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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!

Dupage County Tax Reduction Lunch & Learn

by Thomas Makinney

Here is a great opportunity to empower the residents of Elmhust and Dupage County to appeal their own taxes. The upcoming real estate property tax reduction seminar, sponsored by MORe affiliate committee, is designed to help Dupage County understand that they do have options when it comes to their real estate taxes. The event is open to the public with just a $10 registration fee.

Along with the seminar, a complimentary lunch will be sponsored by Liane Luckett of Home Warranty of America.

The following are the times and locations for Dupage County:

  • Thursday, March 4th - MORe Downers Grove Office, 6655 Main St.
  • Wednesday, March 10th - MORe Naperville Office, 1815 Diehl Rd.

Both events will be held from 12 -1:30 p.m. with Registration at 11:30 a.m.

Speakers:
Anastasia M. Poulopoulos, AppealMyTaxes.biz, Inc.
Nicholas Masella, State Certified Appraiser

For the full registration form, click here.

Maria and I will be there to answer any questions that you have. Whether they be about Dupage real estate taxes or Dupage real estate in general, we are more than happy to help!

We'll See You There,
Tom Makinney

Elmhurst, IL February 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.


Elmhurst: A Vibrant, Walkable Community

by Thomas Makinney

Elmhurst Takes No Shortcuts On Road To Livability


The scene at York Rd. and Schiller Ct. in downtown Elmhurst. (Chuck Berman, Chicago Tribune / July 12, 2009)

You must be a townie, says author Tracy Kidder in "Home Town," if "you don't shed identities. You accumulate them."

So Pete DiCianni admits he is the product of the "seven-kids, one-bathroom bungalow" on Highland Avenue, the father who campaigns for the rights of autistic children, a former member of the high school's "Long Green Line" cross-country team — and the mayor.

And this, says DiCianni, is why he and his wife, Rosemarie, chose to raise their family in his native Elmhurst, a city of 45,000 townies.

"This is a town where people know you and your parents and your kids," says DiCianni. "You go to the grocery store, and you see your daughter's coach. You go out to dinner, and you see your mom's church friends."

Clearly defined by Illinois Highway 83 on the west, Interstate Highway 294 on the east, Grand Avenue on the north and Roosevelt Road on the south, Elmhurst is one of DuPage County's more mature suburbs, settled in the 1800s and long ago land-locked.

While some suburbs struggle to achieve the New Urbanism ideal, with houses on grids that surround a pedestrian-friendly downtown, Elmhurst had this all along. Granted, its downtown looked pretty bleak during the 1970s, after shopping malls put most merchants out of business, but it has since seen a revival. "Now, our downtown has less than a 3 percent vacancy rate," reports DiCianni.

Dozens of restaurants on Elmhurst's main drag, York Road, now supplement the iconic Hamburger Heaven, which has been pouring root beer since 1948. The few retailers that survived the '70s, such as Al's Hobby Shop, are joined by funky newcomers that reflect the high style of the new high-income residents. A century after people escaped to Dr. Henry Lindlahr's sanitarium in Elmhurst for his "nature cure" (guaranteed to cure everyone but the "violently insane" with sunbaths instead of drugs), Elmhurst is still a retreat for its residents.

Thousands commute by train daily to the city, while others use the highways that encircle Elmhurst to reach jobs in every direction. Elmhurst is not just a bedroom community, though; major employers in town include Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, Elmhurst College, the school district and Superior Ambulance Service.

Evenings and weekends, says DiCianni, families feel safe bicycling or walking in downtown Elmhurst or on the Illinois Prairie Path that bisects the town. A recent police log included a bar fight, counterfeit money passed at a restaurant, several DUIs and $3,000 of tools swiped from a contractor's van.

DiCianni says that thanks to York Community High School's long-time winning cross-country coach, Joe Newton, Elmhurst has more than its share of runners. "Thousands of people show up for charity runs," says DiCianni, who still runs. Elmhurst's housing stock ranges from 19th Century mansions to new downtown rowhouses and condominiums.

Elmhurst neighborhoods are evolving as new houses replace aging ones on "teardown" lots. College View is the neighborhood of choice, and where the price tags are the highest.

