Tag Archives: chain o’ lakes

To Rent or To Buy – That Is the Question

DSC_0011 Is it cheaper to rent a home or to buy one? With rents rising much faster than home prices, the answer these days definitely comes down on the buy side. And, in Chicagoland the difference is even greater than in much of the country.

Jed Kolko, chief economist for Trulia, published a research study a few weeks ago showing that across America it is cheaper to buy than to rent – some 38 percent cheaper. Kolko also looked at specific metro markets, and his study found that in the Chicago area it is 47 percent cheaper to buy than to rent.

This research assumed that buyers had a 30-year fixed rate loan with 20 percent down and a 4.5 percent interest rate, itemized their income tax deductions, are in the 25 percent tax bracket and stay in their home for seven years. Kolko also wisely used a very conservative annual price appreciation number – between 1.7 and 3.1 percent, depending upon the metro area. (Most experts say you should never look at a house as a short-term investment – in other words, less than five years.) Of course, as the assumptions change, the benefits of renting vs. buying change, too.

Interestingly, the rent vs. buy math indicates that, under current conditions, buying beats renting until mortgage rates hit 10.6 percent, then renting becomes cheaper than buying.

If you are thinking of buying at Newport Cove, our waterfront development on the Chain O’ Lakes near Antioch, Illinois, we do work with our customers to make that happen. Besides helping locate mortgage professionals who can adapt to your particular needs, we also are open to discussing rent-to-own or mortgage assistance programs.

NFL, HBA Help Build Home For Wounded Vet at Newport Cove

Sometime next year a wounded warrior from the Chicago metropolitan area will get the keys to a new home, thanks to a team of local organizations and individuals.The Chicago NFL Players Association, the Chicago area home builders associations, an anonymous donor, the Newport Cove community in Lake County and an architectural school have joined together to create a home for a military veteran wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq.

“We want to give back,” said Reggie Smith, retired linebacker and president of the NFLPA’s Chicago chapter, in making the announcement today, Veterans Day. “It’s our way of thanking the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country.”

The home, a LIFEhouse™ featuring universal design principles, will be located in Newport Cove, a waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes near Antioch. “It’s a lovely setting,” said Rita Unzner, executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago. “The house is being designed to accommodate the special needs of the wounded veteran. It will not only be functional, but also beautiful, a place where the vet and his – or her – family can heal and grow.”

“We hope it will be the first of several homes our groups create,” she said.

She added that many members of the three Chicago area home builders associations (HBAGC, Northern Illinois HBA and Fox Valley HBA) will be providing products and labor for the venture.

“The wounded veteran recipient will be chosen from recommendations by local veterans associations, VA hospitals and communities,” Unzner said.

New American Homes, the developer of Newport Cove, will construct the house. “The home building industry has been suffering in this economy,” said Susanne Tauke, company president. “This is a way of turning lemons into lemonade. Thanks to a very generous donation of seed money and partners like the NFLPA and home builders groups, we are able to work together to create something that will be a wonderful gift for a wounded veteran.”

Newport Cove, an award-winning planned community of 67 homes located on 42 waterfront acres along Bluff Lake on the Chain O’ Lakes, includes a private 100-slip marina and eight-acre waterfront park.

Tauke’s company has some experience in creating universally designed homes. Two years ago New American Homes teamed up with the Department of Architecture, State University of New York at Buffalo, to create the first LIFEhouse™, a home exemplifying universal design standards. The university is internationally renowned for its IDEA Center (Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Research) and its pioneering work in accessibility and universal design.

The LIFEhouse™, located at Newport Cove and open for viewing, is a 1,992-square-foot ranch home with three or four bedrooms and three baths plus a full lower level. It has received several awards and been featured at the American Institute of Architects 2011 National Convention, the National Endowment for the Arts/American Institute of Architects 2010 Diversity Leadership Meeting and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s 2011 Social Change lecture series.

The wounded warrior home will be another LIFEhouse™.

This is the second project in which the local NFLPA and builders associations have worked together. Last spring they joined to help renovate Chicago’s AMI Kids, an alternative school for troubled children.

“Our home builders want to use their skills to do something valuable for the communities we live and work in,” said Unzner. “We hope to encourage people to join with us to build many projects like this wounded veteran house.” Asked what is needed to complete the home, she mentioned cabinets, plumbing fixtures and carpeting, among other products, then pointed at the Newport Cove marina and said, smiling, “We’d also love to find someone to donate fishing poles – or a boat!”

Some Colors Sell

If you want to change your lifestyle (maybe move to a boating community like Newport Cove, on the Chain O’ Lakes near Antioch, IL), you may need to sell the house you live in now.  Sales experts know that a fresh coat of paint and the right colors help sell a home.  According to an industry survey, the right paint job can sell your home faster and for a better price (more than the cost of the paint, if you do it yourself).  And, no, you should NOT paint the walls white. . .

