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

Chicago North Shore, North and Northwest Suburban Real Estate Blog

Allyson Hoffman


Displaying blog entries 831-840 of 925

Federal Reserve Ends Mortgage Purchases

by Allyson Hoffman

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article that the Federal Reserve has pledged to stop buying mortgages by March 31. This news is cause for concern for both home builders and mortgage investors as this program has been successful in helping the real estate market recover. This news also sparks fears that mortgage rates could rise and cause even more problems for the already fragile housing market.

When the economy showed signs of decline over a  year and a half ago, the government wanted to drive down interest rates for homeowners to stimulate the economy by making it cheaper to buy or refinance a house. The problem was that lenders were not issuing loans, even to homeowners with good credit. As a result, interest rates rose. 

The Federal Reserve aimed to solve this problem by buying up a lot of mortgages. Because of this, they became the largest mortgage-backed security investor in the world. In fact the total amount of mortgage-backed securities now totals more than $1.2 trillion worth in all.

The Fed was buying 90 percent of new mortgage-backed securities and now is only buying about 30 percent or less. As of April 1, 2010 they will stop buying altogether. So the question is what happens then? Barry Habib, chairman of the board of Mortgage Success Source, which tracks rates and trends for mortgage brokers, says that when the Fed stops purchasing these securities, it will leave a vacuum in the market that will push up interest rates.

What many people don’t know or understand is that the government actually has been making quite a bit of money on this program. The U.S. Treasury earns about $50 billion a year from interest that homeowners pay on loans the government owns. However, there is the risk that some of the more than $1 trillion worth of home loans that might go bad.

829 Michigan - Evanston, IL - Near Lake and Park

by Allyson Hoffman

Earth Day Chicago 2010

by Allyson Hoffman

Earth Day is celebrated in the US on April 22 and is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. First celebrated in 1970 as a global day of observance of the need to protect the earth, this year marks the 40th anniversary of this holiday. The Chicago area hosts many events each year to celebrate Earth Day. Below are some of the exciting events planned in the area!

5K for Earth Day
This run/walk event takes place on Saturday, April 24th at 8 a.m. along Humboldt Park and Logan Square. Registration fee for runners and walkers is $30 and $35 the day of the event. Fees for children ages 11 to 17 are $20 and children under 10 are free. Stick around after the Earth Day 5K for an all-day Green Living Expo that includes entertainment for the whole family, great food, educational booths on saving the environment and a farmers market. For more information, go to the 5K for Earth Day event
website here.

Chicago Kayak Earth Day 2010 Skokie Lagoons
The Chicago Kayak Club will once again be holding their clean up day in celebration of Earth Day. This year's event will take place the Sunday before Earth Day on April 18th from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. The group will be cleaning up Skokie Lagoons. The club will be clearing all trash and debris in the surrounding areas of the Lagoons and along the water's edge. Those with kayaks or canoes are encouraged to participate and will have the opportunity to do their clean up from the water. Gloves, pick sticks and garbage bags will be provided. These items have been generously donated to the club by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Green Your Footprint
GO Green Management will be hosting their
3rd annual Earth Day Celebration on Thursday, April 22nd starting at 5 p.m. with an educational mixer. At 6 p.m. the excitement begins with Veev cocktails, food from local Chicago eateries and great entertainment. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. The Earth Day event takes place at Flai.

Scout Seasonal Workshop
If your looking for a great event for the children, then this is the place to celebrate Earth Day. The Scout Seasonal Workshop will be held April 24, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chicago Botanical Garden. The event will include a scavenger hunt, craft projects and other hands-on activities. Tickets for the event are $12. To find out morer Tower located at 222 West Erie, Chicago.

Image courtesy of WikiImages/

Chicago is A Green City!

by Allyson Hoffman

In a recent article, featured 10 top "green" cities that put clean air, clean water, renewable energy and green public transportation first. Chicago was on that list!

Chicago offers it's residents renewable and sustainable energy as well as a commitment to improve the standard of living. Our city also has 42 green-certified building projects, with more to come.

Eventhough Chicago is already green, the city aspires to improve even more and hopes to buy 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources this year. Local officials also will offer tax incentives to homeowners who invest in Chicago’s many historic homes and retrofit them with energy efficient heating and cooling systems.

