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

Contact Ann

call or text me: 847-691-1111 or email: ann@rannjones.realtor

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Questions answered about REALTORS.

Despite what people think, REALTOR® is not a job title.   The terms broker, real estate and REALTOR® are often used interchangeably.   However, in Illinois there are more individuals with real estate broker licenses, than there are REALTORs®.

A REALTOR® is simply a member of the National Association of Realtors. (NAR). Every year the NAR releases a membership report. Here are some statistics from that report:

There are 1.22 million members nationwide.

63% of all members are women.

The median age of members is 53 years old.

82% own their primary residence.

Median years of experience for members is 10 years.

4% of members are under 30.

30% of members are over 60.

In 2016, the typical agent had 12 transactions, which is up from 11 transactions in 2015.

The median gross income is $42,500.

More than half of the members, who have less than two years of experience, earn around 10K a year.

51% of member agents are affiliated with independent firms.

People often ask me, how many licensed agents there are in along the North Shore? 

I did a lookup in MRED - our local multiple listing service.   Based on office location, these were the results:
Evanston - more than 500
Wilmette - 50
Kenilworth - 2
Winnetka - more than 500
Northfield - 39
Glencoe - 93
Highland Park -278
Highwood - 4
Lake Forest - 267
Lake Bluff - 63

Interesting...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What's your credit score?

Not too long ago, I was working with some folks who wanted to lease their property. Before a landlord accepts a tenant, they ask for two things - references and the potential tenant's FICO (or credit) score. As agents, we need to run the credit score with a third party that solicits the information from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. After the recent data breach incident with Equifax, citizens are pretty aware of the types of sensitive information that these agencies collect.

There are various ways of calculating credit scores. The FICO score (the name comes from the corporate name: Fair Isaac Corporation, who developed the score) is the most commonly used type of credit score in the US. 

FICO scores are also used by mortgage lenders to determine the possibility of whether a borrower is a good risk for lending. If you want to get any kind of financing (appliances, cars, etc.), this three-digit number is one of the most important numbers of your life. It signifies your creditworthiness and it can make or break your ability to get a loan. Credit scores generally range from 300 to 850, with higher credit scores being the best of all.

As of April 2017, 20.7 percent of Americans have a FICO score above 800, according to data from FICO. This makes a record high percentage of people with credit scores over 800 and correlates directly to lower delinquency rates.

Since payment history makes up 35 percent of the credit scoring calculation, there's a strong relationship between having a high credit score and a lower amount of late payments.

After we get a credit report, we need to share it with the landlord and then they make a determination, whether they want to rent the property to these particular tenants. A great score is anything over 750. A lousy score is anything less than 700. The highest score I've ever seen was 878 -- impressive. I won't tell you the lowest.  Let's just say, my landlord client had zero interest in renting to those particular people. 

With the recent financial collapse, people's credit scores took a hit and renting became really challenging for folks, who had lost their homes. Tenants were having to pay 6-12 months rent upfront in order to get the property.

That's actually what happened with this recent situation. The potential tenants had a credit score in the low 600s. My clients were unwilling to rent to, what appeared to be, wonderful tenants.  They just happened to have a poor FICO score. Eventually we were able to secure the lease -- but the tenants had to pay for the full year of rent up front. Ouch.

There are tremendous benefits of having a credit score over 800.

You're more likely to have your applications approved. I recently rented a car - my score is good and it was smooth sailing -- they were very excited to lease to me.

You'll qualify for lower interest rates. Your credit score helps determine the interest rate on loans. Having an 800 credit score will allow you to qualify for lower interest rates and save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. This can be a significant difference with mortgage interest. 

Anyone who manages their credit properly can get an 800 credit score. Here are some tips from the experts:

Pay everything on time.

Maintain lower credit card balances. People with best credit scores use less than 10 percent of their credit limits.

Avoid too many credit checks. Each time you make an application that requires a credit check, a hard inquiry is placed on your credit report. These hard inquiries are 10 percent of your credit score.

Monitor your credit and act quickly to clear up errors. There are sources where you can request your score for free. After the Equifax debacle, I signed up for LifeLock -- they send me my credit score every month. But some other sites to consider: CreditKarma.com, CreditSesame.com, WalletHub.com, AnnualCreditReport.com, and myFICO.com. If you see something wrong, get it fixed immediately.

