divider

Fournier Law Blog

Intelligent legal insight from our team of experienced attorneys.

separator

How Do Chicago Residents Feel About Rent Control?

/ 0 Comments

If you have ever rented or try to rent real estate in Chicago, you have seen first-hand how rental rates have increased.  Pricing many, wishing to rent property, out of desirable neighborhoods.   What you may not be familiar with is the 1997 Illinois state law, prohibiting rent control in the state, has allowed landlords to significantly raise rental prices and create  “rent-burdened” residents.

However, changes to this law could be considered soon.  If a recent advisory referendum vote is an accurate indicator of how most Chicago residents feel about rent control, ending the ban on rent control will be welcome by Chicagoans.

According to an article published by Crain’s Chicago Business, written by Dennis Rodkin, the advisory referendum was placed on almost 80 precincts’ ballots.  The result was that in each of the 76 precincts, “at least 60 percent of the votes cast were in favor of lifting the ban, and in most the figure was above 75 percent.”  Its seems that lifting the ban is widely supported.  Only time will tell if change to this ban will come as a result.

Read the entire article.

Learn More
separator

Will the New Tax Law Affect Your Home’s Value?

/ 0 Comments

Many read and listened to news reports at the end of 2017 detailing the new tax laws signed by President Trump.  There were many people and news outlets scrambling to understand the changes that were introduced.  Of course, there was much speculation about the impact of the changes.

Recently, CNN published an article detailing how the new tax laws will slowly begin to impact the value of homes across the United States.  In the article, written by Kathryn Vasel, some specific effects are detailed.

For one, the new tax law reduced the amount of interest on mortgage debt eligible for deductions from $1 million to $750, 000.  Vasel explains that many buyers in the market for high-end, high priced homes might be more likely to negotiate a lower price in order to compensate for the smaller tax break.   Purchasing homes might also be less attractive to buyers because they aren’t able to deduct as much of their real estate taxes.  The tax law reduced the cap to $10,000; in many high-cost markets, home owners pay significantly more than $10, 000 in property taxes.

The financial impact of the tax cuts might result in increased interest rates and, subsequently mortgage rates.  An increase in mortgage rates could keep some buyers out of the market and force home sellers to reduce prices in order to attract buyers.

Read the entire article.

Learn More
separator

Tips for Protecting Real Estate Consumers from Costly Scams and Fraud

/ 0 Comments

If you were to ask a room full real estate professionals if any of their clients were victims of wire fraud during a real estate transaction, chances are there would be many who might raise their hands.  In fact, according to an article published by Realtor Mag, “The Threat of Wire Fraud is Real”, “Wire fraud topped the list as a sophisticated scam causing consumers to lose millions of dollars each year”.  As alarming as that idea may be, real estate professionals can put some simple safe guards in place to help protect their clients.

In the article, written by Erica Christoffer and Graham Wood, a number of suggestions are touched upon.  For example, “If you or your agents do engage in a wire transfer with a client, call them on the phone immediately prior to the transfer of funds so they know they’re sending money to the legitimate source.”  Additionally, make your clients aware that you do no discuss personal financial information over e-mail and review with them what your communication practices are.  Hopefully, with this mutual understanding between you and your client, if they receive questionable e-mails, a red flag will be raised immediately before any sensitive financial information is shared.

Clients should also be reminded to not only use strong passwords, but update them regularly.  Perhaps even updating a password just before any wire instructions are sent.  As a real estate professional, you should also follow these guidelines for strong and updated passwords.

Read the entire article.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Blogtrepreneur

Learn More
separator

What Impact with Automation have on Real Estate Needs?

/ 0 Comments

As the age of automation descends upon us, experts analyze its vast and far reaching economic impacts.  One fairly obvious and direct impact is upon employment, as robots and automation eliminate the need for people to complete certain types of work.

Bisnow.com published an article on September 6, 2017 describing some of the findings of a recent report by Carl Benedikt Frey and Citigroup.   Specifically, the article notes that retail jobs will be severely impacted by automation, with Frey suggesting that the retail industry employment is “likely to vanish”.  The impact of this is broader than the elimination of jobs such as manufacturing, which are geographically concentrated.  Frey indicates, “the downfall of retail employment will affect every city and region”.

