Wednesday, August 30, 2006

CTA Brown Line Expansion Resources

I attended a terrific meeting yesterday concerning the CTA Brown Line expansion. These community meetings are held each month and outline the progress, future and community/business issues surrounding the expansion project.

On a personal note, I enjoyed the presentation and the chance to speak with local business owners and Aldermans Tunney, Schulter and Vi Daley. Of course, for some reason Laurino's office was not represented... even though the Kimball line will be shut down for 4 months. Hello?

The focus of the meetings is business centric. Local businesses are encouraged to keep in touch with the CTA and the Aldermans' offices. There are many resources offered to local businesses at these meetings... and yes, even a legitimate opportunity to network. I met some great folks and will attend a couple of upcoming events that I learned about.

Below are a couple resources that are a must if you are interested and concerned about the Brown Line expansion project and your business.

Countdown to a New Brwon Line

Chicagoland Entreprenurial Center

Hang in there... it'll all be done in 2009.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

MarketWatch Realtor Story

I've discussed meeting clients at open houses over the last couple days. Here's a nice little story from Market watch by DowJones about using a Realtor to sell your existing home. Of course, there are a billion arguments on each side of this coin... but I look at it as a case by case basis... just like anything else.

Tell me what you think...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Open House Stories

I work quite a bit of open houses for two reasons; I will meet buyer clients in the need of representation for their home purchase and the home is exposed to potential buyers... and I find potential buyers for my clients' listings when hosting an associate's open house.

Meeting clients in this setting is not for the faint of heart. You NEVER know who will walk in. But how else will legitimate clients and I meet?

This weekend was typical however; seemly serious home buyers want to see the goods, but are tight lipped about what they are looking for. Most folks are pleasant... but sometimes the consumers are rude, condescending, and have some sense of entitlement. But let’s think about this. Holding an open house is a huge investment for me. In addition to the responsibility of caring for ones home, I’m licensed and regulated by the state and held to a code of ethics by my professional associations. It’s actually quite a production to open a home to the public when done the right way… and a crucial time commitment.

What am I saying? Open houses are not a constitutional right… they are a privilege provided to the consumer. Consumer's get to see a home for various personal reasons, fire questions at me, comp their current homes, and get a better sense of the market and the buying process.

So why the attitude? And, why are so many consumers so afraid to discuss what they are looking for and what they think of the home they just came in to?

I think it's perception. They perceive me as a confrontational figure. So let's clear some things up. I work on a daily basis to broker real estate transactions for buyers and sellers. On the buy side I provide research, current market trends, schedule listing appointments, provide expert lenders, inspectors and attorneys (that get the job done time after time), consult on property location and condition, schedule showings and transaction milestones efficiently (a huge logistics and legal challenge), write and negotiate the contract, and manage the partners in the real estate transaction.

This is all at no cost to the consumer because I’m paid by the seller’s proceeds (who need me to meet buyer’s like you so you’re prepared when the right place comes).

If you are at loss organizing your purchase, clueless about how buying property works, out- of -town, out- of- time or just want eyes and ears looking out for you… then I might be your guy.

But even if you will not work with a buyers’ agent… just drop the attitude at the open house. I promise I won’t have an attitude with you. But I will ask you questions and ask for your business... so don't be surprised when you may like the information I can provide you. Just benefit from my expertise and track record for representing clients.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Meeting me at an open house

Catch me at my open house today at 4518 N Ashland from 1PM to 4PM. My patner and I will be there to show a great two bed, two bath condo and answer questions about the current market.

I sat another open house yesterday at 1365 N Mohawk. It's a great feeling to have real consumers in this market come up and ask questions. I think people really want a get a place for many different reasons, but are having a hard time committing in this market. They are bombed with information... it's like if I had the media reporting on my health insurance options every day, on all networks, 24/7. I'd go nuts... how to choose?

