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

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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. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Green Tips - the eco-friendly Christmas

It's that time of year when consumerism and waste seems a little much.   Here are some tips from Friends of the Earth for a more eco-friendly Christmas:

21 eco-friendly Christmas tips

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

10 Festive Events in Chicago This Month

Festive events in ChicagoIt’s time to break out that Michael Bublé album and immerse yourself in the magic of the holidays. Fortunately for us, nobody does holiday fun better than Chicago. With that in mind here is a list of 10 of the most festive events in Chicago this holiday season.
Randolph St. Market Festival | Chicago Plumber’s Hall (West Loop) | December 15th & 16th
Head to the Randolph Street Market Festival to find the most unusual and stylish mix of vintage and modern fashion, jewelry, decorative objects, housewares and hostess gifts available.
Memorable and exciting treasures in all price ranges await you at the Randolph Street Holiday Market.
Frosty’s Christmas Bar | Goose Island | Until January 6th
If you’ve ever dreamed of grabbing a drink with Santa, then here is the bar for you. Frosty’s pop-up Christmas bar in Goose Island is the ultimate destination for festive fun, and lively libations, featuring wall-to-wall decorations across three levels, a holiday themed soundtrack and Singing Santa shows every hour on the hour.
Put on your favorite holiday sweater, grab a festive holiday punch from one of the four bars and get ready to dance the night away.
Plan your trip to Frosty’s here.
37th Annual Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party | Art Institute of Chicago | December 9th
Learn about select works and enjoy an array of family-friendly activities as you visit five stops within the museum’s galleries and the Ryan Learning Center.
Your tour will culminate with a stop by the historic Stock Exchange Trading Room for a tea party featuring delicious refreshments, live entertainment, and a gift bag for each child.
Head here for more information.
Ugly Sweater Party/Beginner Salsa Dancing | Duet Dance Studio | December 14th
If you’re looking to burn some calories, check out Duet’s Ugly Sweater Party to wear your ugliest holiday sweater and get your salsa dance on.
The event includes a 45-minute beginner salsa class, Duet’s student and teacher performances, as well as open dancing and mingling. Guests must be 21+ for this event.
Head here for more information.
Christkindlmarket | Daley Plaza (Chicago Loop) | Until December 24th
There are few events that evoke the holiday spirit more than the annual Christkindlmarket in the Chicago Loop. Shop iconic German items like nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, and hand-blown ornaments.
Along with traditional toys and holiday-themed items, you can find a bevy of delicious authentic German cuisine like sausages, potato pancakes, beer, and assorted sweets.
Head here for more information on Christkindlmarket.
A Christmas Carol | Goodman Theater (Chicago Loop) | Until December 30th
If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit via theater, this is the event for you.
Head to Chicago’s Goodman Theater to catch the annual run of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This is an event for the whole family, with a message of hope, charity and kindness towards others.
Head here for more information.
ZooLights | Lincoln Park Zoo | Until January 6th
A tradition in Chicago, Lincoln Park ZooLights is something you do not want to miss this wintertime. This is a family-oriented holiday celebration, so you’re sure to enjoy at any age.
Enjoy the luminous displays as well as the holiday-season activities throughout the zoo. ZooLights is free, but be sure to check the schedule before you plan your visit since some nights are special themed events that may require a ticket.
You can find the schedule here.
Christmas Around the World | Museum of Science and Industry | Until January 6th
This holiday season head to the Museum of Science and Industry to explore holiday traditions from around the globe. The museum’s annual celebration features a four-story grand tree surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures across the globe.
On the weekends you can even enjoy live holiday performances and photos with Santa.
Head here for more information on the exhibit.
The Polar Express Train Ride | Chicago Union Station | Until January 1st
If you’re looking to recreate the magic of The Polar Express, look no further. This holiday season, head to Chicago’s Union Station to board The Polar Express Train Ride.
This is a magical one-hour trip through the neighborhoods along the Chicago River that includes all the bells and whistles. Literally, as each passenger gets to take home a keepsake sleigh bell.
For more information on The Polar Express Train Ride, head here.
Winter WonderFest | Navy Pier | Until January 6th
The ultimate destination for indoor family fun, Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest is a favored Chicago holiday tradition spanning across 170,000 square feet of attractions for the whole family, with rides, giant slides, ice skating, and lots of festive decor.
Buy tickets online or at the Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest box office until January 6, 2019.

