Readers' Choice: Sexy is good, but houses cost too much

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Roughly three of every four people think homes in Oak Park and River Forest are overpriced, according to Wednesday Journal's interesting but unscientific Readers' Choice Awards 2005. One in four disagreed that Oak Park, named one of the country's five sexiest suburbs, was "hot," while another 34 percent said it's hot only as it relates to temperature in the summer.

No respect!

Thirty-seven percent of the approximately 125 respondents said home prices in Oak Park and River Forest are overvalued by more than 19 percent. Another 36 percent said home values were overpriced, but by less than 19 percent. Just one-quarter said homes are fairly valued.

But, these are the results of a survey in which one respondent claimed to be driving more "as the result of higher gas prices." Hmm.

Two-thirds said higher gas prices didn't affect their driving, while one-third?#34;41 people?#34;said they are driving less. However, just 10 percent said they were using public transportation more because of gas prices.

Sixty-two percent said being called a sexy suburb by a guest on ABC-TV's "The View" was a good thing.

Regarding parking downtown, 81 percent of respondents said it's harder to find a space after the village-owned parking lot behind Bank One was closed for redevelopment, however, just 35 percent said that that meant they were shopping downtown less.

In response to the Historic Preservation Commission's identifying roughly 68 percent of the buildings not already in the Ridgeland Historic District as "structures of merit" or as architecturally "significant," 26 percent of respondents said that was an accurate representation of the buildings' architectural stature, while 16 percent said it was an "attempt to stave off further redevelopment." Fifty-eight percent said it was a little bit of both.

Turning to economics, a whopping 44 percent of respondents said they don't have a home mortgage, while 24 percent said they have not refinanced their mortgage in the past three years. Twenty-six percent have refinanced once in the past three years, and 6 percent have refinanced more than once in three years.

Thirty-eight percent think interest rates will continue to climb to 5 percent or more by June, while 45 percent say the figure will be between 4 percent and 5 percent, and 18 percent think rates will drop.

As a result of rising interest rates (the Federal Reserve has raised it 12 times since June 2004, from 1 percent to 4 percent), 42 percent said they are paying more in interest for items such as credit cards and variable rate loans than a year ago. Fifty-two percent are paying about the same, while 7 percent are paying less, according to the survey results.

The Readers' Choice Awards are co-sponsored by Community Bank Oak Park River Forest.

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