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|Violet and I
This office serves clients in real estate transactions of all types. I
also assist clients with estate planning for everyone, including the GLBT community, and represent Illinois condominium associations
as needed. I help real estate investors who are renting their properties deal with difficult renter issues, and I advocate
for renters dealing with difficult landlords.
I work with clients in Chicago and all over the Chicagoland area, including
Wilmette, Skokie, Morton Grove, Plainfield, Wheaton, Glencoe, Lake Forest, Naperville, Oak Park, Winnetka, Des Plaines, Orland
Park, Berwyn, Carol Stream, Arlington Heights, Crystal Lake, Barrington, Palatine, Park Ridge, Gurnee, South Holland, Park
Forest and more.
My goal is to give
each and every client personal, friendly and competent service at a reasonable price. I also strive to use technology in the
best way possible to keep my clients informed.
My legal background includes working for a major Chicago developer and working for a boutique
firm in their real estate division. I am also a landlord of a three flat building in Rogers Park and I am managing broker
of a small real estate brokerage.
I work with all different types of clients, including developers, first-time buyers, buyers of second
(or third!) homes, all sellers and the LGBTQ community.
My real estate blog is below. Please make sure to check
back on a regular basis to check out what's new. I update my blog about once a week and welcome any questions that you may
Ask me too about help with personal injury, divorce, and any other legal issues!
Greenview Drive, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Recommend my site by clicking here!
Check out my interview, Expert
Advice on Buying a Foreclosed Home on Illinois Homes, one of the top sites
for Illinois homes for sale, including Wheaton,
IL real estate. Illinois Homes also services Michigan homes for sale and Pennsylvania homes for sale.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Existing Homes Selling Record Fast
9:56 am cdt
Great news for the real estate market - CNNMoney.com reported earlier this week that sales of existing
homes rose in July for the fourth consecutive month, hopefully showing us that recovery from our recession is near.
Sales of previously-owned single family homes were up 7.2% compared with June and 5% from July of last year.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that the monthly gain was the highest since they started keeping record
The July performance was even above the experts' estimates - the forecast of
sales was 5 million and the actual was 5.24 million.
The first-time homebuyer incentive,
low mortgage rates, and lower prices have all helped the market recover.
In the Midwest,
sales rose 10.9% to a 1.22 million rate, 8% higher than last year, and prices sunk an average of 5.9% over the past 12 months
to an average of $157,200.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
How To Get a Fair Appraisal When Refinancing
7:53 pm cdt
The August issue of Money Magazine had a great article on getting a fair appraisal when you refinance
your property that I would like to share with my readers. If you've been reading my blog, you've been seeing that the appraisal
game is changing and the new rules don't guarantee accuracy, in fact, in my practice, I've seen more errors in appraisals
than ever before.
Appraisers are now more likely to be under pressure or feel hurried
in order to crank out reports, thus, the inaccuracies and problems. It's up to you to make sure that they have the full information
on your home. Your detective work can pay off. A key factor in the valuation of your home is the comparable sales prices for
other homes like yours in your area. Keep in mind that they must be at least within the last six months, or in some cases,
even less. Ask a real estate agent to run a CMA (comparative market analysis) to identify recent comparable sales in your
neighborhood. Try to get the scoop on the circumstances of these sales from your neighbors. A foreclosure, divorce, short
sale or relocation sometime can be taken into consideration.
Also, make sure your home
is in showing condition. Appraisers appreciate the appearance of your home and it's only going to help your cause. At least
get rid of the clutter, dust a little, and clean up the yard.
While the appraiser
is there, point out the home's best features, as if they were a buyer. Don't hover over them every second that they are there,
but definitely spend some time showing them around, especially pointing out any recent upgrades or improvements you may have
done. Also if you have custom made items, such as custom woodwork or your property has wonderful landscaping or is in a great
school district, point it out.
After the appraisal, ask your lender for a copy of the appraisal.
You have the right to receive it. Check it for error in the key statistics, such a number of bedrooms and bath, square footage,
and features. If you find a mistake, contact the appraiser directly and ask him/her to make the change. If he/she refuses,
you do have the right to report him or her to the state's real estate appraisal board. Also let the bank or broker know there's
an error but keep in mind with the new rules in place they can't talk to the appraiser directly.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Buyers Are Rushing to Meet First-Time Homebuyers Deadline
2:04 pm cdt
Time is running out for buyers to take advantage of the first-time homebuyers tax credit.
The fed's $8,000 tax credit expires on November 30th and because mortgage approvals, inspections, and other
steps of the process are taking about two months, buyers should expect to have a contract in place by the end of September
in order to meet the deadline.