"Now, the range of housing is from $120,000 for a fixer-upper to $3 million for a new house on a teardown lot," reports Realtor Bob Shiga of ReMax First in Elmhurst. "Twenty years ago, young people couldn't afford to buy here, so they went to Villa Park or Lombard. Now, in this market, they can." Likewise, he says, downsizing seniors can find condominiums here for less than $150,000. Many homebuyers are drawn by York Community High School, which typically ranks in the top 40 of Chicago-area high schools in average ACT scores. Children walk to Elmhurst's elementary and middle schools. Private schools include two Catholic high schools.

"This is a town where school referendums pass," says DiCianni. "We've added on to every school in the last few years and rebuilt the high school in 1999." The schools clinched the deal for Kevin York, who bought a new house in Elmhurst in 2003. "We wanted to live closer to Chicago and to the airport, but didn't want to sacrifice a good school district," says York, who moved from Naperville with his wife, Jill, and their three children. "We like being in a town where the kids can walk to school or to the YMCA to play basketball and we can walk to a dinner and movie on the weekend."

Built by Joseph Wangler Custom Construction in Elmhurst, the Yorks' 4,750 square-foot Williamsburg-style house features amenities such as radiant-heated floors, a media room and steam shower. "We're in an older neighborhood that has older and younger people, and we all look out for each other," he says. "But, we have a new house with lots of custom details."

York appreciates Elmhurst's cultural offerings, which introduced him to the town when his high school band played with the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra. "I could tell, even at that age, that this is a town that supports the arts," he recalls.

Elmhurst College, where 3,300 students study liberal arts, hosts an annual Jazz Festival, band and choral concerts, and plays. Its library has one of the largest collections of Chicago Imagist and Abstractionist works. Its grounds double as an arboretum, touting 650 plant species.

The lines between college and community blur by intention, says Denise Jones, the college's senior vice president. "We share everything from libraries to tennis courts," she says.

As part of its pledge to be a green neighbor, the college launched its Bike Program, which gives a bicycle and helmet to every student who agrees to leave his car home and encourages the use of Zipcar car-sharing.

Circling the college campus are the Elmhurst Art Museum, which includes a Mies van der Rohe house; the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art; the Elmhurst Historical Museum; and the new public library. The former library, which was the Wilder residence in its first life, is now a park district facility. The historical museum is the former Glos residence and one of Elmhurst's architectural treasures.

Residents and college students mix at community events. They include the St. Patrick's Day and Memorial Day parades, a farmers' market, a pet parade and, for vintage-car enthusiasts, the Cool Cars Under the Stars, a weekly summer event.

One of DiCianni's missions is to keep sales tax revenue flowing by encouraging people to shop locally. "This helps keep our property taxes lower than in many other DuPage County towns," he says. Key to this plan is Elmhurst's row of car dealers on Grand Avenue, which, despite the recession, is still vital. Public and private dollars in Elmhurst help serve its special-needs population, notes DiCianni. "These are not needs that we sweep under the rug," says DiCianni. "In fact, people step up to serve and support organizations including Ray Graham Association, CSLD (Center for Speech and Language Disorders) and ECAF (Elmhurst Children's Assistance Foundation)."

Senior citizens, which include his mother and her peers, are a community priority too, says DiCianni. Services such as taxi rides and counseling are city-subsidized.

"We respect the seniors who built this town," says DiCianni. "This is a place where you can raise your kids, but stay when you retire. Embracing the young and old — that's what a community does."
 

Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune

Housing Market Trend - Buyer's Frenzy in Spring 2010

by Thomas Makinney

Spring is traditionally the busiest season in real estate for both buyers and sellers, and this year is truly a buyer's market. In 2010 several factors affecting the current housing market trend show the real estate market forecast to be much busier than usual over the next several months, so discerning sellers should take notice. The unofficial beginning of the spring home buying season starts after the Super Bowl, which will be very early this year on February 7, 2010. This is when, new buyers flood the market in early spring, granting new vitality to the market. In response, many fresh properties enter the market along with lots of properties that were taken of the market at the end off last year. This always results in a buying and selling frenzy that is fueled by fresh money and increased competition in the marketplace.

