Buddy Bench Ribbon Cutting at Prairie Elementary School

Grateful to be a part of the Orland 135 Foundation which worked hard for buddy benches to become a reality. There were many meetings, brainstorming sessions, text messages, phone calls, coordination of a Be Kind run, and fundraising. A buddy bench was installed at Prairie School on behalf of the Foundation with the engraving of BE KIND. Praying that this buddy behnch brings wonderful memories, great camraderie, a strong kindness effect & our great students to have kindness at the forefront of their futures. #osd135
A day filled with kindless has unlimited positive potential. 

Orland 135 Foundation kick-starts Be Kind efforts with 5K



For Dave Shalabi a lifelong resident of Orland Park, helping children comes naturally.

Shalabi, who is the president of the Orland 135 Foundation for Education, joined a few hundred people for the inaugural Be Kind 5K Walk & Run at Centennial Park.

“We wanted to raise awareness for our children to always be kind,” Shalabi explained. ”One of the ways we are doing that is raising funds for buddy benches. Currently, we have a bench at Meadow Ridge.
“It’s important that when a student feels left out or needs attention, others are there for them. It goes a long way when you’re sympathetic to other people’s feelings.”

The foundation plans to purchase Buddy Benches for High Point, Liberty and Center schools, as well. The bench at Meadow Ridge was manufactured out of plastic lids collected by students at the school.

Maggie Massih, of Orland Park, who was the co-chairperson for Be Kind 5K event, talked about the importance of the benches during the event.

“We help to raise awareness of bullying in schools,” Massih said. “We want to spread the kindness and promote friendships for our students and the community. The buddy benches are to help children with social and emotional problems make friends in schools. We want them to know that school is a safe place to make friends and create great memories.”

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, close to half of all children will experience school bullying at some point while they are at primary or secondary schools. At least 10 percent of children reportedly are bullied regularly.

“Bullying, in general, it affects so many children,” Massih explained. “Thousands of children in the United States wake up and don’t want to go to school because they are being bullied. We’re trying to raise awareness and make sure that kids are safe to go to school.

“I teach my children to be kind, and that is something that the school also promotes.

The foundation also has received help from the community and businesses. The foundation received its first grant from Walmart in Orland Hills during the grand reopening of the store. The check of $750 was donated to the foundation, and it is to go toward providing buddy benches and other opportunities to the students and staff of Orland School District 135.

Jennifer Stefanos, of Orland Park, is the second vice president of the foundation. She is working toward getting additional funding.

“I’m working to get grants and scholarships and provide things for the school that aren’t in the budget for the school,” Stefanos said. “Being kind equals being happy. If you can provide kindness for another person, it makes them feel good, so they will spread that kindness. It’s contagious.

“There is so much hurt in this world that we need to lift everyone up. The benches will provide a safe haven to a student that feels they don’t have any friends.”

Shalabi explained in addition to the benches what other things the foundation is doing.

“We just finished up a backpack drive,” he said. “There is a misconception that people in this community don’t have a need, and there is. We had all the backpacks brought to the district, so that it was going to students staying within our district.”

The foundation also does scholarships for junior high students. Twenty-five years after graduating from junior high, Shalabi recently returned to his school to present two scholarships.

“It’s an obligation; we must give back to our community,” Shalabi said. “Civic service is very dear to my heart. As a young child, my parents instilled that in me. It’s a honor to give back to a community that helped raise me. This school district gave so much to me and to my siblings and now to my children. ... I have a motto I live by: ‘Love where you live.’”

(Courtesy of Orland Park Prairie September 2018)


Shalabi among four named to MVCC Alumni Hall of Fame

Dave Shalabi, of Orland Park, is one of four former Moraine Valley Community College students being inducted into the college’s 2019 Alumni Hall of Fame.

Shalabi, a real estate broker with RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, received the 2017 RE/MAX Humanitarian of the Year award, and in 2018 was named to Chicago Agent Magazine’s Who’s Who. He has served on the Orland School District 135 Board of Education and is the current president of the Orland School District 135 Foundation for Education. He’s also a member of the Orland Park Planning Commission.
In addition, he has organized a food drive for a local food pantry, and a backpack and lunch box drive for children in need. He also helped organize a “Be Kind” 5K walk to raise money for buddy benches around schools as part of an anti-bullying campaign.

Shalabi was inducted in the Alumni Hall of Fame along with Holly Bartecki of Chicago, Dylan Lloyd of Chicago and José Ángel Navejas of Chicago.

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, 2019


RE/MAX's Shalabi makes real estate Hall of Fame in record time



CHICAGO, September 2, 2013- Dave Shalabi has been in real estate for a short period of time. But that hasn't stopped him from earning one of the hightest honors that a RE/MAX broker can achieve, entry into the company's Hall of Fame.

Shalabi a broker with RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park was elected to the RE/MAX Hall of Fame in February during the annual awards ceremony held by RE/MAX Northern Illinois.

