The Most Appealing Aspects of Homeownership

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: January 18, 2016

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just released their first issue of the Housing Opportunities & Market Experience Survey (HOME). In the report, NAR revealed what Americans believe to be the most appealing aspects of homeownership.

Here is a graph showing the results:

It is interesting to see that the two most appealing aspects had nothing to do with money, but instead, addressed the non-financial benefits of homeownership.

January 14th 2016| Keeping Current Matters

7 resolutions for an organized new year

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: January 11, 2016

new year blog
We’ve just come through the sound and fury of the holidays – and our homes, nerves, and bank accounts reflect it.

Relax. It’s a new year, and we can get things back under our control.

The 7 tips below are the place to start.

The best part?

They all build on one another.

1. downsize, darling!

Consider instituting this post-holiday rule: for every new item (bathrobe, earrings, slippers) that arrives, three things have to say adios.

Call it the get-organized, one-for-three rule. Before anyone puts away presents, he or she must fill a minimum of three bags for donation to childrens charities.

Now move on to your holiday stuff. Any decorations you didn’t use this year? Chances are you won’t them next year, either. These go in the donation pile.

Yes, you want to keep a few cozy T-shirts and jeans for Saturday sports or painting with the kids. But you don’t need two dozen. Donation to children pile.

And that collection of hotel shampoos that you’ve been working on for the last decade?

This is going to be an organized new year, remember? You don’t need them all (if you did, they wouldn’t be there.) Donate these to your neighborhood shelter.

2. divide, conquer, and label.

Label every box or bag you stash or store in the garage this year. It’s a key element to an organized new year. When you take down the tree and decorations, label each box before it heads into a year of storage.

Next, find a corner or area in the garage, basement or attic for storing these boxes. Apply the same strategy throughout the house, starting with closets and drawers, and ending with neatly labeled storage boxes from each.

3. resolve to have a neater, cleaner home.

7 resolutions for an organized new year.
A clean home will be a more welcoming home in 2016.
Now that you’ve decluttered and organized, cleaning should be a breeze.

Often, clutter is what really makes cleaning hard.

Start your organized new year cleaning routine by setting aside an hour or so several days a week to tackle essential tasks.

For example: Laundry is Monday nights; bathrooms are Saturday morning; trash is Sunday nights, etc.

This ensures nothing is overlooked. It also spreads the work out into more manageable chunks of time throughout the week.

4. this is the year for simpler, saner lives.

We not only ricochet through the house – it often seems we ricochet through life just as madly.

7 resolutions for an organized new year.
Downsize and organize family activities so family breakfasts and dinners won’t be endangered times in the year ahead.
Breakfasts are a free-for-all-mad-dash most mornings. Dinners are endangered. Homework goes on into the wee hours of the night. We didn’t grow up like this.

What happened?!

We unwittingly veer into the fast lane of family life and can get stuck there – if we don’t take the driver’s seat instead of going along for the ride. This is fixable.

Here’s how to start:

Allow everyone in the family a maximum of three sports, activities or hobbies, not to exceed three commitments each (practices, meetings, etc.) per week.

If you have more than two kids, the limit might be two hobbies. Now look at your own hobbies and interests. A little tougher.

Parents not only have hobbies they love to do, but also commitments they should do (PTA, etc.)

Save at least two time slots per week for something you love to do. Limit volunteering to two more slots. 2015 is the year to learn to say ‘No’ — and mean it. It’s a crucial part of your organized new year’s success.

5. resolve to save money.

7 resolutions for an organized new year.
Resolve to save money this year for the things you really want and need.
If you faithfully adhere to resolutions 1 and 4, this resolution will wonderfully take care of itself.

After all, we’ve been spending money on things we don’t really need and on too many expensive extracurricular activities for the kids.

Pare down the essentials list and you’re halfway home. For the other half, list all the bills that have a fixed amount paid monthly, such as the mortgage or rent, health insurance, car payment, tuition, etc.

Finally, list luxury expenses: lessons, clothes, Starbucks, movies, dining, etc. Set a budget for each.

Include the kids in the process for this one. Tell them how much is budgeted for family entertainment and let each kid vote on how at least part of the money should be spent. Call this your resolution for an organized new year for the entire family.

