Elmhurst real estate blog archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 24

Dated cabinets? There’s a reface for that

by Thomas Makinney

Kitchens are considered the heart of the home, and they’re one of the first rooms buyers look at when they enter a home, and one of the rooms that sellers worry about the most.

Oak cabinets, laminate countertops, and beige tile can stop some buyers in their tracks. But before you rip everything out, consider if underneath that brown boringness there might be a diamond in the rough.

A kitchen remodel is one of the highest returns on investments that a homeowner can make, earning back an estimated 80-85% of cost at selling. But it is also considered one of the most expensive, particularly when replacing cabinets. Not anymore. There is a booming industry in mid-range kitchen remodels, which typically involve refacing or painting existing cabinets.

The dated mid-oak tone cabinets of 20 or 30 years ago are typically better constructed with higher-quality workmanship than the more cheaply manufactured cabinets found in many homes today. These solid-but-shabby cabinets are perfect for a re-do rather than replacement.

There are a few avenues to follow if you want to paint or reface your cabinets. The most cost-effective method involves removing doors and drawers, sanding and cleaning them, and applying fresh coats of paint or stain. Homeowners can also opt to apply a new veneer overlay on the existing cabinet. Or they can replace the doors and drawer-fronts altogether and get a new design (the crisp Shaker-style door is a popular choice today).

In addition to not replacing cabinetry or cabinetry frames, owners are also saving money by not changing the layout of the kitchen, which can incur costs from moving appliances (which typically involve gas, electrical, or plumbing). Even if you put in new appliances, you’re still way ahead budget-wise.

Just don’t forget the hardware. Fresh brushed nickel or rubbed bronze hardware make a world of difference when updating a kitchen.

When considering a mid-range remodel, it’s helpful to check with a local real estate professional who knows what the market in your area and price range can bear. You don’t want to put in professional-grade appliances and top-line granite in a home valued at $275,000. Similarly, you don’t want to skimp on finishing touches that buyers in an upper-level home will be expecting (such as pull-out pantry drawers, under-cabinet lighting, high-end granite, stone, or quartz countertops).

A real estate professional will also know what must-haves are in kitchens in your area. Certain areas have features that attract or repel buyers. Finally, if you’re remodeling a kitchen for resale value, be sure to keep the color scheme simply and neutral. Neutral doesn’t have to mean boring, just nothing too loud or busy.

If you’re interested in what a kitchen facelift might entail in your home, give us a call at (630) 441-5570 or reach out through our website, www.gmregroup.com

Image courtesy of moneypit.com.

Consider “Renovation Light” for a Faster-Selling Home

by Thomas Makinney

Most people know that when putting your house on the market, decluttering and a fresh coat of paint go a long way. And if your home has buckled linoleum and pink tile, you’re probably smart to consider a remodel. But there is a new trend on the market, halfway between staging a home and remodeling. Let’s call it “Renovation Light.”

If your home was remodeled in the last 15 years, renovation light might be something to consider. Those cherry cabinets that looked so great in 2010 aren’t necessarily what buyers are looking for anymore. Ditto for blond hardwood and the beige tumbled stone tile in the bathrooms.

This is where a renovation light comes in—rather than gutting your kitchen, you could paint the cabinets a trendy gray, refinish the floors in a gray neutral tone, and replace the track lighting with modern pendant lights. 

Replacing outdated backsplashes or shower tile can also make a big difference to updating a look. Other easy fixes are replacing built-in light fixtures and cabinet hardware. The look today is more minimalist and streamlined than it was 10 years ago, and the colors have switched from beige undertones to decidedly gray ones.

In the past few years, many agents have noted that homes with semi-dated finishes are taking longer to sell. These homes aren’t fixer-upper homes at bargain prices that require sweat equity, but they’re not quite what buyers are looking for in a certain price point. In fact, few buyers today are looking to put much work into a new house, preferring a home that is move-in ready. This is particularly true of younger buyers, but older generations are also tired of serious renovations and want to move in and move on. 

