Ask an expert - Agent profiles - GARY LEE, @ PROPERTIES

Families who choose to live in Hinsdale stay because of the schools, the walkability and what @ Properties real estate agent Gary Lee calls "an almost 1950s charm." But there's something else far less visible that's keeping homeowners not only in the village, but in their current homes.

"Currently 86 percent of residential mortgages are under 5 percent," he said, with about half of those at 3.5 percent or less. But new mortgages come with rates higher than 7 percent, which is causing homeowners to stay put.

"Many potential home sellers are 'rate locked' into their homes. (They're) unwilling to sell and lose that amazing mortgage rate," he said.

The result, said Lee, is a highly desirable area with very low inventory.

After graduating from University of Illinois and while spending nearly a decade as a trader in Chicago, Lee said he always knew his career in finance would eventually lead to real estate. He said his parents and grandparents owned properties and he saw firsthand the value of real estate as an investment. He finally made the move to full-time Realtor in 2014.

Lee said many Millennials are now seeing the value of home ownership, too. Once more interested in experiences than in creating a permanent home, buyers in their late 20s to early 40s are dominating the market, Lee said. Meanwhile, the generation known as the baby boomers are often choosing to stay put rather than downsize. That, along with rising interest rates, means buyers don't have a lot to choose from.

Lee said younger buyers often enter the market in search of a move-in-ready home that has everything they want. His job often is to help buyers see the potential in a property that might not look like their dream home at first glance.

"The land is what is special. That can't be replicated," Lee said, echoing the age-old real estate mantra of "location, location, location."

"It's absolutely true," he said.

Sometimes, offering over asking price is a good move. Other times, it's not worth it. Lee said he helps buyers see the difference and weigh their options with facts and data when transactions become emotional.

While the real estate market in Hinsdale is short on homes, it's anything but short on real estate agents. Lee said his knowledge of Hinsdale sets him apart. A resident of Hinsdale since age 7, Lee has experienced the village as a child, a teen and now as a parent. Lee said he not only knows the personalities and nuances of every Hinsdale neighborhood, he also knows each surrounding town and what it can offer a buyer.

Not one for social media, Lee relies on mailers and personal relationships to make himself known.

"It's important to talk to people," he said, and to take time to listen.

He points to dedication, time, work and commitment as the reasons for his success in a career he finds rewarding.

"Helping people find their home is massively satisfying," he said.

- by Sandy Illian Bosch

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean