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!

28Dec/100

Chicago Spire

While the downturn in the economy seems to have doomed the Chicago Spire project to never rise above the literal hole in the ground that it is now, that should not be seen as a metaphor for the real estate industry in Chicago, which is sure to recover and rise to new heights—sooner rather than later.

The Spire would have been eye-catching, to be sure, towering above the already impressive Chicago skyline. The unique spiraled 150-story building with 1,200 luxury condos was to have been erected at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive, at East Randolph Street beside the Chicago River. But, alas, it has been effectively been foreclosed on, due to unpaid property taxes, and developer Garrett Kelleher has lost control of the site, effectively putting him in the same predicament as thousands of homeowners who have lost their homes to foreclosure in the past two years. In fact, Allied Irish Bank, the original lender, has suffered much the same fate, having been basically taken over by the Irish government and nationalized after the government gave it an infusion of funds to keep it afloat.  

 In the case of The Chicago Spire, anyone with a stake in the proposed luxury condo high-rise has a certain amount of time, roughly two months, to pay the tax debt and retake control of the property. But if the time limit passes and no one steps forward, the lender can start formal foreclosure procedures. Three parcels of land make up the site, and In the meantime, the downturn in the economy has reduced the value of the land that The Spire was to be built on. According to recent reports, the largest parcel is now worth $2 million, half of what it had been formerly appraised.   

And although the Spire project is basically defunct, condo shoppers who want to live downtown, or near the lakefront, still have a lot of options. There are still plenty of new condo developments to choose from, and prices have come down too, so it remains a buyer’s market with many deals available.

The new, upscale lakefront condos, comparable to what the Chicago Spire would have been, include the Trump International Hotel and Tower, and One Museum Park. You wouldn’t be 150 stories up in the air, but pretty close. For instance, the 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower, at 401 N. Wabash Ave., is the tallest residential tower in Chicago, and features some of the same great views that the Chicago Spire promised. Located just west of Michigan Avenue, the tower provides views of Grant Park, Millennium Park, Navy Pier and Lake Michigan.

16Nov/09Off

Chicago Condo Development

When choosing a Chicago condo development there are many things you should always keep in mind.   Some things are obvious to us all but others may not be. 

We all know we need to check out the structure of the building.  Was it really designed to be a condo or townhome complex or was it a conversion?  At first glance you may not be able to tell because conversion many times can look even better than the old design.  If you really want to know you can check with the local city planning office and ask for the plans that were submitted by the developer.  You think a conversion may not matter with today's building codes but noise and insulation problems may arise since the design was made for different purposes.  You should always insist on a building inspection that you are interested in purchasing.  Most inspections will cover the common areas of the building but you might want to take a more invasive approach to identify structural and integrity concerns. 

When you are searching for a Chicago condo development an obvious area to check out before you buy is the community.  Try to find out if there is a sense of community within the complex.  One of the best ways to find out is to spend some time in the common areas.  Do the residents seem happy and satisfied?  Do they respect each other and their privacy?  Ask some questions while you are there, such as what they like and dislike about their community.  Smiling and making eye contact while talking with your potential neighbors can speak volumes about the place in which you are about to invest.

Make sure check into some of the extras that may be offered.  Is there a parking space included in the price and where is it located?  Is the location convenient and safe?  Are there extra storage areas, are they free and secured?  If there are pools, hot tubs, gym areas, are they well maintained and clean?  Do they meet legal and safety regulations?  These extras may make the difference in how well you enjoy your new condo.

One last area that may not be as obvious but is becoming more prevalent is green living.  More and more condo buyers are embracing the green living concept and many Chicago condo developers are meeting the challenge.  Developers are seeing the change in mood of condo buyers and are now seeking to be certified by the United States Green Building Council.  Buyers today are looking for green living developments not only due to energy saving features but as a way for them to lessen the impact on the planet for future generations.

