Bob Reilley
October 2023
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Five Chic Fall Home Trends

Yes, a menagerie of pumpkins and autumn leaves gathered about speak to the time of year. But that doesn’t mean you have to turn your home into what could pass for a fall festival in order to capture the spirit of the season. Leave the gourds behind and embrace these fall interior design trends for a chic home that oozes fall coziness.  

Natural materials

We’re all about different textures when the weather takes a cooler turn, but this year’s natural materials takeover has us excited. “Woven textures in all their forms add softness to any space and are having a moment in fall decor,” said Jane at Home. “Think baskets of all shapes and sizes, interesting textiles, woven pendant lights, natural rugs, and cane and rattan furniture.”


This luxe material continues its dominance into yet another season. Expect to see the deep, rich jewel tones you love, and some more unexpected choices. “Soft, plush, and gorgeous velvet is a fantastic addition to your home decorating,” said The Turquoise Home. “Velvet is HOT this fall. You are going to see so many different velvet items that you won’t be able to prevent yourself from tossing a few into your cart. 


Speaking of pink, it’s super hot for fall. “Blush is no longer making an appearance just during the spring and summer months, Abbe Fenimore of Dallas-based interior desighn firm Studio Ten 25 told MyDomaine. “This versatile hue will be taking over fall color palettes with its subtle undertones and ability to make any space instantly chic.”


Yes, this goldish-brownish yellow is a bold color choice. But, it’s one that instantly reads “fall,” and it offers a wide range of options when it comes to color pairings. Use it with dark blue or gray for a modern look. 

“Optimistic, earthy, bold and rich, ochre isn’t all that new—in fact, there’s something nostalgic about this burnt-yellow, all-natural hue,” said HGTV. “And now it’s back in a bigger way. Literally. We’re talking couches, duvet covers and throw blankets.”

Plinth Style Table

This “minimal, slab-style table trend” is everywhere right now, and you can take your pick of materials, from wood to travertine to marble.


Can You Use Gifted Money As a Down Payment?

If you’re going to buy a house, or at least you hope you’re going to, the down payment can be one of your biggest concerns.

Your down payment is a percentage of the purchase price of a property that comes out of pocket. Your down payment can range from as little as 3% up to 20% in most cases for a property you’re buying as a primary residence. The particular down payment required depends on the type of mortgage you’re using and the property type.

When you make a larger down payment, you may be able to buy a more expensive property or get a lower interest rate.

Often, first-time homebuyers may get gifts from family members to put toward their down payment, but there are stipulations.

Limitations of Using Gift Money

A mortgage lender will consider a few things, typically when you receive money as a gift for your down payment.

First, they’ll look at the amount of the gift. Lenders may also consider where the money came from and the relationship between you and whoever gave you the money. A lender might not let you use gift money for your down payment if you didn’t get it from someone close to you.

If you use money gifted to you, a lender will usually require you to provide a gift letter. The gift letter should indicate you don’t have to repay the loans. A lender may also make you show documentation proving the gift’s transfer to your bank account.

The lender may also go as far as asking the person who gave you the gift for a copy of their bank account statement or check to you.

Gifts and Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are financing options that aren’t guaranteed or insured by any government entity. You usually can use gift money for your down payment and closing costs, as long as it comes from a source considered acceptable.

Family members are an acceptable source of a gift. Family under these definitions can include parents, children, siblings and grandparents. In-laws and domestic partners may also be included.

FHA Loans

The Federal Housing Administration offers FHA loans for borrowers who have low-to-moderate incomes. If you apply for this type of loan, the gift funds you receive must be from someone considered an eligible donor. There are typically stricter family guidelines even compared to conventional loans.

If you’re applying for an FHA loan, while family relationship guidelines are more stringent, there is an allowance for gifts from charitable organizations or your employer. You can also use funds that come from a public entity or government agency that assists first-time or low-to-moderate-income home buyers.

VA Loans

A VA loan means you have the option to make no down payment if you’re a service member or a veteran in certain circumstances. The major restriction on gifts for VA loans is that they can’t come from someone who’s described as an interested party.

An interested party has a role in the transaction, like the seller or a real estate agent.

Since, again, you don’t have to make a down payment on these loans, gifts are less relevant.

