Take a look at WhyIBuy.org

Recently the Illinois Association of REALTORS® Advocacy Program introduced to its members a new, one-of-a-kind, interactive website www.WhyIBuy.org.

The site aims to help you understand the motivations and opinions of Illinois homebuyers based on telephone interviews with those who purchased a home in the last 12 months. Because the project is ongoing—recent homeowners are being surveyed every quarter—this will be a continually growing source of information for Illinois REALTORS®.

Survey questions regard the use of a REALTOR® and other resources used by the homebuyers in their home searches as well as other facts about the buyers: income, age, number of children in the household, number of homes previously owned.

Here are some of the research areas examined:

  • What are homebuyers finding most helpful in their home searches?
  • How are homebuyers choosing a REALTOR®?
  • How are homebuyers using TV, radio and other media

The site presents this information on a statewide level. Regional reports will be shown on the site later. Also to be included later will be quarterly reports on the trends along with analysis of the homebuyer statistics in Illinois. Large regions (Northern, Southern, and Central Illinois) are reviewed quarterly and their sub-regions are reviewed yearly.

Here are some interesting findings from buyers from data through December 2010:

  • The percentage of first-time homebuyers took a big drop in June (with the expiration of the federal tax credit) but by year-end first-time buyers were still approximately 20% of all buyers in Illinois.
  • 50% of buyers had no children.
  • Homebuyers were evenly split on citing the most helpful resource: working with a REALTOR® and using the Internet.

First-time buyers a driving force in 2010

First-time buyers continued to be a driving force in the Illinois housing market as they took advantage of the first-time homebuyer tax credit and the most affordable housing market in years, according to the 2010 Profile of Illinois Home Buyers and Sellers released by the Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR). In fact, 53% of buyers were first-time buyers, compared to 50% nationwide.

Other trends at a glance:

  • When asked about the primary reason for timing of the home purchase, 34% of buyers who responded to the survey said it was just the right time while (27%) cited affordability. Additionally, 72 percent of Illinois buyers took advantage of the homebuyer tax credit that expired last year, according to the survey.
  • The median age of first-time buyers in Illinois was 30 years old, while the typical repeat buyer was 42 years old. Single females accounted for 22 percent of buyers, up from 21 percent the year before. Single males stayed steady at 11 percent.
  • When it came to Illinois sellers, 82 percent were assisted by a real estate agent. The typical Illinois home seller owned their home for eight years and said the primary reason for selling their home was a change in the family situation (23%) or the size of the home was too small (21%).

Find additional details along with charts comparing Illinois buyers and sellers with those nationally in the 2010 Profile of Illinois Home Buyers and Sellers.

Chart: What Illinois buyers want most from real estate professionals

Chart: Adult composition of homebuyer households 2001-2010

Chart: First-time homebuyers (percent of all homebuyers)

A closer look at Illinois home buyers

Ever wonder who was buying homes, what kind of home they were looking for, and how they went about the process? The 2010 Illinois Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers has the answers. The National Association of REALTORS® survey of consumers who bought homes in Illinois between July 2009 and June 2010 paints a clearer picture.

Who are they?
Fifty-three percent were first-time buyers, higher than the 50 percent nationwide. The median age of first-time buyers in Illinois was 30 years old, while the median age for repeat buyers was 42 years old. Single females accounted for 22 percent of recent Illinois buyers; 11 percent were single males.

What did they buy?
Sixty-eight percent bought a detached single-family home and the median home price was $190,000, higher than the $179,000 median nationwide. Only 9 percent of homes purchased in Illinois were new.

How did they find their home?
Ninety-three percent of buyers used the Internet in their search for a home. The typical Illinois buyer searched 12 weeks and viewed 15 homes, compared to the 12 homes viewed by the typical buyer nationwide. REALTORS® continue to play an important role in the process, with 85 percent of Illinois buyers purchasing their home through a real estate agent or broker.

How did they buy?
Ninety-five percent financed their home purchase and the typical buyer financed 88 percent of the purchase .

Now you know more about Illinois homebuyers,  so how about sellers? For starters, 82 percent of Illinois sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling. Find more details in the 2010 Illinois Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

Low interest rates, financing programs take the sting out of post-tax credit market

Worried about losing the marketable aspects of the homebuyer tax credit? Don’t fret! First-time and long-time homeowner programs combined with current mortgage interest rates hovering at historic lows could make all the difference in closing the sale.

A number of analysts are urging potential homebuyers to take advantage of low interest rates now because they’re long overdue for an increase. Many predicted them to soar when the Fed stopped buying mortgage-backed securities in April, but they continue to remain low and when they will rise again is still unknown.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority’s (IHDA), Home Start program just lowered their interest rates as well. The program, engineered to make homeownership within reach for Illinois residents offers mortgage loans to qualifying first-time buyers and veterans.

According to IHDA, Home Start’s 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rate is now just 4.5 percent, dropping from February’s 5 percent rate. The loan, paired with low market prices and interest rates could mean all the difference in owning a home. IHDA urges potential homebuyers to contact a participating lender and take advantage of these historically low interest rates.

Another option for potential buyers is the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) insured mortgage loans. They require a low minimum down payment of only 3.5 percent and offer loans to those with a less than perfect credit history.

And while some of the most well-known programs are at the federal or statewide level, a number of city and county programs are available throughout Illinois.

With no set prediction of when interest rates will begin to soar, locking in a low rate now could mean saving thousands of dollars in the long run. Find more financing options at www.YourIllinoisHome.com.

Still a good time to buy even after the tax credit

When the homebuyer tax credit ends today it will still be a good time to buy a home in Illinois. Here’s why.

Mortgage interest rates remain low with 30-year rates hovering just above 5 percent this week according to Freddie Mac. Today’s more affordable home prices are another draw for first-time buyers and those looking to trade-up, invest or relocate.

First-time buyer programs are available from some cities and counties. For example, the City of Chicago’s  Home Purchase Assistance (HPA) program offers down payment and closing cost assistance to qualifying first-time homebuyers. The HOME Program adminstered both by HUD and IHDA helps homebuyers in participating Illinois cities and counties with down payment and closing cost assistance.

First-time buyers may also qualify for a safe and affordable mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration (www.FHA.gov or www.HUD.gov), and the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s HOME START program (www.IHDA.org) offers down payment assistance.

Homeownership remains a good long-term investment. In Illinois the median price in 2009 was 5.9% higher than it was 10 years earlier in 1999. Get more facts about today’s Illinois housing markets at www.YourIllinoisHome.com.

Note, for U.S. service members, the homebuyer tax credit deadline is extended through April 2011. According to the Internal Revenue Service, members of the uniformed services, Foreign Service and employees of the intelligence community serving outside the United States are eligible for this special rule.