Head here for more information on Winter WonderFest.
Source: @properties blog

Saturday, December 1, 2018

How's the Market as of December 1, 2018

It's so hard to believe another year is coming to an end.   Where does the time go?  I was just watching the news about the death of GHW Bush and realized how much time has gone by since he was president -- so many tumultuous events have happened since then.... from the impeachment of a president to 9/11 to the financial meltdown to tribal politics.  His tenure as president seems like a another era, when civility and humility were the norm.    Time sure marches on.

And so it does with people creating families, selling and buying homes, and celebrating our holidays together.  I look forward to another Christmas with my family as the market cools down and goes into a somewhat of a hibernation over the holidays. 

There was a disappointing article, "Back to the bottom" for Chicago in Crain's this week, which points this out that Chicago continues to lag the rest of the country in terms of real estate sales.   But all real estate is local, so I tend to focus on each community before I make a global statement about the real estate market. 

So how was the North Shore market in November?

These next charts show units sold and the median prices.

The months of inventory is the best way to determine the health of the housing market. Anything less than 6 months is considered a sellers' market -- anything more than 8 months is considered a buyers' market. The level of inventory has not deviated much over the last few months. There continues to be a shortage of inventory in Wilmette and Evanston with a surplus in Kenilworth and Lake Forest. The rest of the North Shore is in great shape with a balanced market. 

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was a Jerome Cerny home situated on the lake in Winnetka.

There are currently 153 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. The numbers tend to go down as people take their homes off the market during the holiday season.  Regardless, during the month of November, 9 houses closed in this price range:

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

Nice month for high-end sales!

As the holiday season begins, I wish you and yours joyous time both now in the in the coming year.   Stay tuned for next month's end of the year market recap report.   

Happy Holidays.  

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Green Tips - Go Green This Holiday Season

It’s easy to make your holidays a little greener—for the health of our planet. We all have the power to make small choices that, together, can add up to big impact that does our planet good.
Here’s 7 simple steps you can take today!
    1. More Fun, Less Stuff. Think about giving people on your list experiences like concert tickets or restaurant gift cards or even donating to a cause you love!
    2. Reuse Your Wrap. Reuse alternatives to traditional wrapping paper like magazine pages, old maps or calendar pages and help reduce the estimated 4 million tons of waste from wrapping paper and shopping bags during the holidays.
    3. Opt For A Real Tree. Most plastic trees aren’t biodegradable or easily recyclable, so choose a real tree if you can. Tree farms give back to the planet by providing wildlife habitat, keeping soil healthy, and absorbing carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen for cleaner air. If a real tree isn’t an option for you, choose a plastic tree that you’ll be able to use for 10+ years — that’s the amount of time it’ll take to even out the carbon footprint impact created.
    4. Keep It Local. The farther you transport a tree or greenery, the more likely a new invasive pest could be along for the ride. Choose locally sourced holiday plants to avoid introducing new pests to your neighborhood.
    5. Showcase Simple Beauty. Instead of store-bought décor, use simple natural touches like extra branches from your tree, a bowl of pine cones or local plants to bring nature’s calming influence inside.
    6. Invite More Veggies to Holiday Meals. Incorporate more plant-based foods into your meal traditions—it’s good for your health and good for lowering your carbon footprint.
    7. Cut Food Waste. Even if mom taught you to make 5 pounds of sweet potatoes per person, control how much food you buy and don’t let it go bad. Every year 30% - 50% of food produced gets wasted, along with the water, energy and labor it takes to make it.
Whether you put one tip in action or do them all, every step you take makes a difference.
Source: The Nature Conservancy