want to get into a new home before the new school year starts or whatever," he said.

Such immediate occupancy DR Horton townhouses and single family homes generally range in price from the mid $100,000s to the low $300,000s and are available both in the three active adult Carillon communities and in its 14 all-ages communities.

"Summer is our peak season because many of our communities offer recreational amenities, so people want to move in quick so they can start enjoying the lifestyle. Our quick move-in homes also offer people an alternative to resale homes," Naatz said.

DR Horton's premiere community, Cambridge Lakes in Pingree Grove, features a 30,000 square foot clubhouse with fitness center, gym, gathering space, children's pool and all-ages pool. There are also activity trails, neighborhood parks with playgrounds, baseball and soccer fields, a skateboard park and 12 stocked lakes that allow catch and release fishing (with a Kane County license). Liberty Grove in Plainfield offers a swimming pool and Symphony Meadows in Volo offers playgrounds and a basketball court.

Among the Carillon communities, all three offer bocce and tennis courts, pools, fitness centers, activity trails and clubhouses with craft rooms, computer rooms and gathering spaces. In addition, the Carillon communities in Naperville and Pingree Grove offer three-hole golf courses. Log onto www.drhorton.com for more information.

Mike and Tanya Ketchum and their three young children recently moved into a William Ryan Homes house in the multi-builder Highland Woods planned unit development in Elgin. They relocated from Geneva because they loved the fact that Highland Woods looks more like a forest preserve than a subdivision and because of the facilities Highland Woods offers, such as a community clubhouse, water park, courts for tennis, basketball and sand volleyball, seven neighborhood parks and a state-of-the-art fitness room.

They couldn't wait to start enjoying those amenities and making memories with their children.

"My wife is a stay-at-home mom so this will be great. She can spend time at the pool with the kids this summer and get to know other people with children who live here," Ketchum said. "And I am a former tennis instructor so I am excited to have lit tennis courts at my disposal."

Residents get to use all the Highland Woods facilities for $35 per month, Ketchum said, "which is less than it would cost to be a member of a health club, so it was a no-brainer for us."

Immediate occupancy or spec homes are usually available in more limited numbers today, thanks for the housing recession that has left builders less willing to invest in homes for which they have no firm buyer, said Barb Kininmonth, vice president of sales and marketing for Naperville-based Crown Community Development, which opened Highland Woods in 2007.

For instance, although there are eight builders active in Highland Woods, only two have homes that are available for immediate move-in.

Overstreet Builders is now offering a 3,342 square foot, four-bedroom, three-bath custom home for $444,900 and DeMarco Custom Homes has a 3,420-square-foot home with a three-car garage, four bedrooms and four bathrooms listed to $459,900.

"Everything else in Highland Woods is build-to-suit because speculative building these days is difficult," Kininmonth said. Homes in the community range from the mid-$200,000s to more than $1 million. Visit www.crown-highlandwoods.com for more information.

While William Ryan Homes is building homes in Highland Woods like the one they built for the Ketchum family, they are not currently building immediate occupancy homes there.

Debbie Beaver, vice president, said the company is building quick move-in homes on scattered suburban sites, including Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Naperville and Cary, because custom homes on infill lots in towns like these are in great demand.

William Ryan Homes is building a house in Libertyville that is within walking distance of shopping for $550,000 and a home in Lake Zurich that comes with lake rights and is close to a pedestrian underpass, which provides access to the massive lake. It lists for $499,000. Both of these homes will be available for a June 30 move-in. For more information, visit www.williamryanhomes.com.

Shodeen Residential has 12 immediate occupancy ranch and two-story homes, ranging in price from $336,980 to $523,343, available for sale at its 1,600-acre Mill Creek community in Geneva. The ranches all feature three bedrooms and two baths while the two-story homes feature four bedrooms and either 2 or 3 baths. Visit www.shodeenresidential.com for more information.

