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Searching for a new home is exciting, however, it can also be taxing. With the resources available to us online, one can search homes from the comfort of their living room. Yet, you can spend a lot of time looking at homes that aren’t even on the market anymore. You might find one you like, contact the agent, wait to hear back from them, only to find out that the home you liked sold three months ago. Here are a few tips to streamline the home searching process from Hinsdale IL REALTOR Paul Froiland.

Wasting Time Online

One of the nice things about the internet is the ability to look for homes anywhere and at any time. However, a lot of time can be wasted as well. Helping buyers through each step of the buying process is importan...

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Tips on identifying high-end properties in a world where the term “luxury” has become cliche.

Source: How to Define Luxury Real Estate in Today’s Market | US News Real Estate

If you say a word enough times, it starts to lose its meaning. And in real estate, where the right description can draw buyers to a home on the market, using the right terms is crucial.

So when half the homes on the market are suddenly marketed as “luxury,” the definition of the word starts to melt away.

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“It’s entirely overused,” says Michelle Farber Ross, real estate broker and managing partner of MMD Realty in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Luxury real estate is defined differently across different markets, as property values, median resident income and area development varies widely depending on the metro area. For example, the Los Angeles area has a significantly higher top end of the market and a higher cutoff point for buyers to afford these properties compared to smaller markets like Oklahoma City.

But the term luxury has been used to describe everything from the ultra-luxury homes of the world’s wealthiest 1 percent to a modest kitchen with new appliances. How can you interpret how luxury is defined in your area, and how can you leverage that information to better express your expectations as a homebuyer?

Whether or not you fall into the real estate definition of luxury living, knowing how your market defines high-end properties will allow you to better understand the qualities you need and want in a home.

Where Does Luxury Begin?

In many large U.S. cities and metro areas, the typical luxury price point is $1 million and above. But in a city like New York, which attracts a high number of foreign investors seeking property in a global trading hub, $4 million typically becomes the cutoff point, Farber Ross says.

The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, which specializes in training real estate professionals in high-end home sales, defines luxury agents as those performing in the top 10 percent of their given market. “It’s a way to flatten the country” and make markets more comparable to each other, says Diane Hartley, general manager of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.

And in many smaller cities across the country, that top 10 percent can easily be below $1 million because real estate sales are relative to what is selling nearby. But regardless of whether the property is $1.1 million or $11 million, the purchasing process for these high-priced homes is different from the majority of property sales – and they also differ among each other.

What Makes a Home Luxury?

There’s no checklist for labeling a property as luxury, although many features are common among upscale properties in major U.S. cities. Prime location, high-end interior finishes such as marble countertops, professional-quality kitchen appliances and customized closets and hotel-like amenities such as concierge services, a top-of-the-line fitness center and spa center are often staples of a luxury building.

But not every high-end home is the same. Often it’s the unique features that separate luxury real estate from the rest, explains Jeremy Swillinger, a licensed real estate salesperson at Level Group Inc. in New York City.

In major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, owning a condo in a building designed by a renowned architect – or “starchitect” – can set a property apart from others as luxury, Swillinger says.

“Prestige is one of the top two priorities [buyers] are looking for,” he says. The other priority is often based on the individual’s own priorities, whether it’s services at the ready to make managing the property from abroad easier, having enough space to entertain or a state-of-the-art kitchen design.

Translating that idea of prestige into a suburban or rural setting, luxury may be defined by being in a gated community or as part of an association that gives you access to an exclusive country club within the neighborhood.

Of course, that’s all in addition to a home that goes above and beyond what’s typical for the market. In New York City, where doormen are common and studio and one-bedroom condos in Manhattan typically start above $1 million, rooms are designed for the purpose of being unique compared to not only the other homes in the building, but also everything available in the city.

“It’s no longer just installing a Sub-Zero refrigerator [in the kitchen] – it’s a full room design, from the flooring to the cabinets and appliances to the lighting,” Swillinger says.

How to Interpret Luxury in a Real Estate Listing

Identifying a luxury home from a description – or a luxury buyer from an initial phone call – is all about reading into the details, Swillinger and Farber Ross agree.