6. resolve to take care of yourself.

The above resolutions are about helping take care of yourself, of course. After all, if your home is clean, efficient and organized, your time and money are well-managed, you are taking care of yourself.

And remember those time slots? Don’t cut corners here. Your slot could be as extravagant as an occasional day at the spa or as simple as taking a long soak in the bathtub. You choose – but do it!

7. resolve to be the best you can be.

If you have accomplished resolutions 1 through 6, this one too takes care of itself. If you find time to be good to yourself, you will find the time, energy and patience to be good to your loved ones. One just flows from the other.

But you can’t go directly to Resolution No. 7, unfortunately. These resolutions are like building blocks. If the bottom layer is unstable, you can’t build on top of it.

So take a deep breath and resolve to start anew with No. 1. Don’t expect to finish the resolutions in a day, week or even a month. This is a continuous process that will provide ample rewards in the year ahead.

Happy Organized New Year!

Source: CleanOrganizedFamilyHomecom

Minor Increase in Rates Give Home Buyers a Push to Buy Now

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: December 19, 2015


The Federal Reserve announced this week that interest rates will increase by 0.25 percent, or 25 basis points.

The last time the Fed raised rates, “the iPhone didn’t even exist,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist for title insurance company First American Financial Corporation.

Interest rates in the U.S. have been close to zero for the last seven years, intentionally kept low to allow employment and the market to recover from the crash in 2008.

For new homebuyers, the expectation of a rate hike spurred many to buy in the months leading up to the decision and encouraged a cycle of refinancing from existing homeowners.

But the moderate rate increase does not spell doom if you’re looking to buy a home – in fact, it may give you the push you need to get out there and buy your home before interest rates rise again, something economists are predicting for 2016.

How will rising interest rates affect you as a homebuyer? U.S. News asked experts to weigh in on whether you should be concerned about your ability to afford a mortgage and what you should know about interest rates in the next year.

The Fed’s decision doesn’t affect your interest rate as much as you may think. While the interest rate policy changes will affect how interest rates are offered, mortgage rates function separately, and are in fact far more volatile than the Fed’s interest rate.

Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for, explains rates for new fixed mortgages not only fluctuate on their own, but have changed in anticipation of increased Fed interest rates, without any actual change in policy.

“When you look at the volatility of what rates have done around the ‘what is the Fed going to do’ all yearlong, we’ve had enormous movement in mortgage rates,” Smoke says. “We’ve had roughly 70 basis points of movement in the 30-year [fixed-rate mortgage] alone in the last 12 months when the Fed hasn’t done anything.”

Rising interest rates don’t mean you can’t find a mortgage that works for you. The rate hike by the Fed is minor and isn’t likely to squeeze too many consumers out of being able to buy a home. You might have to reconfigure what you put down versus what you pay monthly, but as Smoke emphasizes, mortgage rates differ from day to day and lender to lender.

“It’s like buying gasoline – it’s different by provider, it’s different one street to the next,” Smoke says.

Higher interest rates can give the push you need. Many economists are expecting interest rates to continue to increase throughout the next year by a total of 1 percent, and while they are small, steady increases, getting a mortgage on the lower end is always a better idea than waiting and paying more.

Steve Rick, chief economist for CUNA Mutual Group, which builds financial products for credit unions nationwide, says that extra push to get homebuyers and other consumers moving in the market could serve as an additional stimulus for the economy.

“We could see faster economic growth next year because the Fed is raising rates, because it will help with confidence, and it will help with people trying to get ahead of the rising rate environment,” Rick says.

Increased rates can help keep house appreciation in line with wage increases. As housing markets continue to recover from the recession, home values have been appreciating rapidly, outpacing wage increases and making it more difficult for everyone to afford them.

“When you raise rates you slow down the pace of house price appreciation,” Fleming says, noting mortgage rates will go up regardless of the Fed’s decision. By slowing the increase of home prices, the same people who could afford one house today will likely be able to afford the same house down the line, without being edged out by rapid property appreciation.

But at the moment, Rick notes, “housing is still relatively affordable,” and after such a long period of no interest rate changes, the Fed’s decision to increase rates by 0.25 percent isn’t going to stop people from making big purchases, like cars or homes, with financing.

