North Shore Views
Archive for the 'Buying a home' Category
Ever since the housing market meltdown, it has become fairly typical for home buyers to ask sellers for closing cost credits. This is just a way of getting a “discount” from the seller and reduces the amount of cash the buyer needs to bring to the closing table.
Today at our weekly office meeting, Betsy Hanrahan from PHH Home Loans helped clarify how much of a buyer’s closing costs a seller can pay. The amount that is allowed depends on the type of financing the buyer is getting. However, in every case, the total of the credit cannot exceed the total amount of the buyer’s actual closing costs:
Conventional financing with less than 10% down payment
- The maximum amount of closing costs a seller can pay is 3% of the purchase price.
Conventional financing with 10% or greater down payment
- The maximum seller contribution is 6%. Read the rest of this entry »
Oh, sure, I get the occassional client who is not afraid of a house that needs some TLC or even one who really does want a project.
But, by and large, buyers today want a home that’s move-in ready: freshly painted, stainless appliances, granite counters and Pottery Barn decor. Homes like this get snapped up in a matter of days (or hours), while plenty of other well-built, well-maintained homes sit languishing on the market. Why? Because they have wall paper. Because they have wall to wall carpet. Because the bathrooms and kitchen are from another era. And 98% of people do not have the vision to imagine what the house could be with a little updating. Frankly, most people have enough on their plates trying to juggle the demands of work and family. The last thing they need is a major remodeling project.
These homes that seem to be stuck in a time warp have come to be known (by me, at least) as “Granny’s house.” Usually the seller is someone who has lived there a long time and is ready to downsize or it is the estate of someone who has passed away. Typically, a “Granny house” was last redecorated back in the 1950′s, 60′s, 70′s. The floor plan tends to be more chopped up than we prefer these days. The bathrooms have pastel colored tile. The kitchens have formica counters. Every room is wallpapered (even the closets!). The basement might be finished, but it has knotty pine walls and vinyl floors.
However, these homes are usually very solidly built and have been lovingly cared for by their owners, with regular maintentance of mechanicals. Under that burnt orange shag carpet are beautiful hardwood floors, protected for years by the carpet. If you have the vision, you can often get these homes at a nice discount vs. the Pottery Barn houses. The mortgage has long been paid off or the heirs to the estate just want to get a fair deal, so the price is more negotiable than the Pottery Barn homes. Usually, what you save by buying granny’s house will more than offset the cost of the updating it. And you get a finished product that reflects your own taste and preferences.
If you’re looking for a “granny house” that you can make your own, give us a call and we’ll find one for you.
We are North Shore real estate specialists and one of the top teams in the area. If you would like to schedule a buyer or seller consultation with the Come Home North Shore team, please contact us at 847-881-6657 or send us a note here
For a while after the housing bust there was very little new construction going on on the North Shore with the exception of custom built homes for specific clients. But now, new construction has had a rebirth and builders are aggressively buying up property and building spec homes also. (A spec home is a home that is built without having a buyer).
Currently there are five (non-custom) new homes being built in Winnetka, ranging in price from $1,499,000 at the low end to $2,975,000. What do you get for that extra million and a half dollars? A bigger piece of property, a bigger house, a four car garage (vs. two car), more bells and whistles (eg., sauna, media room, etc.) and higher end finishes.
You can see all the Winnetka new construction homes available in the MLS here. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, let us know as we often have access to properties that are not listed in the MLS. and we can facilitate an introduction to the builder to see if there might be a fit between what you are looking for and what he is planning to build.
If you are interested in finding out more about new construction in Winnetka or anywhere else on the North Shore, call us at 847-881-6657 or drop us an email. We have extensive experience working with new home buyers, sellers and builders. We can help you select the right builder for your needs and budget, find a property on which to build, select an architect, choose paint colors and finishes and guide you in all facets of the project. With Come Home North Shore at your side, you can be sure you will make wise decisions for your lifestyle and your pocketbook.
It’s easy to fall in love with new construction. Everything is shiny and new. But beware. Not all new homes are created equal.
Here are some tips to help you make a smart decision when buying new construction on Chicago’s North Shore.
First off, recognize that here on the North Shore virtally all new construction is infill, meaning that an old house was probably torn down to build the new one, because there just is not vacant land sitting around waiting to be developed. So you won’t be walking into a sales center at a development to pick out the model of home you want. Most likely, the builder will have a single house listed for sale and it will be somewhere along in the construction process when you see it. If you buy it early in the process, you’ll be able to pick out some of the finishes. If you buy it when it’s complete, you won’t.
1. Check the builder’s reputation. The first thing you’ll want to do when you’re considering buying a home from a builder is to dig into his reputation. Talk to people who have purchased homes from him and have lived there long enough to discover if there are any problems with the house. These days there’s a pretty limited number of builders who have successfully made it through the recession and are still building. It shouldn’t be hard to find out about a builder’s reputation by asking a Realtor who is experienced in new construction.
2. Consider resale value. Don’t be so taken with the idea of having a brand new house that you overlook a bad location or poor craftsmanship. During the real estate boom builders were buying up land on busy streets or next to the train tracks or commercial buildings, and people were buying whatever they built. Now, those same people are having trouble selling.
3. Work with a Realtor who specializes in new construction. She will be familiar with all of the builders in the area and their reputations. She understands the new construction process and can guide you in your decisions all along the way. She has probably been in the house at various stages in the construction and knows what’s behind the walls. She can tell you about all the things that are not visible but which determine the quality of the end-product you are buying.
