Friday, November 21, 2014

This Holiday Season Looking Like a Great Time To Wrap Up a Home Sale, Say RE/MAX Brokers



CHICAGO, Nov. 20, 2014 – With the holiday season upon us, those who still have a home to sell may find their most welcome holiday present will be a signed sales contract. 

“Certainly in our area the stars seem favorably aligned for sellers this holiday season,” said Sergio Cardoso, broker/owner at RE/MAX Countryside in Hoffman Estates, Ill.  “Compared to a typical year, there appear to be more potential buyers in the market, and with home prices still rising, those folks want to buy sooner rather than later.”

Echoing those sentiments is Liz Sidorowicz of RE/MAX Signature in Chicago.

“Demand for homes is extremely high in Chicago with the exception of areas impacted by a high volume of foreclosures,” she noted.  “In other neighborhoods, demand for homes continues to exceed the supply.”

Over much of 2014, the inventory of homes for sale has remained relatively low in many local markets across northern Illinois.  That has helped create a sizable group of buyers who have invested many months in their home search but are still looking.

“No matter the year, buyers who are active during the holiday season tend to be serious buyers, but this year there may be more of them than normal,” said Rich Bassford of RE/MAX Elite Homes in Moline, Ill.  “One family I’m working with is a great example because they have something very specific in mind in terms of location and wanting acreage for horses, and there just hasn’t been much to choose from this year, but they are ready to buy if the right property is listed.”

The recent dip in mortgage interest rates to less than 4 percent should also help fuel demand by making homes more affordable.  With most long range forecasts predicting higher rates next year, many buyers want to capture the current low rates.

“Every time mortgage rates decline, it increases buyer interest,” said Cardoso.  He explained that lower rates mean buyers who may have targeted a certain maximum price for their new home can now pay a bit more without seeing the monthly payment rise, or they can stick to their target price and get a lower payment than they anticipated.

Yet another reason to keep a house on the market through the holidays, according to Kat Becker of the Becker Group at RE/MAX Advantage Realty of Antioch, Ill., is that buyers who have cut back on house hunting during the holiday season are coming back into the market faster these days.

“Even just a few years ago, January was often a slow month as far as buyers were concerned, but we’ve noticed a real change in the last year or two,” said Becker.  “Once the new year begins, buyers start calling and emailing.  They want back in the market.  As a result, I’m urging sellers not to take their home off the market during the holidays.  That way, their home is ready to show, not only through the holidays but immediately afterwards.”

Becker also noted that some buyers who were active earlier in the year but discouraged by the intense competition for the limited supply of top-notch properties are coming back into the market because the pace is slower and multiple-offer situations less intense in winter.

“Right now, we have a fairly balanced market, and in some ways that helps get deals done because neither side feels they are at a disadvantage,” she said.

However, some of the best reasons to keep a home on the market through the holidays are true year after year.

“The buyers who are out in the market during the holidays are serious purchasers,” said Sidorowicz.  “Many are dealing with job changes or transfers, so they need to find something fast, and they have the financial wherewithal to close the purchase quickly.”

The other recurring reason that makes the holiday season attractive to sellers is the relative lack of competing properties.

“Some sellers do take their homes off the market briefly during the holidays or, if they haven’t yet listed them, will wait until the new year.  So, those homes that stay on the market have an advantage,” reported Bassford.  “I’ve noticed over the years that the holidays are a time when slightly unusual homes tend to get sold.  With fewer choices available, buyers look at these properties more carefully and realize that out-of-the-ordinary isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, it can be a real plus.”

RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989.  The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of 2,000 sales associates and 100 individually owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services.  Its mobile real estate app and www.illinoisproperty.com provide comprehensive information about residential and commercial property for sale in the region.  The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX, LLC, a global real estate organization with 90,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

RE/MAX Northern Illinois Launches dotloop™ Digital Transaction Solution for Its 2,200 Brokers; New Platform to Wow Clients with Maximum Efficiency and Mobility

CHICAGO, Nov. 18, 2014 –RE/MAX Northern Illinois, a privately held RE/MAX region and Chicagoland’s real estate leader since 1989, has introduced dotloop™ to its network of 102 independently owned and  operated offices with 2,200 brokers in the northern Illinois area.  This online collaboration platform allows RE/MAX Northern Illinois affiliates to provide clients with the most comprehensive and modern paperless transaction solution on the market today.  With a central user-friendly online portal, agents and clients are able to securely collaborate in real time and with maximum mobility, across a broad range of devices, including an iOS app.    

RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate offices are now able to provide clients with a start-to-finish collaborative experience via dotloop.  Documents can be collaboratively prepared and seamlessly shared with relevant parties for secure and verifiable electronic signatures.  The platform also provides a digital forum for all parties in a real estate transaction to negotiate offers. Relevant parties, such as attorneys, tax advisors and mortgage and title companies, are all able to be included in a “loop.”  The real-time availability of each document gives the client and the broker the freedom to negotiate, edit and review transactions instantly and wherever they are. 
                 
dotloop provides RE/MAX Northern Illinois Broker/Owners the features they need to organize, track and collaborate with agents about the status of every real estate deal filed in their offices.  RE/MAX Northern Illinois is working closely with the dotloop team to train brokers and affiliates on how they can best set up workflow templates to track the required documents and tasks.  These templates include a real-time dashboard and social messaging, which communicate the status of documents.  Long-term storage, including client access to documents, delivers a comprehensive platform for broker compliance.

Casey Reagan, RE/MAX Northern Illinois Chief Technology Officer and a member of the dotloop advisory council on paperless solutions, says the new digital transaction platform’s key benefits are the mobility and efficiency it delivers for both agent and client. 

“We are excited to work with dotloop on our digital transaction platform, which will make real estate transactions quicker and more efficient than ever before.  This solution is a valuable piece in our initiative to provide integrated technology to our offices so they can continue to provide their clients with best-of-class service.  We will leverage our experienced, technical resources to integrate this offering into our current client-facing and back-office systems.  Combined with local support and training, our affiliates will get a powerful package that will ‘wow’ clients with superior efficiency to meet today’s demanding market,” Reagan said.

Austin Allison, CEO of dotloop adds, “Real estate is a people-first business, and dotloop was created for that very reason, to put the focus back where it belongs – on people not paper.  We’re proud to work with RE/MAX Northern Illinois for many reasons, but most notably because of their leadership and history of putting people first by offering top technology solutions to their agents and offices.  Together, dotloop will empower RE/MAX agents to save up to 10 hours per transaction, deliver more efficient consumer experiences and close deals 40 percent faster.”

The RE/MAX Northern Illinois paperless solution is currently being offered to RE/MAX affiliates in the northern Illinois region as part of its technology program. 

About RE/MAX Northern Illinois
RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989.  The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of 2,200 sales associates and 102 individually owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services.  Its mobile real estate app and www.illinoisproperty.com provide comprehensive information about residential and commercial property for sale in the region.  The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX a global real estate organization with 90,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations. 

About dotloop
dotloop is the largest network in real estate, where more than 1.2 million professionals come together to get work done.  dotloop enables agents, brokers and other professionals to complete an entire real estate transaction from start to close online, via an online workspace called a 'loop,' which brings people, documents and tasks into one online experience.  Agents use dotloop to provide a better experience to their clients and close more deals.  dotloop is the top broker choice and solution for real estate transactions, being selected four times more often than any other vendor, according to a study by REAL Trends Analysis.  dotloop allows brokers to run a better business, by increasing visibility, retaining top talent and reducing operating costs.

The company is based in Cincinnati, Ohio and backed by Trinity Ventures.  To learn more about dotloop, visit www.dotloop.com.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

RE/MAX Broker Steele Views Sales of Renovated Victorian Row Houses As Latest Sign That Chicago’s South Lakefront Has Bright Future



CHICAGO, Nov. 12, 2014 – There were two challenges in renovating a pair of historic but sadly dilapidated Victorian row houses in the 4000 block of Lake Park Avenue in Chicago’s Oakland community, according to Hasani Steele, a broker with RE/MAX Premier Properties, who was successful in finding buyers for both properties.