If you already own a home, you likely don’t have to worry about adjustable-rate mortgages. Because chances are you don’t have one. “The majority of mortgages that were taken out in the last couple years were 30-year fixed mortgages,” says Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow. “We’re talking 85 to 90 percent of originations.”

Gudell notes many homebuyers are overinsured with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage – because the chances they’ll stay in one home for 30 years are slim – but many are not willing to take the risk of facing higher rates down the line in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis.

But if you get an ARM, you don’t need to be scared. ARMs typically have a locked interest rate between five and seven years, so your interest rate is unaffected as long as you’re in that period. But even if you are in the floating rate part of your mortgage, Gudell and Fleming agree that rate hikes down the line will likely remain affordable.

“The increase in the mortgage rates are going to be so tame and so controlled that [homeowners] will be able to adjust over time,” Gudell says.

Fleming adds that a 1 percent total increase by the end of 2016 will likely bring your interest rate to 4 to 5 percent, equating to about $50 to $70 per month in additional payments, which is minimal. “You can find 50 bucks by going to Starbucks less often,” he says.

You should still shop around. Treat your mortgage like any other major purchase – weigh your options and compare rates before you sign onto one. The mortgage, and your ability to pay it off, are just as important as the house you choose to buy.

“Consumers will be able to mitigate some of the increases by putting as much effort into finding their mortgage as they do in finding their dream home,” Smoke says. “You don’t just take the first offer; you don’t just go to the lender that was recommended. Pursue and understand that you can get different rates.”

2015 U.S. News & World Report

Millennials drive the Phoenix New Home Market but Inventories are low

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 3, 2015

Home buyers face a new threat: higher mortgage rates

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, Uncategorized | Posted: November 29, 2015

interest rates
Americans looking to buy a home are facing pressure to act as soon as possible, as the era of rock-bottom mortgage rates that have sustained the nation’s housing market since the recession could be coming to an end.

For years, many home buyers have enjoyed interest rates of under 4 percent, far lower than historic averages. But many analysts say that will change if the Federal Reserve begins pulling back its support for the American economy next month, as is widely expected. An increase in the central bank’s benchmark rate is likely to result in rate raises for all sorts of loans, particularly mortgages.

Already, rates have crept higher in anticipation of Fed action — and that is forcing both buyers and sellers to reevaluate their budgets and behaviors. Average rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have climbed in recent weeks by about a quarter-percentage point, from 3.75 percent to almost 4 percent — about a $600-a-year difference on a $350,000 mortgage.

Several sources of data suggest that buyers are paying more attention to the threat of higher rates. The number of mortgage applications submitted this fall was about 20 percent higher compared with the same period a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, an industry group. That could reflect the fact that more people are looking to buy even after the busy summer season. The number of home tours requested in October by users of the real estate Web site Redfin increased 34 percent compared with the same time last year.

But while some are moving more quickly to buy, others are feeling as though an opportunity may have passed.

Kradak Thomas, a 43-year-old chemist living in Potomac, Md., said he and his wife had recently considered moving their family to Virginia for a shorter commute. But moving from their home, where they have been for seven years, would have meant giving up a 3.25 percent mortgage rate.

The higher rates now mean they would need to find into a less expensive, potentially smaller home in order to keep their monthly mortgage payment about the same. So they have decided to stay put.

“You add all of those things up and say, ‘Well, what’s that going to do for us as a family?’ ” Thomas said.

Predicting how the housing market will respond to higher rates always involves some guesswork, and many factors can influence home-buying activity. The last central bank hike was in 2006 — before the iPhone was released — and many in the industry have little experience working in a ­rising-rate environment. In addition, there is no precedent for increasing rates after such a long period at historically low levels.

“There is a level of urgency to consumers when they think — whether there is one or not — that there is a rising-rate environment,” said Katie Miller, vice president of mortgage lending at Navy Federal Credit Union.

More than 90 percent of buyers in a recent Redfin survey cited low interest rates as motivation for purchasing a home. Rob Ross, senior vice president at the lending service MVB Mortgage, said his workload has jumped from one new home loan a day to as many as six.

“Psychologically, when people say the Fed is going to raise interest rates, it may push people to get off their duff,” said Lorraine Arora, managing broker at Weichart Realty in Fairfax County.

