Chicagoland home inspection facts will always be a topic of discussion in real estate circles. Home inspections are likely to remain in steady demand as the real estate market is expected to continue to be relatively good in 2017. Home inspections are, of course, a valuable tool in assisting buyers in making informed, educated decisions about a house they’re considering purchasing.

Home inspections provide a great deal of valuable information about the overall condition of a home. In addition, the inspection will assess those areas that may require both small and large repairs, as well as any visual issues that may affect the structural components of the house. As with any subjective art or science, the home inspection industry is often victim to a wide variety of myths and misconceptions. Let’s take a look at some of the more prevalent myths and see if we can separate fiction from the Chicagoland home inspection facts.

Understanding Chicagoland home inspection facts is vital to the housing industry.

Myth: The home inspection report will contain everything I will need to know about the house I’m going to purchase.

Fact: The home inspection report will include a good deal of information about your home. However, prospective homeowners are encouraged to accompany home inspectors as they inspect the home. Having the potential new homeowner present will give them the advantage of observing and hearing first-hand what the inspector sees and thinks about the home’s condition. In addition, an inspector will usually give the homeowner suggestions and advice on the maintenance of many areas of the home.

Myth: A real estate appraisal is essentially the equivalent to a home inspection and is just as thorough.

Fact: An appraisal and a home inspection aren’t the same thing, nor do they set out to determine the same results. There’s a reason both an appraisal and a home inspection report are required by most lenders on real estate transactions – and the reason is they are two entirely different processes. An appraisal is a determination of the fair market value of a home or other piece of real estate. Utilizing Chicagoland home inspection facts can determine the condition of a home and its component parts – plumbing systems, electrical systems, roofs and floors, etc. – which, of course, may affect the home’s value, but the inspection report is more concerned with the home’s actual condition.

Myth: A home inspector can let me know everything that can maybe go wrong with the house I’m thinking about buying.

Fact: While a home inspector is obligated to list in his report items that aren’t working properly or efficiently, he has no way of knowing when certain systems or components will fail. The inspector can only observe the functions of various aspects of the home at the time of the inspection. For example, the home inspector may cite that a home will need a new roof within the next 3-5 years. However, if conditions deteriorate more rapidly than that, a prospective homeowner may find he needs a new roof in less time than was originally estimated. In addition, as has been said of home inspectors in an effort to explain what they can see and can’t see, inspectors aren’t equipped with x-ray vision and can’t see through walls, floors, brick, wood, or concrete. Inspectors can only report on what they view at a particular point in time with a trained eye knowing what to look for. One last thought regarding a home inspection: Read your inspection contract. Some agreements don’t include such items like pest inspection and septic tank failure. These could likely be extras that aren’t part of a standard contract. So, if you're confused or have a question as to what’s covered and what’s not, ask your home inspector to explain it to you – and show it to you in writing.

Myth: All home inspectors are licensed and qualified. Plus, my home inspector says he’s certified, so I should be safe, right?

Fact: Licensing for home inspectors is only required in 30 states throughout the United States. In addition, even inspectors who are licensed will have varying degrees of qualifications. While some home inspectors receive their job training and certification via a variety of related programs and educational offerings, certification does not always equate to competency, and certification is not guarantee that an inspector is fully trained. Some home inspectors receive their training from online courses – having never completed an on-site field inspection, nor passed a comprehensive test for home inspection knowledge. While technically they may have received a certification, they clearly aren't as field-tested as other inspectors may be.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has taken steps designed to set certain standards for performance for its members. ASHI has several levels of certification and offers full certification to those inspectors who have completed a minimum of 250 home inspections and have passed a comprehensive examination. If you want to know more about your home inspector’s qualifications and just how much he knows about Chicagoland home inspection facts, have an in-depth discussion with him. Ask about his training and field experience. It’s also a good idea to ask for a sample of a typical home inspection report so you can see firsthand how thorough the report will be.

Knowing more about the home inspection process and the people that provide the service will give you greater awareness and confidence in the results of the report. In addition to the peace of mind, you’ll likely be more prone to accept and understand the inspector’s findings about the house you’re contemplating buying.

Be on the lookout for these and other myths to distinguish from Chicagoland home inspection facts. They are great for providing a certain amount of information about a home. Just make sure you understand what that information is and what is being reported, recommended and observed by the home inspector.

You can find more articles pertaining to Chicagoland home inspections in the Chicagoland Home Inspections section of our site below Chicagoland Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

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The Chicagoland real estate outlook these days is a combination of good and bad. The good is that home prices have been rising nationwide for 53 consecutive months – nearly 4 1/2 years! The increases have floated millions of borrowers previously underwater on their mortgages to the safe surface where they can finally catch their breath. In addition, during the first three quarters of 2016, U.S. homeowners were the recipients of more than $837 billion in total home equity.

