THE CHICAGO IL REAL ESTATE MARKET, AND OTHER THINGS CHICAGO, FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF A LITTLE WHITE DOG!
However, with gas prices here in Chicago going through the roof (or, "through the WOOF," as we dogs say), it's getting tougher financially to cover my side job - cruisin' for chicks along Clark Street near Wrigley Field here on the North Side.
With the exception of certain cities in California, Chicago gas prices are among the highest in the nation. Across the country, the average price of a gallon of regular gas increased to $3.53 this past week. But here in the Chicago area, the average is nearly $3.75!
Here in the city, gas stations near our office in the Lincoln Square Neighborhoodoffer regular for nearly $3.95/gallon. Premium is often over $4.20. Diesel - take out a HELOC - it's now over $4.50 per gallon. I saw a story on MSNBC the other night that many over-the-road truckers routinely fill the tanks of their 18-wheelers with over $1,000 in a single fill up!
That's more than I make as a dog in a whole year (we're working on a better contract through the Illinois Chapter of CRU - The Canine Realtors Union!)
You know, the other night, us dogs were talking after dinner, on the floor. One of my close Beagle Buddies forwarded the idea that a sharp drop in gas prices may actually spur consumer confidence, and get them to buy big-ticket items, and perhaps homes, once again! Such a fall, however, seems unlikely - while we dogs are alive, anyway!
An article in yesterday's Chicago Tribune quotes a fellow from suburban Lyons IL who this week paid over $57 - for just over a half a tank of premium gas! A lady from Chicago combines her trips, and buys all of her gas in the suburbs, where she saves about 15-20 cents per gallon on each fill-up. She also now walks to her local stores, about 7 blocks away, to save money.
There's another fellow in suburban Glenview who drives a taxi for a living. His take-home income has fallen nearly 60% since gas prices started to rise early last year! When visiting his mother in the Chicago suburb of Niles - he takes the bus! (Indeed, ridership on Chicago-area public transportation has increased since gas prices started to rise - METRA Commuter Rail reports a 10% increase in ridership since early 2007!)
Finally, the increasing price of gas may be beginning to change American's driving habits. Statistics from the Federal Highway Administration indicate total miles driven last year decreased 0.4% - the first such drop since 1979! The same federal agency cites preliminary miles-driven declines of 3.9% last December, and another 1.6% drop in January, 2008.
Here in Chicago, though, most have to drive to work. According to U.S. Census Bureau 2005 figures, only 11 percent of commuters in the Chicago Metro Area regularly use mass transit. This figure is down from 13% eighteen years ago. Across the country, only 4.6% of commuters ride the bus or the train. Most drivers - over 75% - drive to work alone!
Since the mid-1970's, here in Chicago, and elsewhere, many have moved to distant suburbs. Workplaces and centers of commerce appear all over the Chicago area - not just in The Chicago Loop. In most cases, public transit doesn't serve these local employment centers with any regularity. And, often, car pooling is not workable, as workers travel to work from a variety of city and suburban homes to reach their jobs.
But the real tragedy is the percentage of us dogs who can afford to fill up the family car, and drive to do our important business. It seems like forever since I've gotten behind the wheel of my Human Daddy Dean's Honda, to head out on the road.
Be honest - how long has it been since you've seen a Little White Dog driving the family on the Open Highway?
Please check out my post yesterday on BlogChicagoHomes.com for more information, as well as a link and video in Rick Popely's story in yesterday's Chicago Tribune.
YOUR ACE REPORTER ON FOUR PAWS,
BUDDY HOLLY MOSS & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO