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Violet and I

Chicagoland real estate purchases, real estate sales, short sales, foreclosures, first-time buyer representation, Illinois condominium association representation, estate planning for everyone, powers of attorney, quit claim deeds, landlord/tenant issues, forcible detainer/evictions, civil unions, foreclosure defense and more...

This office serves clients in real estate transactions of all types. I also assist clients with estate planning for everyone, including the GLBT community, and represent Illinois condominium associations as needed. I help real estate investors who are renting their properties deal with difficult renter issues, and I advocate for renters dealing with difficult landlords.
I work with clients in Chicago and all over the Chicagoland area, including Wilmette, Skokie, Morton Grove, Plainfield, Wheaton, Glencoe, Lake Forest, Naperville, Oak Park, Winnetka, Des Plaines, Orland Park, Berwyn, Carol Stream, Arlington Heights, Crystal Lake, Barrington, Palatine, Park Ridge, Gurnee, South Holland, Park Forest and more.

My goal is to give each and every client personal, friendly and competent service at a reasonable price. I also strive to use technology in the best way possible to keep my clients informed.
My legal background includes working for a major Chicago developer and working for a boutique firm in their real estate division. I am also a landlord of a three flat building in Rogers Park and I am managing broker of a small real estate brokerage.
I work with all different types of clients, including developers, first-time buyers, buyers of second (or third!) homes, all sellers and the gay, lesbian and transgender community.

My real estate blog is below. Please make sure to check back on a regular basis to check out what's new. I update my blog about once a week and welcome any questions that you may have.
Ask me too about help with personal injury, divorce, and any other legal issues! 

301 Greenview Drive, Crystal Lake, IL 60014

(Chicago office by appointment)
773.818.9054 office/cell
866.381.4238 efax

Recommend my site by clicking here!

Check out my interview, Expert Advice on Buying a Foreclosed Home on Illinois Homes, one of the top sites for Illinois homes for sale, including Wheaton, IL real estate. Illinois Homes also services Michigan homes for sale and Pennsylvania homes for sale.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Home Prices Post Best Growth in Two Years

From Crain's Chicago:

Chicago-area home prices grew in May at the fastest pace in nearly two years, according to a closely watched index.

The region's single family home prices were up 3.7% in May from a year earlier, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. It was the largest year-over-year increase in Chicago prices since an increase of 4.2% in July 2014.

May's figure improved on the 3.1% growth reported for April, which was the first time in several months that Chicago-area home prices had been up more than 2 percent year-over-year.

Even so, Chicago's home prices grew at a slower pace than the nation's. Home prices were up 5 percent nationwide in May, the index showed.

In several cities - including San Diego, San Francisco, New York and Washington - home-price increases have slowed, the report said.

Chicago's acceleration as other cities slow has moved it up the list of the 20 cities in terms of home-price growth. Chicago was at the bottom of the list in 2015 and most of 2016. 

The biggest home price increases were in West Coast cities Portland (12.5%) and Seattle (10.7%). 

3:01 pm cdt 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Home Warranties Can Be Worth It - But Read The Fine Print

From USA Today:

When Courtney St. Gemme-Chandler and her husband bought an older home in Aurora, CO, in 2012, they assumed it would need some minor TLC. But their elation at the closing table soon turned to frustration when the house started falling apart - and repair costs began piling up.

Right after they moved in, a pipe burst under the concrete in the basement. That was followed by a broken dishwasher, a non-functioning electrical panel and faulty electrical wiring. Luckily, the couple's real estate agent had purchased them a home warranty for a closing gift. 

None of these problems had come up during the home inspection. The home warranty, as it turned out, was a forutitous gift that saved them $2,000 on repair costs.

While homeowner's insurance protects your home against unforeseen circumstances, a home warranty, which costs an average of $550 per year, is a convenience program that covers the normal wear and tear on the major mechanical and electrical systems in a house, says Art Chartrand, counsel and administrator of the Nation Home Service Contract Association.

Your home's heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, the water heater, sump pump and kitchen stove are some of the items covered by a home warranty.

Home warranties are nothing new, but more real estate agents have recommmended them in recent years as the housing market has been flooded with foreclosuresand short sales - properties that were often neglected or poorly maintained. 

"A home warranty is like an insurance policy that protects you after the home sale, but you have to pay close attention to what is and what isn't covered," says Tony Martinez, a real estate agent with RE/MAX North San Antonio. "Do your homeowrk and research companies online, and make sure you document all of your communications with the warranty company and the service technicians they hire on your behalf." 

