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Elmhurst: Art and Culture Right at Your Fingertips

by Thomas Makinney

Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in an area where every amenity and cultural benefit is so readily available. For example, how many communities, especially suburban communities, can say that they are home to their very own Art Museum?  

Named the “Best Suburban Art Museum in Chicago” by Chicago Magazine, the Elmhurst Art Museum is a center for visual art that not only holds well recognized art exhibitions such as their recent Smithsonian exhibits, but the art itself is housed in an award winning, nationally recognized building. The Elmhurst Art Museum building was actually originally a house, one of only three homes in the United States designed and built by famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Roche. The building was designed around the house to pay tribute to Mies and is one of the most structurally enticing buildings in DuPage County.

If ever there was a time to explore this Elmhurst artistic gold mine, it would be this summer with all of their upcoming events.

This Saturday, May 1st is Art in the Park Weekend, Elmhurst's 14th Annual event.  A juried show of Fine Art, Craft, and Design, it is a fantastic weekend to find one-of-a-kind handcrafted jewelry, ceramics, photography, sculpture, furniture, glass, fiber works and paintings. This is the kind of event where you never know what new artist you'll discover. On top of it all, live entertainment sets the mood, while an assortment of food from select Elmhurst vendors officially make it a party. There are even family activities running from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm to entertain the kids while you're busy art hunting.

The event will be held on the grounds of the Elmhurst Art Museum and Wilder Park from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

If you are looking for other ways to keep busy this summer, Elmhurst and Dupage County are packed with events and happenings every weekend. We would be more than happy to give you some suggestions or show you around town. This community is just too amazing to keep all to ourselves.

Tom and Maria
Gracik Makinney Real Estate Group
Phone: 630-617-6014
Email: Tom@TomMakinney.com | MariaGracik@Comcast.net
www.gmregroup.com
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Tax Deal Lifts Home Sales but Price Pressures Loom

by Thomas Makinney

Tax credits sparked a big jump in home sales last month, as first-time buyers took advantage of low prices and interest rates.

But the longer-term housing outlook remains clouded, with a large inventory of foreclosed homes expected to hit the market later this year.

The Wall Street Journal's latest quarterly survey of housing-market conditions in 28 major metro areas found that inventories of homes for sale, as well as the number of distressed borrowers, remain very high in many metro areas. That portends more downward pressure on prices from bank foreclosures.

Though tax credits are providing a temporary boost, "we're still in a very fragile housing market," said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of Zelman & Associates, a research firm, who doesn't expect a full recovery before 2013.

Sales of single-family homes and condominiums hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million in March, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday. That compares with a 5.01 million rate in February and was up 16% from the depressed March 2009 rate of 4.61 million.

The Journal survey found that Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Fla., Las Vegas, Phoenix and Atlanta have some of the highest concentrations of distressed borrowers at risk of losing their homes. Nearly 28% of homeowners with mortgages are at least 30 days late on payments in the Miami area, more than double the national average of 12.2%, according to LPS Applied Analytics. That rate stands at about 24% in Orlando and Las Vegas.

Neighborhood Market Watch

Although tax credits provide a temporary boost, the long-term outlook for the housing market remains clouded. See how five locales are faring.

The supply of homes already on the market is well above the national average in Charlotte, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., Chicago and Philadelphia. In Charlotte, where bank cutbacks have increased unemployment, there are enough homes on the market to last 17 months at the average sales pace of the past year. That compares with 15 months in Jacksonville, 13 in the Long Island suburbs of New York and 11 in the New Jersey suburbs. A market generally is considered balanced when the supply is around six months.

Among metro areas with relatively low rates of delinquent borrowers and for-sale inventories: Boston, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The median price for home resales in March was $170,700, up 0.4% from a year earlier, the Realtors reported. A price index produced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency in February was down 3.4% from a year earlier, the agency said. Realtors say prices for middle-class homes in the types of neighborhoods that attract investors and first-time buyers are flat or rising slightly, while higher-end home prices generally continue to fall.

For now, real estate agents have a compelling pitch: Prices have fallen an average of about 30% across the country since peaking in 2006; mortgage rates are near their lowest levels in four decades; and many people who sign a contract to buy a home by April 30 can qualify for federal tax credits worth up to $8,000. "Now is the time to do something," said Bill Wilkerson, an agent at ZipRealty in Phoenix.

One of Mr. Wilkerson's customers, Rebecca Ahlschwede, last week offered about $200,000 for a three-bedroom foreclosed home with a pool in Scottsdale, Ariz. Ms. Ahlschwede, a 31-year-old neurology technician who currently rents, said the $8,000 tax credit she hopes to receive would be "a huge bonus."

The tax credit appears to be giving more of a boost to previously occupied homes than to new construction, as first-time buyers favor the short commutes of older neighborhoods. Ms. Zelman said the rise in sales of new homes appeared more moderate than many builders had hoped.

The rush to qualify for the credit will end after the April 30 deadline for signed contracts, though the resulting boost to completed home sales will continue to help monthly reports through June.

Those tax credits likely pulled forward sales that otherwise would have occurred later in the year. Partly as a result, "I think we're going to have a pretty soft second half" of 2010 for housing sales, said John Burns, a real estate consultant in Irvine, Calif.

Bank efforts to work out lower loan payments for some borrowers have delayed millions of foreclosures, but those who don't qualify are now increasingly losing their homes.

Moody's Economy.com predicts that 1.9 million homes will be lost to foreclosures or related defaults this year and another 1.1 million in 2011. That compares with two million last year and 600,000 in normal times.

