Homes priced at the top 25% of the price range for a particular area of the country are considered “premium homes.” In today’s real estate market, there are deals to be had at the higher end! This is great news for homeowners wanting to upgrade from their current house.

Much of the demand for housing over the past couple of years has come from first-time buyers looking for their starter home. Many of the more expensive homes listed for sale have not seen as much interest.

According to ILHM’s Luxury Report, this mismatch in demand and inventory of luxury and premium homes has created a Buyer’s Market. For the purpose of the report, a luxury home was defined as one that costs $1 million or more.

“A Buyer’s Market indicates that buyers have greater control over the price point. This market type is demonstrated by a substantial number of homes on the market and few sales, suggesting demand for residential properties is slow for that market and/or price point.”

The authors of the report were quick to point out that current conditions at the higher end of the market are no cause for concern.

“While luxury homes may take longer to sell than in previous years, the slower pace, increased inventory levels and larger differences between list and sold prices, represent a normalization of the market, not a downturn.”

Luxury can mean different things to different people. To one person, luxury is a secluded home with plenty of property and privacy. To another, it could be a penthouse at the center of a bustling city. Knowing what characteristics mean luxury to you will help your agent find you the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

If you are debating upgrading your current house to a premium or luxury home, now is the time!

Planning a major move that involves relocating to a new city? Being new in town can feel a little nerve-wracking at first, but there are actually some pretty simple ways to get settled fast. You can connect with new friends, make your home more comfortable, and maybe even find your new dream job just by paying attention to a few do’s and don’ts for your move, to help you make the most of this major life change.

 

Don’t Be in a Rush to Unpack Your Home

 

It may sound like the opposite of what you should do to feel at home, but when you move to a new town, you really should make getting out and exploring a priority over unpacking. Morning or evening strolls in different parts of the city can give you a great idea of what’s nearby. And you can stop by a local coffee shop for some caffeine and conversation with locals. While there, look for local newspapers or publications to get the scoop on your new town. So that unpacking doesn’t overwhelm you while you get to know your new home, use these packing tips before you move to make the task more manageable. This way you don’t feel trapped in your home for days and can spend more time getting to know your new city. (Read more about things to do in Naperville here.)

 

Do Update Your Auto Insurance Policy

 

The last thing you want when you move to a new state is to have a ticket spoil the experience. You can avoid the added cost and frustration by getting familiar with your new state’s insurance and registration laws. Certain policy minimums may apply and the rules around proof of coverage can be very different as well. So make sure your current policy matches state law so you don’t have to worry about a fine as you explore the local community.

(Read more about Illinois Auto Insurance Laws here.)

 

Don’t Forget to Help Your Dog Get Settled

 

Moving can be rough for dogs, which can lead to anxious behavior, like excessive barking. All that barking and nervousness can make a bad first impression on your new neighbors, so take some time to help your dog feel comfortable with your move. Take some time off work so you can spend the first few days helping your dog adjust and curb any unwanted behavior. When you both feel up to it, take your pup out on the town to help you meet new people.

(Read more about how to find local pet sitters here.)

 

Do Invite Neighbors Over for a Welcome Party

 

Making new friends with people in your new town is a great way to get settled, but you should also try to make connections with your neighbors too. You may luck out and get neighbors who introduce themselves to you, but often you will need to make the effort in order to get to know the people who live around you. A welcome party is a fun way to meet several neighbors at once, so consider hosting guests once you’re unpacked. If you have a party of the open house variety, this allows people to come and go at their leisure. Just keep the timeframe short and be sure to put out a variety of snacks and beverages.

(Find out more about Naperville grocery options here.)

 

Don’t Ignore Social Offers From Family and Friends

 

If you tell friends and loved ones you are moving to a new city, chances are they will have some connections there. So, if someone you know offers to connect you with a mutual friend or even a distant family member, take them up on it! This is an easy way to settle into a city without feeling alone and can help you make new friends faster. If you are still looking for a new job, you can also use your network to bolster your chances of snagging an interview and landing a job that you love. (Find out more about jobs in Naperville here.)

 

Moving to a new city can be an eye-opening experience, especially when you don’t know anyone there. You can use the tips above to make the most of your big move and quickly meet new people in the community. Before you know it, you will feel right at home!

 

Here are a few extra Naperville resources you may find helpful:

 

Naperville Area Schools

 

Family Doctors in Naperville

 

Naperville Dentists

 

 

Photo Credit: Pexels

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer. Depending on where you live, median income, median rents, and home prices all vary. So, we set out to find out how long it would take to save for a down payment in each state.

Using data from HUD, Census and Apartment List, we determined how long it would take, nationwide, for a first-time buyer to save enough money for a down payment on their dream home. There is a long-standing ‘rule’ that a household should not pay more than 28% of their income on their monthly housing expense.

