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When Should I Start Building my Real Estate Dream Team (Lender, Realtor, Home Inspector, Attorney)? This Is For Move Up / Downsizing Buyers As Well.
So you've been signed up for Zillow alerts for a couple of years and have been steadily putting away money towards a future down payment since you can remember. And then, when the clock struck 12 on January 1st, 2022 you shouted, THIS IS THE YEAR I'M GOING TO BUY A HOME! You look around and realize it's still Covid and no one is around BUT you've set the goal for yourself and you know it's the time to make some moves. So, when exactly do you need to reach out to a Mortgage Lender and/or a Realtor? 

The answer is simple - ASAP. Start Early. Especially if you're going off your lease expiration in the Spring/Summer, it's always a good idea to talk to a Mortgage Lender (first) and then a Realtor, then you can start building the other players from there. Here's why:

A mortgage lender is going to look at your finances and let you know what areas need work and discuss what kind of monthly budget will you be comfortable with. They may recommend issuing a pre-approval at that time, but don't be afraid. Although a pre-approval requires a hard credit pull, it's necessary to do to get an accurate picture of what's going on with your finances. You wouldn't let a doctor fix a broken bone without an X-Ray, right? Not to mention, the pre-approval only affects your credit score by a couple of points, if that. And by giving yourself plenty of time to repair any poor credit issues or save some extra funds towards closing costs and other home-buying expenses, by the time you're ready for showings, you'll have the confidence of knowing you're excellently positioned to buy a home. 

Speaking of showings, why am I calling a Realtor several months before my lease expiration? Well, a Realtor should have their finger on the market-pulse all year long, and can sense based on how the market is behaving, how buyers and sellers may need to prepare for upcoming deals. Now, Realtors aren't seers (if only) so they're not going to be able to predict your exact experience, but they may be able to set your expectations. Once you've gotten your pre-approval and understand your monthly budget, a Realtor can build your search in the MLS and send you automated emails of listings that match your criteria. You'll be able to track if homes are selling quickly and what your budget affords you. Once you're ready to get serious about your purchase, you're already astute to the market and can be as aggressive or patient as you need to be. 

Keep in mind that some Lenders or Realtors may hear your timeline and blow you off until you're closer to your deadline. It may take talking to a few different people before you find someone that feels like a good fit, so give yourself enough time to talk to a few folks! For the home inspector and attorney, your Realtor will have referrals for you. HOWEVER you can choose someone outside of your Realtor.  Whether it's a lender, Realtor, attorney, or home inspector - start asking your friends and family.  If cousin Bill talks about his great experience buying his home last fall, ask about the members on his team and if he recommends anyone.  Yelp / Google reviews are great, but first hand experiences from family / friends is exceptional.
Bikes and Music News
We recently donated 13 keyboards and cases to Elgin Math and Science Academy. Veronica Garcia, the Music Teacher at the school, shared her gratitude: 

I just wanted to say thank you SO much! I honestly cannot thank you enough for what you have done for this school program and these kids. Without the help and support from Bike and Music, there would be NO music club program….I’m truly blown away by your generosity! 

Many thanks, prayers and blessings to your organization!  

Interesting Statistics
This month, we wanted to check on what's been happening in the Downtown Loop. There have been several factors influencing the market in this typically desirable area. Most Chicagoans know this neighborhood got its name from the El railways creating a literal loop around the area. It's also known as Chicago's Core - it's the 2nd largest business district in the country and home to a vast amount of global and national headquarters, commercial businesses, theaters and famous attractions, hotels and restaurants. However, with the changes the Pandemic brought, the civil unrest our country experienced, and the needs of homebuyers' changing - how did this affect one of Chicago's most popular neighborhoods?
Housing inventory in The Loop has been on the rise for years. According to information gathered in the 2019 US Census Bureau, out of the 7,631 housing units in this area, 37% were built in 2010 or later. In March 2020, out of the 34 high-rises being constructed in Chicago, 4 were located in The Loop, adding hundreds of homes. However, it's interesting to see the dip occur around March 2020 when the Pandemic first began and we were in lockdown. Homes were taken off the market as fears of Covid spread, and then as lockdown continued and many Downtown attractions were no longer available, we see a big push in inventory as residents attempt to leave in pursuit of bigger spaces and less populated areas. Peaking in mid-2021, the sharp decline in inventory is also fascinating - many development projects were behind schedule and housing became more limited. Homebuyers started returning to this market and snatching up what was available as many return to the office. Perhaps even some historic price drops were too good to pass up. But is that what happened with home prices?
Looking at this graph of Average Sales prices, we notice that in 2019 and 2020, home prices were pretty stable, averaging around $400K with some slight decreases happening in late 2020. All of a sudden, we see the average price skyrocket in 2021, but what exactly affected this crazy rise? Well, The Residences at The St. Regis Chicago (formerly Wanda Vista Tower) luxury building was finally completed in 2021 - and nearly 200 homebuyers closed on their homes in the last 12 months (many having gone under contract in 2016-2018). The lowest-priced unit in the building was a one-bedroom condo that sold for $900K. Some of the bigger units sold between $6-$8million, which absolutely drove the average price up, considering only 1,075 Loop homes closed in 2021. So with that data throwing off the numbers, let's see how demand was impacted. 
Again, we see stability in 2019, and then drastic changes in 2020 and 2021. The demand drop of 2020 happened concurrently with the beginning of the pandemic. As mentioned, the luxury of living in the business mecca of Chicago no longer served the needs of the residents. With restaurants and theaters shut down and many working from home, many homeowners valued space and distance from others as better amenities. When the temperature in Chicago warmed up, the Loop's proximity to Lake Michigan and the Chicago River gave the community things to do outdoors. Then, as the government eased restrictions and businesses changed to hybrid models, the desire to live downtown returned with a bang! With the exception of the luxury buildings in this market, a majority of the home sales were in line with average prices around the city, creating a record demand that The Loop has not seen since 2008. 

