Denise Arnold

OwnACondo.com welcomes Denise Arnold, an experienced Realtor® and appraiser, to our team of dedicated professionals.

She brings a wealth of real estate experience to our staff, including 10 years as a certified appraiser and six years as a Realtor® with nationally known companies. Her specialties include:

•  Appraisals
• Investors
• First-Time Home Buyers
• Condos
• Rental properties

In addition to her real estate qualifications, Denise Arnold also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Eastern Illinois University. She is a member of the Illinois Coalition of Appraisal Professionals, and said she uses her appraisal knowledge to benefit her clients.

“I  am not going to let my clients overpay. If they want to, it won’t be because they were not informed,” she said. A resident of Chicago’s south suburbs, she is married and has one daughter and a stepdaughter.

“The best part of being a Realtor® is working with people, helping them find the right condo or house. I like meeting new people and I have an outgoing personality, which helps in this industry,” said Denise Arnold, who focuses on the real estate market in the Chicago Loop as well as the North Side, South Side, and suburban Cook County.

Denise can be reached at darnold@ownacondo.com if you have any questions or would her to help you find a condo or other property.


Cyber Savvy

How can a cyber savvy real estate agent help me when I am interested in buying a home or condo?  Today the world of business is for the most part governed by access to information and real estate is not that much different than other businesses such as brick and mortar retail stores or online shopping sites.  The real estate agent who can utilize this information to his customer’s benefit has a leg up on the competition and will be sought out for their expertise.  Today there is so much information out there how do you find out what is going to benefit you, the consumer, the most when buying a home.  The simple answer is to seek out that cyber savvy agent who can provide you with the information you need, how to understand it best and make it work for you. 

So, what is a cyber savvy  real estate agent and how do I find one?  The first step is to search the Internet for the property you are interested in purchasing and the area.  Thousands of results will be provided but the most accessed sites which rank the highest in use will be on the first couple of pages of your search.  Open up a few of these sites and get a feel for what each agent or agency is selling.  Ask yourself, does the site have the information I need and is easy to find?  Are there links to other sites which may be useful to me regarding the property and the surrounding areas, such as schools, public transportation, shopping and recreation?  Once you have found a site and agent you feel confident can help you contact them and ask for their assistance in finding your new home or condo.  The cyber savvy real estate agent knows where to look to find what you need.  I don’t just mean finding properties but all the other information important to you before you purchase.  These agents will have a myriad of sites to gather information which will be critical to your purchase, from the Multiple Listing Service for their area, public record information for tax and assessment information to networking sites which offer shared ideas from other agents who are using cutting edge technology to meet their customer’s needs.  Real estate sales have changed dramatically to one of the most technologically advanced businesses but not all agents have embraced the technology which can help them and their customers.  Before you buy check out your agent and find out if he or she is truly cyber savvy.


First-time Home Buyers

First-time home buyers have much to consider when deciding whether to give up renting and purchase a condo, townhouse, or other property rather than continuing to rent.

While interest rates for mortgages are historically low, and property values have dipped considerably as a result of the high number of vacant properties currently on the market, many prospective buyers are understandably hesitant about wanting to take that final step and become homeowners. This is understandable for many reasons, not least of which is the national focus on job losses and foreclosures, which could cause people to worry about the possibility of becoming another sad statistic.

For instance, although mortgage rates have dropped as low as 4.75 percent—something unseen since the 1960s, people with a few dings on their credit scores likely would not qualify for the best rates. Also, mortgage lenders are becoming more circumspect about  giving loans. However, everything is relative, and a mortgage rate under 6 percent is still quite good.

The pressure to buy has abated since the first-time homebuyers tax credit was not renewed when its deadline ran out last spring. Now people can take their time looking without being under deadling pressure, although it would have been nice to get the extra tax rebate too.      

Of course, no matter what the incentives are, depending on your individual situation, renting a condo is sometimes the best move for the time being. You have to consider whether you plan to settle down for at least a few years, or move in a short time, because a quick turnover might result in a loss of money. Rental condos are commonly found in upscale buildings in vibrant neighborhoods, and are usually much larger and amenity-rich than an ordinary apartment.   

If you are looking forward to being a first-time homebuyer, but are just not in a good financial position right now, you have the option of looking for rent-to-own properties, which can be found all over these days because sellers want to have their properties occupied. Many people aiming for home ownership just have trouble saving enough for a down payment, and a rent-to-own agreement can help with that because part of your rent will go toward the down payment. During the rent-to-own contract, usually between 12 and 18 months, you can also work on repairing your credit score in order to qualify for a mortgage loan.  In the meantime, you will be living in the home you are working toward buying, and the seller benefits too, because their property is earning them money rather than sitting empty.


Rent to Own

Today’s real estate market is challenging to buyers, sellers and real estate agents and requires creativity to satisfy the needs of everyone.  The rent to own program offered by OwnACondo.com satisfies that need.

You just purchased the home you have wanted your entire life but haven’t sold your current home.  What can you do?  Rent to own may be the solution to your problem.  This scenario as well as many others, offer both buyers and sellers alike opportunities not often made available by traditional real estate brokers.

