www.OwnACondo.com
16Jun/110

While I Was Away

By Patty Boysen

I just returned back to work from my honeymoon and so much has changed since I have been gone! I drove in to work, put my flashers on and ran in to grab my parking pass that I had left at work for someone else to use while I was away. It was that moment that I decided to take a look around and see all of the new improvements that OwnACondo.com had made. I took a quick lap around our brand new office at 540 N. Lake Shore Drive to see that most of the boxes were unpacked, furniture was cleaned and pictures were hanging on the walls. I then hopped back in my car, parked it and entered back into work. Just as I sat down to start my day, my co-worker comes through the door.  The questions that of course come out of my mouth right away was, “Hello, How are you?” and “What did I miss?”

After a short pause my co-worker says, “Oh, you didn’t hear what happened while you were away?” I said, “No, what?” He goes on further to say that I needed to get up right away and follow him to the conference room. Here I am thinking, oh maybe we got a new table or a new TV for the conference room or something.

As soon as I walk into the room, I immediately gasped! Yes, he explains someone drove into our conference room early Sunday morning. Needless to say there was glass everywhere, blinds broken, windows boarded up, and the bumper with the license plate on it. So my co-worker proceeds to say, nothing much really happened while you were away, just this small mishap!

So, just as OwnACondo.com gets the office spruced up and looking beautiful, a little surprise comes our way. This does not stop anything or anyone however, and work is resuming as usual. We are still recruiting and expanding all over the United States. Let’s just say, a car driving into our office doesn’t even stop us!

30Aug/100

Why Should I Buy Now?

All we hear right now is about unemployment, health care reform and bailouts.  That doesn’t mean there has not been talk of the real estate market and what is happening in that part of the economy.  The question I am hearing more each day is, why should I buy now? Depending on who you listen to the market may or may not be at its bottom and who in all reality can forecast it.  Many of those so-called forecasters were the ones that missed all aspects of the economy as it was tumbling downward.  And down is not always a bad place to be since the only other way is up.  Whether we are at the bottom, close to the bottom or on our way up it is a good time to buy your home or condo.

Why should I buy now? There are several factors that are in your favor by acting now.

Pride of ownership is the number one reason people want to buy a home.  Home ownership offers you and your family a sense of stability and security while making an investment in the future.

Home ownership is currently one of the best tax shelters available with the volatility of today’s stock market.  Mortgage interest is fully deductible on your tax return which lessens your tax burden year after year.

Mortgage reduction builds equity in your home.  Each month you make a payment the principal portion of your loan goes down and as the principal goes down and the price of your home goes up, you are building equity or more asset value.

Another reason to ask yourself why should I buy now is interest rates are lower than they have been in years.  Do you realize that you may be able get a 30 year fixed rate for less than 5% which makes a purchase start to look very appealing and if you tie that with anticipated inflation you will be paying back the loan with devalued dollars meaning you are getting more for your money than when you started. That means you can afford more home or if you want you can buy a more reasonably priced home and keep the payments low, maybe even less than you are paying in rent.  Would you have imagined several years ago that you could get free money and a great interest rate on buying a home?  If you are like most of us you would have laughed us out of the place, but it is happening now.  We would never have guessed it, just like we are never going to guess the bottom of the housing market.  So just do it!

23Aug/100

Real Estate

There have been so many changes in the real estate market the past decade it is almost too much to keep up with.  It is not only what has been going on regarding buyers and sellers but real estate agents today are much more sophisticated than ever before.  The one area that has had the most impact is technology which has completely changed how realtors today conduct their business.  The internet has become an integral part of every company and agent in which to conduct their business.  It allows agents and companies to spread themselves and the marketing of properties to a whole new level.  Creation of websites allows marketing to be conducted 24/7 reaching many more customers at times the customer wishes to access information important to them.  It is a tool all agents and companies should add to their tool box but it will never be the magic answer to successfully selling real estate.  The internet alone will not make a unskilled agent a skilled agent.  Success or failure in real estate relies on many factors.

