New-home sales exploded in April: What it means for you

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: May 26, 2016

The spring home-buying season has definitely sprung. Sales of new homes soared 16.6% in April, blowing away economists’ expectations for a rise of 1.8%, the Commerce Department announced Tuesday.

Steve Udelson, president of real estate brokerage, breaks down what it all means.

Q: What do you think of today’s new-home sales data?

A: Sales of new homes increased in April to the highest level in eight years and jumped 16.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 619,000. This signals a healthy real estate market, especially coming on the heels of an increase in existing home sales announced last week.

With continued job growth and low mortgage rates, the demand for housing is solid. From a regional perspective, sales in the South and Northeast climbed, and sales improved in the West as well. In addition, the Midwest set a fast pace for existing home sales as reported last week.

Taken together, this is all good news for the housing market.

Q: What are your observations about sales so far this year?

A: While the early start of the year was a bit slower than usual, the spring real estate market has heated up and is on a steady incline.

It’s a strong market from an inventory perspective as well. Buyer demand is exceptionally high in the midpriced market but a bit softer than usual in the very low and very high ends of the market. I project that a solid spring real estate season will continue well into the summer.

Q: What are your thoughts on the effects of a possible interest rate increase by the Fed in June?

A: There is no doubt interest rates can impact the real estate market and mortgage rates. However, we saw very modest changes during the first interest rate increase last year and anticipate the same this time around.

That said, if interest rates go back up to more normal levels, we can expect this will have a bigger impact on mortgage rates and create more pressure from an affordability standpoint.

Q: Any advice for buyers right about now?

A: Buyers should do their homework and get smart and informed about the home-buying process as the first step. It’s no surprise that potential home buyers are using online tools to narrow down their home search and identify their “dream” homes, learn about the market in certain neighborhoods and understand key facts like a home’s price history.

Source: USA Today Lisa Kiplinger, May 24 2016

How To Create a Well-Designed Floor Plan in Your New Home

Categories: New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: May 11, 2016

create floorplan

Congratulations, a new home! It is an exciting time full of countless to-dos. One to-do is frequently overlooked. It’s the step that saves you money on moving day and quickly transforms a new house into your new home. Lay out your future before moving day!

It is essential to create a floor plan for your new home BEFORE you move. If you have a plan for where each piece of furniture will be placed in your new home, you will save time and money on moving day. The movers will not be rearranging your furniture for hours while on the clock. Sadly, the easy act of creating a floor plan before a move is a rarity. If you are not an interior designer it can be extremely challenging to know how to create a floor plan and envision a layout for your new home. So naturally, I called upon an experienced pro, Interior Designer Kathy Geissler Best of Kathy Best Design, to unwrap the secrets behind creating a beautiful and functional floor plan.

Here are Kathy’s seven steps to create a well-designed floor plan:

1. Edit: Edit your furniture. Move only pieces you love and use. Now is the time to get rid of furniture. You want your new home to look open and feel fresh. Give items that you no longer love to the Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, a family member, or sell at a consignment store.

2. Measure: Once edited, measure your key pieces. You don’t need to measure every piece of furniture, just the large items like sofas, beds and main tables.

3. Take a Field Trip: With furniture measurements in hand, take a trip to your new home. Stand in each room and think about how you are going to use each space. Rooms will be used more often if they have multiple purposes. For instance, a living room can be both for entertaining and a family game room, and a guest room can double as a home office.

4. Don’t Rush: Walk around the new home. Experience the light in each room at different times of the day and if possible on different days. Think about how you want to use each room and what will be the focal point of each room.

5. Take Note: Once you have a purpose and a feel for each room, it’s time to make a sketch. Draw a rough sketch of the room and jot down measurements. Note locations of electrical outlets, windows, light switches, chandeliers. This information will help you place furniture and décor later. Be sure to measure the path of entry to be sure big furniture items will fit through doorways, halls, and stairs.