What Else to Know About Gifts

Usually there aren’t limitations on how much someone can give you toward your down payment. In some circumstances, you may have to pay at least some of the down payment from personal funds. This is usually the case if you’re buying an investment property.

If you receive money as a gift, your lender can provide you with a standard gift letter the person completes.


How to Get a Jump on Fall Home Projects

Starbucks just released a new pumpkin flavored drink and the Halloween gear is starting to replace the patio furniture outside the supermarket. That must mean fall is near. If you’re anything like us, the first freeze hits us and we remember all those projects we wanted to do and never started—projects that will help protect our house and make it run more efficiently. This year, we’re starting early to get our house ready for the cold, and you can too. 

Consider your window coverings

Conventional wisdom says you should trade out your lightweight draperies for something more substantial for the colder seasons. But sheers are great in fall and winter. Letting some sunlight trickle through can help heat the home while still providing privacy, and they can be added to any window, regardless of the type of treatment you already have. 

Mulch. That. Yard. 

“Should you mulch plants in the fall? The short answer is: yes! Mulching around plants in autumn has all kinds of benefits, from preventing soil erosion to suppressing weeds to protecting plants from moisture loss and shifts in temperature,” said Gardening Knowhow

Invest in some covers for your good patio stuff

Every year we say we’re going to do this and every year we fail. Consequently, we had to replace our patio cushions this year far sooner than we would have liked. Don't be like us. You can prolong the life of your patio furniture and grill with a good waterproof cover. “During the warmer months, your outdoor patio furniture likely gets a lot of use,” said Hayneedle. “In colder months, you probably spend less time outside and thus less time utilizing your outdoor furniture. If you live in an area that has a cold or wet climate in the winter, you will need to take steps to make sure that your patio furniture is properly protected from the elements.” 

Get your heater checked 

We get it. No one wants to turn their heater on when it’s 100 degrees outside. But what you really don’t want is to be faced with a broken heater when it’s 0 degrees outside. See if you can make an appointment now to get your system checked in October, and if your chosen company doesn’t schedule appointments that far in advance, at least make an appointment with yourself to make another call at the end of September.

Clean out your gutters

Clogged gutters can pose a danger to your home. Get them cleaned out now to make sure rain and snow can flow freely and aren’t being impeded by leaves and debris. 

Do a chimney check 

Schedule this well in advance to make sure you can safely use your fireplace when the first chilly night hits.

Get a tree inspection

Heavy rain, wind, and snow can put pressure on tree limbs. You don’t want them snapping and ending up crashing through your roof or breaking a window. This is the perfect time to have them checked out.

Examine your utilities 

Check current bills against the same time last year. Has your electric bill gone up dramatically year over year? You could have an air leak that needs to be addressed (more on that below). Is your water bill significantly higher than 12 months ago? You may have a dripping showerhead, a running toilet, or a problem with your hot water heater. Time to call a plumber!  

Check for leaks around windows and doors

About those air leaks: Little leaks can cost you big time, and the sooner you deal with them, the sooner you can start saving money. “An average home loses up to 30% of its heating and cooling energy through air leaks,” said Houselogic. “The most significant air leaks tend to occur around windows and doors.”

You can easily check for leaks with incense. “With windows and doors closed, hold a lit stick of incense near window and door frames where drafts might sneak in. Watch for smoke movement,” they said. Then it’s just a matter of adding caulking and weather stripping—both easy and inexpensive DIY fixes.


Rules for Halloween Décor When Selling Your House

Come the first of October, we start pulling all the ghosts and goblins and bats and skeletons out of storage and stocking up on pumpkins and gourds. Who’s with us?

After a long, hot summer, the arrival of fall and everyone’s favorite candy-hoarding holiday is a welcome gift.

But if you’re getting ready to sell your home, all that décor could get in the way, and be a distraction for buyers instead of a delight. Taking a more measured approach is key; these tips will help.

Don't overdo it

You’re excited about Halloween. We get it. And you’re not alone. Last year, Americans spent $9 billion on Halloween, of which $2.7 billion was spent on decorations. This year, you don’t have to put out every one of your Halloween-themed items. “You don’t want the decorations to detract from features of the house,” Kevin Lawton, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Schiavone & Associates in Bordentown, New Jersey, told Homelight.

