Bus tour prize winner says “homeownership matters”

Although it was a typical March day in Chicago with blustery Lake Michigan winds, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Home Ownership Matters Bus Tour got started at Navy Pier this past Saturday with the opening of the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.

NAR President-Elect Moe Veissi along with Chicago Association President Mabel Guzman and myself, President-Elect of the Illinois Association of REALTORS®, were there to greet consumers.

We were fortunate to have the tour start in Chicago. The next stops will be in St. Louis and on to Denver, Colorado, finishing up in Portland, Oregon.

At the Navy Pier event, consumers registered to win three raffles: one at 11 a.m for a $500 Lowe’s gift card, another at noon for a $1,000 Lowe’s gift card and at 1 p.m. for a $2,500 Lowe’s gift card. It was great to talk to consumers and ask how they feel about homeownership. There was a resounding voice from them that homeownership is important and we should not eliminate the mortgage interest deduction.

The winner of the $1,000 Lowe’s gift card  said it best: “I grew up one of seven children and my parents always rented. The first thing I did when I got married was buy a home.”

Chicago Aldermen Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) and Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward) stopped by to lend their support for continuing the mortgage interest deduction.

Home for the Holidays

Winter HomeA crackling fire, frost on the window panes and families and friends gathering together to celebrate the passing year and usher in the new one – home really is where the heart is during the holiday season.

But a home is also so much more. A home of one’s own is not only a place of shelter and refuge, it is an investment in today as well as tomorrow. As 2010 draws to a close, the Illinois Association of REALTORS® offers five reasons why buying a home continues to be a good investment:

1. Long-term Wealth: Owning a home is one of the best ways to build long-term wealth. Historically, a homeowner’s net worth has ranged from 31 to 46 times that of a renter, according to data from the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances. Despite the economic downturn, homeownership today still represents a family’s primary means of financial advancement.

2. Stable Monthly Payments: Most homeowners enjoy stable housing costs—a fixed-rate mortgage payment might not change for 15 to 30 years while rent typically increases three percent each year. Locking in today’s low interest rates has the potential to save homeowners thousands of dollars a year. And homes are as affordable as they have been in decades.

3. Tax Benefits: Homeowners can typically deduct mortgage interest and property taxes on their federal income tax return, leading to significant tax savings.

4. Freedom: Owning a home comes with the freedom to do what you want to the property. Homeowners are free to renovate, redecorate and modify their homes as they wish. If you want to paint the walls or make a simple landscaping change, there isn’t a landlord to stop you.

5. Investment in Your Future: While financial considerations are certainly important, a lot of today’s buyers are motivated by things beyond just dollars and cents. For many, homeownership is a lifestyle choice—a place to raise a family, build memories and be part of a larger community.

President’s podcast: What’s new in license law transition, member resources and more

In this video message, Illinois Association of REALTORS® President Sheryl Grider Whitehurst highlights new resources available to members such as the online Risk Management Toolbox and reminds members of the upcoming license category transition period, beginning May 1, 2011 and running through April 30, 2012.

Watch the video to learn more about prep courses IAR has developed to help members prepare for transition proficiency exams, IAR’s recent success blocking legislation in Springfield that would have allowed the state to borrow money from real estate funds and the latest in homeownership advocacy efforts.

Thankful to be living the American Dream

Tomorrow, across the country, friends and families will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving. Yes, I will be enjoying all of the food, football and shopping the holiday brings, but most importantly I will be giving thanks. And as a homeowner I particularly have a lot to be thankful for:

  • By owning a home I am building long-term wealth. Historically, a home owner’s net worth has ranged from 31 to 46 times that of a renter.
  • I am free to redecorate, renovate, and modify my home as wish. In fact after six weeks undergoing a kitchen remodel I am looking forward to preparing many home-cooked meals!
  • My housing costs are stable whereas a renters will typically increase three percent a year. I can also deduct my mortgage interest and property taxes on my federal income tax return.

Studies also show that homeownership has a significant positive impact on net worth, educational achievement, civic participation, health and overall quality of life. Consider this:

  • People who own homes vote more, volunteer more and contribute more to their neighborhoods.
  • Every home purchased pumps $60,000 into the economy for furniture, home improvements and related items.
  • Housing accounts for more than 15 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product, a key driver of our national economy.

It is for these reasons and more that I am thankful to be a homeowner and live the American Dream! Find out more about why Homeownership Matters, how REALTORS®  are standing up for it, and how you can help spread the word, at www.realtor.org/homeownership.

Consumers say buying a home still adds up to a smart idea

Nearly eight out of 10 Americans believe buying a home is a good financial decision and more than two-thirds say now is a good time to buy that home, according to the 2010 Housing Opportunity Pulse Survey from the National Association of REALTORS®.

The eighth annual survey measured how affordable housing, job security and other economic issues affect consumers and the housing market. The economy may be on consumers’ minds, but they still believe in the power of homeownership. In fact, the majority of renters surveyed said owning a home in the future is a priority.

Other survey findings:

  • Two-thirds of consumers believe that home values have stabilized in their area.
  • More than one-fourth of renters say they are thinking more about buying a home than they were a year ago.
  • The majority see job insecurity and a lack of jobs as the primary obstacle to homeownership and a market recovery.
  • More than half say foreclosures remain a problem in their area, but say the rate of foreclosures seem to be stabilizing.