The ceremony honors the top performers among the RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, a network that includes more than 2,100 real estate agents. Shalabi was one of the biggest winners of the night. Not only did he make it into the RE/MAX Hall of Fame, he also earned entry into the company's Platinum Club-an honor, which equates about 14 times more production than the average realtor on a national level for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), as well as the #1 ranking agent for the entire region.

"It's an honor to be included in the RE/MAX Hall of Fame," Shalabi said. "There are some incredibly talented real estate professionals in that body.  It is exciting to be amongst them."

By earning his spot in the Hall of Fame after not even seven years of selling real estate, Shalabi ranks as one of the youngest members, ever, of this prestigious group.  You would never know when chatting with Shalabi, as it is eminent that he is very humble.  What's behind Shalabi's success? The agent follows an old-fashioned formula, but one that generates proven results.


"I study the market, try to provide pertinent insight, in addition to customer satisfaction and service.  I also hold a very high regard for being ethical and honest," Shalabi said.  "I try to understand exactly what my clients are going through. I do everything I can to create solutions, and make their experience, whether they are selling or buying a home, as stress-free as possible."

Before entering the real estate field, Shalabi worked as a radiologic surgical technician, at one of the state's best hospitals.  Succeeding in that career took hard work, attention to detail and perseverance. Not surprisingly, Shalabi relies on these same traits to succeed in the competitive world of real estate.

"This is still a challenging, unique real estate market," Shalabi said. "Now more than ever you need the right set of skills to provide the best service to your clients. Experience and knowledge are more important than ever."

This year's awards ceremony isn't the first time that Shalabi has emerged as a big winner at RE/MAX.  In 2009, he was named the top broker associate in RE/MAX Northern Illinois network.  And in 2010, he ranked as the number-two broker associate in the network.  He's also earned admission to RE/MAX's 100 Percent Club in 2011 and 2010. 



Dave Shalabi Joins SD 135 Board




An Orland Park real estate broker beat out a former board member for a seat on the Orland School District 135 Board.

Dahoud "Dave" Shalabi was appointed Monday night by the board, which also received applications from former board member Tina Zekich and a retired educator, Mary McDonald. Interviews were held in private.

The vacancy was created when Michael Carroll resigned last month to assume the Orland Park Village Board seat he won in the April election.

Shalabi will serve the nearly two years remaining on Carroll's four-year term, which ends in April 2017.

It is an absolute privilege to be able to give back to the community and to the school district that was an instrumental part of my own upbringing," Shalabi said in a statement.

Shalabi attended Park, High Point and Orland Junior High schools. He and his wife have three young children, one of whom is in a District 135 school and another who will enroll in full-day kindergarten in 2016.

Shalabi works for Re/Max in Orland Park.

"Dave was a product of 135; he's got young children that are currently in the school district, so he's got a vested interest in the district," school board President Joe La Margo said. "He's working in Orland Park, living in Orland Park and as a real estate agent I think he understands the value of having a good school district."

(Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, 2015)

Northern Illinois Housing Market Faces Interesting Mix of Challenges, Opportunities in 4th Quarter, RE/MAX Brokers Report

CHICAGOOct. 11, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- An unusual confluence of trends in the northern Illinois housing market presents an interesting mix of challenges and opportunities to buyers and sellers during the final months of 2018, according to an analysis by the RE/MAX Northern Illinois regional network.

A noteworthy change emerging in 2018 has been a slowdown in overall appreciation, with prices still rising but at a slower pace.
According to Dave Shalabi of RE/MAX Synergy, Orland Park, Ill., homes priced from $250,000 to $500,000 continue to sell briskly.
"There are many first-time buyers in that segment, so it's very competitive with short market times and multiple offers, a situation that clearly favors sellers," Shalabi said. "These young buyers are more interested in quality of life than the size of the home. They are willing to pay top dollar for the right home in top condition. At the same time, buyers are more fiscally conservative now than I've seen at any earlier time in my career, and I'm delighted with that," he continued, "because we don't want clients to end up in financial trouble."

That strong demand for homes doesn't extend into the upper priced precincts of the market, said Basel Tarabein, of RE/MAX At Home, Rolling Meadows, Ill.

"Pricing is definitely under pressure for homes listed at $800,000 or more, and that is creating some excellent buying opportunities," he said. "Rising property taxes are dampening the potential price appreciation for those homes, and rising mortgage interest rates may be having a similar impact."

Val Hatzelis of RE/MAX 10, Oak Lawn, Ill., has been impressed by buyers' growing preference for homes that require little or no fix up after purchase.
"Over the past several months we've seen plenty of buyers, but they all want the same property – move-in ready, updated, freshly painted, new flooring, almost perfect homes with no work needed. When a property like that comes along, multiple buyers will bid, but only one gets it. Then there are still seven to nine buyers out there waiting for that next perfect home," she said, noting that this behavior was common with both first-time buyers and trade-up buyers.

With more than 2,200 sales associates and 106 offices throughout the area, RE/MAX Northern Illinois has helped thousands of families with their home buying and selling needs. For more information, visit www.remax.com or download the RE/MAX mobile real estate app. 

