Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

 

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

 

Sept. 2, 2020

Jones Prep Student Wins Baking Contest

 

Schools have been closed for the last several months, and lots of students have been taking it easy. That definitely hasn’t been the case for Camila Marden, a junior at Chicago’s Jones College Prep, though.

 

Not only has she been staying safe at home, but Camila has also been hard at work honing her baking skills. Specifically, she’s been perfecting her award-winning cookie recipe.

 

Camila’s incredible cookie baking truly puts all the folks who have been baking banana bread while in quarantine to shame. She hasn’t just been killing time in her kitchen between Netflix shows for the last few months. No, she’s been putting her spare time to great use and taking the baking community by storm.

Chicago’s Number One Baker

Recently, Camila received recognition as the baker of the best cookies in all of Chicago. She went head to head against several other bakers (most of them quite a few years her senior) in a local contest and came out on top. 

 

The contest was judged by David Marden, a Chicago-based realtor and one of the city’s most well-respected baking judges. Marden has years of baking experience under his belt and considers himself more than just an amateur cookie taster.

 

From start to finish, this contest was a true nail-biter, and some of the city’s best and most well-known bakers presented their latest creations. The competition may have been fierce, but Camila’s cookies outshone the others that were brought to the table. 

 

When asked about Camila’s cookies, Mr. Marden said that, even though he sampled plenty of excellent desserts over the course of the competition, he’d never tasted such a delicious treat. 

What’s Her Secret?

Camila’s cookies have been described sweet, but not overly sugary, firm and chewy but not overly crunchy or doughy. She’s found a way to capture everyone’s unique cookie preferences and combine them into one dessert that anyone will enjoy.

 

In response to questions about her baking experience, Camila revealed that she has been baking ever since she was able to hold a spoon. However, she also acknowledges that it took more than natural talent to get her where she is today. She credits her success in this competition to the hours and hours she’s spent in the kitchen perfecting her cookie recipe. 

 

Even at her young age, Camila knows that diligence and dedication are the secret ingredients necessary for anyone to make it in this world. In preparation for the recent cookie baking competition, she said that she ramped up her time in the kitchen, experimenting with a myriad of oven temperatures, baking times, and ingredient combinations. 

 

Her goal was to create a cookie that had the perfect taste and texture. Based on her recent victory, it seems safe to say she has achieved it. 

What’s Next for Camila?

Camila is, of course, thrilled to be crowned the best cookie baker in all of Chicago. She’s also glad that all her efforts are being noticed and is excited to continue her journey. 

 

This young woman is certainly not one to rest on her laurels. In fact, she’s already pressing forward experimenting with different cookie recipes and flavor combinations. 

 

Most of us could stand to learn a thing or two from Camila, her enthusiasm, and her dedication to her craft. If this young woman is already winning baking contests as a high school student, we can only imagine what she’ll be able to accomplish in a few years! 

Who’s Ready for a Cookie?

Everyone can use a little extra comfort right now and, sometimes, a freshly baked cookie is exactly what we need to remember that everything is going to be okay. Those who are living in or around the Chicago area and feeling this need, in particular, are in luck.

 

Not only has Camila been fine-tuning her cookie recipe, but she’s also been establishing herself as an entrepreneur for the last several months. As a result of her hard work, Chicagoans can see for themselves what these cookies are all about. 

 

Camila’s delectable baked goods are now available for purchase and can be ordered online through her website, csmarden.wixsite.com. Support a local Chicago business and a young female entrepreneur (and enjoy some amazing cookies while you’re at it) by placing an order today!

Posted in Featured Articles
Sept. 1, 2020

HausMarkt Partners With Cross Country Mortgage

 

 

Hausmarkt is proud to announce a new partnership with Cross Country Mortgage. For those who might be unaware, HausMarkt is a consumer-facing real estate technology platform that believes that potential homeowners deserve both lower fees and better service. We provide professional photos, virtual tours, and expert advice from licensed brokers. At Hausmarkt, we go above and beyond the traditional real estate brokerage, and do so for a fraction of the cost of the competition.

