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Karen Breen Elia's Blog

By Karen Breen Elia, ABR, CRS | Broker in Chicago, IL
  • Stop.Think.Connect. Cyber Tips

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Chicago, Tech Tips in Chicago  |  August 15, 2014 4:49 AM  |  52 views  |  No comments
    stop think connectStop.Think.Connect. is a campaign which challenges the American public to be more vigilant about practicing safe online habits and persuades Americans to view Internet safety as a shared responsibility home, in the workplace, and in our communities.

    The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness among Americans about cybersecurity, empower them to be safe online, and educate and raise the next generation of the cyber workforce.

    Quick Tips

    The majority of cybercriminals do not discriminate; they target vulnerable computer systems regardless of whether they are part of a government agency, Fortune 500 company, small business, or belong to a home user. However, there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of an incident:

    • Set strong passwords, change them regularly, and don’t share them with anyone.
      • Do not include your name, your kids' or pets' names, or other well-known information about yourself in your password;
      • Avoid using common words in your passwords or passphrases. Instead, break up words with numbers and punctuation marks or symbols. For example, @ can replace the letter "A" and an exclamation point (!) can replace the letters "I" and "L"; and
      • Use a combination of upper and lower case letters.
    • Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates.
    • Maintain an open dialogue with your friends, family, colleagues and community about Internet safety.
    • Use privacy settings and limit the amount of personal information you post online.
    • Be cautious about offers online – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Resources Available to Your and Your Family

    OnguardOnline.gov

    This website, run by the Federal Trade Commission, is a one-stop shop for online safety resources available to parents, educators, and kids .

    Cybertipline.com

    The Congressionally-mandated CyberTipline, which is part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), receives online child solicitation reports 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Submit an online report or call 1-800-843-5678.

    Staysafeonline.org

    The National Cyber Security Alliance offers security updates, free antivirus software, malware software removal, and other services.

    Information courtesy of Karen Breen Elia.

    MAKING A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE'S LIVES.

    Karen Breen Elia & Louis M. Elia, REALTORS®, are brokers for homes, condos, and multi-unit properties on Chicago's North Side.

    ChicagoCityHomes, RE/MAX Exclusive Properties
    2951 North Lincoln Avenue 
    Chicago IL 60657
    Toll Free: (866) 404-3585 Fax: (773) 938-1467 
    Send An Email

    We know Chicago Real Estate!  Call us today!

  • Cook County and Chicago IL Foreclosure Trends for June 2014

    Posted Under: General Area in Chicago, Market Conditions in Chicago, Foreclosure in Chicago  |  August 11, 2014 5:29 AM  |  30 views  |  1 comment

    In June, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in Cook County, IL was 10% higher than the previous month and 30% lower than the same time last year, according to RealtyTrac.com.

    Cook County IL Foreclosure Activity

    In June, the number of Auctions increased 14.3% from the previous month and decreased 56.2% from the previous year. Bank-owned properties increased 11.4% from the previous month and 29.7% from the previous year. Pre-foreclosures increased 2.9% from the previous month and 13.8 from the previous year.

    chicago il foreclosure


    Cook County IL Foreclosure Geographical Comparison

    Cook County IL foreclosures were 0.11% higher than national statistics and 0.03% higher than Illinois figures in June.

    chicago il foreclosure

    Cook County IL Foreclosure Status

    The current distribution of foreclosures based on the number of active foreclosure homes in Cook County, IL.

    In June, Pre-foreclosures accounted for 31.0% of the foreclosures activity, Auctions accounted for 41.7%, and Bank-owned properties 27.3%.

    chicago il foreclosure

     

    Are you or someone you know behind on mortgage payments? There are options to Chicago IL foreclosures. A short sale may be the answer to saving you, your family and your credit. Contact us for a private consultation. We can help!

  • Chicago Real Estate Market Trends for June 2014

    Posted Under: General Area in Chicago, Market Conditions in Chicago, In My Neighborhood in Chicago  |  August 1, 2014 8:16 AM  |  51 views  |  No comments

    If you sold your primary residence and made a profit, you may be able to exclude that profit from your taxable income. Here's how it works.

    Individuals can exclude up to $250,000 in profit from the sale of a main home (or $500,000 for a married couple) as long as you have owned the home and lived in the home for a minimum of two years. Those two years do not need to be consecutive. In the 5 years prior to the sale of the house, you need to have lived in the house for at least 24 months in that 5-year period. In other words, the home must have been your principal residence.

    Just like calculating capital gains, the formula for calculating the gain or loss involves subtracting your cost basis from your selling price.

    The formula for calculating your cost basis on your main home is as follows:

    Purchase price

    + Purchase costs (title & escrow fees, real estate agent commissions, etc.)