This year in particular the housing market is predicted to be very active with a positive real estate market outlook and here's why. The 4th quarter of 2009 saw a huge increase in home sales nationwide, caused in part by the expiration of the Federal Housing Tax Credit for first-time homebuyers. This helped to clear the increasing inventory of unsold homes, many of which were foreclosures and short sales that had been helping to scuttle home prices.

Now that the Federal Housing Tax Credit has been extended into April and expanded to include current home buyers and those with higher incomes, there will be thousands of more Americans rushing to buy before it expires April 30, 2010. Also, just this week the Federal Reserve announced that it intended to keep key interest rates at historical lows, near zero percent. As the credit crunch starts so loosen a bit, these low rates will entice many more would be buyers to take advantage of this extreme buyer's market. Though interest rates remain low for now, one can assume that once they start to rise they will rise quickly and sharply to help alleviate inflationary trends in the market.

The housing market trend, however, will continue to be controlled by a few key factors, namely the unemployment figures and consumer confidence. These two key points are the "Wild Card Factors," according to Geoff Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) at the University of Illinois. His real estate market forecast indicates that increasing unemployment could torpedo a rising market and falling consumer confidence could also stagnate the market, despite all other factors. Thus, the housing market trend is only that, a trend, and offers no guarantees for the future.

Adds Hewings: "While we are more optimistic about 2010, we are clearly still suffering the effects of the recession and they are likely to continue well into 2010 and 2011." People who are losing their jobs or fear losing them will be hesitant or unable to purchase a new or more expensive home.

Hewings predicts a rise in home sales in early 2010 followed by a possible double-digit increase by mid year. This rise is home sales, however, will most likely die off in the 3rd and 4th quarters, as it does every year. Thus, the real estate market outlook is positive in the 1st and 2nd quarters, but slows in the last half of the year.

Bottom line - if you plan to buy or sell your home in 2010, earlier in the year will be much better than later. Sellers will see a slight increase in sales prices due to the influx of fresh buyers and the rush to beat the April 30, 2010 deadline for the tax credit. Buyers will be able to take advantage of historically low interest rates before the Fed raises them and can cash in on the Federal Housing Tax Credit, not to mention having a much greater selection of homes listed for sale.

This year, the current market trend might cause the real estate motto of "Location, location, location" to change over to "Timing, timing, timing."

Brendan Kottenstette is a real estate broker with DMD Chicago Realty (http://www.dmdchicagorealty.com ).

DMD specializes in discount broker services and doctor loans for medical residents and new doctors. Read more about their doctor mortgages program at: http://www.dmdchicagorealty.com/real-estate-for-doctors.html.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Brendan_Kottenstette
By Brendan Kottenstette

2010 Resolution

by Thomas Makinney

The issue: Not just window shopping, but actually buying in Elmhurst

The problem: Everyone knows the residential real estate market has been in crisis mode for the last couple years. With great mortgage interest rates and tax credits for not only 1st time buyers but existing homeowners as well, the real estate market is primed for stabilization/recovery in 2010...

And the Gracik Makinney Group is ready!

“It’s just a busy and exciting time here at Gracik Makinney Group, and with a surprisingly successful 2009 behind us, we look forward to increased consumer confidence and an out of sight 2010!” Gracik said.

How to fix it: “We have a great team of people, between ourselves, our marketing team, and Schiller Real Estate” Makinney said. “We stay ahead of the curve by learning and doing; thereby we are at the ready to assist home buyers and sellers with the proper tools in any category.”

Gracik and Makinney said their group aims to stay on the cutting edge of Residential Real Estate in 2010 with the addition of:

        1. Our new informative website

        2. Continued experience/education in foreclosure avoidance

        3. Involvement with the brightest minds in the real estate industry

        4. Constant innovation while striving to be the best they can be

May we all be successful in our 2010 resolutions!

Appraisals and the Mortgage Industry

by Jack Jones

The government has continued to put more degrees of separation between the appraisal and mortgage industry. Mortgage companies are required to hire third party appraisal companies who in turn farm the business out to local appraisers without knowledge of who ordered the appraisal. The lender initially does not know who is performing the appraisal. Lenders sign affidavits that they did not have direct contact with or attempt to influence the appraiser in any manner. Appraisers sign affidavits that they were not contacted by the lender or influenced in any manner. This translates to a slower appraisal process.