As these changes begin to take place, a notable effect is a decrease of a need for retail space, resulting in empty storefronts and malls across the United States.  However, what may not have been anticipated was the increased demand for warehouse space.  It is estimated that more than 2.3 billion square feet of new space will be needed for warehousing between now and 2035.  This could require more “mixed-use development, which normally means residential sitting alongside retail or sometimes offices…” according to the article.

Read the entire article.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Seth Werkheiser

Learn More
separator

Myth Busters: The Truths of Pricing and Selling Your Home

/ 0 Comments

One of the most important decisions a home owner who has decided to sell their home can make is what the list price of the home should be.  Emotions, financial strains, and decisions based on inaccurate or misunderstood information can lead to a disappointing and frustrating sales process.

In an article published by Realtor.com, Cathie Ericson helps debunk home pricing myths that might have home sellers hung up on their list price.   Reviewing these myths and understanding the truth about the pricing, listing and hopefully selling a home will help sellers start out on the right foot.

One myth sellers may believe that if a home is overpriced, it can just be lowered later without any negative effects.  As Ericson points out, lowering a price is not a quick and easy fix.  Many house hunters notice when a home has been on the market for a while and know when there have been numerous price reductions.   As she states,  “… buyers presume that something must be wrong with it. As such, they might still steer clear, or offer even less than the price you’re now asking.”

When deciding on a listing price, sellers may be turned off by the idea of pricing their home too low, assuming they will not make as much money in the sale.  However, low priced homes might just attract more buyers and the increased interest in the home might result in a bidding war.

The article details the truth behind other myths such as recouping 100% of the cost of home renovations, the real estate agent’s stake in the pricing strategy and the whether all home owners make money on the sale of their home.  Read the entire article.

Learn More
separator

Scams Targeting Homeowners: Be Sure You Don’t Fall Victim

/ 0 Comments

It seems that almost daily we read or hear reports and warnings of scams aimed at consumers which can result in significant financial losses.  It is imperative that consumers remain vigilant in protecting their assets and investments; especially in the age of hacking, privacy breaches, robo-calling and phishing scams.  It can be overwhelming to keep up with the warnings; however, a recent article published by U.S. News and World Report by Devon Thorsby offers some sound and easy to follow advice.

For homeowners and prospective homeowners, down payments sent via wire transfers have ended up in the hands of high tech thieves instead of their mortgage companies.  Emails sent from mortgage brokers to their clients with wire transfer instructions can get intercepted by hackers.  The hackers are then able to change the wire instructions in the e mail prior to the customer receiving the message.  In the end, the customer receives an e mail with modified wire instructions and then ends up wiring the funds meant for a home closing directly to the hackers account.

To avoid this type of scam, one broker indicated “she instructs all of her clients to have the title company and bank communicate directly…and verify where the money is going, what the value number is and what the account number is… in any other situation where you have to authorize your bank or title company to do anything, rather than scanning and emailing any personal information or signed authorization, [she] instructs clients to send it via fax to eliminate the possibility of theft from an email hack.”

Thorsby provides additional advice to avoid telephone phishing scams that can result in financial hardships.

Read the entire article.

Learn More
separator

Why Are More Americans Choosing to Rent instead of Buy Homes?

/ 0 Comments

The debate over why households choose renting over purchasing a home in the United States has been a hot topic lately.  Analysts have indicated the young generation of millennials are not interested in being tied down to home ownership and prefer renting over buying. However, an article published by CNN by Daniel B. Kline, points out that it is not just millennials who are opting to rent instead of making a home purchase.  Kline also notes that the decision to rent may not be a lifestyle choice, but a financially driven decision.

It is true that the number of households renting a home has increased over the past decade; almost by 10 million.  It is also true that 65 percent of household headed by those 35 years old and younger rent their homes.  However, it’s the heads of households aged 35-44 that made the biggest increase over the past decade.  In this age group, “the percentage of renters jumped from 31% in 2006 to 41% in 2016”.   Heads of households between 45-65 renting homes also increased over the past decade.