The Mortgage Bankers Association expects that rates on 30-year loans could reach 4.8 percent by the end of next year, topping 5 percent in 2017. Rates haven’t been that high since the recession.

The Fed aimed trillions of dollars in stimulus at the housing market in the wake of the financial crisis, buying up mortgage-backed securities to help push rates to record lows. But that is not the only factor influencing the direction of mortgage rates. Interest rates in the United States are being held back by uncertainty in the global economy and easy money in other countries. (The Fed doesn’t control mortgage rates; it does manage a rate that banks use to charge one another for overnight loans, setting the baseline for all other activity.)’s analysis found that as many as 7 percent of people who applied for a mortgage during the first half of the year would have had trouble qualifying if rates rose by half a percentage point. Government regulations require lenders to consider potential buyers’ debt in comparison with their income.

Higher interest rates effectively mean that borrowers cannot spend as much on a home. Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner said that could hamper the ability of all but the wealthiest borrowers to jump into the market.

“The lower end is having a hard time coming up with the down payment,” Vitner said. “The middle has seen very little increase in pay, and the upper

end, they’re not as sensitive to interest-rate increases.”

Even when mortgage rates begin to rise, they are still likely to be low by historical standards. The Fed has tried to assure financial markets that it expects to increase its benchmark rate gradually over the next few years, allowing the economy plenty of time to digest the moves.

But even a tiny bump in rates could have a big impact on buyers’ wallets.’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, estimated that an increase of half a percentage point translates into a 6 percent rise in monthly payments. On an average loan of $231,000 with a mortgage rate of about 4 percent, that’s an extra $68 a month.

New York state resident Melanie Theisen had hoped to find a home before the interest rates go up. But the 41-year-old government contractor is having a hard time finding a home within her $200,000 budget that has what she wants: a two-bedroom cottage with at least half an acre of land for planting a garden and raising chickens. So she moved into a rental and plans to keep looking throughout the winter.

Theisen hopes her strong credit score and sizable down payment will help her qualify for a good loan, even if interest rates rise. A rate increase might reduce how much of a loan she can qualify for, but waiting would also give her time to keep saving and adding to her down payment.

“I didn’t want to be pressured into something that wasn’t what I wanted,” Theisen said.

Higher interest rates can also affect decisions among potential sellers, many of whom may be loathe to sacrifice their ultra-low mortgage rates to move to a new home. The phenomenon is known as “rate lock,” and analysts said it could result in tight inventory for years to come.

Rather than drop out of the hunt, buyers are more likely to adjust to higher rates by lowering the amount that they are willing to spend. That could mean settling for a smaller home or one in a less desirable location.

Others simply wait, socking away money until their dream home can become a reality.

“The money part has been the biggest learning curve with me through this process,” said Britt Manchester, 27, a first-time home buyer from Arlington.

Manchester has her heart set on a two-bedroom condo on picturesque Corcoran Street in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. She has been living with her mother for the past two years to save money for a down payment. If higher interest rates mean she must wait a little longer and save even more, so be it.

“I know that my place is out there somewhere,” she said.

Source: By Jonnelle Marte and Ylan Q. Mui November 25 2015, The Washington Post

What’s the best way to roast a Thanksgiving turkey?

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: November 25, 2015


The best way to roast a turkey? Let the debate begin
Your dad does the best grilled turkey. Only way to do it, you swear. Wait, what about granny’s cornbread-stuffed bird, roasted bronze and filling the entire house with a delicious perfume?

Let’s be honest: There are, perhaps, more “best” or “perfect” turkey prep methods on this planet than there are turkeys at any one time: Smoked. Deep-fried. Braised. Butterflied. Poached, sous-vide style, in a vacuum-sealed bag.

And, of course, the classic roasted.

Yet even that preparation is open to interpretation. And arguments. To stuff or not to stuff. To baste or not. Though the big bird has long dominated Thanksgiving tables, cooks everywhere are still searching for the perfect method.

Here’s our argument: They all work. So pick the one you like and ignore Uncle Fred.

We can help. Whether you’ve never roasted a turkey, or are looking to change the way you roast it, we’ve got five popular methods along with a few things you need to know to master each. Just thaw the bird (in the refrigerator, with a pan underneath), roast to 165 degrees internal temperature then let it rest about 30 minutes to distribute its juices.