Some trends that date your home: Tuscan-style kitchens, travertine tile, pickled or glazed cabinets, brass or brushed nickel finishes, and even granite countertops (instead consider marble, soapstone, Corian, quartz, recycled glass or even concrete).

A good realtor will be able to tell you some easy fixes to bring your home into the 21st century and get it sold quickly. Here at Gracik-Makinney, we offer tips to all our sellers on ways to declutter and stage your home. But if you’re eyeing light maple cabinets and tumbled marble tile, you might want to consider a “renovation light.”

To find out more about what helps a home sell in your price point, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com.

What does the new tax reform mean for homeowners?

by Thomas Makinney

It might be hard to remember with all that’s been going on in the past month, but as of Jan. 1, a new tax policy goes into effect. Many of us will not see many changes until we file their taxes in 2019, but the tax laws could not only impact our paycheck (for better or worse) they also have the potential to significantly alter home ownership incentives.

We can’t speak for individual paychecks, but as far as how the tax policies relate to real estate, we can offer a few insights.

  1. Reduced cap on mortgage interest deduction.

What it is: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the limit for mortgage interest rate deduction for new loans to $750,000, starting Dec. 15, 2017. Loans that were taken before this date are grandfathered into the previous tax policy, which featured a $1 million cap on the deduction.

What it means: Homeowners who want to refinance their existing mortgage can do so up to $1 million and still be able to deduct the interest, however, the new loan cannot exceed the amount of debt being refinanced. Nationwide, this should only affect 1.3% of all mortgages, however, high-priced housing areas will feel the impact.

  1. New limits for state and local tax deductions.

What it is: While homeowners previously had an unlimited itemized deduction amount, under the new bill, they can only itemize deductions up to $10,000 for the total state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes. The cap is the same for both individual and married filers.

What it means: Households that itemize deductions and pay more than $10,000 in combined state and local taxes will get a smaller tax break, and for others, having a cap on deductions may be the deciding factor for some as to whether or not to itemize.

  1. Capital gains time frame excluded.

What it is: The previous capital gains tax policy, which stated that homeowners must live in the home for two out of the past five years in order to qualify for the exclusion, remains unchanged.

What it means: Sellers who live in their homes between two and five years can list their homes on a more flexible schedule without fear of a potentially hefty tax hit. (An original Senate bill had proposed an increase in the residency requirement to five years out of the past eight, but it did not make the final version.)

  1. Home equity loan deductions qualified.

What it is: Taxpayers will no longer be able to deduct interest paid on home equity loans beginning in 2018. Previously, there was a cap of $100,000 of home equity debt.

What it means: By taking away a low-cost financing option, many worry that owners will end up paying more for their loans, which could impact the home ownership rate make it more difficult for struggling communities to reinvent themselves. This shouldn’t impact the rate of home ownership but may affect home renovations.

  1. Standard deduction doubled.

What it is: The standard deduction for both single taxpayers and married couples filing separately used to be $6,350; that is being doubled under the new law to $12,000. Married couples filing jointly will see their previous deduction of $12,700 increase to $24,000.

What it means: This increase will most likely impact how many homeowners take advantage of their mortgage interest deduction. With a larger standard deduction and a decreased itemized deduction, many filers will no longer find it financially advantageous to itemize deductions. Under the current tax code, itemizing and claiming the mortgage interest deduction is financially worthwhile for about 44% of homeowners. Under the new law, itemizing and claiming the mortgage interest deduction will only be worthwhile for about 14.4% of homes nationwide.

Of course, it’s much to soon to tell how these new tax codes will affect anyone. According to research in the Wall Street Journal, it appears that taxpayers in high-cost areas (such as New York, San Francisco, Honolulu, and even Chicago) will feel much of the impact, and high-tax burdened markets will most likely receive a higher tax bill with the new limit. Low-tax states, however, may benefit from the new code.

Many thanks to RISMedia, realtor.com, and Zillow Research for the insight and analysis that contributed to this post. And many thanks to our CPA who proofed the piece for accuracy. 

