Condominiums are the predominant property type in the Chicago real estate market. They come in many forms, providing a broad range of options to suit every taste and requirement in the Windy City’s densely populated urban sprawl.
The finest and most coveted among the lot are high-end condos and penthouse suites that offer the most lavish features and a full suite of services. Luxury amenities include impressive rooftop decks, swimming pools, gyms, party rooms, convenience stores, and in-house dry-cleaning services. Residents enjoy round-the-clock services from 24-hour doormen and concierge staff.
Standing tall over the city, they also present the best views of the surrounding cityscape and sparkling Lake Michigan.
High-rises are primarily found in the most affluent parts of the city, such as Downtown Chicago and along Lake Shore Drive.
Mid-rise condominium buildings – standing 5 to 10 stories tall – are found all around the Windy City. Located in residential neighborhoods and available at more reasonable price points, mid-rises offer the conveniences of condo living while maximizing a more laid-back and private setting. These types of properties occasionally come with swimming pools, fitness facilities, rooftop decks, and doorman services.
Lofts are mid-rise condos building made from converted commercial buildings. Most of these are found in the West Loop’s former warehouse and meatpacking districts, with a few rare loft buildings scattered all over the city. Lofts are either made of concrete or timber, with the latter being a distinctive Chicago style.
High-rise and mid-rise condo buildings compared
Still deciding which condo type is right for you? Here are the best qualities of high-rise and mid-rise condos compared:
The 2- to 4-flat is considered Chicago’s signature building type, comprising approximately three-tenths of the housing stock.
Multi-flats feature the most diversity in design and layout of any condo type in Chicago. These buildings are more visually appealing compared to cookie-cutter mid- and high-rises. The most well-preserved and restored multi-flats are hard to miss with their eye-catching Italianate-style brick or stone façades. Bay windows also make these homes stand out on the streets of residential neighborhoods.
Some multi-flats were built as far back as the early 1900s, offering a desirable air of prestige and historical value. However, buyers who prefer new construction will also find plenty of newer, modern multi-flats in this market.
Multi-flats can range from 2 to 4 units depending on building height. Some also feature duplex units, meaning the condo occupies two floors.
If the top two floors of a multi-flat are one unit, it is referred to as a duplex up. These types of homes boast better light and treetop views, multi-floor living with common areas on the first floor and bedrooms on the second, and private roof-top decks.
Duplex down refers to flats where the first floor and garden level are both one unit. These allow for much larger square footage at a more reasonable price. Residents also enjoy multi-floor living with common areas on the first floor, while the bedrooms are situated in the quieter, more secluded garden level.
There are also larger variations of this building style, such as 6- or 8-flats. Built on double-wide lots, these buildings feature side-by-side condos, with units separated by a common staircase stack. This way, residents do not share any walls with their neighbors. This offers a larger pool of homes in the homeowners’ association to share common expenses and upkeep.
When it comes to maximizing living spaces, multi-flats are closest to single family homeownership. Unlike mid- and high-rise condo buildings that only offer small balconies, most multi-flats boast large decks or terraces to accommodate a private yard or garden. Ample outdoor space is a common feature of multi-flats. In other cases, there are common areas on rooftops shared among fewer owners compared to much larger mid- or high-rise communities.
The pros and cons of Chicago condo living
- PRO: A wider range of options
- CON: Limited privacy
- PRO: Condo association regulations
- CON: Limited personalization
- PRO: Shared maintenance
- Limited and more expensive parking
Chicago is carving out more space for residential real estate buyers through new development. New condo-style residences are also being added by rehabilitating, repurposing, and converting old houses and buildings.
High-rise and mid-rise neighbors share walls and floors by default, while multi-flat owners only share floors. Fortunately, there are practical ways to improve soundproofing in your unit like adding noise-absorbing surfaces on your walls and flooring.
Condo owners are expected to observe a set of rules established and implemented by a condo association or the property owner. These guidelines include noise regulations and restrictions on welcoming house guests that protect the best interests of all residents.
Condo association rules may limit your options for redesigning your living space according to your liking. Significant remodeling is typically restricted, leaving you with just minor cosmetic tweaks to play around with. In this sense, you are better off choosing a smaller building like a multi-flat, where you get more creative leeway for your remodeling plans.
Most condo associations offer services that cover the general upkeep of the building and its common areas. They also take care of urgent repair needs like faulty plumbing or electrical wiring problems.
Parking spaces tend to be more costly when attached to a condo, as compared to a detached house with its own garage.
Search Chicago neighborhoods for top condo options
Find your dream Chicago condo in these informative neighborhood pages:
- Condos for sale in Andersonville, Chicago
- Uptown, Chicago condos for sale
- Ravenswood condos for sale
- Condos for sale in North Center, Chicago
For more information, contact George Cain of Cain Chicago Residential at 773.818.9005 or georgepcain(at)gmail(dotted)com.