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

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

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

2012 Another Bad Year For Real Estate Says Gary Shiller

Not the most optimistic picture....

Gary Shiller (of the Case Shiller index) believes that 2012 is not going to be the year of recovery..... He thinks the opposite will occur, housing prices will drop another 20 percent...

Multigeneration homes on the rise!

"Communities are easing the rules for in-law units, or granny flats, in existing homes or on the property, which helps some families cope with tough financial times."
Interesting read in the New York Times:
Three Generations, Two Comfy Homes a Few Steps Apart

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Underwater Mortgages

"A little more than 46 percent of all single-family homes with a mortgage in the Chicago area were underwater in the year's third quarter, far more than the nation as a whole."

Interesting read in this morning's Trib:
Nearly half of mortgages in Chicago area underwater

Homeowners Fear Falling Values More Than Fire

Homeowners Fear Falling Values More Than Fire

That New Renter? Probably a Single Mom

"...But new research argues that there may be a more important group to watch: single moms. Among renters, single moms saw the biggest growth among household types between 2000 and 2010, according to Census data analyzed by Property and Portfolio Research, a real-estate forecasting firm owned by CoStar. And despite all the talk these days about meeting the needs of young and old renters, most renters are middle aged, or between 35 and 64, including those all-important single moms...."

Interesting read in The Wall Street Journal.  It actually jives with my rental experiences -- since 2009, 60% of the rentals, with which I've been involved, have been single moms.  

Selling your house - TWICE

These appraisals continue to plague some buyers and sellers.....  Read on in Smart Money

"In the past, appraisals rarely disrupted a home sale. But realtors and housing experts say new requirements and a difficult housing market are doing just that. Year-to-date through September, one third of realtors have said appraisals resulted in buyers and sellers delaying or canceling contracts or renegotiating to a lower sales price, according to the National Association of Realtors. That's up from 29% in all of 2010 and up from less than 10% prior to 2009."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Living in an iconic neighborhood

Haight-Ashbury has its hippies. Beverly Hills has its movie stars. And the Las Vegas Strip has its blackjack tables.

Nice neighborhoods abound across the United States. But only a handful can claim to be world-famous. It may be the people there, a period in history or the presence of architectural gems that define such a neighborhood. Location, location, location also may play a role. Or maybe it's a particular line of business that makes a place distinctive.

Read more in MSN Real Estate
What does it cost to live in an iconic neighborhood?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Triggers of Lender Scrutiny

"In recent years, lenders have stepped up fraud-prevention investigations and checks on mortgage applications. For borrowers, this may mean facing questions on actions like accepting cash gifts from relatives for the down payment or signing up for new credit cards during the application process."

Read on in the New York Times...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Great buys in November

"For months, I've been telling you to hold off on purchases of HDTVs, computers and other electronics until November. Now that this deal-friendly month is finally here, you won't have to wait long for prices on these items to be marked down on Black Friday. Plus, you'll also find several other things marked down in November, according to, which analyzes deals from past years to predict what will be discounted this year."

Read on in Kiplingers.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chicago-area homeownership rate dips | Residential News | Crain's Chicago Business

Chicago-area homeownership rate dips | Residential News | Crain's Chicago Business

Investing in real estate?

Should I pay off my mortgage?

Three Reasons to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

from US News and World Report

Getting ready for winter

A few thoughts from This Old House:

Prepare Your Home and Garden for Harsh Winter Weather
Just a little bit of DIY can protect your roofing, plants, and pathways from costly snow, ice, and wind damage

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blueprint for a New American Home

"The new American home is taking shape.

Tough recent years are leaving their mark on home design, just as the housing-boom years sent square footage soaring and stamped a distinctive "McMansion" style on neighborhoods across the country. Big home builders, smaller architecture firms and even bathroom-fixture makers are adjusting to the shift toward more practical features and away from the aspirational."

Interesting read in the Wall Street Journal.