Flowerbeds can be a very attractive addition to any Chicago home — if you have the time to set up and maintain them. Flowerbeds don’t necessarily require a profusion of costly flowers that need to be fertilized, mulched, covered during severe weather, and possibly re-planted on a yearly basis.
So put on your green thumb and brave the outdoors this spring. With the tips below, you’ll keep your flowerbeds filled and your house looking cheery without a huge money or time commitment.
Before you even start picking out roses and tulips, take care of the weeds. Gardens get weeds because there are already pesky roots hiding below the surface.
Dig up the soil and weeds before you plant. It will save you hours of maintenance in the long run and keep your flowers healthy.
Wildflower mixes native to your area are often a good choice if you want an array of flowers, but don’t have the time or the motivation to take care of them.
These flowers can grow back easily every year and are well adapted to the climate and soil conditions in your area. Native wildflowers may need little more than watering and the occasional weeding.
Filling the beds with attractive decorative rock provides maintenance-free curb appeal to your home. Several colors of decorative rock are available and can be chosen to off-set the color of your house.
Planters may also be placed amongst the rocks to add live plants to your flower beds, and those plants can easily be moved inside before the weather gets too cold for them.
For low-maintenance ground cover in your flowerbeds, plant low-growing shrubs, such as various strains of boxwood or juniper.
The main issue with this option is that the shrubs take a while to grow and fill in. But once established, the only maintenance required is the occasional trimming of overgrown branches.
Vacant flowerbeds detract from the overall look of your house and contribute to an air of neglect. Attractive fillers do not have to be either expensive or difficult to put into place.
If you’d like additional tips on how to spruce up the outside your home, please call your trusted real estate professional for the best advice!
It can be very difficult to determine what your property is worth in the current marketplace, because you are biased by what the property is worth to you. These emotions can get in the way of impartially evaluating a property and often cause sellers to overprice their home.
When pricing your property, you need to be objective and reasonable so you can come up with a selling price that will capture the interest of buyers.
Here are a few examples of common mistakes people make when pricing their house for sale.
Reading Too Much Into Online Comparable Properties
Avoid relying too much on online pricing information of sold houses. They can be a perfect place to start for getting a general idea of how much real estate is worth, but they are not always accurate.
Overestimating The Market
Don’t assume that you can sell your house for the same price at which you purchased it. Unless you bought your house a few weeks ago, the real estate market may have changed — sometimes significantly — and the purchase price will not reflect the appropriate pricing for today.
Overpricing To Pad For Future Negotiation
Don’t overprice your Chicago home in order to be able to negotiate to the price you want to settle on. Of course, you want to get an appropriate value from it, but many first-time buyers are on tight budgets and will rule out higher-priced houses. Your over-priced property may sit on the market longer and then the price will have to be reduced anyway.
Factoring In The Cost Of Your New Home
Don’t factor in the cost of your next house. Your listing price should not reflect how much money you’d need to purchase your next property. The price of the house should be the same whether you are wealthy or broke. Your financial situation is irrelevant to the potential buyer of the property.
These are just a few common mistakes you should avoid when determining the price of your home. Listed at the right price, you will get a fair amount from the sale of the house and the buyer will be getting a reasonable price too.
As always, your local real estate professional will have the best advice on getting your home ready for the market and selling for the best price. Call them today to find out the details!
Last week was jam-packed with economic news; here are some highlights with emphasis on housing and mortgage related news:
Monday: Retail sales for April increased to -0.1 percent from the March reading of -0.5 percent and also surpassed Wall Street’s downward forecast of -0.6 percent. Retail sales are important to economic recovery as sales of goods and services represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy.
Tuesday: The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released its Small Business Optimism Index for April with encouraging results. April’s index rose by 2.6 points to 92.1. A reading of 90.7 indicates economic recovery. This index is based on a survey of 1873 NFIB member businesses.
Wednesday: The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May matched investor expectations with a reading of 44. At three points above the March reading of 41, this report suggests that builders are slowly gaining confidence in national housing markets.
Thursday: The U.S. Commerce Department reported that Housing Starts fell by 16.5 percent in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual level of 853,000 from 1.02 million housing starts in March. This reading fell short of investors’ consensus of 965,000 housing starts, however, this decrease was caused by the volatile apartment construction sector.
Friday: Consumer sentiment for May surpassed investor expectations of +0.3 percent and came in at +0.6 percent. As consumer sentiment improves, it’s likely that more consumers will buy homes.
Rising Interest Rates Show Strengthening Economy
Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 3.42 percent to 3.51 percent with borrowers paying 0.70 in discount points and all of their closing costs.
