The Chicago Journal

Chicago Houses 101: 6 Tips For Purchasing Your New Home

Buying your new home in Chicago is a good move. An analysis by U.S. News ranks Chicago as the 79th leading place to live in and 56th best area to retire in. So, if you get a house in Chicago, you’ll stay in a high-potential city that many home seekers desire.

However, buying a home isn’t always straightforward. It requires adequate time and effort. You must consider several factors to ensure your money doesn’t go down the drain. Look into the current real estate market, prevailing prices, and what’s trending. At the same time, you must only work with professionals to avoid fraudsters who are out to swindle you. With that in mind, below are six tips for purchasing your new home in Chicago:

1. Consider the location

The location is always a crucial factor when buying a home. Chicago has numerous neighborhoods, each with unique infrastructure, culture, growth potential, and price ranges. You can check property reports for details about the different communities, such as growth projections, demographics, and psychographics, to ensure you pick a place that matches your dreams. 

Additionally, websites that list houses for sale in Chicago usually have comprehensive information on the area’s characteristics. Whether you want a home in Randolph, Lake Shore, Columbus, Monroe, Watterson, Pearson, or Pensacola Avenue, you can find data that’ll help you make an informed decision. 

Consider the pros and cons of each area and pick the one with the best balance. You’ll typically have to compromise on some wants, given that no place will perfectly meet your needs. Also, select a neighborhood with an excellent rating to ensure that if you resell your home in the future, it’ll be at a significantly higher price than when you bought it.  

2. Consider your needs

Homeowners have varying long-term or short-term needs. Perhaps you want a home in a suburban area with a calm environment where you can access necessary amenities and be close to your workplace, school, public transport routes, grocery stores, police stations, or parks. Buying a home near such amenities simplifies life. 

On top of this, consider the kind of feature you’re looking for in-home, whether it’s the design or the size of the patio, bedroom, or kitchen. 

Online home listings reveal the most popular features homebuyers currently look for. For instance, in a recent survey, open-concept homes garnered the most attention with 1,900 views, followed by homes with large kitchens (1,800 views) and houses with new roofs (1,720 views). 

Homeowners are also keen on complete gyms, city views, an outdoor pool, and double-pane windows. Knowing the exact features you want in a home helps you quickly narrow down potential choices and find a suitable one.

3. Prepare your budget 

The average home value in Chicago is USD$276,299. And that implies you can get one at a slightly higher or lower price. Thus, home-hunting with these sale prices in mind is best. 

Knowing average home prices can help you prepare for the down payment. The downpayment should be at least 20% to avoid higher-than-average premiums and interest rates. Aside from the mortgage, keep in mind that you’ll also have to pay property taxes, home maintenance, utilities, and insurance. All these can add up to your monthly home expenses.

A detailed computation of all financial requirements ensures you don’t get strained after making the down payment. It also helps you know the loan amount to request if you aren’t paying from your savings. 

4. Seek a pre-approved mortgage 

A mortgage will help decrease your financial burden since you’ll be paying for your home monthly over a long period. Mortgage pre-approval helps a lender know whether you qualify for a home loan, the suitable loan programs, and the interest rate you’re eligible for. 

So, gather your financial documents like W2 statements, paystubs, bank statements, and tax returns, and improve your credit score if it isn’t sufficient. Then, fill out pre-approval application forms with suitable service providers. With a pre-approval letter, you can quickly convince real estate agents that you’re willing and able to purchase a home at the current market rates. 

5. Hire a real estate agent

Real estate agents have extensive knowledge of the housing market in Chicago. They know what homes are currently selling and which one you may be interested in, depending on the features you describe and the budget you set. They’re also perfectly conversant with negotiating sale agreements and can fast-track the closing process. 

Consider looking for a local real estate agent who operates in your desired residential area. They’ll get the right house based on your budget and features. They can help you connect to homeowners who are not aggressively advertising their homes. A realtor can also check all offers, inform you of house interest rates, give feedback on your questions, and help you get a loan.

