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

Contact Ann

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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Art festival this weekend

... headwinds building?

"Home prices during the first half of 2013 posted their largest gain since the housing boom peaked seven years ago, but rising mortgage rates and the potential for more supply could eventually slow the run-up..."

The Wall Street Journal
Home Prices Jump, but Headwinds Build

The Lost Decade

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cooler by the Lake (Forest)

As one of more than 1,000 cities to sign the Illinois Cool Cities Local Sustainability Protection Agreement, Lake Forest has been recognized as a "Cool City" for its continued effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, use renewable energy and encourage environmental conservation.

Lake Forest recognized as 'Cool City' for environmental efforts
Chicago Tribune

Garden Conservancy’s Open Days on the North Shore

More gardens are going to be open on the North Shore for viewing this weekend.    They are all in Mettawa and Lake Forest. 

Check out the maps and more information on The Garden Conservancy's website.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Listing in East Lake Bluff

Check out my new listing in East Lake Bluff.

501 E. Washington Avenue
Lake Bluff
5BR/2.1 Baths

Equilibrium in the housing market?

"Sales of previously owned homes rose by 15.2% in June from one year ago to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million, but they were down by 1.2% from one month ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Monday’s report showed that the housing market may be slowly returning to equilibrium after a year in which demand has outstripped supply, pushing up prices. At the current pace of sales, there was a five-month supply of homes in June on a seasonally adjusted basis, up from the 4.9-month supply in May but down from the 6.1-month supply a year earlier..."

Five Takeaways From the Existing Home Sales Report
Wall Street Journal

Evanston Sidewalk Sale

Evanston Sidewalk Sale

Has the program been effective?

"Nearly half of the mortgages modified in 2009 under the Obama administration's signature homeowner rescue effort are in default again, according to a report on Wednesday that raised concerns about the program's effectiveness..."

Report raises concerns about U.S. housing aid program

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What to do with the land at Laurel and Western?

"A mixed bag of opinions surfaced this week as Lake Forest officials discussed development concepts for the former municipal services site at Laurel and Western avenues.

The Plan Commission met Wednesday, July 17, and explored several ideas for the vacant, 10-acre property just north of Market Square. The City Council recently directed the Commission to reexamine guidelines accepted five years ago and decide what changes, if any, should be made so the city can reopen its search for a developer...."

Lake Forest officials explore ideas for vacant Laurel Avenue site
Pioneer Press

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Inventories rising

"Here comes the housing inventory.

The number of homes listed for sale increased by 4.3% in June to 1.9 million homes, the highest level in the last year, according to data released Monday by

Housing inventory has steadily declined over most of the past two years. Listings typically climb heading into the spring and summer, when housing activity hits a seasonal peak. But inventories appear to be posting larger-than-usual gains in many markets right now as they rise from their lowest levels in at least a decade. Economists say rising home prices could convince more sellers to test the market if price increases keep up...."

Housing Listings Multiply in June
Wall Street Journal

What can you get for $190M?

Prices rising less than you think

"U.S. home prices are rising, but perhaps not as much as we thought.

The latest FNC Residential Price Index found that home prices in the 100 largest U.S. metro areas rose 4% in the year ending May 2013, a slowing of the rate from 4.9% reported from March 2012 to March 2013..."

Home prices may be rising less than you think
MSN Real Estate

Rates rising...

"With the sudden jump in mortgage rates, market spectators are wondering what the impact might be on the housing recovery..."

What History Says About Rising Rates and Their Relationship to Housing
DS News

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sidewalk Sale in Winnetka and Northfield

The Winnetka-Northfield Chamber of Commerce will be taking over the sidewalks, streets and shops in Winnetka and Northfield a Sidewalk Sale, Friday July 19 and Saturday July 20, 9 am to 5 pm. The Sidewalk Sale promises to bring fun, food, and fantastic savings for shoppers.

The street fair atmosphere will also include a children’s “Kid-entrepreneur” section that will feature items made by local children, such as: duct tape wallets, face painting and crafts. There will be music in the streets to liven up the sale.
Along with the Winnetka Park District on “Let Loose on Lincoln”, a block party that will run on Saturday, July 20, 2pm to 10 pm, in conjunction with the Sidewalk Sale. There will be a classic car show, music, food, a beer and wine tent.

New home starts fell in June...

"New home starts fell in June because of a slowdown in multi-family starts, which dipped to their lowest level in 10 months, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Single-family starts remained near April and May levels, an indication of continued slow recovery in the home building sector..."

Housing starts fall 9.9% in June
USA Today

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Those of you who know me, know that before working in real estate, I worked as consultant for over twenty years for what was then one of the “Big 8” accounting firms (I know I date myself with that phrase.) I was hired shortly after college with an elementary education degree, but the Firm needed to hire women and they figured they could teach me what I needed to know. And they did – it was a fabulous training program. I learned a lot about accounting, computers, and accounting systems.

