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Let’s face it: the economy stinks. Sure, everyone is saying it. The media is calling the public “Debbie Downers” and “Nancy Negative” and “Paul the Pessimistics” – but frankly, I feel there’s a whole lot more to the situation than we are considering. So right now, opportunities, encouragement, and support are what everyone really needs.

Real Estate CAN help.

Real Estate CAN help.

REALITY: There are people with too much money who don’t know what to do with it. There are people with not enough money who would do anything to get it. Somewhere among each individual struggle there lies a middle ground. Many bridges can be built between the two, but one bridge and opportunity in particular that lies within our society currently is: real estate. IDEA: Real estate investing can, in the end, help to solve the dilemma for the rich and the not-so-rich.

What does this all mean? Well, with the state of the housing market right now, therein lies the unprecedented opportunity to buy a home. TRUTH: It is a buyer’s market. I would say not only is it a buyer’s market, but also among it lies the greatest transfer of wealth in our generation. “How?” You say.

Well, there are several reasons why/how/because:

  1. The rise of short sales and foreclosures. This has led to an unprecedented amount of distressed inventory in the area markets, which has allowed those who previously could not afford a home, to actually consider making that big purchase. It has opened the door to a great influx of first-time-home-buyers. For real estate investors, foreclosures have allowed investors to purchase homes at astonishingly low rates, fix each one up, and then re-list them at a very reasonable price, making the sale a win-win for both buyer AND seller.
  2. The $8,000 tax credit for first-time-home-buyers. This was included in the stimulus package that was passed in February 2009. This tax credit is essentially “FREE MONEY” to ALL first-time-home-buyers. It doesn’t have to be repaid AND it won’t be taxed. WOW. That big chunk of change is extremely motivating and encouraging for those on the fence about buying that first home.
  3. Astonishingly low mortgage rates. Mortgage rates across the country are dropping because banks and mortgage companies want to make sales. This benefits buyers because they are saving a lot of money and it benefits sellers because buyers are snatching up homes faster than ever.

No one wants to sell their home more than the seller themselves. No one wants to buy a home more than the buyer themselves. It’s about connecting the two, bridging the gap, and ultimately, transferring the wealth between individuals. We all know that the market is like a roller-coaster, constantly experiencing it’s ups and downs. It’s important to get involved and participate while the opportunity is there and thriving. 

-Jim Ingersoll

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This blog post is courtesy of Just List ‘Em: a Flat Fee MLS real estate company geared towards helping YOU sell YOUR home.
We love them. You should too.

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Although we do business in many parts of the country, one of our featured locations right now is the Windy City: Chicago, Illinois. Right now, the housing market in Chicago is on the upturn and really beginning to boom.

The Chicago market is UP, just like the Spyre.

The Chicago market is UP, just like the Spire.

Do you live in Chicago? Are you looking to move and/or relocate altogether? Are you IN Chicago looking to sell your home, townhouse, loft, or condo? Looking to purchase property in and around the city? Now is the time to really get the ball rolling.

Are you a sports fan? If so, then you probably like stats. Here are some recent Chicago housing market statistics:

  • The Illinois Association of Realtors reported that home sales in Chicago were UP 40.6% in March over February. 
  • There were 840 homes sold in February of 2009. There were 1,181 homes sold in March of 2009.
  • The median price for a home/condo in March of 2009 was $220,000. This is an increase of 0.8% from February 2009 where the median price was $218,125.

Now, let’s crunch numbers. If you sold your home with a realtor at the median price of $220,000, you would pay, on average, $6,600 just in listing commission. If you sold your home through Just List ‘Em, you would pay the $299 flat fee to list your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). That is an average savings of $6,300!

So the truth is, the Chicago market is almost hotter right now than Susan Boyle. Ultimately, why is that? Well, a few reasons.

