From the grocery store to your energy bills, inflation has become a reality of everyday life. And while June’s inflation reading of 9.1% – a 40-year high – has caused many people to reexamine their budgets, hard assets like real estate are still very much in favor because they offer protection against rising prices. Here are a few reasons why real estate can serve as a hedge against inflation:
Fixed Expenditure – With a fixed-rate mortgage, the monthly payment (principal and interest) for your home will remain the same, whereas rental costs will rise. On top of that, mortgages become “more affordable” over time as wages increase and the value of the dollar decreases.
Home Price Appreciation – In most cases a tangible asset like real estate gets more valuable over time, increasing your equity as your monthly payment stays the same.
Housing Demand – Regardless of economic conditions, there will aways be a demand for real estate, because housing, whether owned or rented, is an essential need. However, beyond shelter and investment diversification, owning a home provides a sense of enjoyment too – a return that goes beyond the financial.There are aspects of inflation that are unavoidable, from increased prices on consumer goods to a fluctuating stock market, but real estate is one of the most reliable ways to fight inflation not just this year but any year.
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.
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.
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!
Spring in Chicago is peak rental season & it can be overwhelming navigating the market on your own. As a real estate broker, I don’t just represent sellers & buyers, I also help renters find their place in Chicago – for FREE. These are a few of my tips I share with my clients prior to them renting an apartment in Chicago.
When to Start
My advice is always to start your search at most 60 days prior to your ideal lease start date. Some over-achievers like to start a few months ahead of time, but unfortunately that is time wasted. It’s good to understand the market, but something online now won’t be available in a few months & the prices may increase/decrease depending on the time of year. Landlords are required by the state of Illinois to provide their tenants a renewal notice of at least 30 days prior to lease expiration & 90 days at the very most. Therefore, most landlords don’t know if the unit will be available until 60 days prior to lease start.
How to Determine Your Budget
Most landlords will follow a simple rule when qualifying their tenants, 3×1 rent to income ratio. Therefore if you net $6000 a month, your rent should be around $2000 a month. You should try not to exceed more than 30% of your monthly income on living expenses. This is a normal metric landlords use to qualify tenants, however there are exceptions to every rule & some landlords will over look this.
Additionally, be aware of your credit. If you have a less than desirable credit situation, be up front about it & see what options you have. Every apartment will require a credit & background check, so before you pay for them to run your credit understand where you are at & be upfront about it.
Choose Your Neighborhood
Chicago has 77 recognized neighborhoods, with numerous sub-neighborhoods in between. It can be a tough choice figuring out what neighborhood is right for you as each is so unique & have so much to offer. There are many things to consider, but the items below should be the most important.
When renting an apartment in Chicago renters often overlook are the fees associated with renting. Working with a broker is FREE, so that’s one fee you don’t need to stress over 🙂 Depending on the style of building, type of unit, area of the city, etc. fees vary. Below are a few fees you will want to be aware of when signing a lease:
First month’s rent: due at lease signing to secure the unit
Security Deposit or Non-refundable Move-In Fee: due at lease signing
Move Out Fee
Elevator Rental Deposit
Lease Registration Fee
Pet Registration Fee
Why You Should Use A Real Estate Broker
Finally, my biggest piece of advice is to use a Real Estate Broker. This is a free service to you as the landlords want us to bring them qualified tenants & while third party websites can be a great resource – they are not always reliable. Use a Broker who knows the market & understands the process, don’t waste your valuable time searching endlessly when you can have someone do the work for you. Broker’s have access to reliable, accurate, & available listings currently on the market.
If you do use third party websites, please be smart. While I always recommend working with a broker, I have had clients have good experiences with Hotpads, Apartments.com, and Domu. It’s common sense but don’t meet strangers off Craigslist or send funds in advance of lease signing. Research the subject address & do your due diligence that the property is actually for rent, the lease is legally binding, & you are legally able to occupy the unit. Know what your rights are – Read up on Chicago Renter’s Rights.
As a previous Wrigleyville resident, take it from me: this is one of the most fun neighborhoods in Chicago. Steps from the Friendly Confines, you can’t beat this little pocket of Lake View. Wrigleyville is home to the second oldest stadium in baseball and beloved 2016 World Series championship team, The Chicago Cubs. A magnet for sports fans, young professionals, & families alike; this neighborhood is exceptionally attractive to those seeking vibrant nightlife with numerous bars along Clark, Addison, and Sheffield Avenues.
Wrigley Field – GO CUBS GO! Of course, you can’t come to Wrigleyville without catching a Cubs game!! If you come on an off day, take a tour of field & get the insider experience. If you are lucky enough to get to a game, you obviously need to get a Chicago Dog – but BEWARE: you must not order from the counter, you need to go to a stand & ideally you want to go to the penthouse deck facing Hotel Zachary/Clark for the best dog, city views, & a little known spot within the stadium. Be sure to take a quick walk in the new Gallagher Way before, after, or during the game for a break from the crowds. Lastly, if you are in the bleachers (which is a guaranteed great time) don’t forget sunscreen & be ready to get on TV!
Dutch & Doc’s – American fare & classic cocktails, this new restaurant definitely filled a void in the neighborhood. A two-story dining room provides the coolest experience at the corners of Addison & Clark, just across from the world famous Cubs Marquee. Be sure to get the Mac & Cheese & Mudslide cocktail, because who doesn’t love cheese & a boozy milkshake. Reservations accepted & encouraged.
Hotel Zachary – Inspired by the designs of world-renowned Wrigley Field architect and Chicagoan Zachary Taylor Davis, Hotel Zachary is where history and style come together. The bar is so beautifully designed, grabbing a cocktail here transports you back in time. If weather permits, do your best to grab a seat on the terrace & take in the views of the ballpark.
Big Star – A new addition to the neighborhood, this has easily become one of my favorite spots. Amazing margarita’s, tons of great menu items, & a two-story open air restaurant this is a great pre-game, post-game, or non-game day spot. Get a pitcher & the Big Star Hot Chips.
Al’s Beef – Famous for their Italian Beef’s, this is one of my favorite late night/post game spots. Grabbing a quick & guaranteed delicious italian beef always makes me a happy girl. Ask for the Gypsy Fries, you won’t regret it.
Sluggers – It’s an experience we all need to have. Unreasonably expensive beers, fun music & a rowdy dance floor, batting cages, & carnival games – what more do you need!
Old Crow – If you love country music, cold beer, BBQ, & fresh air; Old Crow is a must visit. Great bands, live karaoke, & pretty solid deals make this a neighborhood favorite.
If you’ve been to Wrigleyville, tell me your favorite spots! Or interested in living in the area, contact me to get started.