6. Play & Design: Another way to get ready for the move, is to make templates of the large furniture pieces on butcher block paper. Move the templates around and play with them, rearranging them in different places of the room, until you find a layout that feels right. Then adjust to these pro rules:

a. Think about where you want to look in each room. At the fireplace, the view, TV? Face the furniture to work with this focal point.

b. Figure out where you want the bigger pieces and then build around them.

c. If you can, place dressers in the bedroom closets to open up space in the bedroom.

d. Leave an open welcoming path into each room. For example, do not have the back of a sofa facing the entrance to a living room.

e. Think about seat heights. A dining chair is taller than a lounge chair. You want chairs and a sofa to be at the same level in a sitting area.

f. Leave at least 18 inches to walk around beds. If guest rooms are not large, a queen bed will make the room appear bigger.

g. Use rugs to define areas. For instance, define a reading space in the living room with a separate rug. Be sure to make note of where rugs go so the movers can lay them down first in the correct locations.

7. Sketch & Post: Now that you have figured out where you want each large piece of furniture, complete your sketches. Tape the drawings of each room layout in the rooms. The movers will know where to place the furniture.

Congrats again, you have a plan and the fun part is just beginning! At the end of move day, you will be walking into a home that fits you. The furniture staples will be placed just where you want and need them and now you get to add the décor accents! Furniture is like a wardrobe, dress it up with seasonal throw pillows, side tables and other accessories. You want to feel happy when you walk into each room. With the layout done now you can make your new home your happy place.

Source: Huffington Post, 05/03/16

Grand opening under way at Renwick Place in Romeoville

Categories: New Homes Chicago | Posted: May 11, 2016

sheridan model kitchen 2

William Ryan Homes is celebrating the Grand Opening of Renwick Place, a scenic community of 167 ranch and two-story homes introductory priced from the $240,000s and served by highly-rated Plainfield School District 202, including Plainfield North High School.

Located just east of I-55 and south of Lockport Road, Renwick Place is close to shopping, restaurants, easy interstate access and adjacent to Lake Renwick, an 830-acre preserve. An impressive collection of homes plans is offered with homes ranging from 2,052 to 3,011 square feet in size with three of four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, open chef-pleasing kitchens, basements and attached two or three-car garages. Homes are priced from $248,990 to $294,990.

“Renwick Place has been popular with buyers along the I-55 corridor who want the most value for their home buying dollar as well as a convenient commute to work,” says Chris Coleman, Chicago Division president for William Ryan Homes. “With both ranch and two-story plans to choose from, Renwick Place has been popular with both families and empty-nesters. We’ve had a tremendous response to the location, community and home designs with sales already over 50 percent in the first phase.”

Buyers may choose to customize their homes by adding morning rooms, gourmet island kitchens, bay windows, extended family rooms with fireplaces, finished basements and luxury master baths.

In addition to District No. 202 Plainfield North High School, children also attend Lakewood Falls Elementary School and Richard Ira Jones Middle School. The Romeoville Park District features a recreation center, Jungle Safari Indoor playground and fitness center and offers programs for children of all ages.

I-55 is minutes from the community, as is Metra train service in nearby Joliet and Lockport. Everyday shopping is within minutes with malls located in Bolingbrook and Joliet.

Lake Renwick Preserve creates an inviting country atmosphere for those to purchase homes at Renwick Place. Lake Renwick Preserve includes 839 acres of protected land highlighted by 200-acre Budde Lake and associated wetland habitat. The preserve is home to several varieties of birds, including the great blue heron and great egret.

In addition, the Lake Renwick Bikeway is a 3.5 mile, paved trail that travels through the wetlands and around the lake. Area residents can enjoy biking, hiking, running, in-line skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

The sales center and professionally decorated model home at 2093 W. Helen Drive in Romeoville are open 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and by appointment. Call 815-272-9599 for more information or visit

Up Your Pantry Prowess: 7 Great Ideas

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: April 30, 2016

William Ryan Hampshire Model-13

If you are on a budget but want to change the feel of your pantry, a bright pop of color may be all you need. The pantry is often behind closed doors, so don’t be afraid to use a shade you may be hesitant to paint throughout your entire kitchen.

Unless your door is being used to hang extra storage, consider swapping a hinged door for a pocket door or barn door. These sleek alternatives eliminate the door swing and help with kitchen congestion. On the same note, make sure that the design of your door matches the kitchen’s look. Try drawing inspiration from your cabinets; it is more than ok if the pantry door is different from but complementary to the rest of the home’s doors.

