Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Years Chicago Real Estate Thought Leadership for 2011

 New Years Chicago Real Estate Thought Leadership for 2011
Carpe Diem..The time to purchase real estate is 2011. We have seen the lowest point of the Chicago market in November 2010..
Fact: the cork has yet to un pop on many bank owned foreclosed properties and short sales will still be prevalent as 1/5 homes are underwater
Fact: Prices will adjust another 5-8% in 2011 but not in every area. Some areas will be flat and see small gains. Inventory is becoming an issue. The Case- Schiller index has shown us 13 months of inventory are available currently while average is 6 months.
Opportunity: It is more expensive to build a new construction home than purchase one..Buyers dream..
The luxury market is starting and will continue to sell again There are only 2 luxury developments in Chicago that are on the books and have been moving nicely. 2520 Lincoln Park West and the Ritz Carlton. Both are being marketed by Prudential Rubloff. The biggest declines have been in the condo market.
Opportunity: The market is here for Affordable single family homes.. Every 10% loss in price is equal to a 1% gain in interest rate. Interest rates will only go higher. My thought is by year end 2011 well be b/t 5-6%...

Happy Holidays! Ron


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Challenge...

The Challenge..Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else's hands,but not you.
Happy Holidays! Ron

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Selling/Buying in 2011? Key Pointers and Immediate action items.

Savvy, regret-free homebuying can take weeks or months of financial and lifestyle research and planning.  If you want 2011 to be the year you become a homeowner, here are 5 things you should be doing, as we speak.

1.  Minimize your holiday spending and save your cash. Instead of using the holiday sales to acquire a new winter wardrobe of cashmere sweaters, hold the discretionary spending down so you can give yourself the gift of homeownership!  If you are serious about buying a home next year, don't run up additional credit card debt on gifts this year. Instead, make homemade cards or write holiday letters this year for everyone except the kiddos.  And even for the kids, consider scaling back on the stuff, spending more of your time with them than your money, and getting started now saving toward your home purchase. (I don't think too many folks would argue that a less materialistic holiday season would hurt anyone, at any age.) 

Kickstart your 2011 homebuying resolution by starting a "Home" savings account at an high-interest, online bank (the discipline-boosting goal is a bank that isn't super easy to transfer funds out of when you run low on cash), and set up an automatic deposit into it every payday. To get specific about your savings goal, if you're cash-flush, obviously a 20% down payment will get you top notch interest rates and provide you with the maximum ability to manage your monthly payments. If you're going to be more of a bootstrapping buyer, an FHA loan might be right up your alley - they offer a down payment of 3.5% of the purchase price. 

All buyers should plan to have at least 3 percent of the purchase price saved up for closing costs, even if you want the seller to chip in.  The lower-priced the home you want to buy, the more percentage points you should be willing to chip in for closing costs.  It's easy for closing costs on an $150,000 FHA loan to run as high as $4,000 or more, considering transfer taxes, inspections, appraisals and mortgage insurance fees. So, even the scrappiest buyer should have a savings target somewhere around 6.5% of their target home's price.  To buy a $200,000 home, for example, that would mean a savings target of $13,000.

Local real estate and mortgage pros can help you clarify realistic "cash to close" expectations and savings targets for your area - They should be the thought leaders for you in the industry,

2.  Research financing, areas homes, prices, agents and online. Smart homebuying takes a lot of research and knowledge-gathering.  Since most buyers find it much harder to qualify for a mortgage than it is to find a home you'd love to live in, start with studying up on home financing and what it will take for you to get a home loan (note: FHA loans are preferred by the average homebuyer on today's market who has less than a 10% down payment, so start your research there). 

If you're considering relocating next year, now's the time to start narrowing down states, cities and even neighborhoods that may or may not work for you. Take into account the job market, housing and other costs of living, and income and property tax rates, as well as the critical lifestyle inputs that vary from state-to-state, like weather and whether the place is a personality fit for you and the life you want to live, be it urban sophisticate or outdoors adventurer. 