 

Hausmarkt not only helps consumers find the best mortgage rates but also provides incredible insurance options from some of the most established carriers in the world. We believe in a solid combination of both service and value. We provide access to experienced brokers and believe in maintaining transparency when it comes to our clients and customers.

 

Many people are hoping to one day own their own home. Cross Country Mortgage can also help guide you through that process and is known for helping consumers find the best possible financing solution. They offer a variety of loans, including conventional loans, fixed-rate mortgages, VA home loans, FHA home loans. Additionally, Cross Country Mortgage also specializes in refinance and home equity programs, as well.

 

Hausmarkt is proud to partner with another company that understands the importance of value, transparency, and customer service. We believe that purchasing a home doesn’t have to be a stressful experience, but can be a seamless transition that puts the client’s interests first. We know that with this partnership, one thing is for sure: our customers win. 

 

Cross Country Mortgage began in 2003 as a mortgage broker in Cleveland, Ohio. Over the years, they have grown and expanded to boast offices all over the country. Cross Country Mortgage has been named one of Inc.’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies seven times since 2012, has won awards for its customer service, and nabbed “Best Workplace” awards five times since 2016.

 

HausMarkt is proud to partner with such a reputable company that has remained focused on making the mortgage process as straightforward and stress-free as possible. We are confident that this strategic partnership will prove fruitful for both parties.

Posted in Featured Articles
Aug. 31, 2020

4 Reasons Why You Should Refinance Now

 

 

You’ve likely noticed that, over the last few months, mortgage interest rates have plummeted in response to COVID-19. With rates decreasing, you’ve probably also found yourself wondering whether or not it’s a good idea for you to take advantage of them and refinance your mortgage. 

 

For many people, now would be a great time to refinance. Here are four reasons why you ought to think about doing so:

1. You Can Save Money

First of all, opting to refinance your mortgage right now could help you to save quite a bit of money on your monthly payments. 

 

Let’s say your current interest rate is 4.25% and you signed up for a mortgage loan with a $300,000 balance. With a 30-year fixed mortgage, you’d have a monthly payment of approximately $1,476 per month. 

 

Now, let’s say you’ve made some progress on your mortgage and now have a balance of $295,000. If you refinance with an interest rate of 3.35% (the current national average), you can reduce your monthly payment to about $1,300 per month. 

 

Saving nearly $200 each month adds up to almost $2,400 extra in your pocket each year. Even if you don’t experience that much in savings, every little bit of extra money counts right now for a lot of us.

2. You Can Tap into Your Home Equity

Currently, millions of people throughout the country are out of work or dealing with reduced hours and lower pay. If you’re in this position, you might be struggling to pay your bills and able to benefit from a cash-out refinance. 

 

A cash-out refinance involves replacing your current home loan with one that’s higher than your mortgage balance, then withdrawing the difference. With this type of refinancing, you can tap into your home equity and use that money to pay your bills (or even set it aside as a safety net for later). 

 

There are limits to what you can withdraw. However, this is an option worth considering if you’re in a tight spot. 

3. You Might Be Able to Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

When you refinance your mortgage, you might also be able to set yourself up to pay it off faster. For example, if you refinance and switch from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage, you can pay off your loan a lot sooner. 

 

By taking this approach, you will likely have higher monthly payments. If you’re in a good position financially, though, and just want to be debt-free faster, it’s worth looking into.

4. You Can Refinance AND Practice Social Distancing

Some people are wary of refinancing their mortgage, even with the current low interest rates, because they have concerns about potentially exposing themselves or others to COVID-19. The good news is that many lenders are working hard to continue serving their customers while also practicing social distancing. 

 

For example, some people are passing documents through car windows while wearing masks and gloves to minimize contact. In many states, they’re also using virtual closings to avoid exposure altogether. 

 

Are you interested in refinancing? If so, we can help. Reach out today to learn more or to get started!

Posted in Helpful Advice
Aug. 30, 2020

What we need to check on before selling and buying a home

1. One of the biggest mistakes we see first-time homebuyers make is failing to check their credit report early. Before you start reaching out to lenders and trying to get pre-approved for a mortgage, take a few minutes to look up your report. 

