Archive for March, 2009

Grahams chocolates in Geneva Welcome back to Monday Morning Market, where Geneva's real-estate expert analyzes the data from the MLS for the last 7 days! Remember, this data is for single-family homes only… here goes:

  • Active listings =251 in number, from $145,000 to $3,499,000
  • Listings under contract =6 in number, ranging from $167,900 to $379,495
  • Price Reductions= 11 in number, with the greatest reduction being a $474,900 to $419,000 drop!
  • Closed Listings= 5 in number, with only 1 being a foreclosure this week. 4 closings were under $350K and 1 closed for $637,000…

It was an interesting week certainly, for me. On March 27th I celebrated my 20th year of selling real estate in and around Geneva! I have surely seen this industry change in the last 20 years!

When I started selling, back in the 1980's,there were many, many little mom and pop type offices in the Fox Valley… one by one, they merged or were purchased by the larger firms. This of course led to the big mega-offices with a hundred agents or more, very popular in the late 80's and early 90's. At that time, the fax machine was the technological wonder! That was one of the most amazing pieces of equipment we had in our office. Then, within only a few years, the invention of the cell-phone really rocked us into the world of tech! Then, it happened…. the poor MLS book went the same way as the ill-fated Dodo bird!!! The MLS book came out every Friday, so that's when our buyers would all flood into the office so we could copy the appropriate pages for them on our copier, then head out to see the listings. Those books were printed in black and white, with one photo (the exterior) of each listing. That's it! In the early 90's, when the offices were really rolling in money, one by one they all started getting PC's…. when the computers became more and more widely used, the poor MLS book was soon extinct (as were many of the Realtors who REFUSED to learn how to operate a computer!!) At this time, the radon inspections, mold inspections and lead-based paint inspections materialized and became standard procedure for buyers….After that, it was a whirlwind…. the internet, automatedsearches for buyers, Realtor.com, websites, laptops, smartphones… you name it! It's been an amazing journey in so many, many ways. Now that we have all of this cutting edge technology, I have seen the larger offices break down again into smaller firms and offices. Many Realtors have the ability to run their business VIRTUALLY, so that is what they choose to do.

When broken down, service is really what we offer. There are plenty of bells and whistles attached to that, but my experience has been that clients hire me because they value my service to them, whether they are buyers or sellers. Besides the signs and the brochures, that's what I have to bring to the table… service! Please allow me to help you this year if you need the great service of a local expert! I would be honored…





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Teresa’s choice for Deal of the Week….

Before I go any further, I just want to disclose that this deal is NOT my listing…. That’s how confident I am that I can sell this property! Normally this is the place where I post my own deals!! However, this is such a remarkable and special property that I wanted to throw it out on my blog to see if any of you would be interested!

I showed this last year when it was listed at $749,000. Now, it sits on the market at $549,000.

It is phenomenal! If you are looking for a home in the country, a weekend home maybe, you should see this! It is truly from a by-gone era…. Formerly owned by the Inland Steel Magnate, it is sitting on 2.25 stunning acres about 15 minutes west of downtown St. Charles. It has 7 fireplaces, yes….7! Exquisite moldings, charming sunroom, fantastic wood paneling from yesteryear! The coach house above the garage is darling…. You can stick your friends in there for the weekend and they will never want to leave.

Go antiquing in St. Charles and Geneva…. Or head north only 1 hour to Lake Geneva, WI from this property. If you love old and charming, this one is exquisite and remarkable in every way!!

Purchaser gets the added bonus of buying any of the fantastic antiques in the home, at a discount and before they will be offered during the estate sale! Call Teresa at 630-917-2717 to see it!!

Exterior Jens Jensen  Driveway Jens Jensen   

Keeping room Jens Jensen 

Sunroom 2 Jens Jensen 

Fam RM Jens Jensen



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June 2008 036 It's been a remarkable week for me in the real-estate world! On Monday, I closed a $2 million home that I sold to some really, really great clients. Of course I was elated to be part of a transaction like that, but I really was a little disappointed that I won't have weekly contact with my buyers from here on out… they were an absolute dream to work with and I enjoyed their company immensely!

