Get Ready for New Year’s!

by Chicago Agent

Now that I’ve had my turkey and pie, it is officially time to get ready for New Year’s! Some of you might think that I’ve skipped over a specific holiday, but I’ve discovered that no matter what time of year it is you’re going to accidentally forget to mention a holiday that someone finds important, and then people look at you funny at parties. Everyone celebrates the New Year, so that way I’m safe. Yes, I know that some people celebrate New Year’s at a different time of the year, but almost everyone will acknowledge the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, so call it what you want.

Of course New Year’s Eve is also the best celebration of the year. With drinks and kisses at midnight you really can’t go wrong. And if you stay in and watch the ball drop in the comfort of your own home, more power to you! Agent X just likes to be in the thick of it all – no matter what holiday. Please note that just because I don’t want to mention any holidays, doesn’t mean I don’t want to be invited to holiday parties. I’m an equal opportunity partier.

Alright, I’ve killed too much space with my holiday ramblings. Have a good one no matter what holiday it is, and if you need a kiss at midnight contact me at agentx@chicago.staging312.com.

People have been doing some job shifting before the year ends. Realty Executives Cornerstone now has an in-house lender, as Joe Dziewulski of Milestone Mortgage joined the team. You might say this is a milestone for the company (I couldn’t resist).

Agent X is now an international reporter: Sudler Sotheby’s International has hired Jeff Castner as its new COO. Castner currently lives in the Gold Coast, so he seems to be doing okay for himself. Previously, he served as regional vice president for membership development at Sotheby’s corporate office.

Craig Hogan of Keller Williams lost the Tricia Fox group in June to Sotheby’s, but he won them back with his charm and the entire group moved back into the office before turkey day.

Realtor Joanne Toyama of Coldwell Banker’s Evanston-Central office won the grand prize of $5,000 in the 2008 OpenHouse.com contest. The competition tracked the number of open house events agents held between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2008. More than 192,000 open house events were entered into the four-month OpenHouse.com contest nationwide. Her family should get some nice presents this year.

To make sure that your clients don’t gain too much weight during the holiday season The Brixton Group has partnered with personal trainer Aaron Manheimer to offer a $30,000 personal training incentive package to homebuyers who buy a unit at C/A23 in the West Loop. The Chicago-based fitness expert will provide new residents with a customized fitness plan, personal nutrition guide and one-on-one training sessions. Sounds like this guy is expensive, so that’s a pretty good deal!

Some not-so-great news for developers out there. Warren Barr, president of Renaisant Development Group in Oak Brook, has sold his property at 830 S. Michigan where he intended to build an 80-story condo building. After paying Pappageorge/Haymes for their architectural work and other financial losses, it appears he came out just about even, selling the property for about $5 million over what he bought it for. His other property at 1000 S. Michigan Ave. is still in foreclosure.

Trump is now comparing the current economic situation to a natural disaster. When battling with his lenders to extend his payment schedule, he said he couldn’t meet the loan because of “force majeure,” legal jargon for an act of God. If you all remember right, he also said force majeure was the reason he couldn’t deliver the units previously promised with the friends and family program. I should really use that term more often.

Wheeling has officially taken control of the empty Wickes Furniture site at 351 W. Dundee, right around the area the Village wants to develop near the train station. The Village plans on turning the property into a mixed-use development with residential and commercial property. “Today is a buyer’s market,” Village President Dean Argiris says. “We’re fortunate to get it as a steal.” A steal is right, prices for this same piece of land were about $12 million not too long ago and the Village of Wheeling bought it for $3.775 million. They plan to hire a developer within the next six months.

After a year in bankruptcy court, Neumann Homes has finally been hit with a $36 million foreclosure suit by Bank of America. On a more positive note, my friends Fannie and Freddie decided to suspend foreclosure sales and evictions for the holiday season. This will affect about 16,000 borrowers between Nov. 26 and Jan. 9, but after that they’ll have to fend for themselves.

Despite the sour news I’ve supplied you above, everyone is still wearing their party shoes. Sedgwick Properties’ Marquee hosted a Casino Night on Nov. 20 showcasing their three model units while attendees collected play chips from each one. Attendees then gambled their play chips in the “High Roller Suite,” the last remaining luxury duplex penthouse. One lucky winner got a Lexus for the weekend.

Don’t forget to register for Chicago WCR’s Installation of Officers taking place on Dec. 10 at the Spire sales center with a silent auction, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Chicago Agent held a party for their Agents’ Choice Awards, and guess who couldn’t even score an invite. After all I do for this magazine I had to rely on second-hand reports because someone was worried my cover would be blown. I heard a lot about some fabulous Oprah brownies and someone sporting a Kill Bill ensemble. Other than that, apparently the event went smoothly, which means it wouldn’t have been fun for me anyway. I did hear that the venue, Smith & Hawken, gave out a 20 percent discount on all of their products, which means I could’ve scored a cheap hoe. I also heard the snacks were great, the wine was drinkable and Steve Schwartz might get a call from the Oscars about being a presenter. Congrats to all you winners out there!

Since no one sent me birthdays again this week, I have ample room to wish a happy birthday to two special ladies in the office. Senior editor Zipporah celebrated on Nov. 30, while account executive extraordinaire Theresa will celebrate on Dec. 14. They are both happy to accept cash presents. That’s all I’ve got for you this time, so send me e-mails!!

Agent X Keepin’ the “real” in real estate

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