The first challenge was the renovation of the historic homes themselves – creating attractive homes suited to contemporary tastes while preserving the exterior look and overall feel of a dwelling built in the early 1880s, according to Steele.  Many investors take a pass on such projects due to concerns about dealing with historic preservation organizations, but Steele faces that issue head on, understanding that it's a part of making and establishing a market.

The second challenge was successfully marketing the homes in the North Kenwood/Oakland area along Chicago’s south lakefront, an area that has had a long and uneven real estate recovery.  One factor complicating that recovery, according to Steele, is that real estate appraisers often are not familiar with the current demand from strong qualified purchasers, who want homes in that community to be finished just as nicely as those in other established neighborhoods.

“There is no question that the Kenwood/Oakland housing market continues to gather momentum,” said Steele.  “The value it offers in terms of exciting historic properties combined with outstanding locations along the lake within easy reach of downtown is being recognized by families seeking to purchase within their means while enjoying future growth and equity.  I hope the word spreads quickly about the excellent housing opportunities that exist on Chicago’s South Side."

Steele was involved with both row house projects from conception through delivery, working closely with the developers to plan each renovation and then handling the successful marketing of the properties.

The first of the two homes, which stand side by side at 4058 and 4060 S. Lake Park, was sold in July of this year by Steele on behalf of developers Teton Tack and Feed LLC and Bumblebee Development LLC.  The home at 4058 S. Lake Park sold in the $600,000 range and had 4,200 square feet, five bedrooms, 4½ baths, an office, home theater, chef’s kitchen and many other high-end touches.

The property at 4060 was marketed by Steele under his established Steele Consulting Integrity brand (SC Integrity), which is dedicated to special residential renovation projects.  The investor/developer, Avant Garde Design Group, Inc., plans to deliver a 4,200 square-foot home with six bedroom, 4½ baths and a state-of-the-art kitchen by next spring.

“This was an unusual project because the prior owner had started to do a gut rehab but ran into unrelated problems and had to sell what was essentially a building shell,” said Steele.  “Because I was already working on the building next door, it seemed like a wonderful opportunity, and Avant Garde Design was eager to take on the project.  We’re extremely pleased that my clients wanted an SC Integrity project.  They signed a contract just two months after we acquired the property.”

Steele has built a strong reputation as a visionary when it comes to redevelopment on Chicago’s South Side.  He has been instrumental in completing residential development projects that have captured a remarkable 23 Good Neighbor Awards from the Chicago Association of Realtors®.  The awards recognize ground-breaking rehabs and new developments that contribute to serving local community needs, enhancing economic vitality and bolstering civic pride in Chicago and suburbs.  
Steele’s accomplishments are starting to be recognized on the national level.  He also ranked as the top individual RE/MAX broker in the RE/MAX Northern Illinois network for 2013.
RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989.  The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of 2,000 sales associates and 100 individually owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services.  Its mobile real estate app and www.illinoisproperty.com provide comprehensive information about residential and commercial property for sale in the region.  The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX, LLC, a global real estate organization with 90,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

RE/MAX Suburban Welcomes 8 New Brokers to Offices in Glen Ellyn, Libertyville, Mt. Prospect and Schaumburg


CHICAGO, Nov. 4, 2014 – RE/MAX Suburban, the largest RE/MAX brokerage franchise in Illinois, with seven offices serving the metropolitan Chicago real estate market, has welcomed eight new broker agents to its ranks.  The new arrivals push the total number of brokers affiliated with RE/MAX Suburban to the 200 mark.

Joining the Glen Ellyn, Ill., office, 441 Taft Ave., is Michele Evangelista.  New to the Libertyville, Ill., office, 1244 S. Milwaukee Ave., are Jeff Esser, Joel Gilbert and Brittany Stineman.  The Mt. Prospect, Ill., office, 220 E. Northwest Hwy., welcomes Carol Walker, and new at 2311 W. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg, Ill., are Brian Gentzle, Christina Novak and Laura Parker.