Also, start to develop a feel for home prices in a what-you-get-for-your-money type way, and start narrowing down the home styles and even neighborhoods that might fit your aesthetic preferences and lifestyle.  If you're one of those rare buyers-to-be who is not already obsessively house hunting, hop on Trulia and start regularly checking out homes and neighborhoods, making sure to take advantage of the neighborhood ratings and reviews feature, which empowers you to surface what other folks think and say about an area. 

3.  Rehab your credit, if you need to.  Go to and check out your credit reports - from all 3 bureaus - for free. (Note - these will not give you your credit score for free - that costs extra, but it will give you the actual detailed credit reports.)  Audit them for errors and do the work of disputing inaccuracies to have them corrected. Pay particular attention to: accounts that are not yours/you never opened, derogatory information that should have "aged off" your report by now (i.e., 7 years for late payments, 10 for bankruptcies) and balances or credit limits that are inaccurate (i.e., your credit card balance is listed at $2500, but you actually only owe $250.)  These are the errors most likely to foul up your financing, so follow the instructions each bureau provides to correct them, stat. While you're at it, don't close any accounts, even if you are able to pay some down or off - actually, check out these tips for getting the bank to give you the best possible home loan, without unintentionally making your score worse!

4.  Run your numbers. In the past, some overextended homeowners complained that they felt pushed into a mortgage they couldn't afford. Pundits blamed that on the real estate and mortgage industry, but I have witnessed firsthand many a homebuyer push themselves or their spouses into buying too expensive of a home. Eliminate this issue entirely by doing this - run your own numbers, before you ever even talk to a salesperson or start looking at homes beyond your means. (I assure you, once you see the million dollar home you think you can afford, the $250,000 home you can actually afford will be underwhelming.)

Get your monthly finances in order, and get a clear read on how much your monthly bills are - outside of housing. Decide how much you can afford to spend every month for housing, when you buy your home.  Get clear on exactly how much cash you plan to have at hand to put into your transaction up front.  When, in the next step, you begin working with a mortgage broker, you'll want to share these numbers with them, early on in your conversation, to empower them to tell you what home price you can afford - not based on their rubrics, but based on what you say you want to spend every month and what you want to put down.

5.  Talk to a real estate and mortgage broker

Drop me an email, letting me know if  you'd like to work on putting an action plan together for buying a home next year, and would like to talk with me about what action steps need to go on the list. I can brief you on the timeline of a transaction in your local market, and to point out for you things like when along the process you'll need to bring money in, when you'll need to miss work and come into their office or the closing office, whether they offer conveniences like digital document signing, and generally the local standard practices about which buyers you'll need to know. 
In addition to chatting about timing your purchase vis-à-vis your other life events and plans for the year, make sure to ask for referrals to a local, trustworthy mortgage broker or two - preferably one that has worked with them and closed a number of transactions with their clients.  (In fact, many busy real estate pros will want you to talk with their trusty mortgage partner before they get too involved in your planning process.  You may think you only need a month to get ready to buy, but once the mortgage folks weigh in, it might turn out that you actually need a few.)  When you do get in touch with the mortgage maven, if you're serious about buying, you will want them to actually pull your credit report, check the actual FICO scores that come up on their system and give you their professional recommendations for what final tweaks you can do to your debts to get your credit score where it needs to be.


It's resolution time, folks.  Last week, we offered some immediate action items for those who want 2011 to be the year they become homeowners.  By popular demand, this week it's sellers' turn!  Whether you are simply trying to decide whether to sell your home next year, or it's been on the market before and you are trying to revamp your approach to get it sold next year, here are 5 things you can do during what's left of 2010 to position yourself for home selling success in 2011.

