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  • M. Gaffney

We Rehabbed a Condo!

Updated: Feb 27

1080 N Paulina was my very first real estate purchase almost exactly 6 years ago in March 2014. When I bought it I could hardly afford it. I did the one of the lowest downpayment options possible with 5% down and had a buddy lined up to rent the second bedroom (thanks Tash!). It would’ve been a struggle to make the monthly payments on my own so I couldn’t have done it without him! Buying the condo was certainly a risk with minimal savings but I was young and single so why not?!


I put some basic work into it at first. Paint, window treatments, fireplace surround, mounted the TV - you know bachelor pad type stuff. I was paying mortgage insurance (PMI) and felt value had increased so I refinanced. Fortunately value had gone up so much that I could take some equity out and still drop the PMI. The rate on a cash out refi was a bit higher but still considerably lower than the obnoxious rate I had on my student loans. I pulled the equity out, paid off my student loans, and dropped the PMI so my payment was about the same.


The rental market in that location was (and still is) fantastic so after a bit longer I met a girl, moved out, and started renting the place. The rent was a bit more than the mortgage payment so it cash flowed decently. After two sets of great tenants the unit was starting get a little beat up and I was getting the itch for another project so I decided it was time to do some renovations and sell.


The place wasn’t bad but it really needed to be updated & upgraded. We started with demoing the kitchen and sold off all the appliances on Craigslist (ha). Removed all the cheap old hollow core doors, all the trim, and removed that fireplace surround I did 5 years prior. Gutted the bathrooms, removed the light fixtures. A couple buddies and I did the demo but once that was done it was time to call in the professionals.

This is a first floor unit so we wanted to make it as light and bright as possible. We kept this front of mind as we selected finishes throughout. All new recessed lighting was added and the floors were refinished with “natural” color stain to keep the space bright.


We also wanted this to be high-end so we tricked the place out with all the latest and greatest! In the master bath we added heated floors, a double sink vanity, and all marble shower surround. Put in bright white shiplap on the fireplace with a floating real hardwood mantel. Included a work station, island with breakfast bar, and marble backsplash in the kitchen.

For the second bathroom we polled our Instagram followers to help decide which vanity to go with. We went with a more natural wood look and beige tones in that room to give it a modern yet rustic vibe


There was a lot of dry wall work to be done after all the lighting changes. We polled the Instagram followers again for paint decision-making. White isn’t white!! The crowd chose Alabaster and that’s what we went with. The light color really made the space feel larger and brighter.

90 days after the start date and it was done! Sounds easy right?! The project overall took a touch longer than I wanted but with the holidays and a couple of delays with cabinets and appliances that was to be expected. Fortunately we had no major issues. It was fun to pick out all the finishes and go a little wild - this place is nicer than my personal home!!


I wanted to really do it up right to make the place shine and put my money where my mouth is. As a broker it’s great to have firsthand experience with construction projects (both big and small) and use all the sales strategies available to clients. I brought in great stagers to show off the size and versatility of the space. And after my move to Compass I used Compass Concierge personally. More about that in the next post ;-)


The listing was 5 days on market resulted in 30+ showings and 6 (YES SIX!) great offers… with any luck we’ll be closed in a month! Thanks for reading and don’t be a stranger.


- Mike


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Gaffney Group is a team of real estate agents affiliated with Compass Real Estate. Compass Real Estate is a licensed real estate broker with a principal office in Chicago, IL, and abides by all applicable equal housing opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit properties already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage.

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