Elmhurst real estate blog

Elmhurst & DuPage County Illinois

Thomas Makinney


Displaying blog entries 771-780 of 790

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.


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.

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

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