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

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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.

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