Monday, March 31, 2008 - Geneva

This weeks web home of the week is in Geneva. It's a great house backing to a cornfield - located at 2810 Miller Rd, Geneva. This is not my listing - it is listed by Baird & Warner. The house is listed at $322,000 but will likely go for much less. I'm not sure if it is bank owned or in pre-foreclosuure. This is a four bedroom, 2 full bath and 2 half bath home. The lot backs up to a corn field and it is just a stones throw from all the shopping on Randall Rd. I would suggest making an offer somewhere in the $250k-$300k range. I have heard that there was some water damage in the finished basement and all the carpet will need to be replaced. But it has a full kitchen in the basement and a bathroom as well as a large media niche. If you would like to know more about this home or if you would like to see it - please call me at 630-846-4663.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Boulder Hill Condos

Boulder Hill now has condos available for sale! Drove by and saw the sign today by the apartments near the gas station off Rt. 25. Prices are starting in the $75k range. Thes are probably pretty comparable to the Deer Run Condos in Oswego off light rd. Models are open 10am - 5pm. I plan on touring the models tomorrow - give me a call if you'd like to go.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Foreclosures & Pre-Foreclosures in Boulder Hill

Taking a look at the MLS today I see a fair number of foreclosures and pre-foreclosures in the Boulder Hill area.

  1. $154,900 4 br, 1 bath, 1 car garage. Vacant bank owned property
  2. $155,000 3 br, 1 bath, 1 car garage, fenced yard, new garage door, freshly painted. Pre-foreclosure/short sale opportunity. On the market for over a year.

  3. $165,000 3 br, 2 bath, 2 car garage. Pre-foreclosure/short sale opportunity.

  4. $168,000 3 br, 1 bath, 2 car detached garage, newly remodeled. Pre-foreclosure/short sale opportunity.

  5. $169,900 3 br, 1.1 bath, needs TLC. Pre-foreclosure/short sale opportunity.

  6. $172,000 3 br, 2 bath, 2 car garage, above ground pool. Pre-foreclosure/short sale opportunity.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 blog section

About a year ago I bought the domain because I wanted to start providing more detailed information about the Boulder Hill subdivision located in Montgomery/Oswego. I have lived in Boulder Hill for a little over a year now and I love the subdivision. It's actually more than a subdivision. On some maps it's listed as a town. At the time it was built - it was a trendsetter in new communities. Complete with a shopping center, church, school, new roads and new homes.
One of my biggest pet peeves about new subdivisions is the lack of trees. Sure, they usually plant trees on the parkway when the build. But there are no mature trees. And most of the new subdivisions out here are built in the middle of a corn field. Yeah, you'll have great trees in 20 or 30 years. But what about now? Boulder Hill has tons of trees. I have 2 mature trees and 3 smaller ones on my lot alone.
Location is another great feature. You can get in and out of Boulder Hill to at least 4 major roads - Rt. 25, Rt. 30, Douglas & Rt. 34. All without hitting any real traffic. Everything you need is within a 5 minute drive; Jewel, Dominicks, Target, Home Depot, bank, convenient store, car wash, pizza, chinese food - you name it!
Prices are also very reasonable in Boulder Hill. You can still get a three bedroom home for under $200k. And because it's un-incorporated taxes are lower! You can't beat that!
So, in the coming months as the spring Real Estate market kicks off I'll try to keep posting Boulder Hill Blogs as often as possible. But I'll also try to include photos of the community and other news worthy items. If you have something to contribute please feel free to email me or add a comment to one of the posts.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Illinois Realtors report - March 24th, 2008

The Illinois Association of Realtors (of which I am a member) released it's monthly report today (See full report here). The report is usually an analysis of the market activity from the previous month - in this case, Feb. 2008. In summary - home sales are up compared to January 2008. But still down compared to the same time last year, 2007. Home median sale prices are also down compared to the same time last year, 2007. The trend seems to be that home sellers are starting to take this to heart and prices are dropping. As a Realtor, I am often put in the situation of telling people their home is not worth what they paid for it a year ago. Although this is not easy to do - it's important to me to be upfront and honest to people, if if I don't get the listing. And I can do this honestly because I am in the same situation. I bought my current home a little over a year ago and if I had to sell - I would have to price it at or below what I paid for it a year ago. If you're in that situation and don't have to sell - my suggestion is that you hang on and wait for the market to improve. But if you have to sell - pricing is the most important consideration. Market times have increased and you are competing with foreclosures and other motivated sellers. So if you truly want to sell - now is not the time "to try it out and see what you can get".