Now, the bad. Despite such significant increases in home equity, the gains have not been able to fight the negative connotation of rising mortgage interest rates in the minds of consumers. While more young Americans in their home buying years are employed and more millennials have moved into a position to be able to buy for the first time, consumer sentiment for home buying is dropping. Let’s take a look at what’s caused this reaction and what sort of murky picture it may paint for housing in 2017 and beyond.

The Chicagoland real estate outlook includes the housing outlook for 2017.

Most real estate experts say the home sentiment concerns in the Chicagoland real estate outlook are twofold:  A shrinking number of consumers see the recent rise in mortgage rates to lessen, and even fewer say their overall household income is higher today than it was this time a year ago. This information was revealed in a recent survey conducted by Fannie Mae. A Fannie Mae economist explains: “Despite the post-election bump in general consumer attitudes, a rapid rise in mortgage rate expectations has tamped down home-purchase sentiment, at least in the near term. A spike in economic optimism in the immediate aftermath of an election is typical. Whether consumers will sustain this level of optimism into 2017 remains unclear.”

Ironically, the rise in interest rates recently affecting the Chicagoland real estate outlook is generally a reflection of optimism among consumers. Stock market investors pushed investments to record levels in response to the expectation that the new Republican administration will favor growth, business and employment. And, while such expectations would translate into greater income growth, better job security and new businesses – normally important catalysts for the housing market – thus far, indications are that housing sentiment is murky, at best.

The outlook may be fueled, in part, by what experts see as a wide economic chasm in the housing market. Although home values have gained and are continuing to do so, most of the increases have benefitted only those homes in the middle to upper end of the market. This has resulted in negative equity situations concentrating in the lower end of the market – at what is typically described as the bottom 20%.

According to Black Knight Financial Services, borrowers living in homes in the lower-tier of pricing are nine times more likely to be underwater than homeowners in the top 20% of the housing market. Being underwater is loosely defined as those homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. In addition, while several years ago negative equity was a diverse and widespread problem throughout the nation, today it’s evolved into more of a localized market problem. Economists say that at the end of 2010, there were approximately 30% of American homeowners underwater on their mortgages.

Many consumers, though buoyed by the gains in home equity over the past 12-18 months, find themselves unable to access it – another cause for concern in the Chicagoland real estate outlook. This comes as a result of higher interest rates, but also could be a direct result of their inability to qualify for a mortgage loan – regardless of the interest rate. Remember, a number of these consumers not only were underwater because of the housing crash, but struggled mightily to be able to make the house and other payments on time, creating slow credit history and positioning themselves in the minds of lenders as less than qualified. Whatever the reason, the share of equity currently held by borrowers that was available for access dropped from 73% in October 2016 to 33% in December 2016.

While interest rates have edged slightly downward in recent weeks, economists say they may very well move back upward as the new administration takes over, and as the new President's economic plans are made more known.

That raises the question that always plagues the housing industry and is often a part of the Chicagoland real estate outlook: What will the outlook for the spring “housing season” be? While the honest answer remains to be seen, the component parts are these:

1) Rising home prices will continue to be a win effect, although there has been some leveling off in some markets throughout the country.

2) Interest rates, though still somewhat volatile, are comparatively speaking lower than they have been in recent modern times – with the exception of the last 12-18 months when rates were at or near record-lows. Rates are still affordable, despite not being as low as they were this time last year.

3) Home inventory will continue to be a concern, as few homes have hit the market for sale – sellers who would ordinarily have decided to sell are holding off until they have a better selection from which to choose – after all, they need to move up and more out, too.

4) Consumer sentiment, though of concern now, can change fairly quickly. There are plenty of homebuyers in the marketplace that can and will be able to afford mortgages – despite the slightly higher rates – and though they may find themselves paying top dollar in what will likely be a seller’s market, there are deals to be found among sellers who may have priced themselves out of the market and are now needing to sell.

See more articles pertaining to the Chicagoland real estate outlook in the section of articles on Chicagoland Real Estate News just below Chicagoland Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. And remember, we also post tips daily on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out there, too.

The Chicagoland mortgage outlook is expected to include higher interest rates for 2017. The Federal Reserve’s recent short-term interest rate hike was both highly anticipated and expectedly minimal. And, while the fed funds interest rate has little direct correlation to longer-term mortgage interest rates, there has been – and may continue to be – a slight upward movement in rates for home loans.

