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

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

11 things women want in a home

Not sure I totally agree with this article, but thought it was an interesting perspective....

"A growing segment of the housing industry is studying what in a home matters most to women. Real-estate agents, designers, marketers and researchers say some of women's home preferences are purely functional: Moms like dining areas with easily wiped hardwood or tile floors, not carpeting, for example, and the location of a laundry room is likely to matter deeply to a female homebuyer..."
Read on in MSN Real Estate

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What's behind the rental housing boom?

"New figures show that rising rents and falling vacancy rates are driving the boom in large rental construction projects in Evanston.

A report from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning says rental vacancy rates in the Glenview/Evanston submarket declined from 4.1 to 2.6 percent between the start of 2012 and the end of the year's third quarter...."

Evanston Now
What's behind the rental housing boom?

What’s that $1 million house really worth?

"To determine the value of a property, appraisers are supposed to review purchase prices of similar, nearby homes that sold in the past six months. But when a property is much pricier than others in the neighborhood, it can be hard to find similar examples close by. As a result, their asking prices are often out of whack with values that are later determined by appraisals."

Housing market’s latest obstacle: Appraisals

Friday, January 25, 2013

Kids in the Kitchen

Again this winter, Elawa Farm is bringing back Kids in the Kitchen with Chef Gale Gand. This winter’s series of Kids in the Kitchen with Chef Gale Gand will be offered on January 26, 2013 – Winter Treats 11:00 am to 12:30 pm, February 9, 2013 – Valentine’s Day Treats 10:00 am to 11:30 am, March 23, 2013 – Easter Treats 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. 
April 20th - Kids in the Kitchen Earth Day  11:00 – 12:30 
May 11th - Kids in the Kitchen Mother’s Day 11:00 – 12:30 
June 1st - Kids in the Kitchen  Summer Desserts 11:00 – 12:30 

Chef Gale Gand is an executive pastry chef and partner of the renowned restaurant Tru in Chicago. She is a two time James Beard Award Winner, host of the long running Food Network show, Sweet Dreams, now airing daily on Cooking Channel, and author of seven cookbooks.

Pre-registration and pre-payment are required.

The state of the 2013 housing market

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Learn about the North Shore Line

The 50th anniversary of the closing of the North Shore Line — today’s bike paths through Lake Forest and Lake Bluff — will be explored in a lecture on Sunday.

The Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society is hosting “The Open Steel Highway: The Story of the North Shore Interurban” at 3 p.m. in the Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel at Lake Forest College, 555 N. Sheridan Road, Lake Forest.

Kitchen of the future

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2012 was a good year

Sales of existing homes dipped in December, but total sales for 2012 were the highest in five years, and most economists say they should continue to rise.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chicago-area home sales jump in December

Chicago-area home sales jump in December

Home values to rise 3.3% this year?

"...In 2013, the company forecasts U.S. home values rising 3.3%, or more in line with historical norms.

Strong demand coupled with limited inventory bolstered home prices in many markets, with 254, or 69%, of the 366 metro areas analyzed showing home-value gains last year.

Just Cincinnati and Chicago failed to show annual and quarterly increases in the final three months of 2012...."

Home prices up ‘unsustainable’ 5.9% in 2012
Market Watch

Sunday, January 20, 2013

How rent became more expensive than mortgage payments

"...the demand for rentals have exploded, so much so that average rents are much higher than average mortgage payments...."

Read more in Business Insider.

Thinking about remodeling the basement?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Foreclosure activity jumps 33% in Illinois in 2012

Foreclosure activity rose 33 percent last year in Illinois while the nation as a whole saw a small drop, according to a report.

The increase was among the biggest in the country in 2012, a report from RealtyTrac Inc. shows. Foreclosure-related filings rose in 25 states and fell in 25 last year, RealtyTrac said.

Illinois tied with Georgia for the fourth-highest rate of foreclosure activity last year, with one in 39 homes getting a filing.
Chicago had the ninth-highest rate among metro areas with populations of 200,000 or more, RealtyTrac said. Rockford was 10th.

Generally, states such as Illinois, where the courts play a role in the foreclosure process, take longer to work through their cases than California, Utah and other so-called nonjudicial states with a more streamlined process.

The judicial states also have taken longer to work through a backlog of cases that built up in 2011 when foreclosure processing slowed as the mortgage industry addressed allegations that lenders had processed foreclosures without verifying documents.

As a result, foreclosure activity rose last year in 25 states, most of them states with a judicial foreclosure system, while it declined in 25 others, most of those being non-judicial foreclosure states,RealtyTrac said.

Many of the states with a judicial foreclosure process, including Illinois, should be caught up with their foreclosure backlog halfway through this year, said Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac.

Read more: Crain's Chicago Business

Impact on jumbo loans

"The new qualified mortgage definition could hit borrowers of “jumbo” mortgages that are too large to qualify for government backing..."