11Nov/09Off

Miami Green Condos

There are thousands of homeowners discovering the benefits of environmentally conscious construction and Miami green condos.  Building experts and local developers predict that, as the cost of energy rises, consumer demand for so-called "green buildings" will grow.  Also, as new building technologies come into wider use, the overhead cost of developing green buildings will drop and become the industry standard.  Because green building results in energy cost-saving, healthier surroundings and more durable construction, they're the future of condo construction.   But there are two stumbling blocks.  For green condos to catch on, developers have to gain experience working with the new energy-efficient, cleaner technologies to break the cost barrier.  Second, realtors and developers have to educate consumers on what they are getting when they buy green.

Most consumers want what is considered today as a high-performance home.  In the context of Miami green condos it means a home that is safe, healthy and durable using resources efficiently.  Green condos are actually greener than the greenest single family homes.  With their high residential densities, they take up less space and preserve open land.  In addition, urban condos are closer to metro stations, bus stops and bike trails which discourage people from relying on cars to go everywhere.  Additionally, multi-family buildings are inherently green because fewer resources per unit are used to construct and to operate.

The technology today has exploded to cover almost every aspect of construction, materials, landscaping and energy renewal.  Home and condo builders today boast many green features, including healthier paint and carpeting, recycling of construction waste, lots of natural light, high efficiency appliances and systems, water conserving fixtures, use of renewable materials, minimal water use landscaping and "green roofs" that help moderate temperature while reducing and filtering water runoff.  Architects, developers and builders are all looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions and waste with the long term goal of creating buildings and technologies that produce more energy than they consume.  Builders are aiming to offer condo buyers green buildings in the same price range as what they would expect to pay for an old fashioned, non-green condo in the area.   It is a bold step for the building trades but they are up to the task to produce a high quality product that is cost effective and the market will ultimately embrace Miami green condos

Today some buyers are questioning investing in green condos.  Green condos are not only fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly but save a lot of money.  Who knew that being green could be so economically rewarding?  So what's the question!

22Oct/09Off

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.  What I am hearing a lot about is should I buy now or wait for the market to bottom out?  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.

Should I buy now?  Absolutely, and let me tell you several factors that are in your favor by acting now and not trying to guess at a target that may always keep moving. 

We have a tax credit!  Let me say that again since you probably did not get the full impact of what that statement means in today's economic climate.  A tax credit means you do not have to pay it back.  That's right, it is free money and when is the last time you received free money.  It is not as perfect as it could be because there are several requirements but all in all they are not that difficult.  First, you must be a first time home buyer or not owned your principle residence in the last three years.  Second, if you are single your income cannot exceed $75,000 per year and married couple's income cannot exceed $150,000 per year.  The last part might be a little trickier since the tax credit is only if you close your home or condo on or before November 30, 2009.  That is less than 45 days away and if you don't get moving now you are not going to make the deadline.

Another reason to ask yourself if I should buy now is interest rates are lower than they have been in years.  Do you realize that you can get a 30 fixed rate for less than 6% from many lenders.  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!

12Oct/09Off

Chicago Vacation Condos

When you are thinking about your vacation there are several things that need to be considered.  Is your vacation site someplace that you may visit many times over the years?  What is the cost to vacation in this location with all the amenities you want?  Is there enough space if you intend to bring your entire family and have some privacy?  If where you go is Chicago, then think about Chicago vacation condos  There are some nice aspects of staying in a hotel or apartment but there are reasons to book a condo.

Normally you spend only your evening hours in an apartment or hotel so why pay a higher cost.  In some cases a condo could be 10-20% less expensive. 

Dining can be one of the most expensive costs for your vacation, especially if you are feeding your whole family.  Children are accustomed to foods they enjoy at home and if you are dining in your own condo then it is much easier to prepare the foods they like.  Another nice thing is that you have the option to dine in or out which can be a enormous cost reduction and please everyone by offering choices.

