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

Contact Ann

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

What mattered for real estate in 2011?

"Government, the mortgage industry and forces of nature all shook the housing market in 2011. They had both an immediate impact and slow-burning effects, setting the stage for a bumpy 2012 with more foreclosures, political battles and local market risks."

Effective January 1, 2012 - New Way to Dispose of Electronics!

Effective January 1, 2012, Public Act 97-0287, the Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act, bans the disposal of electronics at landfills and establishes a statewide system for recycling and/or reusing computers, monitors, televisions and printers discarded from residences. This means that residents can no longer dispose of old electronics by putting them out for collection with their regular waste.  

Check with your own municipality to see how this regulation is going to be addressed.  

Residents can bring their electronics to one of the registered Residential E-Waste Collection Sites listed on the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency website, After you are on the EPA website, under the page title, Electronic Waste Recycling, click on "collectors/recyclers/refurbishers" and then on "Registered Residential E-Waste Collection Sites." Call the number listed for the location selected to find out the dates and times when the site is open and what items they recycle.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking good for 2012?

"Sale contracts increased in November, and lenders are accepting more short sales. Meanwhile, prices slipped between September and October. Will this bode well for buyers in 2012?"

One can dream....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Confidence Rises!

"A monthly survey released Tuesday shows consumers' confidence in the economy in December surged to the highest level since April and was near a post-recession peak."

New York Times
Confidence Rises Sharply, but Home Prices Fall

Ideas for Celebrating

"With a few money-saving tricks up your sleeve, you can host a great New Year’s party on a budget that people will be talking about for a long time to come."

Attitudes of Young Americans Bode Ill for Housing Recovery

"Homeownership? No Thanks, That Was Your Dream."

Interesting read in Forbes: Attitudes of Young Americans Bode Ill for Housing Recovery

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Case Shiller Index released

"U.S. home prices fell in most major cities for the second straight month, further evidence that the housing recovery will be bumpy and weigh on the broader economy in 2012.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday showed prices dropped in October from September in 19 of the 20 cities tracked."

"A closely watched index of local home prices fell in October for the second straight month.

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index of Chicago-area single-family home prices fell 1.8% from September to October and was down 4.8% from the year-earlier level, according to a report released Tuesday.

The index fell 0.8% in September after four consecutive increases.

Chicago was one of 19 of 20 cities tracked by Standard & Poor's where prices fell in October; a 20-city composite price index was down 1.2% from September and 3.4% from the year-earlier level, according to the report."

Monday, December 26, 2011

Do real estate signs work?

Do real estate signs work?  

Yes, they do.   Several years ago I answered the phone at the office.  A neighbor had seen a sign for a property and he called our office to learn more about the house.  He wanted to see it immediately -- so at 5:00 on a Sunday night, I drove over to the house and showed him the property.   Within a day he made an offer and purchased the home.  It was the fastest sale I had ever made!  From then on, I was believer in the power of signs. 

My friend and former business colleague, Mark Goebel,  recently wrote about the power of  real estate signs... Those Old-Fashioned Real Estate Signs Really Work!

I know some sellers don't like signs on their property.  But don't underestimate the power of a sign!

Today is Boxing Day!

I lived in the UK and learned quickly that Christmas tends to be a 3 day holiday - Christmas Eve, Christmas and Boxing Day (also known as St. Stephen's Day).  Snopes gives us a good summary about the origins of Boxing Day.

Happy Boxing Day!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Winnetka Holiday Sing!

Join families, friends, and neighbors at the 16th annual Holiday Sing on the Village Green. Gather around the Village Green and sing favorite holiday songs. Please bring your singing voices and your own candles or flashlight. This event will last approximately 25 minutes. The Village Green is located on Maple Street, in between Elm and Oak Streets.  Learn more

Winnetka, December 24,  6:00pm

Christmas 2011: Best holiday gifts for your home

"Christmas is fun for many reasons: Holiday parties, festive decorations and, of course, gifts. You shower your friends and family with fruitcakes, sweaters and a plethora of other gifts, but what do you do for your house around the holidays?"

From CBS Money Watch

Mind-Blowing Home Sales That Happened In 2011

"The U.S. housing market is still in the pits, closing another year marked by falling prices, lackluster sales volumes and a steady stream of foreclosures. For the rich and famous, though, it’s been a year of record-breaking purchases.

We sorted through the biggest, splashiest home sales of the year to bring you a recap of the 15 we deem the most outrageous."

from Forbes
Mind-Blowing Home Sales That Happened In 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What to do... what to do...

