Search the Private Market & More with Zenlist!

Buyers in search of a new home this spring are benefitting from Zenlist, a new technology that offers access to the most complete and up-to-date database of homes in the Chicagoland marketplace. Zenlist is a gamechanger for how buyers and their agents work together to successfully conduct home searches, especially in today’s very competitive, low-inventory market. If you haven’t read my all encompassing post on home buying, be sure to read that next!

Here are 10 things you can do with Zenlist:

Check Out Thousands of Listings (even before they hit the market)

Zenlist gives homebuyers access to the greatest number of local listings by combining active listings from the MLS with pre-market (or private) listings that aren’t available on popular apps like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, or Realtor.com. With today’s inventory being so low, this is an incredible tool to have as a buyer because it gives you the opportunity to see a growing segment of the market that is normally reserved for agents.

Collaborate With Ease

Homebuyers can only gain access to Zenlist through a licensed real estate agent. Once on the app, buyers and agents can save searches, share them back and forth, share and comment on listings, and send messages. Looking with a family member or partner? Zenlist allows you to collaborate with them too. See a home you like? Just make a note, and your co-buyer and agent can see it and respond.

Send Questions Directly to Your Real Estate Agent

Have questions or thoughts about a specific listing? Send them directly to your real estate agent through the app. Zenlist lets you ask questions and discuss listings with your agent in one convenient place, rather than jumping from email to text to calls.

Request Showings

Within the app, you can easily build tour folders of homes that you want to see in person, giving your agent everything they need to request a showing. This includes any of the notes or questions you’ve made on the home.

 Immediately Receive Notifications

In a market where inventory is low and demand is high, it’s important to be the first to know when a home fitting your criteria hits the market. Zenlist is on it, and instantly notifies you of new listings – including pre-market listings – the minute they hit the app. Zenlist usually posts new listings faster than Redfin or Zillow.

Filter Searches Easily and Intuitively

Whether you are looking for a home within a particular school district or you need a three-car garage, Zenlist lets you filter searches with greater specificity than other apps. You can even draw asymmetrical search boundaries, and easily hide listings that don’t fit your criteria, giving your agent even more insights into your preferences to help with your search.

Explore Virtually

Google Street View is integrated into Zenlist, making it easy to check out an area virtually. You can explore a neighborhood and its shops, restaurants, and amenities before making an in-person visit.

Keep Track of Homes

Zenlist keeps track of all the homes you’ve toured as well as upcoming showings.

View Home Layouts

In the age of virtual showings, getting an idea of a home’s layout is crucial to your search. Zenlist provides a list of rooms and dimensions per floor level for every listing so that you can really envision the home (even if it doesn’t have a floorplan) before scheduling an in-person showing.

View Tax and Assessor Information

Zenlist makes listing information extremely transparent. You can view property tax information, as well as the past sales history of every home.

For more information on Zenlist and to gain access to the platform, reach out to me!


LET’S CONNECT ON SOCIAL!

A portion of this post originally appeared on @home, an @properties blog.

Outperforming the Market

One of the biggest trends to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic is the focus on housing & what people need from their home. Gone are the days where home was just a place you laid your head, now it is your workplace, your school, your gym, & more. As people seek more space and look to take advantage of low interest rates, the local real estate market has seen a strong recovery.

In fact, the number of homes that have gone under contract in the Chicagoland area since COVID-19 hit in the middle of March is up 8.6% compared to the mid-March through mid-September period last year. Meanwhile, @properties is outperforming the market, with new contracts up 20.3% during this timeframe.

New listings are another important performance metric. And while they are down market-wide since the start of the pandemic, @properties’ new listings are up over 5% year over year which is showing strong recovery.

As the region’s largest and most dynamic marketplace for homebuyers and sellers, @properties puts you in the best position to achieve your real estate goals. With our best-in-class marketing, leader status, & fully integrated programs; @properties is an industry leader year after year & the best brokerage to work with whether selling or purchasing your home.

If you are thinking of making a move in 2021 – Let me partner with you & guide you home.

Let’s connect on social!

A portion of this post originally appeared on @home, an @properties blog.

COVID Rental Assistance

Throughout the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic I have had dozens of renters & a few landlords reach out to me for my advice on how to handle COVID rental assistance due to job loss & back rent. Below is some helpful information & how to handle this tough situation as both as a renter & a landlord.

