Looking for tips and advice when it comes to all aspects of buying or selling your home?
Want to learn more about the Starved Rock Area?
Our Blog Provides You With Some Helpful Information To Get Started.


Think Home Prices Are Going To Fall? Think Again

Over the last few years, housing prices have boomed. The primary cause of this rapid increase was the balance between supply and demand. There was low supply but high demand; thus, prices rose to account for the new equilibrium. Homebuyers and sellers are wondering: will prices crash in the future? 

Currently, prices are still rising, but nowhere near the same rate as before. The slow but steady increase is still due to the low supply of houses on the market. Though housing demand is lessening, there are still not enough homes to accommodate all those searching the market. Professionals’ predictions are numerous and filled with jargon, so we’ve gathered the basics below. 

The Future of the Housing Market

Expert housing market data analysis over the last few years shows unrelenting price increases. Despite this, they are confident the gains will be much more moderate now that homebuyers are decreasing in number. A softening demand means inflated prices don’t have to rise as steeply to meet the market equilibrium. 

However, they do maintain that the current growth rate is unsustainable and will ultimately become stagnant or decrease at some point. The higher mortgage rates and an eventual increase in inventory are the main reasons prices will slow. However, even with this in mind, these experts are sure “some point” will not be soon. 

As prices keep growing, the time to buy is now. The costs are rising at a moderate level, and if you bought today and wanted to sell tomorrow, you could make a profit. Additionally, mortgage rates may continue to increase in the future, so better to enter the housing market when they are at a manageable cost. Buying now is an investment, and your home equity will be the bearer of this reward. 

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, let Starved Rock Realty represent your needs. We understand many kinds of taxes and financing: VA, FHA, USDA, Fixed, and Conventional, to name a few, so increased housing prices won’t break the bank. Additionally, we can recommend local banks to work through mortgage rates and housing deals. Our over 25+ years of experience means we’ve seen the housing market fluctuate in the past. Having knowledge and expertise in reading these trends is imperative to a successful housing experience. 

Contact Us Today

Want more information on the ins and outs of the housing market? Contact Starved Rock Realty. Our experienced professionals can help you buy and sell your home in any market. Our guarantee is customer satisfaction and ensuring homebuyers are informed on the latest trends. 

We build our partnerships on trust and communication, promising to meet all your expectations. Call (815) 667-9990 or email us at for more information. You can also visit our website for our available listings and agents. 

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Why Pre-Approval Is Key For Homebuyers

In a world of increased inflation, competitive bidding wars, and high prices, mortgage pre-approval is more critical than ever. To stand out in a crowd of buyers and feel confident about your budget, this simple process needs to take place before you give an offer. A pre-approved loan or mortgage form gives sellers financial security and decisive information. Offering this slip of paper puts you one step closer to buying your dream house. 

The Benefits

Mortgage pre-approval, attained when a lender reviews your finances and determines how much you can borrow, is incredibly beneficial to homebuyers. As the number of buyers to sellers is 3:1, homebuyers need a competitive edge when giving their financial offers. Therefore, any extra step you can take may be the difference between a seller choosing you over another homebuyer. 

Additionally, allowing a lender to review your finances may help you decide on a budget in the long run. Knowing what you can afford based on your finances is imperative in all aspects of life, whether for this house or the next. 

Not only will this give you clarity with your budget, but you can also feel more confident knowing you can secure a loan. Already having the possible loan amount will save you a step later in the homebuying process. 

At the end of the day, if a seller chooses between homebuyers, they will choose the one with a mortgage pre-approval. Though simple, this number tells the seller you are a serious and qualified homebuyer. Don’t lose your next house because of faulty preparation; get your pre-approval letter now. 

Contact Us Today!

Starved Rock Realty prides itself on providing exemplary customer service, impeccable knowledge of our local area and the current conditions of the market. We can assist in connecting you with local lenders that understand the local market and area! And we’ll take every measure to ensure you are satisfied with all your real estate needs and will do whatever it takes to be worthy of your business. 

To learn how Starved Rock Realty can help you buy or sell a home, visit our website or call us today at 815-667-9990. Follow us on Facebook for the latest tips on navigating the world of real estate. 


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Tips for First-Time Home Buyers, Part 2

You've decided it's time to buy your first home. Congratulations! This is a huge decision, and there is a lot to learn to make the process as smooth as possible. 

In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about buying your first home. We'll cover home inspections, finding the perfect home, determining what size you'll need, and more. By the end of this post, you will be ready to start your home buying journey with confidence.

Now it's time to start looking for your perfect home! There are a few things to keep in mind when you're home shopping. 

