Why home buyers cross the line

2013-12-22T10:00:00Z Why home buyers cross the lineMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 22, 2013 10:00 am  • 

Hoosier hospitality has been defined as a warm welcome, a fair shake and an equal shot at good future.

With history pointing to the intersection of U.S. 30 and 41 as “The Crossroads of America” (the Indiana General Assembly officially adopted this as our state motto in 1937), northwest Indiana has a longstanding tradition of welcoming visitors passing through, especially those from our neighboring states.

Some of those visitors even take our unique brand of Hoosier pride to heart. With its powerful sense of community that’s family-oriented, relatively self-sufficient and hard working, northwest Indiana’s appeal is bringing home buyers across the Illinois border like never before.

“I lived in South Holland for a number of years, and we came to Indiana often for so many different reasons,” Harold Couture, a broker/associate with Rossi & Taylor Realty Group in St. John, recalled. “When I started working in the plastering and stucco trades right out of high school, most of our jobs were in Indiana. In the late ‘70s, I made the decision to get into real estate, and by the early ‘80s I had an Indiana license as well. Over the years, I helped more than 2,000 families close transactions from offices in both Illinois and Indiana.”

Several years ago, Couture’s daughter was searching for new home in the Homewood/Flossmoor or Frankfort/New Lenox areas of Illinois. After seeing what the prices and taxes were for the type of home she wanted for her growing family, Couture started comparing the homes they looked at in Illinois with some that were similar in St. John, Crown Point and Winfield.

“They ended up getting a whole lot more for their money in unincorporated Crown Point, and they love it,” he said. “They’re close to everything there - the square and fairgrounds, all the schools, the YMCA and even the grocery store. When my wife and I were looking at property just a few years later, we were pretty much set on going out to Peotone – we were looking for that small town kind of thing. But then our daughter suggested we look for something closer, since she works downtown and could use some help with the kids.”

Having sold the first paired home in The Regency by Providence Real Estate Development, Couture’s familiarity with this particular location on the Youche Country Club golf course brought him back as a homeowner.

“We were paying $5,000 in taxes with both senior and homeowner’s exemptions for a quad-level home we built 40 years ago in South Holland,” he explained. “Now, we live in a brand new home that’s all on one floor with similar square footage plus a full basement, and our taxes are just a little over $2,500. But, it’s not just the taxes that make a difference between purchasing a home in Illinois or Indiana, it’s also the values. I recently had a client who was looking at homes in New Lenox come out to The Regency and fall in love with the neighborhood. Now, they’re in the process of building a brand new house for about the same price of a foreclosure they were looking at in Illinois. It’s just a better deal all the way around for them.”

Custom home builder Cory Kreith of Crown Point’s CK Building and Design Corporation, also believes taxes are the number one reason why people are making the jump from Illinois to Indiana, followed closely by the great values.

“I lived in Illinois up until 2003,” he said. “My wife is from St. John, and I’m a Butler grad so we had a lot of different reasons for choosing Indiana. But, what I can tell you after carefully investigating both options, is that we were able to purchase a lot and build a house that were both about double the size in Indiana compared with what we could have done in Illinois at the time.”

Since then, Kreith has been trying to convince a buddy to trade in his $18,500 annual tax bill in Frankfort for one that would more like $6,000 for a similar – but brand new – home in Crown Point.

One of just 22 National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) certified Master Builders in the state, Kreith’s business is driven primarily by client referrals. However, his elite status in the profession does bring inquiries from people looking to relocate in the area.

“A considerable portion of the people I talk to about building come from out of state,” Kreith added. “It’s free to pull the tax records, and I think a lot of people coming from Illinois realize what they’re paying. Another thing I didn’t know before moving here is the fact that there’s no tax on groceries. The first time I went into a store here, it was just to grab an item that cost $2.98 - and the amount due was $2.98. I thought it was on sale. With no tax on the food you eat in Indiana, you’re saving $7 on every $100 of groceries, and that really adds up.”

Kreith and Couture also agree that the public schools are step up from where they were in Illinois.

“My daughter had her son enrolled in a private, Catholic school – even though the schools in Flossmoor were some of the best,” Couture said. “When they toured Taft, they were really impressed, and it has more than met their needs.”

“For us, northwest Indiana was just a great fit with a lot to offer,” Kreith added.

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