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from Local Attorney, Michael H. Wasserman

Friday, January 31, 2014

COOK COUNTY PROPERTY TAX BILLS DUE MARCH 4

By Michael H. Wasserman

Nothing gets the phones ringing in my office quite like property tax bill season.  Cook County mailed out 1st installment bills this past week. They are due by March 4th. The taxing system is dreadfully complicated and consumers, particularly new property owners, have questions.
Here are some of the most common questions received in my office and, of course, some answers too!

WHAT TAXES ARE WE PAYING?

All Illinois property taxes are paid one year in arrears. In other words, the bills we all just received in 2014 are actually taxes due from 2013. This presents an obvious question for anyone who closed last year or earlier this month - is this my bill or the sellers?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Reuters: 70% of HOAs Are Underfunded


by Michael H. Wasserman, Attorney at Law

A startling number of condominium and homeowners associations do not keep reserve funds on hand. Reuters reports that 70%. of all American associations. are underfunded, a 12.5 percent increase compared to 10 years ago. That number seems to be rising.

Certainly, there are plenty great reasons why home buyers might consider condominium projects or houses that are part of a planned community or homeowners association.  Common expenses are spread among the community members, which can blunt the costs of maintenance and can also make available more & nicer amenities for all to enjoy. How popular are association communities? Four of five buyers of new homes, including condos buy into an association. 63 million Americans live in community. By contrast, only 2.1 million did so in 1970. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

WITH THANKS TO YOU - Another Stellar Year


by Michael H. Wasserman, Attorney at Law

My clients and the friends & colleagues that refer them, mean the world to me.

In their honor, a portion of the fees generated from each successful Chicago area real estate closing is donated to a worthy charitable organization, as selected by the Client.

The Thanks to You program - now in its fourth year - is both an expression of my gratitude to clients and friends of the program, and a statement of our collective efforts to build stronger communities.

In 2013, ten select organizations collectively received well in excess of $7,500 to promote better education, better health, and the fine arts.  The running total over the past three years, has now surpassed $18,000.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What Are Your Gripes About Closings?


by Michael H. Wasserman, Attorney at Law

The National Association of Realtors is reporting that our Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is asking for feedback on the most stressful, confusing, and problematic areas for consumers when it comes to the closing process in a home purchase. 
Responses must be submitted on or before Feb. 7.
The agency is hoping to identify the main consumer “pain points” at closings as part of its “Know Before You Owe” initiative, which is aimed at improving the mortgage process for consumers. 
CFPB is also looking for  answers to 17 specific questions about closings and consumer preparation, common errors, the role of other parties in the process, and about consumers’ comfort with the overall closing process. The public is encouraged to comment on the common problems consumers face at closing; where consumers turn for advice during closing; and what documents and terms are the most confusing during the process.

Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 Cook County Property Tax Exemption Applications now Avalable


by Michael H. Wasserman, Attorney at Law

Applications for the Cook County property tax Homeowner, Senior Citizen and Senior Freeze Exemptions are now available from the County Assessor's Office.

Homeowners who apply & qualify for exemptions will receive deductions off of their second-installment property tax bills - which are expected to be issued by summer 2014.

Forms are available as follows:


More information is available from the County Assessor

CITY of CHICAGO CONDOMINIUM REFUSE REBATE DEADLINE APPROACHING


by Michael H. Wasserman, Attorney at Law

The City of Chicago offers refuse rebates to condominium and homeowner associations that have give or more units. Rebates are paid one year "in arrears" so that the next round of rebates will be against waste collection costs incurred in 2013. The 2013 rate is $25.00 per unit. .

Applications for the rebate must be submitted to the associations' local aldermanic office ASAP (eg, in the 48th ward, no later than January 12, 2014).

A full description of requirements, qualifications and forms needed to request the rebate is available from the Chicago City Council, Department of Finance.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

WSJ: Banks easing down payment requirements for JUMBO loans


by Michael H. Wasserman, Attorney at Law

The Wall Street Journal reports that lenders are offering lower down-payment requirements to lure more borrowers wishing to purchase more expensive homes. 
Many small lenders, (primarily community banks and credit unions), are now willing to cover jumbo loans with 5 percent to 10 percent down payments. In Chicago, jumbo loans are those that are $417,000 or higher. 
These opportunities are being made possible by mortgage lenders wishing to increase market share as real estate property values are on the upswing coupled with the re-emergence of mortgage insurance companies will to insure against the risks of borrower defaults. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Inman News: Fannie, Freddie now giving homebuyers 20-day ‘First Look’ at REOs


by Michael H. Wasserman, Attorney at Law

Starting today, Fannie Mae homebuyers who plan to be owner-occupants get a 20 day “First Look” at foreclosed homes without competition from investors. Freddie Mac has been offering the 20 day first look since December 17th.

The first look window for Chicago area properties had previously been 15 days,

Homebuyers shopping for homes can see which properties are restricted to First Look bidders in Fannie Mae’s “real estate owned” (REO) inventory at HomePath.com and for Freddie Mac REOs at HomeSteps.com  

Source: fanniemae.com and freddiemac.com.
- See more here.