(Courtesy of RE/MAX.com 2018)

Thinking Of Selling? Now Is The Perfect Time



It is common knowledge that a great number of homes sell during the spring-buying season. For that reason, many homeowners hold off on putting their homes on the market until then. The question is whether or not that will be a good strategy this year.

The other listings that do come out in the spring will represent increased competition to any seller. Do a greater number of homes actually come to the market in the spring as compared to the rest of the year?

The three months in the second quarter of the year are consistently the most popular months for sellers to list their homes on the market. Last year, the number of homes available for sale in January was 1,680,000.

That number spiked to 1,970,000 by May!

What does this mean to you?

With the national job situation improving, and mortgage interest rates projected to rise later in the year, buyers are not waiting until the spring; they are out looking for homes right now. If you are looking to sell this year, waiting until the spring to list your home means you will have the greatest competition amongst buyers.

Bottom Line

It may make sense to beat the rush of housing inventory that will enter the market in the spring and list your home today.

(Courtesy of KCM, January 2018)



 Rents are on the Rise: Don't get caught in the rental trap!




There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top benefits is protecting yourself from rising rents, by locking in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped

A recent article by Apartment List addressed rising rents by stating:

“Rents are up 2.7% year-over-year at the national level. Year-over-year growth continues to fall between the 2.1% rate from this time last year and the 3.4% growth rate from October 2015.”

The article continues explaining that:

“Despite the seasonal slowdown, rents are still up year-over-year in 89 of the 100 Largest cities.”

Additionally, the Urban Institute revealed that,

Over a quarter of renters, or 11.1 million households, are severely cost burdened, spending at least half their income on rental housing.”

These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, including groceries and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent

As we have previously mentioned, the results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia shows that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 6.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 57% less expensive in Detroit (MI) and 37.4% nationwide!

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. A nationwide survey of about 24,000 renters found that 80% of millennial renters plan to eventually buy a house, but 72% cite affordability as their primary obstacle. Aside from affordability, one in three millennial renters have concerns about their credit scores, and another 53% said that a down payment is an obstacle.

Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream homes. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap that so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible for a mortgage. 


(Courtesy of KCM, December 2017)




Orland District 135 looks at deficit budget 



Two years without a property tax increase and stingy state funding have Orland School District 135 officials eyeing a deficit budget that could drop reserve funds below the school board's recommended level.

Board members voted Monday night to begin the budget process for the next school year by putting on public display a spending plan that district finance director Carl Forn said contains a $2 million structural deficit.

"Obviously, we have not raised taxes," board vice president Laura Berry said. "Our major consideration is that we have not gotten the funds that we anticipated from the state."

The 2014-15 fiscal year closed June 30 with District 135 not receiving $1.3 million of the $6.1 million the debt-ridden state had promised for transportation and special education expenses.

A public hearing and vote on the budget likely will be held next month while a decision on whether to raise the levy, which is the amount the district seeks to raise via the property tax, won't take place until November or December.

District 135 had more than $50 million in reserve before a new board majority led by President Joe La Margo, who was absent Monday, decided to tap those funds to avoid tax hikes while making investments such as providing every student in the third through eighth grades with a take-home computer.

But the projections that Forn presented to the board Monday show the reserve money declining to $30.5 million by the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, 2016. That would put the reserves at 43 percent of the annual budget, below the 45 percent floor established by the board.

Additional spending pressures include an increase in required bilingual teachers and a new teachers' contract that board members were briefed on Monday in closed session. The old pact expired June 30, but Superintendent Janet Stutz expressed confidence that negotiations will conclude before classes resume Aug. 24.

In another year, District 135 also will have the added cost of offering full-day kindergarten, which has been estimated at about $800,000 a year.

In other action Monday, the board welcomed its new member, Dave Shalabi, to his first meeting. The Orland Park real estate broker was appointed last month to replace Michael Carroll, who was elected in April to the Orland Park Village Board.

(Courtesy of Chicago Tribune)


RE/MAX Northern Illinois Honors Its Top Commercial Brokers for 2014
CHICAGO, March 26, 2015 - RE/MAX recently honored its affiliated brokers  in  northern Illinois whose commercial property sales achievements in 2014  earned  them special recognition.


Each year RE/MAX recognizes its Top Three commercial brokers and Top Three commercial teams, as well as the broker or team earning the year's largest commercial commission. A team involves the combined efforts of two or more licensed brokers.

Dave Shalabi of RE/MAX Synergy, Orland Park, Ill., led the No. 1 team for 2014. 


1. Dave Shalabi, RE/MAX Synergy, Orland Park

The top three commercial teams were also recognized by the worldwide RE/MAX network for ranking among the Top 50 RE/MAX commercial teams in both the United States and worldwide.

In the worldwide ranking, which includes brokers in more than 90 nations, Shalabi ranked 15th.

In the RE/MAX U.S. commercial Top 50, Shalabi ranked 7th.

In 2014 RE/MAX was named among the 25 leading commercial networks in the United States by National Real Estate Investor magazine for the fourth year in a row.

RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of 2,200+ sales associates and 105 independently owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services. Its mobile real estate app, available for download at www.illinoisproperty.com, provides comprehensive information about residential and commercial property for sale in the region. The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX, a global real estate organization with 90,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations.

(Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, 2015)










































































Former Chicago Bears Coach Lovie Smith Lists Home for Sale




Former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, who now is the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has listed his 13-room brick house in Lake Forest for $1.999 million.

The Bears fired Smith, 56, at the end of 2012 after nine seasons as coach.  He sat out the 2013 football season and signed on with Tampa in January.

 Now, Smith has moved to cut ties with his house in Lake Forest, which he purchased for $1.625 million in late 2004.


 (Courtesy of  Chicago Tribune, 2014)





Dave Shalabi Saluted for 2013 Achievements



CHICAGO, April 3, 2014 - Dave Shalabi at RE/MAX Synergy, recently received special recognition from the RE/MAX Northern Illinois region for their achievements in 2013.


 The RE/MAX network gives special recognition annually to its top commercial brokers and teams. Two brokers at RE/MAX Synergy topped the commercial rankings. Among brokers, Dave Shalabi ranked #1.  Dave also ranked as the #23 RE/MAX Agent in the U.S.


RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of 2,000 sales associates and 100 individually owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services. Its www.illinoisproperty.com provides comprehensive information about the network and about residential and commercial property for sale in the region. The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX, LLC, a global real estate organization with 90,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations.

(Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, 2014)




 RE/MAX Names Shalabi as #1 Agent

CHICAGO, March 25, 2013 – RE/MAX recently honored its affiliated brokers in the northern Illinois real estate market whose commercial property sales achievements in 2012 earned them coveted spots in the year-end Commercial Top Three. Each year, RE/MAX gives special recognition to its Top Three commercial brokers and Top Three commercial teams, as well as its Top 20 residential brokers and teams. A team involves the combined efforts of two or more licensed brokers. 

David Shalabi of RE/MAX Synergy, Orland Park, Ill., ranked as the top individual broker. The complete list of RE/MAX Commercial Top Three individuals is as follows:


 1. Dave Shalabi, RE/MAX Synergy, Orland Park 

 RE/MAX was named among the 25 leading commercial networks in the United  States by  National Real Estate Investor magazine in 2012, and recently was ranked  among the leading 25  commercial real estate brands for 2013 by the Lipsey  Company, which specializes in consulting  and training in the commercial real  estate field. 




 At $18.75M, Chicago's Priciest Home Officially Hits The MLS



This super-sized mansion became Chicago's most expensive home last month when it quietly listed for a whopping $18.75 million, but now the bonkers North Burling Street estate has been formally listed on the MLS for all eyes to see. A few new details, and some new images have emerged in the listing as well. Previously, we knew that the large Lincoln Park estate included a guest house and multiple gardens, but to put it in perspective, the entire thing takes up five city lots. Built in 2004, the size of this six bedroom, eight and a half bathroom home is listed at 20,000 square feet. However, we aren't entirely sure if that accounts for the space of the guest house as well. Included in this gargantuan manse is an indoor swimming pool, a library, a theater room that looks like a miniature version of an actual movie theater, and a six car garage. The broker babble in the listing states that, "this is not just an estate, it is a lifestyle and far exceeds all expectations." A space in the Trump Tower remains the city's most expensive property, however this Burling Street manse has dethroned all other single family homes in Chicago for the title of the city's most expensive at $18.75 million.





 (Courtesy of  Chicago Curbed, 2014)


 Top 10 things you need to know when buying a home




1. Don't buy if you can't stay put.

If you can't commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner - even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it's an even worse proposition.

2. Start by shoring up your credit.

Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.

3. Aim for a home you can really afford.

The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you'll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.

4. If you can't put down the usual 20 percent, you may still qualify for a loan.

There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a small down payment.

5. Buy in a district with good schools.

In most areas, this advice applies even if you don't have school-age children. Reason: When it comes time to sell, you'll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers, thus helping to boost property values.

6. Get professional help.

Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

7. Choose carefully between points and rate.

When picking a mortgage,  you usually have the option of paying additional points -- a portion of the interest that you pay at closing -- in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time -- say three to five years or more -- it's usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.

8. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can't afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history.

9. Do your homework before bidding.

Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you should make a bid that's about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

10. Hire a home inspector.

Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But that's just the bank's way of determining whether the house is worth the price you've agreed to pay. Separately, you should hire your own home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.

(Courtesy of CNN, 2014)




Cook County Home Prices Showing Big Gains



For 4th quarter of 2013, single-family home prices in Chicago rise 16.8 percent from same period in 2012 and suburban prices rise 14.5 percent.

A lack of desirable homes available for sale and greater consumer confidence are boosting demand for homes across Cook County, but particularly in certain city neighborhoods and suburban Cook County communities.

As a result, fourth-quarter 2013 prices of single-family homes in Cook County posted their largest year-over-year increase in data going back to 1997, rising 16.8 percent in Chicago and 14.5 percent in suburban Cook County, according to a report scheduled to be released Wednesday by the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University.