One of the most important skills needed today for successful real estate agents is time management.  Time is something we can never make but we can certainly make money.  Most agents feel their time management skills are adequate but if they to take a look at what they do each day and each week they would be surprised to see how little time is spent doing what they need to do to make a living.  Too many agents do not plan their days as any other business requires of their employees and it is relatively simple.  The last thing before you finish your day is set your priorities and plan tomorrow.  Sound easy, it is.  When you have your day planned and written out it is much easier to stay focused on what needs to be done.  Start with your first priority and stay focused on it till you have finished it.  Then move on to the next until your schedule is completed which does not always mean you will complete all your scheduled events each day but at least you are managing your time and determining what priorities will make you successful.   Real Estate agents today cover more ground and are required to work with a greater variety of customers than they have in the past.  It is not uncommon for agents to cover vast geographic areas whether they are in an urban or rural setting so managing your time effectively can mean more sales and more money.

7Aug/100

Chicago condo market

Let’s be honest.  The national real estate market is certainly facing its challenges and the Chicago Condo market is no different but there are some reasons to be optimistic about what is happening across the nation and more specifically in the Chicago market.  The Chicago Tribune reported new housing and condo developments have undergone a record seven month decline, which may be the reason the Chicago condo market is somewhat stable.  The lack of new developments has helped to slow a glut in the housing and condo markets for Chicago and we are beginning to see prices stabilize.  I am hearing from many potential condo buyers that they expected a big collapse in prices so they could pick up a condo cheap but they now think that collapse may never happen.  We could very well be at the bottom of the housing market which means there is no way to go but up encouraging buyers to get in the market for those great deals before they are all gone.

The Chicago condo market is improving due to the current rental market.  Chicago is known for the consistency in which rents increase.  The media has sensationalized the troubles in the real estate market regarding the difficulties in getting financing to purchase a home or condo which has encouraged landlords to increase their rents year after year believing the market is glutted with renters.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  With the advent of rent to own programs and the $8000 tax credit more and more potential first time home buyers are entering the market.  There is no question even in today’s real estate market that owning a property is a much better alternative if you intend on staying for at least 4 or more years.

Historically, the Chicago condo market has been volatile with its many well known developers, political movers and shakers and just the attitude of its residents.  Chicago is such a mix of cultures and nationalities with over 77 different neighborhoods that condo buyers have a variety of choices from the more upscale Gold Coast to the excitement of Wrigleyville.  There is no place like the city of Chicago and all it has to offer from the dozens of museums to professional sports for those who want to live in one of the most exciting cities in the world.  Check out the condo market in Chicago, you will be pleasantly surprised.

21Jan/100

Condo Sales

The American dream of owning your own home has changed over the last couple of decades.  The dream is still alive but the options have changed dramatically.  One of the fastest growing segments of property sales today is condo sales.  Owning a condo has many things in common with owning a traditional home, but it is the differences that count.  It is important before you make that jump into home ownership that you know whether a traditional home or condo is right for you. 

First of all, what is a condo?  Condos resemble apartments in many ways.  They can consist of several units in the same building or complex, with common areas like courtyards, lobbies, pools, etc. that are shared by everyone.  But condos, as opposed to apartments are owned by the individual tenants and not just rented.  When you purchase a condo you may be giving up some privileges but gaining in others.  It is this balance of benefits that will be most helpful when deciding what type of property to buy.

One area that you need to investigate before you buy a condo is the prices of similar properties that have sold in the complex or complexes in the immediate area.   Condo sales in the area can tell you if the price you are offering is too high or too low.  A comparative analysis will also tell you how long units in that complex have been on the market, if prices have been reduced, how many units are for sale, and the prices in which they sold.  With the ever changing real estate market it is important to be aware of all of these things to get the best value for your money.

Not all real estate agents are familiar with the nuances of condo sales.  Real estate transactions are most likely the biggest financial investment most people will experience in their lifetime, so it is even more important to find the right person for the job.  But how do you choose the        right person for the job?  First of all with most any financial transactions you will want to make a thorough search which can be done quite easily by attending open houses to see how agents work and to meet them first hand. Ask the prospective agent how long they have been licensed, how long they have worked in the condo market and how many sales they have closed in recent months.  Ask for references and talk to your friends and family about who they would recommend and why.  Once you have found the right agent you are well on your way to realizing the American dream of home ownership.

19Jan/100

Condominium Insurance

When looking for condominium insurance there are crucial questions to ask to help guide you to the coverage you need.  To state the obvious, a condominium is not the same thing as a house.  Usually, there is no backyard or basement, and you don’t have to worry about cutting the grass or shoveling the front walk.  Insurance is another area where homes and condos differ.  Condo owners are typically responsible for insuring just a portion of their property on their own.  However, rules differ from complex to complex, and it is important to ask the right questions to ensure you have proper insurance coverage. 