Maybe you’ll quiet the turkey debate and go back to arguing the merits of fresh vs. canned cranberry relish.

Under the skin
Tucking stuffing under the skin helps keep the meat moist and adds flavor. (Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune)
Now, please could you pass the gravy.

High-temperature roasting

Simple, no-fuss approach. This recipe is from Ruth Reichl’s new “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life” (Random House, $35).

High-heat turkey: Heat your extremely clean oven to 450 degrees. Rinse and dry a 16-pound turkey and bring it to room temperature. Put it on a rack in a roasting pan, add a cup of water, put it in the oven, and forget about it for an hour. Rotate the pan, make sure there’s still about a cup of water in the bottom (if not, add more), and cook for another hour and a quarter to an hour and a half, until a thermometer in the thigh registers 170 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the turkey to rest for half an hour before carving. That’s all there is to it. Really.

Key: Oven must be perfectly clean; old drippings and spatters can produce lots of smoke. Use turkey as close to 16 pounds as possible. Be sure it is completely thawed.

Crispy skin
The stuffing helps crisp the skin because the pork-based stuffing bathes it in fat during roasting. (Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune)
Getting under the skin

Butter, herbs or even stuffing, is tucked under the skin. This method puts moisture plus flavor on the breast meat which can become dry during roasting. Also helps with crisping skin.

Starting at the neck opening, slide your hand under the breast skin. Gently separate skin from the meat, reaching all across both halves. Stuff with softened butter to which you’ve added chopped fresh herbs, minced garlic, spices, etc. Or tuck in some of your favorite stuffing; one with a fatty meat to moisten the bird is best. Want a recipe? We like one from British chef and TV cooking show star Jamie Oliver (see below).

Key: Work carefully to loosen the skin to avoid poking holes in it. Distribute mixture as evenly as possible.


Makes for a juicy, flavorful bird. And you can choose a brine (salt-water mixture) with flavors you like.

Be sure time is on your side. Skip the store-bought brines: You have everything in your kitchen to make your own. Figure 1/4 cup salt for every quart of water, then add a liberal amount of seasonings. We like this bourbon brine from Tribune Newspapers columnist JeanMarie Brownson: In a large food-safe plastic bucket or container, dissolve 1 cup dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup coarse salt in 2 cups very hot water. Stir in 2 cups cold water, 1/2 cup bourbon and 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes. Put the turkey in the brine. Add enough cool water to completely immerse the turkey. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Key: Bird must be completely thawed before brining begins. Always soak bird in brine in the refrigerator; some recipes brine overnight, others suggest 12 hours. Discard brining liquid. Pat bird very dry before roasting. Brining will increase saltiness of pan juices.

Don’t stuff it

The bird will roast faster, saving you 30-45 minutes roasting time. And you need not worry about food safety issues that may arise with temperature variations between the stuffing and bird.

Fill the cavity with herbs (sage, thyme, parsley) plus wedges of onions, oranges and apples. Place bird on a rack in a roasting pan and roast at 325 degrees, 15 minutes per pound.

Forget basting

Regularly basting a bird with butter or pan juices is time consuming and annoying and lowers the oven temperature every time you open that door.

You can still get bronzed skin by liberally applying fat (often butter) to breast and legs before roasting. We like this trick: Soak a double layer of cheesecloth (large enough to cover breast and legs) in melted butter then drape it over bird for first hour of roasting before removing to finish roasting. Make sure bird sits low enough in oven so cloth does not touch oven’s top coil.

Key: Browning too fast? Cover with foil to continue roasting to the required temperature.

Roast turkey with herby pork and apricot stuffing

Prep: 1 hour

Cook: 3 hours and 40 minutes plus cooling and resting time

Makes: 8 servings

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “Cook With Jamie.”