IMPORTANT: Applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance grant will be open until Friday, August 28

IHDA developed the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) to support Illinois tenants unable to pay their rent due to a COVID-19-related loss of income. Loss of income can be job loss, furlough, loss of hours, decreased wages, etc. Tenants whose application is approved will receive a one-time grant of $5,000 paid directly to their landlord to cover missed rent payments beginning March 2020 and prepay payments through December 2020, or until the $5,000 is exhausted, whichever comes first.

Eligibility Requirements
  • Your household income before March 1, 2020 was less than the maximum allowed for your area – Check you eligibility here
  • You or an adult member of your household has had a loss of income due to COVID-19. Loss of income can be job loss, furlough, loss of hours, decreased wages, etc.
  • You have an unpaid rent balance that began sometime after March 1, 2020

Make sure to verify that you have the following information prior to beginning your application for COVID Rental Assistance:

  • Landlord’s full name
  • Landlord’s accurate email address
  • Government issued ID that matches your address
    • If your ID does not match the address on your application, you will need to upload proof of your current address
Frequently Asked Questions
  • How will my landlord know I applied for COVID Rental Assistance? Notify your landlord that you applied for assistance under ERA. Let your landlord know that they will receive an email from the IHDA ERA program inviting them to submit required documents
  • What if the address on my lease does not match the address on my driver’s license or ID? In order to have a completed application for rental assistance, you must provide a legal document with your current address.
  • I have a verbal lease with my landlord, am I still eligible to apply? Unfortunately, you’re ineligible for ERA assistance if you do not have a written lease or contract.
  • I have an eviction pending, can this program assist me? Yes, you may still apply so long as you have not been evicted. Please inform your landlord, legal representation and county judge (if applicable) that you have applied for the program
  • My lease has expired, am I still eligible to apply for COVID Rental Assistance? Unfortunately, you’re ineligible for this assistance if you do not have a current lease.
  • When will I know if my application has been approved? You will receive an email within 2-3 weeks of your application alerting you if you have been approved for the grant. Your landlord will receive the funds as soon as 10 business days after approval.
  • Do I have to pay the $5,000 back to IHDA? No, you will not have to pay this assistance back is a grant and repayment is not required.
  • Will I be taxed on the $5,000 COVID Rental Assistance grant? No. The assistance is due to an emergency and is structured as a one-time grant payment; neither the tenant nor the landlord will be taxed
If you need assistance applying..

IHDA has partnered with 62 Community and Outreach Assistance organizations standing by to help you at no cost. You can find a list of these organizations via the Resource button on era.ihda.org. For additional assistance you may also call IHDA’s call center at (312) 883-2720, or toll-free at (888) 252-1119.

For more information visit IHDA’s website.

I’m here if you have any questions – Reach out to me here or send email to [email protected]!

What You Need to Know About Tax Proration

Now that we know all the steps of a home purchase & have the terms down, let’s talk about taxes. While taxes may be the last thing on your mind as you advance through the home buying process. Yet, there are important tax considerations that need to be worked out before you get to the closing table. This post will tell you what you need to know about tax proration.

Property tax proration is a way to split property taxes fairly to ensure that each side is paying for the specific time that they were owners of the property. Since Illinois property taxes are paid in arrears, tax proration ensures that the buyer is fairly compensated for the tax bills they will receive after the closing, for the period in time in which the seller still owned the property.

Your real estate broker can help you better understand what tax proration is, how it works, and how it is calculated. Once you have a home under contract, your real estate attorney will work with the seller’s attorney to determine the exact amount due to you during the attorney review process.

The Calculation

Below are six facts about the tax proration process. When you reach this stage, your real estate attorney will guide you along with the help of your real estate broker.

The Facts

  1. Sellers will take responsibility for the property taxes up until the day the property is officially closed. The buyer takes on the property taxes from the day the purchase is final.
  2. Tax proration may be a large dollar amount on the closing statement, because it is prorated to the day of close.
  3. The real estate attorney and/or broker can check the county assessor’s website to determine any exemptions or freezes and anticipate changes to the tax bill. Also, always be sure to file for your homeowners exemption after closing!
  4. With new construction or rehab properties, there is special attention that needs to be paid to the real estate tax credits and prorations. This is because the property upon which the listed taxes are based is no longer the same property that is now being assessed as rehabbed or new.
  5. Unlike paying your rent or mortgage on the 1st of every month, 2019 property taxes are paid in 2020 so therefore taxes are prorated at a slightly higher amount because taxes will likely go up.
  6. An escrow account is used in cases where the parties are not certain of the anticipated change in the real estate taxes and cannot agree to a final credit until the bills come out. The seller sets money aside in the escrow account and those funds are issued once the tax bill arrives.