“If there’s nothing else defining their use of the term ‘luxury’ in a description and my client is a discerning buyer … I would say that’s a red flag,” Farber Ross says. “That’s just an agent kind of aspiring for it to be luxury property versus the fact that it actually is. And in a couple days when they post the photos, you can tell in the way they furnish the property,” whether they include elite appliances and high-end finishes throughout each room.

If you’re questioning whether your home would be considered in the top 10 percent of your market, talk to an agent who is familiar with the area and high-end properties. An agent seasoned in both will ask questions to establish a feel for what the property offers. Rather than focusing on that vague idea of luxury, compile a list of the features your home has, along with details that set the property apart from the rest of the neighborhood and city.

It’s a similar process for buyers, Farber Ross says. In an initial conversation, she typically asks about the must-haves in a home, preferred activities and hobbies the potential client expects to be able to do with ease.

“As these questions are getting answered, you get a real feel for what kind of buyer they are,” she says.

But whether you’re buying or selling, it’s recommended to remove “luxury” from your expectations until you’re able to provide a clear-cut description of the property. New floors or top-of-the-line appliances should be described by name, Farber Ross says, noting luxury is truly defined in the details offered. “Be more specific in the amenities, in the finishes, or if it’s a renowned architect for the building,” she says.

Corrected on Jan. 13, 2017: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Jeremy Swillinger’s name.

January may be cold and dark, but it can also be a time for bold beginnings.

Source: 10 Items to Cross Off Your January Home Checklist | Fox News

January may be cold and dark, but it can also be a time for bold beginnings. Make the most of your month by clearing space in your home, boosting warmth and dreaming up plans for the year ahead. Here are 10 to-dos to give your home a little midwinter TLC.

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Getting top dollar when selling your home seems to be something that only those with ninja level skills and lots of luck can pull off. Ninja or not, here are 10 home selling trade secrets that will help you do that! TIDY CLOSETS

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Buyers snoop all the time, so give them eye candy to look at. Empty half of your closet to make it look roomier (hello storage!) and neatly arrange what’s left to make them more attractive.

LET THERE BE LIGHT!

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Looking for the best tips to stage your home before you get photos for your listing? Here’s our top 10 list to get you ready to sell.

1. Design for the camera, not for the end user

When putting together a space, we always think of the camera first. Will this angle look right, will it show off the best feature of the house? Will the light hit these items correctly? The good news is you have a camera in your pocket as you read this. When we stage a house for market, we are constantly taking photographs of it and looking at it through the camera lens. It helps us to see errors in symmetry, lighting, cleanliness, etc. - See more at: http://www.destijlhomes.com/top-10-staging-tips-for-photos/#sthash.br5N2lQJ.dpuf

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2. Bye, Bye Clutter

The most important thing you can do to prepare your home for sale is to get rid of clutter. Make a house rule that for every new item that comes in, an old one has to leave. One of the major contributors to a cluttered look is having too much furniture. When professional stagers descend on a home being prepped for market, they often whisk away as much as half the owner’s furnishings, and the house looks much bigger for it. You don’t have to whittle that drastically, but take a hard look at what you have and ask yourself what you can live without.

3. Mismatches

To break up the monotony of a space, stagers are mismatching furnishings, fabrics, and colors. For example, non-matching chairs around a dining table can add more visual interest to an area. End chairs may be swapped out for chairs in a contrasting style. Kitchen islands in a different color than the wall cabinets also is gaining popularity and can turn this kitchen feature into a focal point. Dawn Marie Templeton, broker-owner of Templeton Real Estate Group in Boise, Idaho, had the kitchen island in one of her properties painted gray to compliment the white cabinets. The gray island “grounds and warms the space,” Templeton says. “If it were white, in this particular home, it might look too stark, too white, too bland, and too boring.”

4. Furniture Groupings

There’s a common belief that rooms will feel larger and be easier to use if all the furniture is pushed against the walls, but that isn’t the case. Instead, furnish your space by floating furniture away from walls. Reposition sofas and chairs into cozy conversational groups, and place pieces so that the traffic flow in a room is obvious. Not only will this make the space more user-friendly, but it will open up the room and make it seem larger.

5. No more wrinkles

In real life, wrinkly sheets don’t make a lick of difference. You will still sleep the same and wake up refreshed, whether you iron the sheets or not. The camera, however, hates wrinkles and makes them look 100 times worse than they really are. Our best advice on this one is to use a professional steamer. The hot steam will take those wrinkles right out and makes the sheets, pillows, shower curtains, etc. all look perfect in the picture.