I never worked as an accountant or earned a CPA. In fact, I only took one accounting class. (I didn’t need to be an accountant. I developed and designed computer systems instead.) To be honest, I always found accounting a little confusing – balance sheets never made as much sense to me as net worth statements. Accrual accounting seemed "make believe" compared to cash accounting. But over time, I caught on and began to better understand the double-entry system; general ledgers, accounts receivable versus accounts payable and, of course, the concept of depreciation.


decrease in value due to wear and tear, decay, decline in price,etc.
such a decrease as allowed in computing the value of propertyfor tax purposes.
a decrease in the purchasing or exchange value of money.
a lowering in estimation.
Source: Random House Dictionary

If I had a dollar for every time a seller said to me, “I have $XX in this house and I’m not going to sell it for less than what I have in the house,” I would be a very wealthy Realtor.

So many sellers have the misguided thought, that if they put a $40,000 kitchen into their house 10 years ago that the kitchen is still worth $40,000. 

It’s not. Every time they turn on the stove or open the refrigerator, the value of those appliances depreciate. Every scratch on the cabinets and the stain on the countertops depreciate the value of those fixtures.

How does depreciation work? Everything has a useful life. Roofs have about a 30 year life cycle. That means every year you would deduct 1/30th of the value of the roof. So if you paid $10,000 for the roof last year – today that roof is worth about $9,666.

I came across a Depreciation Guide on the Internet. According to this chart the useful life of a dishwasher is 8 years. I put mine in 12 years ago.  That would seem to indicate, that to a buyer, my dishwasher is worth $0.   The fact that is a functioning dishwasher is worth something -- but not much.

I had a client few years ago who put in a new kitchen right after they bought the house. The existing kitchen was quite nice and was probably only four years old…. Hence, it wasn’t a fully depreciated kitchen

My client felt they should be fully reimbursed for the full cost of their new kitchen. Wrong.
When they removed the old kitchen they lowered the value of their home. If I were doing the accounting, it would look something like this:
Purchase price of the house                                            $960,000
Removal of existing kitchen (not fully depreciated)             ($20,000)
Cost of the new kitchen                                                   $40,000
Depreciation of new kitchen (2 years)                                ($3,000) estimated
New value of the house:                                                  $977,000

This was their accounting 
Purchase price of the house                                                $960,000
Cost of the new kitchen                                                       $40,000
New value of the house:                                                 $1,000,000

See the difference depreciation makes?

There is no question that certain things will improve the value and marketability of a home. A newer kitchen with more trendy finishes will appear to make a house more valuable than an older kitchen.   However, the best way to increase the value of property is to increase its livable space -- put on an addition, finish an attic, finish a basement, build out over the garage, etc.  While new kitchens and baths certainly help, keep in mind that after 10 - 12 years, they're not new any more --- they have depreciated.  

Real property appreciation comes from changes in the market more than changes in the property.   A good example is my childhood home.  My parents purchased their Kenilworth house in 1959 for $57,000 (much to my dad's horror).  And. yes, over the years, a new kitchen was installed; the basement was finished; the attic was finished, a patio was added, bathrooms were updated, etc.  But the actual footprint and room configuration of the house has changed very little over the last 54 years.  Yet, the last time the house was on the market it sold for over $1.8M.  The appreciation came from the land becoming more valuable and the market place changing -- not from the improvements that were made to the house. 

So when you factor in the improvements you've made to a home, factor in depreciation -- because most things have a useful life ... at least that's the way the buyers will look at it!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Buyers wary of rising rates

"Rising mortgage rates are the biggest worry for prospective home buyers—bigger than rising prices and the lack of available choices, according to a survey released today by Trulia, an online real estate site.

Still, the survey suggested that rates—which remain below 5%—aren’t likely to be a deterrent to home buyers just yet..."

Home Buyers Cast Wary Eye on Rising Rates
Wall Street Journal

Friday, July 12, 2013

What makes a strong real estate offer?

What makes a strong real estate offer?

When comparing offers, sellers usually consider the following:

  • Purchase price
  • Whether the offer is cash or requires financing
  • If financing is required, the loan type and the borrower’s qualifications (i.e., whether they are pre-approved)
  • The closing date
  • Conditions (contingencies) on the sale 
  • Other costs that impact the seller’s profit

Happenings at Elawa

What's happening at the farm?

