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

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Displaying blog entries 191-199 of 199

Should I Rent Or Buy?

by Allyson Hoffman

Great question! In fact, it’s one I often answer for potential home buyers. And my answer usually comes down to this: It depends on you--your situation and your goals for the future.

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself: Do you think you’re ready to move into the world of homeownership? Does your job require you to relocate frequently? Are you ready to “settle down” and raise a family? Not sure what you want to do yet?

As a real estate professional, I do know that buying a home has real advantages in today’s market: Realtor.com reports that housing affordability is the best it’s been in nearly 30 years. Right now buyers can cash in on hefty price drops and rock-bottom mortgage interest rates--and many people don’t realize just how great the market is!

If you still need some help on making your decision on if you should continue to rent or make the plunge to buy, the Our Family Place Home Buyer’s Information Center lists some of the pros and cons noted below, and I’ve added some of my own:

Buying Advantages:

* You gain equity in your home through mortgage payments.
* Your home could be one of the best long-term investments you will ever make.
* You can decorate and remodel the way you want.
* You get homeowner tax breaks.
* You build your credit standing.
* You can improve your property using home equity loans.
* You gain independence and pride as a homeowner.
* You can transfer your property through your will.

Buying Disadvantages:

* Your costs are variable.
* Your equity may change due to market conditions.
* You usually must sell your home to move.
* You handle maintenance and upkeep.
* You usually need more cash to get in.

Renting Advantages:

* Your costs are fixed for the term of your rental.
* You don’t lose equity.
* You can move at the end of your lease term.
* You have fewer maintenance worries.
* You need less cash to get in.

Renting Disadvantages:

* You never get equity.
* You can’t always decorate or remodel the way you want.
* You don’t get any tax breaks.
* Your lease is for a limited time period determined by your landlord.
* Your rent may go up at the end of your lease and other terms may change.
* Your landlord may not fix problems or invest in routine property maintenance.
* You normally can’t transfer your lease without the landlord’s OK.
* You may face eviction if you and your landlord have a dispute.

That’s a lot to think about. To put these pros and cons into dollar terms, try out this rent v. buy calculator offered by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Insurance Corporation (better known as Freddie Mac). Don’t be shy--check out different scenarios and see what they mean for your finances.

Yes, there are lots of variables to consider, and you’ll need to do your homework to decide what’s right for you. Working with a qualified real estate professional who can provide current market advice for your area can help.

I’m always ready to assist potential buyers debating the “rent v. buy” decision. Feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to discuss your specific needs or answer any questions you might have about any aspect of real estate.

Image courtesy of NCinDC/Flickr.com

First Time Home Buyer Bonanza!

by Allyson Hoffman

If you have been wishing and wanting to buy your very first home, now may truly be the time to step up to the plate and take advantage of some amazing incentives provided by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 which authorizes a $7,500 tax credit on homes sold between April 9, 2008 and July 1, 2009 to qualified first-time home buyers!  

Image courtesy of AlexanderStein/Pixabay.com

Buying a New Home: 10 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent

by Allyson Hoffman

Why, then, should a buyer enlist the services of a real estate agent? Here are ten reasons that I think make a lot of sense. After reading them, see if you agree:

1 -- Experience

Purchasing a new home may well be the largest expenditure that you ever make. So it simply makes good business sense to enlist all the help you can get.

A seasoned real estate agent has completed more real estate transactions already this year than you'll likely make in your lifetime. That adds up to a whole lot of knowledge and experience. Experience that can help navigate you safely and securely through every aspect of the buying process.

2 -- Knows the Market

A real estate agent will know what's happening in a particular area, or neighborhood, and help you decide if a home you find is a good value. Once you find a property that interests you, your agent will show you "comps" (comparable properties) of similar homes that have sold recently, as well as those that are currently on the market.

And if your real estate agent works with an established firm, he or she will have instant access to a host of proprietary tools -- and property information -- that may be difficult, or even impossible, to find on your own. All this information will help you make a well-informed decision.

3 -- Saves Time

A good real estate agent is an organizational genius. He or she will manage to get you in to see new properties as soon as they become available -- and arrange the most appointments possible within your available time slots, no matter how limited.

But remember, accessibility is a two-way street! Be sure to support your agent by being as flexible as possible -- especially when your time is very limited.