Next on the list for the week was the sale of the awesome listing pictured here…. 657 Green Meadow in Geneva. One of my colleagues here in Geneva sold this house to buyers that she had been working with for quite awhile. This particular home is owned by friends of mine… we go to church together, have some kids the same age, and the husband is actually our AWESOME accountant for Stone Tower Properties! Of course, as is standard procedure right now, the offer came in extremely low! My poor clients were severly disappointed with the price, but grateful for the rest of the terms and they eventually got to a price that was agreeable to all. By the time the terms were agreed to, it was after regular business hours, so the buyer's agent ended up dropping off the contract at my house. When I introduced the agent as "the nice agent who sold my client's house", my very savvy 11 year old daughter said to the agent, "Oh yeah! Mr. So and So was really not happy with that offer!!!"  I almost died!! The buyer's agent had quite a laugh!

So… today was a fun day for my clients with the recently-sold home! They are now "buyers" instead of "sellers" and they feel ever-so-better about their new status! I showed them 3 homes today, 2 of which were owned by builders. I can tell you that before I even got back to my office at the end of the day, both of the builders called me and basically begged for an offer! It's a brutal market out there.

I ended the day by negotiating an offer on yet another listing! Once again, an incredibly low offer… 83% of list price, but we were happy to get an offer and happy to give a counter-offer! With inventory at an all-time high, we just can not afford to turn buyers away. I have counseled all of my sellers to develop a thick skin and a really, really realistic bottom line! It's a strategy that seems to be working for us!




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Monday Morning Market…… in Geneva!

Fox River bike path in Geneva Welcome back to Monday Morning Market, where Geneva's real-estate expert analyzes the data for the last 7 days…. if you are buying a home in Geneva, or selling one, read on…..This data is for single-family homes only….

  • Active listings=                   223 in number, ranging from $145,000 to $3,499,900
  • Closed listings=                  3 in number, ranging from $172,000 to $391,400 (2 of those were foreclosures, and the home that sold for $172,000 was listed at $169,900, so it sold for over list price! Must have been a good VALUE)
  • Price Reductions=             10 in number, with the largest drop going from $299,500 to $250,000!
  • Listings under contract= 5  listings, with all of them at $375,000 and under!


Once again, some compelling information here….. The first-time home-buyers are really driving the bus!All of the closings we had were under $400,000, which is a definite range for first time buyers. The listings that went under contract were all at $375,000 or less as well, once again showing us who is purchasing these properties. Only 5 properties in total went under contract in Geneva in the last 7 days…. that's less than one per day! Interest rates again took a little drop at the end of the week, so maybe next week's analysis will provide some meatier number in the "listings under contract" department…

I am more and more hopeful and positive about the market each week. I worked every minute of the past weekend, negotiating offers on 2 different listings that I have had for about 9 months each. One of them is under $300,000, the other listing is priced at $560,000.  I listed a foreclosure property in Geneva, phenomenal price, on Friday night and got an offer right away that night, had 2 more showings on it over the weekend, and another showing today! Even my higher priced listings have shown a little activity!

We have seen definite issues with appraisals coming back low, which stands to reason since a great number of our closed listings are distress sales, and those are the comparables that the appraisers have to use. We have also had issues with lenders asking for the moon as far as documentation for some of these buyers! One lender told me his client couldn't have been vetted better had he been applying for a job with the CIA…..

Well, I am off to now to prepare for today's closing….. a very big home that I sold to some of the nicest buyers I have ever had the opportunity to work with. I will definitely be posting about their transaction, as the whole thing reads like a suspense/mystery novel! It was quite a process involving the world of private clubs, cronyism and the world of high finance! Stay tuned!!

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Is Print Media Dead…. for Realtors?

In August of 2008, The L.A. Times shut down their real-estate advertising section! The end of an era! With enough statistics available to fill an 80 MB hard-drive, this Realtor concurs… print advertising has perished! Don't get me wrong, we still use it for open houses on the weekend. Other than that, we find that most of our consumers (buyers!) use the World Wide Web, a.k.a. the Internet!