6. Inspect the home

Before you move into your new house, conducting a thorough home inspection is best. Sellers can hide the truth about their home’s condition. The images used in the listing may look perfect, but it doesn’t guarantee the house’s real condition. 

You must visit every shortlisted home and inspect all critical features. Check the HVAC systems, bathroom, kitchen appliances, walls, plumbing, electrical wiring, and foundation. If possible, tag along a professional inspector who can go beyond the aesthetics and evaluate the house’s structural integrity. If you find any issues, you can speak to the owner and negotiate a lower price since you’ll have to do repairs. But if there are too many problems, it’d be best to look for a better one.


Approaching the home-buying process with adequate information can make your journey smooth. Always seek help from industry professionals with experience in the Chicago housing market. Doing so gives you an easier time finding the right home that matches your needs.


From the Windy City to the Desert: How Chicago and Arizona Sports Teams Compare

At a surface level, there wouldn’t appear to be much similarities between the Chicago and Arizona sports scenes. Both sports scenes are widely different in their location, the attitude of their sports scene as a whole, and the overall level of expectations that come with being in each sports city. But at the same time, the two places also have quite a bit of similarities. 

Below, we take a look at those differences and similarities. 

First, let’s start off with how the two are similar in their sports landscape. 


Major metropolitan areas

Both sports landscapes also call two of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country home. Chicago is home to well over nine million people, making it the third biggest metropolitan area in the United States. Phoenix, on the other hand, is the 10th biggest metropolitan area in the country with nearly five million people calling the area home. This means both are considered major television markets, which allows for more money to be given to each franchise through their league’s television and revenue sharing contracts. 

Historically successful but down sports franchise

Chicago’s sports franchises have a rich history especially over the last 30-35 years. The Chicago Bulls dominated the 1990s, the Bears for a long time were among the best teams in the NFC, the Blackhawks had a dynasty in the 2010s and both the Cubs and White Sox have won the World Series since the turn of the millennium.

Arizona may not have the same level of success but they have seen the Diamondbacks win a World Series and for the most part be a rather competitive team in their franchise’s history. The Phoenix Suns have had their fair share of great seasons despite still looking for the first NBA Finals victory as well.

But overall in their current state, both are experiencing down periods across the sports landscape. In Chicago, the Blachawks and Cubs are rebuilding, while the Bears and White Sox seemingly can’t over their respective humps to be competitive for a full season. Additionally, while the Bulls have been a respectable team since Michael Jordan left the franchise, they have not had anywhere close to the same amount of success that they had in the 1990s. 

In Arizona, the Phoenix Suns are one of the lone bright spots while the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL continue to be one of the league’s worst teams. The Cardinals despite having one of the best young quarterbacks in the league just had to make a switch at head coach as well, hoping to turn around the fortune of their franchise. Finally, the Diamondbacks and Coyotes are both scraping the bottom of the barrel in their respective sports. Arizona sports fans can bet on their favorite in-state sports teams and more by signing up at Caesars Arizona by using one of their many promo codes which you can find, here. 

But how about how the two cities differentiate? We take a look at two ways below. 


The atmosphere – 

We’re not going to say Arizona doesn’t care about their sports but it’s fair to say as well that the city of Chicago is one of the most passionate sports cities in the country. The only true comparisons for Chicago are cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. In Arizona, the atmosphere is a little bit more laid back, sports are still popular but it’s not nearly the same type of atmosphere compared to Chicago. In cities like Chicago, the sports culture runs through the lifeline of the city and the results of games have an impact on the overall vibe of the city, in Arizona, it’s not as much of a “life or death” situation as it would be in other cities. But that’s okay as well, every sports city is different. 

Accessibility / support of local government – 

One of the biggest drawbacks of sports in Arizona is the lack of accessibility and support of local government overall. In general, many of Arizona’s sports franchises are located outside of Phoenix, however, for most Phoenix residents, this becomes a nuisance. With little public transportation outside of car sharing, location of stadiums and arenas make it tougher for both local and non-local fans to show up to sporting events. Chicago, however, has seen most of their stadiums built in the general metropolitan area with plenty of different public transportation being used by the public. 