Olive oil

1 sprig fresh sage, leaves picked

6 strips pancetta or thinly sliced bacon

1 bulb garlic, broken into cloves

4 medium red onions, peeled

2 ribs celery, trimmed, chopped

1 big handful breadcrumbs

1 handful dried apricots

10 ounces ground pork

Zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of grated nutmeg

1 large egg

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 small sprigs fresh rosemary, plus a few extra

12-pound turkey, at room temperature

2 carrots, peeled

1 large orange

2 tablespoons plain flour

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock

1 Heat the oven to maximum. Heat a saucepan until medium hot and add a splash of olive oil, sage leaves and the pancetta or bacon. Peel and chop 2 garlic cloves and 1 onion. Add garlic, celery and onion to saucepan and fry everything gently until soft and golden brown. Take the pan off the heat, add the breadcrumbs and, while the mix is cooling down, chop the apricots roughly and stir them in. When the stuffing has cooled down, add the pork, lemon zest, nutmeg, egg and lots of salt and pepper, and mix everything together well.

2 Chop remaining onions in half and slice carrots thickly. Give turkey a good wipe, inside and out, with paper towels, and place it on a board, with the neck end toward you. Find the edge of the skin that’s covering the turkey’s breasts and gently peel it back. Work your fingers and then your hand under the skin, freeing it from the meat. If you’re careful you should be able to pull all the skin away from the meat, keeping it attached at the sides. Go slowly and try not to make any holes. Lift the loose skin at the neck end and spoon the stuffing between the skin and the breast, tucking the flap of skin underneath to stop anything leaking out. Pop the orange in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm it up and stuff it into the cavity. Weigh the stuffed turkey and calculate the cooking time (about 15 minutes per 1 pound).

4 Place the bird on a large roasting pan, rub it all over with olive oil and season well. Surround with the chopped carrots, onions and remaining garlic, cover with tinfoil and place in the oven. Turn the heat down right away to 350 degrees, and roast until the juices run clear from the thigh if you pierce it with a knife or a skewer. Remove the tinfoil for the last 45 minutes to brown the bird.

5 Carefully transfer the bird to a cutting board and loosely cover with foil; allow to rest, at least 1 hour. When the resting time’s nearly up, skim the surface fat from the roasting pan and add the flour and stock. Place the tray on the stovetop and bring to a boil on a high heat. When the gravy starts to thicken, strain it into a bowl. Carve your turkey, serve with the gravy and dig in!

Source: Judy Hevrdejs; Chicago Tribune, November 25th 2015

Algonquin Ranked in ‘Best Small Cities’ Report

Categories: New Homes Chicago | Posted: November 6, 2015

downtown algonquin
City dwellers looking to make the move from Chicago to a smaller city may only have to look as far as the suburbs.

Northwest suburban Algonquin was ranked among the best small cities in the country based on quality of life and affordable living costs, according to a report from the personal finance website WalletHub.

Among 1,268 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000, Algonquin was ranked 25th. Some of the factors in the study included housing costs, cost of living, unemployment rate, income growth, population growth, quality of school systems, average commute time and the number of restaurants and coffee shops in the city.

The top-rated small city in the country is Princeton, New Jersey, according to WalletHub. Although Princeton ranks first in “economic health” and seventh in “education and health,” it falls drastically short in the “affordability” rank at No. 1,144.

Source:NBC Chicago, Colleen Connelly, November 3rd 2015

Madison is Among The Top Cities Where Millennials Are Taking Over the Housing Market

Categories: New Homes Madison | Posted: October 1, 2015

millenials in housing market
The Cities Where Millennials Are Taking Over the Housing Market-Hint: Not in the most expensive cities.

Millennials are dominating the Des Moines housing market. That’s an odd piece of information that seems a little less odd—and a little more important—the longer you ponder it.

Roughly 60 percent of borrowers who used a mortgage to buy a home in Iowa’s capital city during the first half of 2015 were aged 25 to 34, according to data from That compares with a national average of 37 percent, and makes Des Moines the most millennial-friendly city in the U.S. Here’s the rest of the top 10.
mad blog

Most of those cities don’t enjoy reputations for being particularly hip. What they are, generally, is cheap—and probably a little hipper than they get credit for. That makes a difference as young homebuyers finally shake off the effects of the recession and enter the housing market.

Historically, people 25-34 have made up the largest share of homebuyers, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for (More specifically, Smoke cited data that showed the age cohort is the most likely to take out a mortgage to buy a home, rather than to refinance.) The explanation is straightforward. People in their early 20s are less likely to be ready to buy, and people past their mid-30s are more likely to have already bought.

