Decoding the Key Closing Documents

Do you understand the closing process when you purchase a home, particularly the documents you will see at the closing table?

If not, you’re far from alone.

In survey of 1,000 homebuyers conducted by Qualia, only one in five homebuyers said they comprehended all the documents they signed at closing, while one in four future homebuyers reported they don’t understand the closing process at all. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many homebuyers often name the closing process as one of the most stressful parts of purchasing a new home.

“It’s understandable given how big of an investment buyers are making and how emotionally involved buyers are when they purchase a new home,” says Nancy Kroll of Chicago Title.

Kroll says the closing process has become increasingly complex over recent decades given a swelling number of laws at the state and federal level, many of which were crafted to protect consumers and ensure a legitimate process. In the 1990s, Kroll says, the typical closing package might include 15 documents. Today, it is four times that amount.

With more than 36 years of experience at the closing table, Kroll outlines the key closing documents buyers should understand:

Master Statement
The master statement features the transaction’s final financial numbers, which includes charges from the lender, attorney, seller, and title company. It contains the figure buyers need to bring to closing and dictates how the title company distributes funds to all involved parties.

Deed
The deed conveys the property from the seller to the purchase. The title company records the document, which then becomes public record as its ownership.

Survey
The survey shares legal descriptions of the land, including its boundary lines and other elements that make up the property. It is a critical document for all homeowners to have and often necessary if you wish to make improvements down the line, such as adding a pool or fence.

Owner’s Title Policy
This document, which the title company provides 6-8 weeks after closing, confirms ownership of the property. It features details like the purchase price and lender’s name, while denoting that you have a free and clear title to the property.

And if you are purchasing the home with the help of a lender, Kroll also encourages buyers to carefully review three additional documents:

Preliminary Closing Disclosure
A consumer protection measure, this important document will actually hit your hands before the closing table. Here, the lender identifies all estimated fees. You have three business days to review this document and ensure the loan details match what you expected.

Note
The note is your promise to pay back the loan. The document lists the interest rate and the mortgage terms.

Mortgage
The mortgage document states your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. The title company takes this document and records it after the deed, which protects the lender. It creates a lien on the property, which prevents transfer of the property unless the mortgage is paid in full.

Front Yards Become Gathering Places and Enliven Gallagher and Henry Communities

Back in September 2018, Gallagher and Henry noted the trend of homeowners embracing their front yards as a place for relaxation, recreation, and camaraderie. We were seeing it more and more in our single-family home communities and soon discovered it had emerged a national trend as well.

Seeking a more robust sense of community in an increasingly digital age and a growing recognition of the benefits of being in nature and among others, the so-called Front Yard People were ditching backyards with privacy fences – valuable and practical as those might be at times – for a visible spot in front of the home.

Parking chairs on the driveway, sitting on their porches, or playing games in the front yard, residents waved hello to neighbors, engaged in spontaneous conversations, and generated stronger ties to their community. Being out front, many found, prompted a deeper connection to the neighborhood, heightened safety, and gave a positive boost to daily life. As we noted back in 2018, numerous studies over the years have tied outdoor time as well as interpersonal connections to improved energy, creativity, stress, and overall health.

Over the past two years, this trend has only accelerated further as social distancing, Zoom meetings, and quarantines became all too commonplace. For many, the pandemic proved isolating, disconnecting them from their traditional social circles. For many others, the pandemic stirred an increased focus on personal relationships and mental health, both of which can be aided by being outdoors and connecting with others.

The Front Yard People movement we continue to see in our Gallagher and Henry communities stands a lively counter to the challenges of the past two years.

While the backyard still serves as an important space – and many of our homebuyers have created vibrant spaces out back packed with outdoor kitchens, hot tubs, and children’s games – the emergence of the front yard as a gathering spot offers a dynamic alternative to the privacy of the backyard.

As people yearn for simpler times, genuine connections with others, and a richer sense of community, the front yard becomes a place for socialization, inclusion, and good neighborhood vibes to take flight. In Gallagher and Henry communities like Farmingdale Village in Woodridge, Covington Knolls in Lemont, and Radcliffe Place in Tinley Park, we have seen neighbors huddled around a fire pit and kids playing hide and seek. It’s an inspiring sight for our family-owned business.

With spacious lots and front yards, driveways, and walkable streets, our Gallagher and Henry communities provide residents the opportunity to be out front and build stronger ties to their neighborhood and one another. That’s important in today’s age and we are proud to help cultivate that with thoughtful community design.

As warmer weather approaches, we hope we continue to see residents in our communities welcome new neighbors, expand their social circles, and enrich their lives.

For many years, Gallagher and Henry has said that we build the best homes in the best communities. It is becoming more and more true each day.

What You Can Expect from the Housing Market in 2022 – and How It Might Shape Your Homebuying Plans

The year 2021 took homebuyers on a wild ride.

Home prices soared some 20 percent year over year, the single largest jump ever recorded in the history of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Despite those accelerated prices, homebuyers nevertheless scooped up an estimated 6 million homes in 2021, the highest figure in 15 years.

Homes, meanwhile, sold at a record pace. As the availability of existing properties plummeted from 2020, bidding wars, all-cash offers, and no contingency deals became commonplace in 2021.

On the plus side for buyers, mortgage rates remained at historically low levels, a positive reality that aided buying power and helped facilitate home ownership for many.

Compared to 2021’s adventurous turns, industry insiders expect a more subdued 2022, though many acknowledge that the past year’s shadow will continue to loom in significant ways.

Here are three things you can expect from the real estate market in 2022 and the potential impact it could have on your housing plans:

#1: Mortgage Rates Will Climb.

At the start of 2021, the average rate on a 30-year mortgage sat at a ridiculously low 2.93 percent, according to Bankrate’s national survey of lenders. While rates escalated throughout 2021, the year ended at a still favorable 3.27 percent average. Many observers say the record-low rates fueled last year’s homebuying surge even more than pandemic-sparked lifestyle changes.

Given rising inflation and consumer spending, mortgage rates are expected to increase throughout 2022. The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts 30-year mortgage rates will reach 4 percent by the close of this year.

What it means: Even at 4 percent, the rate on a 30-year mortgage is still undeniably appealing and empowering for buyers – just ask those a generation ago who endured rates in the high teens and even low 20s. But those who act soon will capture noticeable savings and gain added purchasing power if rates rise as expected. If you put 20 percent down on a $400,000 purchase, your monthly payment at a 3.3 percent rate is $1,730. If you wait and that rate swells to 4 percent, though, then your monthly payment jumps $126 to $1,856. Over the course of the 30-year mortgage, that’s more than $45,000 entering someone else’s pocket.

#2: Housing Inventory Will Improve Yet Remain Low.

In 2021, Chicago area homebuyers encountered inventory levels about half of what they could expect to see in a typical year. With a slim number of existing homes for sale, competition for available properties soared, especially given the number of homebuyers pulled into the market by those favorable interest rates and new housing needs or lifestyle changes.

According to Realtor.com, inventory levels are expected to improve throughout 2022, though the gains will be modest – about 0.3 percent – and continue pushing prices on existing properties upward. A National Association of Realtors report projects median home prices to jump nearly 6 percent this year. To be certain, that’s a cooling of prices on the resale market from 2021, but still a sizable increase that means buyers will be paying more.

What it means: As inventory of existing properties remains low, bidding wars aren’t going anywhere. The resale market will remain a competitive space demanding swift, decisive action from buyers. For some, that will undoubtedly increase the appeal of new construction, where buyers can enjoy a more transparent, straightforward process without pressure to make hurried decisions. Those who investigate new construction with Gallagher and Henry, for instance, will find a clear course of action and immediate value in building a new home.

#3: The Shine on the Suburbs Will Intensify.

Since the pandemic untethered people from their urban offices and enabled remote work, the suburbs have become an increasingly attractive residential destination. Buyers appreciate that they can get more bang for their housing buck in the suburbs alongside larger homes that can accommodate their new work-from-home or hybrid work needs, not to mention home gyms, three-car garages, flex rooms, and blank-canvas basements.

Industry insiders expect the suburbs to continue attracting homebuyers, even those who once swore their allegiance to urban life. With worry about commute times evaporating and suburban communities presenting a broader spectrum of residential opportunities, including new construction, the suburbs will emerge a more compelling option than ever before.