The first step is finding a professional and experienced real estate agent who knows the area well and can help you with the home buying process. They will be able to help you negotiate the purchase price, get financing, and more.

Next, you need to determine what size home you'll need. This depends on the number of people living in the home and your lifestyle. Once you have a good idea of the size of home you need, you can start narrowing down your search by location and price range.

When you find a home you're interested in; it's essential to have a realistic idea of what you can afford. This includes the purchase price of the home and things like repairs, closing costs, and furnishings. Once you have a clear picture of your budget, you can start looking for homes that fit within your price range.

Finally, schedule a home inspection. This step is essential to identify any potential problems with the home before making an offer. The home inspector will look at the structure, electrical and plumbing systems, and any signs of pests or other damage. After the home inspection, you will better know what repairs may need to be made before you move in.

Now that you know everything you need to know about buying your first home, it's time to start the exciting journey! Keep these tips in mind, and you'll be on your way to finding the perfect home for you and your family.

Starved Rock Realty prides itself on providing exemplary customer service, impeccable knowledge of our local area, and the current conditions of the market. We take every measure to ensure you are satisfied with all your real estate needs and will do whatever it takes to be worthy of your business. 

To learn how Starved Rock Realty can help you buy or sell a home, visit our website or call us today at 815-667-9990. Follow us on Facebook for the latest tips on navigating the world of real estate.
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Tips for First-Time Home Buyers, Part 1

There’s a first time for everything! When a baby takes their first steps-talk about a milestone! The first time you get behind the wheel of a car and drive down the street-huge life moment! First kiss, first time falling in love, first time traveling out of the country - we could go on and on with a list of significant milestones. But what about the first time a person buys a home of their very own? 

There are few decisions in life as meaningful as this, and, like any significant moment in life, it needs to be celebrated! But when it comes to buying a home, the moment for celebration must come AFTER the hard work is done. As with any big project, a successful home buying experience is all about getting the details gathered right from the beginning until the moment the movers bring in your furniture.  

Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind if you are buying a home for the first time. (Hint: Because there’s SO much to know, stay tuned for our next blog for even more things to know for first-time home buyers.)

Understand the Costs

NerdWallet details the main costs to consider when saving for a home so that you can know what you can afford and not go over budget. First, there’s your down payment. Your down payment requirement will depend on the type of mortgage you choose and the lender you select. Some conventional loans for first-time buyers allow as little as 3% down (but only if you have excellent credit). But that 3% still could mean high costs (that’s $9,000 on a $300,000 home, for example). On top of the down payment, closing costs typically range from 2 to 5% of your total loan amount. And don’t forget move-in expenses; it’s wise to set money aside for immediate home repairs and furnishings. 

Watch Your Credit Score

Your credit score determines whether or not you can qualify for a home mortgage. Not only that, but it will impact the interest rate a potential lender will offer you. The better your credit score, the lower the interest rate, and that’s good news for you! Strengthen your credit score by paying your bills on time, keeping credit card balances low, and keeping credit cards open.

Get a Preapproval Letter

This step is crucial in today’s competitive real estate market, where the inventory is low and sellers are going with the most competitive offer possible. A preapproval letter from a lender is their offer to loan you a certain amount of money under specific terms. This letter will show sellers and real estate agents that you are a serious buyer. 

Knowing how to navigate an intimidating and competitive real estate market like our current one takes an expert hand, especially if you are a first-time home buyer! Fortunately, Starved Rock Realty can help you navigate the process and get you in the home of your dreams. 

Starved Rock Realty prides itself on providing exemplary customer service and impeccable knowledge, our local area, and the current conditions of the market. We take every measure to ensure you are satisfied with all your real estate needs and will do whatever it takes to be worthy of your business. To learn how Starved Rock Realty can help you buy or sell a home, visit our website or call us today at 815-667-9990. Follow us on Facebook for the latest tips on navigating the world of real estate. 


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How to Buy a Home in a Seller’s Market

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many aspects of our lives to slow down. Countless people stopped commuting to the office and chose instead to work from home. Local shop owners shut down their businesses, and restaurants stopped providing dine-in services to their customers to help prevent the spread of the virus. But to the surprise of many, one thing that certainly did not slow down was the real estate market. 

If you are currently looking to sell your home, now is the time to do it! However, if you are currently looking to purchase a new home, you'll need as much information as possible to stand above the competition. And there will be PLENTY of competition when it comes to getting you into the home of your dreams. With today's current real estate circumstances (low home inventory and low-interest rates), people are willing to do just about anything to get into their next house. 