What are your ownership and insurance responsibilities in the condo association’s Master Deed?  In other words, what does the association expect from you regarding insurance requirements?  Individual owners have a collective responsibility for insuring areas of the complex owned in common - building exteriors, hallways, pool area, etc.  Individual unit owners typically are responsible for separately insuring everything within the four walls of their unit.  The condo association’s master policy, as well as association rules, should spell out clearly which parts of the complex are insured through association dues and which parts are not.

How much is the association deductible?  This is an area many condo owners don’t think about.  Condominium insurance typically includes commercial insurance coverage for the commonly shared building and common areas which usually includes an association deductible.  In the event of a natural disaster or hurricane or whatever and the condo association needs major work the association will tender the claim to their commercial insurer.  But would be a deductible and that deductible would be assessed against all unit owners so if there were 10 unit owners, it would be divided 10 ways.  You could really be hit with bill you weren’t expecting or did not know about if you didn’t do your homework.

It is also important to know how to lower you condominium insurance.  Several questions need to be asked that can factor in to reducing your costs.

  1. Have your agent properly estimate the value of what is being insured by you for your condo.
  2. Apply modification credits.  For condos that can mean sprinkler systems and central monitoring burglar and/or fire alarm.
  3. Shop around.  It is often inconvenient and may require some effort but finding the right policy and coverage can save you money in the long run.  Finally, keep in mind that there may be discounts.  Many companies offer discounts such as non-smoker or retired.
7Jan/100

Chicago Condos

Where can you find the best Chicago condos Chicago is such a mix of cultures and nationalities with over 77 different neighborhoods that condo buyers have a variety of choices from the more upscale Gold Coast to the excitement of River North.  There is no place like the city of Chicago and all it has to offer from the dozens of museums to professional sports for those who want to live in one of the most exciting cities in the world.  Chicago condos have become one of the fastest growing segments in the residential real estate market for first time homebuyers or those looking to experience the excitement of downtown living.

There are literally hundreds of condos to choose from at almost any price.  There are several major developments currently going on downtown and many developers are rolling out new incentives for pre-construction Chicago condos.  Some developers are offering credits as high as $30,000 toward furniture as well as the services of a professional interior designer who sign up before a deadline.  Others developers are offering a wide range of incentives from free parking spaces to options on floor plans at no cost and price guarantees.

Some of the best Chicago condos are scattered throughout the city and below are just a few.

•             6 North Michigan Ave

•             Century Station

•             Ecologic Lofts

•             Joffrey Tower

•             Market Street West

•             Medinah on the Lake

•             One Museum Park

•             Walton on the  Park

There is no better time to start looking for the best Chicago condos than now.  Interest rates are low and pricing is the most reasonable in years with developers and sellers offering incentives to make their units stand out.  That is why choosing the right Real Estate Agent to represent and market your property is a smart move.  Your agent will review with you the different kinds of listing agreements or sales contracts and recommend the structure that would work best for your marketplace and property.  But no matter who you choose, always look for these four parts in the agreement.

1.            Timing – duration of the agreement should be clearly stated

2.            Compensation – fee structure and payout

3.            Cancellation – What happens if you wish to cancel the contract

4.            Disputes – How will disputes be handled.

 

The agreement is an important document.  Read and understand all sections and if you don’t ask a real estate professional or attorney.

6Jan/100

The Most Expensive Condo in Chicago, IL.

So as I am sitting here thinking about what to write about, I stumbled upon a short ad for the most expensive condo in Chicago, IL. Right away I clicked on it thinking, how much is it, what does it look like and what area in Chicago is this monstrosity, oh and what is so spectacular about this place that it would be priced at $14,000,000 for a condo in Chicago.

So I did a little research and got my questions answered. Currently the most expensive condo in Chicago is located at 65 East Goethe Street in Chicago, IL. The current price of the condo is $14,000,000. After looking at the pictures and reading the description, it was easy to see why. At 12,000 square feet this Condo boast a 3,000 square foot private roof deck space, six car parking and  the opportunity to choose any exposure including lake views. The unit consists of 6 bedrooms and 6.3 baths and a total of 13 rooms. So aside from the mortgage, how much does this condo cost to live in, you may be wondering? The taxes are $28,086 a year and the monthly assessments are $11,365.