    + Improvements (replacing the roof, new furnace, etc.)

    + Selling costs (title & escrow fees, real estate agent commissions, etc.)

    - Accumulated depreciation (for example, if you ever took the office in the home deduction)

    = Cost Basis


    And then calculating your profit or loss would be:

    Selling price

    - Cost Basis

    = Gain or Loss

    Take a look at how many home sold in the Chicago real estate market for June 2014.

    Chicago Real Estate Sales – Detached Single Homes

    The number of Chicago detached single homes selling in June 2014 increased 4% for the month compared to June 2013. The average selling price increased by 5% to $831,445 and the average market time increased by 15 days. Homes sold for 97% of the listed price.

    Neighborhoods included in these statistics are: Avondale, Albany Park, Edgewater, Irving Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Logan Square, Loop, Near North Side, Near South Side, Near West Side, North Park, North Center, Rogers Park, Uptown, West Ridge, West Town.

    Date

    Sold Listings

    Average Sold Price

    SP:LP

    Average Market Time

    June 2014

    238

    $831,445

    97%

    66

    June 2013

    228

    $790,819

    96%

    81

     
    Chicago Real Estate Sales – Attached Single Homes

    The number of Chicago attached single homes selling in June 2014 increased by 4% for the month when compared to June 2013. The average selling price increased 7% to $414,754 and the average market time decreased by 10 days. Homes sold for 98% of the listed price.

    Date

    Sold Listings

    Average Sold Price

    SP:LP

    Average Market Time

    June 2014

    1,537

    $414,754

    98%

    60

    June 2013

    1,477

    $384,605

    98%

    70


    Chicago Real Estate Sales – 2-4 Flats

    The number of Chicago multi-family properties selling in June 2014 increased by less than 1% from June 2013. The average selling price increased 2% from June 2013 prices, and the average market time decreased by 28 days. Homes sold for 98% of the listed price.
     

    Date

    Sold Listings

    Average Sold Price

    SP:LP

    Average Market Time

    June 2014

    110

    $519,254

    98%

    53

    June 2013

    109

    $428,663

    99%

    81

     
    Curious about the value of your home? Get your home's value here!

    Karen Breen Elia

    MAKING A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE'S LIVES.

    Karen Breen Elia & Louis M. Elia, REALTORS®, are brokers for homes, condos, and multi-unit properties on Chicago's North Side.

    ChicagoCityHomes, RE/MAX Exclusive Properties
    2951 North Lincoln Avenue 
    Chicago IL 60657
    Toll Free: (866) 404-3585 Fax: (773) 938-1467 
    Send An Email

    We know Chicago Real Estate!  Call us today!

  • Mortgage Rates Not Rising As Expected

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Chicago, Home Buying in Chicago, Financing in Chicago  |  July 25, 2014 4:10 AM  |  62 views  |  No comments

    Economists predicted mortgage rates would climb above 5% in 2014, but this hasn't happened. Why you ask? Market Watch has published a great article explaining why rates have stayed low this year...even lower than 2013. Take a look...

    mortgage ratesThere are a few reasons why higher rates never came to pass.

    Rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.15% for the week ending July 10, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates. A year ago, rates averaged 4.51%.

    “In January, we were projecting at the end of the year that the 30-year would be 5.1%,” said Leonard Kiefer, deputy chief economist with Freddie Mac. “We most recently revised that down to 4.4%.

    Supply and demand

    Economists had largely expected rates to rise once the Federal Reserve indicated it would taper its purchase of mortgage-backed securities through its quantitative easing program, Kiefer said. Rates did, in fact, rise spike upward due to that indication last summer.

    But when the Fed actually began purchasing fewer of these securities, mortgage rates began to fall. That’s because the tapering ended up coinciding with a reduction in mortgage originations — which means fewer mortgage-backed securities were being issued, Kiefer said.

    “The Fed’s ‘demand’ for new mortgage-backed securities has declined less than has the new ‘supply,’” Kiefer and chief economist Frank Nothaft wrote in a recent outlook.

    And that’s keeping rates down.

    Fewer mortgages are being originated in large part because refinance activity is down; with rates no longer at record lows, there are fewer homeowners interested in refinancing these days. Also, while the housing market is improving, there hasn’t been an abundance of first-time home buyers in the market today, and that has been a drag on housing, said Ted Ahern, chief financial officer of mortgage lender Guaranteed Rate.

    “There’s not a big supply of mortgages being originated, so that in and of itself kind of keeps the rates down,” Ahern said.

    Another reason for the supply/demand imbalance: Global investors buying mortgage-backed securities, said Dan Green, chief publishing officer of The Mortgage Reports, a mortgage blog.

