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!

6Jun/110

Car Crashes into OwnACondo.com’s Lake Shore Drive Office

If the phone rings at 3 a.m., it’s usually not good news. And sure enough, when OwnACondo.com’s Owner and Managing Broker Brian Kuzdas answered his cell phone late Saturday night / early Sunday morning June 5, he didn’t like what he had to hear. 

“It was the doorman at our building, informing me a car had crashed into our office,” said Mr. Kuzdas.

The vehicle, apparently heading southbound the wrong way along a frontage street that runs parallel to Lake Shore Drive, struck the southwest corner of the vintage condominium and office building at 540 N. Lake Shore Drive where OwnACondo.com opened only two months ago. 

Mr. Kuzdas said he was told the car then backed out of the damaged area and made a getaway heading west on Ohio—again, going the wrong way—but not before leaving behind something very important. 

“The car’s bumper with license plate attached was lying in the street,” he said. The pieces were looked at by authorities and eventually removed from the area. 

Damage to the building includes broken windows, various structural elements surrounding the windows, furnishings and supplies inside OwnACondo.com’s office and possibly more to be revealed when insurance adjusters finish the investigation. 

As of this writing, no information is available about citations, injuries or suspects. And despite the well-known habit of Realtors® to work long and unconventional hours, the OwnACondo.com office was fortunately unoccupied at the time of the incident. Our condo specialists and their colleagues at our sister company, BankREOs.com,  had thankfully long since returned home for the night.

3Jun/110

Tami Theriault Shines With Silver

OwnACondo.com's very own Tami Theriault earned Silver Inner Circle honors from the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors® for her contribution to the Realtor® Political Action Committee (RPAC).

Although such a distinction might seem strictly of interest to co-workers and industry insiders, it's actually important to consumers, too. That's because of major issues that Realtors® are fighting for on behalf of not only themselves but for the home-buying consumer. Realtors® like Tami Theriault, through their RPAC donations, have worked tirelessly to preserve the mortgage interest deduction, address problems with banks and short sales, defeat new taxes and regulations on property transactions, and defeat ornerous proposals in Illinois to put municipalities in the role of land trusts. Although the real estate market is currently down, Realtors® and the RPAC are busier than ever defending the interests of consumers.

Tami Theriault has been a condo specialist Realtor® with OwnACondo.com since 2008. She helps people buy and sell condomniums, single family homes, townhouses and more. We're not at all surprised she advocates for her profession and the public at large. Good people always rise to the ocassion, and good people are what we like here at OwnACondo.com.

29Apr/110

Rochelle Grossley

OwnACondo.com welcomes Rochelle Grossley to our growing team of experienced, condo-specialist Realtors®.

After being a Chicago mortgage broker for many years, overseeing an office with 20 loan officers and two loan processors, Rochelle earned her real estate license in 2008, and worked for Coldwell Banker before joining OwnACondo.com. From a customer’s perspective, her experience and skills are very valuable assets to have access to. The Evanston native has lived in Chicago neighborhoods such as Wrigleyville, and worked in Hyde Park. She now lives in Naperville, so she is very familiar with the real estate market throughout  Chicago and the suburbs.  

“I decided to get my real estate license because I love working with people, and seeing their eyes light up when they find that right house is. That is what I most enjoy about real estate, helping people. I can share my knowledge about mortgages also, and the importance of being pre-qualified for a loan.”   

Rochelle Grossley’s specialties include:

  • Condos
  • First-time homebuyers
  • Single-family homes
  • Townhouses
  • DuPage County real estate
  • Will County real estate
  • Downtown Chicago real estate
  • Chicago North real estate
  • Chicago South real estate
  • Mortgage lending
  • Real estate auctions
  • Foreclosures
  • REOs
  • Open houses

“I was attracted to OwnACondo.com due to the company’s prime location at 540 N. Lake Shore Drive, and the plans for expansion into other cities. I want to be part of the growth,” said Rochelle, who also is a transportation operator for FirstGroup America. When she is not showing houses or assisting clients in other ways, Rochelle Grossley enjoys spending time with her two children, NeCole, 8, and Nicholas, 6. Her hobbies include cooking, sewing, skating, bowling, and writing poetry.