Any negative information will eventually age off your credit report. It may take a while, but you too can get your score back over 800.

So what's your credit score -- it's a number to remember!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hope you'll join us on April 21!

Are you one of the 76.4 million babies that were born between 1946 and 1963? Are you thinking about the next chapter of your life and trying to make decisions about the future?

The Next Chapter is the event just for you!  Susan Kelsey and I are bringing this unique program of local experts together to help us plan and answer some of these looming questions: Retire or keep working? Downsize or age in place? Trying to understand Social Security or Medicare? So many decisions – so many options.

Luncheon speaker is Sunny Morton, award-winning writer and popular genealogy speaker whose lectures share a unique brand of warmth, humor, expertise and industry knowledge. She is the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites and Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy.

Date: April 21 morning

Venue: Gorton Community Center

For more details, speaker bios, and to register for this complimentary event go to:  

nextchapterlf.com

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

How's the Market as of April 1, 2018?

Hello April!  

As vacations end, the spring market takes off in full force!  Just since the first of April,  59 new listings have been entered into the MLS on the North Shore.  We're off with a bang!  

So how was the market in March?  I would have to say that it seems a bit slower than usual.  While there are exceptions, the number of units sold seemed to decrease in March.   That said, inventory levels seem to be improving.


The market varies from community to community.  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, the North Shore is either balanced or a buyers' market.  Despite the higher inventory in Lake Forest the trend is good and sales are on the rise.

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was a lovely home rebuilt by the Poulton Group located on over an acre and a half on Onwentsia Road in Lake Forest.


There are currently 201 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of March, 9 homes closed in this price range:


Community
Sold This Month
# for Sale
Evanston
2
5
Wilmette
0
9
Kenilworth
1
15
Winnetka
3
53
Northfield
1
10
Glencoe
0
18
Highland Park
0
19
Lake Forest
2
67
Lake Bluff
0
5


Happy Spring!

Source: MRED (Midwest Real Estate Data) Multiple Listing Service

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Green Tips: Energy Efficient Homes

Did you know that according to the most recent NAR home buyer trends, heating and cooling costs were the most important environmental features for recent
home buyers, with 84% finding these features at very least somewhat important.

When I work with buyers, among the first things they ask me ... "How much it cost to heat and cool this house?   We'd like to see the utility bills."

I know when I replaced my windows, my heating and cooling bills dropped dramatically -- it was amazing.    Here are some more ideas for creating an energy efficient home:

Heating:
  • Clean or replace heater and air conditioner filters regularly. Keep outside vents free of leaves or debris that may clog vents.
  • When the heat is on, set your thermostat at as low a level as you feel comfortable. Use a programmable thermostat that adjusts to the time of day.   Check out ComEd's program.
  • Close doors to seldom used rooms and turn off heat or air conditioning in these areas.
  • Keep windows near your thermostat tightly closed.
  • Dust and vacuum radiator surfaces frequently. 
  • Keep draperies and shades open in sunny windows; close them at night.
  • Use kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans sparingly. 

Air Conditioning:

  • Service your air conditioner on a regular basis.
  • Clean or replace air conditioner filters regularly.
  • Set your air conditioner thermostat as high as you still feel reasonably comfortable.
  • If you have window air conditioners, turn them off when a room will be vacant for a few hours. 
  • Don't place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. 

Appliances

  • Use cold water rather than hot when running the garbage disposal.
  • Keep range top burners and reflectors clean so your stove operates at peak efficiency.
  • When using an oven or an electric burner, turn it off a little while before the cooking is done. 
  • When you have a choice, use the range top instead of the oven.
  • When replacing appliances, seek out energy efficient ones to purchase.



Thursday, March 22, 2018

5 top trends for your kitchen in 2018

(BPT) - It’s your home’s focal point. The site of some of your best moments and the base of operations for entertaining — it’s your kitchen, and no room in your home is more valuable. A magnificent kitchen defines a home, and bringing your kitchen to this level means capitalizing on today’s top trends.

Many of the trends that will define kitchens for the year appear first at KBIS, the kitchen and bath industry convention held every year in January. More than 600 brands attended this year’s event, and here are the five trends that stood out from the show and are sure to dictate kitchen styles for the rest of this year and beyond.