4 -- Good Listener

If you decide to use a real estate agent, look for someone who asks as many questions as you do. When you mention a price range, does the agent give you a 'standard' list of available properties, or is he or she able to make -- or adjust -- his or her recommendations based on what comes up in your conversations?

How interested is the agent in listening to your point of view? How many questions does he or she ask? After all, your real estate agent's recommendations should vary substantially based on your personal needs and goals (for example, you may be starting a family, need to configure your new home to accommodate an office, need space for your son's new car, or be downsizing).

5 -- Tells the Truth (even when you don't want to hear it!)

Expect that a good real estate agent will challenge you once in a while, ask the tough questions, and yes, even disagree with you occasionally. When he or she makes a recommendation that seems off-base, give your agent the opportunity to give you the facts -- and share his or her knowledge and experience -- before making a decision. Learn to trust your agent's intuition, insights, and perspectives; they'll often lead you in the right direction.

6 -- Respects Your Budget

One of the most important things that your real estate agent will do is help you determine how much you can afford to spend. He or she may well ask you to consult with your accountant, financial planner, and/or mortgage broker before you make this important decision.

In some markets, there's a lot more to purchasing an apartment than having cash for the down payment, and securing financing. For example, most Manhattan cooperative buildings ('co-ops'), which account for about 75 percent of the properties in the city, will also look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), and your post-closing liquidity (yes, it can be a bit complicated!).

A good real estate broker will understand the particulars of your market, and help you find a terrific housing solution that you'll be able to qualify for financially -- and that will be possible within your budget.

 7 -- Team Player

Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a great team of professionals to support your purchase -- from mortgage brokers and appraisers, to contractors and designers and real estate attorneys.

8 -- Getting to Closing

Remember that finding the right property is only the beginning. Be sure your real estate agent is well prepared to negotiate aggressively on your behalf, and assist you in finding financing, if necessary. Your agent should be ready to follow through with your bank or mortgage broker, any other agents involved in the deal, and with your real estate attorney, until the purchase is complete.

And if you're purchasing a home in Manhattan, be sure you have a real estate agent who is adept at helping you put together the materials necessary for the board application package, following through with the management company, and if it's a co-op purchase, preparing you for the board interview.

9 -- Gives Timely Updates

Throughout the buying process, stay in touch with your real estate agent regularly. He or she should give you regular updates on new properties, any changes in the local real estate market, mortgage rate changes, and so on. And you should update your real estate agent right away should any of your priorities change, or if your research turns up a property you may be interested in seeing. The result of working together closely? Finding just the home you're looking for, more quickly.

10 -- The Relationship

Don't underestimate the importance of personality when you choose your real estate agent. You'll be spending a lot of time with them -- and entrusting them with one of the most important transactions of your life. So be sure to find someone you not only trust and respect, but also look forward to working with.  

Many home buyers try to find the perfect property on their own. No surprise, actually. With internet access to more real estate information than ever before, it's fairly easy for anyone who's computer literate to access a list of available properties in every part of the country.

Image courtesy of ClkerFreeVectorImages/Pixabay.com

Proposed Dual Purpose Condominiums in Evanston

by Allyson Hoffman

Developers John Cunningham and Tom Engel along with local architect Ellen Galland are proposing a unique, dual purpose condominium structure to replace the well known commercial area that was demolished last year.

 On Wednesday, February 20/08, the city's site planning committee reviewed the proposal to build seven, three and a half story condominium units that would offer office or retail space on the main floor and personal living space above the main level place of business.

Each condominium unit located kitty-corner to Penny Park will offer the following:

Main Level                                                    Third Floor
Retail/Office                                     Two Bedrooms
                                                       Two Baths

Second Floor                                                Fourth Floor
Kitchen                                            Bedroom
Living Room                                     Bath
Dining Room                                    Outdoor Deck

The developers are also looking to add an elevator to each unit and plan to sell each unit for under $800,000.

Currently this property is zoned B-1 which allows for this unique combination of commerical and residential use, therefore no additional zoning changes would be required.

To view a conceptual model of these dual purpose condominiums click here

First Time Home Buyer Assistance Programs

by Allyson Hoffman

 

Buying a home is a big a decision and for a first time home buyer it can be an overwhelming and complex process. A number of first time home buyers may need a little extra help in reaching their goal of buying a first home and there are a number of organizations available in the greater Chicago area that might be able to help.

