www.OwnACondo.com
22Jun/110

Summer Brings Realtors® to BankREOs.com

By Patty Boysen

So summer is here and the sun is shining. People are out and about going for walks, bike rides or playing on the beach. BankREOs.com is not only looking out the windows at the people walking by our beautiful new offices, we are watching them walk in! We are perfectly located, nestled right along the Chicago lakefront at 540 N. Lake Shore Drive and Realtors® are catching on to this quickly. They see opportunity in a place that is in the biggest hotspot in Streeterville. We get foot traffic and drive-by traffic and the location is convenient for people to stop by and see what we are all about.

Any agent who is looking to get into real estate or even veterans looking for a new change, should definitely swing on by and take a look. There is plenty of space for Realtors® to sit down, set up and start making calls. There are also multiple conference rooms and meeting rooms for you and your clients to meet in. This is the place where deals happen. There is an energy here that is untouched!

BankREOs.com is current with the market and sees opportunity in bank owned properties. People want to sell them and buyers want to buy them. There are multiple ways to buy and sell real estate and auctions is one way. The Realtors® here at BankREOs.com can assist you with the real estate auction process so that you are informed as to exactly what you need to know to sell or purchase real estate through an auction.

25May/110

Icelandic Volcanoes

By Dermot Connolly

The Icelandic volcanoes are back in the headlines again. Last year, it was Eyjafjallajokull and now comes Grimsvotn, which appears to be slightly more pronounceable for English-speakers (but I won’t chance it).

The way the ever-changing winds affect Grimsvotn’s traveling ash plume—and  European air travel—is like the twists and turns of the economy affecting real estate sales and the market in general. Predicting how quickly things will improve in the real estate industry seems as difficult as figuring out where the ash will blow next. Hundreds of flights in Britain and Ireland were canceled due to the latest ash cloud—even President Barack Obama had to cut short his trip to Ireland due to fears that the ash would prevent Air Force One from taking off if he stayed overnight.   

Grimsvotn is blasting roughly 100 times more material per second into the atmosphere than was released from Eyjafjallajokull last year, according to reports. But there are differences in the two Icelandic volcanoes. While the latest eruption caused the closure of Iceland’s main international airport, and as many as 500 flight cancellations in Europe, it is not expected to be as bad as last year because the ash is said to be heavier and thus falling to the ground more quickly.  Experts hope that this means a quick return to normalcy. Likewise, the explosion of foreclosures across the United States caused a downturn in real estate prices, and as soon as that cloud clears, industry experts predict prices will rebound.  

The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in April 2010 forced air-traffic controllers to ground commercial aircraft for six days due to safety concerns, costing airlines millions of dollars in revenue, but the disruptions are not expected to be that costly this time around. So whether you are dealing with worries about Icelandic volcanoes affecting a trip to Europe, or  looking for a condo, it is good to pay attention to the prevailing winds, but don’t necessarily cancel your plans because things could change for the better in an instant.

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.

15Apr/110

Lizzette Jimenez

Lizzette Jimenez--condo owner, real estate investor and first-time homebuyer specialist-- joins the growing team at OwnACondo.com.

Fluent in English and Spanish, Lizzette’s story of how she chose OwnACondo.com is a good one, and one we’ve heard before.

“I had a great experience with one of the OwnACondo.com agents,” says Lizzette, who purchased two investment condos at a complex exclusively represented by OwnACondo.com. The service she received was obviously well-remembered.

Lizzette has 10 years of experience as a licensed real estate sales associate and is encouraged by signs the market is again warming up. She says that she decided to pursue a career in real estate because the experience she had purchasing her first condo at age 21 wasn’t particularly easy.

“I felt completely lost in the process when I was a first-time home buyer,” Lizzette explains. “I decided I had to go out and educate myself.” This led to her decision to become a real estate agent and now Lizzette loves sharing her knowledge and experience with people who are in the same position as she once found herself.

