Morning Minute: Tips for getting a jump-start on your home search

Thinking about buying a home this spring? Then get a jump-start on the process by reading “The Early Bird Guide to Buying a Home,” from The article offers a variety of action steps you can take now to make your search easier later including: finding a buyer’s agent, getting your financial house in order and beginning to look at the homes available on the market. Read the full article for all of the tips.

In other headlines:

Area home sales jump 12.7 percent in January – State Journal-Register

When Buying, Selling and Renovating, it’s an Animal House, Say Realtors® – National Association of REALTORS®

Morning Minute: Fourth quarter brings home price gains

Despite historically low housing inventory, buyer demand remained strong in the fourth quarter of 2016 and helped propel home prices higher in Illinois and in many U.S. metro areas. What’s ahead for early 2017?

Expect home prices to experience continued positive growth in the first quarter of this year with home sales also increasing at a mild growth rate, according to a new first quarter forecast from the Regional Economics Application Laboratory at the University of Illinois. Download the forecast, which also breaks down expectations for the state’s 10 metropolitan statistical areas (or MSAs). You can find additional information about the Illinois housing market at Illinois REALTORS® MarketStats.

Nationally, the fourth quarter housing market was stronger in a majority of U.S. metro areas, the National Association of REALTORS® reported today. Home prices were back to previous peak levels in more than half of the markets NAR measures. Read NAR’s news release on the data and market trends.

“Buyer interest stayed elevated in most areas thanks to mortgage rates under 4 percent for most of the year and the creation of 1.7 million new jobs edging the job market closer to full employment. At the same time, the inability for supply to catch up with this demand drove prices higher and continued to put a tight affordability squeeze on those trying to reach the market,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in the release.

In other headlines:

Mortgage Rates in Holding Pattern – Freddie Mac

The Number One Design Style for 2017 Is … – NAR’s Styled, Staged & Sold


Rent control bill introduced in Illinois House

Source: Bigstock

A Chicago lawmaker has introduced legislation to do away with state prohibitions on rent control.

Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, represents areas in and around Logan Square, where he says property values and rents are driving people out of the area. (The bill text is here).

Rent control in Illinois was outlawed in 1997. A rent control policy limits how much money can be charged for housing, and has been seen by some as a way to keep people from being pushed out of highly desirable areas.

But, as a Sun-Times editorial points out, rent controls have unintended consequences. The policy can eliminate financial incentives to build new housing units and for some landlords, to improve existing units.

As the editorial states:

Rents for some apartments hold steady while rents for others shoot up to make up the difference when the demand is high. An illegal black market develops as one renter quietly tries to pass an apartment along to another renter — sometimes demanding a kickback — without the landlord catching on.

The editorial notes that encouraging affordable development strategies makes sense. For example, locating a apartment or condo complex near public transit hubs can ensure people have easy access to the city. Such a policy may also reduce the need for parking places which in turn drives down development costs.

As of Wednesday, the bill had been assigned to the House Rules Committee.

General Assembly Update: House Revenue and Finance Committee

Rep. Mike Batinick (HB 6630) and Rep. Jack Franks (House Amendment #2 to SB 1919) presenting identical bills to amend the current Property Tax Extension Limitation Law to include ALL taxing districts including Home Rule units and to lower the extension limitation to zero percent beginning with the 2016 levy year. Further, local units could not vote to opt out. Photo: Julie Sullivan

Action occurred this week on the final two days of the current 99th General Assembly on the issue of property tax relief.

On Monday, the House Revenue and Finance Committee heard testimony and voted on TWO identical measures that amend the existing Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL).

Commonly referred to as the “property tax cap law”, it does not “cap” a property tax bill or a property assessment but it limits the increase in tax extensions on existing property by a taxing district.

The provisions of the law initially began in the collar counties in 1991; Cook County was added in 1994 and ultimately it was extended to apply to other parts of the State by referendum.  IMPORTANT to note is that home rule units were never included in the provisions of the limitation.

The law, since its enactment limited increases in property tax extensions to the lesser of 5 percent or the increase in the Consumer Price Index for the year preceding the levy year.  This limitation was able to be increased by vote of the electors in the community subject to the law.

The two duplicate measures, HB 6630 is sponsored by REALTOR® Representative Mark Batincik (R-Plainfield) and an amendment to SB 1919 is sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) are similar to other measures considered in the 2016 session.

Key provisions the bills limit the increases in property tax extensions to zero percent unless a higher amount is approved by the voters; home rule taxing units will be subject to the limitation; PTELL can no longer be rescinded by referendum.

On Tuesday, the full House passed one of the bills- HB 6630 – on a roll call vote of 76-24-6 which, although too late for consideration by the Senate, is encouraging that debate will continue on the issue of property taxes for the new General Assembly which begins on Wednesday, Jan. 11th.