Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Teardowns Return across Metro Chicago Real Estate Market; Builders Bet on Demand for Luxury Homes, RE/MAX Reports

Teardowns were a much discussed phenomenon during the housing boom a decade ago in the metro Chicago real estate market. Many older homes were demolished to make way for newer, larger ones. Now, RE/MAX reports their brokers are seeing teardowns on the upswing in many of the area’s more sought-after communities.
            Construction permits were issued for 2,062 new single-family homes in the Chicago area during the first four months of 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau reports, 54 percent more than during the same period in 2013.  Older homes often were demolished to make way for the new. 
In Chicago, several North Side neighborhoods attract a lot of teardown activity.
“There just isn’t any vacant land in this part of the city, so if new homes are built, something old must go. Often it will be an older frame home or a two-unit building.  Those properties sell for anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million or more depending on location and lot size,” reported Deno Jeffries of RE/MAX Exclusive Properties. Through May of this year, 29 new single-family hones were sold in Lake View, Lincoln Park and North Center, with another 66 on the market or under contract. 
Before and after of a teardown in the Chicagoland area
 Another prime area for teardowns is the western suburb of Elmhurst, Ill. 
“We’re seeing quite a few but with a different twist,” said Melissa Somone of RE/MAX 1st, Elmhurst. “In the past, most teardowns were done by the family who would live in the new home. Now it’s often a builder who comes in and buys the existing home confident that a new home will find a buyer, and they’ve been selling well.”
Elmhurst currently has nearly 60 new homes listed for sale, and more than 110 have sold there over the last 2½ years, most involving teardowns.
In Hinsdale, “we’ve seen more interest in teardowns this year than in the last six years,” reported Linda Feinstein of RE/MAX Signature Homes.
Teardowns weren’t happening in Barrington three years ago, according to Paul Wells with RE/MAX of Barrington, but that has changed, especially in the central portion of the village where vacant lots are rare.
”If a new home is a good product and competitively priced, it’s going to sell. Right now there is more demand than supply,” he said.
Builders seeking homes to demolish usually follow strict financial guidelines but will make an all-cash purchase if the price is right.
“Every property we’ve listed this year that is viewed as a potential teardown has generated multiple cash offers from developers,” said Jeffries.
Michelle Shoemaker of RE/MAX Villager in Glenview, Ill., said, “we’ve seen many builders and investors pay cash to buy small ranch homes priced from $300,000 up to $400,000,” she said. “For families who want to buy one of those homes to live in, it’s difficult to compete.”
In Elmhurst, most new homes sell to those purchasing their second or third home. “The prices are challenging for first-time buyers,” noted Somone.
The new homes that replace teardowns tend to have common characteristics. Most range from 2,500 to 4,500 square feet, and might include a finished basement, four or five bedrooms, three or more baths, large family room, 9- or 10-foot ceilings and often a three-car garage. The exterior typically is brick or brick and stone, but it can involve stucco or cement-board siding. 
“One difference we’re seeing is that new homes are about 20 percent smaller than they were a decade ago,” said Wells.
  Nonetheless, these gleaming new dwellings sport hefty price tags. On Chicago’s North Side, reports Jeffries, new construction homes generally sell for $1.75 million to $3 million. Hinsdale currently has 18 new homes on the market priced from $1.4 million to $1.8 million. In Elmhurst, most new homes sell for $800,000 to $1.2 million, and the range is similar in central Barrington. Naturally, there are more expensive examples, especially where expansive acreage is included.
The high prices for these new homes in established neighborhoods reflect the willingness of buyers to pay significantly more per square foot for new construction than for an existing home. Feinstein attributes that fact to “the personality of today’s home buyers. They want what they want and are willing to pay for it rather than working with an existing home and remodeling it to meet their desires,” she said. 
According to the information collected by RE/MAX, additional advantages that buyers see in this wave of new construction include shorter commute times and the ability to build in their preferred neighborhood. However, all this new construction has a significant impact on the established neighborhoods where it takes place.
“It’s a domino effect,” said Shoemaker. “Once the teardowns start in an area, they tend to multiply and change the whole character of the neighborhood, but one of the major pluses is that the entire community benefits from the additional property tax revenues that the new homes generate."

RE/MAX agents consistently rank among the most productive in the industry. In the United States, RE/MAX agents averaged 15.6 years of real estate experience and 16.0 transaction sides in 2014. RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989 and is continually growing. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of 2,200+ sales associates and 105 independently owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services. Its mobile real estate app, available for download at www.illinoisproperty.com, provides 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 100,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations. 


Monday, June 29, 2015

Seven RE/MAX Brokers in the Chicago Area Rank Among Top 250 Latino Agents in U.S. Honored by NAHREP


Seven RE/MAX brokers in the metropolitan Chicago real estate market were among the Top 250 Latino Agents in the United States in the most recent annual assessment by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals® (NAHREP). 