What it means: Homeowners have long prized suburban communities for the added space, contemporary amenities, and family friendly vibes they provide. As more prospective homebuyers explore what Chicago area suburbs like Lemont, Tinley Park, or Homer Glen have to offer, the appeal of suburban life will increase further. With new construction, in particular, those who act early in 2022 will be able to secure their preferred lots in single-family home communities and position themselves for a fall closing.

How the Pandemic Shifted Homebuyers’ Wish Lists

The COVID-19 pandemic changed so many aspects of daily life. From how we gather in groups to how we dine, from how children attend school to how we feel about germs, the pandemic has put new spins on our lives and unlocked new perspectives.

It has also changed what we want in our home and from our home.

Single-family homes have become that much more attractive.
Single-family homes have long been the preferred housing choice of many Americans. The pandemic, however, accelerated the appeal of single-family detached housing, which offers homebuyers their own space to spread out. According to data from Zillow, only one in five recent buyers have purchased a townhouse or condo, a clear sign that single-family homes are in exceptionally high demand.

And those single-family homes shouldn’t be small.
During the second half of the 2010s, there was a noticeable trend toward smaller homes in new construction. The pandemic flipped that script and a desire for larger homes continues resonating. At the close of 2020, the average size of a newly built single-family home was 2,473 square feet, according to U.S. Census data. The average is now pushing its way toward 2,600 square feet as homeowners crave additional space for living, remote work, recreation, and more.

Work-from-home spaces are a must.
Make no mistake, work-from-home spaces are prized in the post-pandemic era. According to Zillow’s 2021 Consumer Housing Trends Report, 30 percent of homebuyers moved recently because they were working remote more often. By 2025, an estimated 70 percent of the U.S. workforce will be working remotely as least five days a month. The shifting dynamics of workplaces have altered our housing needs with private spaces for work, whether spare bedrooms, flex rooms, or dedicated offices, becoming that much more important to homebuyers.

Storage gains heightened emphasis.
When Gallagher and Henry surveyed prospective homebuyers to inform the creation of its Lifestyle Series home plans in 2010, buyers identified storage as one of their top priorities. The value of storage has only accelerated since. In 2019, 64 percent of buyers labeled “ample storage” as “very important” or “extremely important” in assessing properties, Zillow reports. In 2021, that figure swelled to 75 percent. Extra storage space helps a home from feeling cluttered and helps facilitate organization. Storage space also enables homeowners to shift their physical spaces with the seasons or holidays to boost mood.

Outdoor living takes on added importance.
As many Americans spend more time at home, functional outdoor living space is becoming more and more appealing. Yards and patios offer opportunities for adults to gather and children to play. Homeowners are also decking these spaces out with outdoor kitchens and built-in firepits as well as pools and hot tubs for outdoor relaxation or recreation. While only 24 percent of buyers in 2019 called a hot tub or pool important in their home search, that figure jumped to 35 percent in 2021, according to Zillow.

Colorful kitchens bring energy to pandemic-era living.
The all-white kitchen delivers a timeless look, but a growing number of buyers are adding some energy to their kitchens with colorful cabinets and countertops, and especially so in new construction where homebuyers are less likely to be concerned about resale value compared to the fixer-up crowd planning to buy, renovate, and move. For many, the jolt of color serves a creative expression of their personality and a way to inject some added flair into the heart of the home.

Should I Save or Should I Buy?

Way back in 1982, British punk rock band The Clash famously wondered “Should I stay or should I go?”

These days, many prospective homebuyers are wondering something similar, albeit with a little twist: Should I save or should I buy?

While there are certain benefits to waiting it out and saving, including building up cash reserves to make a greater down payment or allowing your current home to ride the real estate market’s anticipated rise, getting in the homebuying game now with some decisive action has a few clear benefits.

The Case for Buying Now: You Gain Enhanced Buying Power.

Interest rates are still remarkably favorable for homebuyers, but they are climbing, according to data from Freddie Mac. Fueled by inflation and the Federal Reserve, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has jumped from 2.77 percent in August 2021 to 3.55 percent at the end of January 2022. That’s a 28 percent increase in six months.

