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More Foreclosure Fallout

by Allyson Hoffman

Recently, another controversy in the mortgage industry has drawn attention. This time it is regarding the falsification of documents and affidavits used in foreclosure proceedings. With the nation’s top lenders freezing foreclosure activity while investigations continue, some of the newest victims are buyers and Realtors of distressed properties. Foreclosures create a significant book of business for home sales in hard hit areas – as much as 30% or more of the sales market.

Home sales this past summer hit the lowest levels in ten years, and in some markets, like Florida and Nevada, the active housing market is full of foreclosures. The uncertainty is also causing chaos for all home sales. Experts tell us that home prices could bump up slightly on the short term, but that a glut of foreclosed properties post-freeze will hurt the general status of the market in the long run.

While some markets are obviously hit harder than others, the moves by some of the nation’s largest lenders – Bank of America, Chase, Ally Financial and GMAC Mortgage is systemic, now affecting proceedings in all 50 states. Fannie Mae has responded by pulling foreclosed homes off the market and many title companies are refusing to issue title policies, making the homes unsellable.

Widespread investigations at either a state or national level will further paralyze a market that already shows few signs of life. Foreclosed home sales at least pump money into the market and generate real estate activity. The foreclosure inventory competes directly with new construction and if both inventories rise or stay unchanged, the construction industry will effectively shut down in some areas.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, noted that today’s latest crisis is likely to have an impact for the next two years. "It'll probably push out the distressed sales into 2011 and 2012," he said. Delays of large foreclosure inventories will slow long term recovery.

Additional market uncertainty will keep more hesitant buyers on the fence as they wait to see what foreclosed homes might be coming back on the block. Prolonged delays in getting foreclosures moving again can also hurt long-term prices and futures as investors will look to other markets.

 

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Giving Thanks

by Allyson Hoffman

Giving thanks and giving back is what this time of the year is all about. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the North Shore area offers many events for you to have fun, give back and enjoy all while kicking off this holiday season. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!


Chicago's McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade

Chicago's Annual Thanksgiving Parade kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on November 25, 2010 and features giant inflatables, marching bands, dancers and more! Parade route is from State Street from Congress to Randolph, starting at 8:30 and and running til 11am. 

Chicago puts on an amazing parade every turkey day and has done so since 1934. The State Street Thanksgiving Parade is attended by over 400,000 spectators and features over 100 participating "units", including marching bands, floats, horses, drill teams, circus performers, and more.

The parade also features huge character balloons, some topping out at 50 feet tall. This year's cast of balloon characters includes Elmo, the Pink Panther, the Cookie Monster, Popeye, Kermit the Frog, Bear in the Big Blue House, Strawberry Shortcake, Tom Turkey, Rudolph, The Nutcracker, Big Bird, Animal and Billy Blazes.

 

 33rd Annual Turkey Trot 8K

Register now for the annual tradition of fitness before the feast! The 33 Turkey Trot willl take place on Thanksgiving morning in beautiful Lincoln Park. The morning’s festivities will attract more than 5,000 runners and walkers, with the winners dashing off with some great prizes.

To get you into the spirit of the holiday, flap on down to a Thanksgiving Day tradition, and don’t forget to bring a couple of cans of food (or more) to help feed some of Chicagoland’s less fortunate. Canned goods will be collected at race packet pickup and the race site on Thanksgiving.  At last year’s race over 10,000 pounds of food was collected!

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

The City of Chicago and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) are proud to present the official start of the holiday season the 97th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Wednesday, November 24, 2010! The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is a highly-anticipated event drawing people of all ages to the heart of Chicago’s downtown “Loop.” Musical performances and festive holiday music begin at 4:30 pm and the holiday season officially commences at 5:00 pm, when the switch is flipped and the lights begin to dazzle in Daley Plaza.

 

Do you and your family have a Thanksgiving tradition? Share with us how you celebrate this holiday!

 

 

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5 Ways to Protect Yourself From Home Improvement Scams

by Allyson Hoffman

When times get tough, so do the scam artists and it is important to be aware how to protect yourself. Before you let someone in your home or even take on chores outside of your home, be aware of some of the top techniques fake remodelers and handyman use to either get inside or take your hard earned cash.

Below are five ways to protect yourself from home improvement scams:

1. Don’t fall for high pressure ‘now or never’ deals. Sometimes contractors will knock at your door with a special ‘one time only’ deal. If you don’t sign up right there and then, they warn, you will lose the opportunity to get a great deal. Reputable remodelers may offer specials, but they also recognize that you may need some time to think it through, talk it over with your spouse, or check out their references. Ask to see a price list, a website, and a list of verifiable past customers before you agree to allow any work to be done.

 2. Watch out for unsolicited offers for exterior repairs. When a repairman knocks and tells you he ‘just happened to notice’ several items on the exterior of the house that need repair, don’t fall for it. Even if he has been working in the area, many repairmen spend all their time scouting for any signs of wear and tear and turn it into an opportunity. Be especially wary, if he ‘just happens’ to have all the materials with him that are need for your job. Chances are the materials actually belong to someone else – maybe even one of your neighbors who paid more for repairs than was needed.

3. Don’t pay for the job up front. If your contractor-to-be needs to be paid in full before he starts, then you should take that as a sign that you will never see him again. Never pay for a job before the work is finished. Legitimate remodelers typically require a down payment of a third or less to get a job started (which is reasonable) and pay for materials. The balance of money in your agreement (and for significant jobs get the agreement in writing) will be paid after different milestones have been completed, with the final payment coming when all work has been completed to your satisfaction.

4. Don’t do business with out of towners. Beware of contractors who drive unmarked vehicles or trucks with out of state licenses. They may be part of a band of scammers who are making their way through your area. This is especially common after a storm or other widespread event that makes homeowners vulnerable to quick repair scams. Make sure that the remodelers or repairmen you choose are established in your area and have both trade and customer references.

5.  Always check references. Don’t just ask for references – take the time to actually follow up on them and call. Granted, contractors aren’t going to list anyone who has negative reviews, but if they have 5 or more solid references you should feel good about them. Ask for bank or trade references also, and check with the Better Business Bureau and local license board to make sure their business practices and credentials are sound.

Use good judgment when selecting a home improvement contractor or remodeler. You will find many good, professional remodelers in your area if you take the time to do a little homework. Beware unsolicited offers, high pressure sales, and upfront payments. Always check references – you’ll be glad you did!

 Have you been a victim or do you have any other tips to help protect others? Share with us your experiences and Ideas!

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Existing Home Sales Rise 10% In September

by Allyson Hoffman

September is showing some bright light on all the bad news we have had in recent months.. A report recently released states that sales of existing homes rose 10% in September. This is very encouraging news as September is the second month that has shown gains in sales of existing homes.

According to The National Association of Realtors, existing home sales rose 10% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.53 million, from a downwardly revised 4.12 million in August. 
 
“A housing recovery is taking place but will be choppy at times depending on the duration and impact of a foreclosure moratorium. But the overall direction should be a gradual rising trend in home sales with buyers responding to historically low mortgage interest rates and very favorable affordability conditions,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR.

MarketWatch recenlty had interviewed economist that had anticipated a smaller gain but sales are 19% below the 5.6 million unit pace in September 2009, when first-time buyers were ramping up in advance of the initial deadline for the tax credit last November.

With all the dismal news on the real estate market, this is an encouraging trend that hopefully will continue for the upcoming months! Let us know your predictions on the future of real estate.

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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview IL 60025
847-310-5300
Fax: 847-400-0881

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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL, 60025

(847) 310-5300
Allyson@Allyson.com

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