If you have questions about the new tax code, and particularly how it will affect the Elmhurst housing market, please reach out to us. We’re here to help! Call (630) 441-5570 or visit www.gmregroup.com

“Surban” millennials find Elmhurst the perfect hometown

by Thomas Makinney

Millennials are hitting the housing market and their unique needs and desires mean good news for cities like Elmhurst.
A recent article by the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/brand-connect/nar/millennials-go-surban/) coined the term “surban” to describe the type of town that is attracting millennials who are ready for the suburban life but don’t want to give up the amenities of an urban area.
They’re moving to the suburbs for the same reasons as other generations (less expensive housing, room to raise a family, good schools and parks) but they’re looking for more than a sleepy bedroom community: They want walkability, public transportation, ethnic restaurants, coffee shops, unique stores, and gourmet grocery options.
With our lively downtown, excellent school system, and prime spot on the Metra, Elmhurst is quickly rising to the top of Chicago suburbs for this generation.
The article points out that “surban” towns almost always have a college or university nearby (check!) along with quality daycare centers and upgraded playgrounds (check and check!). Other popular millennial amenities that we have include summer festivals, farmers’ markets, and a growing selection of microbreweries and wine bars.
This is the third straight year that millennials comprised the largest group of buyers (35 percent of all buyers), more than the combined number of younger and older boomers (31 percent) and more than Generation X (26 percent).
And while millennials are looking for a more urban-feeling suburb than past generations, they’re still relying on realtors for guidance and purchases. Todays supply shortages, strong competition, and conflicting internet information means a real estate agent is more valuable than ever.
We’re here to help buyers from any generation find the perfect home. To learn more about why Elmhurst may be the perfect place for you to put down roots, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com.

Chicago named one of top creative cities in U.S.

by Thomas Makinney

If you appreciate the creative flair of Chicago, you’re not alone. Chicago was named one of the top 25 most creative cities in the U.S. in a recent survey using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s probably no surprise to anyone living in Chicagoland. And Elmhurst residents are perfectly positioned to take advantage of all that the city has to offer: We’re only 12 miles from the Loop, with train service and highways easily linking us to a myriad of venues, schools, and jobs.

The study, compiled by RIS Media, defined creativity as original work within four factors: the person, the process, the environment, and the created product. Data was categorized into four metrics: creative jobs, creative schools, performing arts companies, and motion picture and video companies.New York City took top place as the most creative city in the country. Although the city didn’t win top seat in any of the specific categories, its overall scores reflected its combination of jobs, schools, venues, and opportunities for creative types. Other top five cities include San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis (yes, really.) Chicago ranked in 15th place.

Los Angeles rated highest for city with the most creative jobs. Not surprising considering it has the most artists and film-related jobs than any other city per capita. San Francisco ranked at the top of the list for having the most creative schools. Chicago placed a solid #15 on the creative schools list, ranking above Los Angeles and Miami.

Nashville is home to more performing arts companies per capita than anywhere else in the country. In fact, it has almost double the amount of the second highest city, San Francisco.  Not surprisingly, Chicago scored high on this list, ranking above New Orleans, Boston, and Washington.

As expected, Los Angeles was found to have the most motion picture and video companies per capita (approximately 6,000 in all), followed by San Francisco and New York. But what might be surprising is that St. Louis came at the top of the pack in fourth.

One of the aspects of Elmhurst that we love most is how easy it is to access the variety of offerings that Chicago has to offer. And our excellent schools and parks make Elmhurst the perfect complement to city living.

To find out more about all that Elmhurst has to offer, call us at 630-441-5570 or visit www.gmregroup.com

Millenials starting to embrace home ownership

by Thomas Makinney

It’s the beginning of a new era as millennials emerge onto the home buying scene. This group, roughly comprised of 28-35 year olds, is getting older and wealthier and is increasingly seeing real estate as a sound investment option.

But in true younger-generation style, their tastes and preferences are different from those of other eras.