Believe it or not, I sometimes offer options consumers have not thought of. It's a pretty cool moment when their eyes light up when I mention a building or type of property that would work for them. Mostly, I just address their needs directly and work hard towards them. Simple as that.

The point is, I meet many of my clients this way. As a buyer's agent, meeting clients at the open house is key... but it's tough. I'm sincere about representing buyers and have the track record to prove it. Yet, how do you get this across to a suspicious consumer?

Just ask me a few questions... I think you'll be pleased. An I might even have a listing you will want to buy.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Modern Modual Homes; If I Had a Hammer

Once in awhile I delve into architecture and design commentary... I'll check my shots at typical Chicago new construction and conversions at the door for now. But when the day comes to build my home, I'll call these guys. 'Nuff said.

Check out Dwell for this kind of thinking, living and enjoying.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Diversey Brown Line to SHUT DOWN!

Maybe you have heard... actually, I'm surprised by how many regular riders on this stop have not. The Diversey Brown Line stop will be closed for ten long months starting in November. Yikes.

I was given this update by the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce due to my office location. I'll be attending a seminar on the upcoming disturbance... hit the link above for more info.

I live near the Kimball stop and work at the Diversey stop... both will be down at the same time. Natch!

Even though I am dependent on my car for most business, I ride the "L" quite a bit... especially for closings Downtown. These trials and tribulations will make me stronger and more innovative... right?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Not Your Father's Bridgeport

Bridgeport is officially hot. According to the Tribune story that graced the top spot in the Real Estate section, there is some development going on out there. Condos ain't cheap either. I couldn't find one for a client worth buying for under $300K, not much a little over that price point either. Check out the story by Stacy Lonati Ross describing the scene surrounding a couple midwest ballparks.

Although this area has lagged quite a bit more than I thought it would... it's about to hit a renewel stride. Most do not attribute it to the White Sox success... but the timing is kinda of cool. In fact, some of us believe the whole area, from bridgeport through Bronzville West of the McCormick Place expansion will really benefit from Chicago's Olympic bid.

The developers see the revival purely due to the expese of the north side. What kills me is... it's like duh... if Bucktown/Wicker Park can happen purely due to it's proximity to downtown and transportation to said downtown... then why not Bridgeport?

Bottom Line:
Looking for a house close to downtown for under $400K? With a little luck, you may find a "move-in" quality bungalow in Bridgeport. Of course, some of my clients already have done that. We "snatched one up" (as the story suggests) for around $345,000 just south of 31st Street on Union... one of the best streets in the area. Walk to Sox Park, the Jewel, a couple trendy restaurants and old haunts... bike to downtown or take a bus.

It's tough to find a house for under $400K that doesn't need a total re-do east of Halsted from 31st to 38th. Even my clients have to do the baths and kitchen... 1962 finishes just ain't cutting it for them.

Monday, August 21, 2006

PMI Is Your Friend

Yes, I may have been drinking... but PMI is not so bad anymore. At least, it may be the lesser of several evils in this mortgage rate and housing market. Lew Sichelman writes another great article that YOU should have read. Or at the very least, I should tell you about... which I am.

In any event, please read "Most buyers not aware of mortgage insurance options", printed in Sunday's Chicago Tribune by Lew Sichelman. Lew, Lew, if I only knew as much as you. But then again, I'm sure he doesn't know where the best $350,000 condo in Lakeview is... do you?

So, once again I must make the point... get a mortgage broker that knows his/her stuff. And if you don't have one, I'll send you to three that will compete for your business.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A night off from real estate

Thanks to all my clients for the great evening of sailing Lake Michigan last Wednesday. We were a little more fortunate than last trip... the weather was terrific. No surprise monsoons.

I even have to admit to enjoying the Navy Pier fireworks (I think I'm too cool to be impressed by bright, flashing lights and loud booms).

But what a great way to spend an evening. The best part was to hear how each person is progressing in their homes. The stories are interesting and it's special to have a group of people who can relate and trade information concerning owning their home and dealing with condo boards and developers.