1.  Reality check yourself . . . before you wreck yourself (and the sale of your home, that is). The age-old real estate advice to wanna-be sellers is to get real about pricing - and like my sweet Grandma's advice about always rinsing the cake batter out with cold water, never hot, the caution against overpricing is advice that will stand you in good stead. (And that cold water trick works, btw - rinsing with hot starts to cook the batter to the bowl!  But I digress)  Before you even get to pricing, though, first you should get real about what your goals really are. Why do you want or need to sell?  And how badly - how important is it to you?  What would it take to make selling make sense?  If you even think you may want to sell your home next year, get clear on these items in your own head before you even talk to anyone outside of your household. Your very next step is to look at your mortgage account statement online and find out what you owe, and find out what your payoff amount would be.

Step 3? Get a reality-based idea of what your home is worth - by talking with several local real estate agents who have a strong, recent track record of successfully selling homes in your area; these are the folks who'll have a strong idea of what recent sales are the most comparable to yours, and what a local buyer would agree to pay for your home, as well as what it might appraise at. If 3 agents give you one range, and one gives you a bizarrely higher number, be skeptical about the outlier; there are rare bad apples out there in the agent world who will tell you whatever it takes to get the listing.  Get real and stay there - don't fall prey to the fallacy that your home is worth more than others, for no substantive reason beyond the fact that, well, it's yours.

Then, move toward making a decision about whether selling actually makes sense for you. Whatever you do, don't let your mental GPS steer you anywhere near that fantasyland where all your plans for selling, moving, etc. rest on the hypothetical that you can get 25% more than your home's actual fair market value. That sort of magical thinking costs you and your agent the time, inconvenience and money it takes to try to conjure up a sale that just ain't gonna happen, and that doesn't even count the opportunity costs of other things you could be doing with those resources. If your home's current value is bizarrely less than you want or need to move on, consider a short sale and price it appropriately or consider staying put and sprucing up your home so it better suits your needs - but don't price it at your "wishful thinking" price and set yourself and your agent up for failure.

2.  Figure out the lay of your local land.  National blogs and media outlets offer all sorts of useful advice about whether, how and when to sell your home, but there's one thing that sort of advice cannot convey: what's going on in your local market. Get active in Trulia Voices, ask questions and read blogs in your local market and start talking with the real estate brokers and agents from your area who are actively blogging, listing properties and answering questions. They can give you the hyperlocal essentials you need to knows.  Sure, it's a buyer's market nationwide, on average.  But if you live in Omaha, that may mean that homes sell at or near asking in 45 days or less; in Mesa, Arizona, your home could stay on the market 6 months and sell for 30% below asking.  In my neck of the woods, it's not bizarre for homes to sell at 5 percent above asking, in two weeks - and that's still a buyer's market compared to the 20% above asking sales that were common in 2006.  

Every market is different, and you can neither know what to expect when you list your home for sale, nor implement smart strategies for getting your home sold without knowing what's going on in yours. 

3.  Tour nearby Open Houses. Your job, as the seller of your home, is to present a compelling package to buyers - compelling enough to make them sign away 30 years of their lives and the vast majority of their worldly possessions in exchange for your home (kinda ups the ante, doesn't it?). To do that, it helps to get inside the minds of your home's target buyers.  And to do that, you need to think how they think and see what they see.

Visiting the other homes your target buyers will also see online and/or in real life will give you a sense for how your home's price and condition will measure up to the competition.  Go view other homes that are for sale in your area, making sure you see at least a few that fall into each of these categories: (a) properties in your neighborhood or similar neighborhoods, (b) homes in your home's general price range, all around town, and (c) homes that have similar numbers of bedrooms, bathrooms and square feet - no matter what the price. You'll likely end up seeing homes in a wide range when it comes to price and condition; know that your home, to sell, will need to beat these on one or both measures. Also, if you try to go to at least a few open houses, rather than just asking your agent to show them to you at your convenience, you'll also get a sense for what sort of buyer traffic you can expect from open houses, and you can even chat with those home's listing agents about local market dynamics and what factors they believe may help or hurt that particular listing.