Many want to live somewhere with a more urban feel, even if they’re not in an actual urban area. They’re less likely to want or need parking, and instead are drawn to public transportation and ride-sharing services. They also value a neighborhood feel and a sense of community when considering location.

This is good news for Elmhurst, which is right on the Metra line and offers an abundance of housing options, both multi-unit and single family, near transportation, restaurants, and shopping. In fact, we’re the perfect fit for millenials who want to get out of the actual city but may not be ready to commit to a large riding lawn mower.

In addition to the newer condos and townhouses encircling downtown, Elmhurst still has a wide variety of homes in the entry-level price range. And our excellent schools and parks (to say nothing of the numerous fitness clubs) make Elmhurst the perfect landing spot for millennial buyers.

Of course, interest rates are rising, which could impact how many millenials will be able to buy. After an initial rate hike in December, sales for that age group dipped, even though the rates remain at historic lows.

The reality is, however, that inventory for first-time homebuyers is also at a low point. And with the Federal Reserve indicating a possibility of two or three more hikes in 2017, millenials are expected to overcome their financial jitters and remain a force.

For more information about what it takes to purchase a home or condo, give us a call at (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com. We’re always available to talk Elmhurst real estate!

Flipping houses back on the fast track

by Thomas Makinney

Anyone who watches HGTV knows that flipping houses is once again a lucrative way to make extra money. The concept of buying an outdated home, renovating it, and then selling it for profit caught on big about 15 years ago but came to an abrupt halt when the market crashed in 2008.

Now the market is rebounding, and Chicago is a good place to be.

The Chicago area ranks as the 20th-most profitable market in the country right now. The gross profit for homes flipped is $81,162—not too shabby.

Wilmette and Avondale top the list of the most lucrative places in our area for home flippers. In both towns, flippers grossed profits of more than $200,000.

The gross profit figure is the difference between the purchase price of a home and the sales price of the home post-flip. It doesn’t account for all the costs spent on the rehab.

According to Crain’s Business Report, flippers' gross profits nationwide were $62,624, which is the highest going back to 2000, the earliest year for which it has data.

Elmhurst is definitely seeing an uptick in the once-popular flipping area. If this is something you’d like to try, contact us to find a condo, townhouse, or house to flip! Reach us anytime at (630) 441-5570 or via our website, www.gmregroup.com.

Chicago’s tech boom great news for Elmhurst market

by Thomas Makinney

Good news for Elmhurst’s housing market: Chicago has been named THE top city in the U.S. poised for tech boom. Why does this benefit the Elmhurst market? Located only 15 miles from the city and right on the Metra line, Elmhurst makes the perfect hometown for people in the tech job market who want to live in the suburbs.

According to RIS Media, cities with jobs in growing fields draw incoming residents in drove, with tech being the current in-demand industry.

Chicago was ranked number one in cities likely to experience large growth in the tech job sector, according to the survey, conducted by Modis, an IT staffing services provider. In fact, Chicago is more likely to attract young professionals who have worked in technology for five years or less than any other city. This is even better news for the Elmhurst market, as young professionals are the most likely to move to the suburbs to raise a family.

The survey ranks the top five markets for technology jobs as:

  1. Chicago
  2. Houston
  3. Boston
  4. Denver
  5. Philadelphia

Elmhurst offers easy access to the city via train or car and our vibrant downtown and excellent school system make it a natural landing place for people who live in the city.

Let us know if you want to talk more about the allure of our city and its great location. Call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com

Home Improvements That Offer The Most Value

by Thomas Makinney

Thinking of doing a remodel or upgrading a room? It’s no surprise that some projects are more lucrative than others when it comes to selling your home.

While you know best what your home really needs, it’s helpful to keep in mind which projects give you the best return on your investment. Is it better to do a minor kitchen remodel or go all out with a major remodel? Will you recoup the cost of a deck when you go to sell?

Remodeling Magazine just released their Cost Vs. Value Report for 2017 and tracked 24 projects that that offer the highest and the lowest value when you go to sell your home. They looked at 99 markets nationwide and checked out the average cost of popular remodeling projects with their average value at resale one year later.

