How to “Win” National Garage Sale Day

Celebrated across the U.S., National Garage Sale Day takes place each year on the second Saturday of August. Many households take advantage of the holiday to purge their homes of unwanted clutter, from furniture and antiques to old toys and clothes. Often, residents of certain neighborhoods — and even entire towns — will launch community-wide sales, in order to satisfy the hunger of casual shoppers and yard sale aficionados alike.

Anyone who has ever lived in the suburbs knows how hectic a neighborhood can suddenly become once people see a well-placed Garage Sale sign. So how do you beat the crowds and ensure that you get the best bang for your buck? Glad you asked!

  • Plan Ahead and Make a List: Forget driving around looking for signs — today’s savvy shopper knows that the best way to scope out the best sale spots are through apps like  YardSaleTreasureMap and Nextdoor. Also, remember that there is danger ahead: low garage sale prices cause impulse buys! Don’t buy things you don’t need, treat it like a trip to the grocery store. Know what you want to buy ahead of time and stick to your list!
  • Be Nice: Many people think that in order to be successful at a garage sale, you need to be a cutthroat negotiator or “haggler”. Remember, sellers are often nostalgic, so show genuine interest in important items, and be sure to voice your appreciation of their quality. You may end up with more negotiating room, or find yourself the victor in a bidding war by tapping into the seller’s sentimentality!
  • No Price Tag? Make an Offer: The most overused sentence at any garage sale? “How much do you want for the (insert item here)?” Don’t be aggressive, but do be assertive. Don’t give the seller the chance to pad the price, simply ask, “Would you take $5 for this?”
  • Know When to Walk Away: You show up on Saturday morning, and the seller refuses to budge on an overpriced item that you desire. Don’t cave — it’s better to walk away than overpay for someone else’s throwaway item. But if you just can’t let it go, come back late on Sunday and see if the item is still there. You may find that the seller is more motivated to negotiate before they close up shop.

Now you have all the tools you need to become a garage sale superstar! Happy Hunting!


What to Expect When You’re Inspected

Congratulations! You’re through the marketing phase of selling your home and you’ve found the perfect buyer. The contract has been signed, and the closing table is within sight!

The Contract Phase is the final step before home closing. Typically, during this period the buyer will order a home inspection to be performed. Home inspections are a vital part of the real estate process, and oftentimes the contract will be contingent on the final results. The more you know about the inspection process, and how it affects you as the seller, the more confident you can be moving forward with your transaction.

Items identified during a home inspection might seem minor when looked at individually, but collectively they can add up to major headaches in the form of delayed closings, repair costs, or even a renegotiated sales price. Follow these few simple tips to help ensure that your inspection goes smoothly.

Be prepared: Inspectors are required to enter every area of your home, so make sure that they have easy access to any attic or crawlspace. Remove any additional clutter that may block the inspector’s view. And if your home is vacant, make sure that all utilities are still turned on and working. Yep, they need to be checked too!

Let your agent meet the inspector: You may feel the need to be present during your inspection, to ensure that things go smoothly. Take our advice: make yourself scarce. Trust your real estate agent to be present, and to handle any questions that may come up. If you try and shadow or constantly engage the inspector, you can delay the process. You also may make the buyer uncomfortable, as it is their right to attend the inspection.

If it’s broken – fix it:  Don’t hide anything, as the inspector will find it. Concealing even the smallest defects makes you look deceitful, and will cause the inspector to wonder what else you’re hiding. If you feel that a given defect is serious enough to affect the process, have it fixed ahead of time.

Get the upper hand:  If you do have concerns about the condition of your home or property, hire an inspector yourself to check out your home prior to listing it for sale. You’ll get an honest opinion on any repairs and improvements that may affect your sales price. Talk to your d’aprile properties agent about these items for additional advice on what changes will have the greatest impact on your home’s value.

Don’t worry, you’ve got this! Put your faith in your d’aprile properties real estate professional. Their job doesn’t end once the contract is signed. In fact, that’s when their most important work begins!


Just Add Chlorine?

As the season for family trips and summer vacations nears its end, many homeowners ask themselves the same question — would it be easier to simply put in a pool? After all, there’s nothing like taking a dip in your very own crystal-clear swimming pool on a hot summer day. Many homeowners and home buyers see a pool as a high-end amenity that will enhance their family’s life and make their home more desirable on the resale market. But the idea of peacefully floating in the privacy of your own backyard may distract you from the reality that comes with pool ownership.

Before making a decision, you need to determine the total value that a swimming pool will bring to you and your family — not only as part of your biggest financial investment, but also to your quality of life. Let’s look at each.

Will an in-ground pool add market value to my home?

To answer that question, your best bet is to speak with your d’aprile properties real estate agent. They will look at comparable homes that have a swimming pool in your neighborhood, and provide you with a fair market estimate based on those findings. If you live in a higher-end neighborhood, and most of your neighbors have pools, it may make sense to add one. Let’s say that your home is currently valued at $250,000, but a similar home in your neighborhood with an in-ground pool is on the market for $285,000. A market value increase of $35,000 sure sounds like a smart investment, right?

But the number crunching doesn’t stop there. Remember that installing a pool comes with significant cost. According to HouseLogic, the average amount in the U.S. to install, equip, and fill a 600-sq.-ft. concrete pool starts at $30,000. That $285,000 estimated price tag for your home may no longer sound as exciting, seeing as how after you spend the money for installation, you are now left with a net increase in value of only $5,000. And let’s not forget, maintaining a pool also costs money — heating, filtration, and cleaning can easily run you thousands of dollars per year. In the end, HouseLogic states that by installing a pool, on average, owners might increase their home’s value 7% when it comes time to sell.

Will an in-ground pool add quality of life?

As with most decisions in life, money is not the only factor involved. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you live in a warm-weather climate, where you could maximize the use you get out of your very own pool?
  • Is your property large enough to accommodate a pool, and still leave room for gathering and entertaining? 
  • Do you have young children who will benefit from the added physical activity that comes from having a pool?
  • Will a pool simply make those hot summer months more bearable?

In the end, no one but you can truly determine the value that a swimming pool will bring to your home. It is best to add up the personal benefits that will come from spending summers in the sun, and then speak with your d’aprile properties agent to make sure that the financial value will benefit your family’s future.


Saving for Your First Home as a Millennial

It’s finally here, the first time you get to choose a new place to call home. The big question is: are you prepared for it? Many Millennials are quite ready; in fact, they represent the largest group of homebuyers in America. In other words, if you’re in your 20s, you are part of the generation that is taking over the house-buying arena. So how will you know if you are prepared, and have saved enough money for a first home purchase? There are a few things to consider:

Budget Is Everything

If your budget isn’t set up properly, you may be in danger of future financial problems. Make sure you have reviewed your budget before you begin looking for your home, just so you know how much home you can afford. A term to keep in mind that is often used in the financial industry is the Debt-to-Income ratio (DTI). Put simply, your DTI is a comparison of how much debt you have (and will have) to your income stream. This comparison is very important to include in your budget when you’re creating or reviewing it.

Remember, when buying a home for the first time, you will be taking on more debt — often more than $100,000. So, if you already have a lot of debt and a low income, loan agencies may think twice about offering a large mortgage to you. Being able to pay off your debt is key in building your financial present and future.

A Savings Account Creates Opportunities

During the home-buying process, make sure you’re saving as much money as possible. A savings account is important because most loan agencies will require a down payment on the home, which would require a large amount of money in your account before you buy. It’s best to compare banks to find the best offerings that match your lifestyle and financial goals. As you search for a new bank, remember that online banking can offer special accounts that incentivize you to save money.  One of which is the absence of fees — which normal banks would charge — including start-up fees, monthly fees, and more. Other perks could include the ability to set up transfers when you get paid.

There are plenty of other ways to grow your savings account on your own. One could be to pay yourself before anyone else. To do this, you can set up automatic transfers from checking to savings on your pay day. Another suggestion would be to spend money at the grocery store, instead of eating out. There are plenty of ways to save, just find what works for you.

Secondary Income May Be Necessary

Finally, if you find homes are out of your price range, you may want to consider a “side hustle”. There are many opportunities that won’t overwhelm your schedule, and are easy to pick up. any jobs allow you to work from home, such as Survey Junkie, or Swagbucks. Both companies will pay you to take surveys; the length of a survey will determine how much you receive. Another at-home job is Inbox Dollars; they ask you to watch videos and give feedback on them — simple, quick, and easy.

Other excellent side hustles include ridesharing, homestay, and food delivery services. Though each may be simple, they will require more work than taking surveys or watching videos. As you make your choice on a secondary form of income, keep in mind that you are working to increase your savings, which will allow you to buy the home that you want.

Fun Should Be a Part of the Process

No matter where you are in the process, buying your first home is one of the most exciting times of your life. Though it takes preparation and planning, make sure you have fun while finding the home you’re happy with – after all, it will be yours soon!


The Down Payment Dilemma

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It’s a phrase you’ll hear often coming from today’s home renters: “I would love to own my own home, but I just can’t afford the down payment!” It doesn’t matter how high your credit score is, or how much money you bring home in your paycheck — saving up a large enough sum of money to put down on a piece of real estate is no small feat. It takes patience, careful planning, and more than a little discipline with your personal finances. When you factor in today’s rising home prices, many feel that coming up with a down payment on a new home is at best a long-term goal, if attainable at all.

But the truth is, home ownership may be more within reach than you think. Let’s start by dispelling some myths surrounding the dreaded down payment:

MYTH #1: It Starts at 20%.

Flat-out FALSE. It is a long-standing misconception that you need to put no less than 20% of the home sale price down, in order to receive financing. The notion has been around for so long that, according to a 2019 study by NerdWallet, more than 6 in 10 Americans (62%) believe this to be true. 

While an upfront payment of 20% will allow you to secure a loan without mortgage insurance, you can actually get home financing today with as little as 1% down, depending on the loan program. In fact, if you are in the military, or live in certain designated rural areas, you may even be able to get a loan with no money down at all, if you meet certain criteria. Talk to your d’aprile properties agent, and allow them to refer you to a mortgage professional who can steer you toward the right loan product for your personal financial situation.

MYTH #2: Cash Will Win Out Every Time

Half truth. We live in a competitive housing market, and oftentimes a solid home in a sought-after neighborhood will often receive multiple offers. The belief out there is that a cash buyer will always win a bidding war over a first-time home buyer, because they are guaranteed to close on time, with no potential hurdles to their home financing situation. This is not always true; in fact, it is not uncommon for a first-time home buyer to win a bid over a cash bidder, depending on the seller’s individual situation. 

Sometimes, the seller may not be in a hurry to sell, and a first-time home buyer may be able to persuade them with a higher bid. Also, consider the fact that many sellers go through a rather emotional experience when saying goodbye to their home — a sincere, hand-written letter from the buyer may resonate with the seller, giving them a leg up on an all-cash offer.

MYTH #3: Lenders Frown Upon Gifted Down Payment Funds

False. The truth is, it is perfectly legal to be gifted the money for a down payment by a family member. If your parents or grandparents have the means, almost any lender will allow them to provide you with payment assistance. It just has to be done the right way — and there will be extra paperwork involved. First, it has to truly be a gift, with the donor providing a signed letter stating that the funds do not have to be paid back. Second, the donor must of course prove that they have the necessary funds to provide such a gift, so they should be prepared to have their finances inspected. Finally, gifted funds have no effect on the underwriting process. You’ll still need to have good credit, and be able to prove that you have the financial means necessary to pay your mortgage once you close.

In the end, while they may take a few extra steps on your part, there are many ways for someone short on cash reserves to make a solid down payment on a home. The key is to determine your home buying power BEFORE you begin your home search. After all, no amount of expertise on the part of your real estate agent will help if you aren’t financially prepared to make an offer. Be sure to talk to your d’aprile properties agent, and let them introduce you to their trusted mortgage pro, who will let you know in confidence if the time is right for you to buy.


Hey Gen Y — Why So Serious??

Welcome to our Mortgage Minute series, where our partners over at Midwest Lending break down the particulars of home financing, and bring a personal touch to the lending industry, as only they can.

Did you know that the Millennial generation represents the largest group of homebuyers in America? It’s true: Gen Y makes for 37% of recent home buyers in this country. Gen X is next, albeit significantly behind at 24%. In fact, according to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors, 2019 will be the sixth consecutive year that millennials led the U.S. home buying charge.

So why are millennials (born between 1980 and 1994) often criticized for living too long with their parents, or only being interested in renting, when the statistics clearly paint a different picture?

The source of this unfair reputation may be answered through the results of another report, this one by Clever Real Estate. It seems that millennials are twice as likely to be stressed about homeownership than Baby Boomers, and are also much more likely to experience buyer’s remorse than older generations. This uncertainty toward ownership is sending adult children back to their parents’ homes, either out of necessity or an attempt to save money.

So what is causing this panic and confusion? The NAR stats mentioned earlier point to the following as some of the most serious millennial concerns:

  • Mortgage payments are too high (41%)
  • Additional maintenance after moving in (33%)
  • Their property has depreciated in value since purchase (21%)
  • High interest rates (17%)
  • Location isn’t ideal or poor quality of school districts (14%)

Other outside factors, from student loans to financial instability, only add to the anxiety. For some, the responsibilities of homeownership are simply a bit more than they bargained for. But for this particular generation — and those that will follow — it is important to keep things in proper perspective. Yes, the stress that comes with buying a home is very real, and millennials should not overextend themselves to make a home purchase. But they should not fear the possibility, if properly educated on the process.

Many buyers today never speak with a real person when it comes to home financing, preferring to handle everything online. This can only result in a less educated home buyer, and an even less confident home owner. They need to speak with someone who has the expertise and the integrity to show them the reality that comes after being handed a set of keys. That is why speaking with an expert such as your Midwest Lending mortgage pro is so essential.

Millennials shouldn’t fear home buying — for those who are stable in their careers and ready to set down roots, homeownership can be the key to emotional and financial security later in life. They simply need to take the time to know what they are getting into, with a devoted professional by their side.

Midwest Lending is a residential mortgage broker, committed to providing their clients with the highest quality home loans, combined with some of the lowest mortgage rates available. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


June is National Safety Awareness Month

“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment.” –Nelson Mandela

 

Observed every year throughout June, National Safety Month is focused on reducing the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road, and in our homes and communities. With the proper education, and a general awareness of the space and people around us, we can help protect not only ourselves, but ensure the well-being of those who matter most.

We are constantly reminded of the importance of adequate safety measures at work. But how many of us can honestly say that we have done all that we can to prevent accidents in the home? After all, home is where you go to feel safe, where you can exhale after a long day, and get away from the hustle and bustle that life often brings with it. But it is also where you likely spend the majority of your time, and the familiarity you have with it can cause you to let your guard down, and miss potential hazards that are right in front of your eyes. 

According to The National Safety Council, 169,936 Americans died in preventable, injury-related accidents in 2017 — and more than half of those occurred in the home. Perhaps even more troubling is that the number of nonfatal, preventable injuries in the home — those that required medical attention — grew to 47.2 million in 2017. That is roughly one out of every seven individuals who live in these United States.

At d’aprile properties, we know a thing or two about the sense of security that comes with home ownership. So in the spirit of National Safety Month, we offer some simple tips, in order to create awareness about potential risks that may exist within your household. For more information, head over to the NSC’s Home Safety page. You can also find an abundance of eye-opening information over at rospa.com, maintained by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

  1. Fire Safety: Keep portable heaters and candles away from furniture and curtains. Position them in a safe spot where they cannot be knocked over.
  2. Electrical Safety: Never overload an electric socket, and have your wiring installation checked at least once every five years by an approved contractor.
  3. Heating Safety: Be sure to keep your fireplace and chimney properly cleaned and inspected, and routinely check the pilot on gas cookers and water heaters to make sure it has not gone out.
  4. Safety with Medicines and Cleaners: Keep medicines in their original containers, clearly labelled, and consider keeping all in a lockable cabinet.
  5. Garden Safety: Wear appropriate clothing, sturdy shoes, and protective eye cover when mowing or gardening, and always stay on the lookout for plants and berries that may be poisonous or can cause an allergic reaction.
  6. DIY Safety: Be realistic and don’t tackle a job unless you really have the ability. A competent, qualified person should always carry out gas and electrical renewal or repair work.

This June, make sure that your home will always remain a source of safety and contentment for you and your family.


Proud Partners: Chawla & Ravani, P.C.

We’d like to take the time to thank Chawla & Ravani, P.C., our partner, and 2019 Summit Event Sponsor.

