Keeping up with Chicago's North Shore Real Estate Market!

Contact Ann

call or text me: 847-691-1111 or email:

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


Years ago I was buying a condo in Chicago.   After several months of searching, I finally found one I really liked in a vintage building on Chestnut Street.   I loved the layout of the apartment, and one room in particular stood out for me: the dining room.   Around the room were these gorgeous alabaster sconces that gave the room a warm glow.  I was smitten and made an offer for the apartment.   

The sellers accepted my offer and I arranged for the inspection.  When I went back in with the inspector, the dining room sconces were gone and had been replaced with less distinctive fixtures.   I was so annoyed and it really bugged me that those lights were gone -- it felt like a bate and switch.   It had never occured to me to ask for those specific fixtures - I just assumed they were staying with the unit.  While there were some inspection issues and some building requirements I disliked,  I was still annoyed about the lights.  I withdrew my offer.   If I'm really honest with myself, it was the sconces, that were probably the thing I loved best about the apartment.  My agent kept telling me I could buy new ones... but crazy as it sounds, once those lights were gone, I lost interest in the place.  

Exclusions can be a real sticking point during negotiations.   Being very clear upfront what is staying and what is going with the house needs to be spelled out early in the process.  Frankly, I think it needs to presented in the listing information sheet.   Exclusions can even destroy the sale of a house -- my clients almost failed to close on their property because of a contentious garden statue!   

The contract lists things like: light fixtures, shelves, window treatments, fireplace grills, etc.  In general, anything that is affixed to the wall is considered a fixture and remains with the property.  But what does that actually mean?   Televisions?  Mirrors?  Given my own personal experience, it's my opinion, that the buyers should never even see the things the sellers definitely want to take with them.    Light fixtures in particular can be a really sticking point.  I always advise my clients to replace grandmother's chandelier before they list the house, so there is no misunderstanding or negotiating about it!

Back to my story... I kept looking and eventually bought another place on Pearson Street.   It was a wonderful condo, that I gutted and remodeled.  Every fixture, tile, wallpaper, fabric, etc.  I picked out carefully and intentionally.   One of my favorite selections were the hall chandelier and some sconces for the living room and bedroom.  I found a person who repped for dozens of lighting companies and pored over her catalogs for hours.  I finally found the light fixtures I wanted - they were handmade in Italy.   Little did I know that it would take over a year for them to arrive .... apparently the Italian craftsmen worked to their own schedule which included summers off.   Once they finally arrived and were installed, I so admired and loved the fixtures.  As you might suspect, when I moved to Lake Forest I brought them with me.  I often get compliments on them.    

As many of you know, I'm selling my beloved house on Deerpath this year -- I want to downsize and move into something smaller that is maintenance free.   Going through the years of things that have accumulated has been quite an ordeal -- I ended up with my parents' stuff and they ended up with their parents' stuff, so it has been a year long process of clearing things out and getting the house ready for the market.  

This week the handyman came to help me with the final touches... my sconces and chandeliers came down and were replaced with something not quite so special.  I think it's best that they are packed up not shown with the house.  I don't want anyone to fall in love with my light fixtures, the way I fell in love with the alabaster sconces on Chestnut Street.  The replaced fixtures have actually changed the way the rooms look -- odd how special lights can be.  

My lights coming down is almost like a metaphor for the sale of the home.   I've taken "my light(s)" out of the house... so now it's time for someone to bring their light(s) in!

p.s. If you someone looking for a wonderful, gracious ranch home in Meadowood, tell them to give me a call.  It will officially be on the market in May, but I'm showing to interested parties now.  

Sunday, March 31, 2019

How's the Market as of April 1, 2019?

The sun is shining and it looks like Spring... the air may be a bit chilly, but at least there is no snow on the ground - finally!  

As I was preparing these charts, I was trying to see how different the numbers were from last year.   Year on year, things are about the same.   For example, this time last year 160 YTD units had sold in Evanston -- this year 162.  Last year 64 YTD units has sold in Lake Forest -- this year 69.  Given how cold the winter was, I find this news rather encouraging.   We didn't seem to lose traction during the first quarter.  Some towns did better than others, but it feels like we have settled into new normal.  

So how about real estate on the North Shore?  The first report shows units sold, the second presents the median prices.

The months of inventory on the first chart is a better way of measuring progress.  Anything less than 6 months is considered a sellers' market -- anything more than 8 months is considered a buyers' market. With the exception of Lake Forest and Kenilworth, most of the North Shore looks pretty good.   Wilmette and Evanston actually have a shortage of inventory.   

