Archive for 2009

5 Nov
Tax Credit Extended & Expanded
Posted On : 11 5th, 2009   By : Alice  |  2010 Tax Credits, Tax Credits

The first-time home buyer tax credit was extended today, following the U.S. Senate approval yesterday and the House of Representatives today.  Not only will the current tax credit of $8,000 be extended, but a new credit of $6,500 for qualified existing homeowners as well.

To qualify for the $6,500 new credit, existing homeowners must have owned their current residence for a consecutive 5 year period.

Additionally, the home purchase price cannot exceed $800,000.  A homebuyer must also have a purchase contract signed by April 30th and close by June 30th, 2010.

According to the National Association of Realtors, as many as 400,000 resale transactions (1.2 million resale and new construction homes total) have been completed due to the first-time homebuyer tax credit.

This is wonderful news for our local housing market.  As most of you know, I truly believe that the tax credit has helped our local real estate market this past year.  With the extension and expansion of this new tax credit program, hopefully our local market will improve into next spring and summer.

15 Sep
Twilight Open House
Posted On : 09 15th, 2009   By : Alice  |  Open Houses

Every spring, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage hosts a series of Twilight Open Houses that runs through the fall season.  Our Naperville office usually hosts at least 30+ open houses on the 3rd Thursday of every month from March to September/October.

Next Thursday, September 24th, will be the last Twilight Open House for this year.  For all of the active buyers who are still looking to purchase a home this year, it will be the perfect opportunity to find the perfect one.

For a complete list of the homes that will be open to the public for viewing, please contact me and I will be happy to forward you a copy.  All of the homes will be open from 5-7 p.m.

I will be hosting a Twilight Open House at 1019 Amberwood Circle in Naperville.  For more information on this property, please visit  Feel free to stop by and visit me next Thursday!

1 Sep
Top 5 Seller Real Estate Myths
Posted On : 09 1st, 2009   By : Alice  |  Real Estate Tips

As a top listing agent in my office, I typically have the opportunity to meet with 5-12 prospective sellers a month.  When meeting with these sellers, I am often asked a series of questions regarding local market conditions, current home values, and also my marketing strategies.

During our conversation, many sellers will also discuss with me their beliefs regarding the current real estate market and ask me to shed some light on information they may have heard on the news or from friends and/or family.  Unfortunately, some of the information sellers believe to be true, are in fact myths.  Here are the top 5 seller real estate myths and the real truths.

Myth #1: The fall and winter market is the worst time to sell.  I’m going to take my home off of the market and/or wait until the spring season to list my house.
This is not necessarily true.  Especially in the Naperville area, the fall/winter market is sometimes the best time to sell.  A large number of relocation transferees come to Naperville to look for a home between the months of September to December.  Additionally, since they are relocation buyers, they are serious about finding a home and they have a specific timeline.  Additionally, your home may not receive as many showings during the fall/winter market, but the showings you will receive will be more serious.  There will also be a lot less competition compared to the spring and summer months.  Lastly, the fall/winter season is usually when your home looks the best, with holiday and seasonal decorations.

Myth #2: I can always reduce my listing price later.
Some sellers price their home high for the first 3-4 weeks to “test” the market.  However, this is not a good idea.  Buyers will know if a home is overpriced, because they are viewing all of the competition that is also currently on the market.  Instead of pricing your home right from the first day and capturing the active buyer interest, you will instead be promoting how other properties are priced right and in turn helping those homes to sell instead of yours.  Sure, it is true that you can reduce the price later, but the active buyers in the market now won’t wait around for “later.”

Reducing your price in small increments and/or also waiting to reduce your price is also not a good idea either.  This will cause you to be chasing the market downwards instead or pricing it ahead of the market curve.

Myth #3: The first offer is not the best offer.  I will get more offers.
Many sellers believe that it is wise decision to wait for additional and/or better offers.  Unfortunately, that is a very risk proposition at best.  Many times, there will not be a second offer.  If a seller is lucky enough to receive a second offer, it will most likely not be as strong as the first offer.  Additionally, more time would have passed and the property will be more market worn.  This is the number one reason why subsequent offers will not be as strong, because the buyer will see how long the property has been on the market and believe that they will be able to purchase it at a lower price.  If you were a homebuyer, would you pay more for a home that has only been on the market for 5 days, or a home that has been on the market for 125 days?