As you can only imagine, when I have buyers in my car for an afternoon, or a weekend, we find plenty to talk about! Besides the analysis of each property that we get to see, there is of course talk about mortgages, job markets, local schools, TAXES, the train schedule, and…. the internet! Most of my home buyers want access to EVERY SINGLE listing in their price range. This means emailing them everything that is offered through the MLS! Theywant to job of weeding out what they don't want to see, they don't want me to do that for them! They look through photos, and do research, and check out Google maps and Google Earth to see where the cool things are in the communities. They want to use their GPS capabilities to find out the best route for their commute, or their weekend run! They want to know where the local Whole Foods is, or perhaps Costco.. how far are they from O'hare? Or maybe how far from Randall Road?  They gather all of this information in just minutes, on their laptops or on their smartphones….some of the younger buyers I work with don't even read a newspaper! Maybe on Sundays, but that's it!! They wouldn't consider taking 2 hours out of a busy Sunday to sift through real-estate ads…. not when they have all of that information waiting for them online.

For our listings, we school the sellers on all of the technology that we use. From single-address websites, to postings on Craigslist, to Realtor.com, to www.stonetowerproperties.com and more, we have them covered. We get their properties out in front of the exact population of buyers who are more than likely to be interested….. the internet users!

Yes, for us, print advertising is dead! Long live the Internet!!




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Okay….. many people who have been through the "home buying" process in the last 10 years, maybe 15 years, have met with their Realtor, signed the "offer to purchase" and let the Realtor go off into cyber-land with the offer….. to fax it or email it to the listing agent. What happens after it leaves the hands of the buyer's agent, nobody can REALLY know……I think that process probably could use some tweaking right about now….. that process developed itself when we were all out in the trenches, selling houses each week and doing tons of business…..I think it's safe to say, at this current moment in time, that the way we do business RIGHT NOW is much different than how we did it in the past… In the past, not too distant past for me, here's what has materialized:

Faxing the offer to the listing agent…….

(let's just say the following event is hypothetical, and leave it at that!) I meet with my buyers to write an offer on a property…. I call the listing agent and tell her that we have written an offer… she calls me back to tell me to, "just fax it over to the office"…. Why would I do that? Am I too busy, in this market, to go present the offer to the sellers and their agent myself? Do I think it's in the best interest of MY client to "just fax it over to the office" and let it lay around for anyone/everyone to see? What if there is an agent over in that office who also showed that same property…. don't you think that agent would just LOVE to see my offer, so maybe her client can offer $20 more and beat us out?? Who is going to sell the property owners on the merits of working with MY buyers? Who does everyone think the listing agent is working for, and why would I let her present my contract to her clients?? What happens when the listing agent calls me to tell me, "it's 4 o'clock on Saturday, and I have plans so I will be unavailable for the rest of the day" ? She has a property that's been on the market for over a year, and now she's "unavailable" to negotiate it??? Not with my offer in her hands!! No… that doggie doesn't hunt! I'll keep my offer in my briefcase until I get to meet with you and your client, thanks anyway! Call me when you are "available" again…. hopefully my buyers won't have moved on to plan B by then! If you cannot get in front of live people, meaning the listing agent and/or the sellers, then you darn sure better send your contract to the private email of the listing agent, thus minimizing the chances of anyone else seeing the terms on your buyer's offer!

Presenting the offer to the seller….

If I am the buyer's agent, why wouldn't I present my offer to the property owner? It's not super-dynamic out here right now… don't I probably have time to call the listing agent and ask them, "when would be a convenient time to meet you and the sellers to present this offer???" It's obviously not going to be a full price offer, in this market, so undoubtedly it would be better to get in front of the seller to present the merits of this offer directly to him. It takes the burden off of the listing agent, as they do not have to be the "bad guy" with my lowball offer, and it puts the responsibility on me to go represent my buyer and the merits of his contract, and tell this seller exactly why they should work with this offer. At this point, at least I know that the contract has been presented in the best light, and not just glossed over because it was "too low"… guess what? In the eyes of every seller we have right now, every single offer is TOO LOW… that's just the nature of the beast, for now.