By determining the percentage of income spent renting in each state, and the amount needed for a 10% down payment, we were able to establish how long (in years) it would take for an average resident to save enough money to buy a home of their own.

According to the data, residents in Kansas can save for a down payment the quickest, doing so in just over 1 year (1.12). Below is a map that was created using the data for each state:

How Quickly Can You Save Your Down Payment? | Keeping Current Matters

What if you only needed to save 3%?

What if you were able to take advantage of one of Freddie Mac’s or Fannie Mae’s 3%-down programs? Suddenly, saving for a down payment no longer takes 2 to 5 years, but becomes possible in less than a year in most states, as shown on the map below.

How Quickly Can You Save Your Down Payment? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Whether you have just begun to save for a down payment or have been saving for years, you may be closer to your dream home than you think! Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you evaluate your ability to buy today. Call us!

Springtime repairs around the house can be pretty big chores, eating up your spare time and cutting into your household budget, but they are an important part of keeping your home in great shape. Taking care of little maintenance issues now can help prevent big problems down the road, which can save you quite a bit of money and a lot of stress. However, the key with DIY projects is to ensure that you are prepared to call a professional if you need help with a big job so that it will be done safely and correctly.

 

It’s also crucial to have the right tools and a plan for the task at hand. Taking care of repairs around the home can include anything from plugging up holes in the drywall to replacing shingles or tiles on the roof, and these jobs vary greatly in cost and the amount of time it will take to complete them. Having a good idea of how you’ll get started will allow you to get the job done right the first time without any issues.

 

Here are a few things to consider when it’s time to do some maintenance around the house.

 

Start with the Right Tools

 

As with any task, it’s imperative to start with the right tools. After all, you wouldn’t start drawing a picture without a sharpened pencil and a good eraser, so it just makes sense that you would have specific tools at the ready when you’re tackling a home repair job. In general, most homeowners will want a hammer, wrenches, screwdrivers, a drill, and a sharp utility knife to handle common repair jobs around the house. If you don’t have these, look online for tool buying guides, and read the reviews before making purchases.

 

Find the Right Help

 

No matter what tasks you need to complete, it’s important to make sure they can be done as a DIY job before you get started. Many big projects — such as roofing, plumbing, and electrical work — will require a professional’s touch, if for no other reason than the potential safety issues. Look online for contractors near you to get an idea of your choices and to compare prices, and make sure you read the reviews before making a final decision.

 

Think of the Cost of Winter

 

The thing about spring repairs is that they need to be focused on the things that took the most hit during a hard winter. Cold weather, excess water, and high winds can all do quite a bit of damage to various parts of the home, from the gutters to the pipes, so make a checklist of all the things you want to take a look at. Getting organized will help greatly when it comes to starting any repair project, and it will also help you stay motivated if you have a physical list in front of you.

 

Prioritize

 

If you have a tight budget and there aren’t any repairs that require your immediate attention, you can start with the smaller things first, such as cleaning out the gutters or investing in an insulation cover for the hot water heater. These little tasks won’t cost much, but they will allow you to take care of the small things first and get them out of the way. Just make sure there are no pressing jobs, such as leaky pipes or broken roof shingles.

 

Springtime repairs around the house don’t have to break your budget or your patience. With a little planning and some research online, you can figure out the best ways to tackle projects around the house when the weather warms up a bit and save money throughout the year.

There are always people with too much stuff looking to make some extra money by getting rid of it, and there are always people looking to save a little money by avoiding buying new products. This is the general principle that keeps the second-hand economy booming. If you’re looking to sell, here are some essential tips for turning your unwanted household items into cash (and doing a little healthy decluttering in the process).

 

Get the Things You Can’t Sell Out of the Way

 

This step will save you some time and some sanity — get rid of the stuff that you simply can’t sell. Whether it’s something that is broken, ugly, or in noticeably poor condition, you’ll do yourself a great service to just throw away the items on which you have no chance of turning a profit (or that even a donation center wouldn’t want).

 

Clearing this “junk” out of your house will make it easier for you to sell what you can. It may be smart to use a dumpster rental service or all-in-one junk removal service. Both are helpful, but dumpster rental allows you to fill up a dumpster over time (better for longer, larger removal projects), whereas a junk removal service will do everything for you.

 

Don’t Just Put It All on eBay or Craigslist

 

Yes, eBay and Craigslist are the two easiest online options for selling you stuff. That’s because they both have millions of users and you can sell basically anything on there. However, sometimes you need to value specificity of the second-hand marketplace, as well as understand which items are the most desired by shoppers. There are dozens upon dozens of other marketplaces that may allow you to fetch better prices for certain items. These include, but are not limited to, Swappa for cellphones and tablets, Poshmark for clothing, and Glyde for video games. The massive, well-known online marketplaces are awesome, of course, but don’t be afraid to experiment with where you list your items.