Here are a few things you need to know about buying a home in a seller's market, during a pandemic or otherwise:

Get Pre-Approved:

By obtaining pre-approval for a mortgage before you start shopping for your next home, you'll know how much buying power you have with any seller. USAA also explains how any offers you make will have much more credibility than competing offers where the buyers did not take the crucial step of pre-approval. 

Prepare to Pay More than Asking Price

It's rare to purchase a home at the actual asking price of a house, and that's even in the best of circumstances! In today's competitive market, most buyers are putting in offers of tens of thousands of dollars over the asking price-and even THAT isn't a guarantee to get you into the house! So when you are getting your pre-approval, use that number as the number you are willing to OFFER on a house. Unfortunately, you will probably search for homes with an asking price less than your pre-approval number. 

Be Willing to Compromise

When the inventory of homes is as low as it is in today's market, you likely can't afford to wait for the perfect house to hit the market, let alone be ready and waiting for you to buy it. That's why it's best to adjust your expectations. Remember that you can always start projects and make repairs on a house, but certain things, such as location and lot size, cannot change, and those are the criteria you should be willing to fight for. 

Be Patient

Rocket Mortgage advises its clients that it's easy to get frustrated in times like these. Unfortunately, the chances are high that you will lose out on homes you are interested in, and inexperienced buyers may get caught up in pointless bidding wars and offer more money than a home is worth. Take a deep breath, don't get discouraged, and be patient if this sounds like you. The house that you want and need will eventually find its way to you. 

Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

In a seller's real estate market, you need a real estate agent who not only has proven expertise in the local area but who also fully understands your needs, is responsive to your questions and requests, is efficient, and is respected. A qualified and trustworthy agent is sure to fight for you every step of the way and do anything possible to get you into your next home as quickly and as stress-free as possible.  

Knowing how to navigate an intimidating and competitive real estate market takes an expert hand. Starved Rock Realty prides itself on providing exemplary customer service and impeccable knowledge, our local area, and the current conditions of the market. We take every measure to ensure you are satisfied with all your real estate needs and will do whatever it takes to be worthy of your business.  

To learn how Starved Rock Realty can help you with buying or selling a home, visit our website or call us today at 815-667-9990. Follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest tips on how to navigate the world of real estate. 

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Why You Should Work with an Independent Real Estate Office

Buying or selling your home is a major decision. When choosing a real estate firm, it is important to not only choose one that has local offices, but one that is native to the area. ​The goal of a real estate agent is to facilitate the buying or selling of property, while protecting the interests and confidential information of the customer. Many times this goal gets clouded and detracted, due to larger real estate agencies that do not have a grasp on the local community and have to look out for other interests such as stockholders, board members, and other stakeholders. Here’s why you should consider an independent, local brokerage company when buying or selling a home:


With corporate structures come branding guidelines. Franchise brokers are limited on how they operate, brand, and market themselves. Independent brokers have the freedom and flexibility to run their own business, develop their own voice, and grant their agents more autonomy.


Franchisees experiment less compared to their independent counterparts. Corporate rigidity means less freedom to put dollars behind newer customer experience initiatives like free first-time homebuyer seminars, which independent brokers routinely host.


Whereas franchise brokers have higher overhead and may be less flexible when negotiating their commission, independent brokers want to ensure you have the best possible experience (even if it means working off-the-clock!).

Market Knowledge

Home buyers and sellers may feel franchise brands are not “community oriented” since franchise brokers often answer to out-of-market (and even out-of-state) franchisors. Independent brokers have in-depth market knowledge and are more likely to be active in their communities.

With over 20 years of experience, Starved Rock Realty has the knowledge and experience you’re looking for when buying or selling a home in the area. Starved Rock Realty agents are the experts you can trust to provide you the advantage you need in the market. Don’t just change your address, change your lifestyle. Learn how Starved Rock Realty can help you find what you’re looking for by exploring our website or calling us today at 815-667-9990.
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How To Give Yourself An Edge When House Hunting

House hunting can be one of the most exciting times in your life, but it can also be one of the most challenging. Before you start your search, it’s important to ask yourself some questions such as: What type of house do I want? What are my must-haves versus nice-to-haves? Where do I want to move to? What is my maximum budget?

The real estate experts at Starved Rock Realty have some tips to help you find the right home at a price you can afford.

Determine Budget/Get Pre-Approved

The very first thing you should do - even before you start looking at homes - is figuring out how much home you can afford. An online calculator can help determine your monthly mortgage payment based on home price, down payment, interest rate, and loan term. But, there are other costs besides the mortgage payment that needs to be factored into your budget. These costs include property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, home maintenance and repairs, and homeowner’ association fees (if applicable).