"Before homes are listed for sale, most owners make improvements like painting, landscaping, refinishing floors or even remodeling kitchens and baths. Some cost hundreds, others thousands, but all have one thing in common. When they're done, soon-to-be sellers wish they'd made the improvements long ago."

Read more in the Trib

Cash is King!

"If money talks, cash speaks loud and clear in a downtrodden residential real estate market.

The share of Chicago-area homes bought with all cash climbed to 35% this year, up from 33% last year and 15% at the market’s peak in 2006, according to Hanley Wood Market Intelligence, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based provider of residential real estate research."

Read more in Crains.

Some great news!

"Chicago-area home sales jumped nearly 21% in November compared with the same period last year, according to a report.

In the nine-county Chicago area, 5,453 single-family homes and condos sold last month, up 20.7% from 4,518 in November 2010, according to the Illinois Assn. of Realtors."

Read more in Crains

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Good news?

"The number of homes listed for sale in the U.S. fell for the sixth straight month in November to the lowest level since the housing bust began in 2006.

The 2.01 million homes listed for sale was down by 4.8% from October and by 21.3% from one year ago, according to data compiled by"

Read more in the Wall Street Journal 

Even worse than we felt....

"U.S. home sales from 2007 through 2010 were about 14% lower than first reported, a real estate trade group said Wednesday, a sharp revision showing the housing bust was far worse than initially thought.

The National Association of Realtors revised downward its sales figures since 2007, using annual Census survey data to recalculate how many homes were sold."

Read more in the Wall Street Journal
Realtors Lower 2007-2010 Home-Sales Estimates by 14%

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Distressed sales put downward pressure on prices.

"Despite solid demand for home purchases overall, a glut of distressed properties is continuing to put downward pressure on home prices, according to the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey.

"Distressed properties accounted for a hefty 46.1 percent of home purchase transactions in November as reported in the HousingPulse Distressed Property Index (DPI), using a three-month rolling average. Significantly, November marked the 23rd month in a row that the DPI has been above 40 percent."

Real Estate Economy Watch
Nearly Half of all November Sales Were Distressed

Greater confidence by US homebuilders

"Rising interest from would-be buyers is leaving U.S. homebuilders less pessimistic about the housing market. But tighter lending standards are still keeping many potential buyers from purchasing new homes."

from NPR
Builders Less Pessimistic About Housing Market

Change in seller patterns

"The method most used to sell a home has changed in recent years. A higher share of sellers are relying on the expertise of real estate agents and brokers to sell their home, rather than trying other methods.
  • From 1991 to 2011 the share of home sellers who used a real estate agent or broker to sell their home increased from 77 percent to 87 percent.
  • Over the same time period, the share of sellers who sold their home as a FSBO (For-Sale-By-Owner) decreased from 19 percent to 10 percent.
  • Sellers use real estate professionals to help them sell their home in a reasonable timeframe, to market their home to potential buyers, and to price the home competitively."
FSBO Sellers Decline as More Sellers Turn to Real Estate Agents to Sell the Home

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Borrowing for the downpayment?

"Coming up with a down payment is often a first-time home buyer's biggest challenge.
That's why many of them get a little help from relatives or friends."

Read more in the Wall Street Journal

Friday, December 16, 2011

Still the American Dream...

"Despite problems plaguing the U.S. housing market such as tumbling values, record foreclosures, and tight credit for buyers, 74% of Americans believe home buying is a good investment. And 81% said it's still part of the American dream according to a new survey from Yahoo! Real Estate, the #1 Real Estate site on the web. The survey, which polled 1,500 current and aspiring homeowners, plus renters, found that while few (13%) currently live in their dream home a majority (55%) feel it's attainable."

Read on in Market Watch
Americans Still Believe Their Dream Home is in Reach


"With interest rates at historic lows, the expansion of a federal refinancing program could help more homeowners who owe more than their property is worth move out of higher-rate or adjustable loans into something more affordable and stable."

Read more in the New York Times

Helping Homeowners Dig Out

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Where the 1% lives...

Bloomberg Business Week released its report of the wealthiest places to live:
America’s Richest Zip Codes 2011
So, how did the North Shore stack up?
# 3 - 60043 Kenilworth
#13 - 60045 Lake Forest
#14 - 60093 Winnetka

This year, these were the only three Illinois communities that ranked in the top 50 communities.

Making life easier

A friend sent me this -- thought it provided some great ideas...
25 clever ideas to make life easier

Why should I buy instead of rent?