4.  Formulate a plan: in A-B-C order.  Collaborate with your broker or agent to put an action plan in place.  Make sure you address: list price, list date, showing arrangements and the property prep work (see #5, below) that your agent recommends you do prior to listing the place. To minimize the stress of a somewhat inevitably stressful experience (i.e., selling your home!), work with your agent on Plans B and C now, too!  What is the average number of days a home stays on the market in your area before it sells (DOM)?  (Hint:  don't look at the ones that never sold, because you don't want to be part of that group!)  Decide up front if your home sits on the market for X number of days with no offer, you'll lower the price to Y.  Also cover alternative marketing plans/vehicles for your home, and even calendar when you might start to offer transactional incentives, like closing cost credits, interest rate buy-downs, throwing in personal property and even making reverse offers to buyers who have expressed an interest but can't seem to get off the fence. At some point along the timeline, include a pause where your agent can interview buyer's brokers who have shown your home to collect buyer feedback, so you can course correct your pricing, marketing or staging strategies accordingly.

5.  Do your prep work - fix and pre-pack.  If you are sure you're selling in 2011, and want to put your holiday vacation time to good use, make a list of all those little repairs you've been wanting to do forever, call up your neighborhood handy person and get 'em done. Loose knobs and handles, double-hung windows that are painted shut, the frayed carpet on the steps, that broken bathroom tile - fixing those things can give your place just the patina and polish it'll take to compete with the ample, low-priced competition you'll have next year.

It may be tough for non-distressed home sellers to compete with foreclosures and short sales on price.  But one area where individual home sellers usually can best the competition is CONDITION! Your home can present to buyers in tip-top  condition in a way that most foreclosures and short sales cannot.  And this includes staging - most foreclosures will be shown vacant, and/or with the debris of the former owner's lives tragically littering the premises.  Short sales are usually (but not always) a bit better, but are most often shown fully occupied, furnished and cluttered - just as the owners live in them, because of the distressed nature of the sale.  As a non-distressed home's seller, it behooves you to ensure that your home's curb appeal is at it's best and that throughout the interior, the buyer is able to visualize the lovely life they can, scratch that, WILL live once they buy and move into your home.  Depersonalizing and decluttering are essential to this staging effort; in fact, one wise Trulia Voices contributor tells her sellers to go ahead and start "pre-packing" - put most of the personal items that make your home yours in a box, like you're getting ready to move (which you are!) and leave your place in as close to model-home move-in condition as possible. Get your property pre-appraised to support the value.

Lastly, hope is not a plan!

No Change can be a great thing!

Amid all the ups and downs these days, "no change" can be a great thing

imageThe National Association of Home Builders reported that home builders' confidence in the outlook for what they do remained steady from last month to this. What slipped-- probably having to do with the vagaries of the home mortgage environment and their impact on those who are trying to get a loan--is the traffic index to new-home neighborhoods. Calculated Risk's take on the latest data, which has emerged as an important economic indicator, is "Confidence remains very low ... any number under 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as poor than good." Housing starts are due tomorrow. However, Builder Pulse's next issue will be December 21

Thursday, December 9, 2010


The cold is the most commonly occurring illness in the entire world, with more than 1 billion colds per year reported in the United States alone. Statistics say you'll catch two to four colds this winter. Here is some help to stave them off.


How it helps: Sleep regulates the release of the hormone cortisol, which stimulates cells that boost the immune system, says William Ellert, M.D., chief medical officer of the Phoenix Baptist Hospital. And a well-tuned immune system is crucial for defending against the cold virus. Getting at least seven hours of shut-eye is the easiest way to steer clear of the common cold. In fact, a recent study indicates that people who fall short are nearly three times as likely to catch a cold. To make bedtime even more healthful, try using a protective pillow cover, which can help prevent a stuffy, runny nose.

Good to know: If you have trouble falling asleep, try a mind-calming exercise. For instance: “Go over everything you did during the day, but do it in reverse order,” says C. Evers Whyte, director of the Center for Health Renewal, in Stamford, Connecticut.


How it helps:
Research has shown that moderate exercise—30 to 90 minutes most days of the week—increases immune function and reduces your chances of catching a cold. Key word: moderate. Prolonged high-intensity exercise can actually make you more susceptible to sickness, according to research from Appalachian State University, in Boone, North Carolina.