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Township Tax Rates, Links & Resources

Since I started my Real Estate, I've been surprised to discover that the number one section on my site has been the Tax Center (click here to visit Tax Center at I receive more visitors to those pages than any others. Good to know - because I spent a lot of time compiling website links & phone numbers for all the townships, counties, cities, etc. In Kane, Kendall, Dupage & Will counties. If you've ever forgotten what your own property taxes are - you can usually look them up online. Or, at the very least - call the township office or County Tax Assessor. This is also useful if you are looking at purchasing a new home. Taxes are usually a portion of your house payment and are put in escrow every month. So if you tax that tax bill and divide it by 12 - that's how much will be added onto your monthly house payment to pay taxes at tax time. I also took some time to explain in a little more detail how taxes are calculated. There isn't just one group that creates your home taxes. Several different taxing bodies in a township have the authority to increase your taxes - schools, libraries, park district, etc.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Home Warranty - should I bother?

Today it's more and more common to provide a Home Warranty when you sell your home. On the west coast, Home warranties are commonplace and almost required. Here in Illinois they are fairly common - especially on older homes. And you always get a warranty when you purchase new construction.
A typical home warranty will cost between $300-$400 dollars. I typically offer my clients three different Home Warranties: HWA, HMS or Kettley Realtors Warranty.

There are many different home warranty companies available and I'll give you a list of some of the ones I've found at the end of this blog. But first, we'll talk about why you should use one. With an older home, a home warranty just gives a buyer peace of mind. Typical buyer questions about your home will be "How old is the roof", "how old is the furnace", "have the windows been replaced", etc. They want to know about all the "Major" upgrade items they may have to shell out for after buying the home. Nothing is worse that finding out you have a major repair on a home you just bought.
Because all home warranties are different - I'll use HMS as an example. This is one of the warranties I often recommend and they have excellent phone support when you have a problem. HMS offers a home warranty on a single family home, townhome or condominium for $399.00. This covers the following: Electrical, Plumbing, Water Heater, Sump Pump, Oven, Range, Stove, Built in Microwave, Refrigerator, Built in Dishwasher, Washer, Dryer, Garbage Disposal, Built-in Trash Compactor, Central Vacumn system, Garage Door Opener, Ceiling Fans, Door Bell Chimes. Heating & AC systems are included for the buyer - but cost an extra $70.00 for the seller. You can also purchase optional coverage for a jetted tub, well pump, swimming pool or spa.
As you can see - you get a lot of coverage for $400 dollars. When this is provided as part of the marketing package - a realtor can market the coverage and piece of mind when marketing the home. I can even put a sign rider in front of your house that says "Covered by a Home Warranty". Think about the first time you bought a new home. How nervous were you? I know I was nervous. Having a home warranty takes a lot of worry out of the process. The second advantage is - you are covered. From the moment your house is listed or when you purchase that home warranty - you as a seller are also covered for the systems I mentioned above. If you have purchased a second home already - this can really help alleviate the worry of taking care of two homes. Something goes wrong - your covered.
Most home warranty companies work in a fashion similar to HMS. Each has a list of the sytems/items covered, available upgrades, cost and deductible. Most have a $100.00 or $200.00 deductible per "visit" by a contractor. So it's best to wait until you have several items that need to be taken care of.

Here is a list of some of the Home Warranty Companies out there:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lock Boxes - what are they & why do I need one?

If you've ever listed your home for sale or looked at a home for sale, you've seen a lock box on the front door. A lock box contains a key to your home that will allow Realtors to show your home to prospective buyers. Every now and then I run into someone who just doesn't want a lock box on the front door and I have to explain exactly how important it is. During prospective showings, it is always best if the seller isn't home. Buyers have a hard time being honest with each other and the Realtor when they know the homeowner might be able to hear the conversation. Even if the homeowner leaves when you get there - it immediatley reinforces the idea that "we are looking at someone elses house" rather than "We are looking at our potential house". This is the same reason we as Realtors often tell people to put away collections and perosnal items that aren't necessary to stage the home for selling.
Lock boxes come in many different shapes and sizes, but usually only 2 different types. Combo boxes and Realtor boxes. Combo boxes usually have a combination or key punch pad with a pre-determined code. The Realtor sets the code to xyz and then gives that code to other Realtors when they request a showing. Many smaller towns like Sandwich use these boxes exclusively. The nice thing about this box is that they are easy to use. In addition, if you have a vacant property or property that needs work - this type of loxbox can be used to let painters, plumbers or repair people get access to the property when work needs to be done. Sometimes I use a combo lockbox in addition to a Realtor lockbox.
A Realtor lockbox is electronic and is only accesible to Realtors and other members of a local Real Estate Board (such as appraisers). An electronic Realtor lockbox has many advantages. Firstly, Realtors must have an electronic "key" that looks like a little mini calculator. Showing Realtors still call to make an appointment -but can gain access with their personal key. The advantage here is that each Realtor is logged upon entry. The listing Realtor can get a list of every Realtor that has used their key to enter the property. This is a great tool to use for follow up with buyers. As a professional courtesty -Realtors are supposed to leave a card when they show the property. Often times - home owners will ask "Did that 3:00pm showing actually show the house?". As a Realtor, I might call the Realtor and get no answer. Then I can check the showing log connected to that particular lockbox (yes, each one has it's own separate identity) and verify if the agent actually showed the property.
Another advantage of the Realtor lockbox is the "timed entry" feature. Most lockboxes are set to only allow showings between 7am and 10pm. That means even someone with an electronic key cannot get in before 7am or after 10pm. A nice security feature. I believe that feature can be changed - but I've never done it.
So if yo'ure selling your house- make sure you have a lockbox! You always want to make showing your home as easy as possible. Remember - you aren't selling "Your House" you are selling someone else their new house!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fed Cut Rates again - what does that mean for home buyers?

