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5 Tips for Buying a Home

Looking to buy a home? Here are five essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.

Get your finances in order.

Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Obtain copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you find. Next, find a suitable lender and get pre-approved for a loan. This will put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house.

Find a house you can afford.

As with engagement rings, there’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home: two-and-a-half times your annual salary. There are also a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand how your income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, including property taxes, energy costs, etc.

Hire a professional.

While the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level of expertise you can’t pick up from surfing the web. That’s why you’re better off using a professional agent than going it alone. If possible, recruit an exclusive buyer agent, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

Do your homework.

Before making a bid, do some research to determine the state of the market at large. Is it more favorable for sellers or buyers? Next, look at sales trends of similar homes in the area or neighborhood. Look at prices for the last few months. Come up with an asking price that’s competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off your seller.

Think long term.

Obviously, you shouldn’t buy unless you’re sure you’ll be staying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should buy in a neighborhood with good schools. Whether you have children or not, this will have an impact on your new home’s resale value down the line. When it comes to the house itself, you should hire your own home inspector, who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.

Relocating to the Big City

Moving from a small town or suburb to a large city can be an intimidating proposition. Here are a few tips to help make your move as painless as possible.
Research before you move. It’s important to understand the culture you’re joining. Do research online and find out about school systems, neighborhoods, parking, weather, public transportation, and laws that are native to that area. If you can, visit a city before moving and connect with someone who’s lived there before.
Have a plan. There are a lot of steps to go through before you start packing the moving truck. Find housing before you leave, or at least know where you’ll stay while you look for a home. Never sign a lease on an apartment that you haven’t seen. If you can’t get there, find a friend or an employer to check for you. Have a job waiting for you, or if that’s not possible, know what you’ll do for money in the first few weeks of living there. Try to line up things like driver’s licenses, car insurance, renter’s insurance, and parking passes ahead of time as well.
Get involved. Meeting people in a big city can be daunting. Don’t expect the neighbors to knock your door down with a casserole when you arrive: city life is often too noisy and hectic. Take the initiative. If there are things you liked to do in your town, find ways to do those things in the city. Try new things. Volunteer. Big cities offer so many opportunities to engage other people, so find what you like.
Mind your wallet. City life is expensive. Everything costs more: food, insurance, clothes, rent. There are also a lot more ways to get ripped off, whether legally or criminally. Be careful how you spend, and know where your money is going.

Preparing to Sell

Selling your home doesn’t just mean hiring a realtor to stick a sign out front. There are a lot of preparations you should make to ensure you get the best offer possible in the shortest time.
Repair. Just because you’ve gotten used to the cracks in the walls and the rattles in the radiators doesn’t mean a buyer will too. If you have hardwood floors that need refinishing, be sure to get it done—hardwood is a huge selling point. Buyers like to snoop around, so be sure to fix any sticky doors or drawers as well. Finally, don’t forget to address any issues with the exterior—fences, shingles, sidewalks, etc. After all, without curb appeal, some buyers may never get to see the inside.
Neutralize. You want buyers to see themselves in your home. If your living room has lime green shag, wood-paneled walls, and all your collectibles and personal photographs, this will be much harder for them to do. Try replacing any bold color choices in your floors and walls with something more neutral—beiges, tans, and whites. Repainting and reflooring will make everything look fresh and new, and help prospective buyers imagine all the possibilities.
Stage. Once your house is clean and updated, it’s time to play dress up. Home stagers can add small details and décor touches that will bring out the possibilities in the various spaces in your home: lamps, mirrors, throw rugs and pillows, flowers, decorative soaps and towels, patio furniture. Home staging can be particularly useful if your home is especially old or if the exterior looks dated. Think of it as a little mascara and rouge—if it’s done right, you notice the beauty, not the makeup.

Dealing with Financing

As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril. Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that “for sale” sign on your new home.

Get pre-approved. Sub-primes may be history, but you’ll probably still be shown homes you can’t actually afford. By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford. You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Unlike pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history. By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you’ll be less likely to get in over your head.

Choose your mortgage carefully. Used to be the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible. Today, the debt the average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it’s better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year. This way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good. Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you plan to stay in the house for a long time—and given the current real estate market, you should—taking the points will save you money.

Do your homework before bidding. Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood with sites like Zillow. Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three months. For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8 to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

SOLD!! 2022 W Superior Chicago IL 60612

2022 Superior Living Room

SOLD!! 2022 w Superior
Chicago, IL 60612

Closed: 1/05/2016
$949,000

Stunning new construction single family home in booming Ukrainian Village with tons of light! This modern home features 4 bedrooms 3.5 Baths with a well thought out flexible and efficient floor plan and architecturally cool center staircase. The large master suite has an over sized steam shower with heated floors, and bench + large walk in closet. The dream kitchen is a chefs delight with abundant cabinetry and Bosch appliance package + 2 beverage centers. Lower level is perfect for entertaining with a large wet bar. Additional amenities include heated floor in lower level bath, laundry room with shelving and sink, speaker pre-wiring throughout. Three phenomenal private decks! One above the garage and two on the roof. Highly desirable location close to shops, restaurants, Chicago express bus, Metra, park, and so much more!