Directly presenting to the seller shows them that you are a professional…. you know what you are doing, you have a LIVE BUYER in your car, and you earnestly want this transaction to come together. It also allows them the convenience of having you right there to answer any intangible questions that they might have, regarding the buyer or the contract.

Preparing your offer for the bank-owned properties……

Here's where it gets hairy… any property that is sold as part of a "distress" sale is undoubtedly going to peak the interest of quite a few people. Let's face it, many buyers in the market today are looking purely for the best deal out there. Period. They aren't looking for the warm and fuzzy listings, they want BARGAINS…. surprisingly, we have seen the "multiple offer" situations more frequently in the last few months. Now, when I refer to "multiple offers", note I do not use the words "full-price"…. when there are multiple offers right now, most often they are on foreclosures or short sales, and they are nowhere near full price! I have been cautioning my buyers, as of late, to not be hung up on "full price". If the bank has put a price tag that is too good to pass up on a particular home, don't risk losing the home by presenting a ridiculous offer. You are going to have to wait weeks, possibly a couple of months, to get an answer from the bank…. do you really want to wait that long to find out that they took another offer for more money?? It's all about the bottom line for the banks, so they don't care at all about your "merits"… they want to see the cash!!Undoubtedly there will still be room to bargain, but be prepared for the fact that there could be other offers out there that might just beat yours out if you aren't savvy enough to recognize a real bargain when you see it. It shouldn't always be about the "price"…. sometimes you can let it be about the "value" and end up even better off!




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Monday Morning Market…..

Welcome back to Monday Morning Market, where Geneva's real estate expert analyzes the data from the last 7 days! For single family homes only, here goes:

  • Active Listings =     213 in number, ranging from $169,900 to $3,499,000
  • Closed Listings=      5 in number, ranging from $217,000 to $381,000, with 3 of those reported as foreclosure sales
  • Under Contract =     3 properties with list prices from $224,900 to $325,000
  • Price Reductions=    10 properties total, with the greatest price reduction being $34,000

Such compelling numbers for us to digest….The five listings that did close in our market area were all under $400K. We, the Realtor population, have been watching this price range and hoping that when these properties sell, then the sellers of the closed properties will move up and buy the next price range up! According to these numbers, that does not seem to be happening. The sellers of the foreclosed properties obviously won't be moving up into the next price range. Likely, they will be renters in our community until they get back on their feet.

More interesting numbers, when delving into the closed properties since the beginning of 2009 here in Geneva….. out of the 34 properties that have closed, 8 of them have been foreclosures or short sales…. that is 24% of the sales so far in 2009!! Also interesting to note is this…. out of the 34 closed sales I am reporting here, 27 of them are under $400,000.  In years past, we would have closed those properties, then those sellers would turn right around a buy another(larger or more expensive) home. We just are not seeing that right now. Economic hardships are blatantly obvious here. The lack of closings from move-up buyers affects more than the Realtors… it affects the title companies, the home inspectors, the loan officers, the moving companies,the attorneys, the people at the county who record all the documents, the local Home Depot or Lowe's where all the buyers go to buy paint and various purchases to make their new home truly theirs….. you can see the domino effect definitely heading in the wrong direction here.

Fortunately for us, the Stone Tower Properties team, we are still pressing on and enjoying the fruits of our labors. However, the labors seem longer, and the fruits seem a little "out of season" at times….When you require up-to-the-minute numbers on what is happening to our market in Geneva, just email me, or give a call. I have seen almost everything out there and I am in the trenches every day, so I am happy to share my thoughts, opinions and strategies with any of you loyal readers! As always, in the never ending quest for "search engine optimization", please pass this site along to anyone else who might be interested in reading through it!

Now, get outside and enjoy the day!


Teresa Keenan


  April 2008 026

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