Michael Jordan’s Suburban Chicago Lake Forest Mansion Fails at Auction

This Monday Former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan attempted to auction off his home in MJ 23Lake Forest Illinois located at 2700 Point Ln with a minimum bid of $13 Million and there were no takers. The home is Michael_Jordan_23_Bulls_Jersey_HD_Wallpaper56,000 square feet on three floors with 9 bedrooms, 5 fire places and sits on 7 acres. A guest house to rival most homes you and I would live in is included.
He lived in the home with his former wife and children who are now grown and have moved on. The home has a full size regulation basketball court and huge workout room that is like his own health club. Randy Brown was part of a group of former players who would go to his weight room and work out and play ball before they would even go to the official practice. They called the get together “The Breakfast Club” because his private chef would prepare meals for his cronies who have talked about the sessions they had enjoyed.
With a tennis court, wet bar, dry bar in ground pool and fire places indoors and out what more could you want? There are not many who could afford such a house and maybe that is why it did not sell? One problem is that it is located 3 miles from Lake Michigan and most homes getting anywhere near that price tag include beach access.
The home was once listed in the MLS at $29,000,000, dropped to $16,000,000 but still did not attract any offers. Do you think MJ is hurting for the money? I don’t think so. He is still one of the highest paid former professional sports figures with a fairly untarnished image unlike Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods.
Imagine getting the commission on selling that house.
MJ’s House Video

800 Elgin, Optima Horizons, Evanston IL Northwestern Students

Today I closed a sale on 800 Elgin, the Optima Horizons unit 1509 a 2 bedroom 2 Bath Evanston Illinois condo steps from Northwestern University and all parties are very happy. Why is this, the 800 Elgin building is the favorite among students and facility in town because it has all the amenities and is right in downtown Evanston IL.
800 Elgin 2
There are restaurants all over, many shops, and public transportation is right at your finger tips. A great building with a door person, huge swimming pool, deck, exercise room, party room and management on site 5 days a week. If you want to learn more about 800 Elgin or any of the Optima communities of Evanston Illinois I suggest you visit 800 Elgin and take a peak.

The property we closed on today was for a buyer who invested to help his daughter a fine student at NU and she is a very excited young lady judging by the huge smile on her face.

Want to talk more about it? Call or click Coldwell Banker Evanston at (800) 858-7917 9:00 am to 9:00 PM and we can help make your dreams become reality.

800 Elgin Optima Horizons

The view of Evanston from this property

800 Elgin

Renting Is Not A Good Option Prices Are Rising, Buy Your First Home

The national average shows rentals are up about 3.9% this year. In our area of Evanston IL which is a College town rentals in areas close to public transportation, eating establishments, stores and general areas of interest are harder to come by. Incomes are not keeping pace with rent increases and that makes it even tighter for people who haven’t purchased property.

New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston are the five most expensive rental cities and others are rising at sometimes an even higher rate the 3.9% mentioned. In the last year Houston, Miami, Boston, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., and San Diego experienced the highest rent increases. As an example in the last year Boston has gone up 5.5%. save money

Forbes magazine reported this year that buying is much more affordable than renting in all of the 100 largest metro areas in the nation. According to mortgage lender Freddie Mac, buying is an average of 41% cheaper than renting nationwide.

This is a good reason to save up and make the plunge into home ownership. As we have all been told, the American dream is to be a home owner. Because of the rising rental prices renters should compare the price they are spending per year and getting nothing out of it compared to what it would really cost to become a home owner.

Please contact your local Realtor and ask for a comparison chart so you can learn for yourself. You will get it back when you sell.

Is this going too far?

I’ve heard of people paying for their entire wedding by having it “sponsored” by advertisers.  I’ve heard about people being paid by advertisers to wear certain clothing around town.  But this is new to me.

A couple from California are having their mortgage paid for a year by a company called Brainiacs from Mars.  If you put a billboard advertising their services in front of your home, they will cover your mortgage expenses.  The company started advertising this service on their site in April of last year.  Since then, they’ve received 38,000 requests.  The CEO said he’s hoping to add billboards to 1,000 homes this year.