Tourism is also "green". Many people are unaware that all of the city’s nine museums and the Art Institute of Chicago have been converted to run partially on solar power. Boaters and swimmers who enjoy the city's lakefront will be happy to know that the water quality is rated as excellent by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Image courtesy of p.Gordon/

Air Duct Cleaning

by Allyson Hoffman

If you are beginning to start your yearly spring cleaning, an important area to not overlook is your air ducts. Air duct cleaning is an important part of home maintenance because a dirty air duct can lower the quality of the air in your home by promoting the circulation of allergens and bacteria in the air. 

Cleaning your air ducts can help allergies, asthma and the overall air quality in your home. The cost for this service can range in costs depending on the services offered, the size of the system to be cleaned, system accessibility, and level of contamination.

You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:

  • There is substantial visible mold growth inside the ducts. You may not always be able to see the mold in sections of the ducts that are not accessible. You will need a professional to inspect the ducts for this.
  • Ducts are infested with vermin such as rodents or insects.
  • Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.
  • You notice a strange or offensive odor from your air supply.

If you decide to have your heating and cooling system cleaned, be sure to have the service provider clean all components of the system and is qualified to do so. Duct cleaning generally refers to the cleaning of various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems, including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing.

To find a qualified HVAC technician near you and to learn more about duct cleaning, visit the   National Association of Duct Cleaners.

Image courtesy of David Bruce Jr./

Becoming A Homeowner-Are You Ready?

by Allyson Hoffman

If you are considering purchasing a home, now is certainly the right time for buyers. With historically low interest rates, first time homebuyer credits and low home prices, many potential homebuyers are making the leap into homeownership. Purchasing a home will most likely be the largest purchase you will make, is a big step, so how do you know if you are ready to take that leap and become a homeowner? Below are some things that you can consider when making the decision

  • You are on the right track if you maintain a budget and are able to stick to it. If you have your finances in order that is the major first step. in becoming a homeowner, especially in a difficult economy that can be financially challenging. Having good money-management skills are a must-have so that when you do own a home you will be able to have a smooth financial flow for monthly home expenses.
  • Saving is hard, especially in a struggling economy, but if you are able to save and have a sizable down payment of at least 20%, you are on the right path. Keep in mind that with a downpayment of at least 20%, you will start out with having some equity. There are options out there for zero or low money down loans but if you have to sell your home before you expect you can potentially loose money and you will also need to pay for PMI (priviate mortage insurance).
  • Because a mortgage is a large monthly commitment, It is important to have a steady source of income. We all know that these days there is no real thing as job security but when you buy a home you are going to be required to have a reliable source of income to cover not only mortgage payments but all the other monthly and unexpected expenses that come along with homeownership. It is important to look at how stable your source of income is as well as having an emergency savings fund where you will have enough funds to cover these expense in case of a loss of a job or other emergency.
  • Your debt and credit are clean. Having a good credit score will help to not only get a home loan but will also get you a lower interest rate on your mortgage. Hold off on any large purchases such as cars before applying for a loan as this could effect your rating. Also review your credit report for free at before even applying for the loan to check for any errors.
  • In addition to the financial aspect of homeownership, you need to be sure you are ready for the other things that come along. Owning a home is a big responsibility, things like lawn care, upkeep as well as unexpected repairs need to be considered as part of owing a home. 
Image courtesy of Pictures of Money/

Avoiding Common Mortgage Mistakes

by Allyson Hoffman

During the home buying process you will eventually need to obtain financing. This can be confusing and it can be easy to make mistakes, especially if you are a first time homebuyer. Below are some tips you can follow to avoid making some of the most common mortgage mistakes.

1.Do your research on the different mortgage options. You want to make sure to select the right financing for you and not one that will hold you down for even a short period of time with the wrong mortgage. It is vital to investigate all your options, then crunch the numbers and weigh your options.  Be sure to look at initial interest rates, future interest rates and payments (if different), and the possibility of prepayment penalties.

2. Avoid excessive credit. Having too much credit is almost as bad as having bad credit. Lenders will focus on this even if you pay your bills on time and you could get turned down for a mortgage. Postpone any big ticket purchases until after you buy your house.

