investment: What An ESCROW ACCOUNT Is - 11/28/11 02:54 PM
An escrow account is a neutral depository held by your lender for funds that will be used to pay expenses incurred by the property, such as taxes, assessments, property insurance, or mortgage insurance premiums which fall due in the future. 
You will pay one-twelfth of the annual amount of these bills each month with your regular mortgage payment.  When the bills fall due, the lender pays them from the special account.  At closing, it may be necessary to pay enough into the account to cover these amounts for several months so that funds will be available to pay the bills … (0 comments)

investment: What Exactly Is a Real Estate Closing? - 11/26/11 01:13 PM
A “closing” is where you and I meet with some or all of the following individuals: the Seller, the Seller’s agent, a representative from the lending institution and a representative from the title company, in order to transfer the property title to you.  The purchase agreement or contract you signed describes the property, states the purchase price and terms, sets forth the method of payment, and usually names the date and place where the closing or actual transfer of the property title and keys will occur. 
If financing the property, your lender will require you to sign a document, usually … (0 comments)

investment: Buyers: Making An Offer - 11/17/11 04:42 PM
Once you have found the home you wish to purchase, you will need to determine what offer you are willing to make for the home.  It is important to remember that the more competition there is for the home, the higher the offer should be – sometimes even exceeding the asking price.  Remember, be realistic.  Make offers you want the other party to sign!
To communicate your interest in purchasing a home, we will present the listing agent with a written offer.  When the seller accepts an offer it becomes a legal contract.  When you write an offer you should be … (4 comments)

investment: Buying Older Property—Inspection Issues With Multi-Unit Homes - 09/16/11 06:34 PM
For multi-units the work needed over 5-7 years is typically even more than with single family homes: 50K or less could be called LITTLE/NO work, 100K SOME work, and 150K GUT REHAB. For condo’s and town homes, many times the repair list is much smaller, but now even that is changing. In some sections of the city the earliest condos or town homes were first sold 15 years ago or more—and now or over the next few years will need major renovation (new kitchens, baths, flooring, heat, etc.).
Especially with older homes or multi-units, you should expect that a good … (0 comments)

investment: Deciphering the Listing Sheet: All That Glitters Is Not Gold – Single Family Homes - 09/12/11 06:13 PM
What to watch for with single-family homes::
In general, be aware that it is very easy to make a home sound good on paper—we always recommend drive-by’s before setting up any showings!!!
Our agents will be able to help you see how each neighborhood breaks on the price points—cheaper property may typically need more than 50K of work!!!.
And this is just the start of what you’ll find at www.Chicagoland2to4Flats.info!!!
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investment: Deciphering the Listing Sheet: All That Glitters Is Not Gold – 2- to 4- Flats - 09/09/11 12:51 PM
What to Watch For, with 2- to 4-flats:
In general, be aware that it is very easy to make a multi-unit building sound good on paper—we always recommend drive-by’s before setting up showings!!! 
Secondly, watch for estimates of rent; (if there is no lease date or security deposit listed, any rent listed is probably just an estimate).
Finally, be sure to watch out for illegal units (e.g., 3 units described on a 2-flat listing sheet); you may still want to buy it but should have your eyes wide open.
 
And this is just the start of what you’ll … (0 comments)

investment: Deciphering the Listing Sheet: All That Glitters Is Not Gold – Condos - 09/06/11 06:35 PM
What to Watch For, with condos:
A gut-rehab should mean that everything is new, including the kitchen and bath. Walls and room sizes may have been adjusted to allow for a second bath, in-unit laundry, new heat/AC, etc. The price may be higher, but—theoretically—everything from the mechanicals to the finishes is brand new and wonderful.
A mid-level conversion describes a project where some amount of updating did occur but less than a full gut rehab. Mid-level conversions are lower in price and often have a VINTAGE look— perhaps ideal if on a tight budget and in the property inspection we can … (0 comments)

investment: Deciphering the Listing Sheet: All That Glitters Is Not Gold – All Properties - 09/02/11 02:45 PM
We’ll set you up with all listings that fit your price, size and neighborhood goals—and ask you to pick which properties to go visit. But therein lies a dilemma… how will you know which ones to prioritize on? It’s important to understand both what the listing sheets DO say and DON’T say in order to take, say, 50 listings down to perhaps 20 to drive by and then the 10-12 best to see.
What to Watch For, with all properties:
1.  You’ll see the terms: ‘new’, ‘newer’, and ‘updated’? What’s the difference? ‘Newer’ and ‘updated’ are NOT new! A newer … (0 comments)

investment: Five Principles In Picking Listings To See - 08/30/11 03:15 PM
1.  The FIRST law in real estate: Big and cheap NEVER equals wonderful. Many people, when they first start picking property to see, focus on properties that are big and cheap… They are hoping, of course, for big, cheap AND wonderful, but that is like winning the lottery—and never applies to properties that have been on the market for any length of time.
·         BIG, wonderful, and very expensive can be found anywhere.
·         SMALL, cheap and wonderful is another option to consider…
2.  The Barrel Rule: Rarely, if ever, does it make sense to scrape the bottom of the barrel … (0 comments)

investment: EFFECTIVE Property Searching – #6 Listings - 08/23/11 01:11 PM
In this market where listings range so much by type and condition, it is so easy to end up on a wild-goose chase. What must occur instead is to learn to separate wheat from the chaff and hone in on what you want.
Here is some more of how we think an EFFECTIVE property search works. 
Now you’re ready to go see listings. But, before you ask for any showings, your job is to rule out 80% of them.
·         If you know a neighborhood and the market extremely well, this stage can be completed at home. But, for … (0 comments)

