Chicagoland Homes for Sale

If you’re shopping a Chicagoland homes for sale listing, you’ve no doubt seen the designation “pending” or “contingent” next to the listing online, attached to a yard sign, or in the newspaper. If you’re like many prospective home buyers, you may not fully understand exactly what those terms mean. Some buyers mistakenly assume that a “pending” message means the home is no longer on the market. However, as we’ll discuss here, that’s not always the situation. Should you come across a home you like and see it listed as “pending,” don't automatically give up. Let’s look at what the terms “pending” and “contingent” mean in today’s real estate market.

What does it really mean when you see a pending sign attached to a Chicagoland homes for sale listing?

What does “subject to” and “contingent upon” really mean? Before discussing what a “sale pending” means, let’s talk about how a normal real estate sales transaction really works. Typically speaking, a prospective home buyer makes an offer to purchase a home “subject to” a real estate appraisal, a property inspection report, or a final mortgage loan approval. In addition, many times a buyer may make the purchase of the home “contingent upon” the sale of their existing home – meaning they intend to buy the new home, but only if their current home sells. Naturally, that’s where most people will obtain the necessary funds for the down payment and closing costs for their new purchase. In the event the home doesn’t appraise for at least the sales price, if there’s an issue revealed in the home inspection report, if the purchaser can’t obtain financing, or if they can’t sell their current home, the buyer can usually get out of the contract. Each of those items allow the buyer the opportunity to exit the contractual agreement as a contingency.

A home under contract may still be available. Depending on the market in which you’re shopping, real estate agents often characterize a home with a contingency as being “active with conditions” or “active continue to show.” What this really means to other prospective buyers and agents is the property is still potentially available and the sellers are open to other offers to purchase. So, if you come across a Chicagoland homes for sale listing, remember that while the seller isn’t able to enter into a contract with another purchaser, the sale is far from completed. In such a circumstance, there may be an opportunity for a “back-up” offer – meaning if the original deal doesn't close, the seller will have an additional offer to fall back on. In the absence of a back-up offer, the property would have to go back on the market and essentially return to where it began in the sales process.

In some real estate markets in certain states, prospective buyers don't execute a contract until they’ve thoroughly inspected the property. Basically, there’s a verbal agreement between the buyer and the seller to purchase the property – and the home isn’t “sold” until the contract is executed (or closed) by all parties involved.

“Sale pending” means there are no more contingencies. A property marketed as a Chicagoland homes for sale listing is truly pending if all contingencies have been satisfied. In that case, the prospective purchaser is “locked into” buying the property. The only step remaining is for the closing of the sale to take place – a process that can range in time from a few days (in the case of a cash sale) or up to several weeks if there is mortgage financing involved.

To avoid confusion, most real estate agents won’t characterize a home as “pending” until the sale is fairly close to being consummated – meaning the sale of the property is pending the final closing. The buyer can still exit the contract, but it’s highly unlikely by that time such an event will occur. However, if the buyer needs to walk away from the deal, in most cases he will forfeit the earnest money deposit paid when the contract was executed.

Determine the status of the property in question. To remove all doubt about where the home you're interested in stands, ask questions of the real estate agent or of the seller. Did the buyer have the proper inspections performed? Did everything check out satisfactorily? Ask your real estate professional to talk to the listing agent to find out the home's current status. You can then fully understand if there’s an opportunity to move forward.

As mentioned, don't be discouraged if the home you’re interested in is labeled “sale pending.” Just keep the home in the back of your mind and actively follow the progress of the sale. Many times in busy markets, buyers may find something they like better or a mortgage lender may change policies creating problems in closing the sale. A good, experienced agent will work closely with the listing agent so if a sale doesn’t come to fruition, a new buyer – their client – can step in and become the new purchaser. If not, just continue your search for another Chicagoland homes for sale listing.

See more articles pertaining to Chicagoland homes for sale in the section of articles 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 inventory of Chicagoland homes for sale continues to feature prices that have grown over the past year. According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National HomePrice NSA Index, home prices increased 5% between May 2015 and May 2016. The growth in home values during that period and beyond prompted The Wall Street Journal to declare the increase as “further proof that the U.S. housing market had its strongest spring since the recession.” With that as our focus, here are five opportunities that higher prices may offer.

Chicagoland homes for sale continue to see increased prices

Higher Priced Chicagoland Homes for Sale Offer Options

Option #1 – Become a homeowner. If you’re in the market for a home, you may be pleased to know that the price growth seems to have slowed somewhat. While prices aren’t expected to drop, they have nonetheless leveled off for now. Stiff competition in markets with low inventory is expected to ease slightly as more homeowners will sell to take advantage of the higher prices. Zillow forecasts that home prices will continue to rise, just not as sharply as in the past year. Zillow predicts prices to rise around 3% or less in the next year.

With interest rates still at near-record lows, it could be a great time to buy the right house. However, economists issue these words of caution. Be careful taking on debt – especially mortgage debt. Many economists predict the U.S. could have another recession in the not-too-distant future. In addition, you could lose your job, become injured or temporarily be unable to work. They suggest following these guidelines:

Keep your housing costs between 30-35% of your gross monthly income

Don’t get overextended or use credit cards for purchases

Always maintain an emergency fund that would pay a minimum of three months (six months is better) of living expenses

Option #2 – Move up to a better home. As home prices rise, many homeowners are finding they are no longer underwater on their mortgages. When they were underwater, they were unable to sell – contributing both to the lack of inventory and to a slower recovery. Homeowners who are no longer underwater find themselves with a much better opportunity to sell their homes and potentially buy a newer, bigger or better one. As this happens there will no doubt be an increase in the number of Chicagoland homes for sale in the marketplace.

Option #3 – Take out cash. Many homeowners with median-priced homes have enjoyed equity increases of $10,000-$15,000 or more during the last year as a result of rising home prices. This has prompted millions of homeowners throughout the U.S. to refinance their mortgages or take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC.) Homeowners are tapping into their cash equities for a wide variety of reasons ranging from home improvements to paying for college, or for paying for things like vacations or boat purchases. One suggestion to be mindful of, however, is to leave a good amount of equity untouched when you borrow. That way, if there’s ever another substantial price drop you’ll be assured you won’t suffer a negative equity position and be underwater.

Option #4 – Take the money and run.  Some homeowners see the rising home prices as an opportunity to cash out – to take the money and run. In the hottest markets where prices have risen higher than the norm, it represents the proverbial “My ship has come in” scenario to homeowners ready to retire and use that newfound money solely for that purpose. While such an option is rare in the case of most American homeowners with median-priced homes with mortgages, it is still a possibility.

Option #5 – Don’t do anything. Homeowners who are content and don’t really see an advantage in making a move of any kind will continue to enjoy the ride the rising prices are providing. The chances are pretty good that home values will continue to rise – even if at a more gradual pace than we’ve seen in the last year. When that continues, not only will the other options always be available, home equity will continue to grow and it will be accessible when the time comes.

Regardless of what you decide to do with the options available, Chicagoland homes for sale provide homeowners and purchasers alike opportunities in today’s real estate market. Rising prices create a market that appears to be growing and thriving, making a welcomed and noticeable recovery from less than a decade ago. While there are still inventory challenges with demand exceeding the supply of homes for sale, some analysts are confident the recent price gains will help improve that situation.

In summary, as Americans, we’ve always been told that real estate is a good investment – and, for the  most part, that’s still very true. Homes and real estate purchased at the right price and in neighborhoods and markets that are stable or on the rise will likely always be a sound investment over time. As you consider purchasing one of the Chicagoland homes for sale, enlist the help and advice of a real estate professional. They know the market and the neighborhoods, and they know what the price ranges are for comparable sales of homes you may be interested in. More than anything else, buying a home in a good neighborhood at a fair market price will give you the best opportunity to build equity over time. Overpaying simply is not – and shouldn’t be – an option. We know of no bigger “dream-killer” than paying more for a property than it’s worth, and then being disappointed because you can’t sell it for what you need at a later date.

See more articles pertaining to Chicagoland homes for sale in the two sections of articles on Chicagoland Real Estate and Chicagoland Homes for Sale just below Chicagoland Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. Remember, we also post tips daily on Twitter and Facebook. Check us out there too.

