Get Off The Sidelines!

headshot-bwThe Real Estate market in Northern Illinois over the past 10 years has been tough.  REALLY tough.  Much of the appreciation felt by the rest of the country since the Great Recession has passed us by.  Until recently.

I have many friends and clients that thought about selling a home but passed when they researched the price the market would bring them in the past few years.  Homeowners feeling “stuck”, unable to sell a property, some rented, some held their nose and did a Short Sale.  A lot of owners are still on the sidelines due to past frustration.

This is your wake up call, the Real Estate Market is IMPROVING in Northern Illinois.  Get Off the Sidelines!

What is driving this improvement?  A few things really.  Foreclosures, Short Sales, and Bank Owned properties have been a large part of our market since 2009.  Those are quickly being moved off the market.  We have very low inventory of homes for sale right now and, as things improve, this low inventory is driving up demand.  In some markets we are even seeing multiple offers and bidding wars!

Now, this doesn’t mean you can OVER price your home.  If you do, it will still SIT.  However if you’ve been holding off trying to sell, at LEAST take a serious look at the market with a quality Realtor to find out what your options are.  The clients I’ve recently been following up with have been surprised at the options they have now that they didn’t have two years ago.

Call me at 815-990-6844 if I can help you.


You’re Doing It Wrong.

To say the internet has changed Real Estate may be the understatement of the century.  Websites like Trulia, Zillow, and have given a POWERFUL tool to those looking to purchase or sell Real Estate.  It has shifted the power of information from Real Estate agents and their access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and puts more information, photos, and details directly into consumers hands.  Need to sell your house?  These sites can help you to determine what homes like yours are listed for.  Interested in purchasing a house?  See inventory in the area you’re interested in with the features you want.  Information is a GOOD thing and these tools can really help.

But…  There’s a problem.  Because of this power shift, consumers are waiting longer to contact a Real Estate agent.  Buyers are searching for homes online and often not contacting an agent until they want to view a property  and need access to it.  Sellers are preparing to list their homes and not contacting an agent until they are ready to sell.  This is a common today.  Frankly, they’re doing it wrong.

Engaging a Real Estate agent early in the process IS the best method to ensure the a smooth transaction and does not cost a penny more!  A good agent can help buyers distill their wants and needs into a firm list of “must haves”.  An example is the home office.  If consumers search for a home office online, they will be directed to homes with a formal home office when they may only need an extra bedroom or additional space for a desk.  A formal home office is the costlier option and may not be needed.  Garage parking spaces VS storage and outbuildings is another example where costs can vary greatly.

When you are ready to look for a home, a good agent can build a customized search for you that automatically emails you options within your price range, with the features you want.  The search capabilities on websites are good but nowhere near as powerful as the tools agents have at their disposal built into the Multiple Listing Service.

Navigating the world of mortgages, banks and lenders, FHA loans, VA loans and other options can be much easier if an impartial agent is there to guide you.  The agent isn’t trying to “sell” you a loan, they’re trying to ensure the lending channel you select will allow YOU to complete the purchase.

In the seller’s world, a good agent can advise on how to declutter and what to move/remove or haul away.  If any work is required, an agent can advise on the costs VS benefits for needed repairs and remodeling.

A financial adviser is a common role engaged by consumers today.  A legal adviser is someone many people have ready at a moment’s notice.  Consider adding a Real Estate adviser to your portfolio.  They can assist with property tax questions, appeals, and exemptions.  They can give you regular advise on the value of your greatest asset and can advise on how changes and improvements to the home will affect its value.

You don’t pay an agent more to engage them early, consider scheduling an appointment with a Real Estate agent today!  Not ready to commit to the appointment but want access to a powerful searching tool?  Check out mine at



I can’t think of a more boring topic to start my blog…  but I will anyway!  No, I don’t hate my readers.  So why do it, you ask?  Because it’s important, REALLY IMPORTANT.

Most people throw around the term “agent” or “real estate agent” to mean nothing more than “a person to help me buy or sell real estate”…  But it’s so much more.  Agency is a real thing.  It’s a term to define a relationship.  See, an agent OWES you things.  They aren’t just someone helping you with something.  An agent acts on your behalf and owes you things like confidentiality, and honesty.  They have a fiduciary responsibility to you.  That’s a $10 phrase to mean they should treat your money well and always strive to get you the most bang-for-your-buck and make you the most possibly money.  This stuff is important.  Here’s why…

Real Estate agents today have a bad name.  They get compared to used car salesmen (sorry used car salesmen) and politicians.  The bad agents make us ALL look bad and bring a noble profession down a few notches when they have the attitude:  anything for a commission.  These people are out there, some are very successful.  Some will list a home at 20% more than they know it will sell for, just to get the listing and try to “work you down”.    They attempt to “sell” you a home.  If you’ve ever worked with a pushy agent, you know what I’m talking about.  A little secret for you…  Agents don’t sell homes.  No agent EVER sold a home.  Homes sell themselves.  Agents can point out features and good agents can relate a home to a buyer’s needs but you can’t “sell” a home to a buyer if it’s not a good fit.  Can’t be done.

Another little secret…  You don’t NEED a real estate agent.  (I’m bracing for the hate mail I’m about to get from my real estate colleagues…)  You can use attorneys to handle the process for you.  They are really good at contracts BUT not always good at understanding the real estate market.  They are really good at getting paperwork done BUT not always really good at creative solutions to keep a deal from falling apart.  But technically an attorney can handle the transactional piece of a real estate transaction.

So… why use an agent?  Because a professional agent, with YOUR best interest at heart can make the process of buying and selling real estate very easy.  They can advise, coach, and help you along the entire process.  And…  They can help you to avoid pitfalls.  Think of a real estate agent like insurance.  It’s a small price paid to ensure you have the best possible response to any future challenge.  I’m betting you have insurance if you buy a $20,000 car even if you pay cash and aren’t required to.  Why wouldn’t you ensure the best possible outcome for a $200,000 home purchase you will have for 10+ years?  Agency IS important.