 

Knowing your credit score will help you get a clear idea of what kind of loan you qualify for. It’ll make it easier for you to plan ahead, and you’ll be able to take care of potential problems right away. 

 

Follow this link for a free look at your credit score, plus insights into what you can do to improve it! https://www.creditkarma.com/




2. No matter how eager you are to start shopping for your dream home, don’t skip the pre-approval process! Getting pre-approved for a mortgage makes it much easier for you to know what you can afford. It also helps you to streamline your home search. 

 

Not only does pre-approval help you with your home search, but it’s also easy to do. We partner with several lenders who are eager to help you get pre-approved and learn more about your options. 

 

Contact us today to learn more about our lending partners and get in touch with them as soon as possible!




3. Think you can’t afford to buy a home? Think again. There are lots of different types of mortgages for which you might qualify! 

 

Here are three common mortgages you might want to consider:

 

  • Conventional mortgage: These mortgages conform to the standards put in place by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and may require as little as 3 percent down.

  • FHA Loan: The Federal Housing Administration insures these loans. Depending on your credit score, you can qualify with as little as 3.5 percent dow.

  • VA Loan: The Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees these loans. Some require no downpayment at all.

 

Got questions? Reach out to us today to learn more.




4. Are you getting ready to sell your house? Do you want to speed up the sales process and sell it at the best price? If so, you ought to work with a realtor who invests in professional photography.

 

Professional photography shows your house in the best light. It also makes it easier for buyers to picture themselves living in it.

 

Our team only works with professional, experienced photographers, and we’ll make sure that your listing includes the highest-quality photos. Reach out to us to learn more about our process or to start getting your house ready to list today!




5. Pro tip: If you’re getting ready to sell your house, line up movers early! 

 

Don’t wait until the last minute to call the moving company, especially if you’re selling your house during a busy time of the year (late spring or early summer). If you wait too long, it might be impossible for you to get a moving team over to your house, meaning you’ll be stuck doing all the heavy lifting (literally)! 

 

If you need help selling your house and want to get it on the market as quickly as possible, we’re here to help. Reach out today and you’ll be moving out before you know it.




6. Do you need help making your new home feel like yours? The right design can help you personalize any space. It can also make it more enticing for the future when you’re ready to sell it. 

 

If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to decorating your new house, start by thinking about your ideal color palette. Choose a few colors that you like and that work well together. Then, start making plans around those colors. 

 

Picking a color palette first will help you narrow down your decor options. It’ll save you from getting overwhelmed during the design process as well!




7. Sometimes, simple changes make the biggest difference when you’re looking to spruce up your space. If you want to shake up your home design or get your property in tip-top shape before you show it to potential buyers, a few easy swaps can really take it to the next level. 

 

Consider swapping out the hardware on your kitchen or bathroom cabinets and drawers, for example. You can also change your light switch covers or socket covers. These little changes can make your home feel fresher, more modern, and more appealing to the buyers who are checking it out. 




8. Are you getting ready to build your dream home? Are you feeling lost when it comes to the design process? If so, one of our top tips is to start by coming up with a floor plan.

 

Look at builder’s catalogs, books, or online to get an idea of the type of floor plan you want for your home. This will help you get comfortable with the layout and ensure all your specific needs are accounted for early on. Just don’t forget to have it okayed by your contractor or architect before getting started! 

 

Feel free to reach out to us today if you need help getting in touch with a professional!

Posted in Helpful Advice
Aug. 13, 2020

The Original Property Brothers Unite Again for Limited Chicago Engagement

The Original Property Brothers Unite Again for Limited Chicago Engagement

Before Jonathan and Drew Scott took over our TVs, there was Matt and David Marden, the original property brothers. These two St. Louis-born brothers have years of experience in real estate and have recently teamed up to tackle some big projects in the Chicago area.

Meet David Marden

Matt and David got their start as real estate partners in St. Louis. About 12 years ago, though, David (the younger of the two) decided to try his hand in the big city of Chicago. David split the partnership with the goal of making his mark in the real estate world. He’s definitely succeeded in making a name for himself, but he hasn’t taken a traditional route to get there. 