Chicagoland home prices may be in for another increase. On the heels of what has been termed an “epic housing crash” of just a few short years ago – when home values dropped nearly 35% – prices are on the rise again. In the past 12-18 months, many hot real estate markets have seen home price increases of as much as 10% or more, and home analysts expect additional new highs may be on the way. Let’s take a look at why prices may rise.

Chicagoland home prices may be on the rise again.

Chicagoland Home Prices May Cost More Soon

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of an existing home sold in May reached a record high of $239,700. The Association has been tracking prices since 1968. The home price increase is good news for homeowners who have their Chicagoland homes for sale now or who may be contemplating selling soon. In addition, it means many homeowners just earned a few thousand dollars in additional net worth.

For others, the rising Chicagoland home prices and the prognosis for further increases is anything but good news.

Lawrence Yu, chief economist of the NAR issued this warning about how the higher home prices may affect one segment of the potential home buying public. “We are seeing flashing yellow lights on affordability. People who are currently renting and want to convert into ownership — that’s a major difficulty," said Yun. "Chicagoland home prices are rising way too fast compared to people's income and wage growth.”

The median price increase in homes for sale means, in part, that there is more activity on the higher end of the real estate market. The median price is defined as the dollar amount where half the homes sold at a lower price and half sold at a higher price. Additional price indexes measure repeat sales of similarly-sized homes show nationwide that prices are still running roughly 10% below the peak levels from ten years ago.

Some housing analysts in their market assessment of Chicagoland home prices contend the tight inventory available continues to restrict sales and put pressure on pricing. Conversely, near-record low mortgage interest rates and job growth help create greater demand. The result, according to the experts, is a “pressure cooker effect” and the market’s release valve – new home construction – isn’t helping to solve the problem. That point is evidenced by new home sales currently performing more than 40% below normal market levels.

According to the Urban Institute, last year over a million new households were created in the U.S., but only 620,000 new housing units were created. That shortage of more than 400,000 units has put an undue strain on both rents and home prices. Analysts say that trend will likely continue in the near future unless there are relatively quick policy changes.

Although the housing market has made great strides in its recovery from the crash of less than a decade ago, affordability is the biggest factor restraining a more complete rebound. Normally, housing would be the driving force behind overall economic growth, but it’s not. That’s primarily due to less than exciting home construction activity. Most of the construction demand has been fueled by rental demand. But, housing starts for multifamily construction are slowing down. The previous activity was mostly found in urban rental centers where rents were higher than normal and the supply has caught up with or exceeded the demand.

While the number of renters still strapped by rising rents continues to grow, the burden of affordable rent payments prevent prospective home buyers from saving for a down payment. Even though the monthly payments on homes for sale may be more affordable than rent, renters who don’t have a down payment are unable to take advantage of that opportunity.

So, what does all this mean for the existing and future housing market? We will likely see Chicagoland home prices remain fairly high and continue to climb in some markets where sales have been brisk in the past few months. Limited supply meets high demand creating higher prices – it’s a basic economic law of supply and demand. Despite interest rates being at near-record low levels, the lending market is still considered tight by historical measurement standards. Some economists argue, in fact, that low interest rates have actually contributed to higher Chicagoland home prices, because home buyers are now able to qualify for larger houses.

At least in the foreseeable future, Chicagoland home prices will likely continue to see slightly higher listing and selling prices. The first-time homebuyer will probably continue to be unable or unwilling to enter the marketplace. And for a housing market that’s been labeled “recovering,” that’s a worrisome commentary on the real estate economy. What’s worse, as NAR chief economist Yun asked rhetorically, “We are facing housing affordability challenges already with low interest rates, but what happens when the rates begin to rise?

See more articles pertaining to homes for sale in the section of articles on Chicagoland Homes for Sale just below Chicagoland Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. And remember, we also post tips daily on Facebook and Twitter.

Chicagoland homes for sale represent opportunities for home buyers and real estate agents. And the better the relationship between the buyer and the real estate professional, the more likely a successful and enjoyable outcome will be. As in other relationships in business – or life in general – being on the same page is important, and can be critical in finding a home that best meets your needs and your budget. Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to build a winning relationship between a buyer and a real estate agent.

