Chicago Illinois Real Estate Blog and News

Tips to Pay Off a Home Loan Quicker


Would you like to pay off your mortgage early?

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How would you like to pay off your mortgage faster? Doesn’t freeing yourself from the monthly payments sound like a dream come true? Of course it does. Today I’ll share a few quick tips to help you reduce the life of your loan.

Right now, most pay their mortgage once a month. But what if, instead, you made a payment every two weeks? If your monthly payment is $2,000, that amounts to $24,000 a year. Now, if you pay it off every two weeks, you’ll end up paying $26,000 a year. The extra payments will go toward your principal.

Another option you have is putting more money towards the principal every month. Just add a little extra money each month, whatever you can spare, be it $100, $200, $300, or $400.


You’ll be able to pay off the loan...

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand?

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCM
The price of any item is determined by supply, as well as the market’s demand for the item. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCMThe darker the blue, the stronger...

Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much.

Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much. | MyKCM
When people talk about homeownership and the American Dream, much of the conversation revolves around the financial benefits of owning a home. However, two recent studies show that the non-financial benefits might be even more valuable.

In a recent surveyBank of America asked homeowners: “Does owning a home make you happier than renting?” 93% of the respondents answered yes, while only 7% said no. The survey also revealed:

  • More than 80% said they wouldn’t go back to renting
  • 88% agreed that buying a home is the “best decision they have ever made
  • 79% believed owning a home has changed them for the better

Those surveyed talked about the “emotional equity” that is built through homeownership. The study says more than half of current homeowners define a home as a place to make memories, compared to 42% who view a home as a financial investment. Besides building wealth, the survey also showed that homeownership enhances quality of life:

  • 67% of current homeowners believed their relationships with family and loved ones have changed for the better since they bought a home...

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate?

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate? | MyKCM
Every year, ‘Black Friday’ is a highly anticipated event for eager shoppers. Some people prepare for weeks, crafting and refining a strategic shopping agenda, determining exactly when to arrive at each store, and capturing a wish list of discounted must-have items to purchase. But what about buying a home? Is there a ‘Black Friday’ for the home-buying process? Believe it or not, there is.

According to a new study from realtor.comthe week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

After evaluating housing data in 53 metros from 2016 to 2018, realtor.com determined that the first week of fall is when buyers “tend to find less competition, more inventory, and the biggest reductions on list price.

The report explains,

“During the first week of fall, buyers tend to face 26% less competition from other buyers, and they are likely to see 6.1% more homes available on the market compared to other weeks of the year...nearly 6% of homes on the market will also...

Should You Fix Your House Up or Sell Now?

Should You Fix Your House Up or Sell Now? | MyKCM
With the fall season upon us, change is in the air. For many families, children are growing up and moving out of the house, maybe leaving for college or taking a jump into the working world. Parents are finding themselves as empty nesters for the first time. The question inevitably arises: is it finally time to downsize?

If you’re pondering that thought, you may also be wondering if you should fix-up your house before you sell it, or go straight to the market as-is, allowing a potential buyer to do the updates and remodeling. If you’re one of the many homeowners this camp, here are a few tips to help you decide which way to go.

1. Analyze Your Market

A real estate professional can help you to understand your market and the potential level of buyer interest and demand for your home. Are you in a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? This can change based on the price range of your home, too. A professional can also give you some insight on what you can ...

Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”?

Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”? | MyKCM
In today’s real estate market, more houses are coming to market every day. Eager buyers are searching for their dream homes, so setting the right price for your house is one of the most important things you can do.

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, home values have risen at over 6% a year over the past two years, but have started to slow to 3.6% over the last 12 months. By this time next year, CoreLogic predicts home values will be 5.4% higher.

With prices slowing from their previous pace, homeowners must realize that pricing their homes a little over market value to leave room for negotiation will actually dramatically decrease the number of buyers who will see their listing (see the chart below).Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”? | MyKCM...

4 Reasons to Sell This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC]

4 Reasons to Sell This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCMSome Highlights:

  • Buyers are active in the market and often competing with one another for available listings.
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply found in a normal housing market.
  • Homes are still selling relatively quickly, averaging 31 days on the market.
...

One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home

One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home | MyKCM
One of the benefits of homeownership is that it is a “forced savings plan.” Here’s how it works: You make a mortgage payment each month. Part of that payment is applied to the principal balance of your mortgage. Each month you owe less on the home. The difference between the value of the home and what you owe is called equity.

If your home has appreciated since the time you purchased it, that increase in value also raises your equity. Over time, the equity in your home could be substantial. Recently, CoreLogic revealed that the average homeowner gained more than $65,000 in equity over the last 5 years.

Unlike last decade, homeowners are no longer foolishly tapping into that equity. In 2006-2008, many owners used their homes like an ATM by pulling equity out to purchase new cars, jet skis, or lavish vacations. They were pulling out cash (equity) from an appreciating asset, and then spending it on rapidly depreciating items. That is not happening anymore.

Over 50% of Homes Have at Least 50% Equity

The number of homeowners that currently have at...

What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs

What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs | MyKCM
When searching for a home, you may end up selecting a property in a community with a Homeowners Association (HOA). Before you buy, it’s important to know how an HOA works and what they mean for you.

According to a recent article on realtor.com,

“In a nutshell, an HOA helps ensure that your community looks its best and functions smoothly…The number of Americans living in homes with HOAs is on the rise, growing from a mere 1% in 1970 to 25% today, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research.”

An HOA is governed by a board nominated by those living in the neighborhood. It is designed to make sure the residents have a support structure to maintain the value of the community while abiding by a set of guidelines called Common Restrictive Covenants (CC&R),

“Simply put, CC&Rs are just the rules you'll have to follow if you live in that community. Unlike zoning regulations, which are government-imposed requirements on how land can be used, restrictive covenants are established by HOAs to maintain the attractiveness and value of the property.”...

Home Prices Increase in Every Price Range

Home Prices Increase in Every Price Range | MyKCM
CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI) Report revealed,

National home prices increased 3.6% year over year in July 2019 and are forecast to increase 5.4% from July 2019 to July 2020.

They also analyzed four individual home-price tiers, showing the increase in each.

Here’s the breakdown:

Home Prices Increase in Every Price Range | MyKCM To clarify the methodology, CoreLogic explains,

“The four price tiers are based on the median sale price and are as follows: homes priced at 75% or less of the median (low price), homes priced between 75% and 100% of the median (low-to-middle price), homes priced between 100% and 125% of the median (middle-to-moderate...

Buying a Turnkey Home vs. One That Needs Work


Here’s why buying a home in need of upgrades is a better option than you might think.

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Most buyers today have a specific home in mind when they start their search: a move-in ready property complete with newly installed flooring, an upgraded kitchen, etc. Understand that when such a property comes on the market, buyers will swarm to it like bees to honey.

One way to avoid that kind of competition is to look for a home that matches your desired floor plan, but also one that requires a little work. Rather than finding yourself in a multiple-offer situation where the price of the home you’re bidding on continues to go up and up, you can cash in on a property that’s receiving little to no buyer interest.

And by using a 203k loan, you’ll be able to make the necessary renovations and breath new life into the home without paying anything out of pocket. This is a major benefit to buyers because, after factoring in the costs of purchasing a home (down payment, closing costs, credits, etc.), most don’t have any leftover cash to put toward upgrades. Better still, your upgrade expenses will be built into the mortgage itself, so again, you won’t have to come up with cash.

...

Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage | MyKCM
Congratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You're undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer – someone who will be able to tell you how your decisions will impact your home loan.

Below is a list of Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage. Some may seem obvious, but some may not.

1. Don’t Change Jobs or the Way You Are Paid at Your Job. Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.

2. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts. Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

3. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher...

6 Graphs Showing the Strength of the Current Housing Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

6 Graphs Showing the Strength of the Current Housing Market [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Keeping an eye on the current status of the housing market is one of the best ways to make powerful and confident decisions when buying or selling a home.
  • Mortgage rates remaining near historic lows and houses selling in an average of only 29 days are just two key elements driving the strength of today’s market.
  • With the national data shown here, make sure to also determine what’s happening in your local market so you are fully informed when you’re ready to make your next move.
...