Local RE/MAX brokers named to this prestigious group were: Luis Ortiz, RE/MAX Partners, Berwyn, Ill., who ranked #45; Robert Padron, RE/MAX Cityview, Chicago, at #57; Luigui Corral, RE/MAX United, Wheeling, Ill., at #91; Gloria Ulloa, RE/MAX 10, Oak Lawn, Ill., at #120; Mark Santoyo, RE/MAX Loyalty, Chicago, at #126; Jacqueline Dix, RE/MAX Professionals Select, Naperville, Ill., at #163 and Maria Galindo, RE/MAX 10, Chicago, at #202. The rankings are based on 2014 sales activity.

“Diversity is one of the many strengths of the RE/MAX Northern Illinois network. We have top sales producers from almost every cultural and ethnic background. We are both delighted and honored to see so many of our brokers recognized by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals for their productivity and client service,” said Jim Merrion, regional director of RE/MAX Northern Illinois. 

NAHREP plans to honor all of its 250 top agents during its annual convention, being held this year in downtown Chicago, Sept. 20-22. 

The Hispanic market is growing rapidly in the United States. In 2014, according to NAHREP, the number of U.S. Hispanic households grew by 320,000, accounting for 40 percent of total household growth in the nation.

RE/MAX agents consistently rank among the most productive in the industry. In the United States, RE/MAX agents averaged 15.6 years of real estate experience and 16.0 transaction sides in 2014. RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989 and is continually growing. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of 2,200+ sales associates and 105 independently owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services. Its mobile real estate app, available for download at www.illinoisproperty.com, provides 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 100,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Wedded to Each Other and Their Community, RE/MAX Brokers Davis and Brown Ready 2nd Annual South Side Expo to Strengthen Local Housing Market

Helping their community get its housing market back on solid ground wasn’t on the agenda when Chicago real estate brokers LaShawn Brown and Warren Davis first met in 2012, but it certainly is these days. The two RE/MAX brokers are ready to roll out their second annual South Side Expo, slated for July 11 at South Shore International High School, 1955 E. 79th St., and free to the public.

Their objective is to give existing homeowners and aspiring home buyers the knowledge and vision needed to reach their own goals while also helping revitalize the housing market across much of the South Side. The Expo offers attendees access to experts in a variety of disciplines from home financing to energy efficiency and from designers to contractors.

Warren Davis and LaShawn Brown
of RE/MAX Premiere Properties
Now affiliated with RE/MAX Premier Properties, Brown and Davis met three years ago. Brown was showing a minister and his wife a house that Davis had listed for sale. It was a successful showing in more ways than one. Not only did Brown’s clients love the house, they signed a contract to purchase it.  

Meanwhile, Davis and Brown began spending time together and found they had more in common than real estate. Before the year was over they were married, with the ceremony performed by the same minister who bought the house that served as their introduction.

“We told him at the closing table that we were planning to get married and wanted him to do the honors,” Brown recalled. 

Their marriage soon expanded into a business partnership that has benefitted from their distinct yet complimentary backgrounds.  

Brown has had a long romance with real estate and a talent for interior design, once working with former Chicago Bulls player Kendall Gill on a master-bath remodeling project featured on HGTV.  She later spent several years teaching adult education and special education classes before returning to real estate full time in 2010. Along the way Brown became something of a community activist, first with the South Shore Community Action Council, and now with the South Shore Planning Coalition and as a leader of South Shore tours for the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Davis did sales for a major consulting firm before moving into mortgage lending. At Wintrust Bank he focused on rehab financing, which has served him well since earning his real estate license in 2011. 

South Side Expo was born of some strategic eavesdropping when Brown overheard Davis giving advice on the phone to a homeowner whose property had an outstanding mortgage larger than its current market value. Davis explained how the homeowner might refinance the home to remodel it and end up with a property worth as much or more than the resulting loan amount.

“I realized there were many homeowners in our community who could benefit from that same advice,” said Brown, “so I urged Warren to do a workshop on that topic.”  Not long afterwards, he did just that, holding the event at the Black United Fund of Illinois. From that point on, things just snowballed.

“We kept getting more and more phone calls asking for details about how to refinance and remodel a home or from people with other questions related to buying or remodeling,” said Brown. “We had to find a way to spend less time on those call because otherwise he’d have no time for anything else.”  That’s when Brown and Davis came up with the idea for South Side Expo, and in just two months they turned it into a reality attracting 400 people to the inaugural event at the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center in West Pullman. This year’s Expo will be bigger and better but with the same basic goals.

“We want to empower people to know there are viable options for them to achieve their home ownership goals,” said Davis. “We want to create a pool of potential buyers who are pre-qualified to purchase a home, and we want to help homeowners who may be underwater on their mortgage right now find a way to tap the equity that a strategic remodeling can unlock.”

Brown and Davis admit that a large part of their inspiration came from the popular HGTV show “Love It or List It.”  

“We realized that by using the HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage program offered by FannieMae, many underwater homeowners can recapture positive equity in their home by fixing it up. Then they can either love it and continue living there, or list it and move on,” Davis explained. “We’re convinced this strategy has the potential to revitalize the housing market across large portions of the South Side and other areas, too. It won’t happen overnight, but we’re doing what we can to build the needed momentum.”   

For more information on the South Side Expo and to register for the event, visit southsideexpo.com.