Read the Fine Print

Consumers sometimes make the erroneous assumption that a home warranty covers the structural defects or insurable incidents, normally included in homeowner's insurance coverage, such as damage from natural disasters, burglary or fires, Chartrand says. Some also mistaknely believe that the policies function as emergency home service contract, meaning the problem will be diagnosed and fixed within hours, which isn't the case.

When you file a claim, your home warranty company chooses a local contractor that's been vetted and sends a worker out to diagnose your problem for a set service fee, which you're responsible for paying. If the contractor doesn't find an issue or you can disagree with the findings you can ask the warranty company to send a different contractor out to give a second opinion, Chartrand says.

Getting a claim approved comes down to understanding what your policy does and does not cover. Most home warranties expire after a set time period and don't cover every little thing in your home - think leaky faucets or peeling paint. That puts the onus on you to read your Contract and ask questions, says Katherine Hutt, national spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau.

You might opt for a certain level of coverage based on your home's size, condition and age. Beware of scammers who might offer a half-price warranty, and then disappear when you try to file a claim, Chartrand says. Consumers should be cautious of such offers and research home warranty providers before choosing one.

Negotiate Repairs in the Home Inspection 

A home inspection won't uncover every major problem, but it can lay the groundwork for getting the most from your home warranty. While Martinez recommends home warranties for his buyers, he also advises them to negotiate major repairs during the home inspection and ensure regular maintenance of their home's systems and appliances. Some home warranty companies, for example, won't cover an air-conditioning unit that hasn't been serviced within a certain time frame; that's an item worth negotiating with the Seller before closing. 

2:03 pm cdt 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Four Client Red Flags to Look For - Real Estate Agents

Love this article courtesy of Terri Small at BMOHarris. This applies to attorneys too! 

12:45 pm cdt 

Title Law Seminar June 14 and 15

I'm very excited to be speaking about the new TRID lender regulations at this seminar in downtown Chicago in a few weeks. Fellow lawyers, if you need Continuing Ed credits, please join us! 

12:05 pm cdt 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What Happens to a Mortgage After a Bankruptcy Discharge?
Recently, I had a client ask me what happens to the mortgage on their current home when it is discharged pursuant to a bankruptcy order. Contrary to what you might initially think, A debt that is secured, such as a mortgage, is dischargeable BUT if you want to keep the house or other secured asset, you have to pay the debt as you normally would. A discharge simply means that it eliminates the DEBT on the property, not the LIEN. So, if you were to stop making payments on the debt that has been discharged on your home, the bank can repossess the property, but it cannot pursue you for the money that is owed. As long as you remain current with the payments, you can stay in your home as you normally would. 
7:55 pm cst 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Spring is in Full Swing!
Attention home buyers on the fence: Spring is in full swing! The market has been incredibly busy because of the mild winter we've been having. I have a lot of clients selling their homes and tons of first time home buyers taking advantage of remarkably low rates. If you're on the fence, get pre-approved and get out there!
10:50 am cst 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Millenials Are Finally Moving Out of Mom and Dad's House!

From Bloomberg Business:

Parents, rejoice. Your offspring may finally be moving out of the family basement.


A new report (PDF) from Fannie Mae, the U.S. government-backed mortgage company, suggests that the millennial generation is getting a move on.


"According to the ACS [Census Bureau’s American Community Survey], the number of homeowners aged 25-34 fell by more than 250,000 in each year between 2007 and 2012, but has declined by less than 100,000 annually since then," Fannie Mae said. "In fact, the decline between 2013 and 2014 was statistically insignificant, the first indication of stability in the number of young homeowners since the onset of the Great Recession." So while the number of homeowners in that age range is still on the decline, the trend looks poised for a reversal, and Fannie Mae said it won't take much to see positive growth in millennial homeownership in the near future. 


The team ran an analysis with three scenarios for the future of homeownership in this generation. The first assumed a continuation of the decline that took place between 2012 and 2014. The second assumed that the pace remains the same as what was seen in 2014, and the third predicted a slight recovery that would see home ownership return to its longer-term trend by the end of the decade.

Scenario one is the only case that yielded a further decline, and Fannie Mae is of the mind that this particular outcome isn't highly likely because the labor market continues to show strength and the dream of home ownership lives on in the hearts of young adults. 


A report published by Goldman Sachs earlier this year also pointed to millennials' desire to leave the family homestead. The company's survey showed that only 12 percent of millennials rated home ownership as "not very important," while 20 percent already owned a home or were in the process of buying one. Almost 70 percent said ownership was either "very important" or "important," but it wasn't a near-term goal. 


Fannie Mae reckons that home builders will need to adjust to the realities of a sudden upswing in millennial buyers, with an expected adjustment in the "size, type, and geographic location of new housing construction." In other words: Bye, bye basements. 