How the Qualified Mortgage Rules Could Hit the Jumbo Market
Wall Street Journal

The trophy rental

"...A growing number of people who can afford to buy trophy homes are instead opting for a more temporary solution: the trophy rental. Some renters say they want to avoid tying up their money in steep down payments and instead are investing their money in the financial markets or their own businesses. Still, they're willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on a rental to get the lifestyle they want..."

A New Lease on Luxury
Wall Street Journal

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Good news in housing

"Groundbreaking to build new homes accelerated in December to its fastest pace in over four years, supporting the view that housing is poised to provide a substantial boost to the U.S. economy.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that starts at building sites for homes surged 12.1 percent last month to a 954,000-unit annual rate.

Data for U.S. housing starts can be volatile and is sometimes subject to large revisions. The government revised downward its estimate for November housing starts to a 851,000-unit rate from the originally reported 861,000.

Some of the strength in December's reading for starts came from a 20.3 percent surge in multi-family unit construction. That component is especially volatile.

Wednesday's report nonetheless builds on a trend in growth that has led many analysts to expect residential construction boosted the economy last year for the first time since 2005.

December's pace of groundbreaking was the fastest since June 2008.

This year, home building is expected to provide stronger support to economic growth, which would partially counter the drag expected from tighter fiscal policy as Washington works to shrink the federal budget deficit.

Permits for future home construction edged higher to a 903,000-unit rate, the quickest since July 2008.

The housing market has regained some footing after a historic collapse that helped push the economy into its worst recession since the Great Depression.

Last month, groundbreaking for single-family homes, the largest segment of the market, climbed 8.1 percent last month to a 616,000-unit pace."

Reuters: Housing starts climb to highest rate since June 2008

Thinking about refinancing?

"With the 30-year fixed mortgage rate flirting with 3%, a lot of homeowners should be able to cut their mortgage payments by hundreds of dollars a month. But despite an uptick in refinancings in 2012, the number is lower than in past booms, according to CoreLogic, a mortgage data firm.

Inertia accounts for some of the reduced traffic to loan officers—after all, if you snagged a 5% rate three years ago, you’re probably still patting yourself on the back. But a lot of borrowers face serious obstacles to lowering their rate. Six years after the housing bust, mortgage lenders are still skittish about making loans. Even the biggest banks, now enjoying record profits, worry that if their loans default, the agencies that guarantee them—Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration—will find errors in underwriting and force the lenders to buy back the loans and swallow any losses.
Lenders also anticipate new mortgage rules, as yet unwritten, as required by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Hypercautious in the face of uncertainty, the lenders have overlaid the agencies’ stiff lending guidelines with even stiffer ones of their own.

Despite rising home prices in many cities, more than one-fifth of U.S. homeowners are still underwater on their mortgages—that is, they owe more on their loans than their homes are worth..."

New Rules of Refinancing Your Home

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tips for buying a home

"According to a recent survey, people who belong to the Generation X and Generation Y demographics haven't been deterred by the housing market downturn at all. A Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate poll found that 75 percent of Gen X and Gen Y respondents believe owning a home is a key indicator of success, while 69 percent said the recent housing downturn made them more knowledgeable about homebuying than their parents were at their age...."

Homebuying Tips for Generations X and Y

Saturday, January 12, 2013

History of Chicago Discussion

The Wilmette Historical Museum welcomes noted historian Ann Durkin Keating as the guest speaker at its Annual Meeting this year. She will be discussing her book, Rising Up From Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago.  

The Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, January 27, 2013, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.   For more information go to 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mortgages going to be harder to get

"A new federal rule on home loan lending will give consumers more protection against risky mortgages, the government says, but it isn't immediately expected to make mortgages easier to get.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today adopted the rule, which it says spells out what lenders must do to ensure that borrowers can afford their mortgages."

USA Today
New mortgage rule aims to protect borrowers

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Looking for new colors?

Luxury homes sales soared

"Sales of luxury homes spiked in the final months of 2012 as high-end homeowners rushed to take advantage of lower tax rates before Jan. 1.

Many sellers wanted to cash in on their homes before a widely expected capital gains hike -- to 20% from 15% -- that was part of the fiscal cliff budget deal. High-income earners (singles with income of $200,000 or more and couples making more than $250,000) also wanted to close sales ahead of a 3.8% Medicare surtax on investment income that was already slated to go into effect this year as part of the Affordable Care Act.

All told, a high-earner would pay $88,000 less in taxes if they made a $1 million profit on their home in 2012 rather than in 2013."

Luxury home sales soared in final months of 2012

Things are looking good for 2013!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What's the impact on luxury housing?

"Luxury real estate surged in 2012. Nationally, the number of home sales priced at $1 million or more hit a four-year high in the first nine months of 2012, according to DataQuick MDA, and jumbo mortgages are up about 23%, according to the Wall Street Journal. Billionaires in particular plunked down record amounts for real estate.

