Chicago Real Estate News

 

April 1, 2020

CARES ACT PROMISES RELIEF

 

On Friday, March 27, the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, aka the CARES Act, was officially signed into law.

As a locally owned business working with you along every step of the residential journey, @properties views this bill as a truly heartening development amidst the monumental challenges of COVID-19.

We know there are many resources available to learn about the Act. However, we wanted to summarize some of the essential benefits – especially those that may directly or indirectly apply to your real estate needs. Here are some of the key pieces of the CARES Act and related measures:

 

One-Time Government Payment:

Americans will receive a one-time direct payment from the government, which should arrive within three weeks. The payment will be:

  • $1,200 for individuals making up to $75,000 per year

  • $2,400 for couples making up to $150,000 per year

  • $500 per child

  • Gradually reduced amounts up to maximum income limits of $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples

Use this calculator to see the amount you are likely to receive.

Unemployment Benefits

Federal and state unemployment benefits have been expanded to give more assistance to a larger group of people.

  • Benefits will be available for those who are unemployed, partially unemployed or unable to work because of COIVD-19.

  • Eligible groups have been expanded to include independent contractors and self-employed individuals.

  • The federal government will provide $600 per week on top of state unemployment payments. The federal assistance is available through July 31, 2020

  • State benefits have been extended by 13 weeks to a total of 39 weeks.

[ILLINOIS] For more information about unemployment benefits, click here.

[INDIANA] For more information about unemployment benefits, click here.

[MICHIGAN] For more information about unemployment benefits, click here.

[WISCONSIN] For more information about unemployment benefits, click here.

[GEORGIA] For more information about unemployment benefits, click here.

Small Business Loans

A number of small business loan programs have been expanded or created under the Act. These include SBA Bridge Loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The PPP is a powerful lifeline to small businesses and their employees, enabling eligible companies to borrow up to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll costs, up to $10 million. These funds can be used to continue paying employees, providing benefits and covering operational expenses such as rent and utilities. The loan offers partial or full forgiveness based on the business meeting certain requirements.

For more details, click here.

Mortgage Payment Relief

Though not mandated by CARES, certain banks and government entities are offering mortgage payment deferral or forbearance.

  • Borrowers whose loans are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may defer mortgage payments for 60 days. The deferred amount will be due upon loan maturity or sale of the property, whichever occurs first.

  • The entities will also allow forbearance, in which the borrower may lower or suspend payments, initially for six months and potentially for up to a year. However, the full amount must be repaid at the end of the forbearance period.

  • Late charges, penalties and reporting of past-due payments to credit bureaus are suspended.

  • Fannie and Freddie also have halted all foreclosure sales until May 17, 2020.

  • Many banks are offering similar programs but as of right now tend to be working with borrowers on a case-by-case basis.

Further guidance from the government should be forthcoming on a number of elements of the CARES Act.  Please continue to think of us as a community resource in the days and weeks ahead. Together, we will weather the storm and make a strong recovery.

March 25, 2020

8 Ways to Make the Most of Social Distancing

 

 

As we spend more and more time indoors this month, we wanted to share a few ways you can take advantage of being home. So whether you’re catching up on sleep, learning a new skill, or planning your next well-deserved vacation, make the most of it! Here are some things you can do while you practice “social distancing.”

 

1. Start Spring Cleaning Early

There’s no time like the present to get ahead on spring cleaning. With many of us working from home these days, it’s important to show your space a little love by deep cleaning the bathrooms, kitchen, and common areas. Be sure to clean less obvious places such as light switches, doorknobs, remote controls, and phones. This is also a great time to tidy up à la Marie Kondo.

2. Exercise

While most gyms and group fitness classes are closed for the time being, there are still ways to stick to your New Year’s resolution of staying healthy. YouTube has a great selection of free workout videos, with everything from yoga to Pilates to HIIT exercises. The following local and national fitness studios are also hosting online workout classes that you can do right in your living room without any equipment:

3. Learn a New Recipe

Now that you’ve got some extra time on your hands, treat yourself to some delicious new recipes. Don’t know where to start? New York Times is offering a free trial to a 30-day guide of at-home lunches. And for some dinner ideas, check out these easy, pantry-friendly recipes from HuffPost.