On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve Board cut rates again by 3/4 of a point (See CNN Rate Cut Story). So what does that mean for people buying a home or refinancing? Typically, this means rates for equity loans will Drop. Mortgage rates are not directly tied to the Fed Rate Cut - and sometimes mortgage rates even go up after the Fed lowers rates. I'm not an expert in this subject - but here are two good articles to explore. The Chicago Tribune arcile on the Rate Cut explores the larger economic impact of the rate cut on the economy. While The Minneapolis Star Tribune - reports that Mortgage rates actually went up to a 5.75% average after Tuesday's rate cut. If you really want to know how Mortgage rates are connected to the overall economy, read this article by Jim Buchta at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Listing - Sandwich 2 flat $159,900

I just listed a new 2 flat in Sandwich. The address is 205 E. 2nd Street, Sandwich IL. Here are the details on the listing. This is an old Victorian with one downstairs and one upstairs unit. It has a large driveway and a detached 2 car garage. The downstairs unit is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath unit renting for $825/month. Here are some pictures:

The upstairs unit is also 2 bedrooms with one bedroom but much smaller. Photos:

The upstairs unit is currently vacant but renting for $725/month. After purchasing this 2 unit, the current owner updated all the electric with new conduit - a nice piece of mind for the second seller. The kitchn up stairs also has new cabinets. Driveway is newer concrete with two separate doors - one for each tenant.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pre-aproval -vs- Pre-Qualification & 3 lenders I recommend

If you're out looking for a house and you haven't been pre-approved you're putting the cart before the horse. Especially in this market. There is a lot of inventory - and that means it's a buyers market. But sellers are hesitant to take their home of the market for you if you haven't been pre-approved yet. Bringing in an offer with a pre-approval also gives you a better chance of getting the price you want. Lets say there are two offers on the table - yours and one other. The other people aren't pre-approved and are offering $10,000 less than your offer. You are pre-approved but offering $10,000 less. Chances are, the seller will counter your offer first - trying to get you to the other price. If you stick to your guns - you have a better chance they'll take your offer. Who wants to take the chance that someones financing will fall through? Especially since lenders are more restrictive now in the loans they are willing to fund. So what's the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval? When you get pre-qualified you probably just talked to the lender on the phone, told him how much you make and what you think your credit score is. Takes 5 or 10 minutes. That's a nice first step, but keep going. When you get pre-approved, the lender checks your credit score, reviews your income information such as tax returns and w-2's and you actually fill out an application. The lender then matches you with a program to see what kind of loan you qualify for and the rate you can get. Do this - and you're offer really stands out from the crowd! Add a large earnest money check - and you are golden!
To get you started - here are 3 lenders I work with. Why would you want to work with one of these lenders? As a Realtor, I am out in the market every day. These lenders are people I have done deals with in the past. I have the utmost confidence in them to actually fund your loan and give you an honest picture of what this will cost you upfront.

Amy Buchanan - Professional Mortgage Partners. 630-598-2336. Yes, we're related. She's my cousin. She works for Professional Mortgage Parnters and she will get you the best deal possible!

David Worley - Vision Loan. 630-553-1033. Maybe the hardest working man in the mortgage business! He will work tirelessly to keep you updated and get the deal done.

Dawn Marquis - Draper & Kramer Mortgage. 815-436-6040. Dawn's a straight shooter. She'll tell it like it is. Whether you like it or not ;) And she'll make sure your loan funds!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Montgomery - Foreclosures & Pre-Foreclosures For Sale Now!