    “Wall Street planned for the end of QE3 in a vacuum. There was no consideration given to the health of domestic and global economies or to market-destabilizing geopolitics,” Green wrote in an email interview. “The Fed has been exiting the market exactly as forecast, but not as quickly as global investors have joined. Demand for mortgage-backed securities still outweighs supply, which has lowered consumer mortgage rates.”

    Low inflation, a weaker-than-expected economy in the first quarter and a “decent, but not great” housing market are also forces contributing to keeping mortgage rates low, Ahern said.

    If you’re mortgage shopping

    Eventually mortgage rates will go higher — unless there’s some sort of slowdown in economic growth, a recession or some big shock to the economy, Kiefer said. “It’s likely to be gradual, but [rates are going] up, for sure,” he added.

    Once it’s clear the economy is expanding, mortgage rates should be on their way up, Green said.

    In fact, those in the market for a mortgage may want to pay close attention to any marked improvement in the job numbers and any increases in inflation, Ahern said. Those are likely to be tell-tale signs that rates are heading up, he said.

    MAKING A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE'S LIVES.

    Karen Breen Elia & Louis M. Elia, REALTORS®, are brokers for homes, condos, and multi-unit properties on Chicago's North Side.

    ChicagoCityHomes, RE/MAX Exclusive Properties
    2951 North Lincoln Avenue 
    Chicago IL 60657
    Toll Free: (866) 404-3585 Fax: (773) 938-1467 
    Send An Email

    We know Chicago Real Estate!  Call us today!

  • 6 Tips For a Stress Free Summer Move

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Chicago, Moving in Chicago, Military Movers in Chicago  |  July 18, 2014 5:32 AM  |  76 views  |  1 comment

    Each year around 65% of all household moves take place between May and September, so obviously you need to plan ahead if you’re moving to a new home this summer.

    stressWhile the act of relocating to a new place can certainly be exciting, there are, of course, challenges to be met, especially during a hot, busy summer season.  Although there are no foolproof ways to make the experience totally stress-free, there are, thankfully, actions you can take to make your “adventure” a more positive one.

    Sage advice to heed includes:

    1. Plan ahead!  Contact moving companies or truck rental firms at least six weeks in advance if possible. Try to schedule your move for a weekday and at a time when traffic is less heavy.  Make prior arrangements for the care of young children and pets on moving day—for their sake and yours!  Line up commitments from friends and family if you’ll need their assistance for the move.
       
    2. Be strategic about packing.  Gather necessary supplies and start packing early.  Whether it’s one room, one cabinet, or a drawer at a time, weed through what may be years of accumulation.  Decide what to donate to charity, give to a friend, recycle, trash, pack now, or keep handy until moving day.  Label boxes as to contents and intended room in the new home.
       
    3. Take care of logistics in advance.  Ideally, you should contact your future utilities provider at least two weeks before you move regarding turning on your electricity, gas, phone, cable, and internet before your arrival, if possible.  Contact any new school for a list of documents needed for registration.  Do not pack these materials away it’s better to hand carry them for easy retrieval.  If you’re going to need to spend a night in a hotel, make those arrangements early.
       
    4. Make life simple.  Keep all small parts labeled, in plastic bags, and all together in one box.  Likewise, take pictures of electronic hook-ups for future use.
       
    5. Consider the heat.  Dress appropriately, stay hydrated, and refrain from placing certain items in a hot truck—candles or wine, e.g.  Click here for tips on packing cleaning products and toxins.
       
    6. Stay calm.  Relax, whistle, smile, and anticipate the pleasure of living in your new home. 

    MAKING A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE'S LIVES.

    Karen Breen Elia & Louis M. Elia, REALTORS®, are brokers for homes, condos, and multi-unit properties on Chicago's North Side.

    ChicagoCityHomes, RE/MAX Exclusive Properties
    2951 North Lincoln Avenue 
    Chicago IL 60657
    Toll Free: (866) 404-3585 Fax: (773) 938-1467 
    Send An Email

    We know Chicago Real Estate!  Call us today!

  • New Condo Project For Ukrainian Village

    Posted Under: General Area in Chicago, In My Neighborhood in Chicago  |  July 11, 2014 11:22 AM  |  82 views  |  No comments

    The Chicago Architecture Blog has reported a Chicagoland developers plans to turn a Ukrainian church building and school into 20 condominiums. Read the story here...

    ukrainian villagePosted By Editor on Jul 7, 2014

    A Chicagoland developer is expected to get a thumb’s up on his plan to turn a Ukrainian Village church building with an attached school into 20 condominiums.