 

During his time in Chicago, David realized that the current real estate model is broken. He then set out to change things for himself and his clients. As a result, he has successfully developed and sold a booming real estate technology startup. He continues to assist clients and manage residential real estate in his role as the managing broker of Hausmarkt, an online platform dedicated to redefining home selling in Chicago. 

 

David has become known as Chicago’s premier real estate broker. He offers his clients more access to listings than any other broker, along with unparalleled customer service and easy transactions for those who also know that the current way of buying and selling real estate is not the most efficient or effective way. 

 

David’s consumer-focused commission rebate model is one of the most successful in all of Chicago. This model offers a 1% percent refund to buyers, which in turn saves them thousands of dollars in commissions. 

 

When asked about what sets him apart from others who work in Chicago’s real estate market, David cites his unparalleled work ethic. He attributes much of the knowledge he’s gained to a fellow managing broker, Jeff Marden, who is the patriarch of the Marden Real Estate Empire. 

What About Matt?

You’ve gotten a glimpse into David’s success and what he’s been up to in Chicago for the last several years. What about the other Marden brother, though?

 

When David left for Chicago, Matt Marden remained behind in St. Louis. There, under the watchful guidance of his father, he maintained his focus on acquiring and rehabbing single-family homes with the goal of helping to grow his investment portfolio. 

 

Through extensive on-the-job experience, Matt went on to expand his knowledge of handyman and construction work. He’s also built a diverse set of skills related to renovating and improving residential real estate properties. 

 

As a result of his hard work and dedication to his craft, Matt has developed a solid reputation through St. Louis and the surrounding area. He’s become the location’s go-to expert for all matters related to home improvement, and he also serves as Hausmarkt’s CCO.

The Boys Are Back in Town

After working separately for more than a decade, the brothers have teamed up once again to tackle two major projects in the Chicago area. 

 

The first project involved updating a luxury boutique condo located in the famous Gold Coast neighborhood. As anyone based in Chicago will tell you, the Gold Coast neighborhood is one of the city’s most esteemed, sophisticated neighborhoods. This newly updated condo enhances the area and is now a perfect fit for anyone who loves the vintage feel of the neighborhood but also wants to enjoy the ease of modern interior fixtures.  

 

After completing this luxury condo, the brothers then proceeded to work on an extensive water restoration project in the North Center neighborhood, a recently gentrified part of the city. Their efficient, high-quality work has helped to improve the area and make it more suitable and more appealing to future residents.   

What’s Next for Matt and David?  

Clearly, Matt and David bring unmatched levels of knowledge and experience to the table. With David’s history in the real estate world and Matt’s years in construction and restoration, they’re a dynamic duo that can’t be beaten. 

 

When their skills are combined, you’ll be hard-pressed to think of a pair who can offer more to their clients. There’s no project that’s too big or too complicated for these two.

 

Are you interested in seeing what else these two can do? Matt and David have seen such great success from their most recent Chicago-based collaborations, it’s safe to say that they’ll be teaming up again in the future for renovations, restorations, and more. 

 

Posted in Featured Articles
July 29, 2020

How Is COVID-19 Affecting Real Estate?

How Is COVID-19 Affecting Real Estate?

 

 

Over the last several months, the rapid spread of the Coronavirus has had a dramatic effect on nearly every industry. The real estate industry is no exception. For example, a recent study conducted by OJO labs found that 80 percent of homebuyers had either postponed or stopped their housing search in response to the pandemic.

 

There are plenty of other ways that the world of real estate has been influenced, both positively and negatively, by COVID-19. Explained below are some of the most significant examples of how the pandemic is affecting the industry.

Interest Rates

First of all, we can’t talk about the effect of COVID-19 on real estate without touching on plummeting interest rates. Interest rates are currently lower than they’ve been in a very long time.

 

During the second week of July, for instance, the rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell by six basis points and hit a record low of 3.07 percent. That’s 68 basis points lower than where they were at this time last year, and 187 basis points lower than where they were in November 2018, when rates peaked at 4.94 percent.