Let’s say you want your monthly mortgage payment – excluding any taxes or insurance – to be $2,000. At a 3.5 percent interest rate on a 30-year mortgage with the standard 20 percent down payment, you could afford a home around $540,000.

Now, let’s say the rate jumps a modest half percent, a realistic projection given many industry forecasts. If you want to stick around that same $2,000 monthly payment, your housing budget now tops out at about $504,000.

If interest rates rise even a bit as this example shows, sitting on the sidelines will cost you $36,000 in buying power.

The Case for Buying Now: There’s an Actual Cost to Inaction.

If rates continue on their current trajectory – again, no guarantee, but strictly for illustrative purposes – your monthly mortgage payment, excluding taxes and insurance, on a $450,000 home with a 3.75 percent interest rate and a 20 percent down payment would be $1,667.

Let’s say you wait a bit and the interest rate you secure is 4.25 percent. The monthly payment on that same $450,000 home now rings in at $1,771. That means you’ll be paying:

• $104 more per month
• $1,248 more per year
• $37,440 more over the life of your 30-year mortgage

Today’s interest rates are advantageous for buyers. Tomorrow’s rates, while still comparatively low are unlikely to be as advantageous.

The Case for Buying Now: Savings Rates Can’t Keep Pace with Rising Prices.

The truth of the matter is that the value of home prices and inflation (currently running about 7 percent) will far outpace that of your savings account, money market, or certificate of deposit, all of which deliver meager returns.

But what of the stock market and its growth potential, you rightfully ask?

While there’s no way of knowing what the stock market is going to do in 2022, it’s possible home prices could well outpace Wall Street as well, especially if the close of 2021 is any indication. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained a robust 18.7 percent in 2021, the year’s fourth quarter saw slower growth of 7.4 percent. The first four weeks of 2022, meanwhile, saw the Dow Jones tumble more than 6 percent from its record high.

Experts predict prices of homes on the resale market will rise upwards of 11 percent in 2022. In short, stocking money away in savings or investments, frequently a sound idea, could prove unfavorable for prospective homebuyers as returns slow and costs escalate.

Behind the Build: Laura Finney

From sales staff and tradesmen to behind-the-scenes troubleshooters, dozens of personnel bring a Gallagher and Henry home to life. In “Behind the Build,” the Gallagher and Henry blog celebrates spirited members of our team.

Today, we introduce Laura Finney, who first began working at Gallagher and Henry in 1990. Laura has spent much of her time with Gallagher and Henry blending a lot of elbow grease and pride to make Gallagher and Henry homes sparkle for their new homeowners. Over more recent years, she has become a pinch hitter in the sales office as well, where her knowledge – quite literally – of every inch of a Gallagher and Henry home enables her to offer compelling perspective to interested homebuyers.

How did you come to join the Gallagher and Henry team back in 1990?

My in-laws had been working for Gallagher and Henry for decades prior and they brought me into the mix. I began as a part-time employee in new construction, which meant I was cleaning and readying the houses for the new homeowners – vacuuming and washing the cabinets, cleaning the window ledges, wiping the doors, and everything else it took to make them truly move-in ready for our buyers.

The early 1990s, in particular, were an immensely active time for Gallagher and Henry given the explosive growth of the southwest suburbs. What was that like?

It was an all-hands-on-deck situation. Gallagher and Henry was building upwards of 500-600 houses each year between Orland, Palos, and Woodridge. You would finish cleaning one house and move onto the next, sometimes three in one day with a crew of people. It was nonstop.

What has been most energizing about working with Gallagher and Henry these last 30-plus years?

I can truly say I love my job. It’s not easy labor, especially now that I am 60, but I take pride in my work and doing things the right way. Every day is something different. It’s a different house or I’m meeting different people. I get to see the houses our buyers pull together – the colors they select, the changes they make, and so on. I have seen thousands of homes over the years and no two have been exactly alike.

And how have you enjoyed working within a family business all these years?