Once you’ve used a mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly payment, make sure you have a preapproval letter from your lender and not a prequalification letter.

  • A prequalification letter is when your lender states you are prequalified for up to a specific loan amount.. This is only a rough estimate based on your credit score and annual income.
  • A preapproval letter for your lender is the actual mortgage amount you qualify for. This amount is based on official documents including your credit report, bank statements, and W-2s. Thus, it carries more weight than a prequalification letter.

Often, real estate agents will wait until you get a preapproval letter before working with you. Sellers will also take you more seriously once you have a preapproval in hand.

Must-Haves vs. Nice-to-Haves

Everyone has an idea of what their dream home looks like, but chances are, your perfect home isn’t going to magically drop in your lap. Before shopping for your home, create a list of qualities you want in your new home and order them by importance. For example, a kitchen island may be more important than a walk-in closet in your bedroom. You could also sort these qualities into categories (i.e. must-haves, nice-to-haves, deal-breakers).

  • A must-have is a feature you simply can’t live without - such as a bedroom for each child or a first floor home office. Once you’ve created your list of must-haves, it will be easier to sort through real estate listings. However, if the home has unfinished space with the potential to add a desired feature, you may want to keep it on your home search list.
  • A nine-to-have is a want, but not an essential feature. Maybe it’s a feature you’d like to add in the future, such as a backyard deck or updating to stainless steel appliances. While these may be on your wish list, they aren’t a necessary need for your new home.
  • A deal-breaker is just that.  Let’s say you have visions of a backyard vegetable garden but the home has a small yard.  Or the home is out of your desired school district, the home would come off your list.
The nice thing about having a prioritized list of features is that it can be used to decide what houses are your final candidates.

Search Housing Websites

To get a feel of the housing market in your desired location, start browsing available listings online. Doing online research provides you an estimate of what an average home sells for in the area. It also gives you the opportunity to check out potential neighborhoods for parks, schools, crime rates, and other factors you want to consider during your home search. 

Once you’ve compared prices and features of homes that meet your must-haves and budget, save the addresses so you can explore the home and the neighborhood. Drive-by the properties, explore the neighborhood and compare local amenities to your list and your budget.

Work With a Real Estate Agent

Connecting with a local real estate agent can make your home search less stressful and more efficient. Our experienced realtors can help you narrow your home search, arrange private showings of homes you might have missed, and help you get the most out of your budget. We can also provide insight into the best neighborhoods and properties to meet your home buying needs.

View Homes In Person

Virtual open houses are great to get a general overview of the property, but the best way to get a feel of the home is to see it in person. You can arrange a personal showing with your real estate agent, or tour the property during an open house. When viewing a home, test the toilets, faucets, outlets, and appliances to see if they’re working properly. Make a list of needed repairs you would want the seller to fix should you decide to buy the house. As you view more homes, you’ll get a better idea of the right home and neighborhood for you. (Some viewings may require mask/gloves, so having some handy in the car will be helpful.) 

With 20 years of experience, Starved Rock Realty has the knowledge and experience you’re looking for when you’re buying or selling a home. Don’t just change your address - change your lifestyle! To learn more about how Starved Rock Realty can help with your real estate needs, visit our website or call us at 815-667-9990!


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Why Selling Your House on Your Own in 2021 Is a Mistake

There are many benefits to working with a real estate professional when selling your house. During challenging times, like what we face today, it becomes even more important to have an expert you trust to help guide you through the process. If you're considering selling on your own, known in the industry as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), it's critical to consider the following items.

1. Your Safety Is a Priority

Your safety should always come first, and that's more crucial than ever given the current health situation in our country. When you FSBO, it is incredibly difficult to control entry into your home. A real estate professional will have the proper protocols in place to protect not only your belongings but your health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours, real estate professionals are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your potential buyers.

2. A Powerful Online Strategy is a Must to Attract a Buyer

Recent studies
 from NAR have shown that, even before COVID-19, the first step 43% of all buyers took when looking for a home was to search online. Throughout the process, that number jumps to 97%. Today, those numbers have grown exponentially. Most real estate agents have developed a strong Internet and social media strategy to promote the sale of your house.

3. There Are Too Many Negotiations

Here are just a few of the people you'll need to negotiate with if you decide to FSBO:

- The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
- The buyer's agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
- The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find challenges with the house
- The appraiser, if there is a question of value

As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers looking to make what is probably the largest purchase of their lives.

