Keeping up with Chicago's North Shore Real Estate Market!

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Home for the holidays

As 2010 draws to a close, the Illinois Association of REALTORS® offers five reasons why buying a home continues to be a good investment
IAR Buzz...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How about a green Christmas?

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans throw away a million extra tons of garbage each week, including holiday wrapping and packaging, according to Robert Lilienfeld. Lilienfield is co-author of the book Use Less Stuff: Environmental Solutions for Who We Really Are.
So consider these holiday green tips: 
  • Recycle wrapping paper: Lilienfield says that if every family reused just 2 feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.
  • Consider giving experiences: "Think back to your three favorite holiday memories," Lilienfeld said. "I'm willing to bet that they all involve time you spent with your family and friends." By giving gifts that can be experienced, like tickets to a baseball game or a homemade dinner, you can minimize wrapping and still win points with the receiver.
  • Recycling fresh trees after Christmas can make a huge difference in reducing holiday waste. Instead of taking up space in the landfill, trees can be ground into wood chips, which can be used to mulch gardens.
  • According to one U.S. Department of Energy study, if everyone replaced their conventional holiday light strings with LED, at least two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity could be saved in a month.
Think Green!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Beware of the shadow...

Have you heard the phrase, shadow inventory?  It's a term that is being used with increased frequency.  It refers to housing units that are not currently listed on the market, but will probably be listed sometime soon. CoreLogic, a provider of consumer and financial data and services, defines the shadow inventory as properties that are seriously delinquent (90 days or more), in foreclosure, and real estate owned by lenders that are not being offered through multiple-listing services. They usually release a periodic report that indicates what is happening with the volume of shadow inventory.  Here's an interesting article from Barron's about this issue.

But the term can be broadened to include all properties that are waiting in the wings to be put on the market for sale.  For example,  homes that are currently being rented with the intention of being sold.  This includes the "accidental landlords" who rented their properties and who will try to sell as soon as the market improves after the current tenant's lease expires.  Personally, I have four clients who find themselves in this situation.  They want to sell -- but -- they don't really want to sell an asset in a depreciating market. 

To me, a bigger unknown in our market may be, what I like to call the hidden inventory.  I know a number of homeowners, who want to sell their homes to downsize or to retire to a continuing care facility or to move to another part of the country, but are hesitating to put their homes on the market and are waiting for a more opportune moment.  As the baby boomers begin to retire in greater numbers, this could become a more challenging factor to getting some of our larger and older homes sold.  Even today -- in just Lake Forest -- we have on the market over 7 years of inventory of houses that are priced over $3M. 

Shadow inventory is something that we can't do much about -- other than remaining aware of it.  If you're thinking about selling, understand today's market value of your home and price accordingly.  Try listing your house at times when the inventory levels might be lower due to seasonal adjustments -- for example -- the next three months, the inventory levels usually go down.  Some sellers take their homes off the market because the aren't interested in having them on during the holidays... but it can be a window of opportunity to list your home.  While there may be fewer buyers, those who buy in the winter months are usually people who HAVE to move for one reason or another and sales often come together more easily during these months.  

If you're thinking about selling, keep informed about the projected shadow inventory levels in your market.  Your Realtor should be able to provide you with some of this information.  While it's a difficult number to quantify completely, there are various websites that can, at least, provide information about distressed properties.  Here are a couple of sites that I found just by doing a quick search.