The millennial generation has bucked that trend, for reasons that have been cause for disagreement and consternation. Slow wage growth, student loan debt, a preference for city living, and a tendency to start families later have all been posited as reasons millennials have been slower to buy than previous generations.

The new findings may lower some of the alarm about first-time homebuyers. Thirty-seven percent of mortgage borrowers who bought homes were millennials, up from 31 percent in 2014. A survey conducted by, meanwhile, found the most common reason millennials decided to buy homes this year was that they were making more money.
madison blog

It helps that it costs a lot less to buy in Des Moines, where the median listing price in August was $218,000. (In San Francisco, it was $738,000.) But it’s also easy to forget that there are attractive jobs in all kinds of places—about half of jobs in science, tech, engineering, and math are located in the 20 biggest U.S. metros. The rest are in places like Huntsville, Ala., and Lincoln, Neb., cities that offer the appeal of lower costs of living. “It’s so 2012 to say young people are doing miserably,” said Smoke. “This age cohort is benefiting from the kind of economy and job growth we’ve been having.”

Source: Bloomberg Business; Patrick Clark September 28, 2015

Verona Fest 2015

Categories: New Homes Madison | Posted: September 25, 2015

verona fest
What is Verona Fest?

The 6th annual Ice Arena Fundraiser “Verona Fest” at the rink in will take place Saturday, September 26th 2015. The event was started to help the arena’s financial trouble; it was such a huge success and so much fun; we want to do it every year! There will be Bounce Houses, Inflatables, Games, Auction/Raffle, Badger FB Viewing Party,
& 3v3 Youth Hockey Tournament!

Verona Fest will be full of activities that should entertain all ages. The event date is moved this year to the fall to help kick off the start of hockey season in Verona!

The event is again hosted by Ice Inc. (volunteer group for arena operations), Verona Youth hockey, Ice Spirit Girls Hockey, & the Wildcat High School Hockey program.

We are very proud of the facility that we call home. Like any nonprofit group, the Ice Inc operates on a very tight budget. We are currently seeking sponsorship to help fund increasing day-to-day operating costs and much needed upgrades to the facility.
All donations are tax-deductible contributions. There are multiple levels of financial and non-financial support options ensuring that any size business or family can be a part of this historic weekend. Sponsorship information is included, as this would be an excellent opportunity for you to participate in helping hundreds of kids to skate at Verona’s “hometown” Ice Arena.
Thank you for your time; hope to see you at Verona Fest

Source: Mike O’Brien: President, Ice Inc. Board Joel Marshall: Executive Director, Eagles Nest Ice Arena

District 301 Offers Great Schools for Highland Woods Residents

Categories: New Homes Chicago | Posted: September 22, 2015

country trails
District 301 Offers Great Schools for Highland Woods Residents

School is in session! That’s great news for residents of Highland Woods! Children in Highland Woods are fortunate to attend the schools of the highly rated Central Community School District #301. Check out more information about the schools below!

Country Trails Elementary School
This great school is right within the community of Highland Woods, so children have a short commute or can even walk to school! The new school, opened in 2007, is constantly earning awards, including the 2012 Academic Excellence award from the state of Illinois, with over 90% of students meeting or exceeding standards on the ISAT.
Keep current by checking in on their website.

Prairie Knolls Middle School (6th and 7th Grade)
Academics are highly rated at Prairie Knolls, with average test scores in the 90th percentile in the state. The school also provides a variety of sports, including basketball, football, cheerleading, volleyball and wrestling, and music activities like orchestra, jazz ensemble, band, chorus and more for any interest area.

Central Middle School (8th Grade)
The goal of Central Middle School is an enjoyable, motivational learning environment that promotes respect for all members. The school prides itself in communicating with students and parents, maintaining high expectations, promoting college and career readiness, and engaging an enjoyable learning environment. The school offers activities and sports for all interests.

Central High School
The school lives its mission to provide quality education within a nurturing environment which enables all students to become life-long learners who strive for excellence and who are responsible contributors to our ever changing global society. At Central High School, your high school aged children will love being Rockets. The dedicated teachers and staff provide a quality education, and the school offers several clubs, sports, and activities for all students.

Keep current by checking in on the #301 website.

Source: Crown Community Development -August 2015

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