Contact Rochelle Grossley at rgrossley@ownacondo.com or (630) 386-6856 for help buying or selling condos and other real estate.

20Apr/110

Alexandria Pope

Another great real estate professional has joined the OwnACondo.com team: Broker associate Alexandria Pope.

Alexandria is a condo-specialist Realtor® with OwnACondo.com and she serves buyers and sellers with knowledge and care that can’t be matched by a real estate generalist. Her enthusiasm, experience and specific training in the condo market and lifestyle means that she can provide highly focused information and services that consumers demand and deserve.

From the beginning of her real estate career in 2003, Alexandria has been devoted to upholding the industry standard of C.O.A.L.D. for her clients: Care, Obedience, Accountability, Loyalty and Disclosure. And while there probably isn't a real estate agent out there who wouldn't claim the same, with Alexandria it's different. A new acquaintance can sense her energy and passion for real estate and for her clients within the first minute or two of beginning a conversation.

Alexandria Pope's journey into a real estate career started when she decided she needed to educate herself, her family, her friends and even her community at large about several things real estate-related, including first time homeownership.

"I knew a lot of renters who should have been home owners, but they didn't have the tools" she recalls. "I also found that a lot of people simply didn't trust real estate agents. I wanted to stand up for what a true Realtor® should stand for."    

Alexandria's specialties include:

  • Chicago Real Estate
  • Condos
  • Townhomes
  • First-time homebuyers
  • Real estate investing
  • Real estate investors
  • Real estate auctions
  • Leasing
  • Rentals
  • Foreclosures
  • REO
  • Short sales
  • Condo financing
  • Downtown Chicago real estate
  • Chicago North real estate
  • Chicago South real estate

Alexandria earned a master's degree in inner city studies from Northeastern Illinois University and a bachelor's degree in African American studies from Chicago State University. She's the proud mother of a three-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son. Her son currently attends college in Arkansas, where he is studying business.

When not busy with her real estate clients, Alexandria enjoys poetry, youth mentoring and community activism. She also assists graduate-level university students with preparation for their master's thesis. 

Contact Alexandria Pope via email at apope@ownacondo.com or via her a call at 773-407-4018.

20Apr/110

Foreclosure News

It seems, these days, that most good news in the real estate market comes with a little bad, particularly when it concerns foreclosure issues.

For instance, industry observers see indications that the foreclosure crisis is improving.  A recent report by Realtytrac stated that the number of foreclosure notices filed during the first quarter of 2011 fell 15 percent over the previous quarter and  27 percent compared with the same period of 2010. Nationwide, this amounted to 681,000 properties receiving a notice of default, a scheduled auction or a foreclosure sale during the first quarter of 2011, one for every 191 households.

During the same time period, 215,046 borrowers lost their homes, which is 17 percent lower than the same period last year, and the best it has been in three years

Despite the improving picture regarding foreclosure issues, sales of existing and new home homes remain low, and home prices are not improving yet, according to industry officials. Theoretically, the low home property values and interest rates make this a great time to buy homes.  

The so-called “robo-signing scandal” that involved banks automatically signing off on foreclosures without looking into them case by case, evidently affected the rate of foreclosure. Since that scandal broke last year, many banks have cut back on filing foreclosures while they correct their procedures.

The drop in foreclosures is widespread. RealtyTrac reported that filings dropped in each of the 20 hardest-hit metro areas. Year-over-year declines reached as high as 59 percent, in Cape Coral, Fla., for the quarter. Even in Las Vegas, the hardest hit city during the foreclosure crisis, filings fell 8 percent. But Las Vegas remains the highest ranked metro area in per-capita foreclosures. One of every 31 homes absorbed a filing during the first quarter of 2011, about six times the national norm.

Nevada, Arizona and California continued to rank as the top-three states in foreclosure rates. Florida, however, a consistent fourth, has improved to eighth place for the first quarter and ninth for March, and with any luck, and a few more sales, foreclosure issues will clear up across the country, and people will be more encouraged to buy and sell condos and other homes.