Appliances that can do it all. As home chefs have become much more refined, the need for kitchen appliances capable of delivering to these expectations has increased. Signature Kitchen Suite, the new-to-the-scene luxury brand, for example, debuted the first-of-its-kind pro-style range with built-in sous vide for the ultimate in precision cooking. The range is among the most versatile available with two extra-high burners that deliver 23,000 BTUs of cooking power and two ultra-low burners to maintain temperatures as low as 100 degrees. This appliance is also Wi-Fi enabled, which means you can monitor and control your kitchen wherever you are.

Unique backsplashes. The tile backsplash still has plenty of staying power, but the latest trends are upping the wow factor of this kitchen mainstay. From mirrored glass and backlit onyx to decorative sculptures, the kitchen backsplash is becoming the statement piece of any kitchen and a unique way to express your own style and taste.

Matte black finishes. The standard appearance of kitchen fixtures is taking on a darker tone in 2018, as matte black finishes are flourishing in a big way. This elegant, luxe appliance finish complements any kitchen and is also designed to conceal fingerprints and smudges. This smooth, low-gloss design option enhances any style kitchen, from modern to farmhouse, traditional to contemporary and every style in between.

Design elements everywhere. Long a place of functional purity, the kitchen is getting a dramatically artistic makeover in 2018. Designers from one side of KBIS to the other were showcasing lavish kitchens complemented with unique patterns, angles and texture choices. You simply wanted to go out and touch and savor every single detail they offered. The takeaway? It is possible to enjoy looking at your kitchen as much as you enjoy working in it.

Smarter kitchens. New Wi-Fi enabled appliances are helping people control their homes in new ways, allowing for greater convenience — either through the touch of a button on their smartphone or via voice commands through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Want to preheat the oven before you head home from work? Done! Need a fresh batch of ice before company arrives? You don’t even have to get up. Forget to turn on the dishwasher? No problem. Choose a cycle and turn it on from virtually anywhere. Smart home leaders like LG have also teamed with food and recipe services such as Innit and SideChef to better assist home chefs with planning, shopping, preparing and cooking delicious meals.

Taking your kitchen to the next level The latest and greatest innovations for your kitchen were on display at KBIS, but bringing them home is up to you. Need more renovation inspiration? Check out new virtual design tools to experiment with different styles and appliance combinations to create your dream kitchen. You may just find a whole new look for your kitchen.

Posted: February 8, 2018 on Brandpoint (BPT)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Next Chapter

Are you one of the 76.4 million babies that were born between 1946 and 1963? Are you thinking about the next chapter of your life and trying to make decisions about the future?



The Next Chapter is the event just for you!  Susan Kelsey and I are bringing this unique program of local experts together to help us
plan and answer some of these looming questions: Retire or keep working? Downsize or age in place? Trying to understand Social Security or Medicare? So many decisions – so many options.

Luncheon speaker is Sunny Morton, award-winning writer and popular genealogy speaker whose lectures share a unique brand of warmth, humor, expertise and industry knowledge. She is the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites and Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy.

Save the date - April 21 - Gorton Community Center

For more details, speaker bios, and to register for this complimentary event go to:
nextchapterlf.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Life in Real Estate -- Stranger things have happened!

Life as a real estate agent has its highs and lows ... and some really funny moments.   I thought I would share some of my memorable moments in real estate... and the lessons learned... 