When it comes to shelving, adjustable shelves are worth the investment; you’ll be thankful when it comes time to stack awkward holiday pans and odd-sized items that wouldn’t ordinarily fit standard shelves. Depending on your storage and usage, you may also consider vertical shelves for larger, flatter items like baking sheets and cutting boards. The benefit to vertical shelves is that you eliminate the need to remove a heavy stack of items on top of the desired bottom item.

Painting done, hardware installed – it’s time to stock up! Keep these tips in mind to reduce clutter and maximize storage space:

– Use clear or wire bins for storage so you can easily discern what’s inside.

– Under-shelf baskets (often short baskets attached to the underside of the shelf below) help to maximize storage if shelf height isn’t adjustable.

– Corner storage is often awkward at best and unreachable at worst. A Lazy Susan can help make corners more accessible and usable.

– For collectors of reusable plastic containers, a plate rack can help keep lids organized by size and shape.

Source: Living; Best In America Blog, April 24th 2016

Disabled Stoughton veteran receives new house

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: April 10, 2016


Iraq war veteran and Stoughton resident Russell Dennison and his family are getting a new, mortgage-free house thanks to national nonprofit Homes for our Troops, complete with handicap accessible features and single-floor access.

An IED explosion in Afghanistan took both of Dennison’s legs in 2012, though Dennison, known for his positive attitude, is making the best of a bad situation.

“Before I had a chance to say anything, he goes ‘It’s all right, because it looks like I’m going to be taller than you now,” Grant Dennison, Russell’s brother, said. “It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard.”

Dennison heard about Homes for our Troops while at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, filling out applications between rehabilitation sessions.

While the organization has been active across the country since 2004, this is only the fifth house being built in Wisconsin through the program.

Piggly Wiggly and many other businesses from the greater Dane County area have donated to help build Russell Dennison’s home, including William Ryan Homes, which is taking on the majority of construction duties.

“Homes for our Troops sent us a video on Staff Sgt. Dennison and his experience,” Christopher Ehlers of William Ryan homes said. “We rallied and said we absolutely have to build this house for this gentleman.”

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the VFW in Stoughton Saturday. Russell and his wife, Samantha, along with their two children, will most likely be able to move into their new home in nine or 10 months, according to the builder.

Source: Channel 3000

Tax Refund Used as a Down Payment to Buy a Home

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix | Posted: April 7, 2016

Tax Refunds can be used as a down payment on a house on any type of home loan
During tax season, many renters use their tax refund as a down payment to purchase a home as a first-time buyer.

Down payment is one of the biggest obstacles for prospective first-time buyers to buy a home. So this time of year is an important one because so many people receive sizable tax refunds ranging from $2000 – $8000 or even more. This amount of money can contribute to some or all of the down payment for homes first time buyers would be interested in.

Source: OVM Financial Feb 2016

Forget Generation Rent: More Younger Americans Aim To Buy

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: March 31, 2016

Millennials are the single biggest group of homebuyers in the U.S.

“Renting is the new buying.” That became a kind of mantra after the housing crisis. Many Americans stopped believing that owning a home was a way to build wealth. As late as 2013, one report found, homeowners could see themselves becoming renters. And there were far fewer first-time homebuyers.

That’s still the case today; last year, only 32 percent of all homebuyers were first-timers. But there are signs that young people are warming once again to the idea of owning their own home.

In fact, more than one-third of all homebuyers these days are 35 and younger. More than Gen X’ers, more than baby boomers, it’s millennials who are taking the leap, according to a study this month by the National Association of Realtors.

They have some savings. They’re tired of renting. And while people 5 or 10 years older may still be shell-shocked from the housing crash, this younger generation seems ready to start that new chapter — even if it didn’t go well for their parents.

That’s the situation for Amanda Larsen, a 24-year-old from Kansas City, Mo.

She says she doesn’t want to “make some of the debt mistakes that they made.”

Larsen recalls how her mom messed up, taking on larger loans than she could afford. Now, her mother warns her to stay within her limits: “Get the exact number that you know you’re going to be approved for. And don’t go above it,” Larsen says.

So why does Larsen want to own a home instead of rent? Actually, she wants to get a dog. And her husband won’t agree until they have their own house. So for her, a driving force behind her house hunt is the less lofty American Dream of dog ownership, too.