Good to know: Don’t swear off workouts if you do get a simple head cold. A 2009 study at the University of Illinois found that moderate exercise can also help you recover from a cold more quickly than normal.

A Hot - and Cold - Shower

How it helps: Temperature fluctuations jump-start your immune system, says Donielle Wilson, a naturopathic doctor in New York City. At the end of a shower, stand under the hottest stream you can take for 30 seconds, then turn the temperature to cold for 10 seconds. Repeat three times, finishing with cold.

Good to know: A steamy shower helps keep nasal passages clear and can prevent cold-causing bugs from taking up residence in your nose.


How they help: These mollusks contain more of the mineral zinc than any other food, and zinc has been proven to support and enhance the immune system. Eating just a single oyster will give you a whopping 13 milligrams of zinc. That said, since it may be difficult to work them into your diet regularly (oyster sandwich for lunch?), look to zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, baked beans, and pumpkin seeds to help you get the recommended eight milligrams a day.

Good to know: Zinc is also effective when taken at the first signs of a cold. Oral lozenges that contain the mineral, like those made by Cold-Eeze and Zicam, have been shown to decrease the duration of colds.

Vitamin D

How it helps:
According to a 2009 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people with low levels of this vitamin, which helps to regulate the immune system, are more susceptible to catching colds. (The vitamin has also been shown to increase calcium absorption and reduce inflammation.) Multivitamins typically contain 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D, which falls within the current recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 200 to 600 IU. However, experts now suggest taking a 1,000-IU supplement on top of a multivitamin, as strong evidence indicates that the current RDA is too low.

Good to know: If you drink a lot of milk; frequently eat fatty fish, like salmon; or live in a sunny climate, you are probably getting an adequate amount, says Ellert, since these all increase your body’s stores of vitamin D.

Nasal Rinse

How it helps: Neti pots and irrigators cleanse the nasal passages with a saltwater solution. “A daily saline rinse helps sweep bacteria, viruses, and irritants from the respiratory tract,” says Ellert. With a classic neti pot, the solution is poured into one nostril, travels into the sinuses, then drains from the other nostril. Today a battery-powered irrigator can be easier and more comfortable to use. A saline nasal spray offers similar benefits.

Good to know: Clean your irrigator or neti pot with soap and water after every use. “Without good hygiene, these can be vehicles for transmitting viruses and bacteria from person to person,” says Ellert.

Happy Holidays to all ! Ron

Chicago Employment Outlook 2011.. Optimistic

It’s a long, uphill battle, but it seems we are getting there.  Numerous surveys show a positive outlook for US hiring in 2011.   Several large companies have announced recent expansions and hiring in the Chicago area, and the rise in employment opportunities could mean a rise in the area’s Chicago real estate numbers as well. reports that “business leaders in the US are planning to hire new members of staff during 2011”, citing a research survey conducted by Regus, a company providing offices, meeting rooms, and virtual offices worldwide.  Ranstad goes on stating that:
“Research by Regus reveals 32 percent of firms expect to expand their workforces next year, suggesting companies are witnessing signs of recovery and sustainable upward growth.  Confidence in future outlook within the country also climbed, with the index rising by seven points over the past six months to 87.  Additionally, the bi-annual Business Tracker survey of more than 10,000 senior executives in 78 countries worldwide showed that 36 per cent of those polled planned to increase recruitment during 2011.  The report suggests global unemployment trends may be reversing following rising joblessness in recent years and Regus regional vice-president Sande Golgart said: “The intention to increase headcount is a clear indicator that businesses want to be prepared to grasp the opportunities that recovering markets may throw their way.

Another tremendous sign of success in the business world is the buzz surrounding Chicago-based Groupon, which was rumored last week to be in talks to be purchased by Google. Groupon is a social coupon service, offering a daily deal to customers on a variety of local services and products. An article in the New York Times last week said the talks between Groupon and Google could spark a new interest in Internet start-ups, including many in Chicago that may be overlooked. Tech executives said a sale to Google could be a “game-changing moment” for Chicago’s economy, making it known as a hub for technology and starting with local talent. 