My father owned a bakery, so I understand the general dynamics of a family business and just how personal the reputation and success of the business is to ownership. I clearly saw that in [Gallagher and Henry co-founder] Bob Gallagher and it has flowed right down to the next generation. They bring a passion to their work and take it personal. [Bob’s son] John Gallagher, for example, was my boss and I watched him, just like his father, put up light fixtures or clean something that wasn’t up to snuff. He’s meticulous and is going to make sure everything meets Gallagher and Henry’s high standards.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy?

I love to read, especially a good mystery, and enjoy being out in nature as much as possible. I’m a die-hard Cubs fan – don’t bring the White Sox into my house – and a Pittsburgh Steelers fan during the football season.

As a native South Sider, what is your go-to local spot for a quality meal?

As simple as it seems, I’m going to The Patio for ribs.

The 5 Most Popular Stories of 2021

Throughout 2021, Gallagher and Henry shared original stories on its website providing insight, information, and inspiration about the contemporary real estate world. From articles detailing notable developments in the housing market and design trend pieces to profiles of Gallagher and Henry homeowners, staff members, and communities, we attempt to provide stories that help you get to know us and enter the real estate market with added confidence and perspective.

Here are the five most popular stories published on the Gallagher and Henry website in 2021:

Construction of New Homes Is Rising. Here’s Why.
June 2, 2021
No story on the Gallagher and Henry website generated more engagement than this June piece highlighting a rise in new home construction not seen since 2006. Though the U.S. fell short of hitting projections of 1.75 million new homes in 2021, the nation nevertheless added some 1.5 million new homes to its landscape during the calendar year. For so many buyers, the dearth of existing inventory coupled with the allure of historically low interest rates and the convenience and control of choosing new construction proved too compelling an option to pass up.

Behind the Build: Ted Kielbowicz
September 16, 2021
Gallagher and Henry celebrated its 67th year in 2021, a long, healthy history made possible by folks like Ted Kielbowicz. In October, Kielbowicz retired from his role as Gallagher and Henry’s controller, bringing his 40-year career with the family-owned homebuilder to a close. In this installment of the “Behind the Build” series spotlighting Gallagher and Henry employees, Kielbowicz reflected on his start with the firm in 1981 and what he most enjoyed about working for Gallagher and Henry across four decades.

Successfully Satisfied
January 14, 2021
The second story posted to the Gallagher and Henry blog in 2021, this feature on one young couple’s decision to build in Gallagher and Henry’s Farmingdale Village community attracted eyeballs throughout the year. Chaun and Tram detailed their decision to build with Gallagher and Henry, how an attentive home inspector confirmed the quality of Gallagher and Henry’s work, and settling into their new home and the Woodridge community. The couple also noted the custom changes they made to their Calysta floor plan, which included nine-foot basement ceilings, extending an exterior wall to enlarge the home’s square footage, and redesigning the home’s second story to accommodate a fifth bedroom.

A Seller’s Market, House Hunters, and the Undeniable Appeal of New Construction
October 7, 2021
This data-rich story underscored the reality of 2021’s “seller’s market” and explained why a number of savvy buyers were ditching the resale market for new construction. With active home listings in the Chicago area down nearly 50 percent year over year, buyers were “being caught in bidding wars, forced into hurried, act-now situations, or confronting as-is properties that immediately placed their investment in peril.” New construction became an attractive antidote, offering homebuyers a more controlled, transparent, and streamlined process compared to mixing it up on the resale market.

Why a New Home Might Be the Most Affordable Home
July 22, 2021
Conventional wisdom has long held that the price of new construction far outpaces that of getting a comparably sized home on the resale market. The year 2021, however, turned that idea on its head. A low supply of resale properties, bidding wars, and a significant rise in renovation costs due to labor and supply chain issues increased the price of both purchasing and modernizing a home. At the same time, low interest rates gave buyers more purchasing power than ever before. The result? New construction, which many prospective homebuyers once dismissed as cost prohibitive, became more attainable and sensible than ever before.

Couple Finds Their ‘Cozy’ Forever Home in Kingston Hills

Ed and Mary Ann have their forever home.

In December 2020, the couple moved into Gallagher and Henry’s Kingston Hills community in Homer Glen. Choosing the Fremont ranch model that would allow them to age in place, Ed and Mary Ann have comfortably settled into their new home and neighborhood over the last year.