We Have What Consumers Want

What do consumers want in a new home?

According to a recent survey by Better Homes and Gardens, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems top the list of features consumers say they would like in their next home, with 89 percent of those polled making this a priority. Eighty-five percent want high-efficiency appliances; 84 percent, a deck or patio; 79 percent, a private backyard, and 78 percent desire nicer finishes, everything from wood flooring to granite countertops and fancy trim.

When it comes to living spaces, 81 percent want a separate laundry room; 79 percent, extra storage through dedicated storage spaces, larger closets or built-ins; 67 percent, a home office space or tech center, 67 percent, an outdoor living area; 65 percent, at least one additional bedroom with a private bath, and 64 percent wish for an everyday eating area close to the kitchen.

Although the size of the average new American home has been declining, four out of 10 consumers indicate that, should they purchase a new home, they want it to be slightly larger, not smaller. The median-sized home these buyers are looking for is 1,914 square feet, about 50 feet larger than the median size of their current homes. The average new American home built in 2010 was 2,377 square feet, compared to 2,438 in 2009.

The Cottages at Newport Cove, offered at our waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes near Antioch, IL, are on target with these consumer desires. Sized from 1,625 to 2,300 square feet, the coastal-styled Cottages have high-efficiency heating/cooling systems and appliances, decks or patios, small backyards and top-notch fnishes  (basements with nine-foot ceilings, concrete fiber siding, Pella windows, eight-foot-tall interior doors, standard oak flooring, upgraded kitchens and more). All Cottages come with laundry rooms, plenty of storage, tech centers (see photo), guest suites, plus eat-in kitchens. And, all have first-floor master suites – two of the floorplans are ranch style and two are story-and-a-half homes.

Housing’s Short Sale “Game” – Sham or Opportunity?

Is the listing price of a home always the price? Not if it’s a “short sale” situation.

A new sales strategy, born of the short sale phenomenon, has been rocking the real estate industry, creating false hope for potential buyers, confusing appraisers and generally wreaking havoc with what should – for the common good – be an orderly market.

Just what is a short sale? It’s when a house is listed for sale for less than its mortgage amount. Real estate regulations/laws require that this be disclosed in the listing. In a standard “non-short” sale, if a buyer comes in with an offer that is full price with no contingencies, the seller must accept the offer or be liable for a penalty. But, by disclosing that the sale is a short sale, the seller is let off the hook. Why? Because in a short sale situation, the bank holding the mortgage must approve the sale.

So, what’s the latest wrinkle in this world of short sales? Sellers are offering their homes at ridiculous prices, hoping to attract some attention. Buyers, sniffing an unbelievable deal, make offers. The seller rejects them, even if they are higher than his/her listing price. The buyers become emotionally involved in the house, offer a little more and then a little more.

At Newport Cove, our waterfront community on Illinois’ Chain O’ Lakes, we are in the midst of one such situation. A house originally listed for $999,000 was reduced to $385,000 a few days ago. In big letters the listing sheet said “SHORT SALE.” A price of $385,000 for a waterfront house in a premier community is an unbelievable deal. And, yes, it’s too good to be true.

In a matter of days, the seller has received three offers, each significantly higher than the new listing price, and has rejected all of them. Now, the price is being bid up to what the market might and should bear.

But, even if the seller and one of the potential buyers agree on a price, that doesn’t mean the house is sold. The bank holding the mortgage must approve the sale. According to realtors certified in short sales, Chicago area banks typically are not approving offers for less than 85 percent of the mortgage amount. The approval process tends to be a long one, sometimes more than a year.

Although the house now for sale at Newport Cove is not owned by the development, but by one of the community’s residents, the Newport Cove sales office has been inundated with phone calls from potential buyers, many disappointed when they learn that the house cannot be bought for anywhere near the current asking price. These callers feel this is a dishonest marketing tactic – a bait-and-switch sort of thing. And, although the tactic is legal, we agree. It’s a flim-flam way to do business.

Housing Prices WILL Go Up

Despite the endless doom and gloom about housing on television business news programs, we have been contending that the economic fundamentals soon will reassert themselves, that the cost of homes will rise to meet the cost to produce them, that supply and demand will be equalized.  And, when that happens, the price of housing will rise rapidly and dramatically.

This article in Nation’s Housing News and the research it is based upon support our contention

If living in a permanent vacation setting has been your dream, there’s no time like now to build a home atNewport Cove!

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. . .

