Sunday, February 3, 2008

Advice: Why Now Is the Perfect Time To Buy

To help get the 2008 season off to a tremendous start, we invited agents, brokers and loan originators to tell us why now is the perfect time to buy a condo in Chicago. Perhaps because they were too busy preparing for Opening Day, only three agents responded, so we'll do our best to answer for the rest.

In the tradition of David Letterman, we list our Top 10 reasons, some of them tongue-in-cheek, in reverse order. Because . . .

10. Your interest rate will be near 40-year lows. This was cited by both Francesca Rose, at Koenig & Strey, and Jeff Kerr, with @properties. They are right: Mortgage rates are hovering near their 40-year lows. Won't rates likely be lower a few months from now? Said Jeff: "We can only hope so." With 20% down, you can get a 30-year, fixed-rate mortage in Chicago for less than 5.7%.

9. You won't be buying at the top of the market. "I can say that with absolute assurance," Francesca assured us. But might not prices be even lower in the future? That, of course, is the $64,000 question. If they are, you can always buy another unit.

8. You could help Mayor Daley win his bid for the Olympics. And, if he succeeds, you could earn a bonus in 2016. The rent you receive during the games could probably pay your mortgage for a year. (If we're not mistaken, both Da Mayor and Tribune owner Sam Zell live in condos. Why shouldn't you?)

7. You have so many units to choose from. Although slightly below where it was at this time last year, active inventory of existing (re-sale) condos on the Multiple Listing Service is about 12,200. The quality (condition) of these units, says @properties' Diana Turowski, is higher this year. But the supply of new-construction units is 50% higher than a year ago. Of the 6,300 new units scheduled for completion in 2008 in the downtown area alone, 1,300 are unsold.

With highly motivated sellers, you can take your time, be more selective, be more likely to find exactly what you want, negotiate a lower price and, with new construction, get free upgrades, pre-paid assessments or taxes, even help with your mortgage. "Truly motivated sellers are more willing to accept such creative financing options as rent to own, lease-purchase and contract for deed," says Diana.

6. Your unit will appreciate dramatically when the Cubs win the World Series in October. (As a long-time Cubs fan, we didn't say which October.) And when, if global warming continues, the unit you bought west of Michigan Avenue becomes valuable lakefront property.

5. You might help keep some professional home-sellers from becoming homeless. Nationally, in good times, the median income of Realtors is less than $47,000 a year. With sales of single-family homes in Chicago down 27% last year, you don't want to see agents and loan originators living in cardboard boxes, surrounded by wrought-iron fencing, in Millennium Park, do you?

4. You can now buy a home without leaving home. With the Internet, you don’t have to go out in the cold to buy a condo. You can find one, and close on it, without ever leaving home. (Does anyone know of anyone who has actually done this?)

3. You may be able to move in immediately. If you buy an unsold unit in a new development, you won't have to experience the long wait typically endured by buyers of pre-construction.

2. You might keep someone from being fired. With 30% (100) of the condo-hotel units at the Trump International Hotel & Tower left to sell, we Chicagoans must act. You don’t want to disappoint The Donald, or risk having him fire someone, do you? (With this link to his fantastic Web site, we're doing our part.)

1. Well, just because. It's time to turn on the Big (Giant) Game to see which local developers bought ads, so you'll have to click Comments below and fill in this one yourself.

Now aren't you sorry you didn't submit your own reasons? Blame the really bad ones on the writers' strike.

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