Trump Repeals FHA Premium Reduction – Here are the FACTS

If you’ve opened up CNBC or checked your Facebook wall, you may have seen articles and messages about President Trump repealing the reduction in FHA premiums. While some articles simply explained this fact, most articles have been presented in such a way that you might think anyone getting a FHA mortgage is left out in the cold. One of my agents even called me worried about how this might affect her client who is getting ready to close with an FHA loan. In order to put the speculation and worry to rest I thought I’d write a short blog explaining what happened with regard to President Trump and the FHA mortgage premium.

First let me give you a quick run down on what an FHA loan is. A FHA loan is a home loan that is insured by the FHA, Federal Housing Administration. Borrowers pay an insurance premium to FHA which protects lender from a borrower default. Typically FHA loans have less strict requirements than other loans and in many cases allow for a smaller down payment. However, borrows must pay a mortgage insurance premium on a monthly basis.

On January 9th a reduction in FHA insurance premiums was passed lessening the insurance premium by 0.25%. This was set to go into place on January 20th. President Trump instead repealed this and froze the current premiums in place.

The NAR along with other organizations said that in 2017 roughly 40,000 would be home owners may no longer be eligible for an FHA loan because this decrease was repealed. Many news organizations and online columnists have since written articles with headlines and opening paragraphs that make it sound as if there were 40,000 people under contract for homes and now they won’t be able to purchase. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

For anyone considering an FHA loan that might be freaking out right now…don’t worry, relax! Calm down. Here are the facts.

The FHA premium reduction would have saved the average FHA borrower $500 per year which works out to roughly. $42 per month. If you want to equate it to loan value, the premium savings on a $200,000 loan would have been $29 per month.

However if you were quoted a FHA loan price your payment is not going up. The FHA premium reduction was not set to take place until January 20th. Underwriting was not being used to qualify people under the new guidelines. If you were set to close on a home you’re still OK because you were quoted at the old price.

Reporters and columnists can argue all day long whether or not the FHA should lower premiums. However, writing articles especially with catchy headlines to imply many people can no longer purchase homes is down right unethical and detrimental to our industry as whole. Understanding the facts of this change is what is most important and not furthering a political agenda or increasing readership a website.

If you want to know more about the cost of a FHA loan simply call a Realtor or a great mortgage broker. In addition to FHA loans there are MANY great FHA alternative programs that can be even cheaper with similar down-payment and qualifications. Don’t let all these online media sources scare you away from looking into purchasing a home.

Advertisements

Should I List My Property For Sale or For Rent?

When it comes time to move for whatever reason; a new baby on the way, a job transfer or you simply want a change of pace, the initial instinct for many is to list their property for sale. The basic logic makes sense. You want to cash out and use that cash for your downpayment on a new home. However, we’re finding that many would be sellers are now considering holding onto their property and renting it out for the added cash-flow and to have a tenant help pay down their mortgage. This blog will be dedicated to asking you some basic questions so you can help decide if you should list your property for sale or list it for rent.

How much can you get in rent for your property?

The first thing you need to do is determine how much you can rent your property out for. If you cannot achieve a high enough rent amount to pay for your holding costs (your mortgage, your property taxes, association dues and insurance) then you need to consider if it is worth it for the difference to come out of your pocket.

Make sure you work with a Realtor who understands the rental market well. The rental market is starting to change and will continue to do so over the coming years (and not in the landlords favor). Make sure you also consider what time of year you are renting out your property in. For instance rents are typically much higher in May than they are in November.

Does your association have any rental restrictions?

Well, maybe this should be the FIRST thing you look into instead of rental price. Some associations prohibit rentals. Make sure yours does not! Other associations may have a rental cap and if they have met this cap (number of units they allow to be rented at any given time) then you may need to be added to a wait list before you can rent out your unit. Check with your association management to confirm any and all rental policies and restrictions. For instance, did you know that some associations may be pet friendly but do not allow renters to have pets?

Do you NEED cash from your current property to buy a new one?