Chicagoland Homes for Sale – Teaming up for Success

Chicagoland homes for sale represent opportunities for home buyers and real estate agents.

Quite naturally, times have changed and partnering with a real estate professional today is different than it was, say, thirty years ago. A generation ago a prospective buyer rode by Chicagoland homes for sale and saw a sign or read an ad in the newspaper. Then they may have called the real estate agency to get additional information and schedule a visit or find out when the next open house was going to be held.

These days, prospective home buyers replace much of the time in the car riding through neighborhoods with searching online, looking at digital photographs and often taking virtual tours of Chicagoland homes for sale.

A quick click of the mouse, a short text or an email request for more information can be almost instantaneous.

The real estate agent’s part of the equation has changed, as well. Many times the first contact is made online via a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. For younger buyers, texting is a common form of communication. However, agents often continue to spend countless hours in their automobiles driving prospective purchasers from house to house. Despite the untold amount of time an agent may invest in a particular client, there’s no guarantee the client will buy anything. Since real estate agents are almost always commission-only independent contractors their time is money – and if they spend too much time showing homes without sales, they’re actually losing money. While that’s part of the proverbial “cost of doing business,” it can be frustrating and disconcerting to an agent to spend hours of their time with clients and have nothing to show for their efforts.

So, if the agent and buyer relationship is so important, who’s responsible for what? Should the prospective buyer be clear in the early stages of the home search and tell the agent if they’re just looking and aren’t seriously ready to buy yet? Is it the agent's responsibility to have better time management skills and qualify their potential clients?

Let’s look at both sides of the relationship.

Ultimately, the real estate agent is in business to assist prospective buyers – regardless of where they are in the home buying search process. A buyer that’s pre-qualified for a mortgage may be more serious than somebody just riding around looking at various houses and dreaming of what they may buy someday. Again, from a real estate agent’s perspective, all buyers have to start somewhere and a little “hand-holding” upfront is the cost of doing business – and, in many cases, may pay off in the long run.

Prospective borrowers also have to be cognizant of their intentions and should display certain respect for the time and energy their agent is investing in hopes of making a sale. At the end of the day, the best budding relationship between the agent and the buyer looking at Chicagoland homes for sale is one based on mutual respect. The agent should respect the buyer’s lack of knowledge in how the process works and the time it takes, and the buyer should respect the agent’s time constraints and the fact that he or she has other clients that may be further along in the home buying process.

Buyers should be encouraged to continue to shop online and to begin to narrow their search to a specific number of neighborhoods or a certain price range. Buyers who are pre-qualified for mortgage financing have also taken a big step at being better prepared when they find a home that meets their needs.

Agents need to be reminded that a single text, phone call or email doesn’t necessarily mean a buyer is ready to start the home buying process. Experienced agents will ask the prospective buyers questions that will give them a barometer as to their level of interest. In turn, that will save both the agent and the prospect considerable time prior to and in anticipation of a serious home search. A good real estate agent has a mix of clients in various stages of the home buying process.

The bottom line for a agent / buyer relationship is a mixture of give and take that ultimately results in a good fit for both parties. Remember, the ultimate goal of both the agent and the buyer is the same – for the buyer to find a home that will result in a satisfied customer. If both parties enter into the relationship with that goal in mind, the chances of enjoying a successful outcome are pretty good.

See more articles pertaining to homes for sale in the section of articles on Chicagoland Home for Sale 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.

Chicagoland homes for sale always include a certain number of properties that have been recently renovated. While there are often benefits in purchasing a home that's been remodeled or substantially improved, there are important distinctions that need to be considered. First and foremost is, a newly renovated home isn't the same product as a newly built home. This article will examine what to look for when you're contemplating buying a flip – a property purchased by an investor for the sole purpose of performing a renovation or remodeling project in anticipation of selling it for a profit.

Chicagoland Homes for Sale – The Flip Side

When looking at Chicagoland homes for sale, be cautious about buying a flipped home.

Another consideration regarding a newly-renovated home is the perception that the remodeled home is move-in ready, hassle-free and well worth the asking price. While a freshly improved home can often command top dollar, there are recommendations to consider before you fall in love with a flip house and sign the sales contract.