Peace and quiet is another advantage to a condo if you are looking for a romantic vacation without the kids.  Condos are built to keep noise to a minimum.  Hotels with elevator bells, loud late-night guests, and children running up and down halls are not very conducive to that romantic getaway.  Being in a Chicago vacation condos means that you can sleep in and you will not get that hotel employee knocking at your door when you are trying to relax.

Comfort and more space are considerations when booking your vacation in a condo rather than a hotel.  For the dollar value you get much more space in a Chicago condo than any hotel or apartment.  More space means more privacy especially if the kids came along.  Condos come with separate kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, and sometimes even family rooms which translates into a more comfortable, stress free vacation for everyone.

One other major advantage to a vacation condo is that it is yours.  You can rent it out if you desire when you are not using it which helps in paying the costs.  Additionally, if you decide to sell you could realize a nice profit.

All of these things and more are the reason you should consider a Chicago vacation condos if Chicago is your primary vacation destination.

17Sep/09Off

Owning your own Home

No one knows what the future holds for you, your family, your job or your finances.  But owning your own home is a part of the American dream.  This concept of the American dream is so deeply ingrained in our psyche that we sometimes may not make the right decision at the right time in our lives.  When making this all important decision to buy that first house or condo it is important that you know all you need to know to make an informed decision.

One of the first things you need to know before you start thinking of owning your own home is if it is the best choice for you.  There was a time that very few Americans owned their own homes.  It has only been relatively recent that home ownership was available to the masses and that availability is increasing every day.  Financing has become must easier to obtain and potential home owners are becoming much more financially savvy than any other time in our history.  With all of this it is still wise to look at owning your own home as a financial transaction.  There are definitely economic differences in renting and owning.  At one time you could get a better return in the stock market but nowadays with the uncertainty in the financial markets that may not a valid argument.  On the other hand, Uncle Sam offers some tax deductions the stock market cannot duplicate.  Each year as a homeowner you can deduct part of your mortgage interest and real estate taxes if you exceed the standard deduction which most homeowners do in the first few years of their mortgage.  This can be a windfall for most first time home buyers because most will receive a tax refund for those first few years.

When you have decided that owning your own home may be a good decision look at some of the pluses in which a dollar value can be assigned.  First of all there is the pride of ownership.  It is by far the number one reason people ultimately buy their first home which gives you that sense of stability and security that you have made an investment in the future.   By owning your own home you have the freedom to paint the walls whatever color you desire and crank up the stereo without fear of your neighbor pounding on the ceiling to be quiet.  You can choose the decorating that best suits your tastes and change them whenever you like.  Owning your own home is a part of the American dream and who doesn't like for dreams to come true.

15Sep/09Off

Chicago Developments

When choosing Chicago developments there are many things you should always keep in mind.   Some things are obvious to us all but others may not be. 

We all know we need to check out the structure of the building.  Was it really designed to be a condo or townhome complex or was it a conversion?  At first glance you may not be able to tell because conversion many times can look even better than the old design.  If you really want to know you can check with the local city planning office and ask for the plans that were submitted by the developer.  You think a conversion may not matter with today's building codes but noise and insulation problems may arise since the design was made for different purposes.  You should always insist on a building inspection that you are interested in purchasing.  Most inspections will cover the common areas of the building but you might want to take a more invasive approach to identify structural and integrity concerns. 

Another obvious area to check out with Chicago developments is the community.  Try to find out if there is a sense of community within the complex.  One of the best ways to find out is to spend some time in the common areas.  Do the residents seem happy and satisfied?  Do they respect each other and their privacy?  Ask some questions while you are there, such as what they like and dislike about their community.  Smiling and making eye contact while talking with your potential neighbors can speak volumes about the place in which you are about to invest.