4. You Won't Know if Your Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage

Having a buyer who wants to purchase your house is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. As a FSBO, it's almost impossible to be involved in the mortgage process of your buyer. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress being made toward a purchaser's mortgage commitment. You need someone who's working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table.

5. FSBOing Is Becoming More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint

The documentation involved in the selling process is growing dramatically as more and more disclosures and regulations become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the agent acts as a third-party to help the seller avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

6. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners think they'll save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent's commission. The seller and buyer can't both save on the commission. 

A study by Collateral Analytics
revealed that FSBOs don't actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The study found the difference in price between a FSBO and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%. One of the main reasons for the price difference is effective exposure:

"Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool." 

The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance a bidding war will take place, potentially driving the price higher, too.

Bottom Line

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction by yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent and still net the same amount of money? Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house alone, contact Starved Rock Realty to help. With over 25+ years of experience in the Starved Rock area, we'll work with you to get your listing out there and help you find a buyer fast. 
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    Is it Safe to Sell My House Right Now in La Salle County

    In today’s real estate market, the buzz is all about how it’s a great time to sell your house. Buyer demand is high, and there simply aren’t enough homes available to buy to meet that growing need. This means now is the time to make a move so you can close the deal on your ideal terms.

    Even in today’s strong sellers’ market, there are homeowners who are choosing not to sell due to ongoing concerns around the health crisis, financial uncertainty, and life in general. According to Zillow, here are the top three reasons homeowners who are thinking of selling sometime in the next three years are not putting their houses on the market right now:

    · 34% – Life is too uncertain right now

    · 31% – Financial uncertainty

    · 25% – COVID-19 health concerns

    If you identify with any of these, you’re not alone. Whether it’s the future of your employment situation or simply being uncomfortable having guests in your home for showings, life feels a lot different than it did at this time last year. The good news is, real estate professionals have spent the majority of 2020 figuring out how to sell homes safely, and it’s paying off for those who are choosing to move this year.

    Real estate agents are doing two things very well to make selling your house possible:

    1. Agents Are Implementing Technology in the Process

    While abiding by state and local regulations as a top priority, real estate agents are making sales happen safely and effectively by leveraging key pieces of technology. Agents know exactly what today’s buyers and sellers need and how to put the necessary digital steps in place. For example, agents have capitalized on the technology buyers find most helpful when deciding on a new home:

    · Virtual tours

    · Accurate and detailed listing information

    · Detailed neighborhood information

    · High-quality listing photos

    · Agent-led video chats

    They’re listening to their audience and leveraging the tools that help buyers get an initial look at a home without having to step inside. This helps reduce the number of people entering your home, so only those who are very seriously interested need to take the next step: in-person showings.

    2. Agents Are Facilitating Safe and Effective In-Person Showings

    After leveraging technology, if you have serious buyers who still want to see your house in person, agents are following the guidelines set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and utilizing safe ways to proceed. Here are a few of them, understanding again that the agent’s top priority is always to follow­ state and local restrictions first:

    · Limiting in-person activity

    · R­­­equiring guests to wash their hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer

    · Removing shoes or covering them with booties

    · Following CDC guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings

    Getting comfortable with your agent – a true trusted advisor – taking these steps under the modern-era safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you’re in a position where you need to sell your house sooner rather than later.

    As Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist for Zillow notes:

    “Homeowners who feel life is uncertain right now may think they can still get a strong price if they delay selling until they have more clarity. The catch is that waiting to sell may raise the cost of a trade-up. This fall’s record low mortgage rates, which make a trade-up more affordable on a monthly basis, are not guaranteed to last.”

    Bottom Line

    In this new era in our lives, things are shifting quickly, and virtual strategies for sellers may be your ideal option. Opening your doors up to new approaches could be game changing when it comes to selling your house while the market is leaning in your favor. As always, a trusted real estate professional can help you safely and effectively navigate all that’s new when it comes to making your next move.
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    Buying or Selling a Home During a Pandemic

    Have you thought about buying or selling your home in 2020?  

    The real estate industry came to a stand still in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now is slowly recovering in parts of the United States . It is possible to buy or sell a home in the current market, but the process might look different as well as pose new guidelines and challenges. 

    While no one knows what the “new normal” will look like, here are some things you may encounter when buying or selling a home.

    Stricter credit requirements

    According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the availability of mortgage dropped 16% in March 2020; it's lower level since June 2015. This drop means many lenders have more stringent criteria for mortgage applicants due to COVID-19. For potential borrowers with smaller down payment funds and lower credit scores, it may be more difficult to qualify for a mortgage. While this doesn’t mean qualification is out of the question, you may have to shop around a little more. 

