Chicago Relocation

June 2014 Chicago Real Estate Market Update

June 27, 2014

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John D’Ambrogio

John D’Ambrogio shares this month’s update of the Chicagoland relocation market.



Are Loan Modifications Working?

February 13, 2013

Filed Under
Credit,housing recovery
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John D’Ambrogio

With federal loan modifications in place for homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure as well as for homeowners who are current on their mortgages but unable to refinance or get ahead of what they owe due to declining property values, many real estate and financial experts are taking a hard look at whether these programs are working. While there are still some difficulties to work out, loan modification remains a solid benefit to people who need help with their mortgages. Many borrowers have taken advantage of federal programs such as HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program), and taken the initiative to work directly with their banks and lenders to modify or reset their mortgages. The process is not simple, but the end result is often satisfaction for both the homeowner and the lender.

One problem with home modifications that can easily be rectified is communication. Many homeowners who feel frustrated with their mortgages don’t even realize they can qualify for a modification. If they are behind on their mortgage payments, they are probably avoiding phone calls from the lender instead of reaching out to find a solution. Once they are willing to pick up the phone and discuss the options, many homeowners realize there is help available, and a foreclosure or a strategic default is not always necessary. Another communication problem might be that homeowners who are faithfully making mortgage payments but worrying about the value of their investment might not realize that they could be eligible for help too. A short term financial hardship does not have to mean an end to home ownership. Talking to the bank is the first step in exploring modification prospects.

There is still a lot of negative equity in the housing market. Even with a loan modification, continuing to pay on your mortgage might seem like an exercise in futility. However, smart homeowners are watching the real estate market slowly tick upwards. We might not be in the throes of a full and sudden recovery, but the home values and prices are trending up, and interest rates remain at a historically low level. Therefore, getting a reasonable loan modification and sticking with your mortgage is a good investment, even if you are still a little upside down on your mortgage. In five or 10 years, experts predict the real estate market will be completely recovered, and your home will once again be one of the best investments you can make.

Without the federal HAMP program, there would be over half a million more foreclosed homes in the nation than there are now. This number cannot be ignored. While the federal government might have wanted to reach more people, the fact that so many homeowners have benefitted is good news. As people continue to seek help from their lenders, the number of secure homeowners will continue to increase, placing them in good financial standing as the market continues to expand and repair itself. The loan modification programs available now might not be perfect, but they are helping a substantial group of people, and keep families in their homes and fiscally solvent.


This post was written for Chicago Relocation by Stephen K. Hachey. Stephen is a Tampa real estate attorney specializing in loan modifications, short sales, foreclosures and much more.  He is also the owner of his own practice, the Law Offices of Stephen Hachey, PA.


Steve Baird Talks with Crain’s Chicago Business

January 2, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

Steve Baird, President and CEO of Baird & Warner was interviewed by Crain’s Chicago Businesses sharing his thoughts on the 2012 residential real estate market and where he believes 2013 could go.

Baird credits the surprisingly consistent 2012 to the return of home buyers.  “I don’t know exactly what happened but it was almost like flipping a switch January 1, and the market has been strong,” said Baird.  With record sales throughout Chicago, declining vacant lots, the best October home sales Illinois has seen in six years, and other notable updates, the market was strong.  When asked what surprised him the most about 2012, Baird said it was that solid month-to-month consistency.  “I keep waiting for it to drop off again, but it’s stayed solid every month,” said Baird.

The second thing that surprised Baird was the lack of increase in average sale price.  Across the nation other markets have seen dramatic rises in average sale prices while Chicago still is still down about 1%.  But Baird believes that there isn’t much to worry about because he sees the high rising markets in areas that crashed the hardest.  Rather Midwestern sensibility is to be credited for the slower, but more stable market seen in Chicago.  Stable, but eventually rising in Baird’s opinion.  “I think next year we will see that (average sales price) actually increase,” said Baird.

Finally, he isn’t worried about foreclosures dragging down the market, rather (in most areas) he sees foreclosures and short sales as just more inventory to work with.


Some comments from Baird & Warner’s Elizabeth McGrath


The Housing Market and You

October 10, 2012

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John D’Ambrogio

Here are some comments from Baird & Warner’s own Tom Gill

Frank Sorrentino of Forbes wrote an article on July 7th titled “Four Reasons The Housing Market Is On Your Side.” Below are some comments and excerpts.

The current housing market has been a hot topic in the business world for a number of years now. However Sorrentino lists his four reasons why this is a good time to get back into the real estate market.

His first reason is Low Interest rates, which are at an all time low. When rates are lower, so are your payments. Therefore, your house is more affordable than it would be in an upward market. His second reason is depressed prices. This one couples with his first, low interest rates reason. Sorrentino says that because of the overall economic downturn, property values have gone down as well. Combined with the lower than normal interest rate, I believe these are two great reasons to buy now. Even Warren Buffet recently said “If I had a way of buying a couple hundred thousand single-family homes I would load up on them.”

The third reason is consumer confidence. This is backed up with the fact that unemployment has decreased, and that some markets are improving. When looking on popular news websites however, it is difficult to say that consumer confidence is on the rise. When viewing CNN’s Real Estate page on July 2nd, the headlined articles include titles such as “Home sales slow slightly” and “Why millions aren’t getting housing help,” headlines that aren’t exactly encouraging. I do think that consumer confidence is improving, but I personally don’t believe it to be a significant factor.

