Real Estate Information

Illinois Real Estate Blog

Barbara Markham


Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6

Thank a Veteran

by Barbara Markham
Thank you to all of the active duty Military personnel, 
Veterans who have served,
and their families who have sacrificed so much for our freedom...

Tough Pricing Truths

by Barbara Markham

Think you know the ins and outs of home pricing?

It’s more complex than you might imagine. Get a quick education on home pricing with this blog post on tough pricing truths.

The pricing conversation is always a challenge. You want top dollar for your home, and your real estate agent will, too. After all, a better commission comes from a better price. But a lot of psychology and strategy goes into home pricing, and if you don’t go in with your eyes wide open, you could end up heartily disappointed.

Here are some tough truths about home pricing. While they can vary a little depending on unique market conditions, they should all be in the back of your mind as you prepare to list.


1. Some agents will try and “buy the listing.” Sad but true: Some agents will tell you what you want for the home is accurate, even if it’s too high. Figuring they can manage disappointment and reductions down the line, the less-than-ethical agent will try and cut off the more honest competition by telling you the price you think you should get for the listing is the price you should shoot for.

2. Nobody cares what you paid for the home. No buyer in the history of real estate has ever agreed to pay more for a home because of the profit a seller hopes to get. Yes, you may have sunk $150,000 in renovations into the basement, but the market will dictate the pricing, not what you “think is right.”

3. Lowball pricing is risky. Yes, you can generate a lot of interest by undercutting other listings on the market, but people may still attempt to negotiate. While you may stay firm on your price, you could find yourself making contract compromises you’d rather not make.

4. Precise pricing suggests you’re less willing to negotiate. List a home for $303,750 versus $300,000 and you’re basically broadcasting a kind of inflexibility. This may or may not be part of your pricing strategy, but whatever you do, don’t do it unconsciously.

5. Seasonal timing can influence pricing. Are you the only comparable home on the market in January? You might be able to get a little more, especially if schools are good.

6. Infomercial pricing can make a difference. Have a half million dollar home? Swallow your pride and try your hand in the $490K+ range. Slipping under the search cut off mark can cast a slightly wider net for buyers.

Most homes sell within 3% of a market-savvy asking price, so go with an agent who is willing to explore the deep local conditions.

Curious how much your home might be worth right now? I’d be happy to put together a no-obligation pricing matrix for you: email me at or call 618-781-2203.

#MarketValue #HomePricing #ColumbiaIllinoisRealEstate

Rental Trends Nov. 2014

by Barbara Markham

Rental Trends

Nov. 2014

According to a Zillow post Nov. 7th, 2014, one third of Americans are splitting the rent. The Zillow research team looked at the numbers behind this phenomenon and determined that from the years 2000 to 2012, the number of working age Americans sharing a home rose from less than a quarter of the adult population to more than a third.

Locally, Realist reports in the Columbia, Illinois zip code 62236 a total of 7946 households with a 21% population growth since 2000, and an average household size of 2.55 people. This report also reflects 77% owner occupied properties, 18% rented, and 5% vacant.

Remember, all real estate is local, and statistics can vary dramatically from one area to another. The Belleville, Illinois zip code 62220 from the Realist report reflects 7946 households with a 6% population growth since 2000, and an average household size of 2.44 people. This zip code (62220) reflects 56% owner occupant, 32% rented, and 12% vacant properties.

Rental costs have been increasing, and more households are doubling up to share the costs. This includes renting with a roommate and moving in with parents – or children.

Speculation is with so many possible new households and a lot of pent up demand ~ these doubled up households will start to split off into new rentals or home buyers as the economy continues to improve.

If you would like for me to run a free report for you on your neighborhood, or an area you are considering purchasing an income property, just give me a call at 618-781-2203. You can email me at

#IncomeProperty #ColumbiaIllinois #Rentals

How To Win Your Next Home With A Love Letter

by Barbara Markham

How to Win Your Next Home With A Love Letter

If you’ve ever experienced the disappointment of losing out on a home in a seller’s market, you want to do everything possible to keep it from happening again. One tactic many buyers overlook is the “love letter” written to sellers about their home.