Thanks again to the capable captains and crew of the Chicago Sailing Club for a seemless evening of flowing with the waves and forgetting about the work week.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Product endorsements? The iRobot Scooba Floor Washer

I've decided to start a new series of product endorsements based on client testimonial (don't worry, I won't start a new series every night like the new NightLine.. how do you start a new series every single night?).

First up is something that is badly needed in my household... the iRobot Scooba floor washer

I went over to a client's new conversion condo a couple days ago to see how things were coming along. The place looked great... but the she pretty much went over the top showing me her new Scooba. The parents bought the floor washer as a house warming gift.

I've always had reservations about these things even though I usually hear, first hand, great reviews. Looking around my house, I'll have to reconsier.

If you have pets, construction dust from new conversions or new construction that never seems to go away, or just decided to out-source cleaning period... this could be the answer.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

CTA Brown Line Openings

I've mentioned the CTA trains and buses a few times in this blog. However, I started this blog up after the Brown Line expansion planning, and requisite controversy had played out. Probably a good thing because there were plenty of outlets to complain already.

We are now seeing the initial results as the Kedzie and Rockwell stations open up on the north side of Chicago (Albany Park and Ravenswood Manor neighborhoods).

The work has been slow and the commutes even slower at times. But this is mostly due to the agreement to keep certain stations running during construction. Like many pieces of legislation and so many compromises, this has made for a watered down policy…and a long drawn out process.

But check out the new expanded stations with improved weather shelters. The trains will accommodate extra cars per pick up… so there may be one less forearm and two less elbows stuck in your face as you are delayed between Armitage and the Merchandise Mart.

The Sunday Tribune Real Estate Review

"Where's the usual handy tips Eric?", you ask...

I usually grace the blog with some of the latest stories from the Sunday Chicago Tribune. It provides great local information and I like to point out a few of the more important pieces.

However, I think I have a new "paper person" that left the Sunday edition in the front of my condo building... big mistake. Ya gotta throw it over my back fence! Remember that you can email the Tribune and customize your delivery within reason.

Needless to say, no paper to review, no wrap-up for you. I don't have to explain how upsetting it is to come out in the morning and no paper. Have to check the online version this evening, so stay tuned.

Adventures in Real Estate

Unfortunately, my blog has taken a back seat the last few days. With several listings, buyer clients, pending contracts and negotiations filling my days… the blog has to wait. But like a dog that needs to be let outside in the morning, the blog is always at my bedside, nagging for attention.

Everyone is busy. But here are several adventures in real estate over the past week in no particular order…

Two of my clients will be closing on their purchases this week. One is relocating to Chicago from out-of -state. Details this week have included; making sure all selections have been chosen and installed for the two new conversion/new construction condos they have purchased; Finding comparable properties for "new guy" appraisers so my clients get the loans they were approved for; taking site photographs for my out-of-town clients; scheduling and attending professional home inspections for my clients and providing the reports to be included in the sales contract; preparing my clients for closings…

Then there is another set of clients who came in Sunday from out-of-town to purchase a South Loop condo. I’ve been tracking properties and communicating with them for almost two months; scheduled two days of appointments over Sunday and Monday…confirmed all showings; met the clients and escorted them to all the properties; found a place Sunday they liked; canceled Monday’s appointments, researched the property (I already sold into that building) and negotiated the deal over the past day.

Had buyer clients out Saturday morning to view a couple great prospects (one sold already that they really liked and I really pushed the place!), hosted an open house at one of my listings, then followed up that night with the buyers I met…

Researched single family homes in the north suburbs for a contractor/partner of mine for flip possibilities… If rookies can do it on the Discovery Channel then we can! Right?