If you’re buying your next property the question is can you afford to buy it without selling your current home. Look at your finances and talk with your mortgage broker regarding this. Do you need to sell in order to have 20% down payment? Or are you OK with just putting down 5% on your new property? Balance out the costs of this as putting less than 20% down typically means you’re responsible for PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) which will increase your monthly costs on your new home.

What is the interest rate on your mortgage?

I was speaking to one of my clients recently who was deciding whether to rent or sell. She said her interest rate on her 30yr fixed mortgage was 3.35%. That is VERY cheap money! That played a role in her decision process of whether or not to rent or sell. She ended up renting out her place. If you have an incredibly low interest rate it might be a good idea to hang onto that property and rent it out.

Will it be difficult for you to manage the property?

Some condos are very easy to manage because the building maintenance staff can help with any issues that arise inside your unit. Other buildings may be self-managed and this may mean anytime there is an issue you will need to hire someone to come in and fix the problem. This should be taken into account. For instance, if you’re living in the same city as your rental property then management can be very easy even if you’re in a building that does not have maintenance staff. Conversely, if you are moving to Hong Kong for work then it might be difficult to manage your property especially given the time difference.

Can you hire local property managers? Sure, but there is a cost to that so you’d need to factor that cost into your decision.

What will be the financial state of your condo association in the future?

I have some clients who own properties in buildings that are on the downward spiral. There might not be any special assessments planned but my clients are seeing the quality of the building deteriorate and they’re worried that the building may have financial issues in the future. This is definitely something you need to take into account when considering whether your should rent or sell. Sometimes it might be better to sell, take your profits, and run!

Are you cash strapped?

There is no way other way to ask this but, are you living paycheck to paycheck? If you are then being a landlord might not be for you. It is important to have some cash saved in case you have any tenant issues or any property issues. Landlords need to understand that when tenants move out they’ll likely have to paint the property and make some minor repairs in order to get it ready for a new tenant. Do you have the cash to do that? If your dishwasher breaks can you replace it for the tenant ASAP? If your Washer / Dryer goes out can you replace it ASAP?

Paul Blackburn is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Realtor with @properties in Chicago. Paul has been selling real estate since 2007 and is a broker and trainer for the Skowron Group which has sold in excess of $100 million in 2016 alone. For further information or questions please feel free to contact Paul directly at Paul@pkblackburn.com

Should I Buy or Should I Rent?

 

 

Ah, the age old question in real estate. Should I buy or should I rent? Well, if you ask any standard Realtor they will tell you BUY! But, if you haven’t figured it out yet I’m not your standard Realtor. I try not to drink the Kool-Aid and instead give you unbiased and practical advice. So in this quick blog I’d like to ask you some questions to help YOU figure out if you should Buy or Rent in Chicago.

Do you know where you want to live for the next 2 to 3 years?

This may sound like an obvious question, but it is a question most people don’t ask themselves. They may want to buy for the purpose of buying, but may focus more on what they can afford versus where they truly want to live in the next 2 to 3 years. So the question I ask you is, where do you want to be? Can you see yourself living there for the next 2 to 3 years? If so, then you’re at least one step closer to buying.

Can you afford home ownership?

Some sales people may say “You can’t afford NOT to buy!” Umm…yeah, whatever…that’s not the right answer. What I mean by, “Can you afford home ownership” is after purchasing the home will you at least have some sort of a financial cushion in the event there are any issues with your home. This can be small things like needing to replace an appliances to larger items such as roof repair on a single family home or a special assessment in a condo building. As long as you have some sort of cash cushion then you’re again one step closer to buying.

Is your family situation stable?

OK, this sounds like an odd question so let me explain what this means. Are you in the process of getting married and thinking of having kids in the next year? If so, then you might want to be looking to buy a place larger than a studio! Sounds like a silly question but you’d be amazed at how some people jump into things. Take your time to consider this. Let me give you good example of clients of mine who did the right thing.

I had a couple contact me off my blog about 4 years ago. They were an absolute delight to work with. We got along extremely well. They were looking at 2 Bedroom condos in River North / Streeterville for up to 375k. However, as we were looking over a month or so, they also started thinking more. They decided to put the search on hold for a bit to decide what they wanted and needed for themselves. A year later we were back on with our search and this time they were married and planning to have a child. Their search criteria now changed to a 3 Bedroom with lots of living space in the areas of Lincoln Park and Lakeview and now they upped their budget. They simply took some time to think about their situation and then they made a wonderful purchase where they will definitely be happy for at least 5 years.