Make sure check into some of the extras that may be offered.  Is there a parking space included in the price and where is it located?  Is the location convenient and safe?  Are there extra storage areas, are they free and secured?  If there are pools, hot tubs, gym areas, are they well maintained and clean?  Do they meet legal and safety regulations?  These extras may make the difference in how well you enjoy your new condo.

One last area that may not be as obvious but is becoming more prevalent is green living.  More and more condo buyers are embracing the green living concept and many Chicago developers are meeting the challenge.  Developers are seeing the change in mood of condo buyers and are now seeking to be certified by the United States Green Building Council.  Buyers today are looking for green living developments not only due to energy saving features but as a way for them to lessen the impact on the planet for future generations.

14Sep/09Off

Chicago Condos

Home ownership on any level is wonderful.  Nothing gives you a sense of pride like owning your own place and if you live in the Midwest there is nothing quite like Chicago condos in which to live.  Condo ownership has some very distinct advantages versus a single family home.  Let's say you really hate to mow the lawn, trim and pull weeds, then condo living is where you want to be.  Maybe you travel a lot for your job or have hobbies that you want to pursue then, condo real estate is what you need.  You love to sit around the pool but can't afford one.  You have few friends and you want to meet new people.  You would really like a large home in a gated community with rules and regulations but can't afford it.  Last but not least, there are some great deals in today's market interest rates are lower than they have been in years.  All of these things and more are an excellent reason to buy a condo.

One area that you need to investigate before you buy a Chicago 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.

There are so many areas in which to buy Chicago condos that it is sometimes difficult to choose.  With over 77 acknowledged neighborhoods almost any style of living is available and at almost any price.  Chicago has everything from lakeshore upscale condos and townhouses to lofts in the south loop.  If your tastes run more to suburban areas, Chicago offers a variety sizes and styles near the main transportation arteries whether it is the expressways to bus routes to train stations.  Everything is in reach in a city with the diversity of cultures like no other city in the country.  So remember when looking to find your first home or looking to downsize there is no place like Chicago.

2Sep/09Off

Selling your Condo

Selling your condo can be a difficult decision and many people wonder if they are better off selling as a "by owner" or using the services of a realtor. The reason for the quandary is typically a financial one. It is a common myth, actually, that the seller will net greater proceeds from the sale if they sell it themselves. In reality, buyers are typically looking for the "by owner" to drop the price of the realtor's commission as much as a whopping 6-10% below the price of comparable homes listed by real estate firms. Otherwise, they can find more selection of homes and a more trusted sale if they use the services of the realtor.

Benefits of Using an Agent

Time is Money

How much is your time worth?  $________ per hour.  If you don't use a real estate professional when selling your condo, expect to spend at least 100 hours - assuming there are no problems!  Considering your work, family, and personal commitments, is that the best use of your time?

It's a Big Deal

Selling your condo is a big deal.  Most people don't sell more than two homes in their lifetime, so it's not something they develop expertise in.  There are ever-changing laws, ethical practices and practical considerations that you don't want to learn on your own through trial and error or relying on a book or information off the Internet.  It's just not worth the risk.

 

When Selling A Home Your REALTOR®...

1 - Helps you understand the home selling process from putting your condo on the market through closing

2 - Advises you as to the right price for the condo based on their knowledge of what comparable houses are being sold for

3 - Assists you in determining the necessary home improvements required to get your property in the best selling condition possible for the lowest cost possible

4 - Develops your personalized home marketing plan and places your listing on the exclusive Realtor® Multiple Listing System to reach as many buyers as possible

5 - Handles the showing of your property so your schedule is not tied up keeping appointments with prospective purchasers

6 - Conducts informative and professional tours of your home through open houses

7 - Negotiates the offers to purchase to obtain the highest price possible for your condo

8 - Tracks the various phases involved in meeting your contractual obligations as the seller

9 - Leads you through the home inspection phase and negotiates on your behalf

10 - Coordinates the supporting contractual paperwork required for settlement

11 - Organizes the details of your settlement amongst all parties to ensure a smooth transition