Staged, sometimes cleaned, and marketed my clients’ home listings for showings over the past few days…

Research, research, research… Providing the physical research and consultations to clients... from the property search to contracting services to the move... takes up the most of each day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Open House: Real Dangers

The open house is a debated tool for selling homes. It can be good, bad and dangerous. Let me explain;

Actual marketing studies by the National Association of Realtors show that, when asked, the ovewhelming majority of home buyers indicate they found there home through a Realtor. Second was the Internet (which is great) and then those people turned to a real estate professional for showings, comps and closing the deal.

"Although most buyers surf the Web, only 11 percent first learned about the home they bought on the Internet, up from 8 percent in 2001. Forty-one percent first learned about their home from a real estate agent, while yard signs accounted for 16 percent; several categories accounted for 7 percent each: newspapers, builders, and a friend, neighbor or relative. “What this tells is us that most people use a wide variety of sources in searching for a home, but the single most important resource is a real estate professional,” Whatley said."

If you read the story linked above, it also states that 16% learned about there home from yard signs. This is backed by the findings that many people who "move-up" into their bigger, badder home purchase, so so in the same neighborhood (or very close by).

So signs, the Internet advertising, and Me (and others sort of like me) are a good bet that a buyer will show up at your door. So why use open houses?

Well, the sign thing helps. When I do an open house, I use 8 to 10 "horse-style" street signs at major traffic areas surrounding the property. It's nuts, but if I'm going to sit at a home in the middle of the day on a beautiful weekend, I'm going to make sure someone knows I'm there.

The open house also provides the opportunity for the many agents with many buyer clients to schedule their clients a showing (while being somewhere else). Let me explain this "pyramid scheme".

An great agent has both buyer clients and seller clients. The agent wants to have an open house for their seller's benefit. However, they also have buyers out that day, and two other (listings) open houses to man.

So the open house actually allows your agent to man another open house and meet people that may be interested in your home. All the while, another agent, possibly a new agent without home listings, mans your home so buyers can come by... and so on, and so on. You can be in two places at once, essentially, and meet more buyers for your listings.

About 16% of buyers learn about a property by a sign. So, we actually procure the buyers as a whole in many combined ways... and the open house acts as conveinent way for buyers to drop by on a place they are interested in... no matter how they learned about the place.

Lets think about this. Our technology allows people to shop homes over the Internet and then contact an agent for the places they like... which is far superior than flipping through print ads. Also, back in the day, the open house was the Internet... it was the only way to see a place and the serious buyers had less means to focus their search.

The focus now is to get the property in front of agents and Internet shoppers, not just people who randomly walk down your street. The former is where today's serious buyers are.

BTW... open houses can be very dangerous for those who let their guard down. The linked story is really awful, but we are faced with this fact.

Is anybody out there?

Yes the market is slowing down around the country. But what does that have to do with you? Ask yourself why you are buying a place. If the answers are the same as they would be in any market (answers should constitute buying for the right reasons**) than why is now different than some other time?

The title suggests that folks are not out there buying. This is not the case in Chicago. Sales have slowed, but consumers are just taking there time to sift through all that is on the market. When we started the year, the Multiple Listing Service for Northern Illinois had about 45,000 properties listed on it... it now has over 100,000!

However, there is a growing gap between what you should buy and what you shouldn't buy in Chicago. I like to think I can help people with this decision. But when I ask if there is anybody out there, I'm referring to Internet shoppers and communication.

Studies show that the vast majority consumers of real estate start their search on the Internet. Studies also show those who start their search on the Internet turn to a real estate professional to ultimately shop and close their transaction. And studies show (I promise I will not say "studies" again) that Internet consumers who used a real estate professional, did so due to that professional's ability to respond quickly.

So, Internet consumer... I'm talking to you. When I write you directly after your registration on my web site... or when you check out my blog... or when you look at the custom listings and off market properties I send you...
Why don't you have a conversation with me and really discuss what's out there, what your goals are, and how we can assure up- to -date listings and a smooth as possible real estate transaction for you?

Is anybody out there?