Listed below are a few places to look for help in the decision making process as well as financial assistance.

Chicago City Mortgage Program

Oak Park: Home Buyers Assistance

IDHA First Time Home Buyer Program

HUD - Cities that offer home buying assistance programs

HUD - Public Houseing Vouchers for Homeownership

As with any program there will be certain qualifications that you will have to meet and the application process will include the following steps:

1. Pre-approval

2. Loan Application (see How to Prepare for Your Mortgage Lender for more information)

3. Loan Processing

4. Closing

For more information regarding first time home buyer assistance programs visit the websites listed above or visit the Greater Chicago Housing and Community Development Website for a listing of additional programs.

Image courtesy of www.gotcredit.com/Flickr.com

Is It A Buyers Market? How To Know When To Buy

by Allyson Hoffman

As we sit on the edge of our seats to see which way the real estate market will turn next, there are a number of people waiting for the market to hit bottom before they decide to buy. How do you know when is the right time?

Blanche Evans, columninst for Realty Times has outlined a number of indicators to watch for if your are thinking about buying. Keep an eye on your local market and watch for these signs.

  • Inventories Start to Decline
  • The Days on Market Reduce
  • Mortgage Applications Increase
  • Sold Homes Go For Closer to List Price
  • Prices Remain Firm or Rise
  • Incentives Disappear

Some of these factors may already be happening in your area, so don't wait. If you were planning to buy and you were just waiting to see where the market would go, the time may be now. To read the full article, or watch the video, titled Realty Viewpoint: Six Signs It's Time For Home Buyers To Buy by Blance Evans click here.

Image courtesy of one2c900d/Flickr.com

Search for the Right Real Estate Agent

by Allyson Hoffman

Selling your home can be overwhelming and that is why finding the right real estate agent is key.

It is important that you are comfortable with your agent and know that the agents efforts are going to be right for you. There are a number of things to look for, and questions to ask, to determine which agent will be the best match for you. Use the checklist below to get you started in your real estate agent search.


  • How long have you been in real estate?
  • Have you recently sold any homes in my area?
  • What education designations have you obtained?
  • What is your average market time vs. the market?
  • What is your list price to sales price ration vs. the market?
  • How will you market my property?
  • How do you market to the public?
  • Do you market to other agents and if so, how?
  • May I see sample of your marketing pieces and brochures?
  • Do you provide a written report to your sellers?
  • Do you have an assistant to help with details?
  • Do you have a resume or personal brochure to review?
  • Do you have defined plan of action for the marketing of my home?
  • If I list my home, when would the marketing begin? 

Choosing the right Realtor® is a big decision. It could save or make you a lot of money. I work hard to accomplish your real estate goals and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to Contact Me at your convenience.

Image courtesy of thegoldguys.blogspot.com/Flickr.com

Home Appraisers; What You Should Know

by Allyson Hoffman

Home appraisers are a necessary part of your real estate transaction and it is important to know exactly what the appraiser's responsibilities are, and to whom.

I think the most common misconception about appraisers is that they work for the home seller. Appraisers are hired to be impartial and provide an accurate "value" to your home in order for lenders to determine if the collateral supports the debt. These same lenders are also putting a lot of pressure on appraisers which result in higher than market value home appraisals.

You can read more about it in the article Please don't hit the appraiser.

Image courtesy of Sherwood CC/Flickr.com

Heads Up To Waterfront Lovers & Boating Enthusiasts!

by Allyson Hoffman

Mundelein's 150-acre Diamond Lake will be the setting for sixteen new luxury condominiums featuring lakefront settings and private boat slips included with each unit.  For those looking to combine a resort lifestyle with their brand new home, four plans featuring two or three bedrooms and up to three full baths can be customized to taste.  Quality finishes are included and pre-construction building incentives are now in place.  Prices will range from $494,900 to $594,900.  Watch for a grand opening around the middle of May, but in the meantime if you would like information now, details can be obtained on the website at www.DiamondCove-LuxuryCondominiums.com

Image courtesy of Virginia State Parks/Flickr.com

Displaying blog entries 191-199 of 199

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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
[email protected]

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