A related article posted by PR Newswire provides a valid point of view that “These findings are particularly significant, coming in the wake of recent observations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and International Labour Organization (ILO) that global unemployment has reached record proportions in the last three years (up to 210 million since 2007). These organizations have warned about potential problems for national economies if this trend continues.  Unemployment reduces national taxation income and increases public spending. The findings of the Regus Business Tracker provide important evidence that the world unemployment situation may be set to ease in 2011.”

This information translates into a greater chance at opportunities for upcoming college grads.  The 2011 Job Outlook Survey by the NACE shows that employers plan to hire 13.5 percent more graduates from the Class of 2011 than were previously hired from the Class of 2010.  The increased demand is greatest in the fields of engineering and computer science.  The West is purported to be hiring more than other areas of the United States, followed by the Midwest.
Even individual companies are showcasing their hiring interests for next year.  Last month Deloitte announced a plan to hire 50,000 employees each year for the next five years, so 250,000 employees total (5,000 of the 2011 hires being new college graduates). says Deloitte is “hiring across all of its major businesses in the U.S., particularly in its financial services industries” and that “the company is looking for candidates with ‘superior analytical and problem-solving skills’ as well as and team-building abilities”.
Manpower conducted their own survey, focusing on 2010 results and anticipated changes as the year draws to a close:
U.S. employers anticipate a slight gain  in employment levels for Quarter 4 2010, the fourth successive quarter of modest to favorable hiring plans, according to the seasonally adjusted results of the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly by Manpower Inc.
Survey data reveals a seasonally adjusted Outlook of +5% for Quarter 4 2010, up from -1% during the same period last year and stable compared to Quarter 3 2010.
Employers’ hiring confidence nationwide experienced a noteworthy rebound in 2010 when compared to 2009:
  • A positive overall hiring Outlook was reported all four quarters of 2010, which followed three quarters with a negative Outlook in 2009, according to seasonally adjusted survey results.
  • Employers across all industries reported a mostly positive Outlook in 2010, whereas the Outlook within the majority of industry sectors was negative in 2009.
  • Across the four geographic regions, all reported four quarters of positive hiring plans, while 2009 results were mostly negative.
“Clearly there are signs of a softening labor market, but when we consider what we are hearing from our clients and by looking at our own business, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic,” said Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Joerres.  “The hiring intentions for the fourth quarter are not enough to break through the labor market sound barrier that we’re all eagerly anticipating, as 71 percent of employers indicate no change in hiring.”
Of the more than 18,000 employers surveyed, 15% anticipate an increase in staff levels in their Quarter 4 2010 hiring plans, while 11% expect a decrease in payrolls, resulting in a Net Employment Outlook of +4%. When seasonally adjusted, the Net Employment Outlook improves slightly to +5%. Seventy-one percent of employers expect no change in their hiring plans. The final 3% of employers indicate they are undecided about their hiring intentions.
“After a period of very negative hiring sentiment in 2009, we have seen greater stability for the employed throughout 2010, although with only modest increases in hiring plans. This stability is an important platform to establish for more robust labor market growth in 2011,” said Jonas Prising, Manpower president of the Americas.  “Looking back at where we were in 2009, the employment environment is more promising now, however many employers are still unsure about how the economy will fare and how robust the recovery will be. Until we move beyond this uncertainty, we are unlikely to see employers hire in a meaningful way, and this is evident in their consistently modest hiring plans.”
Employers in 11 of the 13 industry sectors surveyed have a positive Outlook for Quarter 4 2010: Mining (+13%), Wholesale & Retail Trade (+13%), Professional & Business Services (+10%), Leisure & Hospitality (+9%), Durable Goods Manufacturing (+7%), Information (+7), Nondurable Goods Manufacturing (+6%), Financial Activities (+4%), Education & Health Services (+4), Other Services (+3%) and Transportation & Utilities (+2%). The October – December 2010 Outlook is negative for two of the surveyed industry sectors: Government (-6%) and Construction (-8%). Employers in one sector, Education & Health Services, anticipate an increase in quarter-over-quarter hiring.
“As we enter a very busy retail quarter, it’s encouraging to see that Wholesale & Retail Trade employers anticipate a healthy Outlook of 13%,” continued Prising.  “This represents a moderate increase compared with fourth quarter 2009.”
Compared to one year ago, employers in all four U.S. geographic regions surveyed anticipate hiring increases. Employers in the Northeast and South have the most upbeat hiring intentions, with a Net Employment Outlook of +6%. Employers in the West are the most reserved, with an Outlook of +1%. When adjusting for seasonal variations, Northeast employers anticipate the strongest shift compared to one year ago at this time, with a considerable increase in hiring confidence year-over-year. Compared to Quarter 3 2010, employment prospects are stable in the Midwest and South, while employers in the Northeast and West expect hiring to decrease slightly in Quarter 4 2010.
Though it seems hiring in the short term may stay stagnate, perhaps decreasing, multiple sources are confident in the possibilities for 2011.  Whether positive or skeptical, we are all hopeful that 2011 leads us closer to recovery.  We need to bring the rest of Generation Y into the workforce so that these young minds can become capable, experienced professionals (and my future recruits!).  Current hiring frustrations come not from a shortage of available workers, but from a shortage of skilled workers.