What are you willing to do with your property in the future?

I’ve had some clients who have purchased a property knowing that in the next year they’ll likely move out of town. They still wanted to buy because they planned to rent out the property if they moved and planned to keep it as an investment. If you think you might be moving soon then buying might not be for you, or it might be if you have different goals for the property you are buying. However, if you are thinking of buying and renting out your property then you need to make sure you plan accordingly and purchase accordingly.

What tax laws will benefit me?

The interest deduction is a major factor for many buying today. The ability to write off interest (please consult your tax advisor as everyone’s situation is different!) on your home mortgage is a motivating factor for many. How much will you actually save if you buy? For many this could help make or break the decision in whether or not you should buy.

What is going to make you happy?

Making money on your home is a wonderful thing but focus on where you will be happy living. Look for the maximum value, but remember your happiness is a big part of that value consideration. Would you rather live in a property where you make only 1 to 2% appreciation a year and be extremely happy or would you rather live somewhere that is not your ideal location, but instead have a great chance of return down the road. Everyone is different, but only you can answer that question for yourself.

In some instances people can only be happy if they can remodel their kitchen and make their home exactly how they want it, which is something you cannot do if you rent. So again, if this is you, you’re one step closer to buying.

It is only a decision you can make

It is not a decision your Realtor can make for you, or your friends, or your mother. It is only a decision you can make for yourself. Take all of the above into consideration and make an informed decision.

 

Paul Blackburn is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Realtor with @properties in Chicago. Paul has been selling real estate since 2007 and is a broker and trainer for the Skowron Group which has sold in excess of $100 million in 2016 alone. For further information or questions please feel free to contact Paul directly at Paul@pkblackburn.com

What to watch for in Real Estate in 2017

What should we expect in real estate in 2017 across the Chicagoland area? Will 2017 prove to be a year full of growth in Chicago or will rising interest rates temper growth? Will rent prices decrease due to excess multi-family building or will demand rise and keep up with supply? We all have our own thoughts and opinions; I’m sure you know I have mine. However, regardless of your opinions of the future of the economy, Chicago real estate or the real estate market as a whole, here are a few things to keep an eye on in 2017 in Chicago real estate.

1) Interest Rates

The Fed raised rates in the last quarter of 2016 and is expected to do so two to three more times in 2017. Sub 4% interest rates for a 30yr fixed is no longer in our vocabulary, but how high will interest rates go? Keep an eye out for how consumers react to rising rates. While the economy appears to be very robust and we are at what is considered full economic employment, it will be interesting to see how rising interest rates affects home buyer sentiment. In order to get a feel for the market talk to Realtors and talk to mortgage brokers to see how rising rates are influencing their clients decision making process.

2) Increased programs for low down-payment buyers

In the recent year we’ve seen several new programs come out that are what I call, FHA alternatives. They’re essentially low down-payment programs or programs that give rebates or closing cost credits that allow you to purchase a place with as little as 3% down. As these programs gain more momentum and awareness it will be interesting to see a couple things

a) How long will these programs last

b) How these programs are influencing demand in certain price ranges and areas

3) Keep an eye on how rental supply will influence both the rental and sales market

Increased supply on the rental market can greatly affect both the rental market and the sales market. Rent prices have increased drastically in the past 5 years in Chicago but they’re currently peaking and vacancy rates have increased in multi-family. New buildings are offering concessions as high as 2 months free. With more than 4500 units coming to the market in 2017, will people put off buying in favor of taking advantage of rent concessions? What happens if not only concessions increase but rent prices decrease as well? This coupled with rising interest rates could have first time home buyers thinking twice.

4) Supply….