Consider your existing décor style and color story

If you’re planning to extend your Halloween décor into the interior of your home, be mindful of the colors you bring in. Yes, you could load up on orange pumpkins, or you can purchase faux pumpkins in navy blue and emerald green velvet to match what you already have going on. 

Keep safety in mind

If people are going to be walking from the street to your home, you want to make sure it’s clear of hazards. Safety first. Always. Keep the walk in front of and to your home clean and debris-free. Make sure the walkway is well lighted to avoid accidents.

Limit the inflatables

Yes, your giant Halloween-themed Snoopy inflatable is adorable. But it might be best to keep it packed away in the garage this year. Unless you live in a neighborhood where most or all of the houses go all out for Halloween and your place will stand out for all the wrong reasons if you DON’T cover the lawn with blow-up stuff, it’s probably best to go a little tamer this year. (And if you do happen to live in that exuberant neighborhood that warrants a parade of inflatables, be sure to keep them inflated all day. You don't want people driving by or coming for showings with a limp Snoopy spread out on the lawn.) You also want to make sure that your “For Sale” sign is still easily visible no matter what kind of decorations you use. 

Do a day-after check

That perfect curb appeal may take a hit on Halloween, so be sure to take a few minutes to look around the perimeter of your home before you leave for work on November 1. 

“The day after the decorations go down, check your property for trash, trampled flowers and stray candy,” said Revival Property Group. “Freshen your landscape again by trimming bushes, raking leaves, washing the driveway and adding a beautiful autumn wreath on your front door.”

Keep an eye on those pumpkins

Like we said, there are so many ways to decorate with faux pumpkins these days. But if you insist on the real deal, make sure you check them every couple of days to make sure they aren’t going bad and haven’t turned into critter food. 



Which Type of Loan Is Best? We’re Doing an Apples-To-Apples Comparison.

FHA. 30-year conventional. 15-year term. With so many loan options out there, how do you know which is best? There is not one across-the-board winner because everyone’s situation is different. But there are pros and cons of each that might make one loan work better for you. We’re comparing and contrasting some of the most popular options to help you make the best choice when buying a house. 

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30-year fixed-rate conventional


Rules for Halloween Décor When Selling Your House

Come the first of October, we start pulling all the ghosts and goblins and bats and skeletons out of storage and stocking up on pumpkins and gourds. Who’s with us?

After a long, hot summer, the arrival of fall and everyone’s favorite candy-hoarding holiday is a welcome gift.

But if you’re getting ready to sell your home, all that décor could get in the way, and be a distraction for buyers instead of a delight. Taking a more measured approach is key; FULL STORY->

Why Millennial Buyers Are Swiping Left On Your Home

They want it fast, they want it easy, and it better be perfect. That pretty much sums up the typical millennial homebuyer today. So, if that's your target and your house isn't pristine, they're going to move on to one that is. So how do you make your home swipeable? It's easy, really.

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Clean it up

"Whether or not we admit it, we've all seen at least a few of the home reality shows on channels such as TLC and HGTV. Those shows can be fun and FULL STORY->

It’s Not What You Think

I got an email from a good friend whom I’ve not seen in several years but we stay in touch with the occasional email or text. We live in different cities, different states, actually, so there’s not a lot of opportunity for a physical get-together. So anyway, I got a text the other day saying she was getting ready to buy a home and would I take a look at the loan documents sent to her. ‘Of course,’ I said.

So, she sent me her ‘loan docs’ and they weren’t loan docs in the FULL STORY->

Ask the HOA Expert: Owner Not Paying Assessments

Question: We have an owner who has not paid an assessment for several years. The property is being used as rental property.

Answer: Your board needs to adopt a formal Collection Policy that provides for an "assignment of rents" provision. This provision allows the HOA to redirect rents to the HOA when a member fails to pay the HOA assessments. There is a sample Collection Policy at in the Policy Samples section. Have the proposed Collection Policy reviewed by a FULL STORY->

Mortgage Rates
Averages as of October 2023:

30 yr. fixed: 7.19%
15 yr. fixed: 6.54%
5/1 yr. adj: 6.51%

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Bob Reilley CREA Real Estate Broker
Cell: 630-533-0011

American Realty Network Inc.
800 Lee St
Des Plaines Il.60016

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