Oct 28, 2023 - Real Estate

Chicago homeowners' advice for aspiring buyers

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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

We asked Chicago's seasoned homeowners to share their sage advice for anyone looking to buy.

Why it matters: High rents and mortgage rates mean making the leap to homeownership has seemingly never been harder.

💼 Thom Dammrich: "If you are young and have confidence in your future earning power, buy as much home as you can afford today."

  • Between salary increases and refinancing, "the percentage you are paying to own becomes a smaller and smaller part of your income."

⏱ Victoria Sterling, who was thrilled to land a 7% interest rate in 1993, after rates were much higher: "It seems no one buys starter homes anymore; it's a concept that has gone by the wayside. Now (possibly due to HGTV) everyone thinks they need granite countertops and stainless steel appliances."

  • On waiting to buy: "I thought I was late to the party at 39, but the party can start whenever you arrive. Don't give up the dream if it is your dream."

♻️ Connie Schmidt, who tapped into retirement fees to buy solar panels in 2017: "Our investment in our home (and the planet) is about to be paid off in tax credits, Renewable Energy Certificates and the savings on our electric bill."

  • "Now in our 70s, this means our monthly expenses will be less for the duration! Not a bad thing when everything else is going up."

💰 Andria Anderson, on using home equity to save for retirement: "The standard goal is always to pay off your home. However, when home interest rates were under 5% and standard investments were returning at least 8%, and mortgages get tax savings, it paid off handsomely to carry the home loans and invest that money."

😅 Maz Wojciechowska: "If you are a control freak, like I am, a house is a better bet than a condo, which can be subject to expenses out of your control."

  • "Get a fixed rate, and when rates go down, refinance."

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