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCM
With the current uncertainty about the economy triggered by a potential trade war, some people are waiting to purchase their first home or move-up to their dream house because they think or hope home prices will drop over the next few years. However, the experts disagree with this perspective.

Here is a table showing the predicted levels of appreciation from six major housing sources:What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCMAs we can see, every source believes home prices will continue to appreciate (albeit at lower levels than we have seen over the last several years). But, not one source is calling for residential real estate values to depreciate.

Additionally, ARCH Mortgage Insurance Company in their current Housing and Mortgage Market Review revealed their latest ARCH Risk Index, which estimates the probability of home prices...

Millennial Buying Power Poised to Boost Homeownership

Millennial Buying Power Poised to Boost Homeownership | MyKCM
In a recent article by Realtor Magazine, Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American Financial Corporation, notes,

“The largest group of millennials by birth year will turn 30 in 2020, which puts them entering their prime homebuying years”.

The article continues to describe how millennials have more buying-power than the generations that preceded them, making their interest in embracing homeownership stronger than ever,

“Millennials—the most educated generation—have the highest incomes across their generational cohorts, even when salaries are adjusted for inflation.”

This combination of power and desire has the potential to drive positive growth in the homeownership rate heading into the near future. According to Fleming,

‘“The gap between the potential and actual homeownership in...

The Role Access Plays in Getting Your House Sold

The Role Access Plays in Getting Your House Sold | MyKCM
So, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you with the entire process and you’ve been asked what level of access you want to provide to potential buyers.

There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is Access, followed by Condition, Financing, and Price. There are many levels of access you can provide to your agent to be able to show your home.

Here are five levels of access you can provide to a buyer, each with a brief description:

  • Lockbox on the Door – This allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
  • Providing a Key to the Home – Although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
  • Open Access with a Phone Call – The seller allows showing with just a phone call’s notice.
  • By Appointment Only – Example: 48-hour notice. Many...

Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020

Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020 | MyKCM
Freddie MacFannie Maeand the Mortgage Bankers Association are all projecting home sales will increase nicely in 2020.

Below is a chart depicting the projections of each entity for 2019, as well as for 2020.Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020 | MyKCMAs we can see, Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all believe homes sales will...

A+ Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Pro [INFOGRAPHIC]

A+ Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Pro [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM
Some Highlights:

  • Hiring a real estate professional to help you buy your dream home or sell your current house is one of the most powerful decisions you can make.
  • A real estate professional has the experience to help you confidently navigate through the entire process.
  • Make sure you work with someone who knows the current market conditions and can simply and effectively explain them to you and your family.
...

Everybody Calm Down! This Is NOT 2008

Everybody Calm Down! This Is NOT 2008 | MyKCM
Last week realtor.com released the results of a survey that produced three major revelations:

  1. 53% of home purchasers (first-time and repeat buyers) currently in the market believe a recession will occur this year or next.
  2. 57% believe the next recession will be as bad or worse than 2008.
  3. 55% said they would cancel plans to move if a recession occurred.

Since we are currently experiencing the longest-ever economic expansion in American history, there is reason to believe a recession could occur in the not-too-distant future. And, it does make sense that buyers and sellers remember the horrors of 2008 when they hear the word “recession.”

Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research at the real estate consulting firm Meyers Research, addressed this point in a recent interview:

“With people having PTSD from the last time, they’re still afraid of buying at the wrong time.”

Most experts,...

How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment

How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment | MyKCM
When buying a home, taxes are one of the expenses that can make a significant difference in your monthly payment. Do you know how much you might pay for property taxes in your state or local area?

When applying for a mortgage, you’ll see one of two acronyms in your paperwork – P&I or PITI – depending on how you’re including your taxes in your mortgage payment.

P&I stands for Principal and Interest, and both are parts of your monthly mortgage payment that go toward paying off the loan you borrow. PITI stands for Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance, and they’re all important factors to calculate when you want to determine exactly what the cost of your new home will be.

TaxRates.org defines property taxes as,

“A municipal tax levied by counties, cities, or special tax districts on most types of real estate - including homes, businesses, and parcels of land. The amount of property tax owed depends on the appraised fair market value of the property, as determined by the property tax assessor.”

This organization also provides a map showing...