Even prior to the Federal Reserve’s action, the average interest rate for conventional 30-year fixed rate mortgages increased after the recent presidential election. The rate hike saw record-low mortgage rates increase on average from a half to three-quarters of a percent. Post-election stock market activity meant investors were bullish on stocks and less interested in the bond market. Since long-term mortgage rates are more closely tied to the 10-year yield of U.S. Treasury bonds, rates rose as bond market investments declined.

The Chicagoland mortgage outlook of rising rates are more closely tied to the 10-year yield of U.S. Treasury bonds.

A burning question exists, however, as to whether the Chicagoland mortgage outlook of rising rates will really make much difference to the housing market in 2017. The reason for the question is simple:  Increasing rates, as exhibited by the Federal Reserve, are indicators of a stronger national economy – and a stronger economy historically favors the housing industry.

In addition, as one economist with Fannie Mae pointed out, “If interest rates are rising because the economy is growing more rapidly, then typically, incomes also rise, and the rising incomes offset the increase in the size of the mortgage payment…”

The unknown factor, however, tends to be largely intangible – buying a home is one of the most emotional purchases an American consumer will likely make. In a recent survey published by real estate brokerage firm Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, 76% of existing homeowners and 79% of potential homeowners mentioned higher interest rates as a major challenge for the existing housing market. Even more significant is that each of those statistics reflect increases of 16% and 8%, respectively, from the same period of time in 2015.

The report also revealed the anxiety of a larger number of owners and prospective buyers would increase if the Chicagoland mortgage outlook were to include further rate increases. The lesson here is that when it comes to housing, perception is reality. Case in point:  Interest rates are still within 1% of all-time historic lows, but to many potential buyers – especially first-timers – it may not seem that way, in light of the recent attention rate increases have received.

Still, in the face of recent increases there are real estate experts who feel rates won’t climb much higher in 2017. Redfin, for example, predicts rates will likely reach no higher than 4.3% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. In addition, they expect an ever-improving credit market, citing large financial institutions like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Quicken, who in 2016 offered mortgage loans with just 1% – 3% down. Redfin says these and other programs will attract more millennials and first-time buyers into the U.S. housing market in 2017.

In addition, to further highlight the intangible impact the Chicagoland mortgage outlook may have on the home buying public, Zillow offers this recent finding. In a survey of consumer housing trends, Zillow says home purchases were more closely tied to a consumer’s overall financial health than to any interest rate changes. They found certain life events – like employment changes, promotions, job-loss, or a change in the household make-up were more impactful factors affecting a home purchase. As a result, Zillow says, while there is naturally concern over the part of prospective homebuyers about rising interest rates, they are quick to realize that by historical standards the cost of borrowing money today for a home mortgage is very low. Lastly, while rate increases may have an impact on where they buy or the size home they buy, most purchasers are committed to entering the housing market once they elect to do so.

Of concern to many experts is the affordability factor that appears to be weakening – especially among first-time home buyers. Year over year – from 2015 to 2016 – the number of available homes for the average first-time buyer dropped over 12% according to Trulia. Other Trulia findings show that while premium or higher-end homes comprise roughly 50% of available listings nationwide, starter homes – attractive to first-timers – make up only 25% of listings. In addition, first-time buyers are expected to spend roughly 39% of their monthly income to afford a home, compared to 37% in 2015.

Finally, as we analyze the Chicagoland mortgage outlook for 2017, one continuing concern lingers in the housing market – available inventory. Experts say the biggest obstacle facing a strong spring housing market won’t be higher interest rates, but a lack of home supply. Real estate listings throughout the U.S. fell in 2016 compared to 2015 with little sign of improving enough during 2017 to impact the spring. Sales increases, quite simply, are dependent on housing supply – and one can’t occur without the other. While the new-home market is on the rise, homebuilders have still been unable to keep up with the demand for new housing, and housing starts have been lower than usual. In addition, homeowners who would normally be selling their homes to move into larger, better or more expensive homes aren’t moving as they once did. Experts say a typical homeowner stays in their existing home twice as long as they did just 15 short years ago. Increased interest rates will likely continue this trend as consumers won't sell their homes unless they have another home to buy – and probably will be less likely to pay more for the financing than they currently pay for their lower-rate mortgages.

In summary, the Chicagoland mortgage outlook seems to be less about rising rates and move about other factors – some that are intangible like financial well-being – and others that are more practical like home inventory and new- and existing-home supply from which to choose.