  1. The $8,000 first-time-home-buyers tax credit. This is quite possibly one of the most important catalysts for the upturn of the housing market right now. This tax credit, included in the final version of the stimulus bill passed in February 2009, goes to ALL first-time-home-buyers. It will not be taxed and it does NOT have to be repaid. It is, in essence, $8,000 handed to you by the government. (It will show up when you file your 2009 tax return). So, because of this awesome financial opportunity, many potential home buyers who were on the fence about purchasing in 2009 have now been persuaded to the other side and are jumping at the chance to buy a home. ESPECIALLY in and around the Chicacgo-metro area.
  2. Short Sales & Foreclosures. A short sale is essentially the stage in which a home is on the verge of foreclosure and the seller REALLY wants to sell the house but no one is buying. A lender would rather list is as a short sale, sell the home at a very low price and lose a little money versus listing it and having it on the books as a foreclosure. Therefore, short sales are extremely attractive to buyers because buyers can save a TON of money on a potentially awesome property. Foreclosures are also attractive in that a buyer can save an estimated 10%-30% on the actual price of the property. In some cases, buyers can buy a great home and pay less than the tax value on it at closing. Now THAT is a deal! Just be wary when purchasing a short sale or foreclosed home, as these homes can come with a serious need for repair. And when in doubt, always speak with a real estate professional and get their advice.
  3. Record low mortgage rates. According to BankRate.com, the average rate for a 30-year-fixes mortgage in Chicago is at 4.93% today, even down .03% just this week! And that percentage is still dropping. These mortgage rates are astonishingly low and make for an incredible money-saving opportunity for buyers. This is below the national average and significantly lower than the mortgage rates in past years. What does this mean, exactly? Well, when you buy a house, just like you would a car, you are going to pay interest on that item. The lower the mortgage rate, the less money you pay. The less money you pay, the more money you save. Awesome. RIGHT?

These three things create a powerful housing market in Chicago and really encourages buyers to buy and sellers to sell. If you want to sell your home, now is the time. Just like a pendulum, the market goes back and forth. It’s almost like playing double dutch. You have to jump in at the right moment or you might miss your opportunity.

Don’t forget though, if you are looking to sell your home in Chicago, don’t go through a traditional realtor or broker. Sell your home with us! Just List ‘Em. We will list your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for a flat fee and we guarantee we will sell you home quickly and efficiently and save you THOUSANDS of dollars on commission. That means more money in your pockets and big smiles on your faces.

-Jim Ingersoll

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This blog post is courtesy of Just List ‘Em: a Flat Fee MLS real estate company geared towards helping YOU sell YOUR home.
We love them. You should too.

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Last week, I discussed the best ways to stage your home on the inside. And you know, it IS what’s inside that counts. In addition to that, the old saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” but the fact is, we do. (I know I’d rather pick up a book with a pretty cover than a not-so-pretty one). Well, a house is the same way. Potential buyers will and are going to judge your home by the way it looks on the outside.

A red door is always a winner!

A red door is always a winner!

Take a minute and step outside your home. Stand directly in front of it and ask yourself these questions:
1. Is my home inviting? Do I want to go inside?
2. Are there any qualities about my home that stand out in a positive way?
3. Are there any qualities about my home that stand out in a negative way?
4. Does my yard look well taken care of, or will a buyer have a lot of work to do?
5. Does the siding, doors, and windows look in good shape, or would a buyer have to replace them?
6. Has any paint faded or chipped?
7. Is my house number clear and readable from the street and/or curb?
8. Does it look as though someone lives here?

How you answer these questions can determine the amount of potential buyers that come to view your home.

  • Make sure your lawn is cut, you have trimmed your bushes, weeds are pulled, and flowers are looking fresh. Try planting yellow or purple flowers — these are calming colors that invoke an inviting feeling.
  • If your door is looking dull, paint it red. A red door is always a bold statement that can feel very welcoming to a buyer.
  • If you have window coverings inside, make sure they don’t block the view of rooms from the outside. Let light in! (Oh, and wash your windows from the outside in… this can make a HUGE difference).
  • Make sure the siding is not chipping or faded. This can be a visually deterring factor for a buyer.
  • If you have sidewalks, make sure they are clear of all weeds, debris, and extraneous items.
  • If you have a curbside mailbox, make sure it looks nice, NOT rusted.

Just as it can be difficult to stage the inside of your home, it can be just as difficult to stage and adequately prepare the outside. Keep in mind that all of these things will benefit you in the long run and greatly increase your chances of selling your home quickly.

And when in doubt, get help. You don’t have to do it alone.

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This blog post is courtesy of Just List ‘Em: a Flat Fee MLS real estate company geared towards helping YOU sell YOUR home.
We love them. You should too.

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Congratulations! You’ve finally made the decision to sell your home. It’s been a long road, but you’re ready and willing to do what it takes to sell that home of yours and move on to something bigger and better (or maybe you just are moving to a new city for work). Either way, selling your home can be a big deal and you want it to sell with vigor! 

So, what should you do to prep your home so that it is ready and looking utterly fabulous to potential buyers? (This is what we call “home staging” — think of it like a high school musical, the show can’t go on until the stage is set and ready. A home is the musical and potential buyers are your audience).

A simple, clutter-free living room feels welcoming to potential buyers.

A simple, clutter-free living room feels welcoming to potential buyers.

Step ONE: De-personalize. Even though this is the first step, it can be the most difficult for people. Yes, this means take down those family pictures (especially the ones of your Great-Aunt Mildred), remove trophies, mementos, New Kids on the Block posters, and other various personal knick-knacks. This allows a potential buyer to picture THEMSELVES in the home, not you.