The Dog
On one of my listings, my clients had a very tame and sweet little beagle.  With one of the showings, the owners needed to leave the dog in the house.  The family, who came to tour the house, brought their children with them.  One of the kids completely freaked over this sweet little dog.  Even the dog was scared at the screaming.  The couple had to leave and never saw the house!
Lesson to sellers: If you want to get your house sold, take your pets with you... no telling who the buyers are! 
The Weird Open House
One of my very first open houses was in February when there as snow on the ground.  A very strange man came into the house.  He gave me the creeps.  I was very happy when he left -- until I looked outside.  He had backed his car into the front yard and it was stuck in a snow drift.  I called my office looking for help -- they sent the police!
Lesson to buyers: Park your car on the street, if you're unfamiliar with a driveway. 
The Mother-in-Law 
I was conducting an accompanied showing.   The buyer was looking at the house while her mother-in-law was supposedly "watching the children."    One of the children started walking around the house with a banana.    The potential buyer asked her son, from where he got it.  Turns out that the mother-in-law just took if out of my client's refrigerator and gave it the little boy.  I was amazed at the cheekiness of it all -- as was the boy's mother!
Lesson to buyers: the owners are only selling their home, not their groceries!
The Garden Ornamental
One of the more difficult situations related to a contract between a buyer and seller.   The seller had very sentimental attachments to the house.  The buyer loved the property and was going to to either tear down the house or extensively remodel it.  That said, the buyer appreciated the history of the home and wanted to keep something... namely a garden ornamental.   We (the agents) discussed and agreed to it verbally and through texts, but never discussed it with either attorney.   The day of the close, the ornamental was gone.   The seller had taken it and "had no memory" of the discussion.  Without getting into specific details, it's suffice to say we came close to watching the deal fall apart at the closing table, just because of a simple little garden ornament. 
Lesson to agents: make sure that everything agreed to verbally and in texts makes it to the attorneys for written documentation before the close. 
The Refrigerator
I had these wonderful clients who did absolutely everything right.  Their house always looked perfect for showings and they priced it right.   We got it under contract relatively quickly.   My clients moved out and left for their summer house a few days before the close.  As I was doing the final walk-through of the house of the house, the buyer noticed a second refrigerator in the garage.   My clients had thought it was to stay with the house and left it behind.   For whatever reasons, the buyer was not accommodating it.   He wanted the refrigerator out of the garage BEFORE the close.   
  
As agents, this probably sounds pretty familiar.  We've been known to carry out miscellaneous wallpaper and paint cans, clothes and television sets, etc. after a walk through.  In the chaos of moving,  sellers sometimes leave things beyond.  But a refrigerator?   I had to figure out how to get rid of a refrigerator within a few hours.   I did it, but it was down to the wire. 
Lesson to everyone: make sure it's clear what stays with or leaves the property. 
Clumsiness
Visiting new homes can be moments for true embarrassment -- at least for me.   Off the top of my head, I can remember, at least, four times that I have fallen while showing a home.   I fell off a front porch one time, because there was no railing.   I ended up in the emergency room for fear of cracking my skull (turned out I have a hard head).   I've fallen flat on my face in a driveway, because of hidden ice as well as numerous other occasions of humiliation.   
Lesson to me.  When you're at an unfamiliar home,  stop talking and start paying attention!

Every agent has their stories - some are hilarious.  I remember one agent telling me how she was touring a house and naked man stepped out of the shower at the moment at the buyers stepped into his bathroom.   It happens.   
I'd love to hear your strange moments in real estate!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Check the pockets!

I was with a neighborhood group recently. As is often the case, someone asked me about a particular house that had recently sold. Their comment was, "That house sold so quickly! It was there and then it was gone!" My response was, "Well it was exempt for several months, so it probably didn't go as quickly as you thought." It was then she asked me, "What's an exempt listing?"

A pocket listing or exempt or private listing is a real estate industry term used which refers to a property where a broker holds a signed listing agreement or contract with the seller, but it is private and no public marketing has taken place. It has never been advertised. If has been entered in the multiple listing service (MLS), it's in the private section which is only available to be seen by other members of the MLS.

The primary reason a listing is exempt, is that the sellers are not ready for the house to be photographed or advertised. They are getting the house ready -- making repairs, etc. A second reason has to do with timing. Perhaps the sellers are building or remodeling a new home -- they are willing to show their existing house to pre-qualified, "real buyers", but that's about it. They'll put it in the MLS when they are really reading to move.

Another reason houses never come on the market is a seller's need for privacy or security. Often the listings of the homes of celebrities or public figures are kept private. The sellers don't want curiosity seekers wandering through their homes. They want to make sure that only motivated, financially qualified buyers see their home.
There are also some marketing strategies associated with exempt listings. Pocket listings can be very appealing to buyers who seek exclusive opportunities. It really is in the best interest of a buyer to be working with a local agent, who knows what exempt listings are available and not visible to the public... these buyers have an advantage on seeing the homes ahead of the pack.

Many full-time agents have knowledge of pocket listings in their own office or in other offices of their own company. There are some companies which list property as pocket listings for a short time before entering it into their MLS sometimes with the implicit idea of getting "both sides of the deal"  i.e., shopping the listing within their own firm. 

A real estate company which is not a member of any MLS may have pocket listings, but may still be willing to cooperate with other real estate professionals in the sale of their listings.
So buyers, don't shortchange yourself by only looking at real estate sites -- there may be a whole other group of homes for sale that only an agent can share with you.  Be sure to check the pockets!