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Is Your Home Currently for Sale? Here are some Showing Precautions!

by Thomas Makinney

Showing homes is normally thought of as a safe and exciting venture. However, when you consider that the process involves open doors and a trusting environment, it may not be as safe as you think.

Recently there was an alleged property theft in Elmhurst during a showing. A seller of ours expressed great concern after reading this story in the Police Blotter. For extra precaution, he will now only allow his home to be shown when he is present.

This is an occurrence that I wish we didn't have to write about, but it is something that we think you need to be aware of. The following article offers some great suggestions for precautions that Realtors and sellers should keep in mind when it comes to opening your house to the public.

Secure your home before you let strangers in.  Most of us never think about people taking things from our homes.  My knowledge and experiences within the real estate industry and some of the feedback generated by agents, theft is a real issue.  Protect your valuable belongings before you show your home or have an open house.

I publish a showing guide that is given to my customers at the time I list their home for sale.  Here are a few basic hints to protect your valuables.

  • Never leave money jars or coin collections in plain site or in obvious places.
  • Never leave valuable jewelry in jewelry boxes.  Where is the first place to look for a family diamond ring?
  • Watches in top drawers.
  • Blank checks or check books.
  • Credit cards and certainly not mail with new unsigned credit cards!
  • Medicines and prescription drugs.  Thief of prescription medicine has been on the rise now for over 5 years.  So don't leave your medicine in the kitchen cabinet or medicine cabinet.

How do the thieves work, diversion tactics, and usually work in pairs.  They get the agent talking about the house and while the partner goes off in other rooms.  Experienced agents say to the prospective buyer, "let's walk maybe I can answer your question to both of you at the same time".  This keeps the pair together and in sight.

If you are asked to show your home and no agent is available and the buyer is not represented by an agent, NEVER show your home without another adult present!  It only takes once to ruin your life.  Agents have been attacked when showing empty homes to buyer's alone, you are no different.

Be aware of slow drive-by cars.  Most of the time this is perfectly fine other times this can be someone checking out your home to see if it is vacant.  They also can be checking security for a possible break-in.

This only a partial list but once you become aware of the dangers you can make your own security precautions before, during and after showings.

I hope this security reminder has been helpful.  If you have any questions or comments please send us an email.

Reference: http://activerain.com/blogsview/76428/showing-security-

HouseLogic Offers Smart Advice to Owners

by Thomas Makinney

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® this week launched HouseLogic, a new, comprehensive consumer Web site designed to help home owners make smart decisions to maintain, protect, and increase the value of their homes. HouseLogic will help consumers take responsible actions pertaining to what is likely the largest investment of their lives.

“Backed by the resources and industry insights of NAR and its REALTOR® members, HouseLogic will engage and involve consumers throughout the lifecycle of homeownership,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder. “It makes sense that, as the first, best source for real estate information, NAR should collaborate with today’s consumers to help them make the most out of owning a home. HouseLogic will help us do that.”

The free Web site helps home owners plan and organize their home projects and provides timely articles and news; home improvement advice and how-to’s; and information about taxes, home finances and insurance.

“Unlike other homeownership Web sites, HouseLogic helps consumers view their home through a financial lens and make smart, informed home improvement investment decisions,” said Golder. “Families can set goals for saving money on their home or increasing its value, and easily track the progress they are making on those goals.”

Registered users can save relevant information, create to-do lists, and set project reminders. The Web site can also be customized for individual owners depending on how handy or ambitious they are regarding home projects; how much money they want to spend or save; where they live; and their priorities, such as increasing the value of their home or improving their neighborhood.

HouseLogic also empowers home owners who want to get more actively engaged in shaping community life, advocating on neighborhood and homeownership issues that matter most to them. The site provides users with the tools and know-how to effect change, such as establishing a neighborhood watch program, building a community playground, or participating in city or county planning efforts.

“For more than 100 years REALTORS® have been bringing America home,” said Golder. “HouseLogic takes owning a home to the next level, partnering with consumers to truly help people build their futures through homeownership.”