Now taxes are rising for the wealthy Americans who could afford to buy and sell those million-dollar-plus homes. Under the new fiscal cliff deal, households earning upwards of $450,000 (or individuals earning $400,000) will pay a higher 39.6% rate (up from 35%) on income tax and a 20% capital gains tax (up from 15%). That’s in addition to a higher payroll tax and new taxes affiliated with ObamaCare including a 3.8% net investment income tax. With more money owed to Uncle Sam, how will this affect luxury housing?"

How The New Higher Tax Rates Will Affect Luxury Housing

Monday, January 7, 2013

Needing first-time homebuyers...

"Home values are now increasing nationwide. While that's certainly better than the alternative, a deeper dive into the data reveals a serious crack in the foundation: too few first-time homebuyers.

First-time homebuyers are the vital first rung on the home ownership ladder. They are usually buying from a seller who is "trading up" to a more expensive home or building a new one. When potential new buyers sit on the sidelines, existing homeowners are stuck, unable to move out and up.

In October, the first-time buyer's share of the purchase market stood at about 35 percent according to the Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Survey. That's down from 37 percent as recently as June and it's the lowest percentage recorded in the survey's history. Typically, a healthy housing market sees first-time homebuyers occupy around 40 percent of the purchase market...."

Why the Housing Market Can't Move On Without More First-Time Homebuyers
US News and World Report

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Slowing down in 2013?

"Home prices are now rising at their fastest pace since 2005. Housing bulls are running again, pointing to rising construction starts, rising home sales and falling mortgage delinquencies. Fears over the so-called "fiscal cliff" put a damper on some of that optimism briefly, but that quickly dissipated after the deal was finally struck. So why be cautious now?"

Home Price Gains May Slow in 2013

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sweet spot for the economy?

"...U.S. home sales and prices are poised to rise in 2013, solidifying a recovery that began last year after a half-decade slump that was the deepest since the Great Depression, according to analysts and economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Record-low mortgage rates and attractive prices, supported by declining unemployment, are luring buyers as the inventory of distressed homes shrinks. Homebuilders are responding by adding supply, bolstering economic growth..."

Bloomberg News
Housing a Sweet Spot for U.S. Economy as Recovery Expands

The Most Unusual Housing Trends To Track In 2013

"Adversity does breed creativity — at least where real estate is concerned. Housing experts have summed up 2012 as the year of the bottom, with national-level home prices finally beginning to rise as sales activity bounded and both inventory levels and mortgage rates plunged. They expect the so-called recovery in housing to continue in 2013, with inventory diminishing and prices gaining. But that’s only part of the housing story.
A bevy of unusual, innovative, and in some cases unprecedented, trends have been emerging in the housing sector that are likely continue affecting everything from architectural design to buyer behavior this year. We rounded up a list of 12 market trends to keep track of in 2013..."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Did Generation X Cause the Housing Crisis?

"The housing crisis resulted in a great deal of finger pointing. Politicians blamed Wall Street, Wall Street blamed government, and each political party blamed the other political party. What gets lost in the drama of political theater is that real people signed mortgages that could not be afforded. Somewhere in the buck-passing, we are left to wonder what happened and how financial consumers can avoid future foreclosure catastrophes..."

Did Generation X Cause the Housing Crisis?
US News and World Report

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolved to sell your home in 2013?

"Looking around our neighborhood, I see fewer “for sale” signs this December than last year. In fact, several homes that were on the market for over a year have sold this autumn and are now closing...."

Think Glink
Home Seller Resolutions For Selling Your Home Quickly In 2013

How's the Market? End of Year Recap for 2012

Happy New Year!

... and let’s hope it is a happy new year for all of us homeowners!

So how was the market in 2012?

I think there is both encouraging news and a new reality of sorts. The general sentiment in most news reports is that 2012 is the year we finally hit bottom, the "tide has changed," and the market has turned around and is going to start going back up.

Other areas within the U.S. are seeing some significant improvements, and certain market segments within the North Shore have been very robust as well. While I read various predictions for 2013, I thought the series in the Wall Street Journal, Five Housing Issues to Watch in 2013, particularly notable and worth reading. The key message that I took away was, "Home prices should stay in positive territory next year, but everything ultimately depends on what happens in the economy. "

There was a bit of good news/bad news along the North Shore. The good news is that just about every town saw a reduction in inventory (Kenilworth was the exception); the bad news is the median sales price also went down in just about every category.

There are a couple of numbers that I like to study, when determining how the market is performing. Are we selling more or less properties than last year and what is happening to the median prices? 

The attached charts present the relevant information.

Putting the decorations away?

I know everyone has their own schedule as to when they take down the tree and put away the Christmas decorations.  I can remember, when I was young,  we always did it while watching the Rose Bowl parade on TV.  

I came across this helpful hint:
Ornament Storage Ideas and Tips

Maybe you're watching the parade as well?