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

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Hot tub or not?

Q. Would an outdoor hot tub increase the resale value of my home?

Market Ready -- The New York Times

Impact of Dodd-Frank

"Pending mortgage regulations could lock today’s tight lending standards in place and result in nearly 20% fewer mortgages being issued in the coming years, restraining home sales and construction, according to a new study.

The paper concludes that if lending standards that are in place today don’t moderate to the 2001 baseline level, there would be roughly 14% to 20% fewer loans originated over the coming three years. That decline, they estimate, would reduce total home sales by 9% to 13%, depending on the ability of all-cash buyers to pick up any slack.

The decline in home sales, in turn, would reduce housing starts by 1.01 million through 2015 and GDP growth by 1.1 percentage points."

Study: New Mortgage Rules Could Shrink Lending by 20%
Wall Street Journal

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Foreclosure activity jumps 34 percent in Chicago in 3rd quarter

"Bucking the downward national trend, Chicago-area foreclosure activity jumped 34 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year and more than 2 percent from the previous quarter.

With foreclosure-related filings reported on one in every 98 housing units, the Chicago area had the ninth-highest rate among U.S. metro areas of 200,000 of more people, according to a report from RealtyTrac, an online listing firm for distressed properties. The area had a total of 38,667 foreclosure-related filings, which include default notices, auction-sale notices and bank repossessions."

Crain's Chicago Business
Foreclosure activity jumps 34 percent in Chicago in 3rd quarter

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Finding a good value

"Want to increase your chances of buying a home below current real estate value? Just look for a seller who didn’t listen to his agent."

Business Insider
How to Buy a House Below Current Value

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pace of recovery is uneven

"Home values in the United States rose 1.3 percent in the third quarter — the biggest quarterly gain since 2006, according to the third quarter Zillow Real Estate Market Reports. The Zillow Home Value Forecast shows more growth, albeit slower growth, on the horizon with values increasing 1.7 percent over the next year.

However, the pace of the housing recovery is uneven from market to market. Home values are increasing rapidly in some areas. In the Phoenix metro, for example, values are up 20.4 percent year-over-year. But in other areas — such as the Atlanta metro, where home values declined 4.8 percent year-over-year — values continue to fall. But that doesn’t mean the recovery is in jeopardy..."

US Home Values Post Big Gains, But Recovery Is Uneven Among Markets

HallowFest at the Botanic Garden

Celebrate Halloween, if you dare, at the Garden! Experience family-friendly thrills and chills this year including Mysterious Magic with Dracula, a live show-and-tell of creepy, crawly creatures and then get in the Halloween spirit with Face Painting festivities!

October 26, 27 & 28, 2012
Friday & Saturday: 6 – 9 p.m.
Sunday: 4 – 7 p.m.
Regenstein Center and McGinley Pavilion, Chicago Botanic Garden

When was your house put on the market?

Monday, October 22, 2012


"I love, love, LOVE this time of year.   I was driving down Alden Lane in Lake Forest last week.  The sky was that perfect cool blue.  It was in the morning and the eastern sun was dancing magically through the trees – the leaves were a multitude of colors.  I was simply awed by their vibrant foliage...."

Read on in Patch.... 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Making a happy home

"From a fresh coat of white paint to choosing comfortable, neutral furniture, decorating experts share their advice on creating a cheery, inviting home."

House Beautiful

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Join the fun!

‘The Witch’s Brew’ at Lake Forest Open Lands: There’s a witch loose in the Middlefork Farm Nature Preserve, and she needs local children’s help in solving the missing portions of her long lost recipe meant to protect the local animals! Citadel Theatre is bringing this truly unique event to Lake Forest this weekend, providing attendees a chance to walk the preserve trails, search for clues and see a whole new side to the Lake Forest Open Lands.  Citadel Theater notes that the event is appropriate for children ages 5 and up, and costumes are encouraged. Dress warm, and don’t forget your chairs, blankets and flashlights! Thursday Oct. 18 through Sunday Oct. 21 at 4:30 p.m.   For more information: Citadel Theatre

Friday, October 19, 2012

Market Ready - finish the basement?