Myth #4: If I hold onto my current asking price, a buyer who is interested will eventually come along and make an offer.
This myth ties in with myth #2.  Buyers who are actively looking for a home will often be the most educated about the current local marketplace.  This is because they will most likely see your home and every other home that is directly in competition with it and priced within the same price range.  If your home is priced higher than its true market value, the buyer will most likely not give it serious consideration and it will be automatically eliminated from their final list.  Most sellers also make the mistake of treating real estate as a product.  Real estate is a commodity, and homes will only sell for what buyers value it at, and not a dollar above that amount.  As a seller, if you want to wait for a buyer to come along and pay more than the market commands, you will be waiting a very long time.

Myth #5: As long as I am listed on the MLS, it doesn’t matter which company I am listed with.
As a seller in the current real estate marketplace, the most important decision will be who you hire to market and get your home sold.  The MLS is a great tool, but that is all that it is- just a tool.  It takes a solid company with the right resources and also a knowledgeable agent who can use the tool properly and get the job done.  Additionally, the MLS is only one way to market your home.  It is vital to make sure that your home is listed on multiple top websites, exposed to all of the active buyers in the marketplace, and also to all of the active Realtors® who may have buyers in the area.

18 Aug
The Naperville Fall Social Scene
Posted On : 08 18th, 2009   By : Alice  |  Events, Naperville

With school about to start and everyone getting back to their regular schedule, I thought that it would be a good time to highlight some local social events in the Naperville area.  Some of these events are hosted outdoors and it will be the last time to attend these activities before the weather starts getting colder.

For a complete list of all local Naperville events, visit:

August 22nd
12-2 PM

Recessionista Design Event
This event will be held at Design Pointe on Route 59 and Brookdale Road in Naperville.  The host of HGTV’s “Design on a Dime” Frank Fontana will be there to share recession-proof ideas to decorate your home.  There will also be samples of food and wine tasting!

1:30-3:00 PM
Naperville Community Gardeners 29th Annual Flower & Garden Show
This Annual Flower and Garden Show will showcase vegetables, flowers, fruits, etc.  There is also a special section for younger gardeners.  Ribbons will be awarded for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in each category.

All entries will be taken between 7-10 a.m. and the public will be able to view all entries from 1:30-3:00 p.m.  There is no entry fee for entering the show or to view the entries.

September 4th- 7th
The Last Fling
This event is sponsored every year by the Naperville Jaycees and is a great way to say goodbye to summer.  It features lots of great food, fun rides, and games for all ages.

September 11th
5-6 PM
The Naperville Exchange Club will be sponsoring the annual remembrance on the 8th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.  U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk will be featured speak for this event.  It will be hosted at the Commander Shanower Memorial behind the Naperville Municipal Center.

September 12th & 13th
9 AM-5 PM
Soap Box Derby Race
Gear up for a fun day at the races!  Both boys and girls ages 8-17 will be competing in gravity built cars.  Registration starts at 7 a.m. that day.  There is no charge for spectators.
Racing will take place at the corner of Diehl and Frontenac Road in Naperville.

September 18-20 & 25-27th
11 AM-5 PM
Downtown Naperville Custom Home Tour
Hosted by the Live Downtown Naperville Partnership, this will be the second annual custom home tour.  This year’s tour will feature 18 custom homes by the area’s local builders.  Tickets are $20 in advance or $20 at the door and will allow visitors to view all homes on both weekends.

October 2nd-3rd
3-10 PM

Oktoberfest will be hosted at Naper Settlement this year.  Enjoy authentic German cuisine and live music.  Admission to the event is $10, food and drinks are an extra charge.

