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

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Friday, February 15, 2019

The Next Chapter: Putting Your Financial House in Order

Susan Kelsey and I are back with our:
The Next Chapter series.


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, THE NEXT CHAPTER has added 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.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Is it affordable?

When I was in my 20s, I remember visiting a high school friend at her apartment in Manhattan. I was stunned to see how she was living. It felt like a closet and her monthly rent amount was unbelievably high. Fast forward to the TV series, Friends, and yes -- it was a TV show -- but I found their apartment pretty spacious and bit unrealistic compared to the way my friend had lived. The design for the set was rationalized by calling it a "rent controlled" apartment.

So what is rent control?

Rent control limits how much landlords can charge tenants. Technically, “rent control” means a tenant’s rent is almost completely frozen indefinitely.  This is uncommon. When people say “rent control,” they often mean “rent stabilization,” which establishes a small, set percentage by which landlords can increase rent each year.

And who’s actually doing the controlling? Cities that have rent control or rent stabilization—like New York City and San Francisco—have rent boards that set policy. Their conditions are usually very specific. For example, New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board requires rent-stabilized buildings to be: built before 1974, to contain six or more units, and to have had a certain maximum rent depending on when the tenant moved in.

Based on what I have read, rent control actually creates a situation which causes rents to go up, because it affects the supply of housing. In other words, by controlling the market on some apartments, it distorts the supply. Housing -- like any other commodity -- is all about supply and demand. In the US, rent control is currently allowed in certain cities in California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and in Washington, D.C. Not surprisingly, those cities are among the nation’s most expensive.

I just came across this chart that I thought I would share:

Affordable housing is becoming a big issue on the North Shore. The Illinois Housing Development Authority has told several North Shore towns that they must address their low levels of affordable housing in their communities. Read more at

North Shore Falls Short Of State Affordable Housing Requirements

It's a complicated issue and I certainly don't have the answers. Although based on what I've read, rent control is a pretty ineffective solution in the long term.

If you would like to learn more, check out this site: Affordability for All

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Weekly Checklist: How To List Your Home By Spring

Unofficially, the spring selling season begins after Super Bowl Sunday. This means there is still time to transform your home into a house in which a potential buyer could envision themselves living. Preparing your home to sell can quickly become an overwhelming hurdle if you don’t approach it as a series of small steps. Follow this week-by-week checklist to have your home ready to list by the peak selling season.

Week One

Find the right real estate agent. Buying or selling a home can be a major undertaking, and that’s why most buyers and sellers enlist the services of a real estate agent to guide them through the process. A good agent will provide all the knowledge and resources needed to make your home sale more seamless, from local market insights and negotiating skills to marketing exposure and more.
Inspect your home’s infrastructure. Check your home to make the updates and repairs that will improve your home’s value. Evaluate the condition of the pipes, windows, roof, etc., so you have the time to fix these issues, and so you aren’t surprised when it’s time for a potential buyer to bring in an inspector. In addition to the larger items, make sure the handles on the cabinets are tight, the lightbulbs are working, and scuffs are removed from the wall, to present the image of a well-cared for house.

Week Two

Declutter. Create four categories — throw out, donate, move to storage and keep. Do this to make the move out easier, as well as to show a home that is free of visual clutter. If your home is filled with an abundance of furniture and decor pieces you can’t part with, rent a storage unit for the duration your home is on the market.
Deep clean. After the home is decluttered, conduct a deep clean, including windows, baseboards, walls and floors. Additionally, deep clean the areas that are closed off, such as closets, cabinets and drawers. Potential buyers will likely be opening these storage areas so be sure to keep them tidy.

Week Three

Assess the curb appeal. While lawn maintenance in winter is minimal, make the necessary updates to entice buyers before they enter the front door. Paint the front door, replace the mailbox if it’s damaged, update outdoor lighting if it shows signs of wear and tear, and set out a seasonal arrangement in the outdoor planters.
Paint the walls. If your taste is on the bolder side, paint the walls in a neutral color palette prior to listing. Neutral colors will appeal to a wider variety of buyers, and help them better picture themselves living in the home. Don’t forget to touch up the baseboards and door trim.
Stage the house. Consider enlisting a professional stager who can assess the current condition of your home and determine the tweaks that will set it apart from the crowd. They often have inventory they can bring in, or will rearrange your belongings to create a different layout.

Week Four

Take professional photos. The majority of buyers begin their home search online, so great photography is essential in order to capture their interest. Once your home is in tip-top shape, work with your real estate agent to have a professional photographer take photos of the house.

Week Five

Final cleaning. Pay special attention to the bathrooms, floors and countertops. These are areas that will catch the first glances of buyers walking through your house. Also make sure the home is odor free. Consider opening the windows, running a humidifier and using an air purifier to neutralize the air.
Add life. Set out fresh flowers, plants or a bowl of fresh fruit to breathe some additional life into the home, and to create a welcoming vibe.
Hide valuables. With strangers walking through your home, make sure you remove or lock up any valuables, such as jewelry, treasured collections and artwork.
source: @properties blog

Sunday, February 3, 2019

How's the Market as of February 1, 2019

Hello February.  It feels like we’re having a heat wave after last week’s polar vortex.   As cold as it was, I still remember the winters between 1977-1979 as being the most brutal... with continuous freezing and snow!   Although, I don't remember businesses or schools closing with much regularity in those days.  Sounding like Paul Newman... "The problem with getting older is you still remember how things used to be." 

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.   We should probably see inventory levels begin to rise after the SuperBowl.    That said, it looks sales volume in both $$ and units went down from last year in most of the communities.   It will be interesting to see what happens in February.  