**The right reasons to buy a place can include; Paying yourself rather than your landlord. Owning a place with windows that actually keep the cold out in the winter. Pride of ownership and roots in a neighborhood. Build equity (it really happends). Benefit from improvements to the property. Feel cool because your in a new, adult like club... which you are!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Your Condo is Uglier Than Mine

There is a lot to be said for making certain improvements to a place that will return the money dollar for dollar... or more. But when you are about to put your 2 bed one bath condo with parking on the market... what have you done with the place?

My wife complains because I want to improve our place in certain ways that out pace the neighborhood price. But so what? We'll enjoy the improvements while we are here and sell the place faster when we put it on the market. Even if we do not get dollar for dollar, we'll still make money and not languish amongst the other units.

Ceiling fans? Paint? Pot hanger/holder? New closet doors that are not hideous (like the ones you had when you moved in)? Built in shelving? Window coverings? CLOSET ORGANIZERS?

When you bought that new conversion 3 years ago for $250K and now want $320K... why will someone buy yours over the other 200 condos at $320K?

Make the decison easier for them.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Covenant of the Condo Lifestyle

All right, the following is not as dramatic as the title might suggest... really, the following little column is just another installment of condo association issues I write about from time to time. After a full day of client showings and hosting an open house, there is nothing I like better than to discuss condo issues. I’ve really made it!

Ahhh, the discussions I have with first time condo buyers... there is alot to know and I think a good agent can really help you become comfortable with moving into a condo building. So, what are the 10 facts potential condo owners should know? There are of course many more than 10 I will discuss with you, but these 10 below kind of encompass the lifestyle of the condo.

Attorney Mark Pearlman was put to this task by a somewhat disgruntled Association Board Member. It wasn’t me I swear…I’m a disgruntled Condo Association Board President… not Board Member. Anyway, Mr. Pearlman writes an excellent Q and A cloumn for the Chicago Tribune... I recommned his works for any condo buyer of Board Member.

Mark Pearlman
Published August 6, 2006 (Chicago Tribune)

Q. I moved into a condominium 10 years ago. The next year I became a board member. Owners in my building think that board members can solve every problem for them. People who move into condos think they live in apartments and board members are landlords. I would appreciate a list for the condo complainers of the top 10 things you need to know to live in a condo.

A. For condominium owners, some of whom complain, but most of whom appreciate the time spent by volunteer board members:
1. Expect assessments to increase annually; years of no assessment increases will lead to a large special assessment for deferred expenses.

2. Be willing to accept decisions made by others, namely the board of directors, in exchange for the convenience of having someone maintain your common property.

3. The association maintains everything outside your unit. Everything inside the drywall is your responsibility.

4. You are responsible for any damage that arises from your unit, regardless of whether you were negligent.

5. You are buying into a system where the rules can be changed by an amendment or board regulation. These changes include leasing and pets.

6. If you live in a multifamily building, do not expect the level of silence of a single-family home. But consider that you have neighbors in proximity of whom you must think.

7. If you own a pet, control it. You don't have a back yard.

8. Assessments include a forced savings account called reserves.

9. The board must maintain a building for the benefit of present and future owners. The attitude that "I will not be here in five years, so why should I pay for it," does not apply.

10. Respect the property manager who must fill the role of engineer, social worker, police officer and financial manager, while attempting to please the board members and the unit owners.

Mark forgot one thing... always bring a bottle of wine (good stuff) to the board meeting.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Da Mayor Caps Property Taxes

Property Tax cap... whoohooo!

Aug. 02, 2006
By Lorene Yue Subscribe to an RSS feed on this topic
Daley urges extension of property tax cap

Mayor to send letter to Springfield urging action
(Crain’s) — Mayor Richard M. Daley is pressing the Illinois General Assembly for quick action to extend a cap on annual property tax increases.
At a Wednesday press conference, Mr. Daley said he will send a letter to Governor Rod Blagojevich and state legislative leaders asking the lawmakers to craft a solution to Cook County’s property tax issue and put it to a vote during the fall session.
“I believe it will be unacceptable to the homeowners and taxpayers of Chicago if Springfield stands by and does nothing while residents feel the burden of higher taxes which could have been controlled by the legislature,” Mr. Daley said, in a statement.
Senate President Emil Jones Jr. (D-14th District) has not received Mr. Daley’s letter, said Cindy Davidsmeyer, spokeswoman for Mr. Jones.