October 18th
11:30 AM–5 PM

Soups On!
This fundraiser event will be held at the Tellabs Atrium (1415 W. Diehl Road in Naperville) and will offer a full menu featured by 20+ of the area’s top restaurants.  A children’s menu will also be provided and entertainment by musical ensembles from both Naperville 203 and 204 schools.  There will also be a silent auction and a designated children’s play area, sponsored by the Dupage Children’s Museum.  Tickets will be $40 for adults ($35 early bird price if ticket is purchased by September 30th), $30 for seniors, military, and college students, $10 for children ages 6-18, and children under the age of 5 are free.

October 24th & 31st
7 AM-12 PM

Farmer’s Market
These last two Saturdays in October will be the last opportunities to take advantage of the local farmer’s market until next June.  The Farmer’s Market is open at the Fifth Avenue Station parking lot.

15 Aug
The Start of the Flu & Cold Season
Posted On : 08 15th, 2009   By : Alice  |  Naperville

As the fall season starts and with the winter season just around the corner, I know that most of us do not like thinking about the inevitable- getting sick with a cold or flu.

This year is particularly worrisome for parents, especially due to the potential spread of the Swine Flu.  Additionally, since the Swine Flu vaccine won’t be available until October and with kids already being back in school for a couple of months by that time, additional stress and worry are created for parents.

Both Naperville school districts (203 & 204) have posted information regarding the common cold, flu, and variations of the flu (swine, bird, etc) on their websites.  The DuPage County Health Department and the DuPage County Government have published a Community Outreach Kit that provides tips on prevention and a guide to overcoming the Swine Flu.  Once the vaccine is released in October, it should be available in many doctor’s offices, hospitals, and local pharmacies.

Regular flu shots will be administered by staff from Edward’s Hospital in Naperville at the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors Downers Grove Office on Thursday, October 1st from 2-4 p.m., for a cost of $18.  The address is 6655 Main Street in Downers Grove.

Overall, the best course of action is to wash your hands often and to stay at home once any flu-like symptoms arise.

Let’s all hope for a healthy fall and winter season!

2 Aug
Short Sales- The Buyer’s Side
Posted On : 08 2nd, 2009   By : Alice  |  Short Sales

One of the first inevitable questions that come up during an initial meeting with any of my clients is regarding short sales.  I usually receive a myriad of questions, such as:  what is a short sale? Are they listed on the MLS?  I’ve heard that I can purchase a home for a really reduced price if it is a short sale, is this true?

Since it is becoming an extremely popular topic in real estate and also is becoming more and more prevalent amongst homebuyers, I wanted to shed some light on what exactly a short sale is and what it is definitely not.

A short sale is when the currently homeowner owes more on a mortgage(s) than what the current market value of the home is worth.  Typically, the homeowner also needs to sell the property for a specific reason.  Lastly, the homeowner will need to be able to prove financial difficulty and/or hardship.  For example, they have lost their job or been laid off recently, have had expensive medical issues, etc.

When I am representing a seller client in a short sale, the first question I always ask them is if they are in financial hardship.  This enables me to understand their history and the situation that they are in.  Secondly, I immediately prepare a short sale package to present to the bank or bank(s) who holds the current mortgage(s).  Lastly, I will ask the client if they have been served by the bank yet and if a foreclosure has been filed.  This will enable me to figure out how much time the client has before the foreclosure will proceed and the sheriff sale will take place.  To a homebuyer, this is important because you don’t want to make an offer on a property that only has 2 months left prior to the sheriff sale date.

Another fact that many of my buyer clients do not realize it that short sales can take a long time, on average at least 4-6 months from the time an offer is submitted to the time it may be accepted by the bank.  Additionally, when there is more than one bank involved, it can be an even lengthier process.

Additionally, when representing buyers, I always remind them that short sales are almost always in “as-is” condition.  What this mean is that as a buyer, you still have the right to perform a property inspection, but if you find anything wrong with the property, the seller will not repair the items.  In a traditional home purchase, inspection items are usually a part of the negotiation process with the seller.