15-year fixed rate mortgages rose from 2.61 percent last week to 2.69 percent this week with borrowers paying 0.70 in discount points and all of their closing costs.
This news is consistent with a strengthening economy, but is narrowing opportunities for home buyers seeking both affordable home prices and low mortgage rates.
Federal Open Market Committee Minutes To Be Released This Week
Looking ahead, economic news for this week includes the Existing Home Sales report for April with an expectation of 5.00 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis against the March tally of 4.93 million homes sold.
Also set for release on Wednesday are the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Minutes for the meeting held April 30 and May 1. The FOMC meetings typically include discussions of the Federal Reserve’s current policy on quantitative easing (QE) which consists of the Fed buying $85 billion per month in MBS and treasury bonds.
When the QE program ends, mortgage rates will likely increase as bond prices decline due to lesser demand.
Thursday brings the weekly Jobless Claims Report along with New Home Sales for April. The consensus for new homes sold is 430,000 as compared to the March reading of 417,000 new homes sold.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will release its Home Price Index for March on Thursday.
Going green is not just a new trend; it is a way of life that benefits not only the environment, but also your health — and your pocketbook.
Green living cuts down on carbon emissions and creates a healthier environment both inside and outside of a home. While green structures sometimes cost more initially, the money (and environment) saved in the long run is well worth the investment.
Owning a green Chicago home has significant health benefits. Many conventional buildings are not properly ventilated and indoor air quality is often more polluted than the air outside.
Poor air quality is bad for your health and can aggravate asthma and allergies. Certified green properties tend to have excellent airflow and ventilation. They also use toxin-free materials in building and may have fewer problems with mold and mildew.
Homes are responsible for a significant portion of the carbon emissions on earth. A green home has a smaller carbon footprint since it is built with better insulation and fitted with energy-efficient appliances.
Green structures are built from sustainable or recycled materials that are meant to lower the impact on the environment. Proper green buildings also take advantage of natural lighting and airflow to reduce the use of electricity to light and to help warm and cool their interiors.
Green buildings are constructed to use less energy, which means you should pay less in energy costs. Ventilation systems in green structures are better insulated to reduce air leakage.
Builders also install fixtures that conserve water and are energy efficient. The initial cost might be slightly higher, but the monthly bills can be cut almost in half in many cases.
There are even more financial, environmental and health benefits to owning a green property. Living in a green home can allow you to save yourself money and help the earth, all while living in a healthy environment.
If you’re looking to purchase a new house, consider a green property. If you have any questions on current green properties available in the local market, please call your trusted real estate professional right away.
Home builders are gaining confidence in current and future market conditions for new homes, but continue to see below-average foot traffic in new homes.
The reading for May’s National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) /Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) increased by three points to a reading of 44 as compared to April’s revised reading of 41. The HMI measures builder confidence in current sales conditions for newly built homes, buyer foot traffic in new homes and builder expectations for future sales conditions.
Builder Confidence In Future New Home Sales Highest Since February 2007
The HMI reading for current sales conditions for newly built homes rose from 44 to 48. The reading for buyer foot traffic in new homes rose from 30 to 33, and builder confidence in future sales of new homes rose from 52 to 53, which is the highest reading posted for builder expectations since February 2007.
A reading of more than 50 indicates that more builders consider housing markets good than bad.
NAHB Chairman Rick Judson noted that home builders are facing challenges including rising costs for building materials, lots and labor as supply chains recover from the recession. He also said that builders took note of “urgency” among home buyers wanting to take advantage of low mortgage rates, but who are facing a dwindling supply of available homes.
Regional Housing Market Index Unchanged Except In West
HMI readings for three of the four geographical regions used in the HMI survey of builders remained unchanged with the Northeast at 37, Midwest at 45 and South at 42.
The reading for the West declined by five points to 49, and likely reflects the shortage of building space and available new homes for sale. The regional HMI figures are calculated as a three-month rolling average.
In some areas of the West, home sellers are again receiving multiple offers for homes, a clear indication of diminishing inventories of homes for sale.
As an example, the Sacramento Bee recently reported the dilemma of builders faced with fewer available construction-ready lots alongside an increasing demand for homes. As inventories of both new and pre-owned homes shrink, demand for homes is growing as buyers take advantage of low mortgage rates.
With builders feeling confident about the future and poised to ramp up their home building efforts, it is a great time to consider buying or selling a home in Chicago.
Contact your trusted real estate professional to discuss your options right away to take advantage of this exciting opportunity.
