New to the Area! (Pittsburgh to Chicago)

10 Replies | Chicago, Illinois

Hi all! I'm new to the Chicago area and am currently living in Itasca. Moved here from Pittsburgh, PA back in April and quickly found out that the two markets are vastly different. I'm partnered on a 5 unit back in Pittsburgh but would like to find a second property here in the  Chicago area. 

Problem with that is that I have next to zero market knowledge here! The only areas that I've identified that seem to make any sense (compared to what I'm used to) are Waukegan and Zion. Can't help but think that I'm missing out on a ton of opportunity if I were to focus there. 

If anyone has any suggestions or tips for investing here I'd love to hear them. Primarily interested in cash flowing rental properties or a potential live in flip since I'm currently renting. I'm also trying to determine if joining the Chicago REIA is worth it or if I should just find a local meetup through the site.

All advice welcome! 

Go Bears?

Welcome! REIA events are great. There are also good Meetups at Dino's Pizza out west and Sully's House in Old Town.

For cash flow in Chicago you got to make it. Find deals with under market rents you can raise, do some updates, etc. You can also force a lot of equity increase once you raise rents with our properties. 

@Travis Wilkins Welcome to the windy city! I would say it all depends on budget and ROI expectations. If you are willing to house hack and live in a 2-3 unit there are come decent B-/C+ class areas where you can live for almost free. For house hacking 2-3 units I like Berwyn or Brookfield on the near SW side as well as some of the Chicago neighborhoods on the far NW side (Irving Park, Portage Park, etc).

If you want to do a live in flip your options open up if you have cash to spend on rehab. I would target towns with a Metra (train stop) where you can get a house just ugly enough for you to me OK living in.  Then target your flip to sell to first time homebuyers in that area who want something turn key and access to downtown. 

@Travis Wilkins welcome to the forums and welcome to Chicago! As others have stated, there are plenty of free REIA groups and meetups you can join. If you look under the "networking" tab here on BP you can find them pretty easily.

As for Waukegan and Zion, there are definitely opportunities there. I grew up in the area and my sister owns a three unit in Zion still. I would steer you towards certain pockets of Waukegan that are better C class areas. The apartments in Zion are pretty much D class in my opinion. You would want to be a specialist to operate there. 

Think through your goals and your investment criteria. Chicago is a big market, and there are a lot of solid areas to find multifamily. 

Thanks! @John Warren I havent actually been to those areas yet but it did seem like Zion was a bit on the lower end.

I've primarily just used census bureau information to identify lake and kane county as potential areas to invest.

After running the numbers those areas stood out. Plus I'm working in Northfield/Northbrook area so not too far from Waukegan.