Some of the interior features include a balcony, vaulted and Cathedral Ceilings, a deck and a hot tub. There are also a total of three fireplaces. The exterior is comprised of Limestone and concrete. The building is located in school district 299. The Elementary and Middle Schools include Latin School of Chicago, Ogden Elementary School, Franklin Fine arts Center, and Ruben Salazar Bilingual Center. The Middle Schools include, Latin School of Chicago, Cornerstone Academy, Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, Metro Preparatory High School, and Francis W. Parker School.

The most expensive unit in Chicago is located in the lovely area of the Gold Coast, which in the late 1980s; the Gold Coast and neighboring Streeterville comprised the second most-affluent neighborhood in the United States. Today, the neighborhood is a mixture of mansions, high-rise apartments and row houses. Some of the highlights include the Astor Street District and the James Charnley House. There are also some well known residents that live in the Gold Coast, Cyrus Hall McCormick, head of the International Harvester Co. and Potter Palmer, owner of the Palmer House just to name a few.

So it appears that this large unit with many perks combined with this affluent neighborhood and location make up for a high price and luxury living.

30Dec/090

OwnACondo.com is Continuing to Improve and Thrive in Today’s Market

There are many changes going on at OwnACondo.com. We decided to kickoff 2010 in a good way by implementing new procedures, divisions and trainings. Why most companies are stretching to stay open, OwnACondo.com is expanding and continuing to grow. Our company has goals in mind and we are visualizing and planning each and every day exactly how we are going to reach those goals.

The first avenue our company decided to focus on is training. We decided to AMP up our training that we already had in place. We feel that training the agents properly will ultimately lead to more sales and more money for all. We implemented workshops, call nights, trainings, seminars and focus groups. We decided to make all the classes at different times on different days, so that the agents have options to choose from and so that there is flexibility with all agents’ schedules. We are planning to also add an OAC University to help the agents achieve more knowledge and education. Earning higher designations will also be an option for them.

We also decided to implement more procedures. We are putting a new software system in place that will make it easier and more efficient for agent’s transactions. After all, everything to do with the transaction is important. Putting a system in place so that all transactions close smoothly and all the necessary paperwork is there, is crucial to agents as well as the company. OwnACondo.com is a cutting edge company and we feel it is important to be aware of all the new technology to enhance our business. This is also important, as we expand to different states that we have a system in place.

We have added an auction division to our company as well. Auction specialists have come on board to handle all auctions at OwnACondo.com. Auctions are a big part of the pie in this market, so we have decided to not only tap in to this segment but bring specialists on board who know exactly how auctions work. This will ensure that the OwnACondo.com Auctions will be the best place to buy and sell property.

It is exciting to see that we are thriving as a company. We are always ahead of the curve and continue to stay that way. It is very important to our company that we achieve the goals set out for us so we can continue to succeed and continue to be the best place to buy and sell condos.

23Dec/090

Naperville

The American dream of owning your own home has changed over the last couple of decades.  The dream is still alive but the options have changed dramatically.  One of the fastest growing segments of property sales and areas today is Naperville condos.  Owning a condo has many things in common with owning a traditional home, but it is the differences that count.  It is important before you make that jump into home ownership that you know the area and whether a traditional home or condo is right for you.

If you are not familiar with Naperville it has become one of the largest cities in Illinois.  In fact, Naperville is the fifth largest city in Illinois with its population surpassing such cities as Springfield and Rockford.  Settled in 1831 by Joseph Naper and several other families, eventually splitting from Cook county to become the county seat of DuPage until 1868.  For most of its existence the Naperville area was mostly rural but over the years the attraction of residents leaving Chicago has made Naperville one of the wealthiest cities in Illinois and in 2006 was ranked by Money Magazine as #2 on its list of America’s best cities in which to live.  This migration mostly in the 1990’s with professionals seeking jobs along the technological corridor and highly ranked schools have made Naperville condos an attractive option to more traditional styles of real estate. 

When you are looking for Naperville condos not all real estate agents are familiar with the nuances of these types of properties.  Real estate transactions are most likely the biggest financial investment most people will experience in their lifetime, so it is even more important to find the right person for the job.  But how do you choose the right person for the job?  First of all with most any financial transactions you will want to make a thorough search which can be done quite easily by attending open houses to see how agents work and to meet them first hand.  The agent you want to help you find that condo of your dreams is someone who is familiar with the local market and can tell you all you need to know about the area.  Ask the prospective agent how long they have been licensed, how long they have worked in the condo market and how many sales they have closed in recent months.  Ask for references and talk to your friends and family about who they would recommend and why.  Once you have found the right agent you are well on your way to realizing the American dream of home ownership.