Q: Why should I buy instead of rent?
Ilyse Glink answers this and other questions in her column in Equifax.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Five years of home sales to be revised lower

"Data on sales of previously owned homes from 2007 through October this year will be revised down next week because of double counting, indicating a much weaker housing market than previously thought."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December Checklist

Of all the lists we make this time of year, don't forget your garden...
See what the Botanic Garden suggests...

December Checklist

Monday, December 12, 2011

How is Square Footage Measured? You’ll Be Surprised

An inch is an inch is an inch. Or, so you’d think. But when it comes to measuring the square footage of a property, it’s not quite that simple.

Worth reading the Zillow article.

Winnetka tops the list!

"Chicago is not only the economic hub of the Midwest, but it also sets the regional standard for quality of life.
On Numbers has analyzed 955 Midwestern communities, searching for the places offering the most favorable living conditions. Four Chicago suburbs have taken the top four slots.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gourmet kitchens: At home on the range

Gourmet kitchens: At home on the range

It’s the most wonderful time of the year...

It’s the most wonderful time of the year... But what about homeowners who are trying to sell their homes during the holiday season? 
Read Market Watch 

HouseLogic Poll Finds Voters Driven by Jobs, Housing in 2012 Election

"A recent survey by, the consumer website from the National Association of Realtors®, finds that jobs and the housing market will be two of the most important issues for voters in the 2012 election. Nearly one-third of respondents said housing will be the top issue on their mind when they head to the polls next November."

Read on in NAR news.

5 tips to protect your assets and guests during holiday parties

"As a host, you’re thinking of decorations, food and music when you plan a holiday party. But you might also want to give a moment’s thought to your home insurance."
from MarketWatch
Protect your home when hosting a bash

Monday, December 5, 2011

Being tracked by a credit score

Something new from CoreLogic

A Credit Score That Tracks You More Closely

Maintaining a castle

I thought it was hard to keep a 3BR/2.1bath ranch home maintained... imagine a castle.  Fun article in the Wall Street Journal.

"Few epigrams about maintaining a country estate ring as true as one uttered by a member of Hollywood royalty now living in the South of France. "It takes a lot of money to lead a simple life," remarked Johnny Depp. These days the simple life is perhaps priciest in Great Britain, where, unlike the sage actor, most owners of stately homes made their money the old-fashioned way: They inherited it. Moats, turrets and drawbridges can be splendid to behold, but if your home is truly your castle, the upkeep can be overwhelming. "

Upstairs, Downstairs and In Between

Dodging a home insurance trap

"Home-insurance policies are pretty much the same, and carriers compete on the basis of price and service—right?

Believe those two myths and you might wind up paying dearly.

Homeowner policies have important differences that can affect whether claims are paid, according to a study scheduled to be published early next year in the University of Chicago Law Review. The problem is that those differences are poorly understood."

Read on in the Wall Street Journal

Survey Data Reveals the Majority of Real Estate Professionals Recommend Clients List Their Homes During the Holidays |® Blogs

Survey Data Reveals the Majority of Real Estate Professionals Recommend Clients List Their Homes During the Holidays |® Blogs

Winter Fest in Northfield

Northfield Park District Offers Holiday Fun for all at Winter Fest Dec. 10.  Bring the family with children ages 2 to 8 yrs. old to the Community Center for this free holiday event on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Enjoy the holiday craft table, activities with inflatables, create sugar cookies, play holiday games and visit with Santa!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Think tiny

"For many Americans who bought more home than they could really afford in the giddy days before the crash, the big-house dream has become a nightmare in the ashes of foreclosure and regret."

New York Times

Taking the Tiny House Movement Tinier

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Has the housing market hit bottom????

Reinventing the Thermostat

What a great idea... a thermostat that you can actually read without your glasses!

Read about it in the New York Times:

A Thermostat That’s Clever, Not Clunky

Books, books, books

Q. I have an overflowing wall of books in my living room. Should I store them or reorganize them to make it look less cluttered?

Read the answer in the New York Times
Market Ready

Prevent Frozen Pipes

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety says frozen pipes are the biggest source of winter-related property damage and can occur nearly anywhere in the country. Here are some tips on what you can do about preventing such damage this winter.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An alternative for renting!

Chicago's number of 'underwater' homes dips | Residential News | Crain's Chicago Business

Chicago's number of 'underwater' homes dips | Residential News | Crain's Chicago Business

Home prices down

"A closely watched index of local home prices dipped in September after four straight monthly increases.

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index of Chicago-area single-family home prices fell 0.8% from August to September and was down 5% from the year-earlier level, according to a report released Tuesday."