4. Have a Game Night

Tap into your competitive side and whip out the board games and deck of cards. Classics like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit will keep you occupied, and then there are the even more involved games such as Catan and Dungeons & Dragons, which can have you playing for hours, maybe days, on end. Both are available for purchase and delivery on Amazon Prime.

5. Host a Virtual Book Club

Technology is on your side when it comes to starting a new book during social distancing. Amazon’s Kindle app makes it even easier, so all you need is your computer, phone, or tablet. Pick a book with your crew and reconvene via video chat to discuss.

6. Start Planning Your Next Vacation

With travel plans likely postponed for the next several weeks, give yourself something to look forward to. Start planning the trip of your dreams. It may be a little while before you can take it but, having something exciting planned for the future will brighten your outlook. Not sure where to go? Let this random destination generator choose for you. You can narrow your destination options down to a specific continent and see in-depth facts about the location, flights, and hotel accommodations.

7. Just Dance

You no longer need a video game console to experience the fun of Just Dance. Routines from the popular dance video game are available through Just Dance Now, and will quickly turn your living room into a dance floor. All you need is an internet-connected screen and a smartphone. Depending on what routine and difficulty level you select, you may even count this as your workout for the day.

8. Catch Up On Popular TV Series and Movies

Did you miss out on the Game of Thrones craze? Perhaps you never got a chance to watch every episode of The Office or you’ve only seen one Harry Potter movie. Luckily, there are plenty of streaming platforms available for you to binge-watch pop culture favorites or any other movies and shows that have fallen by the wayside.

No matter how you plan to spend your time social distancing, stay safe and let’s remember to look out for each other.

By: Arianna Frederick - the communications coordinator for @properties.

March 18, 2020

Some schools shutting down for good

As students across the country adjust to learning outside of their classrooms, some states are preparing for the disruption to last the rest of the school year as the coronavirus outbreak continues.

Florida has canceled all tests for the year, Kansas has decided to keep schools closed, Arizona plans to announce the suspension of makeup days and California said parents should be prepared for their state to be next.

School closures are among the restrictions on group gatherings that are continuously increasing in order to curb the spread of coronavirus. Guidance against large groups has only been issued for 15 days, but President Trump has said the pandemic might not subside until July or August. So far, 39 states have decided to close schools, affecting more than 41 million students, according to Education Week.

After consulting with education professionals, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly ordered the closure of all K-12 schools in the state for the rest of the year. The decision came Tuesday, and Kelly along with Commissioner for Kansas State Department of Education Randy Watson tasked school personnel with designing plans for continued learning and meal distribution.

In Florida, all remaining testing for students K-12 have been canceled and there will be no grades calculated for the rest of the year, Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday.

For graduating students, all requirements will be evaluated without testing, he said. And parents of students in all other grades will have the choice to keep their child in the same grade for the 2020-2021 school year, DeSantis said.

Arizona state lawmakers plan to announce a plan Wednesday that would account for the possibility that students will be completing lessons at home through the end of May, Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Allen told CNN affiliate KNXV. Under the plan, a rule requiring students to be in school a minimum of 180 days would be suspended and schools would be required to develop alternative methods to deliver lessons.

Nearly all districts in California have been closed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, and public schools in the state with 6.1 million students will likely remain closed for the rest of the year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

"Don't anticipate schools are going to open up in a week, please don't anticipate in a few weeks," Newsom said. "I would plan and assume that it's unlikely that many of these schools, few if any, will open for before the summer break."

Short term closures likely will make little difference in the spread of coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, and closing schools for eight weeks or more is likely to have a greater impact on mitigation.

But the closures have posed new problems like how to make the transition to online and at-home learning. And officials are working to determine how not to leave behind those who rely on school for food and housing security or do not have the resources to access education online.

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March 18, 2020

All of a Sudden, The Airline Industry Disappears

Naturally, the big question on my mind is the same as yours… how long will this last and how bad will it get? Of course, we have no idea. We also have no data to accurately model what is happening right now, but that won’t stop me from trying.

I decided to take a look at previous shocks to see how airlines and passengers behaved. Let’s start with the response to the Spanish flu in 1918. It was brutal.

Ok, so obviously we can’t go that far back, but if it got you to chuckle, I’ll consider it a small victory.

