Biography

When Mary Umberger started covering residential real estate at the Chicago Tribune in the early 1990s, she thought it would be a short-term ...

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Mary Umberger

Mary Umberger

On Real Estate

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Study turns the tables on dining room preferences

Study turns the tables on dining room preferences

November 17, 2014

The dining room is dead. No, the dining room lives.

  • Apartment rents steadily rising throughout country

    November 12, 2014

    If you're a renter, you're almost surely digging deeper into your wallet to satisfy your landlord these days.

  • Safety tips every real estate agent should know

    November 12, 2014

    It's happened again: In mid-October, a Laguna Niguel, Calif., real estate agent who was locking up a house for sale was punched in the face, placed in a chokehold and knocked unconscious by a man who was attempting to break in. And again: Three days later, a Richmond, Va., real estate agent was sexually assaulted as she worked alone inside a model home, by a man who said he wanted to view the house. And again: In late September, an agent in Arkansas was robbed, kidnapped and murdered after showing a vacant home to a man who posed as a buyer.

  • Chicago area's homebuilding recovers at slower pace

    September 12, 2014

    Chris Huecksteadt hates the phrase "cautious optimism," but in today's real estate market, that's what he's able to muster.

  • A survival guide for fledgling landlords

    September 4, 2014

    Sometimes, when landlord Leigh Robinson has tenants who are late with the rent, he might send them a cartoon — a gentle jab to remind them to pay up. If that method fails, or if the tenants are complete deadbeats, he might bribe them to move out.

  • Challenges that divorcing home sellers face

    August 29, 2014

    Shaaron Delsohn wears two hats. On some days, she's a divorce mediator, a third party who helps soon-to-be divorced couples work out agreements over children, finances and the nearly inevitable issue of what's going to happen with the house.

  • Protecting a home sale from ash borer threat

    August 23, 2014

    What if you were buying a home and were advised the furnace was operating on borrowed time? Or perhaps the kitchen appliances look as if they were manufactured during the Nixon administration.

  • How to estimate remodeling payback

    November 4, 2011

    Want to increase the value of your house? Add a third bathroom.

  • Appraisers see green in energy upgrades

    October 31, 2011

    If you're a conservation-minded homeowner and you go to the trouble, and expense, of installing a high-efficiency furnace or a truckload of insulation or other energy-saving features, you'd probably like to get credit for adding value to the place.

  • Credit reporting digs deeper

    October 14, 2011

    Sometimes it's hard to escape the notion that our lives are being slowly, inevitably reduced to a single database.

  • The down-payment hurdle

    July 29, 2011

    Tight credit is leaving the housing market gasping for air. That's the drum beat from many corners of the real estate industry, which has been complaining loudly that restrictive mortgage-lending standards are a leading reason housing can't seem to climb out of its very deep hole.

  • FICO's radar picking up potential walkaways

    May 6, 2011

    Your mortgage payments are up to date, and you pay your bills on time. Your credit score is above average.

  • Agents and brokers are holding the foreclosure door wide open for buyers looking for a bargain

    June 22, 2008

    Two years ago, Jason Pietrucha read the foreclosure writing on the wall.

  • Cool designs and hot trends in refrigerators

    June 13, 2008

    We ask a lot of our refrigerators.

  • Nothing open and shut about deal closings

    January 27, 2008

    Headed for your real estate closing? No matter which side of the table you'll be on, have a Plan B.

  • Judging a home by its siding

    December 16, 2007

    In today's real estate market, anxious home sellers -- or those merely thinking about selling -- might well heed a finding of the latest annual remodeling study: It's what's outside that counts.

  • Purchase price just the start

    November 18, 2007

    Separate from the monthly mortgage bill, would-be home buyers have to factor in numerous costs to determine their affordability comfort level, financial counselors say. Some of the considerations:

  • Here's a new one: Being too broke to sell

    September 30, 2007

    Most anybody in the mortgage business will tell you that August was a month that will live in infamy: The market was in turmoil, as doubts about the stability of subprime loans spread to other sectors of the mortgage world.

  • Rising tide washing over rentals

    May 13, 2007

    The rent is going up.

  • Think you know what it's worth? Think again

    October 15, 2006

    Here's one of those glass-half-empty/glass-half-full bits of news: Recently online company househunt.com surveyed real estate agents and concluded that 51 percent of U.S. home sellers are getting 95 to 100 percent of their asking prices.

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