As the parents of two grown children prepare for their second Christmas in Kingston Hills, Ed discusses his and Mary Ann’s motivations to move, the custom changes they requested to personalize their home, and the process of building with Gallagher and Henry.

After selling their homes in Lemont and South Haven, Michigan, Ed and Mary Ann moved into a three-level lakeside home in Plainfield. “While the home and the land were beautiful, the house was monstrous and we actually found ourselves regretting the purchase.”

Knowing they wanted a ranch home with an open floor plan and a large lot, the couple began exploring the resale market in the southwest suburbs. “We were finding a lot of older homes and smaller lots.”

On a whim, Ed and Mary Ann visited Gallagher and Henry’s Farmingdale Village community in Woodridge. There, they saw the Fremont model and were smitten with the home’s open layout and spacious floor plan. “Everything we looked at after that, we compared to the Fremont – and nothing compared to the Fremont. When we found out we could build it in Homer Glen, that’s all we needed to hear.”

Ed and Mary Ann investigated available lots at Gallagher and Henry’s two Homer Glen communities, Kingston Hills and Goodings Grove, and quickly zeroed in on a Kingston Hills parcel surrounded by mature trees. The couple sold their Plainfield home in quick time – so quick, in fact, they had to temporarily move into their son’s basement. “We were eager to get our house built.”

Ed and Mary Ann worked alongside Gallagher and Henry sales manager Tina Plastiak to customize the Fremont plan to their needs and tastes. The couple upgraded the standard gas fireplace to one that resembled an authentic wood-burning fireplace and converted the buffet area in the kitchen into a beverage station for crafting coffee and cocktails like Ed’s famous Manhattans. They also combined the Fremont’s two islands into one mega island surrounded by seating. “That opens up the space even more and is perfect for entertaining.”

Ed and Mary Ann also opted to add a screened-in patio. Though there was no existing Fremont home with a screened-in patio, the couple put their faith in Gallagher and Henry to deliver. “It was a bit of a risk to do that because we couldn’t see what a screened-in patio would look like in the Fremont, but Gallagher and Henry did it just right. That’s probably our favorite room in the house.”

While Ed and Mary Ann had bought numerous homes before, this was their first experience with new construction. “Working with Gallagher and Henry was easy and organized. Since everything is done in stages, it never feels overwhelming. You start by picking the exterior you want before moving onto interior details. It’s smooth and streamlined.”

Last summer, a young couple exploring the neighborhood stopped Ed as he was outside his home. They inquired about the process of building with Gallagher and Henry and about living in Kingston Hills. “I had nothing but compliments to share.” That couple’s Kingston Hills home, the Briarcliffe, is now under construction about two blocks away from Ed and Mary Ann.

A year after his move into Kingston Hills, Ed calls his home and the community a “cozy and friendly place.” He and Mary Ann count some “wonderful neighbors” as friends and recently hosted family for Thanksgiving. “This is a great house to get old in and we couldn’t be happier with where we’re at.”

Behind the Build: Robbie Kolar

From sales staff and tradesmen to behind-the-scenes troubleshooters, dozens of personnel bring a Gallagher and Henry home to life. In “Behind the Build,” the Gallagher and Henry blog celebrates spirited members of our team.

Today, we introduce Robbie Kolar, a member of the Gallagher and Henry corporate office since 2016. An accountant who oversees the company’s payroll and key expense accounts, Robbie is more than the “numbers guy.” His diverse skill set has become prized at Gallagher and Henry’s home office in Countryside, where the Western Illinois University alum has emerged the in-a-pinch IT guy while also lending his creative sensibilities to advertising and graphic design projects as well.

What do you enjoy most about working at Gallagher and Henry?
It’s easily my coworkers. We all like to make each other laugh and I appreciate how reliable they are. I know I can count on any of my co-workers to get the job done. Plus, no day is the same as the one before. There’s variety here that makes the job interesting.

Gallagher and Henry’s home office is filled with people who have been with the company 20, 30, even 40 years. What’s that been like for you as a young professional?
At 29, I’m definitely the young guy in the office, but I love having all these seasoned professionals around me. They bring a focus and discipline to their jobs with endless wisdom to boot. There’s so much I can learn and do learn from them. It’s genuinely like a family here and I appreciate how they’ve accepted me.