Let’s go a little more recent and start with what happened around 9/11. I’ll focus on flights to/from/within the US. Naturally, I turned to Diio by Cirium and pulled up departure, seat, and passenger numbers by month using T100 data.

The drop was swift and brutal right after 9/11. You can see the first thing that happened was the number of passengers plunged. September 2001 saw 33 percent fewer passengers than the year prior, but remember that on some of those days, airplanes weren’t flying at all.

Airlines were left trying to play catch-up, but they did it quickly. The number of departures dropped down by 27.8 percent year-over-year at its nadir in December 2001. Seats were down just shy of 23 percent around that time. This, of course, doesn’t say anything about the dreadfully low fares that were being paid, but you get a sense of base demand.

Within a year, things had started to rebound. By December 2003 departures were down just over 6 percent from December 2000. Passengers were down nearly 10 percent. Even though they rebounded, those numbers didn’t reach their pre-9/11 levels for some time. In fact, as 2008 approached, they were still clawing their way back up when the next crisis hit.

The Great Recession that happened toward the tail-end of 2007 looked different.

The Great Recession was a less sudden shock than we saw after 9/11. The mortgage crisis and failure of the financial system led to weakness, but the final nail in the coffin was when oil prices skyrocketed toward $150 in 2008.

Though demand was weakened, the cost jump was what pushed airlines into action. After peak summer — peaking in November 2008 — they cut departures by as much as 22 percent year-over-year. Passenger numbers followed, naturally.

So, what will we see this time? Oh, it will be much worse.

The airlines, at least some, are already preparing for the battle. United led the way with an international cut of 25 percent, but it is now pushing a total system cut of 50 percent. Delta came later, but it’s going with a 40 percent cut. American slashed all of its long-haul widebody flying except for 17 measly flights per week. Even Southwest is cutting capacity by 20 percent, and it doesn’t even leave North America.

Even with these cuts, the situation is dire. United said its 50 percent cut would still leave it with a 20 to 30 percent load factor, so it may want to cut more. Even if the airline doesn’t want to cut more, it may be forced to do so. It wouldn’t shock me if the industry was forced to shut down completely for at least two weeks if not longer.

The profile here is more like 9/11 than the Great Recession. Both 9/11 and current reactions are fear-related, the former a fear of terrorism and the latter a fear of getting sick. After 9/11, there was plenty of uncertainty about whether more attacks would take place, and some people stopped traveling. But this coronavirus is different. There’s a general fear out there, and it has no expiration date. It won’t fade with time like the 9/11 fear. It will only fade when the virus’s spread goes on the decline or a vaccine is found.

I’ve heard many people suggest that everything will bounce back quickly once the threat is over, but every day that goes by suggests otherwise. The current piecemeal strategy of just banning entry from non-residents who have been to countries drip by drip is only going to drag this out. People will keep getting scared all over again each time another drip comes out.

If we continue down this path, it’s going to last a lot longer and the cuts will get deeper. I’m beginning to think dramatic action is more and more likely to be the best option. Shut it all down for 2 weeks or a month and then do a hard reset. That’s probably the best way to minimize the damage. And when that’s something that will minimize the damage, you know things are downright terrible.

Airlines are receiving fewer bookings than they are cancellations. That happened at 9/11 too, but not for that long. This may drag on. So those charts above may be interesting and instructive, but they might very well look like brief dips by the time this whole fiasco is done.

Blog - courtesy of the cranky flier

March 18, 2020

We are stronger together

 

You've already received a ton of e-mails from organizations talking about the precautions they're taking to keep you safe amid the COVID-19 outbreak. We can assure you that @properties' agents and staff are following the same precautions. So we wanted to instead take this opportunity to let you know a few things about @properties and about our current real estate market. Thank you so much for taking a minute to read this.

  1. WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT WE ARE PREPARED TO DO BUSINESS SAFELY - Over the past 10 years, @properties has developed proprietary technology, which gives our agents everything they need to do business without being physically present in an office or even a home. All files, marketing tools and transaction management tools are available on pl@tform™, which means that the resources and services you need from your real estate agent will not be interrupted due to coronavirus.  