“Working with first-time buyers is so much more rewarding,” she says. “There’s so much more help I can provide.”

Lizzette Jimenez's specialties include:

  • Suburban Chicago Real Estate
  • DuPage County real estate
  • Condos
  • Townhomes
  • Real Estate Investing
  • Real Estate Investors
  • Real Estate Auctions
  • Leasing
  • Rentals
  • Foreclosures
  • REO
  • Short Sales
  • Condo Financing

Lizzette moved up from that first condo she purchased at age 21 to a spacious townhome where she now lives with her husband and young daughter. Lizzette enjoys yoga, fitness, international traveling and she’s also an avid reader; although with the demands of a two-year-old child, she admits with a laugh “I’m lucky I can even fit in my industry-related reading these days!”

Lizzette currently serves on her townhome association board of directors. She knows first-time home buying, condos, townhomes and real estate investing—in short, she’s a perfect addition to the team at OwnACondo.com, the best place to buy and sell condos! Contact Lizzette Jimenez, an English- and Spanish-speaking real estate agent, at: ljimenez@ownacondo.com

12Apr/110

Weighing Your Options

Spring traditionally is a busy season for buying homes, and this one should be even better, because many renters are weighing their options, adding up the numbers and finding that with the price of condos and houses remaining low, and rent going up, buying is more economical than renting.

According to Reis Inc., which tracks rental markets, rents climbed 2.3 percent in 2010 compared with a decline of 2.9 percent in 2009, according to Reis Inc., which tracks rental markets. Also, in January, the National Association of Realtors® reported that the Housing Affordability Index, which measures the ability of the typical household to cover the 20 percent down payment for a home and limiting monthly mortgage costs to no more than 25 percent of gross income, was the highest since record-keeping began in the 1970s.

But when weighing your options, because numbers can differ wildly by location, it is best to run the numbers for the area in which you want to live. You can calculate the price-to-rent ratio by multiplying the typical monthly rent in your desired community by 12. Divide that number into the median home price in the area to come up with the ratio. If the number you arrive at is below 16, industry experts generally agree that owning is less expensive than renting.

However, something else to consider is the length of time you plan to stay in the area. Three to five years used to be thought of as the time needed to offset the cost of buying and selling a property, about 10 percent of its value. But in the current market, where the high number of foreclosures has brought down the price of property, it is more like to take anywhere from five to 10 years to offset your costs.

Also, it isn’t always easy to compare the value of a rented condo or apartment to the condo or single-family home you are planning to buy, since they may vary considerably in size and amenities. So you have a lot of things to consider when weighing your options.

23Mar/110

Chester Williams

Chester Williams has joined the growing team of dedicated real estate professionals at OwnACondo.com, bringing five years of real estate sales experience, and a wealth of customer service skills too.

“I just enjoy seeing people get their dream homes,” said Chester. “I am good at matching people up with the right property. I listen to what they want and what their needs are, and I know the Chicago market well.

He studied business and economics at Illinois State University, and after earning his real estate license, Chester Williams worked for Century 21 Blair James Realty on the North Side of Chicago from 2007 to 2009. In addition, he has several decades of experience in customer service, having worked for the past 20 years for Advertising Broadcast Services, where he is now collections manager.

Chester and his wife live in Chicago’s Wrightwood neighborhood, on the Southwest Side of the city, and he is very familiar with all areas of the city, and south suburbs too. His specialties include:

  • Condos
  • Single-family homes
  • Multi-unit buildings
  • Chicago real estate
  • Chicago South real estate
  • Chicago North real estate
  • South Cook County real estate
  • Downtown Chicago real estate
  • Negotiations
  • Foreclosures
  • REOs

When he is not helping clients find homes, Chester enjoys hobbies such as restoring classic cars. His current favorite is his newly restored 1963 Chevrolet Impala.

If you have any questions or would like Chester Williams to help you find your own dream home or investment property, contact him at (773) 771-3306 or cwilliams@ownacondo.com.