"Mill Creek is unique because it offers so many places for people to gather and meet, like the clubhouse, outdoor pools, two 18-hole public golf courses, a nine-hole pitch and putt course, 195 acres of parks with playgrounds, athletic fields, picnic areas and courts and 17 miles of trails," said Nate Amidon, sales professional for Shodeen Residential. "Our immediate occupancy homes tend to be very popular in the spring and summer because people see these amenities and want to live here."

K Hovnanian Homes (www.khovnanianhomesillinois.com) also offers immediate occupancy homes at its amenity-filled communities so buyers can move in quickly and take immediate advantage of what is offered, said Andrew Konovodoff, president.

Providence Cape Cod Estates in Elgin offers a large pond for fishing, a clubhouse and many walking and biking paths.

Hunt Club and Churchill Derby, both located in Oswego, each offer clubhouses and pools. Churchill Derby also features tennis courts, sand volleyball and a bike path.

Immediate occupancy homes are available in all three communities. At the two Oswego communities, houses range in price from $195,995 to $271,995 and at Providence Cape Cod Estates in Elgin they range in price from $288,995 to $310,995.

Court Airhart, president of Airhart Construction, recently noticed a shift in customers' interests when it comes to buying a home. Location and amenities are becoming more important.

"Our customers are looking beyond the lot line and the walls of the home when they buy," he said. "They want activities and opportunities to enjoy life. They are telling us they want a great home in an area where they can partake in other activities like shopping, restaurants and entertainment."

Buyers at their Courthouse Square community in Wheaton are able to walk to the community's downtown, while those who choose Fisher Farms can enjoy the nearby Wheaton Sports Center, Klein Creek Golf Course and have access to the Great Western Trail. Some immediate occupancy homes should become available at Fisher Farms by the end of the summer, Airhart said. Visit www.airhartconstruction.com for more information.

Prairie Park condominiums in Wheeling offers a lovely clubhouse complete with an indoor swimming pool, whirlpool tub, locker rooms, exercise room, party room with kitchen and a cantilevered terrace. Those who wish to make immediate use of those facilities have the choice of three move-in ready units, according to James Smith, director of sales and marketing for Smith Family Construction.

There are two model units for sale that feature two bedrooms plus a den and two baths. They both include many upgrades like wood floors and tray ceilings, and come with all of the designer furniture used in the model, stainless steel kitchen appliances and fixtures. The condos list for $440,000 inclusive and they come with one year of free assessments.

The third unit is not a model but it features three bedrooms, a den and two and half baths. It has cherry floors in many rooms, granite in the kitchen and buyers can choose their appliances. It is listed for $429,900.

All three units come with two indoor parking spaces.

Even units at Prairie Park that are not move-in ready only take about six weeks to finish, Smith said, and buyers of those homes are able to choose all of their own finishes. Find more information at www.prairieparkatwheeling.com.

Wolf Ridge Condominiums in West suburban Northlake doesn't have on-site amenities but the building is within walking distance of the Northlake's restaurants, shops and services, as well as its library and the Center Point Recreation and Preserve, which has walking trails and a meandering stream. A community park with a playground, volleyball court and fountain are also only blocks away.

Twenty immediate occupancy units have recently been released for sale in Wolf Ridge's second phase. Units range from one to three bedrooms with one or two baths. Prices begin at $149,900 and go as high as $239,900 with monthly assessments ranging from $203 to $318.

"For a limited time, the developer -- the city of Northlake -- is offering to pay both the real estate taxes and condominium assessments for the first year of ownership at Wolf Ridge, and give the buyers two free indoor heated parking spaces," said Paul Dincin, partner in Catapult Real Estate Group, marketing agent for Wolf Ridge Condominiums.

Each indoor heated parking space is valued at $7,500. The real estate tax and assessment incentives are valued at $8,000 to $10,000 depending on which unit is purchased.

For more information, call (708) 492-1010.

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