Easily beating the city average were Jefferson Park/Edison Park, Irving Park/Albany Park and Portage Park/Belmont-Cragin, which all posted annual price gains in excess of 20 percent. The areas experienced a dramatic erosion in home prices during the housing crisis, so a full recovery remains in the distance.

For instance, fourth-quarter home prices were up almost 24 percent in Portage Park/Belmont-Cragin from a year earlier but remain 56 percent below their peak before the market plummeted. Still, compared with the more normalized pricing environment of 2000, prices in those neighborhoods have increased about 18 percent.

Missing from the list of biggest gainers were areas like Chicago's Lakeview and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, but that is because their housing markets never experienced the free fall of other neighborhoods.

The story is similar in suburban Cook County. Among the areas with the best pricing improvement was the Elmwood Park/Franklin Park area, where fourth-quarter single-family home prices were up 17 percent from a year earlier. From its pricing peak to trough, home prices fell 55 percent and the communities were awash in foreclosures and short sales.

These days, the mix between distressed home sales and traditional home sales is beginning to even out, according to an agent with Re/Max Vision.

"We're starting to see some multiple offers on properties," she said. "It has already bottomed out here. A lot of buyers that I've come across are still thinking they're going to get the prices they got a few years ago and they have sticker shock."

Despite the gains, there remain buying opportunities, primarily for consumers looking to purchase a house and make it their home for several years.

(Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, 2014)


2013 Existing-home sales were strongest in 7 years 


Existing-home sales last year hit their highest level since 2006 as the housing market continued to stabilize, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported. 

Compared to 2012, existing-home sales in 2013 increased by 9.1 percent to 5.09 million, marking the strongest performance since 2006, “when sales reached an unsustainably high 6.48 million at the close of the housing boom,” NAR said.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said the housing market has experienced a healthy recovery over the past two years. Job growth, pent-up demand and low mortgage rates have helped drive up existing-home sales nearly 20 percent since 2011, he said.

Despite the improvement, Yun noted that the recovery has slowed recently.

We lost some momentum toward the end of 2013 from disappointing job growth and limited inventory, but we ended with a year that was close to normal given the size of our population,” he said.

Existing-home sales edged up slightly in December, rising 1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.87 million from a downwardly revised 4.82 million in November. But sales that month were still down 0.6 percent on an annual basis.

In November, existing-home sales dipped on an annual basis for the first time in more than two years, NAR previously reported.

Economists say that a spike in mortgage rates that occurred last spring may have partly induced the recent slowdown.

Inventory shortages have also served as a headwind.

The outlook on that front did not improve in December. Housing inventory last month fell 9.3 percent to 1.86 million existing homes available for sale. That represents a 4.6-month supply of homes at the current sales pace, down from 5.1 months a month ago but up 1.6 percent year over year.

NAR reoprted that pending home sales, a forward-looking indicator based on sales under contract, remained mostly flat in November. At the time, Lawrence Yun said the market may have hit a “cyclical low.”

Other barometers paint a rosier picture of the housing market. Construction of new single family homes and new home sales have grown substantially in the last year.

(Courtesy of Inman.com)




Top 5 Cost-Effective Home Improvement Projects



Remodeling's annual Cost vs. Value Report compares average costs for 35 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 101 U.S. cities. The "mid-range" projects category consists of 22 projects, while the "upscale" projects category consists of 13.

We've broken down the mid-range project category to designate the top 5 cost-effective home improvement projects, and the average cost of each. These projects will give you the most bang for your buck at resale:


  1. Entry door replacement (steel)
    - Return: 96.6%
    - Average cost: $1,162
  2. Deck addition (wood)
    - Return: 87.4%
    - Average cost: $9,539
  3. Attic Bedroom
    - Return: 84.3%
    - Average cost: $49,438
  4. Garage door replacement
    - Return: 83.7%
    - Average cost: $1,534
  5. Minor kitchen remodel
    - Return: 82.7%
    - Average cost: $18,856

Check out each project's breakdown to see how the cost and value have changed over the years. Our chart below displays how the top 5 projects in the mid-range index have varied over the past four years.

How cost effective were 2014's top 5 mid range projects four years ago?  Return values of three of the top 5 projects increased since 2010-2011, while entry door, and garage door replacement projects experienced slight dips. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 2.10.01 PM 

(Courtesy of Builder Online, 2014)




5 Predictions for the 2014 Real Estate Market



We are already two weeks into 2014. So, now’s a prime time to take a look at what’s in store for us this year in the world of real estate.

Signs point to another good year for the housing market, although the recovery most likely won’t clock the same breakneck speed as last year.

Here are 5 predictions, made by experts in the field, to help prepare you for any home-selling or buying activities this year:

1) Home prices will continue to rise: The chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun, foresees home prices rising by 6 percent. This is about half of the increase in home values seen in 2013, indicative of 2014’s reduced pace.

2) So will mortgage rates: I’m sorry home-buyers, but the low interest rates of 2013 are not going to stick around.  We go again to Lawrence Yun, who predicts that the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will climb to 5.5 percent before the year is over.