The rent to own program offers the seller the opportunity to sell their condo and enables buyers who might be cash strapped or have credit issues that can be addressed over time to buy.

The rent to own program works very much like a car lease.  Each month the renter pays you a certain amount to live in the house.  The program can be set up have a portion of the rent go toward down payment accumulating over time to enable the buyer to purchase.  The seller is covering his expenses and feels secure the property is being taken care of because the potential owner is currently living there.  The buyer is living in a property that might be his one day so he is saving toward a down payment and experiencing the neighborhood, schools, shopping and other amenities in the area.

There are definite advantages to the rent to own program and below are just a few.

  1. Potential buyers who have no down payment or credit issues may be able to purchase.  They have time to build income and repair their credit.
  2. Depending on the agreement, a buyer may not exercise their option to purchase if there is something seriously wrong with the home.
  3. Monthly lease or rental amount may go toward down payment enabling the buyer to save for a down payment while living in the property.
  4. Potential buyers will be able to determine if the location is one in which they wish to live.  They will be able to learn about the neighborhood, schools, shopping, transportation, etc.

The great American dream of owning your own home is alive and well if you know where to look and what to look for.  A rent to own program can be the perfect solution for everyone and more and more people are seriously looking at it as a means to owning their own home.


Rental condos

Rental condos are great, and can be found in moderately priced and luxury developments alike, in cities across the United States. But the percentage of rented condos in a particular development is an important piece of information to know for many people interested in buying condos there.

 One reason the percentage of owner-occupied condos in a complex is an important consideration for many condo buyers is that if they are looking for an FHA mortgage, the percentage will have a bearing on whether they will be approved for the loan or not. The FHA recently made a slight adjustment to its rules, permitting 50 percent of the condos to be owner-occupied, whereas the minimum used to be 51 percent. This was done in part to encourage ownership. More people are applying for FHA loans now because they only require 3.5 percent down payment, while banks and other lenders want a 10 percent down payment, which many people are unable to come up with.

But the issue remains a conundrum for many condo associations. So while the FHA is becoming more lenient, many condo associations want to reduce the allowable percentage of rental condos in their own buildings to as little as 25 percent, if they are allowed at all. Of course, any change in the condo laws have to be approved by a majority of owners, and if most of the owners are investors who don’t live in the complex, they might not go along with it.

If there are too many rental condos, owner-occupants in the building often feel like they are living in an apartment complex, and express concerns that others considering moving into the building might be hesitant to move in for the same reason.

 At the same time, having the ability to lease condos give owners more flexibility, if their job takes them out of the city and they are not ready to put the property up for sale. Also, many people like the idea of being able to rent a condo, rather than an apartment, because condos are usually larger and there are often more amenities in condo developments than in apartment complexes. Many also sign rent-to-own contracts, so they will eventually become owners.

So the two sides have come to some sort of “happy medium” regarding the issue of  rental condos, because while some condo owners would rather not have any rented units in the complex, feeling that renters do not have as much invested in, others point out that having units rented is definitely better than having them empty.


Miami Real Estate Market

Let’s be honest.  The national real estate market is certainly facing its challenges and the Miami Real Estate market is no different but there are some reasons to be optimistic about what is happening across the nation and more specifically in the Miami market.  The lack of new developments has helped to slow a glut in the housing and condo markets for Miami 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 already have happened and prices are stabilizing or may even be starting an upward trend.  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.

Market trends can change fairly dramatically and quickly due to several contributing factors.  The Miami real estate market is no different than any other area of the country and trends are an aspect that must be considered no matter if you are a first-time homebuyer or seasoned purchaser.  Knowing where the market is headed and the overall conditions are a very crucial part of making a smart decision.

For many months the Miami real estate market has been showing signs of recovery.  This can be the perfect time for buyers to enter the market looking for distressed homes and we are seeing an increasing number every day looking for short sales, foreclosures or just a motivated seller needing to move their home or condo.  With home prices continuing to drop in all areas of the country including Miami, many buyers are looking for the best deals they can find.

Access to properties has also made it easier for home buyers to find just the right deal.  Many properties are still being listed in magazines, newsletters, and other forms of publication but most homebuyers find it easier to look online.  Information that was once limited to the general public is now available quickly and easily providing many homeowners alternatives in buying or selling a home or condo.

Obviously we are not quite out of the woods yet regarding the real estate market but at least now we see some light at the end of the tunnel.  The real estate industry is used to cycles but this time around we would like to see the down side turn much quicker to the up side.


Apartment Rentals

People considering buying apartment buildings as an investment will be encouraged to hear that while sales of condos and other real estate slowed due to the downturn in the economy, apartment rentals are showing signs of recovery, despite the spike in unemployment and other factors.   

That could explain why people are looking for rental condos too. For instance, the analytic firm of MFP Research found that the number of occupied apartments increased by 215,000 in 64 major U.S. markets in the first six months of the year, according to analytic firm MFP Research. That is almost twice the number of occupancies added in all of 2009.

The National Multi-Housing Council, a trade group for the nation's largest landlords, agrees that vacancy levels are improving. Its most recent quarterly index of occupancies is the highest it has been in four years.

