Happy Summer! Looking to sell?

Selling a house in the summer can be a strategic choice due to the high number of potential buyers available during this season - especially those with families looking to relocate before their children begin school in the fall.

To maximize your chances of a successful sale, consider the following:

The best way to improve your credit score is simple, but not always that easy: Reduce your debt.

Paying off your credit cards, or at least paying them down substantially, will not only increase your credit score, but having less debt will probably be more satisfying than a great credit score. And not using your credit cards anymore and paying off the balances is easier said than done.

But there are smaller, easier steps that can improve a credit score. Here are six:

Set payment reminders: Making credit payments on time is one of the best ways to improve your credit score. Set payment reminders on your phone or whatever calendar you use, and check if your bank offers online reminders through email or text messages.

Don’t open new accounts: If you have a short credit history, then opening a lot of credit accounts too rapidly will lower your average account age and can drop your scores if you don’t have a lot of other credit information.

Fix errors: Get a copy of your credit report and check it for errors. These can include accounts that are listed as open but closed, incorrect late payments and wrong personal information, such as your birthday. If you find any credit report errors, fix them online with the credit reporting agencies.

Don’t move debt around: How much you owe accounts for 30 percent of a FICO credit score, one of the most common types of credit score. It can be tempting to pay off one credit card with another, but that type of shell game can hurt a credit score. Instead, pay down the debt and have fewer open accounts.

Don’t max out: Stay away from hitting the top of your credit limit on your credit cards so that your credit utilization level is low. Credit utilization is the amount of your credit card balance relative to your credit limit. The higher it is, the worse it can affect your credit score.

This may be easier said than done, but keeping balances to 30 percent or less of your credit limits will improve a credit score just as much as paying your credit bills on time will.

Pay your bills twice a month: This is easier than you think and can be done with the same amount of money you were going to pay for the full month anyway.

If you’re paying down a credit card with $500 per month, for example, pay half of it just before the statement closing date and the second payment just before the due date. The first will reduce the balance that credit bureaus see and the second will ensure you won’t pay a late fee.

House sizes have come a long way from 1973 when the average home was 1,660 square feet. The average in 2015 was 2,687 square feet, and since then home sizes have fluctuated, according to the economy, mortgage interest rates, and overall affordability. The question is – how much space do you really need?

Automobiles with luxuries like 360 degree back-up cameras, lane change assists and tail-gating prevention have accelerated in price, and so have homes equipped with smart features, walk-in closets, en suite baths, and other can’t-live-without amenities. Homes are larger and come with more bedrooms – most homebuyers want at least three to four so they can use the extra rooms as offices, guest rooms, craft rooms and nurseries.

To help you decide how much home you really need, here are a few things to think about:

Larger homes may have better resale values, but they’re more expensive to maintain, so get a detailed home inspection to help you plan future replacement and repair costs. 

Affordability is paramount. Buy a home that you can comfortably afford so you don’t have to live under economic pressure. Let your lender help you determine the most you should spend.

Larger homes tend to be located further away from urban city centers. Think about your commutes to and from work, schools, family, healthcare, etc.

Consider how long you plan to live in the home. The longer you occupy your home, the better it serves as a hedge against inflation while you build equity. 

Questions? Feel free to reach out—I’d love to help! Lisa Sanford (815) 922-6924

Happy New Year, Kankakee County residents! As we bid farewell to 2023 and welcome 2024 with open arms, it's the perfect time to reflect on the local real estate landscape and set our sights on new opportunities. I'm Lisa Sanford, your dedicated local real estate agent, and I'm thrilled to share some exciting insights into the current state of the market.

The Numbers Tell a Story of Growth and Opportunity

In December 2023, the median home sold price in Kankakee County reached an impressive $189,773, marking a noteworthy 2.5% increase from the previous year. If you're curious about the price per square foot, it stood at a reasonable $130. These figures speak volumes about the resilience and prosperity of our local real estate market.