You can find more articles pertaining to the Chicagoland mortgage outlook in the "Chicagoland Mortgage Info" section of articles just below Chicagoland Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

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In examining Chicagoland real estate trends, at first glance some statistics are difficult to understand. For example, when it comes to homebuilder confidence in the December report recently released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) the number reflects the highest confidence level since 2005 – a period of 11 years! In addition, the one-month move was cited as the largest in 20 years – attributed, in part, at least to the post-presidential election optimism on behalf of many NAHB insiders. Confusingly, just a day later monthly reported statistics on home construction published by the U.S. Census Bureau showed a drop of nearly 19%. The bottom line, at least on the surface, is the nation’s homebuilders are very happy and extremely optimistic, but not enough to build more single-family homes in the current market. As mentioned, the numbers – and the concepts – seem difficult to understand. Let’s take a closer look at what may be at the root of the confusion.

New home construction as it pertains to Chicagoland real estate trends

Experts say the two sets of numbers – builder confidence and home construction – once tracked closely together. However, in 2012 during the depths of the worst housing crash in history, the numbers seemed to distance themselves from each other – having less correlation than they once did. While builder and consumer optimism started its steady recovery, the actual homebuilding market continued to suffer. Some experts offer the theory that it was simply the result of a basic business psychology – and a little human nature. Homebuilders, because they are entrepreneurs at their core, were more optimistic during the recession than the market may have reflected. This optimism, some argue, is necessary and expected – homebuilders lacking optimism about the market’s future would’ve had to consider another profession for their livelihood. Simply put, it’s difficult – if not impossible – to be in a business and not be one of its biggest supporting cheerleaders. Still, too, some insiders say the monthly builders' sentiment published by the NAHB is slanted more towards the smaller, custom homebuilder and, as a result, the data is somewhat skewed. The NAHB website cites its surveys as being comprised of three component parts:  current sales, expected sales over the next six months and current buyer traffic. The NAHB says the survey is a “weighted average of separate… indices for these three key single-family series.”

Some experts familiar with both the NAHB and other independent surveys say with different weighting the findings can favor the larger-volume nationally-known builders. One such survey, published by a well-known real estate consulting firm issued this opinion:  “We asked the same three questions that the NAHB asks at the same time of 311 homebuilders overseeing 11 percent of all U.S. new home sales. Builders told us sales and expected sales are better than average, and traffic is slightly worse than average. Since the builder responses were virtually identical to the responses last month and last year, and this survey is weighted 59 percent to actual sales rather than sales expectations and buyer traffic, (we are) surprised by the sharp increase in the [NAHB] index.”

Homebuilder confidence as part of Chicagoland real estate trends, as it turns out, cannot only be portrayed in different ways, it is also very subjective. For example, one expert contends, if you consider the results of the NAHB survey and include surveys from businesses asking them if conditions are the same, worse or better in the face of the recent presidential election, you may find that the results are indications of the “direction” of change, not the “degree" – in other words, qualitative and not quantitative. Quantitative analysis can only be measured after the fact and typically has little to do with theory or anticipated results.

So, as it relates to Chicagoland real estate trends, there seems to be a much higher demand for housing compared to the existing supply of homes for sale in inventory. This fact on its own makes homebuilders more confident. It’s always nice to know any product you are manufacturing has both a built-in demand and one that is underserved. Of course, this trend has been in existence largely since the start of 2016 or earlier. But even more telling is that the overall U.S. economy has and is continuing to improve – and a number of business sectors throughout the nation are very optimistic that a Trump administration will mean great improvement. With that, the nagging question still remains:  “If all that’s true, why aren’t homebuilders constructing more houses than ever before as part of Chicagoland real estate trends?” The answer, as usual, boils down to the basics. Check them out:

Homebuilders continue to be thwarted by a myriad of new regulations that end up costing as much as 25% of the price of a newly constructed home. In addition, labor shortages – nothing new in the new construction industry – continue to weigh heavily on homebuilders’ abilities to gear up to the degree they’d need to to meet the existing demand. Ironically, the labor shortage – primarily because it relies on a large number of immigrant workers – may continue during the upcoming Trump administration. Other factors holding builders back include the high costs of land and building materials – with little relief in sight – as there are fewer finished, construction-ready lots in the neighborhoods and subdivisions in which buyers want to live or move into. Then, there's the whole feeling of cautious optimism that comes as a result of previous housing industry setbacks – and most homebuilders are very cautious after enduring the severe housing crash of a few years ago. Lastly, as a homebuilder operating purely on a business level dealing with supply and demand and the proverbial bottom line of making a profit, by building fewer homes in a market – largely called a seller’s market – they can command a higher sales price for the homes they build, and that's one of the Chicagoland real estate trends that's hard to ignore.