Unemployment remains high and is unlikely to improve much soon, some economists say. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, expects the unemployment rate to be 10.2% at year's end, up from 9.7% in March. At the end of 2011, he sees a still hefty 8.6% rate.

Credit conditions, already tight, will get tighter in at least one respect. Around a third of home sales in recent months have been financed by loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which allows down payments as low as 3.5%. But now, the FHA is tightening its terms somewhat.

By early summer, the FHA plans to reduce the maximum amount a seller can contribute to the buyer's closing costs—such as loan-origination, legal and appraisal fees—to 3% of the home price from 6%. That means buyers will have to save more to meet closing costs. Mr. Burns said a survey of builders by his firm found they expected the FHA change to eliminate as many as 15% of potential buyers.

Many economists expect rates on standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgages to rise at least moderately from the recent level of 5% to 5.25%. Mr. Zandi expects a rate of about 5.7% by year's end.

Despite these worries, Jacelyn Botti, who heads residential sales for seven mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states for Weichert Realtors, said that home-sales contracts signed by the firm's customers in March were up about 26% from a year earlier in that area, and April was on track for another gain of more than 20%. She said the tax credit and lower prices were driving buyers. Prices on lower-end homes are trending up in some areas, Ms. Botti said.

Newland Communities, a San Diego-based company that plans and develops communities in 14 states, says 761 homes sold in those communities in the first quarter, up 28% from a year earlier. Robert McLeod, chief executive officer of Newland, said Austin, Houston and San Diego were among the stronger markets for the company. He thinks recovering consumer confidence is helping sales. "It's all about job growth," Mr. McLeod said.

By: James Hagerty

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704830404575200212503089010.html?mod=igoogle_wsj_gadgv1&

Elmhurst, IL April 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.

Maria and Tom would like to annouce some big news! Effective immediately, Schiller Real Estate has been acquired by HomeServices of America, Inc. and thus, is now named Koenig & Strey Real Living Elmhurst Office.

HomeServices of America, Inc. TM Announces Acquisition of Elmhurst, Illinois-Based Schiller Real Estate

MINNEAPOLIS - (Business Wire) HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate (www.homeservices.com) and the nation’s second-largest and most financially sound homeownership service provider, announces the acquisition of Elmhurst, Ill.-based Schiller Real Estate, Elmhurst’s leading residential real estate firm

Schiller Real Estate will merge with Chicago-based Koenig & Strey Real Living (www.koenigstrey.com), which HomeServices acquired in September 2009. The location will be referred to as the Koenig & Strey-Schiller Office.

The acquisition furthers HomeServices’ goal of expanding Koenig & Strey’s footprint within the greater Chicago market and surrounding communities and reinforces the strength, stability and financial solvency of Koenig & Strey.

Founded in 1970, Schiller is one of the Midwest’s leading residential real estate boutique firms with 70 associates and staff.

The merged organizations make Koenig & Strey the third-largest residential real estate firm in dollar volume of transactions within the greater Chicago market. Koenig & Strey will now have 22 locations and 1,000 agents and staff.

“The acquisition of Schiller, merging with Koenig & Strey, further strengthens our presence in Chicago,” said Ron Peltier, chairman & CEO of HomeServices. “Our goal is to grow the Koenig & Strey brand through the company’s ongoing sales and marketing process, as well as through strategic acquisitions with symbiotic organizations.”

“This is an important step in expanding Koenig & Strey’s footprint within key suburban Chicago markets,” added Koenig & Strey president & CEO Doug Ayers. “This opens a completely new market for us, and, with Schiller’s strength in the Elmhurst community, immediately positions our continued growth.” “We are very proud to be a part of HomeServices of America and Koenig & Strey,” noted Schiller Real Estate co-founder Bob Schiller.

“We are joining an organization consistent with our high standards of service and integrity, making this a win/win for our customers and associates.”

“Bob and Anne Schiller have done an outstanding job of building a highly respected organization and we look forward to their continued association with us,” concluded Peltier.

About HomeServices of America

HomeServices of America, Inc. (www.homeservices.com), based in Minneapolis, Minn., is the second-largest homeownership service provider and the most financially sound real estate company in the United States. Owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, a consolidated subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., HomeServices’ operating companies offer integrated real estate services, including brokerage services, mortgage originations, title and closing services, property and casualty insurance, home warranties and other homeownership services. HomeServices Relocation, LLC is the full-service relocation arm of HomeServices of America which provides every aspect of domestic and international relocation to corporations around the world. HomeServices operates in 20 states under the following residential real estate brand names: Carol Jones REALTORS; CBSHOME Real Estate; Champion Realty Inc.; Edina Realty; EWM REALTORS; Harry Norman, REALTORS; HOME Real Estate; Huff Realty; Iowa Realty; Koenig & Strey Real Living; Long Companies; Prudential California Realty; Prudential Carolinas Realty; Prudential First Realty; Prudential York Simpson Underwood; RealtySouth; Rector-Hayden REALTORS; Reece & Nichols; Roberts Brothers Inc.; Semonin REALTORS and Woods Bros. Realty.

About Koenig & Strey

Koenig & Strey Real Living (www.koenigstrey.com) has approximately 900 sales associates, throughout 21 offices, serving the communities in Chicago, the North Shore, Lake County and the western suburbs. Koenig & Strey is the exclusive Chicago affiliate of Christie's Great Estates, the largest network of luxury independent real estate firms in the world.

Source: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/homeservices-of-america-inctm-announces,1237947.shtml

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