If you are interested in finding out more about new construction on the North Shore, call us at 847-881-6657 or drop us an email. Come Home North Shore’s co-founder, Paula Weiss, is a specialist in new construction and has extensive experience working with new home buyers, sellers and builders. She can help you select the right builder for your needs and budget, find a property on which to build, select an architect, choose paint colors and finishes and guide you in all facets of the project. With Paula at your side you can be sure you will make wise decisions for your lifestyle and your pocketbook.
It seems like just yesterday that it was a buyer’s market here on Chicago’s North Shore: lots of homes to choose from, plenty of time to consider the options, the ability to negotiate hard with desperate sellers, the possibility of scoring a deal with a low-ball offer.
But those days are gone. Nowadays we have so little inventory on the North Shore, that good homes are selling fast and buyers are finding themselves in bidding wars to get the house they want. Just as it took sellers a long time to accept the fact that their homes were no longer worth what they were back in 2007, today’s buyers are having trouble getting their heads around the fact that they aren’t going to get the deal of the century when they buy. Read the rest of this entry »
Probably not. One month of data does not a trend make. Lower sales activity could have to do with the fact that we had a colder January this year than last, keeping some potential buyers indoors.
But more likely it is because there are so few homes for sale. The months supply of homes for sale is at its lowest point in more than three years and good houses are selling quickly, often with multiple offers. Would-be home buyers are scratching their heads in confusion. Wasn’t this supposed to be a buyer’s market?
Not any more. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explained why willing and able home buyers are walking away empty-handed and frustrated because they can’t find a home to buy. In a nutshell, here’s what’s going on:
1. A lot of homeowners who bought between 2002 and 2008 are underwater on their mortgages. For all intents and purposes they are trapped in their homes until prices rise above what they owe on their mortgage.
2. Even those who are not underwater have lost significant equity on their homes with the decline in prices. That equity is what would have enabled them to put a down payment on a bigger house. They, too, are stuck until prices rise. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s a right way to go about finding a home on the North Shore, and there’s a wrong way. Unfortunately, most people go about it the wrong way, putting the proverbial cart before the horse. And sometimes they make a home purchase decision they live to regret.
The Wrong Way to Find a Home on the North Shore
1. Surf real estate web sites looking at houses for sale anywhere in the general vicinity of where you want to live.
2. Get in the car and drive around the North Shore willy-nilly, visiting Sunday open houses.
3. Walk into a house and fall in love with the shiny new appliances and Pottery Barn decor. And then buy the house, without doing enough due diligence on the community and the location of the home.
4. Move in and discover that, while you still love the house itself, the location is wrong, for example:
- The house is in a flood plain and the yard has several inches of standing water every time it rains.
- The street that seemed so quiet on Sunday afternoon sounds like a super highway during morning and afternoon rush hour.
- The village ordinances won’t permit an addition on the back of the house and now you are stuck with no family room.
- The neighborhood is full of empty-nesters and “snowbirds,” when you were counting on a neighborhood full of playmates for your kids
- The elementary school your kids will attend is not the one right down the street but the one on the other side of the expressway. Read the rest of this entry »
When you go to buy or sell a home on the North Shore of Chicago you have literally hundreds of real estate agents to choose from. How do you choose the agent to guide you through the transaction? Do you hire a friend who has her license? Or the agent you met at an open house? Or the one your sister-in-law used?
According to research done by the National Association of Realtors, most people (61%) hire either someone they know or an agent who was referred to them. The rest look for the agent who seems to have the most signs and ads or the one who answers the phone when they call the number on a yard sign. For the most part, however, people do not tend to evaluate agents against any specific set of criteria. But they should. After all, your home is the biggest investment you will ever make, so you should reassure yourself that the agent you hire is highly qualified to represent you in the transaction.
There are many benefits to hiring the Come Home North Shore team to help you find your new home on Chicago’s North Shore.
One of them is that we have access to exempt listings, meaning that the homes are for sale but are not on the MLS or Trulia or Zillow or Realtor.com or Redfin or any of the other sites you may be searching for your next home. Sometimes these are some of the best properties on the North Shore but you won’t find them online and they won’t be open on Sunday.
Here are some of the exempt listings we currently have access to. If you would like to see any of these homes or receive our exclusive list of exempt listings on an ongoing basis, please call the Come Home North Shore team at 847-881-6657.
Wilmette – 6 Bedrooms
Winnetka – 5 Bedrooms
Winnetka – 5 Bedrooms
Wilmette – 5 Bedrooms
We are North Shore real estate specialists and one of the top teams in the area. If you would like to schedule a buyer or seller consultation with the Come Home North Shore team, please contact us at 847-881-6657 or send us a note here.
The inventory of single family homes for sale in New Trier Township (Wilmette, Winnetka, Kenilworth, Northfield and Glencoe) is at a seven year low. Good houses that are priced right are hot commodities right now, and we’re seeing more multiple offers than we’ve seen in years. Sales year to date are up 13%, time on market is down to 3.6 months and months supply of inventory is down to 5.5, the lowest level in four years.
Although all of these measures point to a strengthening of the housing market, the one lagging indicator is prices. The average selling price for 2012 year to date is down 11% from last year. How is it that all other signs seem so positive but prices are still down? It’s because we are at an inflection point, where the price slide has finally stopped, but has not yet turned the corner. In the next few months we can expect to see upward pressure on prices driven by high demand and low inventories.
Does that mean we’ll be back to the double-digit price increases we got used to during the boom? Don’t hold your breath. What we can expect is a return to the modest year over year increases that were typical in the decades before the boom.
Now more than ever the key to getting maximum price for your home requires the expertise of a professional agent who knows how to work through multiple offers and negotiate the best deal for you. We are North Shore real estate specialists and one of the top teams in the Wilmette, Winnetka and Glencoe area. If you would like to schedule a seller consultation with the Come Home North Shore team, please contact us at 847-881-6657 or send us a note here.