3) Fewer foreclosures on the horizon: Thankfully, the worst of the foreclosure catastrophe that devastated so many Americans appears to be history.  According to Daren Blomquist, who monitors the foreclosure market at RealtyTrac,  "We're in the home stretch of getting through the foreclosure crisis, but we won't cross the finish line, with filings back to pre-crisis level, until early 2015." 

4) Borrowers can expect more ease in securing a mortgage: Although interest rates are expected to rise, Erin Lantz, director of mortgages with Zillow, points to a “silver lining.” Lantz says that “rising rates means lenders' refinance business will dwindle, forcing them to compete for buyers by potentially loosening their lending standards."  That’s encouraging.

5) Rental market to stay strong: Because of items 1 and 2 above, along with other factors such as a decline in home-ownership and a surge in Americans on the move, forecasters at Zillow envision a robust rental market in 2014.

(Courtesy of Tinley Park Patch, 2013)





Former Bears punter sells house 


Former Chicago Bears punter Brad Maynard has sold his five-bedroom, 5,971-square-foot house in Long Grove for $1.25 million.

 Maynard, 39, was with the Bears from 2001 until he was released in 2011. After stints with two other teams, Maynard is out of professional football.

 Maynard, who listed the house in August 2012 for $1.38 million, paid $1.43 million in 2005 for the 14-room, French Provincial-style house. Built in 2004, the home has five full baths, two half-baths, four fireplaces, Brazilian hardwood floors on the first floor, coffered ceilings, custom built-in cabinets, and a kitchen with stone floors, stainless steel Viking appliances and a large center island. The house sits on a little more than half an acre.


(Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, 2013)



                         Orland Park Mariano’s, apartments get early OK                                              



Orland Park plan commissioners have endorsed plans for Mariano’s grocery store and 231 rental units at the Orland Park Crossing shopping center.

 The plan commission’s recommendation Monday will be considered by a village board committee next Monday night, and the full board could vote on the projects as soon as Dec. 2.

Mariano’s plans a 73,000-square-foot supermarket northeast of P.F. Chang’s restaurant and southeast of Granite City restaurant in the shopping center at the northeast corner of LaGrange Road and 143rd Street.

REVA Development Partners’ has proposed a housing development, Residences of Orland Park Crossing, that would consist of 63 townhouses and 168 apartments to the north and east of Mariano’s.

At a public hearing Monday night before the commission’s vote, residents were concerned about the potential for traffic spilling over into their adjacent neighborhoods.

Plans originally called for connecting Orland Crossing and subdivisions to the east at two points, 140th and 141st streets, which prompted complaints from residents that more traffic would be seen through subdivisions such as Heritage Estates. the plan commission voted to recommend to village trustees that the 140th Street connection be eliminated from the final plan.

Some residents questioned why Orland Park would want more rental units instead of owner-occupied housing. A partner with REVA told commissioners that there’s increasing demand for high-end rental properties.

One resident said renting might be the trend today, but the pendulum could swing back, leaving the village with empty apartments.

“People are starting to buy (homes),” Norene Shader, who lives a few blocks east of the planned development, said. “This cycle will change.”

Matt Nix, a partner with REVA, said the nearby Ninety 7 Fifty on the Park upscale apartment building, west of LaGrange Road on 143rd Street, has shown there’s demand for such apartments. Like Ninety 7 Fifty, Residences of Orland Park Crossing would be a transit-oriented development, designed to attract commuters, because it would be just east of the 143rd Street Metra station.

A preliminary analysis of the Residences project by consulting firm Tracy Cross & Associates said there is potentially a strong market for the development. The report for REVA said that, as of June, the vacancy rate for newer suburban apartment buildings was 2.6 percent, the lowest in a decade — partly because many apartment complexes were converted to condominiums in recent years.

The Cross report also noted that the Ninety 7 Fifty building, which has 295 apartments, should, at the current rental rate, have 95 percent occupancy by next spring.

Plan commissioner John Paul said there’s a “stigma attached” to rental property by many people, but the Residences project involves luxury apartments that will not involve a transient population.

“This is not low-end housing we’re talking about,” he said.

Another commissioner, Steve Dzierwa, said Mariano’s and the apartments are a good fit for the village.

“It’s a good plan, a solid plan,” he said.

Davis Street Land Co., the developer of Orland Crossing, wants to sell 21 acres at the north end of its property for the Mariano’s and the townhouses and apartments. But Davis Street won’t proceed should either Mariano’s or the housing component not get village approval, according to Kimberly Flom, the village’s assistant director of development services.

(Courtesy of Southtown Star, 2013)



 Bulls' Derrick Rose buys condo in Trump Tower

(Crain's) — Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose has found a new home to match his sky-high game: a condominium in the Trump International Hotel & Tower.

 Just before signing a $95 million contract extension with the Bulls, the reigning NBA MVP paid $2.8 million for a three-bedroom unit on the upper floors of the riverside skyscraper, county records show. The Englewood native and former Simeon Career Academy standout says he is waiting for furniture to arrive at his new pad before moving from north suburban Northbrook.

“It's definitely an unbelievable feeling just being up there,” Mr. Rose, said. “The view is nice and I don't take it for granted. It's a blessing.”

