Monday, July 24, 2006

Condos for seniors

As a condo resident and an attorney for various condo associations, the issues facing associations as residents age are fairly critical. The National Association of Realtors reported that 41% of condo buyers were over 45 years of age last year. I suspect this trend will continue as nursing home care gets more expensive (and the Deficit Reducation Act significantly cuts federal funding) and simply seniors prefer to stay on their own.

Really the only statutory guidance required of associations is the Fair Housing Act which requires reasonable accomodations for those with disabilities. These would include things such as parking spaces and service animals in non-pet buildings. Of course any costs to the association can be charged to the owner.

Other thoughts to enrich the lives of senior residents:
  • Require emergency contact information of all residents.
  • Amend governing documents to permit live-in caregivers and their vehicles.
  • Keep parking areas and building entrances well lit.
  • Create curb cuts in sidewalks.
  • Publish newsletters and announcements in large print.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Housing market temperature?

The U.S. Commerce Department came out with June housing starts numbers yesterday here. The numbers are sort of bleak nationally and not as bleak in the Midwest. The Midwest showed a 3% gain in new construction over the previous month which led the nation. However, year-to-year, Midwest housing starts declined 9.6% from last year. Here's the Trib.'s article.

On a personal level, our real estate group has had slightly more residential closings this year versus last. However, I can think of at least five close friends who have had homes on the market for a protracted period of time...I wouldn't mind a few more SALES.

Three cheers for a great escrow closer!

I had an otherwise ho-hum closing this past Friday but one bit I wanted to mention was the importance of a great title company closer. Sadly, I don't think they're too many out there...what are your experiences?

This was a woman named Edith Love at Near North National Title, LLC down on LaSalle Street. She was meticulous, good-natured and I think she knew her RESPA law better than anyone in the room and likely saved one of the lender's from a violation. Residential real estate closings don't have to be miserable!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Foreclosure sales anyone?

The WSJ did one of their comparison breakdowns of various Foreclosure sale Websites in its July 6, 2006 edition. It looked at:

Compare them for yourself...Homesales is HUD's site and is free. The others vary but generally are about $9 per week.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

ARMs rising??

Are you prepared (personally or on behalf of clients) to handle that interest rate adjustment on your adjustable rate mortgage? There's a nice piece from the Times here.

Some ideas:

1. Refinance before the interest rate adjusts.

2. Adjust your monthly budget. The hit can be significant.

3. Sell! If you're underwater (loan is worth more than the property) get it on the market before others like you do.

Does sex sell real estate?

Note this NYTimes piece here regarding the current advertisements popping to move real estate in a slowing economy.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fraudulent solicitations re. banks

Note a new IL law which just took effect banning solicitations which fraudulently use the name of another bank or savings and loan. Consumers can complain to the IL Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which can levy a fine of $10,000 on the sender.

A new market for us

There's an enlightening piece from yesterday's WSJ entitled South Korean Cash Flows Into U.S. Real Estate.

It speaks about the fact that although our U.S. market has been softening, a favorable currency exchange rate allows these Koreans to still invest here in the states and make good returns. They're betting that the U.S. dollar will strengthen, causing the value of their U.S. holdings to appreciate when converted into Korean currency. The slow growth in the U.S. is still better than Korea where high taxes on real-estate profits discourage speculation.

Maybe a new market for real estate attorneys? I have access to plenty of Korean translators.

Dealing in the Big Easy

There was an interesting piece here in the NYTimes about the New Orleans real estate market. Seems the market is pretty hot and there's been significant appreciation versus pre-Katrina prices.