  2. WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT WE ARE LOCAL - @properties is a local company, and we will draw upon the local resources and expertise of our nearly 3,000 agents, representing virtually every neighborhood and town in the region, to deliver the local information, services, advice and expertise you need now more than ever. Critically, we will also continue to support the ecosystem of locally owned and operated businesses that drive our local economy and employ local workers. Likewise, we thank you for your support.

  3. WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT WE ARE FLEXIBLE - Long before coronavirus, @properties had the ability to market, show and sell homes in a variety of ways. Now that flexibility is coming to the fore. Want buyers to view your home without being physically present? We have many video and virtual tools to make that happen. Want exposure prior to listing your home in the MLS? We can deliver thousands of eyeballs via @properties' exclusive pre-market apps. Want to enhance online marketing while more buyers are relying on digital? We can do that too. Note that the lone physical component to any quality marketing program is photography and video. And we want you to know that the strictest precautions will be taken in the capture of any new footage. Talk to your agent for details.

  4. WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT WE ARE AVAILABLE - The greatest ability is avail-ability, and @properties is here for you. We are working, we are advising, we are helping. So reach out an elbow and tell us what you need.

  5. WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT WE ARE GRATEFUL - We know this disruption is temporary, and that the world will rebound soon. But the events of the past couple of weeks also reinforce the appreciation we have for our clients and communities. So we approach the days ahead with a deep sense of gratitude for the problems we get to solve and the work we love to do.

Please stay safe, and don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or needs.

 

March 11, 2020

Coronavirus may stall U.S. economy

 

 

The coronavirus will stall the U.S. economy without causing a contraction, according to a Goldman Sachs forecast issued Sunday.

GDP growth will slow to 0.7% in the current quarter, the worst pace since the financial crisis, and grind to a halt in the second quarter, said the group led by Jan Hatzius, the investment bank’s chief U.S. economist.

The third quarter likely will see 1% growth, and the fourth quarter is expected to post a 2.3% expansion, according to the forecast.

“We lowered our Q1 GDP tracking forecast by two tenths over the past week to 0.7% based on a downward revision to January wholesale inventories and declines in U.S. and global trade volumes,” the report said.

The investment bank also is predicting the Federal Reserve will lower its benchmark rate by half a percentage point at its two-day meeting ending March 18 and another half a percentage point at its meeting a month later. That would put the rate in the 0.5% to 0.75% range, the lowest in three years.

The Fed made a rare inter-meeting emergency rate cut of half a percentage point last week in an effort to bolster the economy and calm coronavirus fears.

The coronavirus outbreak has sickened about 110,000 people in more than 100 countries and is close to being declared a pandemic, the World Health Organization said on Monday. Officials reported over 500 cases in the U.S. and 22 deaths from the disease named COVID-19.

The U.S. economy is struggling with the global impact of the coronavirus that emerged in China at the end of last year. Within two months, the number of people infected with COVID-19 surpassed the 2002 to 2003 total for SARS, the last time the world faced a similar challenge.

Back then, China accounted for about 4% of the global economy. Now, its share is about 17%. Quarantines in China have resulted in supply-chain disruptions for U.S. companies, as well as a drop in global trade volume and U.S. tourism.

By: Kathleen Howley, HW

March 4, 2020

MORTGAGE RATES NEAR RECORD LOWS

Chart, courtesy of Freddy Mac

 

The black solid line above demonstrates a resistance line where I predict

interest rates will bounce back up. After that, it's anyone's guess where

they go. 

 

Given the recent volatility of the 10-year Treasury yield, it's not

surprising that mortgage rates have dropped again. These low rates

combined with high consumer confidence continue to drive home sales

upward, a trend that is likely to endure as we enter spring. Check to see

if a refinance makes sense for you, HERE! 

 

Feb. 26, 2020

Are mortgage rates about to hit an all-time low?

 

 

The lowest mortgage rates ever occurred around Thanksgiving 2012, when the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.31% (according to Freddie Mac data). However, rising panic over the coronavirus could drive rates to lows never seen before.

The signs of record lows for mortgage rates are already emerging, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note falling to its lowest level ever during Tuesday’s trading.

In fact, several lenders have said that they have never seen borrowers get mortgage rates as low as they are getting right now.

So, what’s behind the potential record lows for interest rates? Blame the coronavirus.