Whether you’re a buyer or seller, it’s important to understand tax proration so that when you arrive on closing day, you’ll feel fully informed and prepared. Be sure to consult your real estate broker as early as possible in the homebuying process so you are comfortable with all of the steps to come!

Terms You Need to Know When Purchasing Your Home

Welcome back to my #homebuyerseries! After last weeks all encompassing guide, I am excited to continue to virtually educate on the in’s & out’s of buying your next home! I am going to post smaller bits & pieces that are quick reads. This week’s focus is on all of the real estate terms you are likely to encounter throughout your purchase.

Pre-approval vs. Pre-qualification – A mortgage pre-approval is an estimate of the amount you can borrow based on a lender’s verification of your financial documents, employment and credit history. Pre-approval is essential in a competitive home-buying environment because it immediately demonstrates to a seller that you are a qualified buyer (keep in mind it is not an actual loan commitment, but it gives you an important head start on the process). Pre-qualification, on the other hand, is an informal, preliminary assessment of your borrowing power based on basic information you provide to a lender.

Comps – Short for “comparable properties”, comps help determine the current value of a property. They are chosen based on property attributes like price, location, condition, features and other criteria.

CMA – Also known as a Comparative Market Analysis, this pricing tool is an evaluation of a home’s current value based on recent comps. Once you’ve found a home you love, your broker will prepare a CMA to help you formulate an offer.

@tip: @properties has an exclusive, interactive CMA that is the first continuously-updating CMA platform in our local market. Contact me if you want an up-to-the-minute, accurate CMA sent directly to your inbox.

Appraisal – If you are obtaining bank financing, the bank will order an appraisal, which is an opinion of a home’s value. Unlike a CMA, an appraisal is performed by a licensed appraiser who must follow a number of established guidelines. While appraisers use the same data as real estate agents to find comparables, they have additional guidelines to follow in order to protect the lender.

Pocket Listing – Also known as an exempt listing, a pocket listing is a property that has a signed listing agreement but is not yet listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This approach is typically used by sellers who want to protect their privacy or pre-market their home before it’s ready to show.

@tip: With the help of @gent – @properties’ exclusive internal communications app – our brokers are alerted to pocket listings that match your preferences before anyone else!

Contingency – A condition that must be satisfied before closing occurs. These conditions are written into the contract and typically include things like a home inspection, mortgage financing or the appraisal. If you include a home inspection contingency with your purchase agreement, for example, you have the right to have the property inspected within a specified time period, and can cancel the contract or negotiate repairs depending on the results.

As-Is – When a home is listed for sale “as is”, it means the property is being offered in its present condition and the seller does not intend to make any repairs or improvements. As a buyer, you are usually advised to include an inspection contingency as part of the contract, giving you the option to walk away from the deal based on the inspector’s findings.

Fixed Rate vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgage – Two types of mortgages available to homebuyers. A fixed-rate mortgage has the same interest rate through the entire term of the loan, while an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) is a loan in which the interest rate periodically adjusts based on a specified index. Also, what is PMI.. more on that here.

Earnest Money – A deposit, given by the buyer to the seller, which secures the contract until closing and lets the seller know you are serious about the transaction. An initial deposit must be given with the contract, and the balance of the earnest money is usually due upon attorney approval. Earnest money is typically held in an escrow account until the closing, when it may be applied to the down payment and/or closing costs.

Closing Costs – Expenses and fees associated with a real estate transaction that are paid at the closing. Examples of buyer closing costs include a loan origination fee, title insurance, survey, attorney’s fee, home inspection fee, appraisal and credit report fees, and prepaid items such as escrow deposits for taxes prorations and insurance.

Title Insurance – An insurance policy that protects the buyer or lender against defects or problems with the title when property ownership is transferred. Title insurance protects against claims for past occurrences, while other forms of insurance protect against future events.

Of course, there are SO many more terms to know, more details to be aware of, and steps involved in purchasing your first home. This is just a quick guide to get the conversation started. As always, if you have any questions – I’m here to help!