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Showing posts from January, 2012

Coming Soon: Cook County Property Tax Bills

The tax man cometh. Cook County first installment property tax bills should be hitting mail boxes everywhere this week. The bills will be due and payable by March 1st.

Taxpayers are reminded that the first installment bills are being sent out now, even though the County does not know how much is actually owed. These are "estimated" bills. For now, bills are simply computed based on a percentage of last year's tariff. A law change enacted in 2009 raised the estimated amount due from 50% to 55%.  The final reckoning will not be announced until later this fall.


In theory, those final bills will be mailed out at the beginning of August and will be due September 3rd. The actual due dates may be (and typically are) much later. Our County is notorious for tardy tax bills. Last year's final installments were due in November. Bills paid in 2010 were so late that they were not due until December!  The Second Installment due dates vary because they are computed based on the deli…

MORTGAGE LOAN DEFICIENCIES

Homeowners are not always "out of the woods" once their home is lost to foreclosure or sold by "short sale."  Foreclosures and short sales remove  the mortgage lien from a property, but do not eliminate the debt described in the note or loan agreement, or it's promise to repay the debt in full. That remaining balance due is the "deficiency." Contrary to public perception, banks are not only allowing short sales and completing foreclosures,  but they are still looking to borrowers to satisfy deficiencies well after closing.


The Illinois Appellate Court has started the new year with a "win" for mortgage lenders. The Court confirmed  a bank's right to pursue it's borrower for everything that was due and owing, over and above the recovery from a foreclosure sale. Banks can be awarded deficiency judgments as long as borrowers are given proper notice of the fact that they were being sued.   This case held specifically that even a notice (…

Home Buyers Assistance for Iraq/Afghanistan War Vets

There are a lot of great ways for real estate agents and mortgage lenders to add value to the service they give their clients. Certainly knowing ways to save clients money are always helpful.  Knowing the lenders and loan programs that do so help too.  These are, of course, the same reasons it makes sense for Buyers & Sellers to work with the best professionals they can find for their real estate deals too..

Here is a good one: First Advantage Mortgage has a new program benefiting members of the armed forces who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Qualifying borrowers are eligible to receive $10,000 in assistance towards the purchase price and/or closing costs on their next home. (Hat tip Bob Brandle)

These funds are available to all veterans using conventional, FHA and VA financing. Buyers on active duty or in the reserves are only eligible for first time home purchases.

The $10,000 grants are actually second mortgages (so do understand that there may be some additional closing…

FEES INCREASE at COOK COUNTY RECORDER

The Cook County Recorder of Deeds has announced a $2.25 fee increase for all document recording effective January 15th, 2012. Recording a standard two page deed will now cost $52.50, up from $50.00. The fees for longer documents increase based on the number of pages the document contains.

The Recorder's office maintains the County's official public registry of  real estate ownership, and record of persons (other than the owner) that may have rights over that property. The record helps owners prove their ownership rights. It helps mortgage lenders, judgment creditors, contractors and others assert their lien interests against those properties, and helps the rest of us research and investigate land transfers and sale histories.
Buyers who use mortgages to purchase Chicago area property typically pay for the recording of  two documents with each closing - the Deed and the Mortgage. Sellers pay to record a Release of each existing Mortgage that is being paid-off as a part of the t…

Chicago Abandoned & Vacant Buildings

We all know that the three most important factors in determining the desirability of a property are location, location, and location. As such, sharp Chicago area home buyers and the real estate professionals who advise them, are discovering - and embracing - Derek Eder's Vacant and Abandoned building finder tool.

Built on data from Chicago's 311 reporting service, this site shows detailed information about known "problem" properties on an easily navigated google map overlay. Mr. Eder built this as part of the Apps for Metro Chicago contest. This app was an AM4C community winner.

At best, abandoned buildings pose a visual blight on their neighborhoods. Unoccupied, they detract from the economic and social vitality to their surrounds.  At worst, they abandoned buildings can pose severe safety hazards, criminal and structural. Woodstock Institute research shows that vacate and foreclosed homes contribute to declines in neighboring property values and increases in violen…

ATTENTION CHICAGO CONDO OWNERS - TIME SENSITIVE CHANGES TO THE CITY's TRASH REBATE PROGRAM

Our great City of Chicago offers many many benefits to citizens. One of the less glamorous, albeit greatly appreciated services is garbage pick-up - at least for single family homes and small multi-unit buildings.
The recognized that condominium owners were paying for this service through their taxes, without realizing any benefit. The result, a rebate program to qualifying Condominium Associations to offset some of the costs of waste disposal.  The most recent City budget and recent changes to the municipal ordinance make some very important, and time sensitive changes:
An association can only file for the rebate for the 2011 operating year. Applications for prior years are not being accepted.  If your association did not apply for rebates for prior years, you will not be able to do so for 2011 or future years (lets call this one the "you snooze, you lose" provision). The rebate for 2011 will be limited to a total of$75 per owner-occupied residential unit. (the operative wo…

JANUARY is RADON AWARENESS MONTH

Show of hands, how many of you can name  the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States?

OK, the headline was the give-away, but that would be Radon Gas.

Radon is released by the decay of uranium, a naturally-occurring ore found in our soil. When released, Radon can seep through cracks in basements and foundations into our homes.

According to the U.S. EPA, one in every 15 homes in the United States have radon levels that exceed the recommended radon action level. In Illinois between 2003 and 2007, 42% of homes tested for radon gas had levels above the EPA radon action level. It is believed that Radon is responsible for an estimated 20,000 deaths per year in America.

Unlike tobacco usage where you pretty much know how carcinogens are introduced into the body, Radon is a much more insidious health problem - it is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon. You will never know you are being exposed to it, unless you specifically test th…