19Apr/110

Nicholas Clancy

Nicholas Clancy has joined the growing team of condo specialist Realtors® at OwnACondo.com, and is eager to share his wealth of real estate knowledge gathered over several years in the mortgage industry.

“I bring seven years of experience as a mortgage broker and banker to my real estate career. As a lifelong resident of Chicago, I am very familiar with local condos and the housing market in general in the city and its many neighborhoods and suburbs,” said Nicholas, a diligent worker who specializes in assisting buyers.

 “With the wide range of properties available for sale now, it is certainly a buyer's market. I know how important buying a home is, because for most people it will be the most expensive purchase they will ever make,” Nicholas noted.

A graduate of De La Salle High School, Nicholas Clancy studied at Harold Washington College before heading into the business world.  Most recently, he was president and CEO of Real Deal Properties and Investments, a company based in Bridgeport, where he lives in the shadow of U.S. Cellular Field. the home of the Chicago White Sox.

He is very familiar with the city’s many neighborhoods and suburbs. His other specialties include:

• Condos
Townhomes
• Multi-family buildings
• Commercial property
• Downtown Chicago real estate
• Cook County real estate
• Real estate investing
• Real estate auctions
• Leasing
• Rentals
• Foreclosures
• REO
• Short sales
• Condo financing

“An important part of the buying process is getting pre-qualified for a loan, and I am very good at helping clients with that. I will help my clients every step of the way, from the loan process to the closing. In addition to buying, I also help clients interested in leasing too, whether it is a condo, house, or four-flat. I handle commercial property too,” Nicholas added.

When he is not in the office setting appointments, or showing property to his clients, Nicholas enjoys spending time relaxing with his family and friends, and watching the White Sox and his other favorite teams.    

If you would like Nicholas Clancy to help you buy or sell property, you may contact him at nclancy@ownacondo.com or by calling 312-217-3237.

18Apr/110

Jennifer Alcide

Jennifer Alcide has joined the growing team of condo specialist Realtors® and broker associates at OwnACondo.com, bringing financial knowledge, and a caring and perfectionist attitude—all qualities that are very beneficial to  her clients.

“I have always been interested in real estate, and I feel this is where I need to be. My educational background and skills in accounting and finance are beneficial in my real estate career,” said Jennifer, who earned a degree in accounting at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2008 before getting her real estate broker’s license. She has been working for several years in the finance department of STATS, a Northbrook-based international sports statistics and information company.

Throughout her career, she has upheld the same strong work ethic.  “I strive for perfection in everything I do. If I don’t have the answer, I will find it for you. I enjoy helping my clients get the best deal possible in this challenging market.”

A resident of Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood,  her specialties include:

• Condos
• Single-family homes
Townhomes
• First-time homebuyers
• South Cook County real estate
• Downtown Chicago real estate
• North Cook County real estate
• Suburban Chicago real estate
• Real estate investors
• Real estate auctions
• REO
• Short sales
• Condo financing
Foreclosures

In her free time,  Jennifer Alcide relaxes with water sports, such as swimming, snorkeling and boating. She also plays basketball and other sports too, and is very involved in her church. Travel is another passion. She spent many summers visiting relatives in Haiti, and most recently has gone snorkeling in Jamaica.

If  you would like Jennifer to help you buy or sell property, she may be reached at jalcide@ownacondo.com or at (847) 414-5349.

24Mar/110

Marie Waxton

OwnACondo.com welcomes Marie Waxton to its growing team of licensed real estate sales professionals. She is highly buyer-focused and dedicated to helping people find their dream residence.

Marie enjoys dissecting all the details that make up any particular property. "Real estate is usually the biggest investment people make. I like to make sure it's what they want and that it will fulfill their dreams," she says.

Her real estate career began in 2006 and Marie toured unique (and sometimes historic) buildings in Chicago, researching programs for their restoration. She worked with banks, making sure financing was available for these unique properties.

Highly personable and enthusiastic about Chicago and its people, Maries Waxton says without hesitation "I have a love affair with the city. I enjoy the lake, the zoo, the skyline, museums and jazz clubs." Marie originally hailed from Northwest Indiana and now resides in Chicago's Southwest suburbs.