Q. Would turning my unfinished basement into a proper room increase my home’s sales appeal?

Read more in the New York Times
Market Ready

Home buyers return after foreclosure

"Millions of families lost their homes to foreclosure after the housing crash hit six years ago. Now, some of those families are back in the housing market. Call them the "boomerang" buyers."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Housing recovery for real?

"Despite some nagging doubts that have remained over the U.S. housing market, consensus is that housing has turned the corner and is recovering.

In his latest note titled The Housing Recovery Is For Real, Deutsche Bank's Joseph LaVorgna writes that the 'residential housing market is in the very early stages of a durable recovery.'"

Business Insider
The Housing Market Is Telling Us The Rest Of The Economy Will Accelerate Within Months

Renters no more...

"In many American communities, buying a home is now less expensive than renting. And with the economics tilting in favor of homeownership, many first-time buyers are jumping into the market."

Renters No More: Newbies Lured To Homeownership

Friday, October 12, 2012

A mixed picture on foreclosures...

"September’s foreclosure data showed America has become bipolar over foreclosures, with dramatic decreases in most states but increases nearly as great in judicial states where lenders are speeding up processing of defaults.

Foreclosure activity nationwide fell to the lowest level in five years in but increased in 14 judicial states, including Florida, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey and New York as lenders begin to move on backlogged defaults after processing standards fully implementing the Attorneys General agreement take effect..."

Foreclosures Split America
Real Estate Economy Watch

Lake Bluff Ghost Walk - 2012

On October 27th and 28th, Lake Bluff will transform into the Happiest Ghostal Community as nearly 1,000 brave souls participate in a spirit-guided tour of local haunts and local history. This event, a fundraiser for the Lake Bluff History Museum, resurrects true stories from Lake Bluff’s past and retells them with a bone-chilling “twist.” Historically a sell-out, it is recommended you buy your tickets now!

Pumpkin Fest in Lake Bluff

Lake Bluff’s Pumpkin Fest Is Friday & Saturday
"Time to get your spook on! The 25th annual Pumpkin Fest takes place in Lake Bluff on Friday, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 13. This event is a perennial favorite for people of all ages."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Recycle those bulbs!

We're coming to that season where we use more electricity --- and light bulbs.  

Check out this blog for ways to recycle:
5 Ways to Recycle Light Bulbs
House Sitting Jobs

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Workshops and Speakers To Teach Eco-Friendly Practices

A series of sustainability events will be held fromWednesday, October 17 to Friday, October 19 in Highland Park. "GreenTown: The Future of Community" will feature an exciting range of speakers and workshops covering topics including energy efficiency and renewable energy, waste reduction and food scrap composting, downtown business development and green infrastructure, bikable and walkable communities, water conservation, and more. Some of the events include:
  • October 17 - "GreenTown at the Movies." Dine out at your favorite Highland Park restaurant and then come to the Renaissance Place Cinema to see the movie, Wasteland, winner at the Sundance Film Festival for Best World Cinema Documentary. 
  • October 18 - GreenTown Pre-Conference sessions on Commercial Food Scrap Composting and Designing Sustainable Landscapes.
  • October 18 - Voices and Visions Art Exhibit at the Art Center Highland Park.
  • October 19 - GreenTown Conference Main Event at the Art Center Highland Park.
Click here for more information about "GreenTown: The Future of Community" and to register for specific events.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Investors continue to purchase single-family homes as investment property

"Across most of the country, home prices remain affordable and rents continue to rise. And while today's investors are helping the housing recovery, they're not completely responsible. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) suggests that traditional repeat buyers are driving today's market.
According to a recent joint survey by and Memphis Invest, 39 percent of investors plan to buy more properties over the next 12 months than they did over the last year. Twenty-six percent of investors plan to purchase the same number of properties."
CBS NewsRepeat home buyers fuel housing recovery

November outcome impacts housing

"We've all heard that the economy comes to a near stand-still before a presidential election. The uncertainty of who will be our next Commander in Chief leaves many consumers waiting until after the decision has been made to make any moves."

CBS Money Watch
Presidential decision impacts housing sales

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What's happening at Open Lands?