“The Senate voted for it,” she said. “The [Senate] president supports it.”
Mr. Daley and Cook County Asssessor James Houlihan, who pushed for the original cap, were able to get the extension pass the Illinois Senate, but not the House.
House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22nd District) was not available for comment.
Three years ago, state lawmakers authorized a 7% annual cap on increases to the equalized assessed valuation, which is used to calculate property tax bills.
Related story: The 7% solution

That law is set to expire this year and proponents have tried to extend the cap for another three years. Cap supporters have said that homeowners, who saved an estimated $200 million to $300 million, could see their property taxes double without the extension.
But their efforts have been stymied in part by Mr. Madigan, who has said that the cap shifts the tax burden to businesses. The election for city mayor is next year.

Motel Row on Lincoln Ave.... Ongoing Saga

I usually like to comment on these stories rather than cut and paste... but it's late and I spent half the day cleaning my new listing (never forget where you came from!). Anywho, I live near this area of motels... and have for a good part of my life wondered how they stuck around. See ya! They had about 10 positive years.

There are a few good links to the history of this stretch of Lincoln Ave... gotta find them. But the point here is, Lincoln Avenue, North of Foster, continues to be nuts with new construction development. It's a great place to live if you don't need the train and like the option of visiting Lincoln Square or the more surburban Lincolnwood... both within 5 minutes.

Another Lincoln Avenue motel faces demolition
(Crain’s) —

The Stars will fall in September.
Demolition on the Stars Motel, which evokes both nostalgia and nausea for proponents of redevelopment for the famed Motel Row along North Lincoln Avenue, has been scheduled for Sept. 1 to make way for Village Center, a five-story condo building.

Michael Schwartz and Scott Schiller, owners of S&S Home Builders LLC who are developing Village Center, said they have an Aug. 11 closing date scheduled for their purchase of the motel at 6100 N. Lincoln Ave. They’ll bring in the bulldozers shortly after taking possession.
“We certainly don’t intend to operate it as a motel,” Mr. Schwartz said. “We could never rehab the hotel into a condo.”

They’ve put the motel’s neon sign up on Ebay with a starting price of $500. There were no bidders as of Wednesday afternoon and the auction is scheduled to end Saturday night.
“The difficulty with the sign is that it is extremely large and difficult to move,” Mr. Schwartz said. “It is a cash and carry sale.”

The 54-room Stars Motel will be the fourth motel between Foster and Devon avenues to fall in recent years. More than a dozen motels used to dot that stretch of North Lincoln Avenue when the road served as the main artery between Chicago and Milwaukee, but now community and city officials would rather see the area gentrify.

“It’s been a disincentive for progress in our area to have them here,” said Mimi Acciari, executive director for the Lincoln Bend Chamber of Commerce. “We’re happy to see progress.”
Related story: A row on Motel Row

While the Riverside Motel, Spa Motel and Acres Motel were all taken by eminent domain, the Stars’ owners decided to put their property up for sale. Mr. Schwartz said he paid between $2 million and $3 million for the Stars Motel and has tried unsuccessfully to buy other motels along the strip.

Manu Patel, who has owned the Apache Motel at 5535 N. Lincoln Ave. for 19 years, said he is approached about once a month by someone offering to buy his property. He always turns them down. “This is a good business for us,” Mr. Patel said of running the motel. “There is nothing else I know how to do.”

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pricing Inside and Out... The Appeal of a Condo Unit

Pricing: It's not just the inside of the unit... it's the whole package.