I have to say I’ve never heard of anything like this before.  I can definitely say it’s creative advertising, for sure.  If it helps keep people from losing their homes, great.  However, what do the neighbors think?  I wonder if any car accidents happen from people driving down the street and stopping suddenly to notice the huge billboard in front of the house.

I’m guessing A LOT of communities wouldn’t even allow homeowners to do this because of zoning laws and city codes.  But it has me wondering how many people would consider doing this if the city allowed it.  Would a year of mortgage payments be worth it to you?

 I’d absolutely love to hear your thoughts on this.  You can contact the Brainiacs to apply (although the majority of the requests are coming from California, Florida, and Nevada – the three states with the highest foreclosure rates) through their Web site.  And more information on the program can be found in this CNBC article.  But please leave me your opinions.  I’d love to start a good conversation going!

Lawsuits for nation’s largest banks

Another lawsuit is in the works for the mortgage industry.  I had recently blogged about the Obama administration’s plans to create a Justice Department unit whose main goal and intent was to prevent mortgage fraud by bringing together investigators from across the country aimed at finding out what the causes of residential mortgage backed securities.  They want to know what led to it and how to continue to prevent it.  

Well, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has taken it one step further by suing Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.  His lawsuit accuses the three big banks of deceit and fraud over their use of MERS, the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems.

He has a few claims here.  (1) That the banks submitted court documents that appeared to provide authorization for foreclosures with false and misleading information. (2) The system stores inaccurate data.  (3) It prevents homeowners from being able to track property transfer information from public records.

Schneiderman said, “Once the mortgages went sour, these same banks brought foreclosure proceedings en masse based on deceptive and fraudulent court submissions, seeking to take homes away from people with little regard for basic legal requirements or the rule of law.”

He’s claiming that over 70 million loans were affected and that the banks saved over $2 billion.  Of course, none of the banks had any comments in response to the lawsuit when it was filed Friday.  More information can be found in this USA Today article.

So the question is, will this affect the mortgage industry and homeowners in the long run?  If anything, I can see a possible settlement by the banks rather than fighting it in court.  It seems to be something that will continuously happen throughout the next few years, banks being sued because of inaccuracies that led to false foreclosures.  Do you see this as something that can drastically change how banks loan money to future homeowners?  To me, it seems like another check mark on a checklist but nothing that would change lending terms as a whole.  Please leave me your comments.  I’d love to hear from you!

Mistakes you can make with a lowball offer

Yes, yes, I know.  It’s a buyers’ market.  So much inventory, low housing prices, so the buyer gets their pick at the price they want.  But not so fast.  Yes, lots of inventory, lower housing prices.  However, there is still power to negotiating.  And you don’t want to insult the seller with a lowball offer and lose your dream home because of it.  Here are some mistakes that can be made with a lowball offer:

1. Not knowing the market.  And each one is different.  What may be a more acceptable offer in one market won’t be the same in another.  There could be an area where sellers are pricing homes more aggressively; therefore, they’re sticking close to their asking price.  Another neighborhood might be mostly made up of foreclosures and short sales, so the bank wants to get rid of the home ASAP and are willing to accept less.  So you’ll need to do your research with the help of a qualified Realtor (see #2)

2. Not picking the right Realtor.  They have the experience and the background and know the area you’re looking to purchase, so they’re your best asset going into a negotiation.  But you have to make sure they’re solid negotiators, since they are working on your behalf.  They’re not going to tell you not to present a really low offer, but they might say the sellers will reject it offhand so you might want to consider raising it by X amount or offering to waive one of your contingencies.  Trust their advice.  You’re working as a team and you want to make sure your agent also has your best interests at heart.

3. Not knowing what you’re willing to pay.  A lot of people these days in this market are focused on getting the best price.  But you have to be careful.  You have to know what your limit is so you don’t overpay.  And sellers will know what they need to walk away from the closing table or they won’t be able to make the sale.  No matter how wonderful the home is and how perfect your furniture will look in it and that you can see yourself having your morning coffee on the deck overlooking the pond, there comes a point where no deal is worth it at a certain price. Know that before you start negotiating or you’ll let your emotions get the better of you.  

You can also lose your positioning power by being too hard a negotiator at the beginning.  Don’t make your first offer your final offer and then start negotiating.  The seller will know that you aren’t serious and has the ball back in their court.  Make your offer one that you’re willing to negotiate and have your Realtor tell the seller you want to work with them and make the deal happen.