Depending on the price range you’re looking in, supply is still low relative to the amount of buyers in the market place. We’re seeing increased supply of new construction in areas such as Ukrainian Village and increased high end supply in the Near North area but besides this supply has remained low which has help prices increase over recent years. Keep an eye on two things

a) New construction has been selling at a huge premium. Watch it’s market time in 2017

b) Will we see more existing construction come on the market to compete with new construction in 2017? Existing construction has been selling much cheaper than brand new construction. With rising interest rates existing construction may be more appealing given its lower price point.

5) Everything is wonderful…keep an eye on everything wonderful

Unemployment is at all time lows. Interest rates are still at all time lows despite recent rises. Property values in prime neighborhoods are at 2006 levels. The equities markets are booming. Startups are everywhere. Getting VC funding for new companies is like taking candy from a baby. Everything is going well. Keep an eye on leading indicators in all sectors of the economy that may signal a slow down. In real estate I am specifically watching the following in Chicago

A. Market Time of both existing and new construction

B. Absorption rate (How long does it take to sell all properties on the market if no new ones come on the market).

C. Price to rent versus the price to buy the same property. Currently it makes sense to buy given the increased rental prices. If rent prices decrease this could become a slippery slope.

 

The above is not meant to be a negative outlook or a “debbie-downer” of the real estate market. Personally, I think there are some areas that are a bit over valued but others that are very much under valued. I think the Chicago real estate market is strong, however, I do believe we’re now in a normalization of the market where prices will increase minimally to moderately each year and I think we will see rent prices decrease in the coming years.

Does this mean I shouldn’t buy? No, it doesn’t mean that. In some situations some people maybe should not buy. In others they definitely should. Each persons situation is different and that is why working with a Realtor that is completely transparent and honest with you is always the best policy. Anyone who tells you that buying is always the best option is nothing more than a salesman.

 

Paul Blackburn is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Realtor with @properties in Chicago. Paul has been selling real estate since 2007 and is part of the Skowron Group which has sold in excess of $100 million in 2016 alone. For further information or questions please feel free to contact Paul directly at Paul@pblackburn.com

Competing Against Multiple Offers in Chicago’s Spring Market!

Competing against multiple offers is nothing new, but for inexperienced agents and new buyers it can be quite a challenge, especially as the competition heats up to snag some of Chicago’s most desirable listings. Multiple offers will continue to dominate the spring market especially in Chicago’s most desirable areas. Crain’s recently posted an article “Four things you might need to do to get that house.” While the article gave a few ideas, I thought I would give my own opinion on their suggestions and provide you with the advise I provide my clients when competing against multiple offers or when trying to get a property taken off the market before multiple offers can be submitted!

Let us pretend you’ve found the perfect home and you are seeing the property the first day it is on the market. Let us say that day is Tuesday. The agent informs you they are planning an open house for the weekend and expect to wait until then to review all offers. This is not just a sales tactic, but it is now becoming more common place in Chicago. So if this is your scenario, what can you do?

Price: Don’t BS on the price. Have your agent evaluate comps in the area to make sure the asking price is fair. When you submit your offer you better be submitting at list price OR HIGHER! Have your agent guide you so you don’t overpay for the property.

Earnest Money: Earnest Money is typically turned over in two stages: Initial stage, when the offer is accepted and the final stage, once inspection and attorney review are complete. INCREASE YOUR EARNEST MONEY! A greater amount of initial earnest money and a greater amount of final earnest money shows you are serious and have confidence in your current financial situation and in the property as a whole.

Shorten Attorney Review and Inspection Periods: The Inspection and Attorney review period can range anywhere from 5 to 10 business days or whatever the buyer and seller agree upon. Shorten these days if you can. 5 Days at the absolute most if you are in a multiple offer situation or trying to snag the property off the market.

Quick Deadline: If your offer is strong with the above points then put the nail in the coffin and don’t allow them to wait until the weekend. Give a 12hour deadline in your offer. Tell them its a take it or leave it situation.

Other items to consider:

Flexible Closing Date: Many sellers want a quick close date, but some may want some flexibility so give them that in your offer. Offer to close quickly but mention you can extend the closing if needed.  You never know the seller’s situation…they may need more time to find their next home.

Quick Mortgage Contingency: If you have a mortgage contingency in your contract, end it is as soon as possible. The quicker you can get a clear to close the quicker the contract “goes hard” and is ready to close. Move up your mortgage contingency date (Commitment Date) to the soonest date your lender says is possible.