New Children’s Cooking Class at Elawa Farm 
The Hungry Monkey Baking Company’s Kids Cooking & Baking Classes
Sunday, July 14, 2013  11:00 am to 12:30 pm
Sizzlin’ Summer Dinner Party:
BBQ Chicken Pizza & Frosty Summer S’mores
Let’s switch things up; make dinner for your parents (and friends)!  Join Hungry Monkey Baking Company’s Chief Baking Officer, Cindy Kienzle, and learn how to make the yummiest chicken flatbread pizza with a barbeque/mango drizzle for dinner and Frosty Summer  S’mores for dessert.
Dinner: The barbeque pizza was inspired by a recent trip to Disney where Cindy and her family ate the most amazing flatbread pizza every night on their trip. Cindy recreated this pizza and it’s now a favorite with her friends and family.  This special flatbread has it all – crunchy, salty, cheezy, with just a touch of sweetness from the mango.
Dessert: When NBC 5 Chicago News asked Hungry Monkey Baking to do a dessert demo, Cindy created Frosty Summer S’mores especially for the show .  Cindy reinvented the all-time summer-time treat,  S’Mores, and made a five-layer frozen dessert – a graham cracker crust, followed by a chocolate mascarpone buttercream, vanilla ice cream, home-made chocolate fudge sauce,  and topped off with toasted marshmallow crème!
Enjoy samples of each, while learning how to make this fun summer party meal. You’ll even make some chocolate fudge sauce to bring home.
$40.00 per child for 8 to 12 year olds

Photography Class
Getting to Know Your Camera
An Introductory Photography Class at
Elawa Farm
Presented by
Jack Carlson, Nature Photographer and Instructor

If you have a camera but are new to photography, this class is for you. Join professional photographer Jack Carlson as he explains how your own camera works and how to use it to get the best images possible.

Each session begins in the classroom with instruction that defines and explains the controls and menus on your camera.  In addition to the camera specifics, we devote time to a glossary of selected photographic terms.

Classroom sessions are followed by trips to the farm for practice using the camera in this natural setting. Hands-on assistance is provided by the instructor. After the photo time, it’s back to the classroom to discuss those newly developing skills.

Session 1- Sunday July 14, 21, 28 (3 Sundays) 1:00 to 4:00
$175 (includes all three classes)

Requirements: Digital camera (no tablets or cellphones, please)

Flower Arranging
Cutting Garden Bouquet – Thursday, July 18th     9:30-11:30 am
Learn about fresh flower cutting gardens and some of the classic home grown flowers you can use in flower arranging. We will take a quick walk outside to see Elawa’s cut flower beds then head in to make our own bouquet. You will learn how to make a hand-tied bouquet that will rest in a small vase. Please bring a hand pruner or floral shears and a small box to carry finished arrangement home in.  Class - $75.00

Buy now.. look later

 "One real estate developer hired a drone; another displayed life-size sculptures of polar bears. A third charged potential buyers $100,000 just to take a peek at the floor plans. The common goal: selling something that doesn't exist..."

Return of the Sight-Unseen Market
Wall Street Journal

The looming threat to the housing market

"A while back, a very good friend of mine had an operation on his arm. In the aftermath, the doctors gave him some Vicodin to deal with the pain. When I next saw him, his arm was in a sling. I asked him how he was doing.

He was in a terrific mood. “I’m as high as a kite,” he said and started laughing. I’ve never seen him so happy...."

The looming threat to the housing recovery
Have the financial markets been taking too many painkillers?

Market Watch

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wilmette Summerfest

Make your way to downtown Wilmette for the third annual Summerfest, Friday, July 12, 9AM to 5PM & Saturday, July 13, 9AM to 10PM. Summerfest brings you fabulous bargains and sales at the Sidewalk Sale, Live Music, Classic Car Show, & Kid's Korner with story telling and activities. Enjoy tempting food & drink favorites from local restaurants and food vendors. Meet your neighbors at the beer/wine garden while rocking to local musicians on the Music Stage.

Sell your home fast

General contractors, home builders, and more ∨

Use the help of top home decorators to select matching bedside tables and a new lamp shade for your own bedroom design.
Find inspiring decorating ideas, from tufted bed headboards to custom window treatments, to help you redesign your bedroom.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rising rate panic homebuyers

"....Caught by surprise, homebuyers are reeling. All of the sudden, they're getting considerably less for their money. The response, for many, is panic, say two real estate agents in Arizona and Massachusetts. Applications to refinance 'tumbled,' according to Capital Economics, but the demand for financing from homebuyers is unchanged...."

Rising rates, prices panic would-be homeowners
MSN Money

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

May brings largest annual home price increase since 2006

May brings largest annual home price increase since 2006 | HousingWire

And good read from Knight Kiplinger, 
Kiplinger: Chill Out in a Hot Home Market

"The surge in home prices is bringing back the frantic "have to buy now" mentality.
There's a lot of jubilation out there because home prices are rising strongly just about everywhere, after six years of first steep decline and later lateral motion.

I guess I'm supposed to share in the joy because, as a homeowner, I stand to benefit.  And as a financial observer, I know that folks with growing home equity are more likely to spend normally and boost the broader economy, creating more jobs. That's all good.

So why am I not overjoyed?"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Beware of the shadow...

"The term “shadow inventory” refers to real estate properties that are either in foreclosure and have not yet been sold, or to homes that owners are delaying sale until prices improve. Shadow inventory can create uncertainty about the best time to sell a home and when a depressed local market can expect full recovery. Also, it typically causes reported data on housing inventory to understate the actual number of inventory in the market.

Why is this important?"

Housing's 'Shadow Inventory' Still Haunts Banks
US News and World Report