There are also a few more details regarding short sales that buyers should be aware of.  I have had many short sale transactions where only a 100% tax proration was allowed.  The typical property tax proration in DuPage county is 105%.  As a buyer, what this means is that you will only be credited for 100% of the previous year’s tax bill and that an increase on property taxes will not be accounted for.   Also, if there are any unpaid property taxes or assessments/association dues, either the bank or the buyer will be responsible for them.  I once had a transaction where I was representing the buyer and one week prior to closing, we suddenly discovered that there was over $3,000 in unpaid association dues, and the bank was not going to pay for it.  Moreover, we could not move forward with the closing if the association dues were not paid in full.

Short sale properties are also sometimes vacant.  If the property has already been vacant for some time, it may be an additional risk to take on as a buyer, especially if it has not been winterized.  For example, if a home is vacated for a couple of months prior to a buyer making an offer, then another 3 months while the bank is making a decision, and another 1 month from the time the bank approves the offer to officially close, the house has been vacant for a total of 6 months.  During these 6 months, anything could happen in a property, from a frozen pipe to a toilet/shower pipe leak.  All of these could cause permanent and extensive damage to a vacant property.

Lastly, when the offer has been accepted by the bank, they will usually give the buyer a deadline by which the closing must take place.  This is different from a traditional transaction, where the closing date is negotiated between the buyer and the seller, and there is typically more flexibility.  As a buyer, you must insure that the lender you have selected can guarantee a quick and smooth loan approval process.

Overall, purchasing a short sale can be a very rewarding process and a buyer can obtain a property at a significantly reduced price.  However, buyers also need to be aware of all of the risks that are involved with the short sale process and make sure that they are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to obtain the reduced price.  If not, a traditional transaction may be a better move to go with.

1 Aug
First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit- The Clock is Ticking!
Posted On : 08 1st, 2009   By : Alice  |  Homebuyer Tax Credit

I just wanted to post a quick reminder for all first time homebuyers that the federal tax credit deadline is fast approaching.  The official date is December 1st, 2009.  However, the closing purchase must be completed prior to this date.  This makes November 30th of this year the last date that a home purchase closing can take place to qualify for the tax credit.  Additionally, with a traditional 30 day closing period, it is important to note that an offer on a home must be accepted by the end of October in order to have a good chance of making the deadline on time.

Additionally, as of May 29th of this year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that buyers would be able to use the first time buyer tax credit as a down payment or towards closing costs.

Although there is continued debate as to whether or not the tax credit will be extended, it would be a better bet to take advantage of the tax credit prior to current deadline, just in case it is not extended.

9 Jul
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage- Naperville Office Merge!
Posted On : 07 9th, 2009   By : Alice  |  Coldwell Banker, Events, Naperville

I am excited to announce that our office (Naperville 75th Street) and the other Naperville Coldwell Banker office (Washington Street-downtown) is set to merge and combine into one mega office, officially on July 14th.

Construction has been underway for the past few weeks and it looks like everything will be completed on time.

With the completion of the merge, we will officially be the largest residential real estate office in Naperville and DuPage County, with over 180 agents!

Additionally, I have also found out that Mayor Pradel will be at our ribbon cutting ceremony on July 21st, during our first official meeting as a new office.  I am really looking forward to the upcoming events over the next 1-2 weeks!

21 Jun
Welcome to My Blog
Posted On : 06 21st, 2009   By : Alice  |  Coldwell Banker, Naperville

Welcome to My Blog, Naperville Homes and Happenings, where you can follow the local real estate market and events in the Naperville area.

My name is Alice Chin, and I am an experienced residential real estate agent who has lived in the Naperville area since 1991. Since I was raised in Naperville and attended Naperville SD #203 schools, I have seen all of changes and improvements that the city has gone through over the last two decades. This city has always felt like home to me and I am proud to be a “Naperville-an.”

Growing up in Naperville and now working & living as a young adult here, I feel that I am able to give a fresh perspective not only on the local real estate market, but also on the interesting “happenings” in the area.

I am excited and truly looking forward to seeing this blog grow into an informative, interactive, and fun resource for readers. Please join me in my excitement- feel free to comment on blog entries, visit the site for up-to-date real estate news, or simply to obtain details on upcoming social events.