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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! 

7527 N. Seeley Avenue, Suite 1, Chicago, IL 60645
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.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Selling Your Home? How Does it Smell?

Have you ever been in someone's home and smelled something bad? Or walked into your own home and smelling something terrible? When you're selling your home, one of the first impressions buyers will get is the smell. If you cook with a lot of grease or strong spices, have pets, or even don't take out the trash on a regular basis, your house may smell. And like the Febreze commercials say, you may be noseblind to it.

Before you list your house, there are things you can do to minimize this. Odor is caused by bacteria that attaches to the ceilings, walls, draperies, carpets and furniture. You may need to repaint and do a deep clean on your home before you list it. You can have a professional do it, or there is a do-it-yourself nontoxic fogger like the Dynofresh that can do it for you. Cleaning may only temporarily take care of the issue, especially if the offender is cooking or pets. The other things you can do are: take out the trash regularly, clean out your fridge, avoid cooking strong smelling foods, do your laundry on a regular basis, use the fan over the stove when cooking and bathe your pets regularly.

You can also use subtle, simple scents. Light a candle, lay fabric softener sheets between linens stacked on shelves, add plug ins by the bathroom door, or put lemon peels in the garbage disposal.

These little things may save you thousands when negotiating a price. 

5:56 pm cdt 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

At Home Illinois Announces New Program for Refinance, Repeat and First-Time Buyers

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) is offering @HomeIllinois, a new loan product for first-time Illinois homebuyers, homeowners looking to refinancing and, for the first time in IHDA history, repeat buyers looking to move up. The @HomeIllinois program features a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and up to $5000 in closing cost or downpayment assistance.

Visit for details! 

7:15 pm cdt 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chicago Ranks 14th Nationwide Among Real Estate Investors

Taken from Chicago Daily News (Crain's) online:

Real estate investors like Chicago, but it doesn't set their hearts aflutter like Seattle, Boston and Houston. Real estate executives ranked Chicago 14th among 75 U.S. markets for investment attractiveness in 2015, according to the “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report, an annual publication by the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

 The area trailed coastal favorites, such as San Francisco, Boston and Seattle, as well as Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, which was selected the best market for real estate investment in 2015. Chicago has long trailed such markets in the “Emerging Trends” report.

For four out of five major property types, meanwhile, investors are less bullish on buying here in 2015 than they were for 2014, the report shows.

In the report, executives rated U.S. 75 markets on a five-point scale based their investment potential next year. One means “abysmal,” while 3 indicates “fair” and 5 signifies “excellent.”

 Chicago scored 3.46, beating out Manhattan, long considered one of the choice locations for real estate deals.

Houston earned a 4.01 score. The Texas city brings “energy and technology. They bring international trade, the port and a huge educational system,” and a business-friendly environment, said Stephen Blank, senior resident fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute who helped put the report together. “Chicago's got some of those things, but not every one. That's why there's the distance.” The Chicago area remains prized for its size and population density and for a local economy that ranges from tech startups to Fortune 500 behemoths.

It's a truism that's played out this year in a robust fashion, with commercial-property sales on track to hit their highest annual level since the 2007 peak, according to New York-based Real Capital Analytics Inc.

Chicago has one of the “most diverse economic bases in the country,” the report says, and the region remains “one of the major core real estate markets in the United States and as such is very appealing to both domestic and global real estate investors.”

The latest "Emerging Trends" study is based on about 1,055 surveys and 391 interviews with executives at real estate trusts, investment firms, development companies, brokerages and others working in commercial real estate.

8:28 pm cst 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Outlook for the 2015 Real Estate Market is Good
Existing home prices are expected to rise about 3% this year, and about 2% the next year. Home sales in 2015 are expected to reach their highest level in two years. While mortgage rates will probably rise this year, they will still be considered some of the lowest of all time. 

66% of all Americans say they would buy if they are going to move today.

68% of all Americans believe now is a good time to buy.

51% of all Americans plan to buy a home in the next 5 years.

35% of the homes sold recently were on the market for less than a month.
3:12 pm cst 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Japan Establishes "Marriage Hunting" Apartments, Complete with Stripper Pole?

From the Wall Street Journal:

TOKYO - Having trouble getting married? Maybe you aren't doing enough pole dancing in your living room.

That is the idea behind one Tokyo real estate company's plan to solve the woes of Japan's lonely singles with konkatsu, or "marriage hunting" apartments. 

The project's mastermind, Rintaro Kikuchi, says living in the airy pads makes people more relaxed and social, leading to new encounters. He isn't shy about explaining some features, like a pole smack in the middle of his latest model's living room. "You can't ignore sex and make a house," he says.

Konkatsu is the word du jour both for Japanese singles and government officials trying to improve the nations' aging demographics. There are konkatsu bars, konkatsu bus tours and konkatsu events for right-wingers, farmers and other groups. Local governments often pitch in funds to sponsor events, hoping to encourage marriage and the procreation of future taxpayers.

The percentage of unmarried people ages 30-34 jumped to 47% from 21.5% for me and to 34.5% from 9% for women in the three decades through 2010, according to government data. 

Since birth out of wedlock is uncommon in Japan, those figures translate directly into a lower birthrate, with the average woman having about 1.4 children in her lifetime. 

Masahiro Yamada, a Chuo University professor who coined the term konkatsu in 2007, says the problem is many young men nowadays don't have secure jobs because Japan's "lifetime employment" system is fraying. Young women still hold out for a husband who can support the family on one salary, and men who know they can't live up to that expectation are less active in searching for a mate.

Other researchers cite busy work schedules for both men and women, and some young people's reluctance to leave comfortable lives with their parents. 

For Mr. Kikuchi, the konkatsu apartment developer, the real problem is housing - cramped rooms, dinky kitchens and little natural light. With settings like that, he says, it's no wonder many Japanese don't wnat to bring anyone home.

His latest model, a one-bedroom apartment, fulfills all of his seven rules for a konkatsu apartment, including a spacious kitchen and shower room, so couples can cook and bathe together. The home has plenty of windows to let in natural light and was remodeled with natural construction materials such as earth with fossilized algae.

"You sleep better, you wake up feeling refreshed, and you become more active," he says about the home's construction. "You smile more, and your skin looks better, and you are making lots of pheromones."

Mr. Kikuchi also consulted a Japanese "total adviser of sexuality" who goes by the name Olivia and frequently appears in local media. She suggested adding a roomy bathtub in the living room as well as soundproofing and the pole, which looks as if it could have been transplanted from a local strip club.

Olivia, who declined to give her real name, said the pole could be used to entertain a male guest or to keep fit to better enjoy sex. "A lot of Japanese women are shy and bad at using their sex appeal," she said. "By becoming their boyfriend's 'private pole dancer'. I wanted them to be able to playfully enjoy their sex life together."

The 41-year-old Mr. Kikuchi, who isn't half-bad on the pole himself, thinks amenities are needed not only to get couples hitched but also to keep them enjoying each other's company. A January survey by the Japan Family Planning Association found about 45% of married couples had not had sex in the last month, up 3.3 percentage points from the last survey in 2012.

When couples stop having sex, their relationship soon turns sour, Mr. Kikuchi said.

"It has impact on children when they see the relationship between their parents deteriorate," he said. "They don't see marriage or making a family as something happy," accelerating the vicious of failing marriages and birthrates.

Akino Kanno, 34, moved into one of Mr. Kikuchi's konkatsu apartment north of Tokyo in late 2012 after a divorce. The property, completed in 2010, has six private apartments. Mr. Kikuchi designed the property so that residents will interact. They get together a few times a year for barbecues, and there is a common bulletin board for notices.

Ms. Kanno happened to see a notice from the building's owner on the bulletin board recommending a local drinking hole. She went with a friend and was introduced to Masaru Kanno. The two bonded over manga and food. They later married.

Mr. Kanno remembers the first time he saw the apartment. "It was so fashionable. I was very surprised," he said. "I knew this was someone who I wanted to be family." 

Twenty-nine-year-old Mikako Tokuda moved into the same building about two years ago and found a boyfriend less than a half a year later on a social-networking site. The two have since broken up, but she said that moving from her dark, one-window apartment helped her relax and find the energy to think about dating. In her old apartment, she said, there was only one electric burner, which forced her to give up cooking, one of her favorite hobbies.

And does Mr. Kikuchi need a konkatsu apartment? Sorry ladies, he's already married with two children. 

1:41 pm cst 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Housing Forecast for 2015

Things are looking up for the economy and the housing market in 2015; however, there are still a lot of would-be buyers on the fence who are afraid another slump like the one that started in 2007 may happen. Unemployment is down, the markets are up, and most importantly, so far for 2015, rates are still very low. Unfortunately for some would-be buyers, lenders are still making it difficult to qualify for a loan.