Finally, Sorrentino talks about Supply and Demand. Because of an excess of foreclosures and high supply, there is buying power for the consumer to get the best deal possible in the current market situation opposed to when there is high demand and low supply, in which the seller has a majority of the power.

Overall I believe Frank Sorrentino is right; the housing market is on your side, and if a qualified buyer, now is the time to jump back into the real estate market.


Buyer Markets

August 22, 2012

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John D’Ambrogio

Here are some comments from Baird & Warner’s own Tom Gill.

Mary Podmolik of the Chicago Tribune wrote an article about buyer and seller markets nationally. Below are some excerpts and some of our comments.

If you had to guess, what city would you say is the top buyers market right now? If you said Milwaukee, you’d almost be right. The number one buyers market in the U.S. is Chicago Illinois, followed by Milwaukee according to Zillow Real Estate. This list was compiled after calculations which looked at sale-to-list price ratios, number of days a property spent on Zillow listing, and finally the percentage of homes on the market with a price cut. Specifically in Chicago, the top five buyer communities were: Downers Grove, Northbrook, Palatine, Buffalo Grove and Orland Park.

A buying market refers to one where buyers have more bargaining power, thanks to listings lingering longer on the market and sellers being forced to cut their asking prices, according to Zillow. Meanwhile the top 5 sellers markets are near the west coast, with three of the top five being in California. San Jose, is the top sellers market.

Because home prices are low, this a great opportunity for those looking to get back into the housing market in and around Chicago.


Now is the Time for Buyers to Invest

August 14, 2012

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John D’Ambrogio

The current low point of the housing market is proving to be a great opportunity for home buyers to invest in their future, according to an article by economist Lawrence Yun. A new trend shows that more homeowners are buying their home to live long term rather than buying to flip when the time, and price is right.

The trend of buying not flipping is good for the market and is already starting to show an impact. This year’s first quarter was the strongest the market has seen in 5 years resulting in confidence that considerable growth for both seller and buyer traffic will continue.

Buying a home now is not only smart because of the housing market’s low point, it is also smart because as the market and, subsequently, housing prices rise the overall net worth of homeowners is predicted to rise as well.

Traditionally, the gap between homeowners and renters net worth is substantial. In fact, studies show that buying a new house will pay off for the homeowner on average after three years. That study, by Zillow,  accounted for inflation, factored in rising rent prices, housing affordability, low mortgage interest rates, property taxes, maintenance and more, and found that the overall cost of switching to home ownership now will benefit buyers within just three years thus, resulting in a higher net worth.

It should be noted that while market signs and predictions illustrate an improved future, there is nothing that indicates that homeowners’ net worth will return to the highs of the pre-bubble burst. Still, no matter which way the market may turn, the value of owning a home is continually expected to be vastly higher than renting.

Bottom line: Now is a time for action. Look into buying a home as an investment in your future.



Some comments from Baird & Warner Intern Elizabeth McGrath


Chip Wagner Discusses Issues with Appraisals – Part Three of a Series

July 17, 2012

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John D’Ambrogio

Part three in our appraiser series with Chip Wagner.  Chip offers an inside look at appraiser’s impact and position the past, present and future real estate market.  Discussing how the pressure to refinance homes to leverage equities contributed to the market burst, how the government’s new regulations are shaping appraisals, and the seasonal market in Chicago, Chip’s experience in the field makes this an enlightening video.

Tune in next week to find out what drives a value!


Atlas Van Lines Relocation Survey Show an Optimistic Future

July 11, 2012

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John D’Ambrogio

Atlas Van Lines announced the 2012 relocation survey results and the findings are optimistic. For the past forty-five years Atlas Vans Lines, one of the nation’s top moving companies, asks leaders in the relocation industry about their past year of business and their forecast for the upcoming business year. Bottom line for 2012; companies and executives are invested in and confident about a stable future in relocation business.

Results You Should Know

  • 92 percent of executives surveyed expect the U.S. economy to stay the same or increase in 2012.
  • 26 percent of companies plan to relocate more workers this year than last.
  • 86 percent of companies will spend as much or more on relocation in 2012 than in 2011.
  • 65 percent of firms are offering relocated employees full reimbursement more than lump sum or partial reimbursement.

The numbers are very strong across the board for questions such as anticipated performance of U.S. Economy, anticipated relocation volume, lingering mortgage/housing concerns, and anticipated performance of U.S. real estate market. However, there are some outsiders who continue to have reservations. One of the main reasons employees decline relocated positions is due to their concerns about housing or mortgage instability. Such worries should be relieved due to the strong numbers found in the 2012 Atlas survey.

The 2012 numbers are much higher than that of previous years – particularly 2009 where anticipated performance of the U.S. real estate market was at 41 percent. While the numbers may not universally be at the highs of 2005, industry leaders have solid confidence in relocation’s constancy and development in the improvement and stability of the economy. That confidence from the people directly involved with the everyday of relocation combined with predicted economic success and the increasing number of companies relocating positions should give anyone with the opportunity to relocate to do so utilizing the resources offered from optimistic industry leaders.

Some comments from BW Intern Elizabeth McGrath