6. Room Transformations

If you have a room that serves only to gather junk, repurpose it into something that will add to the value of your home. The simple addition of a comfortable armchair, a small table and a lamp in a stairwell nook will transform it into a cozy reading spot. Or drape fabric on the walls of your basement, lay inexpensive rubber padding or a carpet remnant on the floor and toss in a few cushy pillows. Voila – a new meditation room or yoga studio.

7. Light it up

Light can be your best friend or your worst enemy. If you don’t know how to control it, you are destined to fail. The time of day and weather conditions can make a huge difference on how well your space photographs. If the afternoon sun is blazing into your room throwing harsh shadows all over, the shot is destined to look “blown out” with areas as dark as night and as bright as a nuclear holocaust. To help combat this problem, look for the best time for indirect sunlight outside and inside your space. Cloudy days are perfect for this. It is also a great idea to turn on your interior lights and lamps, this will help to even out the lighting in the space.

8. Make It Bigger

To make a room appear to be bigger than it is, paint it the same color as the adjacent room. If you have a small kitchen and dining room, a seamless look will make both rooms feel like one big space. And make a sunporch look bigger and more inviting by painting it green to reflect the color of nature. Another design trick: If you want to create the illusion of more space, paint the walls the same color as your drapery. It will give you a seamless and sophisticated look.

9. Fluff the carpet

Sorry, fellas, this is not a euphemism for dining out. So often we see houses photographed with harsh vacuum lines or matted carpet that looks old and tired. The best way to fluff up your tired wall to wall is to use a broom. Running the broom over the top of the carpet in random directions will bring new life to a sagging floor textile.

10. Neutral and Appealing

Painting a living room a fresh neutral color helps tone down any dated finishes in the space. Even if you were weaned on off-white walls, take a chance and test a quart of paint in a warm, neutral hue. These days, the definition of neutral extends way beyond beige, from warm tans and honeys to soft blue-greens. As for bold wall colors, they have a way of reducing offers, so go with neutrals in large spaces.

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Downers Grove IL Real Estate Agent | 4 Reasons To Buy A Home In 2017

Numerous websites are doing their year-in-review stories. We thought we would look back in order to look ahead. Rates may be rising slightly, but they’re still very low. Here’s the bottom line: There are still plenty of great reasons to buy a home in 2017.

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We came up with our top four reasons why buying a home in the next year could make for a great investment.

It actually makes a lot of sense for many people to go ahead and make the leap to homeownership.

Rates are risingIn 1981, when mortgage rates hit 18% and seemed to rise every day, single-digit rates seemed like an impossible dream.
Last August, however, rates on 30-year mortgages bottomed out at 3.55%. Now that the Federal Reserve finally decided to raise its key interest rate, mortgage rates have been climbing slowly. Today, the average rate is just above 4%; by 2019 or 2020, rates could easily climb to 6%.

“All signs point to this trend continuing,” says Richard DeNapoli, managing director for Coral Gables Trust and a former Florida real estate commissioner.

Before you freak out, take heart: Rising rates aren’t necessarily a deal breaker for buyers. The National Association of Realtors® calculated that a rise from 4.2% to 5% would increase average monthly mortgage payments by $90—not nothing, but not a catastrophe, either. And if you take the long view, those higher rates are still historically low.

“For buyers there still is opportunity,” says Danielle Hale, managing director of housing research for the NAR. “For those who are still able to get into the market, these low rates continue to be helpful.”

Another upside: When rates go up, competition and prices often go down.

“I’d tell buyers not to panic, because higher mortgage rates eventually cause sellers to be more flexible on pricing,” DeNapoli says.

Rent Is ExpensiveBuying a house is a huge financial transaction and one that definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly. As with any big decision, you should take a moment to determine whether buying is right for you.
However, if you have some basics like a steady source of income and some savings, it can make much more sense than renting.

A study released this past October from Trulia shows that buying a home nationwide is 37.7% less expensive than renting. According to the study, the gap is 0.5% higher than where it was last year. It’s also important to remember that rent has a tendency to always increase with inflation. Your mortgage payment is much less likely to see drastic changes, particularly if you’re in a fixed rate.