Lenders now have there own appraisal review departments to review the quality of the appraisers work. Another speed bump on the road to loan approval and a closing the mortgage.

The government now requires lenders to wait until the borrower signs the lenders Good Faith Estimate and Truth In Lending disclosures before an appraisal may be ordered. Lenders no longer allow the mortgage loan officer (the point of contact with the consumer) to generate these compliance documents. There is a one to two day delay to get these documents into the consumer's hands and again, the appraisal can no longer be ordered until they are returned.

The government simplified and standardized the Good Faith Estimate to appear the same regardless of lender. To simplify the process for the consumer the new RESPA law does NOT allow a lender to break down a line by line itemization of closing costs. The closing costs are now summarized as "lender fees" and "other fees" which would be third party fees such as appraisal, credit report, flood certification, tax service, title fees, transfer taxes, and recording fees.

In the short first 20 days of this young year I have had over a dozen requests for a line by line itemization of the fees, and my industry may no longer provide that which has the capacity to raise confusion.

The bottom line is the new RESPA laws are intended to protect the consumer against inflated appraisals and loan related fees, however they are adding time to he approval and funding process.

Where as two years ago we could close loans in 3 to 10 days, and 10 to 30 days last year, I am advising buyers, sellers, realtors, and attorneys to allow 40 days for loan approval and an additional 10 to close for a total of 50 days. Can and will we close some loans sooner? Yes. Will some loans take longer for a variety of reasons? Yes. We still need to live these new RESPA law changes to know them. However, I believe it is prudent to give more space for the speed bumps the government has instituted for the consumers protection.  

Another strong piece of advice I have for the home buyer is to discuss what the various closing costs, prepaid items, liquid documented cash for loan approval, and cash needed at closing will be and what can shape those numbers. Consumers armed with this knowledge during the pre-approval / home searching phase will confidently sign and return compliance documents required for the lender to order the appraisal much faster. That in turn will ensure a faster approval and closing.

My last piece of advice is for the consumer to provide the lender with all of the documents needed for final loan approval up-front during the pre-approval stage. Potential issues can be identified and ironed out much quicker leading to a smoother and faster loan approval process as well. I have seen many a consumer shocked to discover what mortgage lenders require which is actually dictated by the secondary mortgage market - Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. Get started now, and happy home hunting!

Jack Jones, Mortgage Consultant
MetLife Home Loans
Cell (630) 901-9844
Efax (866) 304-0161
jcjones@metlife.com
www.jackjonesloans.com

Elmhurst, IL January 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.


2009 Cost vs. Value Report: Small Projects, Big Bang

by Thomas Makinney

Uncertainty and restraint are the order of the day in this economy, and that sense of caution is reflected in home owners’ return on their investment in remodeling projects, according to REALTORS® in 80 metropolitan markets surveyed by Remodeling magazine for this year’s Cost vs. Value Report.

The majority of the 10 remodeling projects with the best return on investment nationally are a testament to pragmatism. Six of the 10 projects—siding and window replacement using a variety of materials—involve home maintenance that costs less than $14,000.

Two more—adding an attic bedroom or a wood deck—reinforce the notion that boosting the amount of livable space in and around your home will attract buyers who are increasingly looking for more room for their buck. In past years, converting an attic into a bedroom was a project that landed squarely in the middle of the rankings, but this year it leapfrogged over other categories into third place. It’s an admittedly pricey project, with an average national cost of nearly $50,000, but it generates an average national return of 83.1 percent and a better-than-100 percent return on investment, according to REALTORS® in 14 of the 80 cities surveyed. Adding a wood deck is much more economical, with an average national cost of slightly more than $10,000. Its average national return is 80.6 percent, but in six cities, its return is estimated at 100 percent or greater.

The six siding and window home maintenance projects in the top 10, combined with the project with the biggest return on investment—a mid-range entry door replacement—prove something that every sales associate tells sellers throughout the country: First impressions count. A mid-range entry door replacement, a project new to the survey this year, is the only home remodeling project that REALTORS® expect to generate a full return for the money nationally. It’s the least expensive of the 33 projects included in the analysis, yet it brings a whopping average national return on investment of 128.9 percent. It generates a better-than-100 percent return in 48 of the 80 cities, according to REALTORS® surveyed, and in several cities, its return is estimated at more than double its cost.

