New Loan Limits for Homebuyers in the New Year

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently announced that it will raise loan limits for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, giving many homebuyers greater purchasing power. Starting in 2021, the maximum conforming loan limit for single-unit properties will increase to $548,250 – a 7.4% increase from the current limit of $510,400.

The announcement is positive news for homebuyers, who will have the opportunity to borrow more money under conforming loan guidelines in addition to taking advantage of record low mortgage rates. Any loan amount above the conforming limit is considered a jumbo loan. Jumbo loans generally have more stringent requirements and tends to carry higher interest rates.

The exact conforming loan limit varies geographically, and while it will increase to $548,250 throughout most of the country including Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin, it will be higher in more expensive markets such as areas in California and New York. Raised limits reflect rising home prices throughout the U.S. including Chicagoland, where prices are appreciating after remaining relatively flat over the last few years.

How does this affect you?

Connect with a lender to find out! But as a general rule, most experts say that your housing expenses should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income, but a variety of factors – from your credit score to other debt – can open this ratio up to a pretty wide range. Remember that there are other costs involved in buying a home outside of the down payment, such as closing costs, moving, decorating, and remodeling expenses. You should also consult with your accountant or financial advisor to talk about how real estate affects your financial goals. While these new loan limits greatly help buyers, knowing the bottom line is essential. Some lenders I HIGHLY recommend:

Jon Altizer & CJ Paloucek – Guaranteed Rate

Eric Martin – Draper & Kramer

Tammy Hajjar Miller – Federal Savings Bank

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.

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.

Moving Day MUST HAVES!

Now that you know my top 14 tips to make moving day a breeze.. you are ready to go shopping & prepare for the big move! If you are like me.. you have mixed emotions about moving day. I will say I do always love getting the chance to audit my stuff, organize it all, & get creative in styling my new home. However the stress of the move, the physical labor of it all, & the looming hours of unpacking ahead can be daunting… but it doesn’t need to be.

Moving Day MUST HAVES!

As a REALTOR who has helped 100’s of clients move & as someone who has moved 4 times in the last 6 years (the curse of being a real estate broker & finding the coolest homes is you want to move into them all..) I consider myself a moving expert. Whether it’s a rental, you’ve purchased your first home, or your 10th home; you will absolutely need everything below & will thank yourself later for having it organized & ready to go! As we know, I prioritize convenience so below are directs links to amazon for all of my moving day must haves – ‘add to cart’ & get it delivered right to your doorstep, couldn’t be easier!

Cleaning Supplies: I cannot stress this enough, clean your house from top to bottom BEFORE moving in. While we hope the previous owners or landlords would have the courtesy to leave the home clean, that isn’t always the case. Be prepared to make your new space sparkle & start out this next chapter on the right page. The below products are absolutely necessary with the most important products first. Do not move into your new home without these!!

  • Multi-purpose cleaning spray and bleach wipes to sanitize & disinfect all surfaces. Tip: First thing to do when you arrive is clean the inside of the fridge/freezer with bleach but be sure to unplug the refrigerator & freezer prior to cleaning, prop the doors open to air out
  • Handheld vacuum for baseboards, vents, cupboards, etc. Tip: Clean literally from Top to Bottom in every room to catch all of the dust, dirt, etc. Finish with the floors once you are all moved in!
  • Washing Machine cleanerTIP: ALWAYS clean your washing machine before doing your first load of laundry
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Dishwasher cleaner
  • Toilet brush & cleaner
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
  • Bi-Fold Paper towels
  • Washable dust cloths – Wipe it allll down
  • 60 gallon trash bags for each room to help keep it tidy when unpacking
  • Bar Keepers Friend – If you don’t already have this, you need it. Not moving specific, but it’s truly amazing. Check out this article in Taste of Home to see all of the ways to use it.

Moving Supplies: Most of these items you will want before you move! I would suggest getting boxes from home depot but definitely place an order for the below items about 2 weeks before moving day!

  • Dolly/hand truck to move boxes from one room to the other
  • Mattress Bags
  • Wardrobe boxes – Uhaul has the best ones
  • Boxes of all sizes. Tip: Specifically Banker’s Boxes for small/fragile items, office files, books, etc. because they are so easy to carry, easy to break down, but great for long term storage as well
  • More packing tape than you’ll think you’ll ever need
  • Color coded labels
  • Heavy duty storage bags
  • Foam sheets/pouches + packing paper
  • Utility knife
  • Stretch Wrap for furniture
  • Tool set for taking apart & reassembling

First Day & Night Bag: YOU DID IT, YOU ARE READY FOR MOVING DAY!! or are you.. The last thing you want to do now is search for your pillow case, tooth brush, & pajamas. Make sure you pack an ‘overnight’ or weekend bag with all of your necessities so you aren’t scrambling to find what you need.

  • Anything you’d take for a weekend getaway including pajamas + additional clothes, toiletries, etc.
  • Snacks
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Phone chargers
  • First aid kit + prescriptions
  • Paper plates, cups, flatware for easy dining & clean up
  • Bath towels + shower curtain if applicable
  • Diffuser & essential oils because some aromatherapy is needed after this stressful day #calm #chill #restore

There ya have it! You are ready to rock this move. If you haven’t already, check out my post on my top 14 tips for moving day.

How to ‘Regret-Proof’ Your Home Purchase

I’ve found that one of the biggest hurdles first time buyers or purchasers in general face is the idea of *regret* or having cold feet. Are you making the right decision? Is this the property for you? Are you sure you are ready for this commitment? Will something better come on the market? What if you need to move next year? So many questions. While I don’t have the exact answer to these questions, I have complied a list of ‘regret-proof’ steps to help you be confident in the purchase of your first or next home.

Step 1: Talk to your Lender

If you’re getting a loan, this is a very crucial first step. While I know everyone loves a little online house shopping, if you are planning to purchase you need to get serious about your budget & understand your limits. Your lender will work with you on a pre-approval, discuss loan options & programs, & establish an ideal monthly payment that makes sense for you, your lifestyle, & your comfort level.

Step 2: Understand Unexpected Costs

The biggest regret I see buyers have is not understanding the unexpected costs & general costs of home ownership. While it’s easy to say owning > renting because your $2000/mo can go towards your mortgage & equity!! BUT, trading your monthly rent towards your mortgage doesn’t always translate that cleanly. You need to take into account HOA fees, taxes, PMI, etc. While your Realtor & lender will calculate & work within those limits, don’t forget about the cost of homeownership. I usually tell my clients to budget 1-3% of their home purchase on yearly maintenance. That may be a conservative number, but you need to be prepared to make necessary repairs when/if they are needed.

Step 3: Don’t Max Out your Pre-approved Limit

You are pre-approved up to $750,000 – Congratulations!! People can often ‘afford’ much more house than they should comfortably be spending. A common theme I see with first time buyers is maxing out their limits & becoming house poor. Meaning they save & save for the down payment to afford the dream condo or single family home, but upon closing can’t afford to furnish it, sacrifice their gym membership, or give up the next few family vacations. While the pride of homeownership is an amazing feeling, don’t over extend you or your budget beyond your comfortability.

Step 4: Work Backwards Towards your Home Budget

Home buying can get emotional quickly, but don’t let it. Be dedicated to your budget by understanding your limits, your income, your current obligations, & honor whatever current/upcoming debt you may have. While your pre-approval is great, I always recommend my client be painstakingly pragmatic when home shopping. Don’t get me wrong, if you are looking for a dream house with no budget, I am more than happy to assist 😉

Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it. – George Halas

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!