Read more in Crains:  
Chicago-area home prices dip in September

Live on Sheridan Road?

"Owning one of the most expensive estates on Sheridan Road offers many benefits and at least one big burden: a $200,000-plus property tax bill.

Homes on Sheridan Road in Winnetka accounted for four of the 10 highest-taxed single-family properties in Cook County for tax year 2010."

Read more in Crain's Chicago Business

New-Home Sales Rise

"Americans bought slightly more new homes in October, the Commerce Department said Monday, but the median sales price fell to its lowest level of the year. And the annual sales rate is trailing last year’s, which was the worst in half a century."

Read article in New York Times
New-Home Sales Rise; Prices Fall

Holiday Fun in Lake Bluff

Save December 3rd for Lake Bluff

Join your friends and neighbors for a day-long celebration in the traditional holiday spirit brought to you by the Lake Bluff Downtown Merchants. The Village's charming downtown will come alive with the sights, sounds and tastes of the season along with in-store promotions and gift ideas for all ages ... so, come on by and make a day of it with food, fun and shopping!


10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Businesses open for holiday shopping

11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Horse-drawn carriage rides 

11:00 am to 3:00 pm
2nd Annual Christmas House Walk 

12:00 to 3:00 pm
Photos with Santa at the Lake Bluff History Museum

3:00 to 5:00 pm
Live reindeer and elves visit downtown Lake Bluff

3:00 to 5:00 pm
Strolling carolers from Lake Forest High School

5:00 pm
Gazebo lighting celebration on the Village Green

... and more!

Visitors will also enjoy the festive storefront decorations, seasonal banners with vintage photos designed by Lake Bluff resident Lynne Grenier throughout the downtown, and the beautiful displays of lights, bows and greenery provided for the 41st year by the Lake Bluff Garden Club.

Story Time with Santa

Lake Forest Open Lands' Associate Board invites you to a festive family program including holiday carols and winter stories with jolly old St. Nick. Come enjoy the beauty at Mellody Farm Nature Preserve while riding on the horse drawn wagon. Learn about winter birds and complete a bird feeder craft to take home. Hot cocoa and cookies will be provided.

Sunday, December 4th, 2011
1 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Mellody Farm Nature Preserve
350 North Waukegan Road,  Lake Forest

Hurry to reserve your spot today!

Some Holiday Events

Sunday, November 27, 2011

North Shore News

"If you're homeward bound to the North Shore, the local media can help you learn the flavor of the different communities and keep you up-to-date on real estate news.. Not all of the stories linked below qualify as actual "real estate news," but they may affect your decision on where to move."

Read more in Homeward Bound

North Shore real estate news roundup, November edition

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving.  I love this very quintessential American holiday. 

This year is going to be especially nice -- my family is in town and I have a friend from the UK visiting -- happy moments that make for warm memories.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Advice for landlords

"Homeowners who become landlords, either by choice or by circumstance, may find that new and unfamiliar tasks like collecting rent, dealing with late-night repairs and sifting through potential tenants will sour even the sunniest personality."

Read on in the New York 

Tips for Starter Landlords

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Come to the LFH Holiday Boutique!

Don't forget the Women's Board of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Annual Holiday Boutique!
Enjoy the spirit of the season while shopping unique gifts from dozens of vendors—including designer jewelry, purses and accessories, specialty foods, children's toys, clothing and books, handmade ornaments and exquisite gifts.
Holiday Boutique
Thursday, November 17, 2011: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday, November 18, 2011: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 19, 2011: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Lake Forest Recreation Center*
400 Hastings Road
Lake Forest, Illinois
*Please note this year's new location.
General admission tickets are $10.00 and include unlimited free admission.  All proceeds benefit the extraordinary healthcare provided by Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.  
Look for me at the Harbor Sweets booth again this year!

House on wheels?

"The house was just $1. The catch? A delivery charge of nearly $22,000."

Read on in the New York Times

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday gatherings in Wilmette

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

Join the fun on the lawn in front of Village Hall as the Chamber of Commerce ushers in the holiday season. Local children's groups will sing and Village President Chris Canning will light up the big tree.   The ceremony will take place on Friday, November 18, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.

Wilmette Holiday Parade

The Wilmette Chamber Commerce's annual Holiday Parade will be held on Saturday, November 19th at 10:30am. The parade will begin at the CTA parking lot on Fourth Street and proceed west on Central Avenue to the Village Center at Wilmette Avenue. Families are invited to bring their cameras to take photos with Santa after the parade in front of the Village Hall. Neighborhood groups are encouraged to decorate cars and bicycles in appropriate fashion and enter into the parade.