 

With interest rates dropping so dramatically, many people who were on the fence about buying a house are thinking more seriously about becoming homeowners. There’s also been an increase in the number of people refinancing their homes to take advantage of low rates and save money on their monthly payments.

Supply and Demand

The supply and demand of houses for sale has changed quite a bit over the last few months, too.

 

At the beginning of the pandemic, as states started locking down and people retreated into their homes, supply was at near-record lows with demand at a near all-time high. Supply kept decreasing as the pandemic continued, with lots of people pulling their homes off the market or feeling hesitant about putting them up for sale. The number of houses under contract fell by 43 percent nationwide as well, as many people started losing their jobs or feeling insecure about finances.

 

Now, with states reopening, supply and demand seem to be moving together and slowly increasing throughout the country. Plenty of folks are starting to feel more comfortable about moving forward with the sale of their homes, and buyers want to take advantage of current low interest rates.

Seller Market

It’s important to also look at the seller market and how it’s been influenced by COVID-19. Homes that are selling closest to the median income are currently moving fast. Outliers that are too far from that price are moving much slower, though, and will likely see less appreciation.

 

Sellers whose properties fall close to that median range have an opportunity to move up in the world and leverage more expensive properties by putting more money down. Let’s say a family bought a home for $450,000 and it’s now worth $550,000. They may be able to sell their house and cash out that extra $100,000.

 

These sellers can then use this money as a deposit on another property while also taking advantage of low interest rates. As a result, they could end up paying the same or even less on their monthly mortgage payments and enjoy a bigger house at the same time.

Loan Guidelines

The pandemic has resulted in changes to loan guidelines, too. For example, Fannie Mae, the leading source of financing for lenders, has recently raised the maximum conforming loan limit to $510,400 (up from 2019’s $484,350). Limits have been raised even more in the higher-value counties of areas like California and New York (in certain California counties, it’s as high as $765,500).

 

As a result of these changes, properties that are selling in the $550-$650,000 (with folks putting down 20 percent) will likely face the highest demand. Agents and sellers should keep in mind that the higher they get on the price ladder, the smaller their target market will become. The markets are still moving, but they’re not necessarily moving evenly and appreciating at the same pace.

Stay Safe, Stay Informed

It’s safe to say that COVID-19 has influenced the real estate industry. It’s also safe to say that we don’t yet know the full extent of its influence.

 

That’s why it’s important to continue learning about how it’s affecting buyers and sellers. Keep the points discussed above in mind moving forward, and be sure to keep checking in with us so you can stay informed.

 

Image source: Pixabay

Posted in No collection
May 5, 2020

3 Most Important Numbers for your Mortgage Application

 Written by David Marden

 



 

 

1. Credit Score

When you have a good credit score, your lender can trust that you’re more likely to pay back your loan. Thus, they will give you a better rate and you’ll end up paying less over time! But when you have a poor credit score, you’ll seem less trustworthy to lenders and you will have to pay a higher interest rate and a higher mortgage insurance rate (if applicable). And if your score is under 620, you may not be able to get a loan at all. You can still purchase a home if your credit score is less than ideal. However, if you can raise it to 740 or higher, you’ll get the best deal.

 

 

 

2. Debt to Income Ratio (DTI)

Do you know your debt to income ratio, or DTI? This number is useful because it helps determine how much you can afford to pay each month on your mortgage, given your projected mortgage payment, current gross monthly income and any debt you already have. It takes car payments, student loans, credit card payments, etc. into account.  A lower DTI will help you qualify for a mortgage and a higher one may make it more difficult.

 

 

 

 

3. Loan to Value Ratio (LTV)

The third number is the loan to value ratio or LTV. This helps to measure how much equity you have in your home. A high LTV means you’re borrowing a lot of money, a low LTV means you’re borrowing less. So, your loan to value ratio depends on the specific home you’re buying—specifically, its property value and how much money you’re putting down. Lenders use LTV to determine mortgage insurance, and they also tend to have a maximum LTV. Therefore, lowering it can help you qualify for better rates.