    Open House safety protocols

    Since the pandemic, buyers and sellers have tried out virtual tours which allows people to view a home online from the comfort of their home. This has resulted in an increase of buyers making offers without physically setting foot in the house.

    Yet Showing Time through Midwest Real Estate Data MRED showed the following statistics: August 19, 2019 +17.3% from the year prior and 2020 +56.3% over 2019; September 10, 2019 +13.0% from the year prior and 2020 + 27.9% over 2019 and as of October 11, 2020, 2019% average was +0.1% from the year prior and 2020 is +25.8% over 2019.

    Per Illinois REALTORS®, it is legal to hold open houses (as of May 29, 2020) as long as extra safety precautions are taken. Some of these measures include limiting occupancy to ten people or less, practicing physical distancing, wearing protective face coverings and gloves and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces. Sellers may take precautions such as opening all interior doors so potential buyers can look inside rooms and closets. Buyers tend not to touch surfaces during in-home showings. 

    Prior to a physical showing, the buyer, seller, and real estate agent should decide on how and when the property will be shown based on Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations. 

    Drive-by appraisals

    A home appraisal is normally required for mortgage approval. However, nothing is normal in a post-COVID world including real estate. Some lenders are allowing desktop or drive-by appraisals so the appraiser doesn’t have to enter the home. To estimate the value of a home, the appraiser uses photos of the interior and exterior as well as market research data. 

    Unaccompanied home inspections

    Usually the buyer and real estate attend the inspection so they can ask questions about any issues and potential solutions immediately. Inspectors now are able to assess the home on their own and share their report, along with photos and video, with the clients. 

    This is not an ideal situation as underlying issues can get lost in translation. If you’re a potential buyer, carefully review the report and ask questions about anything you don’t understand or seems unclear. For sellers, verify that your inspector is taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The American Society of Home Inspectors recommends that inspectors wear disposable shoe coverings and use hand sanitizer before entering homes, wash their hands after inspecting kitchen and bathroom(s), and sanitizing surfaces after inspection. 

    COVID clauses

    There are usually penalties for not meeting deadlines or for backing out or a purchase as outlined in a home purchase agreement. According to the National Association of Realtors, real estate agreements include clauses to protect buyers and sellers if they have to delay or cancel an offer due to COVID-19 circumstances. These clauses may include, but are not limited to, government-mandated closures and availability of inspectors or appraisers. 

    Physically distanced closings

    Prior to COVID-19, your real estate agent would attend the closing with you. Now only the essential parties are at closings - usually the buyer, seller, and title company representative - and documents are passed across a six-foot table. Although there have been closings performed outdoors and through car windows. Many documents also are signed electronically in advance to expedite the process and limit physical contact.  

    If you’re looking for expert advice on buying or selling your home during the pandemic, Starved Rock Realty has more than 25 years of real estate experience and can provide you the support you’re looking for. To learn how Starved Rock Realty can help you with your real estate needs, contact one of our agents today or call us at 815-667-9990.
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    Preparing to Sell Your Home

    We’re all familiar with the story of the tortoise and the hare, but just in case you aren’t, here’s a quick summary. A speedy and confident rabbit decides to race a slow-moving yet motivated turtle. The hare decides to make plenty of stops along the way, confident that he will come out the victor in the end. But the tortoise never gives up, going as fast as he can for the entirety of the race, and eventually ends up the deserving winner. 

    Fables are a great way to teach young kids important values, but the lesson from this famous tale can also be applied to the world of real estate; specifically, the process of selling your home. When you make this crucial and life-changing decision, it’s easy to think that you have to act fast in order to sell your home fast. That’s what the hare would do in this situation! But taking a moment to pause, evaluate the state of your current house, and taking the necessary steps to make it as appealing as possible to buyers will ensure that your home is off the market at a remarkably speedy rate. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to preparing to sell your home.

    Depersonalize the Space

    When a buyer tours your home through an open house or through a scheduled appointment, they want to envision themselves in the space. Having family pictures covering every inch of every wall makes it hard for them to imagine anyone but YOU living there! Consider removing family photos and excess clutter to ensure your house looks appealing to buyers.

    Give the House a Good Scrubbing

    While you’re hiding family pictures (and storing them neatly, of course) you might as well get out the vacuum, mop, and Windex, because it’s time to give every room a thorough scrubbing. Cleaning a home is a simple yet effective way to make every square inch of your house memorable. According to Forbes, that means washing appliances, dusting every room, polishing faucets, and cleaning every window. Cleaning also includes removing any unwanted odors from the home, such as the scent of pets, which can be off-putting. 