The interior of the unit is important, of course. And we all know location is king. However, with the many, many neighborhoods that are now considered great places to live, the competiton is fierce between condos… and the whole package becomes more important for some buyers.

The market dictates what you will get in square footage and finishes in a particular location. For instance, $300K in Lakeview and $300K in Albany Park will get you greatly different condos and amenities. Even the type of housing available will be different.

But what about in the same neighborhood? How does the whole package come into play when pricing?

This question is what keeps me up at night blogging. I have a listing coming on in Albany Park There are many 2 bedroom, 1 bath condos on the market priced below the $254,900 asking price we’ll go on with. There have been a couple comps that went higher than this price too.

But for the most part, we will be priced higher than most of the standard 2 bed, 1 baths… and less than the new breed of quality 2 bed, 2 bath conversions in Albany Park.

But when looking around and studying the market, I had to get a grasp of the entire package.

Here is a comparison of a unit I sold to clients about 6 months ago and the unit I will list this week:

Unit A: (Sold at $258,000 6 months ago) Two bed, one bath top floor unit in three flat. 1300 sq ft. small master and second bedrooms and closets. Big kitchen, granite and stainlees and big living areas. Small, bath with inferior layout/design. Good light and windows. Walk in storage closet. 4 to 5 blocks from the Brown Line. Steel Balcony off the back of unit facing the alley. No yard. 2 car tandem parking spaces. Farther walk to retail, restaurants and transportation.

Unit B: (going on at $254,900) Two bed, one bath second floor corner unit in 12 unit building (only 3 units with 2 beds, rest are one beds and den). 1000 sq ft. Large master, small second, decent closets. Smaller common areas. Galley kitchen, good size with cherry, granite, stainless. Better bathroom. Wall to wall windows in master, living room and sunroom. Great wood deck with huge fenced in yard and pro landscaping. Walk in storage closet and large extra common area basement storage/bike room. 1 block to Brown Line and closer to shops, restaurants, transportation. 1 car parking space.

These units offer the “big three” of in-unit washer and dryer, parking and deck. However, one has a bigger master, a fenced, usable yard and is closer to retail and transportation.

Would you give up a little size to get more of the “whole package”? What will life be like with a much better outdoor space and more storage space? Being closer to transportation?

These days, with lots on the market in the same neighborhood, I ask clients to look at the whole package and how that will affect the quality of life in (and out) of the condo. Especially with two bed, one bath units. One unit may be just as nice inside and cheaper... but it's buried in the back of a courtyard building, with no yard or parking and farther from the "L". Wouldn't you pay $25K more for these things?

Mortgages and Credit Scoring

It's Tuesday night and I'm just catching up from a busy weekend. Maybe the heat is getting me too. It seems I'm in slow motion. But when it is as suppressive as it has been this week… what can you do?

I have a good friend who has made a couple real estate transactions in the past and is planning another with me. However, this time around, he has a credit score below 700. He needs to raise it for a favorable mortgage product… what does he do?

Most people feel the only way to raise credit scores is to pay off credit card balances. A good idea for sure, but this may not be necessarily true for raising the score, especially, in the short term.

Although I always ask clients and home shoppers I meet to go to a good mortgage broker or banker to get their home financing in order, a column I read this week added to that advice.

Credit scores are manipulated in many different ways. Raising them is a high stakes game considering the money you will save on your mortgage rate. So don’t screw it up.

Lew Sichelman writes a mean real estate column. In last Sunday’s column, Lew zeros in on a program called ScoreWizard used by mortgage brokers and loan officers.

The program allows home buyers to run different scenarios of “what ifs?”… with the goal to raise their credit.

This is a must read article. The “credit score game” is unforgiving. So before you make any mistakes, visit a broker that is schooled in this ScoreWizard program… NOW! You’ll thank me. It beats finding that great condo and then being told you’ll need at least three months to get your credit score up for the best mortgage rates.