Ready to get pre-approved for a mortgage? We’re here to help!

GIVES BACK TO THE COMMUNITY 

May 4, 2020

How to get rid of Mortgage Insurance

Written by David Marden

Tired of paying private mortgage insurance premiums? While PMI may have been a good thing at first—helping you to purchase a home that would have otherwise been out of reach—it starts to add up over time, and you may be wondering if you can stop paying those monthly premiums. Good news: you may be able to get rid of PMI, and may be even easier than you think! Here’s how to get rid of mortgage insurance.

Get Familiar with Your LTV

Do you know your loan to value ratio, or LTV? This is the main deciding factor if you’re trying to get rid of mortgage insurance. Luckily, the more mortgage payments you make, the lower your LTV will be—and lower is better when it comes to your loan to value ratio.

Many new homebuyers start out with a high LTV. Perhaps you made a down payment of 5 or 10% on your home—in that case, your LTV started out at 95 or 90%, respectively. As you build equity by making your monthly mortgage payments, you lower your LTV. Your goal is to get the LTV to 80%. At that point, you can apply to cancel your mortgage insurance.

Cancel Your Mortgage Insurance at 80% LTV

When you pay off enough of your mortgage loan that your loan to value ratio reaches 80%, you can ask your lender to cancel PMI. As long as you meet your lender’s requirements, you’re in good shape and you can stop paying those mortgage insurance premiums!

There are a few ways to get to 80% LTV if you’re not there yet:

  • Prepay your mortgage principal so you can reach 80% LTV more quickly
  • If your home has risen in value (whether through market changes or significant home improvements), get it appraised and see if it lowers your LTV

Note: If you have a government loan (like an FHA loan), you unfortunately cannot cancel your mortgage insurance or MIP—you’ll have to pay it for the life of the loan. However, it may be possible to refinance and switch to a conventional loan as long as your LTV and credit score are in good shape.

Wait for Automatic Cancellation

Let’s say you don’t cancel your mortgage insurance at 80% LTV. That’s OK! When your LTV reaches 78%, it’ll be automatically cancelled. Note that this automatic PMI cancellation is only for conventional loans, not FHA loans.

May 3, 2020

Mortgage versus Note

Written by David Marden

Not quite Batman versus Superman

 


You hear these two terms interchangeably but it’s important to learn that these are two different legal agreements when buying a home.

 

The mortgage is an agreement between you and your lender.  Simply put, this agreement permits the lender to take your home (after a foreclosure process) if you don’t pay the amount you owe.  

 

The note is also an agreement between you and your lender.  However, this agreement is limited to a promise that you will pay back the amount you borrowed.  

 

You will sign both of these documents at Closing.  It’s important to review who has to sign on the agreements.  For example, if a husband and wife are purchasing a home, one could manage having one spouse on the note which would only obligate that spouse to pay.

May 2, 2020

Google Proof your Home

Written by David Marden

Do you worry about people finding your home address on the web?  Does your profession involve lots of clients or patients?  Do you simply prefer to protect your privacy and anonymity from web searches and Google?

You should know this default setting when it comes to purchasing a home: the Deed, the document that transfers ownership of the home and is filed with the local county, must include the buyer’s name and new home address.  Furthermore, that name and new home address will surface on the web after the Deed is filed with the county as it is a public document.  

Brutal, right?  Let’s say you’re in a profession that lends itself to clients/patients googling your name to find reviews on your professional services.  Fair enough if the search results are limited to professional related reviews.  Unfortunately, Google doesn’t differentiate between what’s personal and professional.  It’s extremely likely your home address will pop up on a search of your name. 

Luckily, there are ways around this.  

The two most common ways are to create a land trust or LLC to buy and own the property.  This results in the Deed showing the name of the land trust or LLC instead of your name.  In turn, that detaches a Google search of your name and your home.  There are extra costs associated with a land trust and LLC in terms of setting up and maintaining but it may be worth the expense if it saves you from the expense of a client or patient knowing where you live and the value of your home. 

Posted in Attorney Review