Marie's specialties include:

  • Chicago-area real estate
  • Dupage County real estate
  • Condos
  • Townhomes
  • First-time homebuyers
  • Real estate investing
  • Real estate investors
  • Real estate auctions
  • Leasing
  • Rentals
  • Foreclosures
  • REOs
  • Short sales
  • Condo financing 

Marie earned a degree in education and journalism from the University of Indiana, Bloomington. She encourages buyers to check out OwnACondo.com's easy condo search and to contact her at mwaxton@ownacondo.com for any information related to condos, townhomes, financing or real estate in general. Marie Waxton continues OwnACondo.com's long tradition of expert, dedicated and customer-centric service that consumers love!

11Mar/110

Condos vs. Co-ops

By Scott M. Siegel

Does anyone even know the difference?

Now, were not talking about Co-Ops in the crunchy sense like a kibbutz or an ashram, which by the way do ‘represent’ in the spiritual feeding department. We are talking about two separate and distinct forms of equitable ownership in Chicago real estate that are as different as apples and oranges.

Let’s take a closer look:

Characteristics of Co-Op Buildings:

1) Owners own shares of stock in the corporation that owns the building. There is no fee simple interest in the real estate. You will own a pro-rata percentage of the entire corporation based upon the number of square feet your unit represents.

2) Owners must be approved by the co-op board. There is no pay-to-play in co-op land. Prepare for a fairly rigorous application and background investigation. This may be more intrusive than you expected.

3) The co-op board determines your down payment. Usually a minimum of 20% is required as a down payment, which may render this form of ownership out of reach for first-time or even move-up buyers.

4) Financing is hard to come by. Co-op financing is definitely a specialty and is offered by only a handful of banks. The good news is that because of the high down payment requirement, a buyer will not have PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) to deal with.

Characteristics of Condo buildings:

1) Owners own a fee-simple interest in their condo. Basically, you will own everything within the four walls of your unit and your parking space. The other unit owners, collectively via the Homeowners’ Association (HOA) own the remainder of the common and limited common elements of the development (roof, exterior walls, hallways, landscaping, parking garage, etc.)

2) There is no board approval. Well, in most cases there is no board approval process. There are older buildings out there which still have relics of discriminatory policy on their books. In their misguided attempt to restrict ownership of condominium units, some early condo boards elected to follow the lead of their cooperative brethren and require board approval. In today’s funky market, this is frowned upon by the agencies FNMA (Fannie Mae) and FHLMC (Freddie Mac)and the FHA (Federal Housing Authority) and, in fact, in order to get their developments approved for FHA financing, some boards have elected to expunge the offending language/policy from their documents. Welcome to the 21st century!

3) Your personal creditworthiness determines your down payment. To a large extent, financing, although not as easy as in the past, is currently very attractive interest rate-wise. The only limiting factor determining your required down payment is your ability to make a down payment and your desired loan program. For qualifying developments, you can put as little as 3.5% down!

4) Financing options abound. Any one of the large national or regional banks offer a full array of loan programs from which to choose and to a lesser extent, certain mortgage banking companies should be able to provide your financing.

What You May Not Have Known (or didn’t want to know) About Co-Ops:

Co-op buildings, although more closely associated with the greater New York metropolitan area, (think: The San Remo, The Dakota and The Majestic along Central Park) do exist in the Chicago real estate market. Two notable buildings are: 999 N. Lake Shore Drive and The Edgewater Beach Apartments. Typically, co-ops are grand vintage buildings from the 1920s that are an architechture junkie's fantasy--giant birthday cakes of carved limestone and terra cotta topped with clay tile or oxidized copper icing. Mmm, mmm, good!

Not so fast. Despite the visual treat, this form of ownership has very dark (and seldom discussed) roots. Due to the inherently restrictive nature of the board approval process and the somewhat onerous downpayment required by the corporation, some co-op buildings were tacitly able to perpetrate outright racial discrimination.

But I digress. That's a blog for another day.

If you'd like to learn more about how we make buyers happy, contact me at 1-866-696-2266 or scotts@ownacondo.com.