This MSN article has a few more mistakes that can be made and how to avoid them.  My Web site has some other great articles and tips for buyers.  Have a great week!

New homeowners’ fees to increase

Let’s start with the good news first.  If you are in a home, paying a regular mortgage, nothing’s changed, you don’t have to worry.  No added fees for you.  

However, those that are purchasing a new home at the beginning of this year or planning to refinance, you’ll be paying an additional fee in your mortgage to help fund the payroll tax cut bill that the Senate passed over the weekend.

A quick review.  Originally planning to expire on January 1 (Sunday), a payroll tax cut and long-term unemployment benefits were extended two months when the Senate voted this weekend.  It should go through the House this week.  With this extension comes a $33 billion price tag.  So who pays for it?  Yep, you guessed it.  New homeowners and those refinancing.  That fee rises about a tenth of 1 percentage point and, therefore, increases the fee that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae charge to insure home mortgages.  It will also increase if your loan is backed by the Federal Housing Administration.

So on a $200,000 mortgage, your rate will increase approximately $17 a month.  Nothing huge but still considerable in the scheme of things.  Obviously, for a higher mortgage it goes up and a lower mortgage will have a smaller fee.  About 9 in 10 mortgages are backed by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, or the Federal Housing Administration.

So my question is, is this fair?  Is it the homeowners’ responsibility to pay for this?  Looking at the large picture, I’m sure many people are thrilled that these benefits have been extended, given the state of the current economy.  And if it’s not covered this way, I would think Congress would tax us higher on something else, such as gasoline, income tax, or property tax.  They’ll get their money some way.  I’m curious to hear if you think this is right or if you have a better solution.  Please leave me a comment!  You can also reach me via my Web site.

My 2012 real estate predictions

Seeing how we’ve gotten to the last week of 2011, I figured now was a perfect time to talk about what real estate looks like next year, in 2012.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the greatest housing market we’ve seen.  Home values in 2011 were still low, more people are renting, and others are having a harder time obtaining credit to purchase a house.  Here are some of my predictions for the upcoming year…

1. Disappointment over missed opportunities.  I think a lot of people might be kicking themselves for not taking the time to refinance their current mortgage or purchase an investment property at a rock-bottom price.  I’m not positive as to how long rates will stay low (could be another few years), but it’s best to strike while it’s hot!  And I’m going to admit that they’re not going to get much lower than they already are.  So if you’re in the market to do either of those things, now is the time!

2. I see trouble brewing with the HARP guidelines.  HARP, again, is the Home Affordable Refinance Program that I had written about previously.  This was a chance for homeowners to be able to refinance and get a lower interest rate, even though their house isn’t worth what it once used to be.  Also, the loan has to be owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.  A lot of these lenders are not requiring appraisals, which is great for homeowners, but I see another problem.  I have a hard time believing these lenders will be okay without an appraisal because they’re going to be liable for it in the future and if the homeowner defaults down the road.

3. A continuation of low home prices.  This is largely due to the amount of foreclosures on the market that are driving down the values of the surrounding homes.  This isn’t going to change in the next year, as the economy is still struggling to rebound and many people are still unemployed and underwater on their mortgages.  Once all the distressed inventory is sold (who knows when that will be?) we’ll be starting to see a shift with home values steadily increasing.

4) Credit guidelines to remain tight.  For the reasons stated above, such as the amount of foreclosures and short sales and unemployment and a bad economy, the lenders won’t be doing anything to release the grip they have on approving people to purchase homes.  They’re struggling enough as it is with all the delinquent loans that they are being extra stringent in awarding new ones.  I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Do you agree with my predictions?  Are there any that I haven’t mentioned that you believe will happen?  I’d love to hear your comments!  And a very Happy New Year to all my readers!

What Realtors do for buyers

For those new to purchasing real estate, I wanted to clear up a few misconceptions about Realtors and let you know exactly what we do and don’t do for buyers.  For example, a lot of people are under the assumption that buyers have to pay for our services.  100% not true, especially in Illinois.  We are paid by the seller of the property you purchase, so there is no money to use our services.  So I’m always surprised when people tell me they want to look on their own.  Here are some advantages to using a Realtor.