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was a 1955 Glencoe lakefront home situated on 1.2 acres.  Read more about it: North Shore lakefront mansion is priciest suburban sale this year

There are currently 173 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of March, 8 houses closed in this price range:

Sold This Month
# for Sale
Highland Park
Lake Forest
Lake Bluff

After this long winter, let's hope for a beautiful spring!
Source of data: MRED (Midwest Real Estate Data) Multiple Listing Service

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Green Tips - recycle those crayons

Crayola and schools across North America have banded together to help kids understand the importance of their role in protecting the environment. That’s they launched Crayola ColorCycle. Through this initiative, students in K-12 schools across the continental United States can collect used markers and send them to a conversion facility where they will be repurposed and kept out of landfills. Learn more about how you and your kids can participate! Learn more about Crayola ColorCycle click here.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

No-Fail Paint Selections for Staging Your Home

When preparing to sell your home, it’s important to consider every step that will increase its appeal to potential buyers. While the existing color scheme made it feel like home to you, pressing the reset button to neutral will help potential buyers envision themselves living in the house. Skip the paint research-induced headaches by using these no-fail staging paint selections, and watch the sold sign go up in no time.

All-Over Neutral: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter
This greige hue is a go-to choice to create a neutral backdrop in open areas. The grey-beige color can appear both warm and cool, depending on lighting. Pair Revere Pewter with white trim for a polished, neutral look.
Suggested rooms: Open spaces, such as family rooms or open concept layouts.

Go-To Gray: Sherwin Williams Crushed Ice
This pale gray option blends in with virtually every design style. Whether your home is traditional, transitional or modern, Crushed Ice will seamlessly blend in the background, letting your home’s selling features shine.
Suggested rooms: This chameleon color can be used throughout the house.

Calming Blue: Benjamin Moore Blue Veil
Help your home evoke vibes of peacefulness and calm, from the minute potential buyers walk through the door. This cool pale blue has enough color to subtly stand out, but not enough to dominate the space.
Suggested rooms: The entryway, gathering spaces or bedrooms.

All-Over White: Benjamin Moore Simply White
With countless white paint options to choose from, it can be the most difficult color to select. This clean white has both warm and cool hues, making it work with a variety of decor styles and appeal to many different tastes.
Suggested rooms: This crisp shade can help entryways or sun-drenched spaces shine.

Create Space: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace
This bright white can make any space appear larger. Crisp, yet soft, this hue creates a fresh, while cozy vibe. Use this color in rooms you want to create the illusion of additional space.
Suggested rooms: To brighten — and enlarge — a kitchen or master bathroom.

Distract from Poor Lighting: Benjamin Moore White Dove

White Dove works wonders in rooms with poor lighting. Use this shade in rooms without overhead lighting, or in rooms with limited natural light. The soft white hues stay true to color, regardless of the level of light.
Suggested rooms: In the basement, office or bedrooms without sunlight.

Dramatic Neutral: Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal
When you think of neutrals, light hues typically come to mind. However, a dark neutral adds intrigue and style, while making a space memorable to buyers. A dark paint selection also has the ability to make a small space appear larger.
Suggested rooms: This cool, sophisticated color is perfect for an office, dining room or powder room.
Classic Navy: Benjamin Moore Stunning
Another dark neutral, navy paint coordinates with most decor styles and adds an instant level of classic appeal, while not taking itself too seriously.
Suggested rooms: Similar to a charcoal, this timeless hue adds extra richness to an office or den, dining room or guest bathrooms.

Finish Guide

Once you have selected your paint selections, getting the right finish can elevate your home’s appearance, as well as hide any flaws on the walls. As a general guide, the higher the sheen the more durable the paint will be.
Rooms prone to moisture (kitchens, bathrooms): Semi-gloss or high gloss finish.
High-traffic areas (family room, play room, living areas): Satin finish, for easy cleaning.
Low-traffic areas (dining room, bedrooms): Eggshell or matte finish.
Source: @properties @home

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Smile for the cameras!

As you probably know, Big Brother is the fictional character symbolized in George Orwell's novel, 1984.   He is the leader of Oceania, a totalitarian state wherein the ruling party wields total power over the inhabitants. In Oceania, every citizen is under constant surveillance by the authorities. The people are continually reminded of this by the slogan "Big Brother is watching you."