For more information, contact the Wilmette Chamber of Commerce.

Not enough movers?

"Just over 11 million Americans moved between March of 2010 and March of 2011, according to a new report from the U.S. Census.
That might sound like a lot, but it's actually a record low, down from 12 and a half million who moved the previous year."

Signs of hope?

"Despite rising foreclosures and weak consumer confidence, the nation's home builders are seeing signs of hope in housing. Home builder confidence rose for the second straight month in November, according to the National Association of Home Builders' monthly sentiment survey, but builders warn it is still far below a positive reading."
Read on in CNBC

"U.S. homebuilders are feeling a little less pessimistic about the struggling housing market. But their mood hasn't changed enough to signal a recovery anytime soon.

The National Association of Home Builders said Wednesday that its builder sentiment index rose to 20 in November. That's the highest level since May 2010 and only the second month the index has been at 20 or above in two years. The trade group cited low mortgage rates as a chief factor."

Read on in NPR News

HUD Selling Homes for $100 Down

"The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is offering homebuyers the chance to buy its foreclosed homes with only a $100 down payment. Find out more about the qualifications for this incentive that ends October 2012."

NAR: First-time Buyers Smaller Share of Market

"With the end of the homebuyer tax credit and increased financing obstacles, first-time homebuyers account for 37 percent of the market share compared to a record high 50 percent in 2010, according to the 2011 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Selling your house in the Winter

"Just your luck — you have to sell your home in winter, the slowest and dreariest sales season of all.

But cheer up. You can use staging, the reduced competition and some seasonal opportunities to your advantage."

5 tips if you have to sell your home in winter

Reluctant Landlord?

"In this sagging economy, homes can sit on the market for weeks or months. So, would-be sellers often move on, and instead of handing the keys over to new owners, they hand them to tenants. Sometimes that goes well — sometimes not."

Interesting story on NPR

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Insurance for home values?

"The idea of insurance to protect homeowners from declining home values has been batted around for years, but now it’s a reality.  On September 28, Ohio homeowners became the first in the nation who can buy a real insurance policy to protect their primary residences against lost value when they sell.
Though the initial product offering is limited to one state, if it’s successful the Home Value Protection Insurance Company hopes to offer it nationwide.  It could transform the way homes are bought and sold in America by reducing the risk of lost value that has scared so many buyers away from the closing table."
I like this idea... check it out in Real Estate Economy Watch:
Will Home Value Insurance Work?

Housing prices face pressure from distressed sales

"Home prices are highly seasonal, due to the different mix of homes that sell at different times of the year, but the latest reading for September shows home prices are under added pressure now; this is not just due to the high concentration of distressed properties on the market."

News from CNBC:
Real estate woes deepen as home prices face more pressure

Should I pay off my mortgage?

"It has long been an element of the American dream for a homeowner to burn the mortgage note and celebrate, as soon as he or she is able to pay it off. Conventional wisdom held that this would help pave the way for a debt-free retirement.
But in today’s shaky economy, many financial advisers are suggesting that homeowners wait."

New York Times:
Retiring Without a Home Loan

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Great things about home ownership

"If you've been on the fence about homeownership, now is the time to take a leap! Don't let the negative press deter you from one of life's greatest joys.

Take a look at five short and sweet reasons that homeownership is great!"

Read on in Realty Times.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Home sales up!

"Home sales during the year's third quarter posted substantial year-over-year gains in the Chicago area and within the city itself. The gains were expected, though, because of sluggish performance last year after the expiration of federal homebuyer tax credits.

Meanwhile, greater demand did not necessarily translate into higher sales prices."

Read on in the Chicago Tribune.

Which Way Home?

Lots of articles in a special in the New York Times:
Which Way Home?

Sales rose; prices declined...

"Metro area median existing-home prices in the third quarter generally were down from a year ago, while sales rose in every state from the third quarter of 2010, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors®."

Lake County taxes expected to rise....

"The Lake County portion of residents’ tax bills next year will increase by about $9 for an average $250,000 home after the board passed its 2012 budget in a 16-7-vote this week."
Chicago Tribune
Lake County taxes expected to increase slightly under $487 million budget passed Tuesday

Late with the payment

"While lawmakers in Washington debated the debt ceiling and consumer confidence dropped, more homeowners in the U.S. were having a harder time making their mortgage payments.
The rate that mortgage holders were late with their payments by 60 days or more rose in the June-to-September period for the first time since the last three months of 2009, according to TransUnion."
Late Mortgage Payments Rise For First Time In Years