Of course there are areas of the country in which this gap is greater than others. After all, real estate is all about location, location, location. However, in many areas of the country, you could end up keeping more of your money in your pocket if you can afford to buy.

Inventory is shrinkingIn November 2016, there were only 1.85 million homes for sale. That’s a nearly 10% drop from the year before. And it continues a trend of steady decline since just before the housing crash, when inventory peaked.
Real estate experts predict that inventory will continue to shrink, at least for the foreseeable future. That means that in most areas of the country, buyers have more homes to choose from today than they will next year.

Or even next month. If you get moving now (during the winter, which is largely considered to be real estate’s off-season), you’ll have less competition for those homes than you will in the peak spring and summer months.

Bottom line: Every day you wait to start looking for a new home, you face stiffer competition for fewer homes.

“If you think it’s bad right now, wait until April to August,” Smoke says.

Mortgage Rates Are Still GreatThere’s no denying that mortgage rates are up since the election. However, it’s important to put these things in a little bit of context.
First, let’s take a look at where we’re at. Rates vary depending on a number of factors, but rates are in the mid-4% range right now. That’s not as low as it was a couple of months ago, but it’s certainly not very high, either.

Freddie Mac has been tracking average monthly mortgage rates for 45 years, dating back to 1971. While the average mortgage rate of 16.63% in 1981 with 2.1 points in prepaid interest (bringing 2.1% of the loan amount to the table) probably represents inflation gone haywire more than anything else.

Still, in 2006, the average mortgage rate was 6.41% and in the late ‘80s, mortgage rates were between 9% – 10%. In that light, today’s rates still look pretty awesome.

Looking to buy a home in Downers Grove this year? You need a rock-solid Realtor. Paul Froiland is your Downers Grove IL real estate agent. Contact Downers Grove real estate agents De Stijl Realty today!

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Downers Grove IL Realtor | Home Inspection Tips To Save Buyers Money

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How? You hire a home inspector, of course.

This is true for new-construction homes, historic treasures, or your standard 30-year-old find.

But wait — first learn about home inspection tips that could save you money and keep you from making missteps along the way.

While interviewing the home inspector and to get your money’s worth, make sure he or she will be inspecting the entire house, top to bottom, inside and out. If the home inspector balks at inspecting the basement, crawl space, attic, garage or anything else, find someone else. If the home inspector tells you these places will be inspected and then balks when actually at your home, call his or her supervisor, or consider ending the home inspection at that point. The home inspector clearly isn’t doing his or her job, nor is he or she giving you what you’re paying for.
You wouldn’t know as much about the “guts” of the house unless you are the contractor or you work in the same industry. This is why it is important to be there at the home inspection and most importantly, ask questions when you find the need to. A good inspector will answer all of your questions thoroughly and will explain what he’s doing and looking at all along the way.
If there is something that you missed or need clarification on, don’t hesitate to voice out. Don’t let it slide because you’re too scared to ask.

Allow between two and three hours for your home inspection. This varies depending on the size and shape of your home. After the home inspection you’ll want your home inspector to sit down and explain to you in detail about the condition of your property. You can then figure out ways to save money on the home repairs or another home inspection.
It’s understandable to want to buy a house after you’ve gone to all the trouble of finding it, putting in an offer, and then paying for an inspection. But don’t forget that the inspection is not a mere formality — you actually need to consider the results.
If the inspector finds problems that the seller won’t address, depending on the severity of the problems, you might need to pass on the deal.

Take this advice from David Feldberg, a California real estate broker: “Being out the cost of a home inspection is a lot less than some big problems down the road.”

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you’ll want a qualified Realtor by your side. Trust De Stijl Realty and Downers Grove IL real estate agent Paul Froiland for all of your real estate needs.

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mphillips007/iStock; Talaj /iStock
Everyone has a few flaws. But if you plan to sell your home in 2017, these foibles can literally cost you—we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars. What’s more, many homeowners may not even be aware that certain actions can hurt their odds of selling their home (that is, until it sits on the market with no takers).

To help clue you in, here’s a list of regrettable blunders to kick to the curb starting now, even if you plan to put your home on the market later this year.