A Closer Look at Housing Prices by Bedroom Type

Breaking down the numbers further, we find intriguing trends in various bedroom categories. One-bedroom homes experienced a 64.2% decrease in price, while two-bedroom homes saw a 3.8% increase. Three-bedroom homes dipped slightly by 1.5%, but four-bedroom homes rose by 2.8%, and five-bedroom or larger homes surged by an impressive 12.4%. These fluctuations create a dynamic landscape, offering diverse options for buyers and sellers alike.

A Market Overview: Opportunities Await

With 288 homes available for sale in December 2023, we saw a 4.6% decrease compared to the previous month, presenting an excellent opportunity for those looking to make a move. Remarkably, 55.8% of homes sold below asking price last month, providing potential buyers with the chance to secure a fantastic deal.

Rising Demand and Quick Turnarounds

In December 2023, a total of 77 homes were sold or pending, marking an 11.6% month-over-month increase. Notably, 56% of these homes were sold under asking, showcasing a buyer-friendly market. The average days on market decreased by 20.8% compared to last year, with homes spending an average of 29 days on the market.

Act Fast, Act Smart

For those eager to buy or sell in Kankakee County, now is the time to seize the opportunities available. A significant 68% of homes were sold within 30 days, demonstrating a quick and efficient turnaround. Whether you're aiming for a swift transaction or a more deliberate approach, the market caters to a variety of timelines.

As we embark on this new year, I invite you to consider your real estate goals. Are you looking to buy or sell? Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or someone exploring new possibilities, I'm here to guide you through the process. Reach out today, and let's make your real estate dreams a reality in 2024! Cheers to a prosperous and joyful year ahead!

Call Lisa Sanford at 815-922-6924.

Are you considering diving into the real estate market with dreams of transforming a run-down property into your dream home? Buying a fixer-upper can be a rewarding venture, but it's essential to weigh the pros and cons before taking the plunge.

The Pros:
Affordability and Potential Savings: Purchasing a fixer-upper often comes with a lower initial price tag compared to move-in-ready homes. This affordability can free up funds for renovations, allowing buyers to customize the property to their liking.
Creative Freedom: One of the significant advantages of a fixer-upper is the opportunity for creative expression. You have the freedom to design and renovate the space according to your preferences, making it truly your own.
Potential for Appreciation: Successfully transforming a fixer-upper can significantly increase the property's value. If the surrounding neighborhood is on the upswing, your investment might see substantial appreciation over time.

The Cons:
Unforeseen Costs: Renovation projects often come with unexpected costs. What appears to be a minor repair can escalate, impacting your budget and timeline. It's crucial to have a contingency fund to handle unforeseen expenses.
Time and Patience: Renovating a fixer-upper requires time and patience. If you're on a tight schedule, the prolonged renovation process may become a source of stress. Consider your timeline and whether you're prepared for the potential delays.
Stress and Decision-Making: Juggling multiple decisions during the renovation process can be overwhelming. From choosing materials to coordinating contractors, the stress of decision-making is an inherent part of fixing up a property.

Tips for Success:
Thorough Property Inspection: Conduct a detailed inspection before purchasing the property. Identify structural issues, plumbing and electrical concerns, and other potential hidden problems. Knowing what you're getting into upfront can save you from unpleasant surprises.
Create a Realistic Budget: Develop a comprehensive budget that includes both the purchase price and estimated renovation costs. Be realistic about what you can afford and build in a financial cushion for unexpected expenses.
Prioritize Renovations: Identify and prioritize renovations based on both your budget and the property's potential value. Focus on projects that add the most value to ensure a worthwhile return on investment.
Hire Reliable Contractors: Building a team of reliable contractors is crucial. Seek recommendations, check references, and ensure that the professionals you hire are experienced in handling the specific renovations your property needs.

Buying a fixer-upper can be a fulfilling journey with the right mindset and preparation. Careful planning, realistic expectations, and a solid budget are key to turning a fixer-upper into the home of your dreams. While challenges may arise, the satisfaction of transforming a neglected property into a personalized haven is a reward worth considering.

Considering buying an investment property? Let's talk! Call Lisa Sanford at 815-922-6924.