County records show that a private trust paid $2.8 million in December for a 3,102-square-foot unit near the top of the 92-story tower and two parking spots, financing the deal with a $1.7 million mortgage from Northern Trust Co.

Other recently sold condos in the building at 401 N. Wabash Ave. went to people other than Mr. Rose, records show. Mr. Rose bought the unit and parking spaces directly from a venture led by developer Donald Trump.

Other bachelors in the building at 401 N. Wabash Ave. include Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, who bought a condo there in 2008. Former Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman also bought a unit in the building in 2008, selling it in 2010 for $2 million, 25 percent less than his purchase price.

Mr. Rose, who said he “fell in love” with the tower after spending three weeks in a hotel room there last summer, chose Trump because “no one bothers you there.” The three-time NBA All-Star hopes to move in before the end of this season.

 (Courtesy of Chicago Real Estate Daily, 2012)




Recovering from Foreclosure


As long-time homeowners who have benefitted tremendously (financially and emotionally) from owning real estate, we deeply appreciate your desire to find a better place to live and to ultimately buy another home.

If you want to buy a house, you need to figure out what your credit histories and credit scores look like (for both of you). We'd like to see your score in the mid- to upper 700s as you consider buying a home. You'll have an easier time obtaining a mortgage loan and will obtain a better rate. In the long run, you'll save quite a bit of money if you are able to get the best rate possible having a higher credit score.

To check out your credit history, you can get a free copy of your credit history from the top three credit reporting bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. While at the site, you'll have the opportunity to purchase your credit score for about $9.00. While this credit score may not be the exact one that your mortgage lender will use, the credit score you get will give you a pretty good idea of where you stand.

When you get your credit report, you'll want to make sure that you don't have any "potentially negative information" on the report. You'll see a section on the report that will detail whether there are any public records, negative accounts and collections against you. If you have any negative information, make sure it is accurate. This information could derail your plans to get a mortgage at this time.

Unfortunately, we see a bigger issue than your credit. As you are a student who does work on the side and he is self-employed, the two of you need to have plenty of cash for a down payment (unless you find and qualify for a special HUD home deal). You will also need great credit histories and a full understanding of the home-buying process. If you don't do your work ahead of time, you might be in for a rude surprise during the mortgage application process.

After you've checked over your credit histories to make sure that the accounts reported match up with those you currently maintain and those you have closed, you'll have a better idea if you have a "good" credit or a "bad" credit history. If you have quite a number of accounts that show that you have made your payments late, your new lender won't like that.

Having reviewed your credit history will give you a leg up in knowing your potential buying power, and if everything looks good, you can then focus on buying a home, whether the home is a short sale, foreclosed home or a pre-foreclosure home.

(Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, 2013)



Auction of Michael Jordan's mansion postponed


The auction for Michael Jordan’s 56,000-square-foot mansion in Highland Park never took place Friday as promoted by Concierge Auctions, but instead has been rescheduled for Dec. 16 because “the interest has been even stronger than we anticipated,” according to Laura Brady, company president.

She had declined to disclose the time and location of the live auction for the estate, which features an NBA regulation-size basketball court.

In a news release issued shortly after 6 p.m., Brady stated: “While many bidders are already financially qualified and registered, others requested more time to visit the property and consider the purhcase in the best interest of our client,we agreed to extend the auction date in order to allow them to do so.”

The estate, on nearly 7.4 acres at 2700 Point Lane, remains open for qualified showings by appointment, according to the release.

Jordan originally placed the fully furnished “Legend Point” estate up for sale in March 2012 for $29 million. At the time, it was the highest-priced home in the Chicago area, with the tax bill on the property set at $178,900 in 2012, according to public records.

Prospective buyers were required to put down a $250,000 deposit just to participate in bidding for the estate, Brady said. She declined to say how many bidders signed up for the auction.

Midday Friday, a spokeswoman for Concierge Auctions said that the auction was to take place later that day.

Jordan still uses the home but spends most of his time at another residence in Florida, she said. He and his former wife, Juanita, raised three children in Highland Park before they divorced in 2006, after 17 years of marriage, according to news reports.

The estate features a pool pavilion, tennis court, putting green, nine bedrooms and 15 full and four half bathrooms, according to a news release, which adds: “Located directly off the pool pavilion, the three-bedroom guest wing offers a gourmet kitchen, en suite bathrooms and built-in furnishings."


(Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, 2013)



Even today, most renters want to be homeowners
Posted on May 10, 2012

If ever there was a time in which apartment dwellers would consider themselves lucky, you'd think it would be now. After all, housing prices in Chicago and across the country continue to fall. The latest numbers from the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller housing index found that Chicago housing prices in February fell to a 12-year low.

Yet renters still overwhelming want to become homeowners. This certainly speaks to the enduring power of home ownership.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a new survey from one of the country's largest homebuilders, PulteGroup, which found that 60 percent of renters who plan to purchase a home in the future are taking steps now to make that happen sooner rather than later. This is good news for the housing market; it shows that a large number of renters are getting ready to jump into the housing market.