Additional data prove the value of restraint. Upgrading kitchens and baths is still a smart bet. However, home owners will recoup the greatest share of their costs by foregoing super-deluxe projects in favor of mid-range kitchen and bath remodels. A mid-range kitchen remodel brings an average 72.1 percent return on investment, while an upscale kitchen re-do returns only an average of 63.2 percent of the money invested. A mid-range bathroom project has an average 71 percent cost recovery, but the average recovery on an upscale bathroom project is nearly 10 points lower, at 61.6 percent.

The only upscale projects that cracked the top 10 were the home maintenance projects of fiber-cement siding replacement and vinyl window replacement. The average cost of fiber-cement siding is more than $13,000, but its return on investment reached 83.6 percent, placing it squarely in second place in the survey. The average cost of vinyl window replacement is nearly $14,000, and it generates an average return of 76.5 percent, or tenth place in the survey. Of the 12 upscale projects, nine landed in the bottom half.

Overall, home owners recouped an average of 63.8 percent of their investment in 33 different home improvement projects, according to REALTORS® who responded to the survey. The expected cost recoup was generally down from previous years in line with the drop in home prices nationally (see page 23). The return on home owners’ investment in remodeling projects has declined an average of 3.5 percentage points between 2008 and 2009. That’s down from the 2.7 point drop between 2007 and 2008 and much less than the 5.5 point drop between 2006 and 2007 and the 10.5 point drop from 2005 to 2006.

Zooming in from the national to the city level, Honolulu sits atop the rankings for having the most projects—18—that generate at least a full return on investment. In Honolulu, adding a wood deck, completing a minor kitchen remodel, adding fiber-cement siding, and replacing an entry door bring the highest returns, ranging from 121.1 to 195.3 percent return on investment. San Francisco is closest behind with 10 projects generating at least a full return on investment. Adding a master suite, doing a minor kitchen remodel, and replacing an entry door have the biggest returns, producing between 112.2 and 119.1 percent return on investment.

One surprise: Despite the common perception that contractors are hungry for work and therefore willing to wheel and deal, the average national cost of every project surveyed has gone up, though at a slower rate than in the previous year.

View 2009-10 Cost Vs. Value Report. Data courtesy of Remodeling Magazine

10 Big-Impact, Low-Cost Remodeling Projects

Working with sellers who have some—but not unlimited—cash for upgrades? Here are budget-minded enhancements you can suggest to make their home stand out.

1. Tidy up kitchen cabinets.

"Potential buyers do open kitchen cabinets and look inside," says Morrissey. "Home owners can add rollout organizing trays so when buyers peek in, they feel like there’s lots of room for their stuff."

2. Add or replace tile.

"By retiling very inexpensively, you make a room look way cleaner that it was," says Javier Zuluaga, owner of Home Repairs and Remodeling LLC in Tempe, Ariz. "Every city has stores that offer $1 to $2 tile, so home owners have to pay only for the low-cost tile and labor to replace a dated backsplash or add a new one. We also use inexpensive tile to upgrade bathrooms."

3. Add a breakfast bar.

When a wall separates a kitchen from a family room, suggest cutting out an opening to create a breakfast bar. "In one home, there was a cutout in the wall between the kitchen and living room," explains Matthew Quinn, a sales associate at Quinn’s Realty & Estate Services in Falls Church, Va., who handles estate and real estate sales for family members whose loved ones have passed away. "We left the structure of the cutout, added an oversized granite breakfast bar, and put chairs in front of it. That cost about $600."

4. Install granite tile instead of a slab.

"Everybody is hot for granite kitchen countertops, but that can be a $5,000 upgrade," says John Wilder, a general contractor and owner of Fence and Deck Doctor in New Castle, Ind. "Instead, home owners can put in 12-inch granite tiles for about $300 in materials and get very high impact for little money."

5. Freshen up a bathroom without retiling.

"With a dated bathroom, I recommend putting in a new medicine cabinet for $100 to $150, light fixtures for about $100, a faucet for $50 to $75, and a vanity for $200 to $300," says Wilder. "And instead of replacing the tile, the existing grout can be lightly scraped and regrouted, which leaves a haze that can be buffed out and will make the tile look brand new. Also install glass shower doors. A French door adds a lot of panache and elegance for $250, and people will notice the door, not the tile. With all that, you’ve done a bathroom remodel for $1,000 to $2,000."