    Alex Troyanovsky bought the former Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (913 North Hoyne Street) in February of last year. A month later, the city named the Henry Worthmann & John Steinbach-designed buildings a city landmark. Worthmann & Steinbach designed at least 30 churches in Chicago.

    When the Commission on Chicago Landmarks meets this week, it’s expected to vote in favor of the residential conversion, with certain conditions:

    • ulrainian villageThe stained glass windows must be preserved
    • Walls can’t end at an exterior window
    • New windows must have a historic looks, similar to the existing windows
    • The rooftop addition must be dark in color

    The developer also wants to punch a series of skylights into the roof of the building, but the landmarks commission wants proof that they’re necessary first.

    It’s been a rough life lately for the church.  It was built between 1905 and 1906 by German immigrants, though the congregation and school trace their history back to 1867.  Eventually (possibly in 1974?) the original congregation left this building.  It was later occupied by several other churches over the years.

    By 2002, when it was known as the Central Hispanic Church, an engineers report noted significant structural movement.  Enough so that in places the floor had separated from the walls.

    ukrainian villageIn 2005, the interior was stripped bare, with all of the pews and other furnishings removed.

    In 2009 a city water main broke and the basement was flooded with gushing water for months before it was discovered and stopped.

    Scavengers have ripped out all of the building’s plumbing and wiring, causing extensive damage in the process.  They also made off with some of the stained glass windows.

    With the church is such terrible condition, it’s easy to understand how the city would allow it to be converted into residences.  Let’s hope the new owners are able to reverse what age, thieves, and neglect have done to the buildings.

    MAKING A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE'S LIVES.

    Karen Breen Elia & Louis M. Elia, REALTORS®, are brokers for homes, condos, and multi-unit properties on Chicago's North Side.

    ChicagoCityHomes, RE/MAX Exclusive Properties
    2951 North Lincoln Avenue 
    Chicago IL 60657
    Toll Free: (866) 404-3585 Fax: (773) 938-1467 
    Send An Email

    We know Chicago Real Estate!  Call us today!

  • To Fix Or Not To Fix?

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Chicago, Remodel & Renovate in Chicago  |  July 3, 2014 9:35 AM  |  131 views  |  No comments

    I am often asked, “Should sellers fix up their home before selling?” First, let’s talk about the stuff any Realtor is going to tell you so you have context for the rest.

    toolsIt is easier to sell a house that is attractive to buyers and shows as being well-maintained. That is a matter of doing a little fix-up, but mostly clean-up. Make sure pipes aren’t leaking, for instance. That is relatively easy and not expensive. If your home really needs painting consider doing that. These are not high priced issues. Below we are talking about the expensive items.

    If your house has structural defects or other problems that are expensive to fix you have more challenging decisions to make. First, remember that every house has defects! That is simply the nature of a complex structure. Second, savvy buyers know to expect defects so don’t try to hide them. Don’t kid yourself that if a problem can’t be seen easily it won’t be found out.

    Most buyers assume there are some problems with any house. If they make an offer that you accept they will pay for a professional home inspector who knows Chicago real estate. Good buyer inspectors are very thorough. They are being paid by the buyer and are looking out for the buyer’s interests, not yours. It is not unusual for an inspection report to be in excess of twenty pages…in small type! Being honest with yourself about defects will prepare you better when you are faced with that inspection report.

    So, the question becomes “Do I fix the problems before going on the market, or do I make it clear that I am selling “as-is” and discount the price accordingly?” The obvious follow-up question is “If I spend the money before selling, will I get that money back in the final sale price?” The general answer is that it depends on the nature of the defect and magnitude of the likely cost of repair.

    Potential buyers are most likely to overestimate the cost if they have to make the repair and under-estimate the cost if the seller is paying. Cost versus value then becomes a negotiation to establishing a final purchase/sale price. If the cost of repair is major, such as a septic system, it makes the most sense to repair it before selling.

    The best way to go about making these decisions is to pay a professional home inspector in your Chicago real estate market to make an inspection on your behalf as the seller. Their report will give you a thorough list of issues you might be faced with. It will also give you the tool to get estimates from contractors to make the repairs. Then you have a sound basis for making decisions.

    An added benefit to having your own inspection on hand is that you have a professional document that you can use when negotiating with a buyer. Be practical and be prepared with your own inspection.

    MAKING A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE'S LIVES.

    Karen Breen Elia & Louis M. Elia, REALTORS®, are brokers for homes, condos, and multi-unit properties on Chicago's North Side.

    ChicagoCityHomes, RE/MAX Exclusive Properties
    2951 North Lincoln Avenue 
    Chicago IL 60657
    Toll Free: (866) 404-3585 Fax: (773) 938-1467 
    Send An Email

    We know Chicago Real Estate!  Call us today!

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