Chicago's North Shore - North and Northwest Suburbs Real Estate Archive


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Making Good Use of Renovation Loans

by Courtesy of Dave Luczak, Inlanta Mortgage

Dave Luczak of Inlanta Mortgage (, forwarded the following information regarding special financing that might help agents provide new opportunities to their clients.  He sheds light on some the of novel financing opportunities for those who may purchase a property needing repairs, expansion or other improvments.  He advises:

"When showing your clients a home that needs repair, give them some information on our Federal Housing Administration (FHA) 203K renovation loans. These loans are perfect for a bargain hunter who has spotted a fixer-upper or a foreclosure in need of immediate repair, or a client who has found a home that would be ideal if only there were a third bedroom and a second bathroom (or needing MAJOR remodeling!)

Our renovation loans provide the money to both purchase the home and finance the home's renovation. With one loan, there is only one application, one set of fees, one closing and one monthly payment. At closing, the house is paid for, and the repair money is put into a trustee account for disbursement as repairs are completed. Improvements can include anything that adds value to the home, such as a room addition, new carpeting, APPLIANCES,  landscaping, plumbing, roofing or a new kitchen. The loan can also be used for energy-efficiency improvements that qualify for tax credits* under the new stimulus package.

Another great advantage of a renovation loan is that it provides borrowers a loan based on the increased property value after renovation. But that's not the only financial upside. The required down payment on a renovation loan can be as low as 3.5%. As a tax deductible first mortgage, the renovation loan will usually feature a lower interest rate than a second mortgage (impossible to get now!) and improvement costs can be spread over the term of the loan. The loan can also provide financing for up to six months of mortgage payments if the house is not occupied during construction."

Dave also reminds us that it is best to always consult your tax advisor for tax information and advice.

Foreclosure Filings Down Nationwide

by Allyson Hoffman

In mid-July, RealtyTrac, one of the nation’s largest foreclosure listing firms (pre-foreclosure, auction and REO properties) reported that foreclosure filings were down by 5% in the first half of 2010, but numbers remain above those from 2009 by 8%. This is the latest in the good news/bad news reporting when it comes to the U.S. housing market.

"The second quarter was a tale of two trends," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. "The pace of properties entering foreclosure slowed as lenders pre-empted or delayed foreclosure proceedings on delinquent properties with more aggressive short sale and loan modification initiatives. Meanwhile the pace of properties completing the foreclosure process through bank repossession quickened as lenders cleared out a backlog of distressed inventory delayed by foreclosure prevention efforts in 2009."

According to Saccacio, U.S. housing market will exceed three million properties with foreclosure filings by the end of the year. As with the stock market, the housing market has rolled up and down in 2010 and has not shown signs of stabilization. Even with some positive numbers being reported and a level of improvement in housing inventory, the market is sitting on a significant number of distressed properties and delinquent loans.

The foreclosure rates are also very regional in nature – Nevada posts the highest rates this year (6%), with Arizona and Florida following.

Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the nation's 10 highest were California (2.54 percent), Utah (1.91 percent), Georgia (1.79 percent), Michigan (1.73 percent), Idaho (1.68 percent), Illinois (1.61 percent), and Colorado (1.40 percent).


Household Termite Inspections

by Allyson Hoffman

A professional termite inspection is required in most states when buying or selling a home. Termites are a very serious problem and they can cause create significant damage and even destroy a home if left untreated.

In most cases if  evidence of termites is seen, there’s a good chance the infestation is already quite advanced.

If you are a homeowner and have any concerns about termites in home, the best course of action is to locate a pest control or termite inspection to confirm any problems.. Of course, pest inspections are an important part of the overall inspection process, so make sure you hire an expert in the field:

  1. Check out online or yellow page listings under Pest Control for a licensed, bonded inspector. Your real estate agent can also be helpful in location a company for you.
  2. Request estimates for the inspection cost and compare rates.
  3. Make sure that you get a copy of the inspection report and course of action needed before signing any contract papers.

When having a termite inspection, it is vital that this is done by a licensed professional. This inspector will look for termite infestation as well as other pest infestation, plumbing leaks, obvious roof leaks, dry rot and water damage. Make sure that all areas of the home are accessible for the inspector. Try to stick with companies that do inspection and treatment only – and leave any wood repair to carpenters or contractors.