However, these households may not all be renting based on lifestyle choices.  In fact, research indicates that many who rent homes would actually like to purchase a home someday.  Further, surveys show that 65% of renters indicated that they are renting homes due to circumstances, not purely by choice.  Circumstances such as increased home prices and tougher mortgage standards may be partially to blame.

Read the entire article.

 

 

 

Photo Credit:  Mark Moz

Learn More
separator

How Is Student Debt Affecting Real Estate Trends?

/ 0 Comments

Student debt is a thorn in the side of many college students years after they receive their diploma.  The rising cost of tuition and debates as to whether students should be responsible for paying for their college education have been hot topics for several years.   According to an article published by Bloomberg, written by Chris Bryant, “In the U.S., where aggregate student debt has surged 170 percent in a decade, recent graduates owe $34,000 on average. About 5 percent owe more than $100,000. “

This may not seem like an issue that older generations would be worried about.  Their student loans have long been paid off, they may have even helped finance their children’s college education, leaving them debt free from college loans.  However, as the article points out, this mounting debt is a factor in some negative economic trends that affect many, even older generations.

Because the generation of millennials will be dedicating funds to pay their student loans off, with salaries that have not rebounded from the 2008 recession, their focus will not be on purchasing a home.  They are struggling to set money aside for a down payment.  Missed loan payments for student loans can affect credit scores, making mortgages harder to come by.    As baby boomers look to downsize homes in retirement, it might be difficult to find buyer from the next generation who can afford to purchase it.

Read the entire article.

Learn More
separator

Zillow’s Instant Offers: Should We Be Concerned?

/ 0 Comments

Many home owners and those shopping for homes are familiar with the popular real estate website Zillow.com.  It provides information on not only homes for sale, but estimated values of homes, called “zestimates”, based on a combination of factors.  These zestimates have recently come under fire; nonetheless, Zillow has begun to introduce a new feature, “instant offers”, and some real estate professionals are sounding warning alarms.

In an article published in LinkedIn by Greg Hague, “Zillow’s Secret Plan”, concerns about Zillow’s business model are detailed.  Specifically, Hague warns that the instant offers will most likely come from real estate investors looking to purchase a home at a below market value, only to turn around and sell for a profit.  Further, the seller will have to pay a hefty service fee that does not include professional services such as appraisers, attorneys and real estate agents.

Hague summarizes that ultimately, Zillow is “…trying to commoditize real estate so that homeowners sell to online investors who then sell to retail buyers. If that happens, millions in homeowner equity will be transferred into the pockets of middleman institutional investors. The big winners will be these firms’ shareholders.”

Read the entire article.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://401kcalculator.org

Learn More
separator

Sound Advice for First Time Home Buyers

/ 0 Comments

The real estate market has been improving significantly over the past several months.  Home prices are on the rise and homes aren’t sitting on the market for very long before going under contract.  This is great news for home sellers, but challenging for those looking to purchase a home.  First-time homeowners might find the conditions overwhelming and intimidating.

CNN Money published an article written by Beth Braverman which outlines several mistakes first-time home buyers make and tips for avoiding these pitfalls.  Important reminders noted include getting pre-approved for a mortgage early in the home buying process, not maxing out the mortgage limit provided by the lender and keeping emotions out of the decision making process.

It is highly recommended that all prospective home buyers get pre-approved for a mortgage early in the home buying process.  It allows the buyer to have an idea of how much money a bank is willing to lend them for a home.  As Braverman points out, “Second, it shows sellers that you’re serious and gives you slightly more standing if you’re competing for homes with all-cash buyers.”  This can be an important advantage in a competitive market.

However, upon receiving a pre-approval, home buyers maybe anxious to bump their budget up to the maximum amount the bank has approved.  It is wise to review a detailed budget to be sure the monthly budget can handle the mortgage payment, including potential income changes and other unexpected housing expenses.

As the home search continues, there will be bumps in the road, houses lost to other buyers or dream homes priced just outside the budget.  Braverman warns, “In that kind of environment, it’s easy to fall in love with a house that’s out of your budget, or get caught up in the heat of a bidding war and end up paying more than you expected.”  Being level headed and taking emotions out of the decision making process will ensure financially wise decisions are made.

For more details and additional tips, read the entire article.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Merio

Learn More
separator