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773.818.9054 office/cell
866.381.4238 efax

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Home Prices Post Best Growth in Two Years

From Crain's Chicago:

Chicago-area home prices grew in May at the fastest pace in nearly two years, according to a closely watched index.

The region's single family home prices were up 3.7% in May from a year earlier, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. It was the largest year-over-year increase in Chicago prices since an increase of 4.2% in July 2014.

May's figure improved on the 3.1% growth reported for April, which was the first time in several months that Chicago-area home prices had been up more than 2 percent year-over-year.

Even so, Chicago's home prices grew at a slower pace than the nation's. Home prices were up 5 percent nationwide in May, the index showed.

In several cities - including San Diego, San Francisco, New York and Washington - home-price increases have slowed, the report said.

Chicago's acceleration as other cities slow has moved it up the list of the 20 cities in terms of home-price growth. Chicago was at the bottom of the list in 2015 and most of 2016. 

The biggest home price increases were in West Coast cities Portland (12.5%) and Seattle (10.7%). 

3:01 pm cdt 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Home Warranties Can Be Worth It - But Read The Fine Print

From USA Today:

When Courtney St. Gemme-Chandler and her husband bought an older home in Aurora, CO, in 2012, they assumed it would need some minor TLC. But their elation at the closing table soon turned to frustration when the house started falling apart - and repair costs began piling up.

Right after they moved in, a pipe burst under the concrete in the basement. That was followed by a broken dishwasher, a non-functioning electrical panel and faulty electrical wiring. Luckily, the couple's real estate agent had purchased them a home warranty for a closing gift. 

None of these problems had come up during the home inspection. The home warranty, as it turned out, was a forutitous gift that saved them $2,000 on repair costs.

While homeowner's insurance protects your home against unforeseen circumstances, a home warranty, which costs an average of $550 per year, is a convenience program that covers the normal wear and tear on the major mechanical and electrical systems in a house, says Art Chartrand, counsel and administrator of the Nation Home Service Contract Association.

Your home's heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, the water heater, sump pump and kitchen stove are some of the items covered by a home warranty.

Home warranties are nothing new, but more real estate agents have recommmended them in recent years as the housing market has been flooded with foreclosuresand short sales - properties that were often neglected or poorly maintained. 

"A home warranty is like an insurance policy that protects you after the home sale, but you have to pay close attention to what is and what isn't covered," says Tony Martinez, a real estate agent with RE/MAX North San Antonio. "Do your homeowrk and research companies online, and make sure you document all of your communications with the warranty company and the service technicians they hire on your behalf." 

Read the Fine Print

Consumers sometimes make the erroneous assumption that a home warranty covers the structural defects or insurable incidents, normally included in homeowner's insurance coverage, such as damage from natural disasters, burglary or fires, Chartrand says. Some also mistaknely believe that the policies function as emergency home service contract, meaning the problem will be diagnosed and fixed within hours, which isn't the case.

When you file a claim, your home warranty company chooses a local contractor that's been vetted and sends a worker out to diagnose your problem for a set service fee, which you're responsible for paying. If the contractor doesn't find an issue or you can disagree with the findings you can ask the warranty company to send a different contractor out to give a second opinion, Chartrand says.

Getting a claim approved comes down to understanding what your policy does and does not cover. Most home warranties expire after a set time period and don't cover every little thing in your home - think leaky faucets or peeling paint. That puts the onus on you to read your Contract and ask questions, says Katherine Hutt, national spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau.

You might opt for a certain level of coverage based on your home's size, condition and age. Beware of scammers who might offer a half-price warranty, and then disappear when you try to file a claim, Chartrand says. Consumers should be cautious of such offers and research home warranty providers before choosing one.

Negotiate Repairs in the Home Inspection 

A home inspection won't uncover every major problem, but it can lay the groundwork for getting the most from your home warranty. While Martinez recommends home warranties for his buyers, he also advises them to negotiate major repairs during the home inspection and ensure regular maintenance of their home's systems and appliances. Some home warranty companies, for example, won't cover an air-conditioning unit that hasn't been serviced within a certain time frame; that's an item worth negotiating with the Seller before closing. 

2:03 pm cdt 

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