 So where are the jobs?  First of all there are jobs, but not necessarily in areas that you are educated in or have experience.  This concept is here to stay.  What you are currently trained to do may not be something you can get a job doing, at least in this job market.  This is the reality that many job seekers will have to accept.  There are just not enough jobs in popular areas like teaching, marketing, advertising, accounting, finance, construction, human resources and customer service.

This is the time in your career to learn new skills by going back for education in the growth areas.  It's the time to volunteer and/or intern in these areas to build your network to get a job in your new career.  If you are on unemployment you need to treat your benefits as free money with no interest to help cover your living expenses while you get what you need to survive your career.  It's all about being flexible and learning new skills to keep up with the demand in the marketplace.

The trends in hiring in 2011 and in the foreseeable future are as follows:

1. Health care will remain to be an area that will see growth as many of the baby boomers are beginning to age.  This group has money and assets, though many lost some of their savings in the down turn in the stock market and the value of their real estate and may never recoup their losses.  Yet, they will need health care services, as do their parents, who due to better medication and care are living longer.  Many of them need home health care and many will be in Assisted Living and Nursing Homes.  Nurses, nurse's aides and caregivers are in demand.

2. Social Media experts are the rage as personal and business branding continues to remain a focus as they attempt to standout in all the internet "clutter".  Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are changing the way we develop an audience to build a brand that reaches a large audience, with minimal cost.  Effectively advertising on Google and other less known search engines is an area that job hunters with an expertise in marketing, branding, and technology will be benefit.  It's where the work is in marketing and is still fairly new as a career sector.  All companies, whether they are small or large, will need to get into this space to survive in business.  Online content will be a huge area for growth as our population continues to get their news, information and entertainment online.

3. Technology is picking up with companies hiring more IT contract workers for updating their date's computer systems to stay competitive. The jobs are in hardware for contract work as in programmers and Database Engineers.  Selling software applications for wireless devices B-B is also hot right now and will continue as more applications are developed for the smart phones and Notebook computers, with Apple's I-pad leading the way. CRM(customer relationship management) and ERP (Enterprise resource planning) projects that have been on the back burner will resurface.

 My advice is to keep learning the right skills for the job market by watching for longer term trends for employment.  Stay focused on your career goals and stay informed by reading the abundant economic data available.  Keep meeting people by networking for potential opportunities. Perseverence and flexibility are key in surviving your career.

For more information on what the current Chicago market might mean to you, give me a call at (312) 771-7190 or email at