 

Don’t Assume That Online Is Always Better

 

No, you will not always get more for your stuff online. This is a common myth (especially among the younger crowd). It’s worth your time to try to sell your stuff in actual, physical, brick-and-mortar stores as well. Just make sure you know the right stores to hit for specific items. Second-hand electronics and clothing stores are always good bets for good cash.

 

Be Wary of Pawn Shops

 

The good thing about pawn shops is that they take a wide range of items and you get the money then and there — it’s instant gratification. The pros pretty much end there, however. You can almost always get more money on an online marketplace or a specialty second-hand store than you can at a pawn shop, and many pawn shops are skilled at paying low-dollar for top-dollar items. If you do plan to go this route, make sure to have a plan in place.

 

Embrace the Grind

 

While it’s nice to sell a big-ticket item for a few hundred dollars, the real key to successfully selling your old items and making a nice profit is to prepare for and then embrace the grind — selling many smaller items over time for less money a pop. You may not get excited about that $10 sale here and that $15 sale there, but soon enough you’ll have amassed hundreds.

 

The second-hand economy presents an amazing opportunity to people of all backgrounds with all different sorts of things to sell. Not only will you make good money if you follow these tips, but you’ll also get rid of clutter and make your living space more, well, livable. The former benefit is great, but the latter is priceless.

 

Photo via Unsplash

Sun Mountain Elite Jacket

Long known for their well-constructed carry bags and high-tech wheeled carts, Sun Mountain has also made a name for itself as a manufacturer of some of the best golf-specific outerwear on the market. The Elite Rain Jacket provides superior protection from the elements with outstanding stretch to accommodate your swing.

Sun Mountain touts its proprietary 37.5 technology that works with your own body heat to ensure the ideal temperature — you’ll never be too hot or too cool. Typical golf jackets are known to be a little warm, but the Elite Jacket is fully breathable. No detail has been overlooked in making this jacket waterproof: You’ll enjoy a waterproof chest pocket, two waterproof hand warmer pockets and a 2-way YKK Vislon waterproof zipper, all backed by a 2-year guarantee.

Whether it is with the goal of saving money or for the satisfaction of living in the fruits of one’s labors, it has become increasingly popular for homeowners to take on home renovation projects themselves. One of the most common types of do-it-yourself projects is a bathroom remodel. Not only can bathroom remodels help to improve your overall quality of life, but they can also dramatically increase the value of your home if you ever decide to sell.

 

However, there are a number of potentially complicated or dangerous parts of every bathroom renovation, such as electrical and plumbing work, that you should be aware of before attempting the project. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are tackling a bathroom renovation for the first time so that your project can be quick, easy, and fun.

 

Plan out the Entire Project Beforehand

 

As with any kind of renovation, the first thing you need to do is plan out the scope of the entire project. The more you prepare, the fewer unexpected costs you will have to endure down the road. Start by listing all the things you would like to do to your bathroom. Don’t factor in cost at this point — instead, just list them all. You may want to include things like a walk in shower, a clawfoot tub, a heated floor, a double sink, and so forth.

 

Next, organize the list in order of desire — put your must-haves at the top, all the way down to negligible or “bonus” projects. Then, it is time to do some research online. Find the average costs of each type of project and put the numbers next to each line on your list. Finally, compare these costs to your total budget. This way, you can make sure that you have enough money for the most important projects, allowing for extras if you happen to come in under budget.

 

However, Remember to Have Fun

 

Even though it is tempting to get bogged down in the minutia of planning and money management, don’t let yourself forget to have fun. A bathroom remodel is a great way to boost your bathroom’s appeal, both for yourself and for potential buyers if you ever decide to sell your home. For instance, a renovated bathroom can provide you with a 40 to 80 percent return on investment, depending on the current state of the real estate market.

 

Think About Ways to Come in Under Budget

 

It is common for do-it-yourself projects to end up going over budget, but there are a few things you can do that will keep your costs lower. First, if you need to buy power tools for your renovation, you may want to try borrowing them from a handy friend or family member. If you end up having to buy them after all, look at previously used tools to save money. Next, while part of the reason you may want to be doing the project yourself is to save on the cost of a professional, in certain cases, a professional can actually save you money, such as with walls damaged by water. Furthermore, certain plumbing and electrical projects can be dangerous for you to attempt on your own — always hire a professional contractor in those cases.

 

When you are renovating your bathroom, remember to consider all the possible angles that will need to be covered, both from the financial and design sides of the process. Doing so will allow you to relax and have fun with the project.

 

Photo Credit: Pexels

Thank you to guest writer, Erin Reynolds

There are many benefits to homeownership, but one of the top benefits is protecting yourself from rising rents by locking in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped
A recent article by Apartment List addressed rising rents by stating:

“Our national rent index is up 0.1 percent month-over-month, marking the sixth straight month of increasing rents. Year-over-year growth now stands at 1.2 percent.”