Ways to Save on Home Improvements

by Allyson Hoffman

With a sluggish economy and a slow housing market, many people are electing to stay in their existing homes for a little longer. Many plan to instead remodel their current home and make some improvement.  Spending on remodeling is expected to rise this year and below are a few tips to help keep down expenses and still get the updates you want.

  1. First thing first: create a budget and plan and stick with it. Do a some research on the types of improvements you want and get a feel for both labor and materials costs. Use those numbers to create a basic budget that you know you can comfortably afford and then design a simple plan for making that happen. It will help your contractor understand your vision better and should keep you on track to stay within your spending limits.
  2. Choose contractors wisely. Get at least three bids and check references. There are also online resources, like Angie’s List, that can be used to screen potential contractors. The low bid may not necessarily be the best bid – get your estimates in writing and line them up against your preliminary plan.
  3. Do the demo and prep work yourself. If you have the ability to do some basic demo, such as removing old appliances or fixtures, wallpaper, or popcorn ceilings, you can save money and focus your contractor on specialized skills like carpentry and electrical. Disposing of used materials and trash yourself will also help keep your costs down.
  4. Use recycled materials. It may make sense to use recycled lumber and other materials – even recycled hardware can add a unique touch and may be much less expensive (and greener) than new.
  5. Make selections quickly and stay with them. Time is money to your contractor and any delays you insert into the process by delaying or changing your selections can layer cost on without you even realizing it. Look for the types of materials and the color selections you prefer during your planning phase and don’t change your mind mid-stream.

Updating your home can be a simple, affordable process that can make your home more livable for you and more desirable for resale down the road. If you follow some basic strategies, you are sure to be pleased with the improvements and save money in the process.


Home Safety Hazards

by Allyson Hoffman

Keeping your family safe at home is what all homeowners want, and most people feel that that their home is a safe place.  The reality is that even if you have taken extra precautions to make your home a safe place, you might be surprised at some of the common safety hazards that can make your home dangerous. The good news is that most safety concerns can be fixed easily! Below are some of the common concerns and how to remedy them.

1. Wiring and electrical cords. Check all electrical appliances, cords, and outlets. Are your electrical appliances in good condition, without loose or frayed cords or plugs? Are your outlets overloaded with plugs from the TV, computer, printer, video game system, and stereo?  Solution: Replace or professionally repair any appliances that spark, smell unusual, or overheat. Replace worn out extension cords, don’t run electrical wires under rugs, and don’t overload outlets or power strips.

2. Gas leaks and sources of carbon monoxide.  You may or may not smell a gas leak before it is too late, and you will NOT smell carbon monoxide. Solution: Make sure that your gas appliances are serviced regularly. Check any unusual variances on your gas bill – they could be the result of hidden leaks. Invest in a carbon monoxide detector and keep the batteries up to date as you do your smoke alarms.

3. Cluttered hallways and stairways. It sounds simple, but toys or other items that are left blocking stairwells, hallways or exits can not only provide an obstacle to trip over, but can also prevent a hasty exit in the event of fire or other emergencies. Solution: Simply try to ensure that walkways are clear of any obstructions that can cause accidents.

4. Toxic chemicals. From severe toxicity like asbestos and lead paint, to daily household cleaners, your home may contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to your family, especially children, the elderly, those with compromised heath and your pets. Solution: If you live in an older home, have it inspected for asbestos and lead. As for household chemicals, try switching to some of the new organic or natural solutions. Always keep any kind of chemical solutions up high and out of reach or locked away.

5. Recalled products. Many products, especially imported products, are subject to recall and can range from toys and cribs to everyday appliances and vehicles. Solution: Register your household goods and appliances when you bring them home – it’s easy and it ensures that you will receive recall notifications. You can subscribe via email for recalls as well as stay alert to recall information that are broadcast over TV, radio and in print and online.

 Most home safety hazards are easy to prevent or fix with just a little due diligence. Keep your home safe and happy for you and your family!


Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5




Contact Information

Photo of Allyson Hoffman & Paul Wells Real Estate
Allyson Hoffman & Paul Wells
RE/MAX of Barrington
306 W. Northwest Highway
Barrington IL 60010
Allyson: 847-310-5300
Paul: 847-913-6100

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RE/MAX of Barrington
306 W. Northwest Hwy.
Barrington, IL 60010

Allyson Hoffman
(847) 310-5300
[email protected]

Paul Wells
(847) 913-6100
[email protected]