Some family fun at Lake Forest Open Lands!

October 12 - Critters of the Night

October 18-21 - Witch's Brew

Test drive the suburbs

Trial by Rental 
New York Times

For city dwellers, buying a house in the suburbs may seem logical square-foot-wise, but economically and culturally, it can be a big leap. That’s why some rent first.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Smaller real estate markets a big deal

Smaller real estate markets a big deal

Housing recovery has arrived

"Hallelujah. Housing is firmly on the upswing. Next year, it will add half a percentage point to GDP growth. By 2014, it will once again be a significant contributor to job creation, consumer spending and economic gains, bolstering this weak recovery. Every $100 bump in average home prices lifts consumer spending by $5. Some signs that the tide has finally turned and that housing will be a positive force in coming years:

So it will be a few years yet before housing starts and sales return to their long-term trend lines, much less their peaks. For Las Vegas, Tampa, Fla., and other cities where prices have sunk up to 50% since 2006, the upward slog will be even longer, and today's tight lending standards won't help. But, after six painful years, the outlook is for real, measurable improvement."

Read more in Kiplinger's:
3 Signs the Housing Recovery Has Arrived

Fall Festivals

Fall Festivals
Chicagoland Gardening

Autumn Color

"Even summer's most ardent fans have to admit that fall offers some irresistible pleasures. Luckily, you can enjoy autumn's signature foliage show even if you live where summer cools gently into a mild winter and many leaves simply go brown before they fall. Just plant some key trees and shrubs that produce reliable color wherever they grow. 

Here are some generally well-behaved plants that do well in a range of climates. All of them dazzle in the fall, and, as a bonus, many also put on a show in other seasons, too, with flowers in the spring or summer, fruit later in the year, and interesting bark in the winter."

10 Best Trees and Shrubs for Fall Color
This Old House

And for more on the subject revisit an

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Housing: an election issue???

"Housing continues to be a big issue for the economy, and for many voters. But so far it hasn't been a major issue in the presidential campaign. Perhaps that's because both sides agree that there's no easy fix for the problem of millions of troubled mortgages..."

Candidates Say Little On Difficult Issue Of Housing

Investing in real estate

"If you're fed up with the paltry returns you get on bonds, the insulting interest rates paid by banks, and the frenetic fits of the stock market, you might consider turning to rental real estate to supplement your retirement income. But it's not for everyone. Walk through these six tips to see if real estate can help you construct a sound retirement portfolio. If the idea still seems solid, the next step is to do your homework..."

US News and World Report
6 Tips for Investing in Real Estate

Rental Growth Loses Speed

"The U.S. apartment sector posted its smallest vacancy decline in nearly two years, raising the possibility that the strongest commercial real estate category may be succumbing to the sluggish economy, according to real estate research firm Reis Inc.

For nearly two years apartment landlords have been able to boost rents and fill their buildings as Americans, either burned by the housing bust or unable to get a mortgage, turned to renting instead of owning a home.

But rent growth ultimately depends upon significant job growth and rising incomes, and during the third quarter neither have come through.

The national vacancy rate inched down to 4.6 percent in the third quarter, typically one of the stronger quarters, from 4.7, according to Reis' preliminary figures released on Wednesday. The dip was the smallest since the recovery began in early 2010...."

U.S. economy may be nipping at apartment sector

"The apartment-rental market remained robust in the third quarter but, with home sales improving, the sector is showing signs of losing steam, according to a new report from Reis Inc.

The rental-apartment vacancy rate declined to 4.6% during the third quarter from 4.7% in the second, said Reis, a real-estate research firm.

That is the smallest quarterly improvement in the vacancy rate since the sector started recovering in early 2010..."

Wall Street Journal
Rental Growth Loses Speed

Monday, October 1, 2012

Do you live on a street or a lane?

"It seems home buyers are picky when choosing their next residence and having the right street name can help. 

A new survey by real estate website Trulia suggests subtle differences in street names – such as whether a street name ends in the word "Lane" or "Park" – can make a big difference in the asking price."

Housing Wire
Is it better to live on Park Boulevard or Park Lane?