Just to note, curb appeal projects continue to garner a higher ROI than work done inside the home. So changing out the front door, replacing windows, and updating siding are better bets investment-wise than remodeling the interior.

Top 5 projects with greatest ROI in the “midrange” cost category nationwide:

  1. Attic Insulation (Fiberglass) (107.7% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,343
    Average Resale Value: $1,446
  2. Entry Door Replacement (steel) (90.7% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,413
    Average Resale Value: $1,282
  3. Manufactured Stone Veneer (89.4% ROI)
    Average Cost: $7,851
    Average Resale Value: $7,019
  4. Minor Kitchen Remodel (80.2% ROI)
    Average Cost: $20,830
    Average Resale Value: $16,699
  5.  Garage Door Replacement (76.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,749
    Average Resale Value: $1,345

Top 5 projects with greatest ROI in “upscale” cost category nationwide:

  1. Garage Door Replacement (85.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $3,304
    Average Resale Value: $2,810
  2. Entry Door Replacement (fiberglass) (77.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $3,276
    Average Resale Value: $2,550
  3. Window Replacement (vinyl) (73.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $15,282
    Average Resale Value: $11,286
  4. Window Replacement (wood) (73.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $18,759
    Average Resale Value: $13,691
  5.  Grand Entrance (fiberglass) (70.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $8,358
    Average Resale Value: $5,855

Top 5 projects with the lowest ROI in the “midrange” cost category nationally:

  1. Bathroom Remodel (64.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $18,546
    Average Resale Value: $12,024
  2. Master Suite Addition (64.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $119,533
    Average Resale Value: $77,506
  3.  Backyard Patio (54.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $51,985
    Average Resale Value: $28,546
  4.  Backup Power Generator (54.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $12,860
    Average Resale Value: $6,940
  5.  Bathroom Addition (53.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $43,232
    Average Resale Value: $23,283

Top 5 projects with the lowest ROI in the “upscale” cost category nationally:

  1. Major Kitchen Remodel (61.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $122,991
    Average Resale Value: $76,149
  2. Master Suite Addition (59.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $250,687
    Average Resale Value: $150,140
  3. Bathroom Remodel (59.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $59,979
    Average Resale Value: $35,456
  4. Bathroom Addition (57.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $81,515
    Average Resale Value: $46,507
  5. Deck Addition (composite) (56.4% ROI)
    Average Cost: $39,339
    Average Resale Value: $22,171

We find that these statistics hold true for Elmhurst too, with the best investment returns from mid-range kitchen and bath remodels. Elmhurst homes also get a high ROI from mid-range finished basements and tear-off roofs.

If you’re considering doing a remodel or an addition, check with us first. We’re happy to advise you on ROI value for homes in Elmhurst. Call us at (630) 441-5570 or contact us via our website www.gmregroup.com.

2015 Real Estate Tax Assessments: Were you surprised?

by Thomas Makinney

York Township recently completed its 2015 real estate tax assessment and homeowners should have already received the results through mail. Many residents will see a significant increase in their property taxes, which although bad news, means that the market is getting stronger.
Every year the assessor’s office estimates the market value of more than 46,000 parcels of property with York Township. Each property is then assessed at one-third of market value. Prices are based on sales that have occurred in the previous three years, meaning that the assessments will always lag behind the marketplace. When property values and sales are decreasing, it takes a few years for those changes to be reflected in assessments. Similarly, when values and sales are rising (as we’ve been seeing for the past few years,) the positive growth takes a few years to catch up to assessments, which is why the increase often takes homeowners by surprise.
The good news is that the economy appears to be stabilizing and real estate values are continuing to rise after the market downturn.
If you wish to appeal your assessments, you have until November 30, 2015 to do so. For more information, visitwww.yorkassessor.com/York and www.dupageco.org/SOA/1486
Thinking of contesting your assessed value? We can provide comparables to help you review the market. We’re here for all your real estate questions about buying and selling. Call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit us at www.gmregroup.com.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 24