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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why Luxury Home Prices May Fall Further

Case Shiller Index released today

" A closely watched index of local home prices fell in December for the fourth straight month, with Chicago-area prices ending a seesaw year 6.5 percent lower than they were at the end of the 2010."
Crain's Chicago Business
Read more: Chicago area prices end 2011 down 6.5 percent

* * * *

"Home prices fell in December for a fourth straight month in most major U.S. cities, as modest sales gains in the depressed housing market have yet to lift prices....The steepest declines were in Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit."

Associate Press:
Home prices fell in December in most US cities

* * * 
U.S. home prices in December fell to their lowest level since the housing crisis, as an uptick in activity isn’t yet being matched by rising values, according to a closely followed index released Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite fell 1.1% in December, to wrap up 2011 with a 4% downturn. The index hasn’t been this low since February 2003 and has dropped 33.8% from its peak. 

Market Watch 
U.S. home prices at post-crisis lows: Case-Shiller

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Million-dollar foreclosures rise as rich walk away - Feb. 23, 2012

Million-dollar foreclosures rise as rich walk away - Feb. 23, 2012


Today I am thinking about closets.   Maybe it's because I need to meet with a closet guy later on or maybe it's because I just saw an article today in the New York Times in their column Market Ready.

"Q. Is it worth the cost to add custom-made shelving to a walk-in closet before listing my home for sale?"

A. ... a well-designed closet can be a selling feature, because it helps potential buyers envision where they would put all their things..." 

Lesson 3: 
Figure out closets

One of the interesting things about downsizing is the reduction of closet space.  My dad's cottage has at least six closets on just the first floor and (one of) the master bedrooms closet is huge.  The apartment will now have about 3 closets - total ... eek.   We are now having to figure this one out.  

Some decisions we've made so far.  
  • We're planning to donate the linens and towels that we know Dad is not going to need or use at the apartment.   I found a source in Waukegan where they are given away at a food pantry.
  • I found a shop that would try to consign my mother's coat  -- the one we never could figure out a home for.
  • I'm seeing if we can add shelving and drawers in the new apartment's closet.
  • We're helping Dad figure out which clothes to take and which to donate.
  • We're starting to empty the closets now -- not later.  
Obviously, we have a lot more to figure out -- but what I am taking away from this experience, is when you are moving -- especially when downsizing -- sort out the closets early. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Lesson 2: 
When moving, be sure to have lots of different colored Post-Its and stickers on hand!

I love Post-Its!!!

History lesson from Wikipedia:
"In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a chemist at 3M in the United States, developed a "low-tack", reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. For five years, Silver promoted his invention within 3M, both informally and through seminars, but without much success. In 1974, a colleague of his, Art Fry, who had attended one of Silver's seminars, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook.  Fry then developed the idea by taking advantage of 3M's officially sanctioned "permitted bootlegging" policy. 3M launched the product in stores in 1977 in four cities under the name "Press 'n Peel", but its results were disappointing. A year later, in 1978, 3M issued free samples to residents of Boise, Idaho, and 95 % of the people who tried them said that they would buy the product. On April 6, 1980, the product debuted in US stores as Post-It Notes...."
Post-Its are lifesavers for people who are moving -- I don't know what we'd do without them.  

Our Post-It system:
PINK Post-It  - item moves to the apartment
GREEN - donate
ORANGE - consign or sell
BLUE - save for family 
(We also have a sub-system for the blue Post-Its: we have colored stickers to put on the Post-It to identify, which family member gets what.)
Everything else is thrown away.

So far our Post-It system is working...

Monday, February 20, 2012


I'm in the business of people moving ... that is basically what buying real estate is -- changing homes.  If my blogging has slowed down a bit over the last few weeks, I have a reason.  My sibs and I are helping my dad move.  He's downsizing from his cottage at Lake Forest Place to an apartment.  Going through this process -- again (I've done it for myself at least a dozen times) -- I am reminded how both physically and psychologically stressful moving can be.

This time is especially challenging because we are helping Dad downsize from a cottage filled with both memories and a full basement to a 2-bedroom apartment.   We're asking each other questions like, "What should we do with these beds?" or  "What do we do with all these pictures on the walls and photo albums?"  or "What should we do with Grandmother's china?" or "What are we going to do with all of Mother's cookbooks?"

As of today,  M-day is March 30.  Rather than blog about real estate for the next month, I think I'll blog about downsizing and moving for the next few weeks... share some of the lessons I'm learning along the way.

Lesson 1:
Don't accumulate.  Fortunately my parents were not hoarders and they have already downsized twice from their house in Kenilworth to an apartment in Winnetka to the cottage at Lake Forest Place.  The real challenge we all face, is that we often accumulate things that we don't necessarily want.    Case in point -- a lot of things we're dealing with now were not my parents' belongings but my grandparents things.  When you get to our generation and the next, these items don't hold much sentiment and it's hard to figure out their disposition.    

Don't accumulate paper, either.  From here on out,  I vow to not collect paper -- everything I want to save is going to be scanned into a file and stored on my computer -- I'd rather clutter up my hard drive than my desk.  That goes for photographs, too.  

Just because you have an empty basement, it doesn't mean that you have to put things in it. 

I found a helpful blog: The Moving Planner

Stay tuned. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Market Ready

Q. How can I make my front porch more appealing to buyers?

A. It’s worth putting some extra effort into sprucing up the front porch, because potential buyers spend a lot of time there, chatting with real estate agents and waiting to get into the house during showings....

Good article in the New York Times,
Market Ready

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Homeownership down

"With local home prices falling to levels seen near the turn of the century, homeownership is now at about the same place, too.

The Chicago-area homeownership rate dropped to 66.3 percent in the fourth quarter, its lowest point since the third quarter of 2000, according the U.S. Census Bureau. The rate fell from 68.2 percent in the third quarter and 67.2 percent a year earlier..."

Continue in Crain's
Homeownership rates tumble along with the market

January Prices Continue to Slide

"...Regionally, the Midwest lost 4 percent quarter-over-quarter, leading the nation in quarterly losses for the first time in seven months.   The Midwest saw the most significant change in overall performance of any region. ...."

From Real Estate Economy Watch
January Prices Continue to Slide

Friday, February 3, 2012

What drives up home insurance? Risks that raise rates....

"While most people buy home insurance to protect property from damage, liabilities from accidents on your property are often what drive up your insurance rate. "Legal liability can be more costly to home insurers than property damage....Here are some of the biggest rate-boosters."

Bloomberg News: What Sends Home Insurance Rates Soaring

Cooking at Elawa Farm