Escalation Clause: This is one of my favorites. This is a very simplistic way of explaining it, but the clause is quite simple….”Our Highest & Best offer is $2,000 above the price of any other offer you receive up to $500,000 with proof of other offer.” It is called an escalation clause because as other offers come in your price escalates up to a certain point. If you ever bid for things on eBay you may remember there are similar systems in place on that auction site that allow you to do something similar.

 

Paul Blackburn is an Illinois licensed realtor and broker with @properties in Chicago. For information about buying or selling in Chicago he can be reached at Paul@PKBlackburn.com

New West Loop Luxury Condos on Green Street!

The West Loop has seen its fair share of rental buildings come to market, but now a new condo project is in the works. The “Boulevard at Green” is a luxury condo project in the heart of the West Loop. The new condos are located at 210 S. Green which is between Adams and Jackson on Green street. What are the details on this new project?

The building address will range from 210 to 240 S. Green. The building will be 10 stories tall and will house 50 three-bedroom condominiums at 2,100sf. The penthouse units will total 10 separate units which will be duplexes and will contain four to five bedrooms at roughly 3,400sf with private roof top decks as well.

The 2,100sf units will start at $749,900 and the duplex penthouse units will start at $1,499,900. The Boulevard at Green will feature the expected finishes of a high end development in the west loop. Wide plank oak flooring, custom contemporary cabinets, Bosch, Wolf and Subzero appliances, 10ft ceilings, etc. Elevators will open up directly into the unit and each unit will have private outdoor space. Each unit comes with 1 garage parking space and an additional space can be purchased at $30,000.

Three Bedrooms have gained huge popularity in the West Loop. A project currently under construction on Adams (near Racine & Adams) by Belgravia has been sold out for quite some time and at record prices. Pricing for 3 Bedroom units at 2,200sf started in the low $700s over a year ago and quickly reached the mid $800s for premium units.

The Boulevard at Green is exclusively marketed by our company, @properties. Phase One is currently more than 50% sold and sales continue at a quick pace. Three Bedroom condos in the West Loop continue to be in high demand, especially those in excellent locations that are walking distance to all the things we have grown accustomed to.

Paul Blackburn is an Illinois Licensed Realtor and Broker with @properties in Chicago. For further information he can be reached at anytime via e-mail at Paul@PKBlackburn.com

NEW GOLD COAST CONDO BUILDING AT WALTON & STATE. No. 9 Walton

A new luxury condo project is planned for the vacant space at State & Walton, adjacent to Walton on the Park. The most recent new construction developments in the near north side have mostly been made up of 3 Bedroom and larger units. The new development at Walton and State will offer 1 Bedrooms with 1,500 square feet all the way up to the penthouse unit which will have a total of 11,000 square feet.

Information on the new development at Walton and State is now being released. One Bedroom homes are starting around $1.4 million. Two Bedrooms will start around $1.85 million and Three Bedrooms will start at $2.5 million. However, please keep in mind this pricing is for the smaller floor plans of the respective bedroom count. Pricing will range roughly from $900 to $1,200 per square foot.

Each unit will have generous outdoor space. One of the best aesthetic features of the facade of the building is the fact that the balconies, for the most part, are recessed into the building and not overhanging. There is a wide array of layouts to choose from with varying square footages.

What Amenities will No. 9 Walton have?

The 4th Floor will house an indoor pool and spa, complete with a hot tub, steam room and sauna. The 5th floor will feature an open air atrium looking down onto the pool as well as a fitness center and small lounge. The 6th floor will feature a dog run, pilates studio and yoga studio. The 7th floor will feature a private dining / party space, outdoor terrace, full bar and kitchen along with a wine room.

Completion is expected in early of 2017.  This development is one of several new developments recently approved and started such as 4 E. Elm, 400 W. Huron and 100 W. Huron.

 

For more information on this development please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Paul Blackburn is an Illinois licensed Realtor and Broker with @properties in Chicago’s Gold Coast office. He can be reached at anytime at Paul@PKBlackburn.com