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

Contact Ann

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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Designing from the silver screen

"When designing for clients, I like to channel their inner Auntie Mame, to make them appear just a little more glamorous and eccentric than they are."
Read more in the Wall Street Journal

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mortgage rates holding steady

"Mortgage rates in the U.S. were again little changed over the past week, as readings on the U.S. economy continued to show mixed signals, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of mortgage rates."  

Read more in Market Watch

Gettting away from it all...

Watch out for Gen Y

"Watch out for Generation Y: This large, diverse, well-educated generation will drive the housing market recovery over the next 10 years, according to economists with the University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate."

Daily Real Estate News 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pending homes sales rise in June

Some good news today...
"On Tuesday, the government said new home sales were down 1% on a monthly basis in June. Also that day, the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 major U.S. cities was down 4.5% in May from a year earlier.

But today’s news was positive and unexpected: The National Association of Realtors’ seasonally adjusted index for pending sales of existing homes rose 2.4% on a monthly basis to a reading of 90.9 in June. Economists had forecast a 2% drop."
Read on in the Wall Street Journal.

"The number of contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly rose in June as buyers tried to take advantage of lower prices and borrowing costs."

Read on in Bloomberg 
"Pending sales of existing U.S. homes unexpectedly rose in June from May and rose sharply from a year ago, data from a real estate trade group showed on Thursday."
Read on in Reuters

Foreclosures are down 84% of US metro areas

"Foreclosures declined in more than 84% of U.S. metro areas during the first half of the year, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties. But that doesn't mean these markets are staging a turnaround..."

Read on in CNN Money

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Great apps!

Thinking about new DIY project?  Here are some popular home improvement apps that might help out.  

Also, have you ever been out driving around and seeing a for sale sign and wondering what the price is?  This app has a GPS system and will tell you all the details about the house -- right at your fingertips.
Click here to get the instructions for downloading on your smartphone!

Housing’s Rise and Fall in 20 Cities

The Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for 20 major metropolitan areas is one of the most closely watched gauges of the housing market. The figures for May were released July 26. The New York Times has a very interesting chart that shows the rise and fall of home prices in 20 cities. 

Chicago's change since the market peak in 2006 is -33.6%.

Chicago-area home prices rise for first time in 9 months

"The widely-watched S&P/Case-Shiller home price index showed that the prices of single-family homes in the Chicago area rose 1.7 percent from April to May. Still, the local measure of home prices was lower than it was in February, and down 8.1 percent from a year ago. Home values in May were on par with where they were in May 2001."

Read on in the Tribune

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Have you thought about lightning insurance?

Have you thought about lightning insurance?
I was reading about the house fires in Glencoe and Deerfield in the Trib... amazing story.  I also came across this interesting article from Ilyse Glink about lightning insurance.... I've never thought about getting insurance for lightning!

What's the impact of the debt ceiling crisis on housing?

"As we edge ever closer to D-Day (default day, debt ceiling day, however you choose to see next Tuesday, August 2nd), those of us who live and breathe the housing market are trying to figure out what this will mean to mortgage interest rates."

Read on in CNBC...

Case-Shiller home price index released today

It's the same news with four different perspectives.....

"Home prices in the U.S. didn't do something that they haven't done in almost a year: They didn't fall.  And while it may only be a seasonal change, it offered a glimmer of hope to a battered housing market."

"Home prices in 20 U.S. cities dropped in the year ended May by the most in 18 months, adding to evidence the housing market is struggling."

"The housing market showed signs of life again in May. Home prices rose for the second consecutive month following an eight-month slide."

"U.S. home prices rose for a second straight month in May, according to data released Tuesday, though the gains could be more reflective of the new buying season than of revived demand in the struggling housing market."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Winnetka shop profiled in the Wall Street Journal

Fun to read about a "store on the shore."

The Customer is Always Right

Flip this house

"This summer and fall, several TV networks are unveiling reality shows about buying foreclosed houses as a way to reinvent the popular "house flipping" formula, which proliferated in cable programming alongside the real-estate boom."

Read more in the Wall Street Journal

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Living in a glass house???

Refreshing the house

"The "refresh" is decorating lite: no big budget, no big headache, but big effect. There was nothing wrong in the first place. The refresh is just, fresher. Decorators say they have more fun with the refresh, and it shows in the work. The client is pleased with them, or they wouldn't have called back. The budget might be modest but it's not being shared with architects or contractors."