2022 Superior Kitchen

2022 Superior family room

2022 Superior bathroom

This modern new construction single family home in booming West Town received multiple offers and sold within one week! For the interior of the dwelling the builder did a fantastic job of providing stunning finishes that flowed throughout the entire home in a harmonious manner. On the exterior, the use of multiple materials gives it a strong architectural presence. This combination along with great marketing, made the home well received in the real estate market and positioned it for a quick and aggressive sell.

If you are looking for a market analysis on your home, contact me today. Our team is happy to help you get a premium price for home this year! Danielle Dowell – ddowell@thedowellgroupre.com – 312.391.5655

1615 Burling – 15 New Luxury Boutique Residences

1615 Burling Exterior rendering

Welcome to 1615 Burling, a unique collection of 15 luxury-designed residences in a boutique setting and unmatched location. Comprised of two extraordinary penthouse residences, three expansive duplexes, and a mix of light-filled two and three bedroom homes, this building exemplifies the best of location, architecture, design, quality and lifestyle. Designed by the renowned architectural firm, Pappageorge Haymes, every detail of these homes has been thoughtfully considered.

1615 Burling Rendering Penthouse Living Room

Interiors defined by extra-wide, light filled spaces that are bright, graceful and welcoming. Each corner residence has been professionally designed with an eye towards generous great rooms, striking kitchens and dream bathrooms, along with extraordinary private outdoor space, elevator access and attached heated garage parking.

The exterior compliments the tradition of Burling Street yet fulfills buyers’ desire for a modern aesthetic and boutique lifestyle.

1615 Burling Rendering Master Bedroom

Nestled at the end of the Burling street cul-de-sac in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, 1615 Burling provides the best of a quaint neighborhood within steps of any city necessity, convenience or luxury.

penthouse terrace

Our anticipated delivery date is summer of 2016 and pre-construction prices range from $729,000 – $1,999,000. We have begun office presentations at our Koenig Rubloff office at 1800 N Clybourn 2nd floor. Presentations are held every Saturday from 10-1 or by appointment.

For more information contact Danielle Dowell at ddowell@thedowellgroupre.com or 312.391.5655.

1031-1035 S. Racine – New Project by ZOV Development

515claremont_reshoot_001_3081773-1-305707

 

Zov Construction’s newest development, 1031-1035 S. Racine, features eight expansive 2, 3 & 4 bedroom residences in the heart of Chicago’s Tri-Taylor/Little Italy district.

The qualities of old world heritage, and modern sensibility, create properties infused with cutting edge updates, indisputable style and timeless class.

Zov development modern kitchen

 

Taylor Street offers a mix of classic restaurants and interesting wine bars. The Italian eateries that populate the area, a nod to the neighborhood’s immigrant past, coexist happily with neighborhood coffee shops, populated by local residents and students from the nearby university.

The community’s charm, no doubt one reason for the neighborhood’s popularity, is further maximized by a centralized location and easy access to convenient public transportation. 1031-1035 S. Racine is minutes from downtown Chicago, the University of Illinois Chicago campus, and the University of Illinois Medical District.

Zov Development living room

 

The four story development straddles an impressive 50’X160′ lot, which allows for eight luxuriously wide and spacious, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom residences! Overall the property’s aesthetic is modern in concept. Large glass-paneled balconies accent a natural stone exterior facade which compliments sleek interior finishes. Custom cabinetry, quartz countertops, walk-in closets and designer bathrooms with radiant heated floors and steam showers are just a few of the luxuries standard to each unit. Multiple outdoor areas and garage parking are also included in the design.

Zov development bedroom

 

For more information about this exciting development, and other upcoming projects, please contact me, Danielle Dowell, with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.

513-515 N Claremont – UK Village Project

Experience contemporary urban living at 513-515 N. Claremont, Zov Construction’s latest development in highly sought after Ukrainian Village.

513-515 N Claremont is a rare opportunity to purchase new construction condos in one of Chicago’s most desirable neighborhoods. The area has recently experienced a booming transformation with an abundance of new construction that has changed the landscape of the community. The neighborhood is now primarily zoned for single family homes, which makes the condos located on Claremont especially valuable.

Also, new residents here will be able to enjoy the peace and quiet of a side street without sacrificing the convenience of transportation. The development site is a hidden gem, 1 Block from the Western Metra and steps to the 65 bus, great for personal use and excellent for resale value. Also take a stroll along the beautiful Smith Park that has an outdoor swimming pool, track and t-ball games in the summer.

Nestled on a tree-lined side street, the units on Claremont are tastefully finished in muted tones with surprising touches of elegant texture. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the extra-wide living area and clean lines throughout give these homes a modern, yet inviting feel. Custom cabinetry, quartz countertops, walk-in closets and designer bathrooms with radiant heat and a steam shower are a few of the luxuries these units offer.
Perfect for summer, each unit offers substantial outdoor space and for the penthouses a panoramic view of the city.