6. Freshen up the basement.

"If home owners have cement block or poured concrete walls in the basement, suggest they have a contractor fill in cracks with hydraulic cement and then paint with waterproofing paint," recommends Wilder. "They can then add a top coat to add color. They can also paint the basement floor with a good floor paint, which spiffs it up. The basement may not be finished, but it’s no longer a damp dungeon."

7. Add a room.

Look for large spaces that can be enclosed to create a new bedroom for just the price of creating a wall. "One time, we closed off a half-wall to an office and added a door to the other side of the room, thus creating another bedroom," says Quinn. "That $400 procedure, which took a contractor one day, netted about $40,000 in the sales price." Zuluaga has also added bedrooms inexpensively. "In a two-bedroom house, there was an archway that led to a third room that was used as a den," he explains. "It had a dry bar where there would have been a closet, so we took out the dry bar and created a closet so the owners had a third bedroom."

8. Spruce up cabinet fronts.

Suggest home owners update tired-looking kitchen cabinets. Reconditioning is the least expensive move for under $1,000. "If the wood is starting to look shabby from use or contaminants in the air, we take out the nicks and scratches, recondition it with oil, and put new hardware on," explains Heidi Morrissey, vice president of marketing and sales at Kitchen Tune-Up in Aberdeen, S.D. For $1,500 to $4,000, owners can replace the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and for $4,000 to $12,000, they can have all the cabinets refaced. "With refacing, owners can change the color of the cabinets by replacing the door and having a new skin put on the boxes," says Morrissey. "If they have oak cabinets today, they can have cherry the next day."

9. Replace light fixtures.

"In a foyer and in bathrooms and kitchens," says Wilder, "replacing overhead light fixtures provides a lot of pop for a little money." If the kitchen has track lighting, Zuluaga suggests the home owner spend $450 to $600 to have an electrician replace it with recessed canned lights on a dimmer switch to add ambience. For about $700, Zuluaga also suggests installing pendant lights over a kitchen island or peninsula.

10. Tech-up the garage.

"Sometimes we replace the garage door opener with a remote touchpad entry system," says Zuluaga. "That costs about $425 and makes it look like a high-end system."

Download a PDF version of these 10 big-impact, low-cost ideas.

By G.M. Filisko

Source: http://www.realtor.org/rmohome_and_design/Articles/1001_costvsvalue_2009

Home Sales Continue to Rise as Home Prices Drop

by Thomas Makinney

November of this year brought about a surprising increase in sales to the Chicago area, 71.6% to be exact, from November of 2008.  According to the Illinois Association of Realtors, there seems to be a few key reasons for this trend which shows this as the fifth month for the year over year improvement.

 
-    Built-up Demand from Buyers
-    Low Interest Rates
-    Government Tax Credit for First Time Home Buyers


The increase is also at an incredible rate due to the struggling economy of 2008.  October and November of last year brought about the lowest home sales Chicago had seen in years as it reflected the nations’ financial crisis.  A market on the rise stimulates trust and, hopefully, will bring about a resurgence of both motivated buyers and sellers.


And, although these statistics show a stumbling economy gaining balance and strength… we are not yet fully up and running.  Median prices for homes in Chicago continue to fall.  


In November, the median home sale was $189,000 bringing the average down 9.1% last year at that time.  Below are more examples of this sales increase/price decrease trend.


-    Total regional sales for this year were at 6,826.  Last year this number was at 3,978.
-    The City of Chicago saw 1,859 market sales for November as opposed to last year’s 1,094.
-    Median sales in the city are down 3.4% from last year with an average price of $215,000.
-    Total Illinois sales were at 10,361 in November of this year, bringing sales up 64%.
-    Statewide median price was $155,000 a decrease of 4.3% from November 2008.
-    The average interest rate last month, according to the Realtors’ release, was 4.93% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage which is 5.0% lower than last year.

As this year draws to a close, one can only hope that the real estate market continues to see positive results.  The tax credit extension until April 30, along with the continued recovery from economic shock should contribute to the markets’ trend persistent development.



Source of Information, Chicago Business Website:
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=36541

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