Well, home buyers -- that slogan is one you might want to take to heart.   Big Brother is here and now with surveillance cameras etc.   I was on tour not too long ago and the agent whispered to us and let us know that her clients were watching us from afar.  Egads.

This experience highlighted for me a growing issue in real estate. As smart-home technology becomes more common, real estate agents and their clients are increasingly and uncomfortably finding themselves living in 1984 with someone watching them as they walk through the home.  This practice surfaces questions about ethics, legality, and privacy that have not been fully understood nor addressed by the real estate community.

So buyers beware.   
1. Look around, but don't touch or do anything that might cause the seller concerns.
2. When walking through a property, certainly don't talk strategy or share personal information that could be used in a later negotiation.
3. Be careful what you say about the home -- negative comments could later come back to haunt you.

It's a "brave new world" out there.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Join us for the Next Chapter!

There are still spaces available!!

Susan Kelsey and I are back with our The Next Chapter event for Baby Boomers.

The Next Chapter: Putting Your Financial House in Order
When: Saturday, March 9 from 8 am – 12 noon
Where: Lifeworking
717 N. Forest Avenue, (2nd floor) Lake Forest

Building on last year’s workshop,we have new speakers, new information and new resources for YOUR Next Chapter!

• Learn about which Medicare plan is right for you!
• Learn if you should purchase long-term health care insurance
• Take home a complete financial/legal album of resources for your family
• Back by popular demand, tips on estate planning
• Understanding the value of your home in today's market

There is no fee to attend The Next Chapter, but registration is required. Please register here.

Friday, March 1, 2019

How's the Market? As of March 1, 2019

Thrilled to be done with February... This winter just won't seem to end. 

The market picked up a little bit in February, but I'm hoping to see real progress in March.

So how about real estate on the North Shore? The first report shows units sold, the second presents the median prices.

The months of inventory on the first chart is a better way of measuring progress. Anything less than 6 months is considered a sellers' market -- anything more than 8 months is considered a buyers' market. With the exception of Lake Forest and Kenilworth, most of the North Shore looks pretty good.   Evanston actually has a shortage of inventory.   Some of this is seasonal.  Often sellers take their homes off the market during the winter months, thus lowering the inventory levels.   

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was a 12 year old home in Northfield that was over 10,000 square feet. 

There are currently 167 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of February, 3 houses closed in this price range:

Sold This Month
# for Sale
Highland Park
Lake Forest
Lake Bluff

In honor of St. David's Day... Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Go Green!

Going Green Matters 2019: 
Waste Not, Want Not

Going Green Matters 2019 will be held on Sunday, March 10 from 12 - 4 p.m. at Michigan Shores Club, 911 Michigan Avenue, Wilmette. The theme this year is "Waste Not, Want Not," and exhibits will help people learn about consuming wisely and wasting less. Explore more than 100 exhibits on:

Plastic solutions
Saving energy
Transportation choices
Green landscaping
Growing your own food
Connecting to nature
Protecting precious places
Green home design
Safe home & body products
Solar energy
Recycling tips
And, so much more

Find out how schools, park districts, libraries, congregations, local governments and environmental groups are all working together to make our communities and the world a more sustainable place to live. The event is free and open to the public.

Park at the CTA lot at 4th & Linden and take the free shuttle to or from the event. Be advised the Gillson Park beach parking lot will not be accessible to the public due to construction.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Green Tips - Opting Out

We all get junk mail and phone books. Typically, these resources get tossed into the garbage or put in the recycling bin and never used. With and, who uses a phone book anymore?

While recycling is a good choice for these items,  a better choice is to prevent junk mail and phone books from arriving in the first place. Many trees are wasted by creating these products, not to mention transportation costs and fumes to deliver them to your doorstep! Waste prevention is far better than recycling.

How does one opt out?

Phone Books
Yellow Pages Opt Out:
Discontinue receiving a phone book at home or work.

Junk Mail
Direct Marketing Association: 
Set preferences for mail you want to receive and mail you don't. Also features an option for removing email from national lists.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: 
Provides information about removal from a variety of junk mail lists, such as the following:
• Mailing lists of major national marketers
• Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service
• Flyers and advertising supplements
• Catalog, mail order lists and magazines
• Pre-approved offers of credit
• Phone books and reverse directories
• US Postal Service and change of address data file
• Charities and non-profits
• Sweepstakes and prizes
• Supermarket loyalty cards
• Public records
• Data compilers and mailing list companies

Trusted ID Mail Preference Service (Catalog Choice): 
Free service that lets you communicate your mail preferences to companies.