Consider the Commute

When selecting a new home, so many factors come into play. The cost, that’s a given. The home’s layout and location, of course. Community amenities, the local recreational scene, and safety features also tend to loom large.

One thing prospective homebuyers would be wise to consider as well: the commute to work.

In a recent survey from professional staffing firm Robert Half, 45 percent of people called their trip into the workplace too long, a 15 percent climb from a similar Robert Half survey conducted two years prior.

And those long commute times can have a real impact on one’s well-being. Half the survey’s respondents reported that their commute to work is stressful, a feeling that has implications for individuals’ mental and physical health, their professional productivity, and their sense of a positive work-life balance.

That’s why accessibility to expressways and commuter train stations as well as the health of local employers is something Gallagher and Henry champions at its new home communities across Chicago’s southwestern suburbs.

The Farmingdale Village community in Woodridge, for instance, sits adjacent to two major Chicago area highways in I-55 and I-355. Covington Knolls in Lemont as well as Gallagher and Henry’s two Homer Glen communities Kingston Hills and Goodings Grove – also sit within a short drive of the fast-moving I-355 southern extension. Radcliffe Place in Tinley Park, meanwhile, resides immediately north of I-80. This proximity to major highways provides residents of these Gallagher and Henry communities convenient access to areas across Chicagoland.

Residents in Covington Knolls as well as Radcliffe Place can also utilize their town’s respective commuter train stations for swift and comfortable Metra rides into Chicago’s downtown core.

A strong local business base can also help residents score jobs closer to home and reduce commuting times. In Orland Park, Woodridge, Tinley Park, and Homer Glen, Gallagher and Henry builds its award-winning new homes in some of Illinois’ best cities for jobs, according to an extensive study from Wallet Hub.

The combination of access to key transportation lines – be it road or rail – as well as a vibrant local job market can help individuals savor a more seamless commute. In Gallagher and Henry communities across Chicago’s Southland, residents can enjoy a higher quality of life both at home and the office.

Opportunity Cost: Just how expensive is renting in the Chicago area?

Want to know the real cost of renting in the Chicago area?

HotPads, a rental and real estate search site owned by Zillow, analyzed U.S. government data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as its own rental data to determine how many years each generation spent or will spend renting in their lifetime.

The results paint an expensive portrait.

Millennials in the Chicago area will rent for an average of 12 years, HotPads reports, and devote $239,700 to rent during that dozen-year period with a median monthly leasing rate of $1,630.

For Gen Z, the post-Millennial generation now beginning to enter the working world, that number will be even greater. Though HotPads predicts Gen Z will rent for 11 years, one year less than Millennials, this youthful generation will pour an estimated $270,000 into the coffers of Chicago area property owners.

While it would be unfair and overly simplistic to say renters receive nothing for that sizable investment – housing, after all, is a life necessity – the truth is that money devoted to rent builds the landlord’s equity, not the tenant’s.

With every mortgage payment as a homeowner, you’re that much closer to owning the home. And as your home value will most likely increase in value over time, you can reap the rewards of appreciation down the line. The median sales price in Cook County jumped nearly 4 percent from 2018 to 2019, according to RE/MAX data.

Homeowners also reap tax advantages that renters do not. Property taxes and mortgage interest, for instance, are both tax deductible. That’s real dollars and cents that renters do not see.

Beyond those financial benefits, homeownership provides other appealing lifestyle advantages as well. There are the comforts of privacy, the squelching of restrictive landlord covenants, and the freedom to appoint your home however you deem fit. If you want to paint the walls bright green, have at it. If you want to play your drums, pound away. If you want two Great Danes, enjoy. It’s your home and your plot of land.

Combine the pluses of homeownership with mortgage rates still hovering near historic lows – traditional 30-year fixed mortgages continue swarming around the 4 percent mark – and it’s a perfect storm to leave the renting game for good and put that $200,000 to better use.

8 Notable Trends in Flooring

Though residing under your feet, flooring should nevertheless be top of mind when you’re building a new home. After all, flooring holds immense importance to both the design and function of a home.

From the increasing prevalence of hardwood to new tile options and carpeting’s enduring reign as a viable choice, Gallagher and Henry sales staff identify eight notable trends in flooring.

#1: Hardwood Flooring – and More of It
In the past, homeowners largely limited hardwood to certain rooms of the home, particularly family rooms and dining rooms. Now, hardwood is the preferred flooring selection in most rooms around the house, including kitchens, laundry rooms, foyers, and powder rooms.

#2: A twist to Traditional Hardwoods
Though the traditional 2¼-inch hardwood strip remains hardwood flooring’s standard-bearer, there is accelerating appetite for wider 3-inch and 4-inch planks. The wider planks carry more visual interest and can even make a room seem larger.

#3: Hardwood Look-Alikes
Even when homebuyers elect not to go with hardwood, many still want the hardwood look. Leading the charge: wide-plank porcelain tiles that emulate hardwood’s natural colors and grain. Such tiles have become increasingly popular in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements because of their waterproof quality and the vast array of color options available.

#4: Cool – and Neutral – Grays
While dark, rich, and warm colors reigned for much of the 2010s, cool colors, primarily those in the gray family, enter 2020 on the upswing. Gray tones, in particular, offer immense versatility, working just as well with a rustic design as an industrial look. Yet more, the neutral nature of gray serves a more simplistic backdrop if homeowners decide to add more texture or color to walls, as in the case of shiplap or patterned wallpaper.

#5: Carpeting Retains its Place – at Least in Two Noteworthy Spaces
With the accelerating embrace of hardwood flooring and its look-alike brethren in main living areas of the home, it would be easy to assume carpet’s demise. Far from it. Many homebuyers still choose carpeting for bedrooms and basements for its warmth and softness, while a swelling array of patterns, designs, and colors has helped carpeting stay relevant in an era of hardwood dominance.

#6: Calculated Touches of Softness
With the prevalence of hard flooring surfaces in new construction, a healthy marketplace has blossomed for area rugs and carpet runners. Area rugs, for instance, add warmth, color, and texture to a family room lined with hardwoods, while carpet runners up a staircase deliver safety, visual contrast, and sound control.

#7: Black-and-White Tiles
Bold black-and-white tiles in floral or geometric patterns prompt nostalgic feelings. These vintage tiles make a bold statement and add an undeniably artistic element to bathrooms, mudrooms, or laundry rooms, effectively bringing an unexpected splash of design to otherwise utilitarian spaces.

#8: Playing with Patterns
With their hardwood or tile flooring, some homebuyers are opting to punch up their designs with a pattern. Ditching the traditional vertical or horizontal layout for a chevron or herringbone pattern provides an unexpected twist to room design and creates a more customized look.