This is a good article about how mirrors can make a smaller home feel larger.  We’ve used many of these ideas in our cottage homes atNewport Cove, our waterfront community on Bluff Lake in unincorporated Antioch, IL.


The Colors of Cottage

The colors of sand, sunshine, water and flower gardens – these are cottage colors. At Newport Cove, the award-winning waterfront community on the Chain O’ Lakes in suburban Antioch, builder New American Homes has some favorite paint colors for its coastal-style homes:

They include:

Behr’s “Clambake,” “Cottage White” and “Laurel Mist.” Benjamin Moore’s “Nantucket Breeze.” Restoration Hardware’s “Sand Dollar” (top), “Silver Sage” (middle) and “Seafoam” (bottom). Teamed with bright white trim, these colors say summer, lazy days and serenity. Psychologists have proved that color affects mood. Who could feel unhappy surrounded by these hues?

Homes With Benefits

You may have heard the words “planned community” or “planned urban development (PUD),” but what do those words mean to a home buyer? In the simplest sense they indicate that, when the property was zoned, certain amenities were built into the plan. The land wasn’t just cut up into as many home sites as possible. Instead, space was left for common areas – for parks, natural habitats, green belts, perhaps a stand of old trees. A “planned community” also means that the development has certain guidelines and standards which typically are higher than the normal zoning code. Perhaps all the architecture is required to be the same “style”. Maybe all roofs must be the same color. Some PUDs prevent the permanent parking of commercial vehicles – boats or campers, as examples, or limit the numbers of pets homeowners can shelter.

 Today governmental bodies and municipalities encourage PUDs, especially for significant pieces of land being developed. This allows the land to be thoughtfully designed. In a sense, it’s urban planning on a small scale.

Lifestyle, convenience and aesthetics draw people to planned development. Our Newport Cove community on the Chain O’ Lakes is one example. Homeowners say they have moved there for the waterfront lifestyle and the quality environment. “We want a place where our friends, our kids and grandkids will want to visit,” is something we hear time and again.
Housing choices
Planned communities typically offer variety in the size and type of houses. Maintenance-free smaller houses, like Newport Cove’s Cottages, meet the need of empty nesters or second-home buyers. Custom-designed larger homes satisfy a growing family. Houses built using universal design or aging-in-place principles assure a home that will meet owners’ changing needs. What ties these housing choices together is not uniformity, but rather attention to details that cultivate community. Front porches and shared common grounds allow neighbors to know one another and congregate as they see fit.

 Architectural integrity
 Architectural guidelines assure integrity in the look and building quality of a planned community. Adherence to these guidelines creates a consistently pleasing environment. For example, all the homes at Newport Cove use a coastal-style architecture featuring siding and stone facades, all with white trim, and this brings a bright, clean look to the community.
Vacationing where you live is a theme of many planned communities. Recreation possibilities may include golf, fishing and boating. New, state-of-the-art, easy-maintenances homes allow for more time to enjoy these amenities. At Newport Cove owners can be seen congregating on the walking paths, strolling along the lake, picnicking in the community gazebo, fishing from the piers and – of course – spending time in their boats.
Open space

Land planning is important in a PUD. Attractive natural landscapes with open spaces are increasingly appealing to buyers. Carefully constructed street scenes and walking paths provide views of the natural environments. For example, Newport Cove’s  acres of wild flowers and natural grasses will add more and more interest to the environment as the years go on.
If you were planning a community what would you want to include?

Three Reasons To Buy A Lakeside Home NOW

Living year-round in a newly built, energy-efficient lakeside home is a practical choice wise home investors are pursuing now.

1. Lowest mortgage rates
The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan sank to 4.58 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac.  That is the lowest rate since the mortgage company began keeping records in 1971.  At this rate, the interest one would pay on a $400,000 mortgage would be $18,320 per year, a little more than $1,500 per month, and that $1,500 is tax deductible!

2. At-cost price tag

The award-winning builder of Newport Cove, New American Homes, will build a custom home AT COST on Newport Cove’s estate or lakefront home sites as long as the buyer pays full price for the lot and begins building before October 1, 2010. This is a tremendous savings, particularly when one considers that it includes a beautifully designed and appointed coastal-style home offering the latest in energy-saving technology PLUS access to a fresh water lake, walking paths and open “green” spaces on land served by a state-of-the-art sewer system.

3. Recreation & quality lifestyle

A lakeside home in a planned waterfront community near Chicago offers multiple advantages including recreation and quality time with family.  Fish, swim, take out the boat moored in Newport Cove’s private marina on Bluff Lake. Simplify your life with a beautiful new home in a serene setting.  There’s never been a better time to capture that dream.

To learn more call: 847-726-2727 and visit www.newport-cove.com