Chicago has a lot to offer: Some prefer the Windy City for its extensive shopping and dining options, while others enjoy the hustle and bustle of downtown.

There's another feature, however, that truly makes Chicago unique – its lakefront. Just feet away from the skyscrapers and traffic jams lies a picturesque view of Lake Michigan.

"When you take any buyer into a lakefront property and you see the beautiful blue lake, it's just breathtaking," said Tessi Davis, an agent with Conlon Real Estate. We recently caught up with her and three other top Chicago real estate agents to learn how to get the best price on a lakefront condo in Chicago.

[See: The 20 Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S.]

Know your neighborhoods. If you're looking for a condo that won't cost you your life savings, it may be best to limit your search to Chicago's North Side. In between the penthouse units in the Gold Coast and the million-dollar mansions in the North Shore suburbs lie more affordable neighborhoods like East Lakeview, Uptown and Edgewater. "What's nice is that there's inventory in that price range," says Leigh Marcus, an agent with @properties. "It's a great area."

These condos are not far from historic Wrigley Field, and on the lake you have Montrose Beach and Belmont Harbor at your disposal. There are also plenty of grocery stores around, and the proximity to Lake Shore Drive makes it easy to traverse the city.

If it's just the view you're looking for, you may find something you like by searching in Lincoln Park, a few blocks in from the waterfront. "You're not necessarily on the lake," Davis says, "but you're getting a gorgeous lake view."

[See: The Best Apps for House Hunting.]

Keep an open mind. To purchase a lakefront condo without breaking the bank, you'll have to be prepared to make some sacrifices. That can mean anything from purchasing a unit on a lower floor to choosing a home that will need some upgrades.

"You might be able to get a better price if you're willing to spend some time and money fixing up the unit," says Helaine Cohen, a broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group. A home may not look perfect at first glance, but if you're able to fix it up at a relatively low cost you may have found yourself a bargain. Locating homes that only need small fixes like fresh coats of paint, new carpets or improved appliances is key to saving money.

Finding an older building can also help you get a good price. Many of Chicago's newer high-rise buildings have swimming pools and exercise rooms, which can inflate assessment costs quickly. Being lenient with your wants and needs will improve your chance of finding a condo in your price range. "When a buyer is making their 'must-have' list, if they keep their flexibility open, it can help in keeping the price down and keeping it more affordable," Davis says.

[See: 10 Ways Millennials Are Changing Homebuying.]

Ask for help. Finding the perfect place in Chicago is no easy task. It can never hurt to ask for a little assistance. "A lot of people don't know that in the state of Illinois, a Realtor is something that a buyer doesn't have to pay for," Davis says, noting home sellers pay broker's fees in a real estate transaction. "So it's great for a Realtor to help a buyer. When a broker has their eyes out for that buyer, it really helps a buyer find when they need."

It can be tough to calculate the true cost of a Chicago condo, as the city's units vary greatly in assessment fees, parking costs and other miscellaneous costs. Real estate agents can help you sort through the numerous options available on the lakefront and identify the real price.

Melissa Vasic, the lead buyer for MKT Properties, recommends asking agents if they have or belong to a lead-generating team that will actively look for a unit that fits the buyer's need. "Even if it's not listed in the general [multiple listing service], we would actually go out and seek owners that are willing to sell," Vasic says.

Another cost-saving tip offered by Vasic is to seek out short sale and foreclosure specialists that may know of a unique property on the market. Those who would like to search for special properties on their own may want to visit websites like and for foreclosures and short sales or for homes on the auction block.

Looking for a real estate agent in Chicago? U.S. News' Find an Agent tool can match you with the person who's most qualified for the job.

Tags: Chicago, housing market, home prices, existing home sales, new home sales

Alex Mayster is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter.

Recommended Articles

How to Build a Wine Cellar at Home

Sally Forster Jones | Dec. 18, 2018

Before you start building wine racks, keep these important details in mind.

Why You Should Sell Your Home in 2019

Devon Thorsby | Dec. 14, 2018

Housing markets may not be as hot as previous years, but selling now could be your best bet.

The Best Apps for House Hunting

Devon Thorsby | Dec. 12, 2018

These apps will have you scrolling and swiping listings to your heart’s content.

Curb Appeal Tricks to Attract Homebuyers

Sally Forster Jones | Dec. 11, 2018

These simple home improvement projects will have people excited to tour your home.

Housing Market Expectations in 2019

Devon Thorsby | Dec. 7, 2018

Changes in mortgage rates may cause homebuyers and sellers to hesitate about jumping into the market, while renters benefit from higher homeownership rates.

5 Smart Home Tech Options for Your Home

Sally Forster Jones | Dec. 7, 2018

Whether you're looking for yourself or your loved ones, this gift guide for household tech tools will elevate any home in the new year.

Why Renovating Is Better Than Selling

Devon Thorsby | Dec. 5, 2018

Using your savings to improve your current home may pay off more than buying a new house.

How to Make Moving In Together a Success

Devon Thorsby | Nov. 30, 2018

How to navigate splitting chores, paring down belongings and your significant other's bad taste in decor.

Reasons Not to Buy Your House With Cash

Devon Thorsby | Nov. 30, 2018

Before you go all-in with your money, consider these caveats to paying for a home with cash.

Will Interest Rates Changes Home Sales?

Ryan Fitzgerald | Nov. 29, 2018

The decision to sell your house or buy a new one shouldn't be dictated solely by changes in interest rates.

Home Inspection Checklist

Maryalene LaPonsie | Nov. 28, 2018

Learn what to expect from an inspection and tips to make sure your inspector doesn't overlook defects.

Your Guide to HOAs

Devon Thorsby | Nov. 28, 2018

Before you buy a house that's part of a homeowners association, know the basics and what to look out for.

At-Home 2019 Resolutions to Start Now

Devon Thorsby | Nov. 21, 2018

Don't wait until the ball drops to start on these projects.

Rent-to-Own 101

Geoff Williams | Nov. 20, 2018

Before using a rent-to-own arrangement to finance your home, carefully review the terms of the contract.

The Best Time for Home Improvement

Devon Thorsby | Nov. 16, 2018

Plan your year around the ideal seasons for scheduling, outdoor work and the best finished product.

How to Combat Neighborhood Displacement

Devon Thorsby | Nov. 14, 2018

Fight being forced from your community by becoming a more active member in it.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Devon Thorsby | Nov. 9, 2018

Follow these steps to start on the path to being a successful real estate agent.

Avoid These Winter Home-Selling Mistakes

Devon Thorsby | Nov. 7, 2018

Keep these tips in mind to avoid making your home sale more difficult.

Winter Home Prep Tasks You've Missed

Devon Thorsby | Nov. 2, 2018

Take these extra steps you may have missed to gear up for the coldest months of the year.

Do Home Value Estimate Tools Work?

Teresa Mears, Devon Thorsby | Nov. 1, 2018

Homeowners now have more control over how home value estimates are calculated.