Glen Ellyn

Michele Evangelista served as an administrator within the RE/MAX Suburban Glen Ellyn office before earning her broker’s license.  Prior to joining RE/MAX, Evangelista worked in the fast-paced and competitive import/export and fashion industry for more than 20 years.  With a flair for decorating and design, she started a home staging business, The Art of Interiors, in 2012.  A life-long Glen Ellyn resident, Evangelista brings a unique perspective to properties in and around Glen Ellyn and the western suburbs. 

“I’m pretty passionate about this community.  For me, it’s the perfect place, and I enjoy helping families discover the place that is equally ideal for them,” Evangelista said.

Libertyville

Jeff Esser earned a degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Carthage College, and prior to entering the field of real estate, he spent eight years with an employee benefits agency.  He brings an innovative and energetic approach to real estate.  According to Esser, his goal is to put buyers, sellers and investors in a position to make strong decisions about purchasing or selling real estate with complete confidence.

“My focus is on building lasting relationships with my clients,” said Esser.  He believes the best way to do that is listening carefully to his clients so he knows how to best help them achieve their real estate goals.

Joel Gilbert was raised in a “real estate family,” in Buffalo Grove, Ill., and has been a Lake County resident for the last 28 years.  He earned a degree in hospitality management from the International Art Institute, and worked as a manager in the hospitality industry before earning his real estate license in 2014 and specializing in the sale of foreclosed properties.  Now his focus has broadened, and he relishes working with a wide range of clients on the full range of residential properties.

Also new to the office is Brittany Stineman, who joins the team of Leslie McDonnell as a buyer’s agent.  McDonnell consistently ranks among the top three teams in the RE/MAX Northern Illinois network.

Mt. Prospect

Carol Walker, once a member of the Screen Actors Guild, joined RE/MAX Suburban two years ago as a receptionist after working for a real estate attorney for many years.  A resident of Des Plaines, Ill., Walker is Immediate Past President of the Des Plaines Kiwanis.  She also volunteers as a job coach for students with special needs at Niles North High School.

“I decided it was time to make a lifelong dream come true by getting my license as a real estate broker.  My background in real estate law combined with the fact that I personally purchased five homes and sold four of them gives me a strong foundation on which to deliver top flight service to my clients,” she said. 

Schaumburg

 Brian Gentzle brings six years of real estate brokerage experience to RE/MAX Suburban.  A graduate of Southern Illinois University who always wanted a real estate career, Gentzle earned his license and started that career in 2008, just as the housing market was heading into one of its most difficult periods.  The result, according to Gentzle, is that he learned a tremendous amount in a short time about what it takes to effectively market a home.  He also developed substantial expertise in dealing with short sales and foreclosures. 

“The changing market required hard work, patience, and constant communication with all parties involved in a home sale,” Gentzle recalled.  “This is the motto that I held closely and will always continue to practice.”

Christina Novak is a newly licensed broker but not new to the real estate industry. She has grown up in the business working with her mother, Maria Novak, a successful agent since 1977.  Now the two will be working together as brokers.  Christina grew up in the Schaumburg area, graduated from Bradley University and presently resides in Elgin, Ill.  

“We know the northwest suburbs thoroughly, and we are multi-lingual in Spanish, Portuguese and Russian, which is a great asset for our business,” Christina noted.

Laura Parker recently joined the team of Sarah Leonard at RE/MAX Suburban.  Leonard is ranked among the leading RE/MAX teams in Illinois, having listed and sold over 150 homes in the past year.  Parker's primary focus is as a buyer’s agent, and she takes pride in her knowledge of the various communities and all they have to offer.  Her attention to detail, strong work ethic, availability and prompt follow-up are what Laura's clients appreciate most.

In addition to being a lifelong resident of the Chicagoland area, Parker has a strong background in property management, a valuable perspective when dealing with all types of real estate.

RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989.  The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of 2,000 sales associates and 100 individually owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services.  Its mobile real estate app and www.illinoisproperty.com provide comprehensive information about residential and commercial property for sale in the region.  The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX, LLC, a global real estate organization with 90,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations.