State of the Housing Market

“How is the market looking these days?”

As real estate professionals, we’re asked this question daily. We hear it from clients, we hear it from friends. We hear it from strangers at parties, and from family at the holiday dinner table. As industry experts, it is an important question for us to approach, but not an easy one to definitively answer.  

The ebb and flow of the housing market in the United States affects every aspect of the real estate industry. It causes interest rates to rise and fall, and consumer confidence to swell and fade. Making things even harder to predict is the fact that the market is cyclical – never resting for long on one end of the spectrum or the other.

Without question, the housing market in the United States has shifted in the last year, resulting in a loss of momentum from its peak in 2016. Several key factors contributed:

  • Rising Home Prices
  • Rising Mortgage Rates
  • New tax laws that reduce incentives for homeownership

But while it is true that each of the above conditions has had a tangible impact on our current market, looking at the recent past only tells half the story.

Moving forward into a new year, it isn’t hard to find hope. After all, the economy is humming; workers’ wages are on the rise, and unemployment has fallen to a level not seen in decades. There are strong indications that both homebuyer demand and home inventory are increasing, and could begin to bridge the gap between a stalled housing market, and a national economy on the rise.

So why does the current slump continue? It comes down to one simple factor – uncertainty. The decision to buy or sell a home is packed with pressure, and most individuals get their information from television and online news. At best, the opinions of these various outlets can differ dramatically. At worst, they cause panic and stress by only offering up worst-case scenarios.

So our best answer to the question, “What is the state of the market?” Put simply, it’s fluid. It changes from one day to the next, often in ways that are impossible to predict. And if you only look at it from a national perspective, you may never find the right time to dip your toe in its waters.

It is imperative instead that you look at the opportunity to buy or sell a home from one perspective and one only: your own. With a results-oriented real estate agent serving as your guide, expertise and an established process will be the catalyst for a swift and successful transaction – not the influence of the market at large.

As we head ever closer to a new year, you owe it to yourself to experience what full-service real estate truly means. It’s time to find out how d’aprile properties has distinguished itself as the premiere real estate brokerage in the Midwest.

It’s time to discover what makes d’aprile different.







Tips for Accommodating Your Home-Based Business’ Growth Spurt

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Once again, we welcome Jim Vogel, co-founder of ElderAction, who focuses on helping ensure seniors thrive throughout their golden years by sharing pertinent resources and information.

Do you run a business out of your home? If so, you’re in good company. A recent study showed that more than half (69 percent) of all businesses in the United States were started in someone’s home. In fact, even Apple got its humble start as a home-based business when Steve Jobs launched it from a garage. (That very same garage is now listed as a historic site.)

For Carrie Wilkerson, founder of The Barefoot Executive, the primary motivation for starting a business was getting out of debt and providing a better life for her children. As a wife and mother, Carrie worried that long hours spent working at a day job would prevent her from watching her children grow up. She decided to start her own home-based business, and now runs multiple six-figure businesses from her own home — and with the love and support of her family.

Although it’s true that not all businesses will see the success that Wilkerson or Jobs have seen, that doesn’t mean your business can’t be successful. You’ve probably heard that most small businesses don’t survive their first year, but new data is actually showing this might not be true. On the contrary, the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that only 20 percent of businesses survive their first year. Nearly half of all businesses survive for five years or more, and one in three businesses will last 10 years or longer.Whatever your reasons for starting a business might be, if you’ve survived this long and your business is growing, congratulations! You’re living every small business owner’s dream. Now that sales are rolling in and the demand for your products and services is increasing, all the freedoms of running your own business from home are at your fingertips.

Although it’s a good problem to have, sometimes business growth means your home office can no longer accommodate the site of your business. If that’s the case for you, then it’s time to find a way to make your home accommodate your business growth so you can reach your full potential. For many small business owners, that means two things: upsizing your home and funding more growth.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Upsizing Your Home

If your home no longer accommodates your business, consider upsizing. There are a few key things that home-based entrepreneurs should look for in a new home.

  • Price and expenses. Before moving into a bigger house, make sure you can afford it. It won’t do your business any good if you are stuck in a mortgage that’s beyond your budget. You’ll either get burned out with the hustle or you might have to give up your business ventures all together to focus on making ends meet with a full-time job.
  • Office space. Home-based business owners have to consider something that other homeowners don’t: where to work during the day. You’ll need a quiet, distraction-free room that is large enough to accommodate any office supplies, inventory, desks, and other equipment related to your business.
  • Location, location, location. Consider how conveniently located your new home will be, including high-speed internet access and distance to clients.

Funding Your Growing Business

Regardless of whether you’re upsizing your home, you’ll also want to consider how you’ll fund your continued business growth. Business credit cards or loans can be a great way to do this. When securing a credit card or loan for your business expenses, it’s important to understand processing fees and rates and how to lower transaction fees.

The things listed above may not be the most fun considerations when running a business or purchasing a new home. However, it is crucial to consider them before you make a big decision. Otherwise, you might get locked into a mortgage for 30 years that isn’t right for you and only ends up hurting your business. Save yourself some trouble and money by researching these things in advance so you can make the right decision for you — and for your business.

Photo Credit: Death to Stock

Living in a Land of Virtual Realty

The shape of the real estate industry is constantly being molded by new technology.  These changes don’t come at a crawl, but rather in leaps and bounds – allowing realtors the opportunity each and every season to create new and unique ways to provide value to their clients.  Key card lock boxes offered the freedom to view properties at all times of day.  High resolution photography allowed sellers to show off the true beauty of their homes, no matter the season.  And virtual floor plans gave potential buyers a real feel for the flow of a particular home without ever stepping foot in the property.

Today, Virtual Reality is dramatically changing the way that people view property listings, thanks to a company called Matterport.  The startup has developed a unique camera that is geared toward professional real estate photographers.   Through the utilization of special software, the camera is able to capture 3-D images to create completely immersive virtual tours.  Customers view listings via the use of VR headgear, transporting them instantly into a virtual property of their choosing, without ever physically leaving the confines of their agent’s office.

Imagine the possibility of a person living in California – whose job will be relocating them to the Chicago area – being able to participate in a full-fledged tour of a city property, without ever having to jump on a plane.  With a step forward and a movement of their head, they can look closer at the backsplash in the kitchen to make sure it meshes nicely with the countertop.  Even more dramatic will be the ability to take a few extra steps out on to the virtual balcony, to see just how much they would enjoy having their morning coffee staring out at an incredible Chicago skyline. 

But the VR headset isn’t even a requirement – the technology is already available on special tablets.  Soon, Matterport will also roll out a mobile version, allowing customers to view complete 3D tours right from their smart phone.  Never before has home searching been more accessible than it is today.  Imagine what tomorrow will bring…

Is Chicago the new Silicon Valley?

Chicago beat the tech industry giant to come in third nationwide in technical job growth in 2015.  Now, thanks to a new public school program spearheaded by Mayor Emmanuel, the city is working to move further up that list by encouraging Chicago youth toward a possible career in technology.

After a unanimous vote by the Board of Education late last month, Computer Science is now a graduation requirement for all Chicago public high schools.  Currently, only 25% of schools across the nation even offerthe course. 

By ensuring that today’s students are exposed early on to the possibility of a career in computer sciences, we can help guarantee that future generations of Chicagoans are fluent in the language of the 21st century. 

For more on how Chicago is spearheading this trend, see the link included below.

Companies Like Facebook Should Pay Attention To What’s Happening In Chicago