The spacious four bedroom duplex down units features two levels of outdoor living with a deck off the unit and huge private roof deck on the garage. Even the middle simplex units get views of the tallest downtown buildings.

Ukrainian Village or UK Village, as locals affectionately refer to the neighborhood is popular because of its unique mix of art galleries, design shops, boutiques, nightspots and exciting restaurants.

Come by this weekend to view our model home that is open every Saturday and Sunday from 1-3.

For more information on these exciting new units please contact Danielle Dowell or Kimber Galvin with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services today.

Millennials Are Searching For Homes. Are You Ready For Them?

Years ago, a fearsome economic downturn resulted in Millennials returning to their parents’ homes in droves after graduation, in order to save money as they searched for too-elusive job opportunities. The image of a young 20-something, sitting in a darkened basement with Cheetos dust in their hair, sending out resumes at a clip was an all-pervasive image. Fortunately, the economy is recovering, and census studies are showing that home purchases amongst 25 – 34 olds are on the rise. Today’s real estate professionals would be remiss to ignore the trend.

Something to watch out for with buyers amongst the millennial set, is their tech-savviness. They’ll Google, Facebook and thoroughly vet any potential service provider in the digital sphere – especially a real estate agent who will helm the search for one of the most significant investments they will ever make. A strong, thoughtful web presence is key in order to capture their business.

A workforce in frequent upheaval means that the days of the 20-year tenure with one company have become rare. Advancement opportunities and frequent career changes mean that Millennials require housing options that are more fluid. They’ll seek homes that can sell quickly, in neighborhoods that will appreciate in value fast.

While they’re there, millennials want their homes to be convenient and connected. Areas close to work and amenities like shopping and dining options will be key, and if they can adjust their thermostat using their iPads, that would be a definite plus. As with any first time homebuyer, affordability will be a primary consideration. Luckily, Millennials may not need as much space as generations past. With ecologically-minded attitudes and a trend toward delaying/deciding not to have children, additional bedrooms and baths aren’t always as much of a priority.

Make no mistake, Millennials are already playing a very large part in shaping the future of the real estate market. Recognizing their unique needs and wants has been a priority of my team, and we have adjusted our business services to better serve this growing niche. Real estate professionals looking to open the door to a whole new generation of clients should make sure they’re in tune with the dynamics of this tech-savvy generation.

For more information on meeting the real estate needs of Millennials, or any other real estate questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at ddowell@koenigrubloff.com

Innovative Flexhouse of Logan Square Announces Phase 3!

If you have spent any amount of time in Logan Square this summer, chances are you have noticed and admired the new rowhouses taking shape on Ridgeway Avenue. Known as Flexhouse2, this modern, urban concept is the creation of Chicago-based Ranquist Development Group.

Best known for their high quality, modern homes in Chicago’s finest neighborhoods, the professionals at Ranquist were quick to recognize an emerging trend in the Chicago housing market. Homebuyers were increasingly interested in finding modern, efficient and modest housing in vibrant, transitional neighborhoods.

Innovative concept in mind, Ranquist worked with Interface Studio Architects (ISA), a Philadelphia-based architecture practice renowned for their unique approach to sustainable and affordable urban housing design. Through the collective expertise of these two respected firms, and a partnership with Sedgwick Investments, the Flexhouse development was born.

The interior of these designs are open concept, with a natural flow that allows each home to easily adapt to a variety of uses and lifestyles. The main levels are modern with an industrial edge, augmented by ten foot ceilings, radiant-heat concrete floors, custom cabinetry and sleek Quartz countertops.

Incredible, extra-deep backyards are the highlight of the exterior. The outdoor space is highlighted by a private deck area, and gives access to the two-car garage, with a storage loft.

Special care was taken when considering the sustainability of each home. Green features include high-efficiency heating and cooling units, programmable digital thermostats, Energy Star appliances, dual-flush toilets, high-efficiency Andersen windows, low VOC paint and a combination of open and closed cell foam insulation.

But the true beauty of Flexhouse is in the customization. Homebuyers have the ability to choose from different floor plans, as well as the ability to customize many interior finishes to make the space their own. While semi-custom design isn’t a unique concept, it was certainly a luxury that used to only be afforded to homebuyers at particular price points. Flexhouse is changing the landscape of modern, affordable urban housing.

Following the smashing success of The Flexhouse and Flexhouse2, Ranquist is getting ready to break ground on the next phase of development. With only one unit left in Phase 2, Phase 3 includes plans for sixteen new rowhomes along Hamlin and will be delivered starting in the spring of 2015.
Flexhouse truly embodies today’s new generation of homebuyers, with simplistic, modern architecture, a focus on sustainable, design-driven solutions, and affordability that makes their homes attainable for a broad range of homeowners and neighborhoods.

For more information on the Flexhouse development, contact Danielle Dowell at 312.391.5655 or ddowell@koenigrubloff.com

modern kitchen

Flexhouse master bath