1.  Access to more listings.  If a home is listed by another Realtor for sale, that person is not going to be posting separate for sale ads in the newspaper or online.  So you can miss a ton of great deals by working on your own.  We have access to the Multiple Listing Service, the only place where listed properties go.

2. Negotiating skills.  We know the market.  We have access to all the comparable properties – what has recently sold and for how much.  This will help you to get a much better deal because you’ll have solid evidence and a strong purchasing position.

3. Letting you know about resale value.  Especially for first-time buyers, a lot might not understand what makes a home more valuable when it comes time to sell in the future.  It is my job to point out that the fact that these sellers converted a 3-bedroom home to 2 huge bedrooms might not be such a great purchase.  For example, if it’s in a subdivision near an elementary school where a lot of families live, they would want that extra bedroom.  So a Realtor will give you insight as to what has a better chance of selling.  Because most likely this won’t be the one home you’re in forever.

4. Getting you to closing.  I wish it was as easy as signing  a contract, showing up with a check, and then signing the closing papers.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  Aside from the buyers and sellers, there’s attorneys involved, home inspectors, lenders, appraisers, other Realtors, etc.  Each person has to be contacted at different points once the contract is signed to make sure everything is progressing smoothly.  I make contact with all these individuals to make sure deadlines are being met, letters are being drafted, and funds are provided.  This is to ensure that closing happens and it goes smoothly.

I’d love to help you with your first home purchase.  If you need my assistance, please contact me via my Web site or call me toll-free at 800-858-7917.

And a very Happy Holidays to all of my readers!  I won’t be posting on Christmas, but I’ll make sure to have another blog up early next week.

 

Paint your home to sell

First things first.  You all know how important it is to keep your home in showing condition when you have your home on the market to sell.  No clutter, messes, dirty laundry, etc.  But it’s also important to make your home look the best it can in order to move quicker and to get you a good return on investment.  Paint color is key.  

Let’s start with what not to do.  No wallpaper.  I know it’s hard to remove.  I know it matches the bath towels that you special ordered along with the custom faucets.  But it just doesn’t work for most people.  And the buyers that want move-in ready homes don’t want to deal with it, either.  So if you have wallpaper, you’re probably going to benefit the most from this blog post.  I suggest removing it and painting.

No white paint.  This might sound surprising given that it’s neutral.  But having all white walls can make your house look very sterile and not lived in.  It also can appear too bright.  You do want to keep the colors neutral.  So if you’re going to be painting, I suggest light beige or light yellow.  

Don’t go crazy.  I am completely serious when I say that I’ve shown homes where one room is orange, another turquoise, another dark purple, etc.  It looks hideous.  If you have this in your home now and you are planning on selling, you’ll want to paint all the walls neutral to match.  And remember that dark colors make a room look a lot smaller.  So for those of you with navy blue bathrooms, now is the time to go neutral.

Here’s what does work.  Make sure that there are no noticeable scratches or marks on walls.  Touching up paint is very simple to do and can make a huge difference.  It shows buyers that your home is well maintained and cared for.  According to this AOL blog, “Karen Dembsky, president of Peachtree Home Staging LLC and Georgia’s Real Estate Staging Association, as well as a Pro Stager of the Year nominee, has the first and most important piece of advice before even tackling the issue of color.

‘A seller should always make sure that their paint has a fresh appeal, no dings, no marks. If there are any, it should be repainted or touched up because it gives the feeling of a well-maintained home,” she said. “The color has to be livable and appealing, you want a color where the buyer will come in and say that it’s not their first choice but they can live with it.'”

Dembsky suggests food-related colors for the kitchen, such as yellow, red, or orange.  But this is not permission to go out and paint your kitchen bright orange.  You still want to keep it soft and light.  She doesn’t recommend bright colors for the bedrooms because people view bedrooms as a place to sleep and relax, so light and neutral is best.  Dembsky recommends beige and light tan for bathroom walls.  If you’re dying for a bit of color, play it up with colored hand towels, bath mats, and fun soaps.  She does say that you can go for darker and richer colors in a home office, especially to play against a dark wood desk.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please leave me a comment or visit my Web site.