3. Be truthful on your loan application. While this may seem like a no brainer, even if you exaggerate your income slightly or stretch the truth on other questions, it is a federal offense. While it is rare that you would get arrested, it can cause big problems down the road if the lender finds out. Lenders they can call your loan due and payable. Remember to never sign your name to a loan application that is not completely filled out, you will be held responsible for anything on the application.

4. Not fixing your credit. Even before you even think about applying for a mortgage, obtain copies of your credit report and your FICO credit score. Your FICO score is the three-digit number that's used in 75% of mortgage-lending decisions. Dong this at least six months in advance should give you plenty of time to correct any errors on your report and ensure that they're removed by the time you're ready to apply for a loan.

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Piggyback Loans

by Allyson Hoffman

A "piggyback loan" is a home financing option in which a property is purchased using more than one mortgage from two or more lenders. While there are many variations, the piggyback loan, also known as the 80-10-10 loan can typically be defined as a 10 percent second mortgage coupled with a traditional 80 percent first lien and a 10 percent down payment, hence the 80-10-10. But this type of a loan can be mixed in different variation to make up the difference between a conventional loan and almost any amount of down payment. Other examples are an 80-5-15 or the 80-20 loan.

A piggyback loan is basically a second mortgage given at the time of a home purchase or a refinance. This type of a loan allows the home buyer to acquire or refinance a home with less than a 20 percent down payment or equity. An advantage to this type of loan is that the homebuyer does not need to carry private mortgage insurance (PMI). 

Homebuyers can also use piggyback loans as a source of funding for making a bigger downpayment on the new home. Homeowners who don't have the funds to make the 20 percent downpayment can use this loan to their advantage because private mortgage insurance can be expensive and is not tax deductible. 

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Checking the weather

by Allyson Hoffman

Looking outside today ... gray skies, intermittent snowflakes and semi-sleet accumulated into a pretty white wintery picture.   For those selling their homes or those looking at them, this is not a wonderful environment.  There's nothing like driving up to a property, excited customer in tow, to find that the lovely white stuff has amassed into at least an ankle-deep pristine pathless carpet with no way to the door but right straight through it.  Only the most adventurous and determined of agents and clients will brave the task and abandon their comfort and safety.   So to increase your odds of not inadvertently turning interested people away at the curb, make sure to clear those driveways and paths directly to your engaging front door.  That welcome is a subliminal good will message that will pay off in a good first impression ... that one time opportunity to make a positive impact from the start.  If you want to check that weather report, just in case, you can check your area at!

Image courtesy of Ben+Sam/

The Escrow Process

by Allyson Hoffman

When purchasing a home, part of the process to complete the sale is when the potential homeowner will enter into escrow. Many first time homebuyers have many questions about the escrow process. Below are some clarification and information on this important process. 

What is an escrow?
An escrow is an arrangement in which a disinterested third party, called a escrow holder, holds legal documents and funds on behalf of a buyer and seller, and distributes them according to the buyer’s and seller’s instructions. The escrow becomes the depository for all monies, instructions and documents pertaining to the purchase of your home.

How does the escrow process work?

The escrow is a depository for all monies, instructions and documents necessary for the purchase of the home, including  funds for the down payment, lender’s funds and documents for the new loan. The duties of an escrow holder include: following the instructions given by the principals and parties to the transaction in a timely manner; handling the funds and/or documents in accordance with instructions; paying all bills as authorized;  closing the escrow only when all terms and conditions have been met; and, distributing the funds in accordance with instructions.

Do I need documentation?
Receipt of your deposit is generally included in your copy of your purchase contract. Your funds will then be deposited in your separate escrow or trust account and processed through your local bank.

What information will I have to provide?
Typically you will be asked to complete a statement of identity as part of the necessary paperwork. Because many people have the same name, the statement of identity is to identify the specific person in the transaction through such information as date of birth, social security number, etc. This information is kept confidential.

How long is the escrow?
The length of an escrow is determined by the terms of the purchase agreement and can range from a few days to several months. Typically an escrow often takes an average time of 30 to 45 days.

When does the escrow process end?

The escrow process ends when you actually close on the home, during the closing procedure. This is when all funds are transferred accordingly, when all documents are signed, and when you get the keys to your new home.

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Displaying blog entries 831-840 of 925




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

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

(847) 310-5300

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