A celebrated boutique law firm with years of experience and expertise, Chawla & Ravani, P.C. offers a unique blend of legal services without ever losing sight of the people that matter most – their clients. Lauded by both the bar and the bench, they handle a multitude of legal matters for their clients, including small business, corporate, commercial, real estate, and litigation. They provide straightforward, realistic, and practical legal advice, both domestically and internationally.

The attorneys at Chawla & Ravani, P.C. practice law with skill and an artful mastery of their respective concentrations, but also with a level of personal and professional integrity that has solidified their reputation as one of the premier boutique law firms in Illinois. As they navigate their clients through complex legal matters, they vow to identify, develop, and implement effective litigation strategies, all while efficiently managing exposure and costs. Chawla & Ravani, P.C. act as true advocates, controlling the outcome for their clients without leaving anything to chance.

 

Chawla & Ravani: Quality legal services with large firm results!


Her Special Day

“Mother Love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.” –Marion C. Garretty

Here’s to Mom—the one who brings joy, security, and stability to our lives. Our mothers wear so many different hats—when we’re children, they are the Readers of Bedtime Stories and the Kissers of Ouchies. As teenagers, they become our Favorite Teachers, our Gourmet Cooks, and our Shoulders to Cry On. And in adulthood, as we raise families of our own, they become the Voices of Reason, and the Spoilers of Grandchildren.

No matter what stage of life, they will always be Our Favorite. We can never repay them for all they do for us. The least we can do is show them how much we care.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. We all know that what Mom really wants is to spend some quality time with us. See below for a list of the best Mother’s Day brunches in all of Chicagoland.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS: Arlington Race Track – Bloody Mary’s and Pony Rides. For adventurous Mamas only! 

CRYSTAL LAKED’Andrea Banquets – Cheese Blintzes? Quiche Lorraine? A complimentary glass of champagne? Consider us there.

LAKEVIEW: Coda di Volpe – Strawberry cheese danishes and lobster Benedict for brunch, you can’t do much better than that!

NAPERVILLECity Gate Grille – Once Mom is done with the made-to-order omelet station, there’s always the chocolate fountain to satisfy her sweet tooth.

OAKBROOKEl Tapeo at Le Meridien – This modern Spanish kitchen will be offering a chef’s market table, and a complimentary glass of delicious sangria to all Moms.

ROSEMONTCarlucci Rosemont – An authentic Italian Mother’s Day brunch, complete with favorites like Italian eggs Benedict and Tuscan toast. Ciao Bella!

WEST TOWN: BLVD – Show her a little fancy with the likes of salmon toast, sourdough Johnny cakes, and croque madame. A meal fit for a queen.

 

To all the mothers out there, we wish you a wonderful weekend spent with those you love the most!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Happy National New Home Owners Day!

How well do you remember the home you grew up in?

When you were a child, the square footage didn’t matter; the size was just right. When you went to bed at night, you felt comfortable and safe. There was a wonderful sense of familiarity – you could probably walk the halls with your eyes closed, and never stub your toe. And when your own personal journey made it necessary to leave that home behind, a small piece of yourself remained within its walls.

That’s what truly makes a house a home. Not paint colors or patio furniture, not backsplashes or bathroom fixtures. No, the place that you call home exists in the feeling you get when you step inside the door, and exhale after a long day. It lives in that space where you welcome friends and family, with a sense of satisfaction and self-worth. And it will always remain in the memories you make with those closest to you – visions that never seem to fade, not even with time.

The first of May is National New Home Owners Day, celebrating that special feeling that comes with being handed the keys to a new home. It doesn’t matter if you purchase a single-family residence, apartment, condo, or town home; the pride of ownership is uniform for us all. Each of us is looking for stability – solid ground on which we can begin to build a sense of lasting welfare and well-being. Through homeownership, you are not only creating safety and security – you are making an enduring investment into your financial foundation.

At d’aprile properties, we understand that buying a home may represent the single greatest investment you will make in your lifetime. The real estate process itself can be one of the most exciting, yet emotional experiences you can go through. That’s why it is so important to have a dedicated expert on your side, who not only knows the ins and outs of today’s sometimes volatile market, but who can easily empathize with what you and your family are experiencing as you start this new chapter in your lives.

That’s where we come in. Call us today. It’s time to find out what makes d’aprile properties different.