See more articles pertaining to Chicagoland real estate trends in the section of articles on Chicagoland Real Estate just below Chicagoland Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. And remember, we also post tips daily on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out there, too.

If you’ve looked at listings of Chicagoland homes for sale, no doubt you’ve seen a variety of homes on the market – some that have been prepped for sale and others that probably shouldn’t be listed yet. Ultimately, how your home is presented for sale will determine whether it will sell in a timely manner and at a good price. Let’s take a closer look at several steps you should take before you decide to try and sell Chicagoland homes and do so in a timely manner.

To properly sell your house takes the right combination of preparation, time and patience. If you’re a first-time home seller the process can be a little overwhelming, but it’s not a daunting task if you know what to do to get your home ready to put on the market. Observe these tips as you prepare to sell Chicagoland homes:

Steps to sell Chicagoland homes quickly...

Know Your Home’s Value

In today’s “information age,” there’s really little excuse for having a pretty good idea of what your home is worth. Online websites like ours provide good information regarding your home’s value based on estimates of comparable sales data of homes for sale that are similar in size, location and age. Most websites are easy to navigate and offer users the opportunity to see recent real estate sales in the market categorized by zip codes, neighborhoods and sales price ranges. One tip:  Be sure to concentrate only on actual sales prices versus listing or asking prices. In addition, give consideration to what it would cost to perform needed repairs, upgrades, or improvements and factor those deductions into your home’s value.

Visiting this or other real estate websites will give you at least a ballpark idea of what your home is worth compared to others on the market when thinking about how best to sell Chicagoland homes. You can then use this information prior to discussing sales price strategy with a real estate professional – or negotiating with a prospective purchaser.

Have Your Paperwork Ready

To ensure the smoothest sale and closing transaction experience, it’s best to anticipate paperwork needs and be prepared. Experts say you should be aware of any existing title issues when you get ready to sell your house, including any outstanding liens, mechanic’s liens, or unpaid property taxes. Gather pertinent information concerning the ownership of your home including lending documents, the previous home inspection, and pest control inspection report. Also, in order to convey a clear, marketable title to the purchasers of your home, make sure you have a death certificate, will, or affidavit of heirship if the home is in a deceased person’s name. In addition, in the case of shared ownership, have the written consent of all owners – and any additional paperwork or documentation that may be relevant to the home and your ability to sell it smoothly and quickly.

Select the Method of Sale

The decision to sell Chicagoland homes should include choosing the method of sale that best suits your needs. As the home seller, you can retain the services of a real estate professional to list your home and put it on the market. Using a real estate agent is a popular choice for home sellers who want to place their faith in the hands of a professional real estate salesperson, trained and experienced in selling homes for a living. It’s also a good choice for sellers who want to capitalize on the highest value their home can command and those who can afford to wait a few months, if necessary, to consummate the sale. Having your home in tip-top shape is key in having it listed by a professional real estate agent. They deal in attracting residential buyers serious about making a purchase. So, a property in optimum shape will likely get the most attention and the most prospects. If there are repairs or upgrades required you can always list the property and note the items you are willing to pay for or have completed prior to the closing of the sale.

Conversely, you can choose to sell your home directly by “For Sale by Owner,” in which case you’ll be responsible for coordinating and scheduling showings, fielding phone calls and other inquiries and marketing your home for sale in all the normal and traditional channels.

As a third alternative, you can consider selling your home directly to an investor – especially if your property needs extensive repairs, or if you need to sell it quickly for various reasons. Investors who purchase property tend to pay cash, are ready to close relatively quickly to bring the property to proper standards if they plan to rent it out, or improve the house and try to then resell it at a profit, a practice known as “flipping” a home. Lastly, anyone choosing to sell Chicagoland homes to an investor needs to be aware they are usually skilled negotiators and may have a better idea of what your property is worth than you do. So, be smart. Negotiate items like closing costs or other costs if you can. You may want to make a quick sale, but be careful not to leave too much money on the table, if at all possible.

Clean up, Straighten up and Keep it Neat

Although this particular tip for listing your house among the homes for sale seems like a “no-brainer,” you’d be surprised at how often it’s overlooked. Make sure your house and yard are tidy, neat and clean to make them more presentable to prospective buyers. The home shoppers visiting your house will perceive the home as more valuable in a clean, organized condition. In addition, having “a place for everything and everything in its place” will promote the perception the house is well-maintained and the sellers have an eye for detail. This perception will likely make the home more attractive to like-minded purchasers.

See more articles pertaining to ways to sell Chicagoland homes in the two sections of articles on Chicagoland Home Selling Tips and Chicagoland Homes for Sale just below Chicagoland Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

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