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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.

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 

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 

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