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was 10 year old home in Glencoe on Washington Avenue near Skokie Country Club.  

There are currently 145 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of January, 4 houses closed in this price range:

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

Enjoy the game today.    Let’s hope it kicks off a wonderful spring market! 

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Green Tips - 4 Ways You Can Go Green and Save Money

Thought this was worth sharing!

"Want to go green and save money? Remodeling your home with a few key features could improve its energy efficiency and increase its value over time."   Read on...

4 Ways You Can Go Green and Save Money

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sparking joy in your closet

Believe it or not, one of the things I "discovered" only last year was streaming television.   Despite my technology background, and while I had heard about it for years,  I just wasn't all that interested in learning more... My Amazon Prime membership prompted me one day to check it out.  After I discovered The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I wanted to find more.

Recently, I came upon the new Netflix show,  Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Have you seen it yet?

I was spellbound watching the show as the author of the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo, goes through people's closets and drawers to help them declutter and find joy in their lives.    

What I found unreal was how much stuff some people have.   One guy had over 100 pairs of sneakers - some he had never worn.  Some that were falling apart because they were so old, even though they had never been worn.   Amazing.  

I'm not sure I agree with Kondo's folding technique, but clearly it works for her.  

 I think I'm going to tackle my clothes closet again.   I cleared a lot out last year, but the show definitely motivated me to clear more!  

Thinking about selling your house this year?  Decluttering is the first step.

If you're ready to begin your spring cleaning, check out the show.    I think you'll find it very motivating! 

Recent New York Times article,  How to Sell, Donate or Recycle Your Stuff

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

5 Smart Upgrades That Boost Your Home’s Appeal

From money-saving gadgets to devices that provide an extra level of security, it’s easy to see why smart-home technology is becoming more and more popular. In fact, it can even increase the appeal of your home to potential buyers should you plan to sell.

Here are five smart upgrades that can potentially add value to your home and make life a little easier in the process.

Thermostat – You’ve heard that you can adjust the temperature of your home from your smartphone, but the technology doesn’t stop there. The newest thermostats will go so far as to learn your habits – when you’re usually at home and at what times of day you change the temperature – so they can make adjustments automatically.

Lighting – Control your home’s lighting from your phone or voice control device (looking at you, Alexa) with a smart lighting system. Philips Hue is one of the most popular systems, giving you full control over every aspect of lighting so you can create the right mood for any moment. By simply replacing your existing light bulbs with Philips Hue, you can do everything from change colors to set timers that control the lights remotely so it seems like someone is home.

Doorbell – Gone are the days of “ding-dong-ditching” thanks to smart doorbells. With video cameras and intercoms, these gadgets allow you to see who’s ringing your doorbell through your phone. While most smart doorbells have two-way talk functionality and motion detectors, others like the Nest Hello take it a step further with facial-recognition technology.

Keyless entry – Can’t find your keys? We’ve all been there – and that’s why products like the August Smart Lock come in handy. Automatically lock and unlock your door as you leave or approach your home, and keep track of who’s coming and going with a 24/7 activity log. You can also give your guests keyless entry through the August app so you never have to hide (or lose) another key under the doormat again.

Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors – Homeowners rarely test smoke alarms as often as recommended, but that’s not a problem with smoke/carbon monoxide detectors like the Nest Protect which do all the work for you. The Nest Protect not only performs tests automatically, but also alerts your phone to tell you if there’s danger and lets you use hush those irritating false alarms when you’re cooking dinner.

For more advice on how to prep your home for sale or increase its marketability, click here to read more on @properties blog or check out the posts about selling your home on my blog.  

source: @properties blog

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

How's the Market? End of Year Recap as of January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!  

2018 was certainly a year to remember, if for no other reason than the news coming out of Washington DC.   I hope your 2018 was a year of blessings and much happiness.

Events in the world seem to be a bit more uneasy with extreme weather disasters, fluctuating stock market swings, Brexit negotiations, trade tariffs, and, not to forget, unpredictable national leaders.  This article highlights - Biggest Housing Stories 2018: The News That Rocked the Real Estate World.

As I read the article, it reminded me that all real estate is local and we were spared from some of this.  That said, we’re not completely immune from national and world events.  It makes things interesting coming into 2019.

Once again, I am writing my end of the year recap for our local housing market on the North Shore ...These charts present data as of January 1, 2019.

Just a caution: sellers often take their homes off the market in December, so inventory levels are generally lower during the winter months and start to go back up in the Spring. These numbers are absolute and not seasonally adjusted to reflect this reality.

(source of data for the charts: Midwest Real Estate Data.  To see a chart more clearly, click on it to enlarge.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Year in Review

As a blogger, I like to see what people enjoy reading.   It's always a bit of hit and miss -- I'm often surprised at things people love versus the posts that have little readership.  I thought I would do a scan on the stats and highlight my top posts for the year!

10.  30 online resources as you move to Chicago's North Shore - a guide to some of my favorite websites

9.  Check the Pockets - some thoughts on exempt or  pocket listings.

8. Name that Colonial Home - a quiz about our founding fathers' residences

 7.   It's the Little Things - Easy things to keep your home in tip top shape. 

 6.  Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder - thoughts on clutter

 5.  Announcing a new Blog for Baby Boomers - notes about my Next Chapter Blog

 4.  8 things to consider about your front door

 3. Green Tips - Looking for zero-waste tips - more ideas on reducing your consumption. 

 2. Things - My existential crisis on downsizing.

 1. Collectively, my monthly, "How's the Market reports" score the top hit!

Stay tuned.   I'll be getting you my end of the year recap for 2018 soon.