Everyone knows that first impressions are important. By carefully staging your home, you can positively influence the feelings your potential buyers have when they are viewing the property.
Staging is the art of decorating and arranging the spaces within your house to make it more appealing to buyers. If you can adapt the rooms to create an attractive and welcoming zone that home buyers can see themselves in, they will be more likely to buy your property.
One of the most important rooms to stage is the living room, because it is such a central part of the house. This is where a lot of the social activity occurs, so it should appear comfortable and welcoming.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when staging your living room before the next showing of your home:
With these seven tips, the living room in your Chicago home will be much more appealing to potential buyers.
If you are ready to make a move to your next home, call your trusted mortgage loan officer for a personal consultation to get the best home mortgage loan for your purchase.
When deciding to sell a piece of Chicago real estate, there are certain things you must disclose about the property to the buyer before the sale can go through.
Disclosure laws are put in place to protect the buyer from unknowingly purchasing defective property. Not disclosing certain information about the property can jeopardize the sale, or worse, invite a lawsuit.
This has become more of an issue lately as some sellers are tempted to gloss over deficiencies in the home they are selling in order to try to get a higher sales price. In fact, a recent poll of real estate agents showed that 75% of agents ranked non-disclosure among the “top three current and future issues.”
What You May Need To Disclose
The main items that need to be disclosed are any defects with the home. This includes, but is not limited to, plumbing problems, water leaks, cracks in the foundation, insect infestations and toxic materials in the home — such as lead, asbestos, carbon monoxide or mold.
Be sure to fully disclose anything that may be pertinent to the buyer before purchase. Some disclosure laws include reporting issues with neighbors and whether the home has a criminal or notorious past.
If you are unsure about some information regarding your real estate, one option would be to state that you do not know that specific information. Remember though, if you knowingly withhold information, it may cause the sale to fall through or could be used against you in a lawsuit.
Does It Make Sense To Have A Pre-Inspection Done?
Sellers can also have their home inspected prior to placing the property on the market to prevent any surprises of unknown problems with the home. This way, defects can be fixed before listing the property, and the disclosure form can state the problem has been fixed. Buyers will almost surely want an inspection prior to closing, and a pre-inspection may suffice.
Disclosing information does not mean the seller needs to fix the problem. Any disclosed problems with the real estate can become a negotiation point. Remember, the most important thing is to be honest about any known issues with the property.
Real estate disclosure laws may be different depending on the state in which you live. The best way to know what you need to disclose in your area is to check with your trusted real estate agent or property attorney and discuss any potential property issues with them before you fill out the seller disclosure form.
Mortgage rates rose last week with average rates a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising from last week’s 3.35 percent to 3.42 percent with buyers paying all closing costs and 0.7 percent in discount points.
Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 2.56 percent to 2.61 percent with buyers paying their closing costs and 0.7 percent in discount points.
Freddie Mac also reports that average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 2.56 percent last week to 2.58 percent with buyers paying their closing costs and 0.5 percent in discount points.
Here are noteworthy points from last week’s economic news:
Monday: In spite of improving economic conditions, a majority of participants in the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices indicated that their lending institutions would not be relaxing residential mortgage lending standards. Lenders perceive a significant risk in terms of being required to absorb losses incurred on defaulted mortgage loans.
Mortgage owners including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with mortgage insurance companies can require mortgage lenders to buy back defaulted loans or make them whole for losses related to foreclosed and otherwise defaulted mortgage loans.
Tuesday: CoreLogic reported an increase of 1.9 percent in national home prices for March. This news represents the 13th consecutive increase and a year-over-year increase of 10.5 percent.
Home prices were boosted by strong increases in the West; Nevada posted a 22.2 percent gain from last March and California posted a 17.2 percent year-over-year gain.
CoreLogic predicted a year-over-year increase of 9.6 percent for home prices for April, with a monthly increase of 1.3 percent increase expected between March and April.
Thursday: Weekly jobless claims brought good news as they came in at 323,000; this was lower than expectations of 335,000 new jobless claims and the 327,000 new jobless claims reported in the prior week.
Friday: The Treasury Department reported that the federal budget has a surplus of + $113 billion for April. This was $54 billion higher than for April 2012 and the highest monthly surplus since April, 2008.
Increasing home values and federal budget surpluses, along with falling consumer debt pointed the way toward overall as well as personal economic recovery last week.
What‘s Coming Up
This week brings a couple important economic reports affecting the real estate industry including the Home Builders Index on Wednesday and the Weekly Jobless Claims and Housing Starts numbers released on Thursday.