Step TWO: Clear the high-traffic “runway.” Do you have a fabulous couch table? Do you have an armoire in the foyer that you adore? Is there a runner carpet that adds flair to your stairs? Well, hate to say it, but too bad. Get rid of them all. By clearing high-traffic areas of “stuff” makes rooms, hallways, and foyers seem larger. Maximizing space = maximizing selling odds. 

Step THREE: Accentuate your “assets.” Just like you would want to highlight your great cheekbones with blush (for the ladies, of course), you want to highlight the great parts of your home. Do you have a fabulous fireplace, a beautiful bay window, or incredibly detailed, original crown molding? Show those features off! Don’t hide them with curtains, furniture, etc. Let them breathe! Let those assets show and enhance the unique value of your home.

These things can seem stressful, but in the end, they are just one step towards achieving your goal. Keep an open mind and know that you don’t have to throw away any of these things listed above (especially the New Kids poster…), you can just box these things up and hold them in storage until you’re ready to move! 

And when in doubt, bring in another set of eyes (a friend, family member, or coworker). It always helps to have an outsider’s opinion. 

Good luck and happy selling!

Check out our website and follow us on Twitter @justlistem.


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This blog post is courtesy of Just List ‘Em: a Flat Fee MLS real estate company geared towards helping YOU sell YOUR home.
We love them. You should too.

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After reading a great article by real estate guru, Mike Andrews on Real Estate Marketing in an Online World, I felt compelled to write and share some of my thoughts on a related topic. Whether or not a real estate company, or any company for that matter, is working on marketing, buying, selling, or just listing (pretty close to JUSTLISTEM, am I right?), social media has become a viable venue for building and expanding a business. However, when a business is just starting, or if a business is new to the interactive world, it can be overwhelming to decide how to successfully hit and tackle the right social media outlets–there are SO many.

So, here are a few questions and concerns I want to briefly consider and address:

1. What exactly is social media and why is it so important for business, more specifically real estate?

  • Social media, in essence, is the new, hip, and ONLINE version of what face-to-face mixers and organized networking events used to be. (Not to say that those things aren’t valid anymore, because frankly, nothing beats meeting, connecting, and relating to someone face-to-face).
  • For real estate etc., social media creates an interactive, responsive, and engaged audience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Can you honestly say you get that with a print, radio, or television ad presence? 
  • Real estate can be a tough venue, for anyone, particularly in this economy. When someone is buying or selling a house, stress levels are UP, way up. Social media creates transparency, which ultimately, fosters a more inviting and relatable atmosphere giving potential clients the feeling of working and doing business with a trustworthy resource.

2. Which venues should I tackle first in my social media quest? (Yes, there are a lot of places to start. I say start with the big THREE and work your way from there).

  • TWITTER: The micro-blogging, status updating, networking tool-of-champions. Twitter helps connect you to people all over the world. Any business can benefit from the networking power of Twitter. 
  • FACEBOOK: Quite possibly the largest social networking tool out there. With almost 200 million users, creating a prominent Facebook presence through a group, profile, or fan page sets your real estate business up for far-reaching success. 
  • BLOGGING. It doesn’t matter where [we like wordpress :)], but blogging allows your audience to “hear” your opinion and learn what you know. You are the expert in some area and there are people who want to learn more about that particular topic… therefore, share your expertise, and you are ultimately bound to create a sense of legitimacy among your audience. 
  • **BiggerPockets.com: This is a great social networking tool for real estate companies. Use it. Share tips. Be awesome.

3. What should I or my business keep in mind when creating an online/social media presence?

  • Be honest. Now that your real estate business has an online presence, which is somewhat detached from the general public, the general public is and will be savvy to everything you say. 
  • Be present. Don’t set these outlets up, post once or twice, and then ditch out on them. You will only be successful if your community is always active. 
  • Be engaged. Don’t talk AT people all the time. These are called communities for a reason, pose questions, answer questions, share links, respond to hot topics, etc. By becoming active among the communities you participate in, you allow your audience to grow and continue to be responsive. Be a participant, not a lecturer. 

So what is the overall lesson here? Don’t just use these tools to use them. Becoming a part of the social media spectrum takes time and commitment. Commit to these things like you would any other part of your business. You wouldn’t set up a time to meet with a potential client and not show up… you would follow through. Treat all of these avenues as a client meeting and FOLLOW THROUGH with each one. You wouldn’t buy a bunch of tools and not build the house. (I like metaphors). We are in the process of practicing exactly what we preach. We recently joined the social media spectrum and we are finding it to be extremely beneficial. In a tough economy, fostering a positive community is key to running a successful business.

Share your thoughts with us!

Jim Ingersoll

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