Chicago-area landlords also are doing well, according to statistics that show the suburban vacancy rate remaining about 5.5 percent, and about 6 percent in the city. This is an improvement from 9 percent vacancy rates several years ago, and both sectors of apartment rentals are low enough to be considered a balanced market, according to many observers.

Ordinarily, when unemployment levels are as high as they are, apartment rentals would be expected to decrease because college graduates and other young people looking for jobs are not in a position to move away from home and get their first apartment. But there are other economic factors contributing to the evident uptick in renters. These include the fact that people do not feel secure enough to invest in a condo or house due to the state of the market, so they continue renting. Also, people who have experienced a home foreclosure or short sale have now returned to renting condos and apartments.   

The fact that on average, monthly rents being charged have not increased too much in recent years, and have even remained level in many areas, also encourages more people to rent rather than buy. Then the supply issue must be taken into consideration also. In Chicago, the number of new rental units has increased only slightly in recent years, according to industry observers, who say that practically no new apartment buildings have been built in the Chicago suburbs.

Because apartment rentals have been going up, this might be a good time to invest in apartment buildings. And anyone who wants to use renting as a steppingstone to ownership can look for rent-to-own programs, which many condo owners offer.


Condo Rentals in Chicago

Condo rentals are a means to many different types of ends.  Condo rentals in Chicago can help you to find the perfect place for you no matter what your motivation might be, from a place to call home until you can purchase or possibly for that much needed vacation residence.

Condo rentals in Chicago for your vacation are open to everyone, no matter your age, background, or lifestyle.  The jazz clubs in which Chicago is well known for will delight music lovers.  If the national pastime is more to your liking, Chicago offers two major league teams each in a different part of the city.  Everyone in the family will enjoy the many architectural and historical landmarks that Chicago is known for from the Sears Tower to Soldier Field.  Other sights to see are the many museums that are home to Chicago such as, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry and the Kohl’s Children’s Museum known for it’s hands on learning laboratory.  But that’s not all for the kids!  The attraction-filled Navy Pier and Lincoln Park zoo will make your vacation one that the kids will remember for a long time.  A relatively new addition to Chicago will excite the kids beyond belief with a trip to Millenium Park and “the bean” where reflections of the city makes incredible photos to take home to their friends.  Last but not least is Lake Michigan which is always fun when it is sunny and warm out.  If this doesn’t sound appealing to you yet then perhaps you are wondering about how affordable condo rentals can be.  Don’t worry you can definitely find cheap accommodations no matter if it is a weekly rental or one night accommodations.

What if you are not looking for a vacation rental?  Condo rentals in Chicago are also an excellent source to find a place to live.  You may just need a place to rent until you decide to buy or possibly enter into a rent to own agreement which is becoming more and more popular in today’s real estate market.  Either way finding a condo in Chicago is just a click away but there are several things you show know.

  • All rental agreements are not alike – a lease us for a definite period of time, generally one year.  A month to month rental agreement is not for a set period and continues until you decide to move or the owner asks you to leave.
  • Rental agreements do not have to be in writing, they can be oral.  However, a lease for more than a year generally must in writing.
  • You have rights!  The law says that your apartment must be livable.  You must have hot and cold running water, heat, and electrical lighting in good working order.

Finding a condo to rent or buy can be a daunting task but doing your homework and finding the right real estate agent to help will pay off many times over.


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.


Owning vs. Renting

There are pros and cons of owning vs. renting condos, but many people agree that in the end, owning a condo is more beneficial, mainly because you are building up equity rather than just turning over money to a landlord.

But depending on your circumstances, renting a condo or apartment can be the right way to go too. For instance, people who are new to an area, having just relocated for a job, might favor renting because they are not sure how long they will be there or they haven’t determined which neighborhood they want to settle down in.

Also, you might just happen upon an apartment or condo for rent that has all the space and amenities you are looking for, perhaps a pool, fitness center, and a great location to boot, and decide you would rather rent than buy. Some people who have made comparisons contend that apartments in downtown Chicago and other popular areas are much roomier than the condos available for sale in the same areas. In other cities, such as New York, co-ops, in which people buy shares in a building rather than the individual unit they live in, are another popular option.

The one thing that often holds many people back from owning vs. renting a home of any kind is the need to come up with a substantial down payment. Most people can come up with the monthly rent, or mortgage payment, but even a 10 percent down payment is very difficult for a lot of prospective buyers. The days of buying a home without putting down any down payment may be gone now, following the national financial crisis, and plethora of foreclosures in recent years.

But even if you don’t initially have enough money for a down payment, and still want a there is no need to lose hope that you will never own your own home. There are many rent-to-own condos available, which allow the renter to put some of his or her rent toward a down payment. The rent-to-own agreement usually lasts a year or even two, depending on what the parties decide. They can then revisit the situation at the end of the set time period, and perhaps take out a mortgage agreement. That usually gives the renter enough time to get his or her financial situation enough to qualify for a mortgage.

Because there are so many different situations, there will always be people who prefer owning vs. renting, or visa-versa, and it is good that there are options available to suit every need.