    Focus on Landscaping

    Sure, you need to impress prospective buyers with what is inside the home, but if they find the outside of the house unappealing, there is a chance they may not even go in! That’s why putting a focus on landscaping is crucial to selling your home fast. The importance of curb appeal and how it can make or break a home sale cannot be underestimated—even houses have first impressions!

    When you decide to sell your home, it’s natural for impatience to kick in. But like the tortoise, if you take your time and do it the right way, your home will sell quickly to a worthy buyer. Starved Rock Realty prides itself on providing exemplary customer service and impeccable knowledge about the area. We take every measure to ensure you are satisfied with all your real estate needs and will do whatever it takes to be worthy of your business.  To learn how Starved Rock Realty can help you buying or selling a home, visit our website or call us today at 815-667-9990.

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    What Are the Top Questions I Should Ask My Realtor?

    When you are ready to make one of the biggest investments in your lifetime: the purchase of a house, you deserve to know whether your real estate agent is an experienced, top-notch pro that will help you land the home of your dreams at a price you can afford. Of course, not all agents are created equal, which is why Starved Rock Realty recommends you interview your agent before hiring them to help you with this important purchase. Below are some questions to ask a realtor you may want to consider. 

    How long have you been in realty?

    Realty professionals learn the business only through experience, so working with someone who’s been a realtor for at least a few years is essential.

    Which neighborhoods do you cover?

    Assuming you have an idea of the neighborhoods you’re interested in, you’ll want to find a realtor who is not only familiar with those areas, but can quickly tell you things about the area, like home prices, schools, cultural amenities, and more.

    How do you determine what your buyers are looking for in a home?

    Good agents provide clients with a list of questions that help narrow down the scope of their home buying search. They should also have a grasp on home prices  to let you know whether you are being realistic about the affordability of various home features or neighborhoods

    Tell me about your schedule and availability.

    Some agents work part-time or may not be available at certain times of the year, like holidays. Since homes can go so quickly, you want to assure your agent is available when you need them. Some agents work as part of a team rather than independently, so they should introduce you to the other team members and assure you feel comfortable with all involved. They should also inform you how they plan to keep in touch (phone, email, text, text), and how often. 

    How many homes have you sold to home buyers this year?

    Most real estate agents work both with home buyers and sellers. They often specialize in one or the other. In addition, there’s also an immense difference between working with home buyers and actually selling homes. Be sure to find out how many homes they in fact sold to home buyers as this is a clear measure of their success. 

    With 20 years of experience, Starved Rock Realty has the knowledge and experience you’re looking for when you’re buying or selling a home in the area. Don’t just change your address—Change your lifestyle. Learn how Starved Rock Realty can help you find what you’re looking for by exploring our website or calling us today at 815-667-9990.


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    Year-Over-Year Rental Prices on the Rise

    Looking ahead, 2020 is projected to be a strong year for homeownership. According to the Freddie Mac Forecast,

    “We expect rates to remain low, falling to a yearly average of 3.8% in 2020.”

    If you’re currently renting, 2020 may be a great time to think about making a jump into homeownership while mortgage rates are low. As noted in the National Rent Report,

    “the national rent index increased by 1.4 percent year-over-year.”

    With average rents on the rise, this year-over-year increase may not sound like much, but it can add up – fast. The math on how much extra it will cost you over time surely doesn’t lie.

    Here’s an example: On a $1,500 rental payment, an increase of 1.4% adds an additional $21 dollars per month to your payment. When multiplied by the twelve months in a year, it’s a $252 overall annual increase. The price continues to multiply when you rent year after year, as rental prices rise.

    History shows how average rental prices have been increasing each year, and there doesn’t seem to be much end in sight. Here’s a look at how rents have grown since 2012 alone:

    Courtesy of Keeping Current Matters

    Why not
     lock down your monthly housing expense, and at the same time build additional net worth for you and your family? If you’re thinking about buying a home, consider the financial benefits of what homeownership can do for you, especially while the market conditions are strong and current mortgage rates are low.

    Bottom Line

    With average rents continuing to rise, now may be a great time to stabilize your monthly payment by becoming a homeowner and locking into a low mortgage rate. Reach out to a local real estate professional to learn how taking advantage of the current market conditions might work for you.