For a few years, Lee Davidson, a 35-year-old in Tampa, Fla., felt like she had no business buying a house because her personal life wasn’t where she wanted it to be.

“I’m single, I’m not with someone,” she says. “I don’t have a partner. I’m not married. I’m not anywhere near being married.”

But now, Davidson realizes, her career is solid and she’s sick of moving.

“I just feel increasingly boxed in, I guess,” she says. “I just have kind of moved from one little box to another.”

Homebuyer Homework Assignment

In the years since the housing crisis, high-quality free tools like online calculators have become available to help you calculate, based on your numbers, at what point it makes more sense to buy a home versus renting.

Should You Rent Or Buy?

None of them had come across these resources before, and they had less than 24 hours to do the assignment.

Then, each person had a one-on-one feedback session with economist Jed Kolko, who helped create the Trulia calculator.

Davidson says she was struck by how many numbers matter. It’s not just the sale price of the home and interest rate. It’s how many years you plan to stay.

“The asset side of it’s very important; the calculators actually do factor that in,” he explains.

Whether you keep the house 2 years or 15 will make a huge difference in how much of it you own — the equity you’re building.

But one big factor the calculator doesn’t account for: human behavior; that is, how likely you are to save versus spend, to put your money into a mutual fund versus a Frappuccino.

“If you’re the sort of person who has no trouble at all saving every month,” Kolko says, “then that advantage of homeownership might not mean that much to you.”

Davidson says she saves — but only minimally.

So for her, Kolko says, buying a home could be a form of forced savings — a way to make her save.

Limits Of Online Tools

The calculators ask something of an unfair question, too: how much will the home you buy go up in value? That’s really hard to know. Even the experts get it wrong.

Eric Shannon in Tulsa says some homes in his neighborhood are appreciating 10 percent every couple years. So he’s feeling optimistic.

“I’m seeing houses that are going on the market and they’re going off very, very soon thereafter,” he tells Kolko.

But the economist warns him: Tulsa is a one-industry town. And that industry, oil and gas, is hurting. So someone like Shannon — who works as an engineer there — could lose his job and see his home price crash, too.

“What happens to your home prices and what happens to your job prospects are correlated,” Kolko says.

Many housing economists agree: You don’t want to base your decision to buy a home on a gamble that it’s going to go up in value dramatically.

Home prices can drift up and down year to year, and you’re in a leveraged position when you buy a home. So if you have to sell after a year or two, that could be a big financial hit if prices have fallen even 5 percent.

That’s also a reason the experts say that you shouldn’t buy a house unless you plan to live there for five or more years. That makes a drop in home prices much less risky.

Meanwhile, Amanda Larsen discovered that she and her husband could buy bigger and still pay less than their current rent. He wants to buy and never move again.

Housing economists say you should definitely look at the cost of owning versus renting in the neighborhood where you want to live when you consider homeownership. Home prices have been rising again in many parts of the country. But rents have gone up a lot, too, and mortgage rates remain quite low.

As it was with Larsen, owning might be a better deal than you think.

“We can technically afford a little bit more,” Larsen says she’ll tell her husband. “And this way you get more what you want, and I get more what I want.”

Source: NPR.Org March 24, 2016

Record Number of Plainfield Students Named State Scholars

Categories: New Homes Chicago | Posted: March 24, 2016

plainfield article

PLAINFIELD, IL — A record-high 266 District 202 high school seniors have been named 2016 Illinois State Scholars because of their superior academic potential.

This is the most-ever number of State Scholars for District 202. This year’s total is 24 more than last year’s 242 Scholars – which was also an all-time high for District 202.The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) awards the honor each year to students based on SAT, ACT and/or Prairie State Achievement Exam scores, and/or class rank at the end of the junior year. High school guidance counselors work in conjunction with ISAC to determine the winners.

Each year’s State Scholar group comprises the top 10 percent of high school seniors from 652 high schools statewide

The Illinois State Scholar program recognized about 19,000 high school students statewide as 2016 State Scholars.

This year’s State Scholars include:

53 students from Plainfield High School – Central Campus
69 students from Plainfield South High School
89 students from Plainfield North High School
55 students from Plainfield East High School

Source : Scott Vaiu The Patch

Is there a magic window to sell your home?