The article continues, explaining that:

“Rents increased month-over-month in 62 of the nation’s 100 largest cities, down significantly from the 85 cities that saw rents rise last month. That said, rents are still up year-over-year in most of the nation’s largest markets — 77 of the 100 largest cities have seen rents increase over the past twelve months.”

Additionally, Urban Land Magazine explained that,

“Currently, nearly half (47 percent) of renter households are cost burdened (i.e., paying more than 30 percent of income for housing), while 25 percent (totaling 11 million households) are severely cost burdened, paying over 50 percent of their total household income for rent.”

These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, including groceries and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent
As we have previously mentioned, the results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 2% less expensive in Honolulu (HI), all the way up to 48.9% less expensive in Detroit (MI), and 26.3% nationwide!

Know Your Options
Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. A nationwide survey of about 1,166 renters found that 34% said they rent because they cannot afford to buy, 29% said they cannot afford to buy where they live, and nearly a quarter (24%) were saving to buy.

Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream homes. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time homebuyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Bottom Line
Don’t get caught in the trap that so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible for a mortgage today.

Young people looking to purchase their first home are often put off by the cost involved, including the downpayment and the mortgage process. Fixer-uppers can be a perfectly viable option as long as you’re up to handling the extensive renovations that go along with buying a house in a state of disrepair. Bear in mind that buying a fixer-upper can end up being more of a financial burden than you’d anticipated. Some turn out to be the dreaded “money pit,” the house that always seems to have another problem. There are several things to consider carefully before choosing to take on a fixer upper project.

Location

You’ve probably heard that location is the most important factor when it comes to real estate. The same holds true for fixer uppers. Consider location first, since you’ll be fixing up the house. Once you’ve identified the area in which you want to live, begin searching for fixer uppers. There are real estate agents who specialize in these kinds of properties. Once you’ve talked to lenders and been pre-qualified for a home loan, spend some time on the internet looking for agents who specialize in fixer uppers. Homes for sale in Naperville, Illinois, have an average list price of $450,000.

Assess your handyman skills

Think carefully about what you’re proposing, and assess your skills honestly and objectively. Fixer uppers are almost always a challenge, and you could be facing a job that requires tools and experience that you may not possess. You’re going to need power drills, sanders, jigsaws and a host of other robust power tools. Crowbars, a mallet, joists and a full set of reliable hand tools are also essential. Then there’s the time commitment. Remember, this is more than two or three weekends of work. You could be renovating and fine tuning for years to come until you get it just right. There are many examples of eager, over-optimistic buyers who found out too late they’d bitten off more than they could chew. Don’t pursue such an opportunity until you’ve had a home inspection done and have a good idea of what fixes are necessary and whether they’re within your capabilities.

A big investment

Buying the house is only the first step. There’s a considerable ongoing investment involved in a fixer upper, which means you’ll need to have a considerable nest egg socked away for the work that’s yet to come. The home inspection should help you determine whether your finances are up to the challenge or not. Make a careful list of everything that needs to be repaired, get estimates for each, and then decide whether it’s within your reach.

What are your long-term plans?

People who purchase a fixer upper are usually committed to it for a period of years. If your job may require you to move at any given time, you’ll probably want to pass on a home that’ll need a lot of money and time to fix up. If for some reason you’re called on to relocate while you’re renovating, you could lose a lot of money if you find yourself having to sell.

Priorities

The first projects to tackle will depend largely on what the inspector has to say. Often, windows, flooring, electricity and roofing are priorities when moving into a project home. If there are serious structural, foundation or plumbing problems, you’re probably better off continuing your search. Once you’ve completed renovations, check out home values and prices in your area. You might consider selling if it’s a seller’s market and you can be pretty sure of getting maximum value for your investment and the sweat equity that went into it.

Purchasing a new home is always a big investment. Between the cost and the improvements you make, a fixer upper can be a tremendous investment if the market’s in your favor. Think of yours as a big investment in your financial future.

 

Courtesy of Pixabay.com.

 

CoreLogic broke down appreciation even further into four price ranges, giving us a more detailed view than if we had simply looked at the year-over-year increases in national median home price.

The chart below shows the four price ranges from the report, as well as each one’s year-over-year growth from February 2017 to February 2018 (the latest data available).

How Much Has Your Home Increased in Value Over the Last Year? | Keeping Current Matters

It is important to pay attention to how prices are changing in your local market. The location of your home is not the only factor that determines how much your home has appreciated over the course of the last year.

Lower-priced homes have appreciated at greater rates than homes at the upper ends of the spectrum due to demand from first-time home buyers and baby boomers looking to downsize.

Bottom Line

If you are planning to list your home for sale in today’s market, find a local agent who can explain exactly what’s going on in your area and your price range. Like us!