Source: http://www.realtor.org/rmodaily.nsf/0/645de7bed2bdbaaf862576cc00619e59?OpenDocument

Elmhurst, IL March Real Estate Market Trends

by Thomas Makinney

The various graphs below will give you a visual report of Elmhurst, IL market statistics gathered using data from MRED*. The graphs are updated on a monthly basis so it’s easy to see the latest real estate market trends in Elmhurst. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.




*Midwest Real Estate Data LLC

I make no claim as to the accuracy of this data and have provided this data as a service to others.

5 Tips for a Successful Home Remodel

by Thomas Makinney

As spring approaches, many homeowners grow eager to start remodeling projects to update and refresh their surroundings. Before getting started, it’s a good idea to hire a professional remodeler for a workable plan and better results, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“A professional remodeler knows how to translate a homeowner’s dreams and budget into a beautiful reality,” said Donna Shirey, CGR, CAPS, CGP, president of Shirey Contracting in Issaquah, Wash. and 2010 chairman of NAHB Remodelers. “They have the expertise and skills to satisfy a customer while keeping the budget in check.”

Here are five tips for planning a successful home remodel that you can enjoy for many years to come.

1. Compile a list of home remodeling ideas and draft a budget for the work.
You likely have some projects in mind, such as modernizing the bathroom, renovating the kitchen, replacing windows or repairing the roof. Prioritize your wish list: Maybe you don’t have the budget for your dream remodel, but professional remodelers can maximize your dollars by doing the work in phases, suggesting budget-friendly products and materials and implementing creative design solutions.

2. Look for a professional remodeler to help plan the project.
Start by searching NAHB’s Directory of Professional Remodelers at www.nahb.org/remodel. You’ll get a list of nearby remodelers to contact. Asking friends and neighbors for names of qualified remodelers will also help you find a match for your project.

3. Check the references and background of the remodeler.
After you start speaking with remodelers and find one or two who match your project’s needs, be sure to conduct some background research by checking with the Better Business Bureau, talking to their references and asking if they are a trade association member (such as NAHB Remodelers). Remodelers with these qualities tend to be more reliable, better educated and more likely to stay on top of construction and design trends.

4. Agree on a contract.
Talk over the details of the home remodeling project and begin reviewing the contract. You’ll want to check the remodelers’ insurance coverage, ask about any warranties on their work, know who is responsible for obtaining any building permits and understand the process for making any change orders after the contract is signed. Make sure that you and your remodeler see eye to eye before you sign on the dotted line.

5. Take advantage of the energy efficiency tax credits.
If your remodel includes replacing windows or doors, adding insulation, installing new roofing, upgrading heating or air-conditioning units, updating the water heater or installing energy generating products (such as solar panels, heat pumps or wind turbines) then you can take advantage of federal energy efficiency tax credits through 2010 that will help defray costs and maximize your remodeling budget while reducing home energy bills.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org.

Source:http://rismedia.com/2010-03-11/5-tips-for-a-successful-home-remodel/

Your Questions Answered: Appealing Your Real Estate Taxes

by Thomas Makinney

Maria and I always say send us your questions or we're here to help. It looks like you’ve been listening because you do e-mail us and call us with your questions.  Lately, there is one re-occurring theme that we are getting from our friends, family and clients - questions about their real estate taxes.

True to our word, we listened and recently attended a seminar on appealing your real estate taxes in today's economy so we can give you well informed answers. We were more than impressed with the seminar lead by keynote speaker, Attorney Anastasia M. Poulopoulos.

Here are the most important take home points we pulled from it.

There are 3 Fundamental Keys to a Reduction:

1) Uniformity - The Assessed Value Approach
2) Over Valuation - The Market Value/Sales Approach
3) Property Description Error - The Factual Error Approach

There are 4 Reasons for Failure:

1) Time
2) Missed Window of Opportunity
3) Inadequate Evidence
4) Inadequate Presentation Skills

The bottom line of the seminar was to help people through the mystery of the tax appeal process to lower your real estate taxes on your own. Information on the DuPage County appeal process can be found here. Or visit http://www.AppealMyTaxes.biz to find out more information on future seminars.

For further information, please contact your tax assessor's office.  For professional advice or representation, our recommendation is to contact Anastasia M. Poulopoulos, her phone number is 312.545.9252.

When we say we're here to help, we really mean it.  Keep the calls and emails coming – we promise to answer!

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

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