The survey also found that 50 percent of renters would like to be able to call themselves homeowners.

And even though housing prices are still far down from their 2006 peak, a total of 44 percent of renters surveyed by PulteGroup say that housing is still a good financial investment.

The survey results, coming as they do during one of the most challenging times for the housing market, are particulary encouraging. Apparently, owning a home still remains an important part of the traditional American dream for many U.S. residents.

Of course, this doesn't mean that the housing market, both here in Chicago and across the country, doesn't still face challenges. The PulteGroup survey found that more than half of those renters who do want to buy a home haven't made the move yet because they fear that they don't have enough money for a down payment. More than 20 percent of respondents said that they were too worried about their future employment status to make the financial commitment of purchasing a home.

For me, though, the survey shows that housing, even as it goes through the inevitable down times, remains an important part of this country. People want to own their own homes. They want to watch their families grow up in these residences. There's a pride in homeownership that endures, even as housing values struggle to rebound.



Housing more affordable; renting is not
Posted on May 15, 2012 



Remember the long-standing debate about whether it makes more financial sense to rent an apartment or own a home? 

Well, that debate just got a bit more interesting.

According to a recent blog post from Chicago Agent Magazine, housing is now more affordable than it has been in four decades. This information comes from a report from analytics firm Fiserv.

According to the numbers, a conventional mortgage payment for today's median-priced home is now just 12 percent of the country's median family income. That's the lowest this percentage has been since 1971. And it means that families that purchase a home today will spend far less of their monthly incomes on mortgage payments.

This is just the beginning of the story, though. At the same time that buying a home is becoming more affordable, apartment rents in the Chicago area continue to hit new highs, making renting less of an affordable option.

Crain's Chicago Business reported that rents in downtown Chicago, for instance, set new records in the first quarter of this year. If you wanted to rent here, you'd pay an average of $2,148 a month for a high-end apartment. That's up 20.2 percent from the average of $1,787 each month that people paid to rent high-end downtown apartments back in 2009.

Of course, the decision to rent or buy is a personal one. There's no one right answer to which is better. You'll have to look at your own personal financial situations to determine whether you'd be better off renting or owning.

But if the latest numbers are to be believed, owning is a more attractive option when you're looking purely at the financial side of the debate.




             Real Estate News: RE/MAX: Commercial real estate shows positive signs


CHICAGO — Northern Illinois can expect fewer empty storefronts in 2012. Renters will have fewer vacant apartments from which to choose and should expect to pay more to rent the units that are on the market. But we should not expect many new office buildings or strip malls to rise in the area this year, according to a survey of commercial brokers affiliated with the RE/MAX Northern Illinois real estate network.

Those RE/MAX agents say the regional commercial real estate market remains a challenging one, with little new development taking place. They are, however, seeing signs of hope in the local commercial market, especially in the red-hot multi-family sector.

And these agents expect commercial real estate activity — leases and sales — to increase at a faster rate as the national and local economies continue to improve, a view supported by the latest research on the commercial real estate market. This is good news for northern Illinois residents — a strong commercial real estate industry means more jobs.

We are very optimistic about commercial real estate,” said Dave Shalabi, a top commercial real estate agent with RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, Ill. “I feel the leasing market is starting to correct itself because of the lower rental rates that commercial tenants have to pay today. Simply put, they are getting good deals, and that’s encouraging them to lease new, improved space. We are also optimistic that the improving economy is bringing people out of the woodwork to make decisions on investing in commercial real estate.”

Shalabi’s view is supported by the latest research from the National Association of Realtors. The association’s most recent quarterly commercial real estate forecast reported that all of the major commercial real estate sectors — multi-family, retail, office and industrial — are seeing improvements across the country.

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the association, said vacancies are falling for retail space, office buildings, industrial properties and apartment buildings, thanks largely to improvements in the national unemployment rate.

Sustained job creation is benefiting commercial real estate sectors by increasing demand for space,” Yun said in a written statement. “Vacancy rates are steadily falling. Leasing is on the rise, and rents are showing signs of strengthening.”

Positive signs are evident in Chicago and its suburbs, too, according to the latest research from Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services. The company predicts retail vacancy rates will fall 0.6 percent to 10.6 percent in 2012. At the same time, retail landlords will be able to command higher rents this year, with effective retail rents in the Chicago area rising 1.6 percent in 2012 to $16.31 a square foot.

Marcus & Millichap also predicts multi-family vacancies in the Chicago area will fall to 4.2 percent this year, while average effective rents will jump 4.8 percent to $1,055 a month.

You have to work five times harder than before,” Syal said. “That’s what you have to do to succeed. It’s just a changing market out there."

Shalabi, who has seen steady business in the multi-family and medical sectors, agrees today’s commercial buyers and sellers expect top service from their real estate representatives. But this is nothing new, he said; clients always expect to receive solid information and strong representation from their commercial brokers, in both good times and challenging ones.

Our clients have been happy over the years with us,” Shalabi said. “We can deliver on what we say. We never make a promise we can’t keep. To be good on your word is extremely important. We get tons of referrals thanks to that approach.”