So with the sky-high sales of the St. Regis, the increase in demand and inventory, it does seem like The Loop is back, baby! 
Kevin's Korner

5 Mortgage Myths Busted

Want to be smarter than the average mortgage borrower? Here are five common mortgage myths and the truth behind them. Read on, and you may gain an advantage when deciding what direction to take with your home financing.

1. You need a 20% down payment to buy a home

Historically, many homebuyers were required to make a 20% down payment to finance the purchase of a home. For a $250,000 property, that meant ponying up $50,000 in cash. Today, there are popular mortgage options that allow down payments as low as 10%, 3% or even 0% in some cases. Certain borrowers may also qualify for down payment assistance programs that can further decrease their down payment expenses. These options make it possible for more people to become homeowners sooner or put their money to use elsewhere.

2. You must have great credit to get a mortgage

You don’t need a spotless credit history and a sky-high credit score to buy or refinance a home. There are numerous home financing options available for people with less-than-perfect credit. At Draper and Kramer Mortgage, we provide financing for borrowers with credit scores as low as 580, and we may have niche solutions or exceptions available for people with lower scores. You may also be able to get a mortgage just a couple years after a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy.

3. The mortgage rate you see advertised is the one you can get

Everyone loves getting a good deal, but comparison shopping for mortgages is tricky. Most companies who advertise their mortgage rates only show the rates that are available for “best case” situations. These typically assume the borrower has a high credit score, low debt and a large down payment and is financing an owner-occupied single-family home. Speaking with your lender to get a personalized quote is the best way to find out what rates are available to you.

4. A fixed-rate mortgage is right for everyone

Fixed-rate mortgages are popular because they offer the security and predictability of an interest rate and a monthly principal and interest payment that will never change. However, compared to similar fixed-rate loans, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) often have lower interest rates during their fixed-rate intro periods. Since most people sell or refinance their homes within 10 years of buying, ARMs can end up being the cheaper option for borrowers who don’t need a long-term fixed rate.

5. You should always pay off your mortgage as soon as possible

Many people look forward to the day they pay off their homes and say goodbye to their mortgage payments. However, it doesn’t always make financial sense to pay off your mortgage early. Since home loans typically have low interest rates, homeowners may see a better “return” by using their extra funds to pay off higher-interest debt (e.g. credit card balances) or contribute to high-return investments (e.g. stocks and mutual funds) rather than paying off their mortgages early.


Never assume the home financing you need is out of your reach. Your options may be more accessible, flexible and affordable than you think. Get in touch for your free quote, consultation or preapproval to learn what financing is available to you.

Information provided by:
Kevin P. Koykar, CFP®, ChFC®
Senior Loan Officer
C: 224-639-5100


Home Buyer Seminars Coming in March!
Ryan's Review 
Eddie Vedder at the Auditorium Theater, February 10th. I've seen Pearl Jam at least 25 times, Eddie Vedder twice, and this was my first show at Auditorium Theater. The Auditorium Theater only recently began having shows again (thanks, Covid). My wife and I went with some friends that we haven't seen since Covid as well. Our great dinner caused us to be a little late to the opening act, Glen Hansard, who also played with Eddie about 10 years ago at the Chicago Theater. We only saw his last two songs, but definitely a musician worth checking out (and the movie Once, in which he stars). With his last two songs, Hansard can bring the intensity when he needs to, but turn it around quickly to show a softer, vulnerable side on the next song.  Simliar to the main act of the show.

I first heard Pearl Jam as a senior in high school, and it's always taken me time to dive into Eddie's songs and vocals. A lot of times, I'm not a fan at first, and knowing that this concert was following a new album that just dropped a few days prior, my expectations were low and was hoping he'd play some older Pearl Jam songs sprinkled in. That was not the case - he played the whole new album, called Earthlings, pretty much first to last song. And it was awesome!

He had Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, on the drums. Then Glen Hansard singing back up and melody. Jane's Addiction's Chris Chaney on bass rounds out the star studded band. Lesser known guitarist also in the band is Andrew Watt, who is only 31 years old and fully capable of playing with the older gents.