I took a client out looking at foreclosures & pre-foreclosures this weekend in Montgomery and there are a lot of great deals out there. Foreclosures and pre-foreclosures are just like anything else on the market. You make and offer and see what happens. Even the banks will negotiate. When the property is a pre-foreclosure that means the homeowner is selling the home because they are facing foreclosure. Often times this means it will be a "short sale". That means the home will be sold for less than the homeowner owes the bank- so it will be "short" of what is owed. Typically , the bank will allow this and forgive the seller the difference because it will be more costly for them to actually foreclose and then sell it themselves.
This list represents all the foreclosures and pre-foreclosures on the market up to $250,000. All these homes are listed in the mls with other Realtors. As your buyers representative/Realtor I can help you put together an offer on any of these properties. I have years of experience working with foreclosures and pre-foreclosures and it pays to have an experienced Realtor negotiating the deal for you.

$169,900 - 4 br/2.1 bath, no basement, 2 car garage in Montgomery. Needs work.
This is a bank owned foreclosure.

$199,900 - 3 br/2.1 bath, w/basement, 2 car garage, 2600 sf in Montgomery.
This is a pre-foreclousre opportunity and a short sale.

$202,000 - 3 br/2.1 bath w/basement, 2 car garage, 1900 sf in Montgomery.
HUD property/Government owned for auction.

$228,500 - 4 br/2.1 bath w/basement, 2 car garage, 2391 sf in Montgomery.
This is a pre-foreclosure opportunity and a short sale.

$229,900 - 3 br/2.1 bath w/basement, 2 car garage, 2381 sf in Montgomery.
HUD property/Government owned for auction.

$229,900 - 4 br/2.1 bath w/basement, 2 car garage, 2456 sf in Montgomery.
This is a bank owned foreclosure property.

$234,850 - 4 br/2.1 bath w/basement, 2 car garage, 2391 sf in Montgomery.
This is a bank owned foreclosure property.

$239,900 - 3 br/2.1 bath w/basement, 2 car garage, 2024 sf in Montgomery.
This is a pre-foreclosure opportunity and a short sale.

$245,000 - 4 br/2.1 bath w/basement, fp & 2 car garage, 2400 sf in Montgomery.
This is a pre-foreclosure opportunity and a short sale.

$249,900 - 4 br/2.1 bath w/basement, fp & 3 car garage, 2552 sf in Montgomery.
This is a pre-foreclosure opportunity and a short sale.

$249,900 - 4 br/2.1 bath w/basement, 2 car garage, unknown sf in Montgomery.
This is a pre-foreclosure opportunity and a short sale.

$249,900 - 4 br/2.1 bath w/basement, fp & 2 car garage, 2456 sf in Montgomery.
This is a pre-foreclosure opportunity and a short sale.

$249,900 - 4 br/2.1 bath, no basement, 2 car garage, 2545 sf in Montgomery.
This is a pre-foreclosure opportunity and a short sale.

$289,900 - 4 br/2.1 bath w/basement , FP & 2 car garage, 2737 sf in Oswego.
This is a bank pre-foreclosure opportunity and a short sale.

$299,900 - 4 br/2.1 bath, w/basement, fireplace, 2 car garage in Oswego.
This is a pre-foreclosure opportunity and a short sale.

If you would like a list of foreclosure & pre-foreclosure opportunities in another area visit the contact me section at

Monday, March 10, 2008

Elburn Pre-Foreclosure Opportunity

I had the chance to look at a pre-foreclosure in Elburn this weekend. It's a small house - probably something for a first time buyer. 1 bedroom plus a loft. The home is in very nice shape with no garage but a gravel parking pad or 2 cars off the street. This is probably a perfect home for a first time buyer. Originally purchased as a rental it has been used as a rental property. I am estimating the value at between $120,000 - $150,000. This home is not yet on the market but I can submit an offer to the bank. So if you are interested in purchasing the property - call me at 630-846-4663. This property will be a short sale - so it means we will be negotiating with the bank on the sale. I have several years experience doing this and I work with a very experienced Attorney & title company that help get the purchase approved.

Thursday, March 6, 2008 - Montgomery Fixer Upper

Wow.......this is really is a deal too good to be true. A 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home - only 6 years old for $169,900. This is not my listing but I can still give you the details. Built by Lakewood Homes in 2002 the home has no basement, an attached 2 car garage and a good sized fenced yard. Here's the catch. It's trashed. It looks like someone started a rehab project and then gave up! The drywall has all been torn down in the kitchen and family room (even the ceilings). There are no appliances. Carpeting has been torn out in the living room, dining room and all the bedrooms. There are a lot of holes in the drywall, sections cut out, etc. But overall - it's the kind of rehab most first timers are looking for. Strictly cosmetic stuff. It needs drywall, carpeting, paint and appliances. Oh yeah - the toilets are missing too. Go figure. In my estimate, it needs about $15-$20k in work. It's a bank owned foreclosure and it looks priced to move. I've run the comps (comparables, recent sales) back to 2005. In the last 3 years only 2 homes have sold at or below this price - and both were 2 bedroom ranches. Nothing this big.