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

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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Looking for some interior design help?

A friend and colleague, Keri Cook Falls, just launched her website.  I've worked with Keri on a few staging projects with clients.  She does beautiful work.  Consider her the next time you're trying to figure out what color to paint a room or how to arrange the furniture to make things look more sell-able!

Check out her site: Ciel Studio Design

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Selling your house getting you down?

via Mary Umberger in the Tribune,  I just read about a new blog for house sellers...
so I checked it out... it's great and I encourage discouraged home sellers to take a look...
House Selling Blues

Monday, September 13, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's Not Okay to Skip Out on a Mortgage - Kiplinger

I find that I always agree with Knight Kiplinger....

It's Not Okay to Skip Out on a Mortgage - Kiplinger

Do you know this place?

When I first started exploring Lake Forest, like most people I headed East on Deerpath off of 41 toward Market Square.   That's Lake Forest, right?  

When I was house hunting, I saw an ad for a pretty house that had a West Deerpath address.   As I crossed Waukegan Road, I entered a neighborhood I'd never seen before.  It was wonderful.  While the trees were mature, the light was great and properties had these large sweeping lawns.  I was struck by this subdivision and drove around it for a while until I came upon a funny little set of houses on the cul de sac, Hathaway Circle.  It felt like I was in the middle of the fairy tale, Snow White and Seven Dwarfs.  Obviously, I was intrigued... these little houses seemed so out of place with the '50/'60s styled homes in the area.  So I went to find out more and learned that this area was called Meadowood and the little buildings were the remenants of the Meadowood Farm.   

Lake Forest is rich with history and the little neighborhood of Meadowood is no exception.

Early in the 1920’s, Clifford Leonard bought 100 acres of farmland in Lake Forest to fulfill a dream. After falling in love with a Normandy Chateau while in Europe, this American owner of a construction company set out to create his own French dairy farm and chateau.

In 1923, Leonard commissioned Ralph Varney, a well-known estate architect, to draw up plans for a residence, an operating dairy and a substantial man-made lake for boating and fishing. Seven buildings were completed: three barns, a chicken house, and three cottages for farm hands.

Upon completion of these several buildings, a Certified Milk Dairy was installed and operated under the name Meadowood Farm. (The name Meadowood Farm was suggested by one of Mr. Leonard’s friends at Quaker Oats.)

The milk and eggs were delivered by Meadowood Farm’s own trucks and employees. Eggs were individually stamped, marked, and sold by Meadowood Farm, by the dairy drivers, and also by the Lake Forest grocery then located in Market Square. They were priced higher than the regular grocery store.

Eventually, the cost to run the dairy operations exceeded the money the farm was making and it was discontinued. The main chateau was never built. And for more than 20 years, the barns and chicken houses were empty. But today, each of these buildings has been converted into the private residences we now see on Hathaway Circle.  Today the Meadowood Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has achieved Lake Forest Landmark Status.

Tomorrow on September 12 at 2:00, the Lake Forest Preservation Foundation is hosting “Exploring Lake Forest Neighborhoods - Meadowood Farm” at the Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest. A reception and tour of four cottages will follow a slide-show presentation. 

p.s. I bought the house and now live in Meadowood -- and still love the wonderful light and mature trees.  Many of us who live here, think it's the best kept secret in Lake Forest!  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Foreclosed Properties

The presence of a foreclosed property within a distance of 250 feet depresses a home's price by about 1%, according to a study led by Harvard economics professor John Y. Campbell....

read more

For sale, cheap | Harvard Gazette Online

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My life in real estate: buyers are liars

The very first time I heard the expression, "Buyers are liars," was shortly after I started working as Realtor.    I was annoyingly surprised that someone would actually say that.  So cynical.   Buyers aren't liars, they just know what they like...  or so I thought...

Then I started working with buyers.  One buyer told me emphatically, that they would only look at new construction.  I showed them all the homes that were new construction within their price range.  The challenge was finding the right house in the perfect location:  most of things they could afford were on small lots or located near a busy street.  Or the houses, themselves, were poorly constructed.  They were discouraged and kept expecting me to miraculously find them that perfect new construction home.

I finally convinced them to broaden their search.  So we started over.  I began showing them renovated homes.   As I suspected, they fell in love with a 100 year old house that had been updated and was in a terrific location.   Obviously, it didn't take new construction to meet their needs.

Actually, I was the same way when I was a buyer.  While looking for my last condo, I was very clear with my agent.  Most things were negotiable, but two things were non-negotiable:   I wanted a place that had parking in the building and a washer/dryer in the unit.  My agent was fabulous.  For six months, we went out every weekend looking for my next home.  She showed me the whole north side of Chicago -- modern, vintage, two-flats, co-ops, and even a few single family homes -- anything in my price range that had these two non-negotiables.   We were both frustrated, because nothing seemed right to me for one reason or another.  I couldn't envision myself living in any of these places -- they didn't feel right.  

Then one weekend we were walking down Pearson Street and asked her about a particular building -- why hadn't we looked at apartments in that building?  She told me they didn't allow washer/dryers in the units and there was no parking in the building.  In that there were a few units in the building for sale,  I asked her if we could go look at them.   I walked into my next home and fell in love with the unit I bought.  Why?  The master closet was extra large and I could see the lake from the living room window!  

There are two forces at work when buyers purchase a home: the practical and the emotional.   My practical side said I needed to have parking, but my emotional side loved the look of the vintage building and the graciousness of the apartment.  Disciplined buyers will sacrifice their emotional needs for the practical needs.... but very few buyers are disciplined.  Most buyers will instinctively KNOW when they have found the home of their dreams -- and it often has nothing to do with what they outlined as requirements to their agents. 

While good agents learn to understand their buyers and begin to identify which houses are going to work and which ones aren't, it's never full proof.    Buyers are attracted to the strangest things: the color of a room, a chandelier, a beautiful front door, a nice bathroom -- it could be anything.   I had one buyer who liked that she could see both the front and back yards from her kitchen windows... could keep an eye on her kids playing.  I didn't even notice that feature -- but she did.  Another buyer picked a house because the owners had pictures of three children, that looked just like her three children.... it was sign that it was the right house!  The emotion they felt overruled any objections to the house.  

Buyers just know what they like and what they don't like and as an agent, you can't always be certain what that is.   I can tell when a buyer doesn't like a home -- it shows in their body language and with their expressions. I can also tell when they like something. They start talking in possibilities -- "We'll put the flat-screen TV there." or "This will be Sam's room."

Often when I have a listing, my sellers understandably get frustrated when the showing ends quickly and the feedback unsatisfactory. Can't the agents do a better job of screening their buyers? The answer is, unfortunately, not really. If the agents eliminate a house and don't show it, buyers sometimes insist on seeing it.   More importantly, sometimes the buyers themselves don't really know what they like until they see it... every showing is a new opportunity for a seller and should be welcomed.  Even when the buyer doesn't seem a likely candidate to purchase the home -- you never really know.

Buyers are liars?   No, that's not the word I would use.  Buyers are intuitive and often unaware of what they really value and need -- they have to see it, to know when they've found  home!