Vice No. 1: Overimproving your home
Dying to install new kitchen cabinets or retile your master bath? Home sellers often assume any upgrades they make to their home will pay them back in full once they sell, but that’s rarely the case. On average you will recoup just about 64% of the money you spend on renovations once you sell—and certain improvements can actually work against you if they’re unusual or undesirable in your market, warns Jason Shepherd, co-founder of Atlas Real Estate Group.

For instance, as much as you may be dying for a bidet in your bathroom, many others may not. Likewise, even if you consider a new swimming pool a plus, many homeowners don’t want the hassle of maintaining it (or the dangers if they have young kids).

Do this instead: Check out a Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value report to see which upgrades provide the best return—and ask a Realtor® for advice on which amenities are hot (or not) in your area

Vice No. 2: Renovating without permits
We know it’s a pain to apply for permits before you knock down that wall or add a deck, but this corner-cutting will come back and bite you when you decide to sell. Without proper permits, buyers may worry whether the work done on your place is up to code—and as a result refrain from making an offer.

Do this instead: Don’t be a scofflaw; pull necessary permits. Usually, building permits are required for any renovation that involves opening/building walls, electrical, and plumbing changes.

Vice No. 3: Limiting showing hours
Sure, no one wants to leave their home at dinnertime. But buyers are busy juggling work, family, and looking for a new home. If you limit showings to a few hours on weekends, you might miss a potential sale.

Do this instead: Stay flexible and cooperate with buyer’s agents who want to show your house, even if it’s inconvenient.

“Sellers need to make their home available for viewings 24/7,” says Karin Jackson of William Raveis Real Estate in Newport, RI. “Limiting showing times gives buyers the impression that the sellers are going to be difficult.”

Vice No. 4. Overlooking curb appeal

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Make a good first impression on potential buyers.akurtz/iStock
Even if you lavish tons of attention on prepping the inside of your home for buyers, it’s easy to overlook the outside. But keep in mind, your curb appeal is the very first impression buyers have of your home, so it pays to put some elbow grease into prettying up the exterior, too.

Do this instead: Make sure your paint job is pristine and your lawn is tidy and mowed. Also replace dead shrubs, prune trees, put out some potted plants, mulch garden beds, and freshen mailboxes.

Vice No. 5: Relying heavily on open houses
Open houses were a great way to sell a house in, like, 1975. These days, the vast majority of houses are sold through the internet, says Matt Parker of Seattle, author of “The Real Estate Sales Secrets: What Top Real Estate Listing Agents Do Today to Sell Tomorrow.”

In fact, Parker says, open houses can be risky, giving strangers the opportunity to case your home and break things.

Do this instead: While you can certainly hold open houses, don’t depend on them too much. Look for agents who mine for buyers by using the internet and social media.

Vice No. 6: Not following your agent’s advice
Sure, you no doubt know more about your home than anyone else. But your real estate agent knows more about how to sell it. And your agent may make some suggestions you might not like to hear, like that you need a new paint job or that the asking price you had in mind needs to be lowered a bit. It’s tempting to take offense or just ignore this advice, but if you do, you could risk seeing your house sit on the market and grow stale.

Do this instead: Listen to your agent. That doesn’t mean blindly following all advice. But when it comes to pricing, consider the comps your agent presents, not your gut feeling or wishful thinking. Agents buy and sell hundreds of houses in their career; you’ll probably buy and sell a handful in your lifetime. You’re paying for their experience, so follow their advice.

Want more advice on selling your home? Here are a bunch of home-selling vows to make and take seriously, starting now.

Want to stay up to date on all of the latest real estate news and tips? Scroll down to the bottom of the page and subscribe to my Downers Grove Illinois real estate agent blog and get news and tips delivered to your inbox.

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Tips on Buying a Luxury Home from Downers Grove IL Realtor

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Luxury homes have increased in sales over the last couple of years, which means that there are more buyers out there seeking to buy luxury. The real estate industry functions like any other in that the amount of supply will affect the demand for that supply. Since there are a limited number of luxury homes available, demand is higher. This makes the prices for those homes increase. Enjoy the following information about why luxury home sales have increased and some tips about buying luxury from professional Downers Grove IL real estate agent Paul Froiland.

A Better Economy

In general, the economy has been growing. There are more jobs and better-paying jobs available. This has mea...

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