    This blog was originally posted by Keeping Current Matters:
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    5 Reasons You Should Sell Your Home in Autumn

    When it comes to selling your home, there’s a common belief that the Spring and Summer seasons are the best time to sell. After all, it’s considered a time for renewal and an “Open House” can actually include open windows. But the belief that home buyers are only looking early in the year is exactly why listing your home later can be better for you. Let’s take a look at five reasons you should sell your home in Autumn and Winter. 

    Different Kinds of Buyers

    Families tend to look early in the year for a number of reasons, namely closing during the Summer. It helps with changing school districts and as well as taking summer vacation to make the move. But what that means is Fall is the time for younger buyers looking for their first home, or older or older adults moving for work, both of which are just as serious about buying.

    Less Competition

    For all the reasons previously mentioned, you’ll begin to see new listings flooding the market in Spring with sellers hoping to pick up those prospective family buyers. It’s this very reason why it can be hard to make your home stand out when there are so many options. With a plethora of options, you may find yourself in a weaker position when it comes to asking price.

    Market Demands

    Alternatively, being a fresh house on the market among the listings that didn’t sell that summer is a great way to stand out. In fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has found that buyers don’t cool with the season, and they’re just as ready to buy as they would be earlier. You might even find that less options on the market mean a higher demand and a stronger place to negotiate. 

    Faster Process

    Make no mistake, selling a home can be a process—one that’s not always speedy. An added benefit for Autumn home buyers is the availability to mortgage officers and movers. Homeowners looking to sell have the same luxury when it comes to scheduling home inspectors and renovators in case the house needs some updates before hitting the market. 

    Embrace the Season

    Imagine a chill that seeps through coats and scarves as they approach the next house on the list, and they’re greeted by a warm home and even a pie or two in the oven. Fall and Winter are unique in embracing first impressions and giving the sellers an edge to make their home feel welcoming. Why not decorate for the holidays, light some candles, and bring that cozy home feeling to life.

    Regardless of what season it is, you will find buyers looking for their new home. Don’t wait and don’t do it alone. With 25+ years of experience buying and selling homes, Starved Rock Realtors are the experts you can trust to provide you the advantage you need in the market. Don’t just change your address, change your lifestyle. Give us a call at 815-667-9990 or view our listings today to get started.


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    The Question of Renting or Buying

    To rent or to buy a house? At some point, almost every adult asks themselves that question. The American Dream is often synonymous with owning a home.  However, the ever-changing housing market often makes buying a house challenging. Before deciding to rent or to buy, here are some things to consider:  

    House Rental.  With HGTV and other home shows on television, our culture pressures Americans to automatically consider buying a house. That is not always a case, though, renting can be an ideal choice in certain circumstances, here are just a few:

    • You have student or consumer debt.  Debt is an ongoing burden. Clean your buying slate by eliminating the debt first. Continue to rent in the meantime. 
    • Your job requires transferring. Many large companies have rotational programs or advancement opportunities that may require you to move around. To make it worth your investment, most regions require living in that area for at least two to three years.
    • You need planning time.  Like any relationship, the commitment of buying a house should be carefully considered. This is not the time to act impulsively, even if you have the down payment handy.  Relatives and friends may pressure you to buy, but do not feel guilty about renting until you have a plan in place. 

    Buying a House.  While there is nothing like owning your own house and the pride that comes with it, there are many things to consider when deciding if you are ready to buy.  If you think you are ready to buy a house, consider the following:

    • Are you debt-free? It is difficult for a bank to authorize a mortgage if you are carrying huge student debt or consumer credit card debt.  You do not want additional debt with the burden of a mortgage. 
    • Do you have an emergency fund?  If you lost your job today, you need to pay your mortgage and your bills for at least three months while you look for a new job.
    • Do you have a 10-20% down payment? If you have the ideal 20% down, that means you will not have to pay the PMI, the private mortgage insurance.  A PMI protects your lender from going bankrupt if your circumstances stop you from paying the mortgage.  Consider these handy finance tools.
    • Your mortgage payment will be 25% or less of your monthly take-home income.  You know you can make the mortgage payment now, but what if the unexpected comes up and you are forced to spend more per month on something else. You will need plenty of wiggle room in your budget to achieve other goals, such as saving for retirement and saving for your children’s college funds. 

    If you’re looking for expert advice on whether you should buy or rent a home, Starved Rock Realty has over 25+ years of real estate experience and can provide you the support you’re looking for. To learn how Starved Rock Realty can help you buying or selling a home, contact one of our agents today or call us at 815-667-9990.


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    Confused About Buying a House?

    APR                PMI        LTV       Interest         Principal

    GRANTS      USDA         FHA             VA 


     We have helped clients understand all of the above so they could make an intelligent decision about what is right for them.


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