Read on in the Wall Street Journal

Debate over Wilmette Harbor

"Although it sits peacefully between the Baha’i Temple and Lake Michigan, providing some of the North Shore’s most idyllic scenery, Wilmette Harbor is also the site of a brewing battleground.

The Wilmette Park District is considering taking over the leasing rights from a non-profit group that has operated the harbor for 76 years."

Read more in the Trib.


Ways to rent foreclosed homes

"The Obama administration is examining ways to pull foreclosed properties off the market and rent them to help stabilize the housing market, according to people familiar with the matter."

Read more in the Wall Street Journal...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Property Assessments in New Trier Township Open for Appeal

Residents of New Trier Township are now able to appeal their 2011 property assessment to the Cook County Assessor. The deadline for appeal is August 8, 2011. Click here for more information on the appeals process.

Homeowners can submit an appeal to the Cook County Board of Assessor if they believe the assessed value of their property is too high, or if they have other issues concerning their property assessment. Homeowners can also seek to have a number of exemptions applied to their property assessment in order to reduce their assessment.
Homeowners with questions can call the district office at 847-864-1209 with any questions or to schedule an appointment for assistance with filing an appeal before August 8, 2011.

News from the Illinois Association of Realtors

“The housing market has seemed poised for some modest rebound for a number of months—foreclosure activity is down, interest rates are very low and the variety of properties for sale is extensive—yet the economy appears unable to mount a sustained recovery and this has dampened consumers’ confidence...Consumers are also unimpressed by the ability of the federal government to come to agreement on the deficit and raising the debt ceiling, diverting attention from the major issue of regenerating the U.S. economy.”

Read more.

Zillow soars on IPO

"Like other Internet companies, Zillow had outsize expectations about its initial public offering ... The company raised more than $69.2 million from the offering, valuing it at as much as $550 million...

But as with peers, Zillow is still struggling to be profitable. The company reported a loss of $6.8 million in 2010, according to its recent regulatory filing."

Read more in the New York Times 

"Zillow, a Seattle-based real estate listings website, tripled in value as it began its first day of trading on Wednesday, continuing a series of successes for dotcom companies this year in an echo of the 1990s boom." 

Read more in the Financial Times

"Investor fervor for consumer Internet companies has spread to a new tier: tiny Web companies that are unprofitable."

Read more in the Wall Street Journal

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thinking about adding a playhouse to your yard?

Check out these amazing playhouses in the New York Times!

Like to cook?

Gale Gand,  nationally acclaimed pastry chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, television personality, root beer maker, and mom will be teaching cooking classes at Elawa Farms!

Be sure to sign up if you want to have this unique opportunity to learn from a master!

First class:
 August 17, 2011 - 11:00 am to 1:00 pm - Tomatoes

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

US June existing-home sales dip

 "Sales of previously occupied homes in the U.S. dipped in June to the lowest level in seven months amid weakness in the job market and overall economy." - Wall Street Journal

"Sales of previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly declined in June to a seven-month low as the industry struggled to overcome rising unemployment and foreclosures."Bloomberg News

"Sales of previously owned homes hit a seven-month low in June as demand for condominiums fell and contract cancellations surged, dampening hopes the distressed housing market was starting to improve."  - Reuters

Price it right!

If ever there was a time in real estate to get the list price correct -- today is the day.   I just read an interesting article that proves this out.    The summary read:

"The findings from this research indicate that, on average, properties which experience a listing price change take longer to sell and suffer a price discount greater than similar properties. Furthermore, bigger price changes are found to experience even longer marketing times and greater price discounts. Finally, as for which properties are most likely to experience a price change, Knight finds that the greater the initial markup the higher the likelihood that any given property will experience a listing price change...

"Therefore, get the price right from the beginning. It is best for all."

Read more at Florida International University.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Closing costs going up

"Nationwide, the average origination and title fees on a $200,000 purchase mortgage totaled $4,070, according to Bankrate's annual survey of closing costs. That's an 8.8 percent jump compared to 2010 when the average closing costs totaled $3,741."

More remodeling is taking place..

The Residential BuildFax Remodeling Index rose 22% year-over-year--and for the nineteenth straight month--in May to 124.3, the highest number in the index to date. Residential remodels in May were up month-over-month 14.6 points (13%) from the April value of 109.7, and up year-over-year 22.1 points from the May 2010 value of 102.2.