Rationally, you might expect the highest offer will always win the home, but there are a host of other factors involved. Some are emotional. Some sellers want to see their home go to a buyer they not only trust to close the deal, but they also like personally.

Want to give yourself an edge and stand out from your competition? Craft a short “love letter” to go with your offer. I have had buyers successfully use this strategy to win over a seller. Here are the basics you’ll want to cover in your letter:

1. Explain how much you like their home. Don’t go overboard, but prove to them you know the home and you truly appreciate their taste and the unique characteristics of the house. This might touch on improvements they’ve made or other aesthetic details.

2. Spare them all the things you might want to change. What you say is as important as what you don’t say. Don’t tell them you’re going to gut the place as soon as you close, add a second story, or rip out their garden for a pool.

3. Demonstrate you’re qualified to close. Make them feel confident in your qualifications as a buyer. Show them you’re pre-qualified for a loan, are buying cash, or have other reasons why you’ll be a hassle-free buyer.

4. Be humble and positive. Don’t give them a sob story about the four other homes you’ve lost out on. Praise the neighborhood and make them feel as though you would be positively honored to be chosen as the next owner of their home.

5. Check the letter for typos. Read it out loud. Listen for clunky sentences or awkward repetition. Have someone proof it for mistakes. Their confidence in your attention to detail is important.

A good agent should be able to tell you if the letter sounds like an honest appeal. Have it included with your offer as a cover letter. Set yourself apart. Make your offer stand out!

Need help finding a home worth a love letter? Get in touch today: Barbara Markham RE/MAX Preferred 618-781-2203

#LoveThisHome #LoveLetter #BuyerTips

Home Buying Myths and the Cost of Putting Off a Home Purchase

by Barbara Markham

I’m here to save
you pain, buyers.

There are myths about the home shopping experience  that must be addressed. I like to make the home buying experience as stress-free as possible, so please hear me out on these three big myths about home buying:


Myth #1: “That house has been on the market so long I bet we can work the seller down easily.”

Not necessarily. Exceptionally high days on market could mean almost anything. The seller could be bullheaded about their price. The seller may not be particularly motivated to sell for emotional or other personal reasons. Don’t forget: A sales-weary seller isn’t likely to respond to your host of rational reasons why their house should be a bargain.

Myth #2: “I want to look at foreclosed homes because they’re a real bargain and the banks need to unload them.”

Banks, like entrenched sellers, don’t always make decisions which seem rational based on obvious information. You can have a hard time divining the reason a bank chooses to reject an offer for a foreclosed or distressed property, and their decision may be based on financials which seem counterintuitive. The truth is, many distressed sales can be longer and more fraught than regular sales.

Myth #3: “I liked this house a lot, but with this market, I bet it will

still be there if I decide to buy it.”

It’s very, very painful to see a client love a home but fail to make a move to purchase that home. If you fell in love with it, why wouldn’t someone else? Just because a property has been on the market a little while doesn’t mean it will stay on the market. The bonus myth in this one? Your “perfect” home is probably going to be a home with some small compromises. If you don’t make an offer on a home, you’re effectively saying, “I’m comfortable losing this home.”

My job as an agent is to represent your interests and do my best to protect you along the way. If you’re pursuing a home purchase in the near future, please get in touch. There are many other ways I can lower your stress and help you find a great home

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by Barbara Markham

I'm often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall further than they have already. They are assuming that the best course of action is to wait for the bottom in the market and then buy. The problem with this approach is that you don't know where the bottom is until you see it in the rear view mirror, meaning until you've missed it!

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have gone up in the last six months, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, if home prices come down a little further but interest rates go up, it could cost you even more to service a mortgage on an identical home!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates and low home prices, rather than to hope for a further break in prices in the future.

Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.

Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6




Contact Information

Photo of Barbara Markham Real Estate
Barbara Markham
RE/MAX Preferred
1668 Windham Way
O'Fallon IL 62269
Fax: 855-682-0048