Lending guidelines have also changed since before the slump. Lenders are much more cautious when they are considering borrowers and a good credit score is important now more than ever. Also, having sufficient assets to cover closing costs and an "emergency" fund to cover costs in case of a job loss are things that lenders are looking for when loaning money to buy a home. Being self-employed also presents challenges in obtaining a loan. Lending became extremely strict after the market slump, and for the most part, continues to be prohibitive for people with lower credit scores. There are also not many loan products out there for people who want to put 10% or less down on a property. Fannie and Freddie are considering introducing a product that would allow buyers to put only 3% down. Right now the only product that allows buyers to do this is the FHA loan, which is at 3.5% down but with a large up-front PMI.  If FHA doesn't reduce their upfront PMI, the new product by Fannie and Freddie may make them obsolete again.

Make sure that you consult with a loan officer before you get out there to look for properties and get your financial house in order. Get pre-approved, know what your credit score is, and choose an agent and an attorney who are knowledgeable about the market. 

12:17 pm cst 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tip for Purchasing a Foreclosed Property

Happy New Year!

A quick tip for purchasing a foreclosed property: Try to have an attorney review the paperwork and addendums from the bank BEFORE you sign. This is the only case where you should have an attorney review real estate contract paperwork before you sign it, because there is typically no formal attorney review in these types of deals. Make sure you have a mortgage contingency if you are obtaining a mortgage, and that you know up front if you will be paying any of the Seller's fees for them. 

3:33 pm cst 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Should you Buy or Sell This Year?
Home prices are up. The median existing home price in June $223,300, up from 4.3% in June 2013. The average sales price of a new home that sold in June 2014 was $331,400. 3.5 million homes in the U.S. rose out of negative equity from 2013 to 2014 due to rising home prices. In the past year, existing home and condo sales rose 11% to 5.29 million, close to the highest level in 4 years. Sales of new single-family homes rose 8.3% in June. Existing home sales increased 2.6% in June 2014, and have reached the highest sales pace since October 2013.
11:46 am cdt 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chicago Home Prices Slowly Rise

From today's Chicago Tribune:

Home prices gains slowed in the Chicago area and in most of the nation in June, and for the first time since February 2008, 20 cities showed lower annual rate of improvement than the previous month, according to a widely watched housing market barometer.

In the Chicago area, home prices rose 1.4 percent in June, compared with a 1.5 percent uptick in May, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. Year-over-year, that made for a 6.6 percent increase.While home prices nationally are back at their pre-housing market bust levels of autumn 2004, in the Chicago area they are at their spring 2003 levels. Still, June represented the fourth consecutive month that local home prices have topped their previous month.Nationally, June home prices in the 20 cities included in the index were up 1 percent in June, from May, equaling a 8.1 percent increase from June 2013.

11:14 am cdt 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New Formula Could Change Credit Scores

The company responsible for one of the most widely used measures of credit health is making changes to its current model that could boost credit scores nationwide.

In an announcement on Thursday, analytics and decision management firm FICO said its new credit model, FICO Score 9, "introduces a more nuanced way to assess consumer collection information," resulting in greater precision for lenders measuring a borrower's credit stability. The model will be available to lenders through the country's various reporting agencies starting in the fall.

"FICO Score 9 uses a more refined treatment of consumers with a limited credit history and those with accounts at collection agencies, so that lenders can grow their credit and loan portfolios more confidently," said Jim Wehmann, EVP for Scores at FICO.

The key difference in the new model is that strikes from medical collections will have a lower impact, reflecting the relatively low level of credit risk they represent. From just that change, the company expects the median FICO score will increase by 25 points among consumers whose only credit dents come from unpaid medical debts.

FICO isn't alone in its push to reassess how medical debts are reflected on a borrower's credit profile. In May, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released the results of a study finding that credit scores may underestimate creditworthiness by as much as 10 points for consumers owing on medical costs and by up to 22 points for consumers who have repaid their debt.

Often, consumers aren't even aware their debt has been sent to collections, CFPB said.

Another change in the FICO Score 9 model is that it will also discount any overdue payments that have already been made, leaving only unpaid collections as a mark.

While the changes may have a significant impact on approval rates for credit cards and auto loans, the effects will be more subtle for borrowers and lenders in the mortgage space, says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for personal finance website

"These changes are going to be a positive for consumers, but it's not something that moves the goalposts," McBride said in a phone call. "These changes aren't going to take a consumer with bad credit and suddenly make them appear as if they have good credit."

Rather, for consumers whose credit scores sit on the threshold between poor, adequate, or good, the expected boost could make a difference in terms of required down payments or interest rates.

The Score 9 model also promises to help lenders make decisions on consumers with little to no credit history—though McBride doesn't expect to see an immediate impact in mortgage approvals for credit-lacking millennials.

However, if those young consumers have an easier time securing lines on smaller loans, however, that could balloon out into the mortgage space in the future.

"You [have to] knock over the dominoes," McBride said.

11:16 am cdt 

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