So you've got this talented, all star group behind a storied front man who has that way about him that's completely different from seeing anybody else, especially when you're listening to that artist's new music. At any other concert during the set, maybe you're going to get a beer or go to the bathroom - Eddie Vedder doesn't allow you to do that, he's too captivating. And being from Chicago, he sprinkled in some great, funny stories. 

I'm not a Tom Petty fan, so I thought the first song, 'Room at the Top' was off the Eathlings album.  Wrong, but it was a solid opener cover song and I've listened to it a few times since the show and added it to my 'When I'm in the Mountains' playlist.  First Petty song that has broken through to any of my playlists.

The new songs sounded great and I found myself listening to Earthlings constantly the following weekend. We were several songs into show before the first Pearl Jam song was played, 'Wishlist'.  I absolutely love every song on the album Yield with one exception, 'Wishlist'.  But it was great to see the audience react to the song.  Everyone smiling, singing along (usually not a fan of that, but tonight I welcomed it), Eddie himself with his biggest smile so far.  It was a sigh of Covid relief and a reminder of normalcy.

'Corduroy' with an alternate arrangement and the encore were my highlights of the night.  'Smile' is a great song, and I loved hard driving 'Lukin' especially with Chad Smith looking and playing like Keith Moon while throwing drumsticks into the crowd.  Not bad for a bunch of old guys.

At the end of last year when Spotify came out with my most listened to artists and songs, I was not surprised to see that Eddie Vedder was literally my most listened to artist. Especially because of last summer, when I was in Colorado, for two weeks I listened to the  Into the Wild soundtrack album pretty much nonstop.  The song 'Society' became my favorite when I was fly-fishing at 5 in the morning. And if you really listen to that song, it's all about not wanting to be in this rat race, polluting, stressing about money and possessions, busting your ass - for what? A couple bucks?  Ego? That song broke through to me as well as the whole album.  I never really gave it too much credit before last year.  'Society' was the first song of the encore and it was just EV and Glen.  It was perfect.

But to wrap it all - the thing about seeing Eddie Vedder or Pearl Jam in a smaller venue - it's less about going to see a show, but more like having a drink with a friend you've known for 30 years and he just pulls out an acoustic guitar with a bottle of wine. Eddie makes you feel that way. 

Side note, my friend that I went with to the concert is in the music business and sees bands live almost everyday. Tough gig.  But even he was so excited and was dancing with the rest of us, it was cool to see him so into it. Eddie Vedder is just one of those artists that can do that. 

Quick story: I was doing a listing presentation the day after the show, and the seller had his buddy (older gentlemen) over and I have no idea why I said it, but when I ended my presentation, I turned to my potential client's friend to say, 'Hey I went to the Auditorium Theater last night for the first time.' The buddy lit up and asked who I saw and when I replied 'Eddie Vedder', he took two steps towards me and said, 'Tell me all about it, he's AWESOME'. And we got to talking about Eddie and Pearl Jam and he asked, 'Do you want to know who my first concert was at The Auditorium?' He answered, 'Jimi Hendrix'.  His second? 'Diana Ross and The Supremes'.  We had a good time talking about the differences between our first experiences at the Auditorium. But it did make me think of the comparison. Both Hendrix and Vedder are / were true mediums for music.  Music flows effortlessly and this can only be witnessed when you see them live (in person or past footage).  Jimi, Bob Marley, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Derek Trucks, Duane Allman - do we place Eddie Vedder in that category?  I think so.  The music world is better with someone like Eddie Vedder in it, and he reminded me of that at this show. 

Definitely worth the money to see him. 

Earthlings Set List
01. Room At The Top-(Petty)
02. I’ll Be Waiting-(Vedder, Hansard)-from the Flag Day sound track {Ed and Glen trade lead vocals}
03. Invincible-from the album Earthling
04. The Dark-from the album Earthling
05. Power Of Right-from the album Earthling
(Ed mentions the struggles to get the tour going.  Mentions he had covid and that reduced rehearsals and now Josh is out today. Something similar)
06. Long Way-from the album Earthling
07. Wishlist
08. Brother The Cloud-from the album Earthling
09. Fallout Today--from the album Earthling
10. Try-from the album Earthling
11. Chad-O (drum solo)
12. Rose Of Jericho
13. Tender Mercies-from the Flag Day sound track {Ed and Glen trade lead vocals}
14. Timeless Melody-(L.A. Mavers) La’s cover
15. Corduroy (alt/fast version w/ vax lyric)
(Tells a story about seeing The Who in Rosemont and writing the logo in snow)
16. I’m One-(Townshend)
17. Porch

Encore Break

(Talks about covid and his concerns, happy he was vaccinated.)
18. Society-(Hannan) w/ Glen Hansard
19. Falling Slowly-(Hansard, Irglová) w/Glen Hansard)
Ed notes the passing of Sean Sullivan. 
20.  Smile
21. Lukin
22. Rockin’ In The Free World-(Young)
Thanks for Reading! 
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