12:34 pm cst 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fall Special!
Fall is here and the holidays are just around the corner. Discounts for all closings and other services are available for a limited time. Call my office for details.
1:19 pm cst 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Office Location!
I'm happy to announce that I now have in office in Crystal Lake. I'll still have the Chicago location for meetings by appointment but with the new office, I'll be able to easily service the Northwest Chicagoland area.
11:56 am cdt 

Friday, June 12, 2015

How Home Buying is Going to Change After August 1

From Crain's Chicago:

Big changes in the process of buying a house kick in Aug. 1, the day new federal mortgage rules take effect that are designed to eliminate closing-day surprises or confusion.

While title companies and real estate agents and lawyers are scrambling to be ready by the deadline, home buyers should feel more like guests at a well-executed dinner party, oblivious to the mess in the kitchen and content to be served each course at just the right time.

"It's going to bring better peace of mind that you know what you're getting into with this loan," said Ben Niernberg, executive vice president at Northbrook-based Proper Title. If all the professionals in the pipeline handle the new rules well, homebuyers should notice only that "things have gotten easier to understand," he said.

For the homebuyer, the new rules created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau bring two key changes: All the financial details of their purchase will be spelled out more simply, and the forms containing those details will be in their hands three business days before the closing, giving them time to ask for clarity on anything they don't understand.

"You're getting time to see all the moving parts of your loan a few days before you sit down at that table to close the transaction," said Maurice Hampton, managing broker and CEO of Centered International Realty based in Beverly. CFPB says consumers will "Know Before You Owe."


Enabled by the Dodd-Frank Act, the TILA-RISPA Integrated Disclosure rulesas they are known, come largely as a response to the subprime mortgage meltdown, in which some borrowers were unaware of the moving terms of their adjustable-rate mortgages and wound up in default when a rising interest rate increased their monthly payments.

While some experienced real estate buyers may see the changes as a belt-and-suspenders approach to the relatively rare problem of buyers misunderstanding their loans, eventually the changes will become transparent, say most people in real estate and related industries.

"There will be a few more steps along the way, but the steps are to protect people and give them a chance to make a better financial decision," said Tom Pilafas, executive vice president of Near North National Title Insurance in Chicago.

Here are four things to know about the changes:

• The rules apply to loan applications initiated Aug. 1 or later. Any loan in process prior to that will operate under existing rules. All-cash purchasers also are exempt.

• The rules require two new forms, both of which replace—and are intended to simplify—existing forms.

First is the loan estimate, delivered to the borrower within three days of application and projecting the monthly costs, the closing costs and the cash the borrower will need to bring to the closing. This form will take the place of a Truth in Lending, or TILA, form and the Good Faith Estimate. Second is a Closing Disclosure form, delivered three business days before the scheduled closing. This one replaces a closing-day form known as HUD-1 and a second TILA form.

"The difference with the new forms is that the figures on the first one and the second one have to agree, or be very close," said Jeffrey Baker, a lawyer with Sorling Northrup in Springfield who works for the Illinois Association of Realtors. "There was no mechanism requiring them to match up in the past."

CFPB's rules include penalties for lenders if the figures on the two forms aren't within an established range, Baker said. The idea is to prevent buyers who've fallen in love with a certain house from getting markedly more expensive terms at closing than they were counting on, "when they might feel they have to just go ahead and do it," Baker said.

• Both forms emphasize clarity.

"When you closed in the past, you got a spreadsheet that was a bunch of numbered lines," said Christopher Hacker, a co-founder of ShortTrack, a Chicago-based real estate transaction software company. "It was confusing, and you needed somebody to decipher it for you." Under the new rules, "you'll see something text-based and more intuitive that tells you what you'll owe" on a monthly basis, and how that will change in the future, in the case of a loan with an adjustable rate.

• Last-minute changes in a sale will be harder to make.

Under the existing rules, at least in Illinois, final financial details of a purchase can be recalculated on the day of closing. That can happen for countless reasons, including the buyers changing their mind on keeping excluded chandeliers or other pricey items on the final walk-through, or the seller's lender refiguring property tax estimates.

"Closings have a propensity to be delayed, because with so many parties involved, inevitably somebody changes something," said Steve DiMarco, president of the Key Mortgage Services division of Baird & Warner. After Aug. 1, "because the forms have to be handed to the buyer three days in advance, there's not going to be that chance to change things around on closing day."

Some last-minute changes are inevitable. The CFPB's rules specifically spell out which will call for an automatic three-day delay and which will cause no delay.

9:59 am cdt 

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