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Getting Your House Ready to List for Sale

I’ve sold a few homes of my own and know what it feels like to prepare a home to sell – especially one the seller is living in! The key is to think your home has been selected to on Sell This House, a TV series that selects a real seller looking to spruce up their home to prepare to sell. If you haven’t seen an episode, please, stop what you are doing, youtube it and watch !

There is a misconception that sellers think a buyer will want to move into a new home that they could put into action their own creativity and ideas. Truth is, buyers are picky, discriminating, harsh and opinionated. They may say they can do this or that, but in the end, they always pick the most finished home.

Major things that improve value and limit scrutiny:

  • Modern Appliances (stainless steel)
  • Trendy Finishes
  • Fresh Paint (look at colors that are in – like light grey or light sage)
  • Generally Well Kept Hardwood Floors
  • Minimal Furniture and Feature the Basics
  • Up-to-date Decor
  • Cleanliness

If you have the money to do these things, please invest it into your home. Sellers usually double their investment at minimum from my experience in fixing and flipping homes. You already have the home, already half the battle!

When you are getting ready to list, talk to your REALTOR to see what it will take to get your home up to par with the current style. Ask for contractor referrals, get quotes on how much your plan would cost, see what you can afford and adjust your plan with your REALTOR to find out affordable solutions to keep style in mind while putting your home in the best light!

For a free listing prep consultation in the Chicago area, call me today!

Barbara Barker


Cell: 312-798-9675


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Written by Barbara Lowe Barker 3/12/2015


There are many different factors in deciding when the right time to purchase a home is. Some buyers wait until they are mentally ready, some wait for the mortgage rates to fall to records lows. Being a Real Estate Broker in Chicago where the majority of home sales are condominiums, this article is tailored to the demographic of the average Chicago home buyer. With the average Chicago home buyer comes the widely popular loan package those buyers tend to choose. I want to reiterate that I am a Real Estate Broker and not a “Mortgage Broker”, you should consult your mortgage broker about the accuracy in my predictions / theories. Rates started falling around November 2014 according to trends provided by and continued to stay low until today – 03/12/2015. How much money will you save buying at lower rates vs higher and how are home prices affected by these low rates? Looking at all these factors can help you determine whether you should or should not be reconsidering getting out there with your Realtor (ah hem…me!).

Have you ever stood in line at a Subway with 10 other people behind you and the guy in front is trying to decide which sandwich to get like he’s buying a house? You have to get to work, you know what you want and are mind blown as to why this guy is taking so long. Well – there are a lot of buyers out there that know what they want. There are a lot more of the public who are so baffled by where to even start, they try to stick with what’s comfortable – renting or an old fashioned cold-cut sandwich. It’s not that difficult to purchase a home, yet some people take 3 years searching & thinking.

Most Chicago first time condo home buyers want to put down the lowest down payment possible to leave cushion for any repairs or pitfalls, so they typically put down 5% and go with a 30-year fixed rate so they have a lower monthly payment. There are options like putting down 20% (dramatically cuts down your monthly payment and rids the PMI), but first time home buyers don’t normally have that kind of money on hand. Hence, the normal loan package chosen by 1st timers being the 5% / 30 year fixed. Rates can make or break someone. Back in 2008-2013, many homeowners stopped paying their mortgages, because they chose the wrong package, paid record high market prices for their homes and above all, the mortgage rates were 8%-10%! Today, the mortgage rates were as low as 3.625%!

What is the difference in terms of monthly payment for a rate of 4.75% vs 3.25%?

Estimated Monthly Payments
Purchase Price:  $200,000
Percentage Down Payment: 5
Down Payment: $10,000.00
Interest Rate: 4.75%
Number Of Years: 30
Taxes: $3,416.00  (Annual)
Insurance: $20.00  (Monthly)
Association Fees: $350.00  (Monthly)
Other: $0.00
PMI: $83.33
PMI / MIP: 0.5
Monthly Principal & Interest (PI): $991.13
Total Estimated Payment: $1,729.13
Notes: This data is for informational purposes only and accuracy of the figures hereinafter set forth is not guaranteed. The actual costs with respect to each transaction will vary depending upon the circumstances.


Estimated Monthly Payments
Purchase Price:   $200,000
Percentage Down Payment:   5
Down Payment:   $10,000.00
Interest Rate:   3.65%
Number Of Years: 30
Taxes: $3,416.00  (Annual)
Insurance: $20.00  (Monthly)
Association Fees: $350.00  (Monthly)
Other: $0.00
PMI:   $83.33
PMI / MIP:   0.5
Monthly Principal & Interest (PI):   $869.17
Total Estimated Payment:   $1,607.17

With a lower interest rate would save ~ $122 / month, ~ $1,454 / year and $44,000 over 30 years! In Chicago/Illinois, you can write off interest paid on your home as well as taxes when you file your yearly tax returns. Can you do that with your rent?

Like all things discounted – there is always that “Limited Time Offer!” attached to the “special”. Mortgage rates will fluctuate on a daily basis and unless you are pre-approved, secured a property, have an accepted contract (signed by all parties) and locked in the current rate with your mortgage broker – we will not know how these rates will look tomorrow. Experts may commonly say, “I can’t tell you what the future will hold.”, “I don’t have a crystal ball.” Or “Do I look like Miss Cleo to you?”. What we can use to try and predict patterns are history of mortgage rates.

Below I’m using a line chart from 5 years back supplied by

5 years apr

This chart shows Illinois mortgage rates from 2010. Rates seem to fall around September and start to climb in March. That’s probably largely due to the lower interest of buyers in this State during colder months.

Last 6 months in Illinois mortgage rates:

6 months apr

Never mind the roller coaster of ups and downs in short term rates, you’ll want to document the high points and use that as the point of reference as to where the trend is leading. Generally it’s travelling down. Although it’s human nature to say, “how low can it go?”, or “maybe next year rates will be lower”, why not take advantage of saving money today? Why give the “man” more money?

Don’t be that guy at the beginning of the line wondering if the world will collapse if he orders the wrong sandwich today. If you are at a point in your life looking at where you can cut on spending / living expenses / budget – this is the #1 place to start… your mortgage rate. If you need help planning your next move, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m very good at helping renters transition into buyers. Over 75% of my clients are new home buyers who, at first, don’t have a clue of this real estate jimber jamber I’m speaking of. Get educated and set up a 1 hour consultation with me – after all, it’s free!