investment: EFFECTIVE Property Searching – #5 Get Pre-Approved - 08/22/11 06:11 PM
In this market where listings range so much by type and condition, it is so easy to end up on a wild-goose chase. What must occur instead is to learn to separate wheat from the chaff and hone in on what you want.
Here is some more of how we think an EFFECTIVE property search works. 
Get Pre-Approved. We are pleased to have Guaranteed Rate, the Midwest's largest independent residential mortgage lender, as our lending partner. They have an expertise in the 2- to 4-flat market, a wide range of products, and an ability to help you intelligently pick … (0 comments)

investment: EFFECTIVE Property Searching – #4 Cash Flow Expectations - 08/18/11 07:13 PM
In this market where listings range so much by type and condition, it is so easy to end up on a wild-goose chase. What must occur instead is to learn to separate wheat from the chaff and hone in on what you want.
Here is some more of how we think an EFFECTIVE property search works. 
Establish Realistic Cash-Flow Expectations. Remember, unless you put a huge amount down, the PRE-TAX CASH FLOW is never large on a 2- to 4-flat. Probably the TAX SHELTER will please you more (your tax advisor can help you understand exactly what’s involved). But … (0 comments)

investment: EFFECTIVE Property Searching – #4 Cash Flow Expectations - 08/18/11 07:10 PM
In this market where listings range so much by type and condition, it is so easy to end up on a wild-goose chase. What must occur instead is to learn to separate wheat from the chaff and hone in on what you want.
Here is some more of how we think an EFFECTIVE property search works. 
Establish Realistic Cash-Flow Expectations. Remember, unless you put a huge amount down, the PRE-TAX CASH FLOW is never large on a 2- to 4-flat. Probably the TAX SHELTER will please you more (your tax advisor can help you understand exactly what’s involved). But … (0 comments)

investment: EFFECTIVE Property Searching – #3 Property Condition - 08/16/11 12:37 PM
In this market where listings range so much by type and condition, it is so easy to end up on a wild-goose chase. What must occur instead is to learn to separate wheat from the chaff and hone in on what you want.
Here is some more of how we think an EFFECTIVE property search works. 
We will also want to help you clarify and set a focus on property condition:
·         “LITTLE OR NO” WORK
·         “SOME” WORK NEEDED
·         “GUT REHAB” NEEDED
We say “Little or No” work, but – trust us – few 2- to 4-flats … (0 comments)

investment: EFFECTIVE Property Searching – #2 Listing Sheets - 08/12/11 07:49 PM
In this market where listings range so much by type and condition, it is so easy to end up on a wild-goose chase. What must occur instead is to learn to separate wheat from the chaff and hone in on what you want.
Here is some more of how we think an EFFECTIVE property search works. 
We will help you learn to intelligently read listing sheets. Here are some clues: 
What’s the difference between ‘new’, ‘newer’, and ‘updated’? ‘Newer’ and ‘updated’ are NOT new! A newer kitchen may be 7-10 years old! Rehabbed’ or ‘Gut rehab’ may be … (1 comments)

investment: EFFECTIVE Property Searching – #1 Neighborhoods - 08/09/11 10:51 PM
In this market where listings range so much by type and condition, it is so easy to end up on a wild-goose chase. What must occur instead is to learn to separate wheat from the chaff and hone in on what you want.
Here is some of how we think an EFFECTIVE property search works. 
First, analyze and compare all neighborhoods of interest.
Under Sales/Demographics at our website, we provide 10 years of price appreciation data and detailed maps of each of the 77 areas you can print. The “60% more detail” tab will let you register for … (1 comments)

investment: Beginning Investor FAQ #6 - 08/08/11 04:20 PM
6.  How can I minimize the cash I need to invest?
If you already own property in which you have some equity, you might choose to leverage it. How? You might take, say, an 80% mortgage on the new property, but to avoid paying 20% in cash, what many do is to take a 2nd mortgage on some existing property. In essence, they now have two mortgage payments to make (one on the new place, one on the old), but they made the new purchase happen with no money out of pocket.
And, in fact, there are some neighborhoods where … (2 comments)

investment: Beginning Investor FAQ #5 - 08/05/11 12:59 PM
5.  How do I choose the right area?
a)     Going OWNER-OCCUPIED is the only option if the price of property in an area is too high to support a pure rental (and so almost all that is being sold goes to people who want to de-convert or be live-in landlords).
b)     If you want to go non-owner occupied, there are few, if any, opportunities on the regular rental market to cash flow a 2- to 4-flat with any kind of low down. Many believe the best arm-chair 2- to 4-flat opportunities are for Section 8—and rehabbed, Section 8 ready properties … (0 comments)

investment: Beginning Investor FAQ #4 - 08/02/11 11:47 AM
4.  What are common investment options to consider: general cautions?
One option to be careful about is buying a condo preconstruction with the hope of flipping them. While some have made money, there are others who have lost—and some of them BIG. Renting out single-family homes can also be dangerous (as tenants can do a lot of damage).  What about Non-Owner-Occupied 2-Flats? It’s true that they require less of a down payment, but rarely does a 2-flat bring in enough rent to cash flow (and so few find this a viable option). And this is just the start of what you’ll … (1 comments)

investment: Beginning Investor FAQ #3 - 08/01/11 02:56 PM
3.  What are common investment options to consider, if I do NOT have a lot of capital?
Owner-Occupied 2- to 4-Flat. Going owner-occupied means having to put less money down— and can give you a lower payment than if you bought a single-family home. Non-Owner-Occupied 3- or 4-Flat rented Section 8. See FAQ #4 on how this can happen with no cash out of pocket. And this is just the start of what you’ll find at www.Chicagoland2to4Flats.info!!!
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