The Fannie Mae January 2014 National Housing survey results recently released revealed two categories with all-time survey highs.

  • 52% responded that they believed it would be easy for them to get a mortgage today
  • 70% responded they would buy a home if they planned on moving

These results indicate an escalating increase in buying confidence that is being experienced nationwide.  It is also a healthy indication that the housing recovery process is indeed going smoothly and with an upward trend.  Positive trends illustrate a positive perspective surrounding economic and personal finance situations, and lends itself well to a continuation of the home improvement.

Chief economist at Fannie Mae, Doug Duncan, explained the survey results in this way:

“A majority of consumers now believe that it is getting easier to get a mortgage. For the first time in the National Housing Survey’s three-and-a-half-year history, the share of respondents who said it is easy to get a mortgage surpassed the 50-percent mark. The gradual upward trend in this indicator during the last few months bodes well for the housing recovery and may be contributing to this month’s increase in consumers’ intention to buy rather than rent their next home. The dip in overall home price expectations, though notable, is consistent with our view of moderating home price gains this year from a robust pace last year, while positive trends in perceptions about the economy and personal finances over the next year support our view of stronger growth in the broader economy.”

As home prices are expected to increase in 2014 in conjunction with rising mortgage interest rates, these mentality trends displayed by consumers is exceptionally good news.

Housing inventory has come a long way since 2008 and 2009, when we were experiencing an over-supply.  In fact, according to Chicago Agent Magazine, one of the biggest components of the housing recovery many homebuyers have been experiencing in recent years is competition.

According to the NAR, Chicago has experienced ample change.  Housing inventory has dropped 14.65% in yearly (YOY) statistics, and 11.54% in monthly (MOM).

For more information, view the interactive graph from Agent Publishing.

This data supports "prepared buyer" mentality.  That is, with a still relatively narrow market, prospective homebuyers should have a good knowledge of the home that they're looking to find, and have all preliminary documentation in place to use for an offer when that home does surface.

If you are looking to buy in the new year and aren't sure what these figures mean to you, send us an email or give us a call and we will be happy to help you with your process.

A new unfurnished apartment lease form was recently introduced by the Chicago Association of Realtors.  It includes disclosure forms for tenants to acknowledge they've been informed about lead paint, radon, and bedbugs.  It also sports a new cover page that warns landlords about the risks of accepting security deposits.

According to the Chicago Tribune, this is the first time that the association is advising Chicago landlords to stop requiring security deposits.

The issue at hand has to do with the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.  Landlords feel that this document extensively protects renter's rights.  Under the city's ordinance, landlords are required to pay interest each year on security deposits (or unpaid rent) that is held for at least 6 months.  The city sets their annual interest rate, and for 2014, it comes in at 0.013%.

Upon the tenant move out, the landlord must additionally provide an itemized list of damages within the unit within 30 days of the move out.   The landlord must also return the security deposit (with the accumulated interest), after subtracting unpaid rent and damage expenses, within 45 days of the move out day.

If the landlord fails to comply with ANY of the ordinance's provisions, the tenant can be awarded damages that are equal to two times the deposit PLUS interest, attorney fees, and court costs.

In other words, if any lawsuit ensues, the expenses could be rather severe.

While the association acknowledges that deciding to not include a security deposit could put a landlord in the position of acquiring damage costs after their tenant moves out, they believe these expenses will not typically be as costly as a lawsuit.

President of the local Realtors association Matt Farrell commented that the association was "[...] starting to feel like our members were at risk. We haven't been able to change the [ordinance] yet, so we're taking steps to protect [landlords]."

Many landlords are choosing to instate move-in or administrative fees in place of a security deposit to avoid the liability.  Ultimately, landlords should consult with an attorney before making this decision.

Thinking of becoming a landlord?  Already a landlord but thinking of changing your current procedure?  Don't hesitate to send us an email or a call, and we'll be happy to discuss your situation.

Guest author Randy Weinstein has been a licensed attorney focused on real estate since 2006. Randy has been recognized by Superlawyers magazine as a rising star for the past two years.

Randy Weinstein graduated from the University of Denver with a juris doctorate and a masters of science in real estate and construction management. 
Contact Randy at his website or by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Homeowners in Chicago who are looking to purchase a new home and rent out their current home must take proper precautions to be cash flow positive.

Changing Your Mindset - Becoming a Business Owner

The first thing that people must understand when they go from living in their home to renting out their home is that they are going from home-owners to business-owners.  By turning your home into your business, you must take the same precautions that you would take in starting any other business.  People should be prepared to consider:

  1. Properly forming an Illinois Limited Liability Company (LLC) 
  2. Executing a Quit Claim Deed from themselves personally into an Illinois Limited Liability Company
  3. Hiring a real estate broker to obtain qualified tenants 
  4. Engaging a real estate attorney to review and/or draft your lease
  5. Consider a property management company to handle repair issues and rent collection. 

Steps 3-5 are particularly important for properties located in the City of Chicago and Evanston. This is because these municipalities have strict Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinances (RLTO) to protect tenants.

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