Fears of corona virus are causing mortgage rates to fall by sinking stocks and boosting bonds. According to the WSJ, the yield on the 10-year T-Note, which serves as a benchmark for mortgages and other borrowing rates, fell to an all-tome low due to fears over the outbreak impacting the global economy.  

By: HW

Feb. 12, 2020

Valentines Day Gifts

Here are a few ideas if you’re in search of a fun gift:

 

1 | For the Music-Lover: Tickets to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Whether your partner is new to the symphony or is a seasoned concert-goer, tickets to a performance are a perfect gift. Spend the evening listening to a performance of your choice, and head over to Cindy’s Rooftop bar down the street for a night cap overlooking Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we recommend the Pink Drink cocktail.

Find a date and get tickets for the symphony HERE.

2 | For the One Who Needs Some R&R: A Staycation

Who doesn’t love a spa day followed by a hotel stay? We recommend the Aire Ancient baths, where you and your partner can relax in the thermal baths and be treated to amazing spa treatments. Best of all, they have a variety of Valentine’s Day packages for two. Afterwards, check into a luxury hotel downtown for the ultimate staycation. The Walfdorf Astoria, Godfrey, and Langham are all within a 10-minute drive from the baths.

Check out Aire Ancient Bath’s Valentine’s Day experiences HERE.

3 | For the One Who Loves a Good Show: A Night out at The Magic Lounge

The Magic Lounge in Andersonville pays homage to Chicago’s magic scene and has been drawing crowds of magic connoisseurs and curious newcomers since its inception in 2015. Get front row seats to watch magic that’s unique to Chicago up close or have a seat in the mezzanine and start the night off with a private show. The best part? The Magic Lounge isn’t limited to Valentine’s Day! Gift some tickets for a future date night. Tickets are available every day of the week throughout the year.

Find Tickets HERE.

4 | For the Adventurous One: A Private Class at Aloft Circus Arts

Tap into your inner child at Aloft Circus Arts, which prides itself on creating an environment where grown adults can go to feel like kids again. You and your partner can try the trapeze, aerial silks, or other acrobatics at this unique place

Private lessons start at just $70. Register HERE .

5 | For the One Who Loves a Good Dinner Party: An Evening at The Social Table

Avid entertainers will love nothing more than a class at the Social Table. It’s more than a cooking class and more than a dinner. Together, you and your partner will create a meal from start to finish before sitting down to enjoy it as a “family-style meal” with fellow classmates. The class is also great for anyone who loves to socialize and make new friends.

Book your reservation HERE.

Written by @properties. 

Feb. 5, 2020

Selling your home in the "SPRING"

There’s no time like the present to plan ahead. If you’re even thinking about selling your home early next year, there are a number of things you can (and should!) do now to prepare.

Here are a few tips to get your home market-ready before colder temps set in.

Ask your broker to order professional photos of your home’s exterior now

With the majority of buyers beginning their home search online, photos are often their first impression of your property. That’s why beautiful photography is an essential part of your real estate marketing strategy.

If you plan to list your home any time between now and next spring, you’ll want to have professional photos taken while the landscape is still colorful and leafy.

The same is true for video footage. A scenic backdrop puts your home in the best possible light, so the sooner photos and video are captured, the better.

Tackle outdoor repairs

Fall is a great time to take care of home improvement projects like exterior painting, roof repairs and replacing windows, as the weather tends to work in your favor. So if there is anything that needs to be done as far as home maintenance or sprucing up your curb appeal, now is the time.

Declutter and get organized

Most homes could stand a little decluttering – and that’s especially true before they hit the market.

Start getting organized so your home will be in tip-top shape for open houses and showings. This not only ensures you have plenty of time to prepare, but also means you won’t have to schlep boxes to the self-storage when it’s bitter cold and there’s snow on the ground.

Here are a few ways to declutter before you sell your home.

Request a Digital CMA (Comparative Market Analysis)

Ask your broker to prepare a CMA, which will give you an initial snapshot of your home’s value. Unlike a traditional CMA, which is a static report, @properties’ Digital CMA is continuously updating, meaning you always have the most accurate, real-time data right at your fingertips.

Keep in mind that pricing and market conditions can change between now and the time you list, but knowing where you stand today will be helpful in planning your next home sale or purchase. 

Written by Kelly Maguire @properties