Categories: New Homes Chicago | Posted: March 9, 2016


If you’re looking to sell your home, is there an optimal window of time during the year — say a two-week period — when your listing is likely to sell faster and at a higher price than any other time? Put another way, could the ideal time for listing your house come down to a specific month or even a two-week span?

One group of researchers says yes. After sorting through 20 million-plus sales of single-family homes, condos and cooperatives that occurred between 2008 and 2015, researchers at Zillow, the real estate marketing company, concluded that listing times do indeed matter. List at the wrong time and you might take longer to sell and sell for less. Choose the optimal two-week period and you’ll do better.

Nationwide, researchers found that “homes listed in the late spring (May 1 through May 15) sell around 18.5 days faster and for 1 percent more than the average listing.”

Optimal times can vary, however, by location. In the Washington, D.C., and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale metropolitan areas, April 16 through April 30 produces faster selling times and higher prices, according to Zillow. In San Diego, the best two weeks come earlier — March 16 through March 31. In Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, they’re considerably later — May 16 through May 31. Other major markets, including as Chicago, track the national sweet spot time, May 1 through May 15.

Zillow, which is best known for its popular but sometimes controversial online “Zestimate” value estimates of millions of American homes on and off the market, has pinpointed ideal listing times down to the ZIP-code level. Individual Zestimates now include a “Best Time to List” feature that displays a bar graph showing the estimated selling price differences month by month.

I checked the Zestimate on my own home near Washington, D.C., and found that, according to Zillow’s calculations, I’d get anywhere from a $15,000 to nearly $20,000 higher price by listing this month or next and $35,000 to $40,000 more than if I listed in October or November. Curiously, if I listed in January or February — that’s when we get blizzards here — I’d do better than listing in June, July or any time through December.

Huh? That didn’t make sense to me, but Zillow says it has the hard statistics to back it up. Just in case I needed guidance on any of this, though, the “Best Time to List” tool comes with a handy “Contact an agent” button right below the bar graph. In an interview, Zillow’s chief economist, Svenja Gudell, maintained that this “is not meant to be a lead producer” for realty agents who pay the company money for advertising placements, even though that’s precisely who you’ll hear from when you hit the button.

So back to the original question: Is there any magic window of time to list your home for sale? Mary Bayat, principal broker at Bayat Realty Inc. in northern Virginia, agrees that “when the weather is good and flowers are blooming” — that would be the spring months — properties look better and, if they’re in good condition, show well, and are priced and marketed right, it’s an excellent time to sell.

But she told me that trying to pinpoint ideal two-week periods “is the wrong idea,” since houses can sell fast and for solid premiums throughout the year.

Alexis Eldorrado, founder and managing broker of Eldorrado Chicago Real Estate, says many factors can affect rapidity of sale more than timing of the listing. For example, she put a luxury high-rise condo unit on the market in the frigid depths of Chicago’s winter — this past February — and it sold in 11 days “close to list” after 10 showings. One key to that quick sale: The owner did a pre-listing upgrade of the kitchen to bring it up to the standards expected in that price range.

Kary Krismer, managing broker at John L. Scott/KMS Renton in the Seattle area, where Zillow is based, says the dominant factor in his market is the shortage of houses listed for sale. As a result, “the listing date is not currently a significant factor. Buyers are scrambling for properties” — it’s a seller’s market — so the week or month of the year is no big deal.

Source: Ken Harney Washington Post Writers Group, March 9th, 2016

Single Females Are a Growing Market Force

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: March 4, 2016

women buying home

Since the early 1990s, single women have outnumbered their male counterparts, snatching up real estate at nearly double the rate, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. But this year they’re on a roll, and experts don’t expect that to stop anytime soon.

Single women accounted for 15 percent of all home buyers—the second largest segment of home buyers behind married couples, according to NAR’s 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Many experts predict their numbers will continue this increase in coming years, particularly as their average incomes have significantly risen over the last few years.

The median age of single female home buyers is 50, according to NAR. The majority are drawn to single-family homes with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Location matters, too. “They often want to buy to be close to friends or family,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research and communications.

Mary MacDiarmid, a broker with @properties in Chicago, told The Chicago Tribune she’s worked with several single women purchasing condos. She says about a decade ago, this type of clientele routinely brought their parents to showings. Now, she says they do it on their own: “They’re not looking for someone else’s approval.”


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