House-flipping "reality shows" on cable television usually portray the buying, renovating and re-selling process as a fast, easy and profitable investment venture – complete with "happily ever after" endings. Rarely are there follow-up features to see how the newly-renovated house withstands daily use and wear and tear. Even more rare is a story about the purchasers of the flipped houses to see what their experiences have been and if they are satisfied with their purchase.

As is the case with most buy and sell investment opportunities, in the home-flipping business time is money. As a result, some flippers and remodeling contractors are anxious to move on to the next project – sometimes before the first one is completely finished. Such a practice inevitably leads to shoddy workmanship caused by cutting corners or rushing to take on another job. In addition, there are often unexpected expenses that threaten to wreck the budget and diminish anticipated profits.

If you're contemplating looking at Chicagoland homes for sale and have an interest in a flipped house, these tips may help you avoid disappointing surprises after you buy it and move in.

Have an Eye for Detail
Try to disassociate yourself from the newness the house features. The shiny new appliances, polished brass hardware, marble baths or ceramic tile all appear very nice. They can add beauty and value to the house, but they can also be used superficially to distract your attention or even cover up hidden problems in the house. By paying attention to the details you'll be able to get a better picture of the quality of workmanship performed during the renovation.Look for obvious signs of shoddy or careless work. Consider the following:

  • Outlet plates or light switch plates that aren't flush with the wall or are crooked
  • Crown molding or wainscoting that doesn't meet properly at the mitered corners
  • Noticeable gaps between the countertops and the wall
  • Gaps or unfinished grout in the bathroom tile
  • Doors, drawers and cabinets that don't close properly or are crooked

A handful of cosmetic blemishes or noticeable mistakes could mean there are other issues that aren't readily seen. While we've all heard not to judge the proverbial book by its cover, in this case if you see shoddy work on the surface, who knows what may lie behind the walls, under the floors or above the ceiling? The electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems could also be substandard.

Have the Home Inspected
Just because some Chicagoland homes for sale may have been newly-renovated, as mentioned earlier, that doesn't mean they are in like-new condition. Don't assume, therefore, the flipped house doesn't need to be inspected. On the contrary, it's more reason to make sure the home is inspected – by a qualified inspector.

A licensed, experienced home inspector will check the renovation contractor's work, and he might see issues most buyers would probably miss. The inspector is infinitely more familiar with local building codes and can tell if the work was performed properly. He can also check the house for shoddy workmanship done to cut corners or save time. While it's true the renovation was probably inspected and approved by the local building inspector, typically such a review is performed only for health and safety reasons. A home inspection will be much more thorough and can save a homeowner thousands of dollars in the long run.

Use Extra Due Diligence
If you're contemplating purchasing a flipped home, exercise more due diligence than ever. Ensure the contractor had the proper permits for the renovation. Make sure they were all approved, signed and completed. If the permits aren't readily available or you don't receive copies, look them up online or visit the local building department. They will have a file on the construction improvement project, and the permits are a matter of public record. Don't finalize the contract or close on the sale without ensuring all the required permits were officially approved and completed. Failure to do so could mean you, as the new homeowner, could find yourself responsible for shoddy workmanship that doesn't meet the required standards.

Know the Flipper
Be an investigative reporter when it comes to finding out all you can about the flipper from whom you're buying the house. If the owner is the contractor, does he know what he's doing? What are his qualifications? Is he licensed builder? As real estate agent – specializing in Chicagoland homes for sale – we can assist in this effort.

Usually, the better and more successful investors have been flipping houses for years. A flipper with a strong track record, good references and a valued reputation will likely be more open and honest in answering questions, providing requested documentation and other paperwork like contracts and warranties. Remember, a successful investor/flipper is like any other good business person – he or she wants satisfied customers.

Just beware of the marked increase in the number of homes that have been bought in the past year or two with the sole purpose of being remodeled and added back to the inventory of Chicagoland homes for sale. As the volume of these flipped homes increases, so does the possibility of shoddy workmanship, inattention to detail and outright deception – all in an effort to maximize profit.

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

Remember, we also post tips daily on Twitter and Facebook. Check us out there too.