Housing starts in U.S. surge on apartment construction

"Housing starts in the U.S. rose more than forecast in June to the fastest pace in five months, led by a surge in work on multifamily dwellings like apartments."

Read on in Bloomberg

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nice Lines

"What I desperately need to know on a regular, if not daily, basis is not how to do things, but where to do them. To my eye, not knowing where to place things is the single biggest culprit behind some of the most egregious errors in interior design today.  

...Chair rail placement is something that's frequently misunderstood. A rail is meant to cap the top of a room's dado, or wainscoting, and to keep a chair's back from scraping the wall when pushed up against it."

Read on in the Wall Street Journal: Where to Install a Chair Rail

Jumbos making a comeback

"So-called jumbo loans—generally those bigger than $417,000—are a better bargain now than they have been in years. The average rate on a 30-year jumbo mortgage is 5.15%, down from 6.41% two years ago, according to mortgage data firm HSH Associates. That means the monthly payment on a 30-year $600,000 home loan is now about $3,280, some $480 less than the cost of the same loan two years ago, for an annual savings of nearly $5,800."

Read on in the Wall Street Journal.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Are you hooked on houses?

Give yourself a point for each of the following statements that you agree with:
  • If there’s a “For Sale” sign in my neighbor’s yard, I can tell you how much they’re asking for their house–and whether it’s worth it.
  • I have a habit of checking the real estate listings online, even though I’m not planning to move.
  • I think the best time to take a walk is at dusk–after people have started turning on their lights, but before they have closed their blinds!
  • I’ve been known to visit Open Houses and model homes, just for fun.
  • I will stop to take a photo of a beautiful house if I have a camera with me.
  • When I visit someone’s home, I immediately start looking around to see what changes they’ve made since the last time I was there.
  • I get upset when I see a beautiful old home that looks neglected and unloved, and I fantasize about “rescuing” it.
  • I would go to a neighbor’s party just to get a look inside their house.
  • I have considered becoming a real estate agent, or have been told I should be one.
  • I’ve been known to check out the local house listings when I’m on vacation to see how much it would cost to live there.
  • If I drive through a pretty neighborhood, I slow to a crawl so I don’t miss anything.
  • I’m always redecorating my house. It’s never “finished.”
  • There are certain movies I have watched repeatedly because of the houses featured in them.
If you agree with 3 or more of these, then you are definitely hooked on houses and this is the website for you to start following:

Hooked on Houses

Considering a garage sale

"Want to make a few bucks and get rid of your household clutter at the same time? It might be time for a garage sale."

Good article today in the Trib about garage sales.  

"The summer is a great time for a yard sale, and your home office isn't exempt from the opportunity to get rid of unnecessary stuff while also putting extra cash in your pocket"

Read on in another article from NBC Chicago:  Garage Sales

Before holding a sale, check with your village to find out whether there is any ordinance to consider.  Here were a few that I found online:
Lake Bluff
Lake Forest

The Winnetka Sign Ordinance prohibits the display of garage sale signs on premises other than those on which the sale is conducted. This restriction includes street light and utility poles, as well as public parkways. The code allows only one temporary sign for a garage sale. This sign cannot exceed 10 square feet in size and must be placed on the property where the sale is taking place. It is illegal to sell merchandise that was brought in from elsewhere and was not owned by the property owner prior to the sale.

There was also a video on this in May.

Some other sites where you might want to advertise:

Have a great sale!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thinking about buying a generator?

"After Spending $800 Billion, The North Shore Still Has 3rd World Infrastructure," so says the headline of the Chicago Daily Observer.

In all the years I've lived on the North Shore, I've never seen anything quite like this summer -- severe power outages: twice in less than a month.  Lately I have been thinking about generators.   Getting a generator seemed to be the trend in 1999 just before Y2K.   Maybe as we approach 2012,  installing a generator is not such a bad idea!

Here are some websites you might find useful:

Generator buying advice from Consumer Reports: 

Mortgage rates lower

"The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.51% in the week ended Thursday, down from 4.60% the previous week and 4.57% a year earlier. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 3.65% from 3.75% last week and 4.06% a year earlier."

Read on in the Wall Street Journal

Thinking about renting?