The Consumer Sentiment and Leading Indicators reports will round out the week on Friday. Consumer Sentiment is important in terms of housing markets and mortgage lending; consumers typically don’t buy homes or move up to a larger home if they aren’t feeling secure about economic conditions.
This week’s economic data may provide further evidence of a stronger U.S. economy as well as a snapshot of retail spending and consumer costs.
RealtyTrac recently reported that national foreclosure filings are down while foreclosure filings are seeing marked increases in some states.
There are two systems for foreclosing residential real estate in the United States; judicial and non-judicial foreclosure. The states individually decide which foreclosure process will be followed in their state.
Judicial foreclosure requires action by the courts because the mortgage is not written including a “power of sale clause”. Judicial foreclosure proceedings generally take longer than non-judicial processes due to this court involvement.
A log-jam of delayed judicial foreclosures are beginning to move through backlogged courts with the result of higher numbers of foreclosures started, foreclosure auctions scheduled, and properties either sold to third parties at foreclosure auctions or repossessed by mortgage lenders.
In states allowing non-judicial foreclosure, the matter may be handled outside of the judicial system as the mortgage is written with the power of sale clause which allows the lender to take control of the mortgaged property to satisfy the outstanding lien.
Here are highlights of April’s foreclosure report:
Nationally, 144,790 foreclosure filings were made in April, a decrease of 5 percent compared to March and representing an annual decrease of 23 percent year-over-year.
Overall, April’s residential foreclosure activity was at its lowest since February 2007. About one of every 905 U.S. housing units had a foreclosure filing during April.
Due to the aforementioned backlog of judicial foreclosures, scheduled foreclosure auctions hit a 30-month high in April rising by 22 percent between March and April.
Some states had markedly higher rates of foreclosure sales scheduled in April 2013 as compared to April 2012. Examples include Maryland (+199 percent), New Jersey (+91 percent), Ohio (+73 percent), Oklahoma (+57 percent), and Florida (+55 percent)
Foreclosure auctions scheduled in non-judicial states were 7 percent lower in April as compared to March, and were an encouraging 43 percent lower in April 2013 as compared to April 2012; this was the lowest reading for non-judicial foreclosure sales scheduled since December of 2005.
Non-judicial foreclosure sales were impacted in some states as the result of legislation affecting foreclosure procedures. Affected states included Arkansas, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
70,133 U.S. homes went into foreclosure in April 2013, which is 40 percent lower than for March 2013 and 28 percent lower than during April 2012.
With home values increasing and large numbers of delayed foreclosures clearing the books, this data offers further evidence that the U.S. real estate market is steadily improving. As more foreclosures are removed from the housing inventory, home prices should continue to stabilize and increase in the Chicago area.
Whether you’re looking to buy a new house this month or do a little remodeling, take advantage of the opportunity to give the mom in your life a present she’ll appreciate every day.
Below are a few ideas for housing priorities and renovation projects that typically rate high on women’s wish lists for their homes.
Open Living Areas
The open floor plan is usually a big plus for any mother. They want to be able to cook dinner in the kitchen while monitoring their children’s schoolwork at the dining table.
So look for a house that affords this visual luxury or consider the generous gift of getting dirty and knocking down some walls.
What woman doesn’t need more room for her clothes, shoes and purses? If you’re looking at houses, keep in mind how much closet space will work for your wife or mother.
If it’s not enough, see if there’s another area you could convert to create a custom closet. Another great gift would be to upgrade your mom’s closet with a new shelving and organizing storage system.
And great storage doesn’t stop in the bedroom. Most women like to keep the family’s things organized and put away, so think about upgrading some of the other cupboards and closets in the home as well.
Some women are expert gardeners or love home-improvement projects; however, many just want to leave those tasks to someone else.
Many moms love easy-to-wipe-down granite counters and hardwood floors. These can be beautiful and functional home upgrades all at the same time.
And especially if you’re shopping real estate for an elderly mother, consider looking at Chicago homes that are new construction, have easy-to-care-for landscaping and maintenance-free siding or brick.
Easy-to-Use Security System
While security is important to everyone, it ranks high on most women’s list of priorities. As a Mother’s Day gift, research providers and have a security system installed.
Whether your mother is living alone or your wife is worried about the family’s safety, this practical present will give everyone peace of mind.
Make a big gesture this Mother’s Day by giving the woman in your life that renovation project she’s been pining over.
And, if looking at buying a new home, keep in mind what’s important to Mom.
Finally, if you’d like more tips on Mother’s Day home shopping or upgrades, call your favorite real estate professional for the best advice.