Overall, both Chicago and Arizona as a whole are great places if you’re a sports fan but they offer two very different experiences. Chicago, a blue collar town has a much more blue collar fanbase, many wake up and look forward to their favorite team playing that day. 

Arizona, on the other hand, has more of a laid back environment thanks to natural beauty and lifestyle that comes with living on the west coast. That being said, because of the more naturally laid back environment of Phoenix and the surrounding areas, that passion level is just not the same as it is in Phoenix and that’s perfectly fine. Both are great sports cities and should continue to be for years to come .

Coyote Ugly Saloon’s Joanna Danielle Olsen Shares the Secret to Her Decades of Entrepreneurial Success

From the outside, the entrepreneurial world, colored by success and fame, seems effortless. However, the entrepreneurial journey is a long and arduous one requiring an unwavering dedication to one’s dream, resilience after every setback, and setting realistic expectations. One individual who continues to defy the odds and rise to the top of her industry is Joanna Danielle Olsen, a seasoned entrepreneur and the owner of the renowned Coyote Ugly Saloon.

Joanna Danielle Olsen graduated from the University of Georgia, earning a bachelor of science. After graduation, she joined the workforce at a top design firm in Atlanta. But, with her entrepreneurial fire burning bright, the go-getter soon left the corporate world and established her first enterprise, Paradox, where fashion, art and music merge into one wholesome creative outlet. 

Taking the creative world by storm, Joanna was awarded the Glamour magazine woman of the year for her entrepreneurial achievement and philanthropic endeavors in 2000. The same year, she partnered with Lil Lovell to establish the renowned Coyote Ugly Saloon across Tampa, Atlanta and Panama City Beach. 

Within two years, the seasoned entrepreneur purchased a building in the historic district of Ybor, Tampa, now home to Coyote Ugly Saloon. With two decades of being the best spot in the city with a lively ambiance and a standout bar section and cocktail list, Coyote Ugly Saloon-Tampa is soon to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Through 25 years of being an entrepreneur, Joanna has gained a wealth of experience and encountered numerous challenges. She shared that one of the biggest challenges was resilience through the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the crisis, her astute leadership skill, unwavering positivity and ability to embrace change and adapt to the times helped keep her business afloat and her staff employed.

On top of that, Joanna attributes her success to a great core management team working together to ensure the success and longevity of the company. “They have been an integral part of my success,” she acknowledges. With Joanna at its helm, Coyote Ugly Saloon weathered the storm and now provides jobs and growth opportunities to over 200 people.

Living by a watchword that translates to giving back to her community and ensuring the well-being of those who contributed to her success, Joanna ensured her staff was cared for during the pandemic despite all her bars closing down for six months. Besides ensuring job security, she gave out Publix gift cards to staff members, meeting their individual needs during unexpected life events. She understands that showing kindness and generosity to employees ensures the business’s longevity.

In this dog-eat-dog world, being an entrepreneur is no easy feat, especially as a highly successful one. But, looking back at how far she has come, Joanna shared the motivation behind her lifelong success. She shared, “I have learned never to give up no matter what obstacles come my way. Each city has brought its challenges that I have had to overcome.”

Taking giant strides in the entrepreneurial space, the inspiring individual has served as an Atlanta Women Leaders in Business member from 2005 to 2011. In addition, she has been a board member of the Ybor Chamber of Commerce since 2015 and the CEO of the Council of Tampa since 2020.

Additionally, she remains committed to giving back to the community and has taken leadership roles or partnered with several charitable organizations such as Heart Gallery of Tampa, Feeding Tampa Bay, Clothes to Kids, Thorn Ministries of Tampa, Anchorage Kids Foundation, My House, and Grace Lutheran.

In the coming years, ​​Joanna Danielle Olsen aims to expand Coyote Ugly Saloon nationwide while contributing to the growth of her community. “My goal is to continue growing my business worldwide, provide jobs and add more properties to my real estate portfolio,” she shared.