With the increase in rentals, I thought this blog posting might come in handy for people are now becomming tenants.

Some of these questions should also be considered when buying a condominium apartment.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Drop in foreclosures

"Foreclosure filings fell dramatically during the first half of the year as processing delays at the banks, which are strapped with excess inventory of repossessed homes, continued to skew the numbers -- and falsely raise hopes that the housing market is staging a recovery."
Read on in CNN Money

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Single women are a force within the real estate market

"According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies, the three main reasons single women are buying homes in record numbers are: to relocate closer to a job or family; because they need more space; and, the No. 1 reason cited, because they have a strong desire, plain and simple, to nest."

Read more in MSNBC

Associations pit neighbor against neighbor

"Normally, it’s the bankers who go after delinquent homeowners. But in communities governed by the mighty homeowners’ association, as the sour economy leaves more people unable to pay their fees, it’s neighbor versus neighbor."

Interesting read in the Washington Post....

News from the National Association of REALTORS@

"Seven out of ten renters say owning home a priority. Most Americans still believe that owning a home is a solid financial decision, and a majority of renters aspire to home ownership as a long-term goal, according to NAR's 2011 National Housing Pulse Survey.  The survey also found a majority of Americans say requiring a 20 percent down payment would negatively impact the market."

Read the Executive Summary of this survey...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thinking about refinancing

"Refinancing a mortgage today is a lot like navigating a minefield. One wrong step and your refinance gets blown to pieces. We just closed on a new loan for our primary residence and are in the process of refinancing a loan on an investment property."

Good article in US News and World Report

Getting a mortgage today

"With interest rates near rock bottom and home prices down, this ought to be a great time to buy a home. But for most people, it's a lousy time to get a mortgage.

Years after the collapse of the real-estate market and resulting financial crisis, it takes nearly pristine credit scores and hefty down payments to get the best rates."

Read more in the Wall Street Journal

Remodeling the kitchen?

"Like it or not, resale value is a reality, and Consumer Reports magazine took that into account in its annual kitchens issue. In addition to grading appliances, cabinets and other materials for which we shell out big bucks in a kitchen redo, the July issue also sought the opinions of designers and real estate agents: The former to point out what's trendy in kitchen design, the latter to suggest what works and what doesn't come resale time."

Read more in Mary Umberger's column in the Trib this morning.

Remodeling the bathrooms

"Here’s the good news: You don’t need mega-bucks to transform your bathroom into a relaxing, cool space. There are plenty of ways to renovate and redesign on a budget."

Read on in Money Crashers...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ben Stein and real estate

"I consider my homes to be like works of art, and I love them, I cherish them," he says. "And unless some terrible thing happens, I don't plan to sell any of them."

"I think now that everybody's down on real estate, it's the time to buy it."

Read more in USA Today

The cost of owning 150,000 foreclosed homes

"When you are the nation's largest owner of foreclosed homes, even little things can get expensive fast. Such is the case for mortgage giant Fannie Mae, which as of March 31 had a mind-boggling 153,000 foreclosed homes on its books."

Interesting story on NPR

Home Prices: Back to Normal?

"Home prices are almost back to their long-term trend. Adjusting for inflation, U.S. home prices were 40% lower in the first quarter than at their peak five years earlier. That left them just 7.5% above their average level from the mid 1940s through the 1990s—a period when home prices tended to gain at the same pace as the overall inflation rate."

Interesting read in the Wall Street Journal

Friday, July 8, 2011

Demographic shift in housing...

"The growth in non-family households is staggering! The number of non-family households - people living alone or households that do not have any members related to the householder - has increased nearly five times in the last 50 years, from 7.9 million to 39.2 million. At the same time, the number of family households has increased by just 1.7 times, from 45.1 million to 77.5 million. The absolute growth in both has been about equal."

Interesting read...

Great time to be a landlord

"Rising rents and falling vacancies are the perfect situation for landlords... It's like drinking without the hangover."

Read on in the Wall Street Journal

Love Bobtail's Ice Cream!

I want to encourage all my readers to go to Bobtail Ice Cream in Wilmette.  They have a wonderful new partnership with Cove School in Northbrook.

Read all about it in Patch, Wilmette.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Mortgage Caps

"The federal government is readying its first retreat from the mortgage market, with the size of loans eligible for government backing set to decline in October." 

Read more in the Wall Street Journal