The new flurry of activity has really caused an uptick in
the market which is historically low at the end of the summer.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Credit Crunch Will Persist Through at Least Mid-2010
7:28 pm cdt
As if we didn't know already, the Fed says lending standards are tight, and will remain tight throughout
most of 2010 for real estate, consumer and business loans. This is not helping the recession as we know it.
The government has been trying without much success to get lenders to lend. Banks have been tightening their
standards for various types of loans for more than two years after they let credit expand too much, especially for residential
real estate. For residential mortgages, banks have tightened their standards for 11 straight quarters by increasing requirements
for down payments, interest-rate spreads, or credit scores.
In a separate report
released Monday, the Fed said the delinquency rate for all loans and leases rose to 6.49% in the second quarter from 5.58%
in the first quarter. That's the highest delinquency rate since 1985, when the Fed began collecting the data.
The Fed surveyed the banks to find out when they thought their policies would get back in line with their
long-term trend. For commercial and industrial loans to businesses, just 13% said conditions would return to normal by the
middle of 2010, with another 36% saying it would be in late 2010.
real estate, just 2% said normal credit policies would return within a year, and 40% said policies would remain tighter than
usual for the foreseeable future.
For prime mortgages, 9% said they expected
policies to return to normal within a year, and 42% said policies would remain tighter than usual for the foreseeable future.
For nonprime borrowers, a majority of banks said policies would remain tighter
than normal for the foreseeable future, and fewer than 10% said standards would normalize within the year.
For more on this, or to see the whole article, click here.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
New Truth in Lending Guidelines Will Make Closings More Difficult
8:46 pm cdt
Some fun new regulations on the mortgage brokers and the Truth in Lending process that went into
effect July 30 will make closing more difficult if a buyer decides to change the type of loan that they are getting, or the
closing date, among other things.
Everyone who is involved with the process (real estate
agents, attorneys, mortgage brokers) need to make sure that adequate time is built into the contract to allow between the
buyer's apprlication for the mortgage loan and the closing date. Buyers also need to be encouraged to quickly apply for financing
and make sure that the lender is aware of any changes that could affect the annual percentage rate (APR) in the initial disclosure
At least 7 days (excluding Sundays and federal holidays) will be needed from the
time a lender delivers its good faith estimate of the cost of credit and the closing, but changes to the APR require corrected
disclosures to be given and will extend the waiting period at least another 3 days. This requirement can be waived only for
a borrower’s financial emergency. This means that borrowers may run into rate lock issues, buy and sale timing issues
and a variety of other problems.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Appraisals Become a Challenge for Some Real Estate Deals
8:20 pm cdt
Hope everyone is having a great summer! July is my busiest month of the year, so I haven't had much
time over the last couple of weeks to blog, however; the Sunday Chicago Tribune this past week could not have published their
article, "Value Judgments" in a more timely manner.
Over the last month or two,
I have had serious issues with deals and appraisals. One client had a buy and a sale going on, and NEITHER property appraised
for the purchase price. I am finding in a great number of these cases that there are material errors in the appraisals which,
once corrected, cause the property to easily appraise for the purchase price. In one instance, the comps that were used in
the appraisal were just all wrong. In another case, the subject property's attributes were significantly misstated, causing
an appraisal issue.
Let's face it, the appraisal game has changed because of what's happened
in the market. Mortgage lenders are scrutinizing the appraisals more than ever, reviewing them carefully in the underwriting
process. Appraisers are becoming more restricted in the comps that they can use, and the appraisals are becoming more difficult
as a result. For example, it used to be an appraiser could go back six months or more to find a comp, now, they are restricted
to comps no older than six months, sometimes even three.
I think one of the reasons that
there were such material errors in a couple of appraisals that I mentioned earlier was because of the new policy that went
into effect called the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. It is intended to keep appraisers at arm's length to ensure unbiased
appraisals and often has an appraiser who is not local to the area conducting an appraisal, instead of that local appraiser
chosen by the bank. These appraisers are not familiar with the neighborhood they are appraising in, or the neighborhood's
market, and sometimes cannot properly appraise a property.
I highly recommend that homeowners
and/or their real estate agents be present for appraisals, with comps in hand, and ready to show the appraiser all of the
recent upgrades and selling points of the home. Be prepared to point out the differences between your home (or the home you're
selling as an agent) and the comps, which may not have that rehabbed kitchen, etc. Just don't follow the appraiser around
and pester him or her. Give your information, and then let him/her do their job.