Is there a specific example of that family environment you can share?
I recently purchased my first home and so many people rallied around me with guidance and encouragement. From the lender I used to the home inspection, so many of my colleagues were sharing insights as I went through the process and settled into my new home. There’s so much knowledge here and everybody was willing to share it with me. Honestly, I had no idea how much went into buying and owning a home, but no one here was going to let me go through the process with unanswered questions or make a silly mistake.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?
Sports is a major part of my life. I’ve been a bowler since high school and into college, so I enjoy hitting the lanes. When it comes to watching sports, I’m a huge Minnesota Vikings fan and love the White Sox and Bulls. I’m an avid video game player, too.

And when you’re hungry, what’s your go-to spot?
I’m born and raised in Lemont, so I’d have to point to two Lemont restaurants as my 1A and 1B. I’ll take the pepperoni pizza – well done, of course – at Turnabout Pizza any day of the week and you can never go wrong with a visit to the Lemon Tree on State Street.

A Seller’s Market, House Hunters, and the Undeniable Appeal of New Construction

Make no mistake, sellers of existing properties hold the edge in today’s real estate marketplace – and that clear reality is elevating the appeal of new construction.

With existing homes selling fast and at elevated prices as demand exceeds supply, homebuyers are facing intense competition for properties. For many, the homebuying process, one that should be filled with optimism and promise, has become overrun with stress and frustration. Buyers are being caught in bidding wars, forced into hurried, act-now situations, or confronting as-is properties that immediately place their investment in peril.

While some homebuyers are electing to trudge through market conditions, another – and growing – group of house hunters is embracing a different solution: they are building a new home.

It’s a (Hot!) Seller’s Market

Home sellers in the nine-county Chicago metropolitan area are in the driver’s seat right now. Consider these facts pulled from Illinois REALTORS and the University of Illinois’ Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL):

• Active listings in the Chicago metropolitan area are down nearly 50 percent from 2020.
• Current supply in the $300,000-500,000 price point, where most Chicago area homes were sold in March 2021, is half of what it was at this time last year.
• The median price of Chicago area home sales jumped from $260,000 in March 2020 to $295,000 in March 2021, a 13.5 percent increase.
• Whereas Chicago area homes in the $300,000-500,000 price range sat on the market for an average of 51 days in March 2020, those homes are now selling two weeks faster.

And it doesn’t appear homebuyers will get a reprieve anytime soon. REAL predicts that the median home prices in metro Chicago will continue to accelerate and increase by as much as 10 percent by July.

With Chicago area homes selling faster and for more money and the existing supply of resale properties on the market remaining low, homebuyers can expect more of the same in the near future, particularly on properties in the middle of the market.

New Construction Gains

Enter new construction as an antidote to the madness and a way for homebuyers to retake the wheel.

New home sales are surging across the country and locally. In fact, new construction activity from February 2021 to March 2021 soared 123 percent in the Midwest, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

And for good reason.

At Gallagher and Henry, a family-owned firm that has been building homes in the Chicago area since 1954, prospective homebuyers avoid the intense, hurried environment dominating the current resale market.

Buyers will see transparent pricing on six different floor plans from Gallagher and Henry’s Lifestyle Series. With open concept layouts, flex spaces, and three-car garages, these home plans – two ranches and four two-story plans – were designed for the needs of modern living. Buyers can alter the existing floor plans and incorporate a vast array of options, in which case Gallagher and Henry staff will cost out the requested changes and share a detailed report to inform buyers’ decision-making.

In eight communities across Chicago’s southwest suburbs, you can select your lot and then finalize your home plan before crews begin construction work. A Gallagher and Henry sales associate will then guide you through the selection process one step at a time, from exterior selections like brick and the garage doors to interior selections, such as cabinets, hardware, flooring, and countertops.

The entire process, which typically runs 6-8 months, is managed and streamlined, allowing calm and calculated decision-making to replace the frenzied environment so commonplace in the resale market.

And given the frenetic pace of the resale market, doesn’t that sound nice?