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

Contact Ann

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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tweaks to help sell

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What Would George Do?

I recently read this and thought it was worth sharing…. Happy Birthday, George

Advice from Our Founding Father

At first glance, the world of the 21st  century and the world of our first president could hardly be more different. Modern life is filled with distractions from technology, hectic schedules, and multitasking. However, George Washington lived through a time of great turmoil. As a general and politician, he was subject to stressors to an extreme that most of us will never know. Graciousness and dignity, however, were his hallmarks, and he lived his life by the code defined in The Rules of Civility.

People make great efforts to be civil. While compassion and concern for the well-being of others can be lost beneath the shuffle of our daily lives, it still exists. This practical and elegant guide offers valuable lessons for inner tranquility, such as the difference between working hard and always being in a hurry, as well as a guide for social situations, including the importance of quality time with others, and congenial communication. While technology has moved forward, the question "What would George Washington do?" has become more relevant than ever.

Nan Marshall and Helen Broder, Pelican Publishing, 2013 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thinking your property taxes are too high

"I think my property taxes are too high.  How can I get them reduced?"
Check out this article in Kiplinger's…

How to Reduce Your Property Taxes

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why We Fall in Love with Houses

Falling in love can be wonderful—and finding the perfect house can make a house-hunter weak in the knees.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, a survey by shows that falling head-over-heels for a house is fairly common—69% of respondents reported that they have had a home crush. House-hunters with a “home crush,” as defined in the survey, are drawn to the same house again and again. surveyed 1,082 individuals from Jan. 9 to Jan. 20 who reported having had a home crush….
Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Love where you live

As Valentines Day approaches I thought I would share a love story -- my love affair with Lake Forest.  I know that there are so many wonderful communities on the North Shore, so this is not to say that I don't also love the vibe of Evanston; Gillson Park in Wilmette, the coziness and walkability of Kenilworth; The Book Stall in Winnetka and Botanic Gardens in Glencoe;  Ravinia in Highland Park; hearing the opera singers during Christmas time at Del Rio's in Highwood; or going to the farmer's market on the village green in Lake Bluff...

I know all the communities well and have so many terrific memories of school days at Joseph Sears and New Trier, fun times at the beaches, great gatherings in each one of the North Shore suburbs.  But Lake Forest… well… it's my home now and I love it. 

My first memories of Lake Forest were when I was a kid.  My dad had a number of patients who lived in Lake Forest.  I know it's hard to believe in these days of Obamacare, but Dad often made house calls when his patients wanted to see him.  My mother thought it was a good time for me to spend time with my dad, so I'd ride along in the car to keep him company as he drove to Lake Forest.  I remember thinking it was a magical town as we drove in on Deerpath Road -- such big yards and so spread out!  Many of the grand estates hadn't yet been demolished, so it was even more spacious than it is today.  

I would sit in the car reading a book and wait for my dad.  Maybe it was just being able to spend time with Dad -- but I always liked coming to Lake Forest.  

If you had told me 20 years ago, that I would eventually be living in Lake Forest, I would have laughed out loud.  I was living in the city and didn't envision myself living beyond the urban confines.  It's really a chance of circumstance that I am here today.  After nearly 15 years of living here, I continue to love it and continue to be grateful that I made the move.   

So in no particular order, I share my top 10 reasons why I love living in Lake Forest:

1. Open Lands - The open lands in Lake Forest are amazing. Lake Forest Open Lands Association, a non-profit organization established in 1967 has acquired, reserved, restored and maintained over 800 acres of local native landscapes including prairies, savannas, woodlands and wetlands for the benefit and enjoyment.  In 2009, Lake Forest Open Lands became the first Illinois land trust to be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, a mark of distinction in land conservation.  I live about a block away from Mellody Farm and the Middlefork Savanna.  I continue to feel blessed by having these amazing open lands just steps away from where I live!

2. The Hearth Room at the Deer Path Inn - While the Inn's history goes way back, the
current hotel was completed in 1929. William C. Jones, a Chicago Architect and member of the Chicago Institute of Architects, designed the Deer Path Inn. The Inn itself was styled after The Manor House (c. 1453) located in Chiddingstone – Kent, England; a half-timbered and stucco Tudor home. Having lived in the UK, the Deer Path Inn reminds me of so many of the hotels and restaurants I would see on the weekends as I toured England. I always take in and enjoy the feel of the place - I love to see the fire in the fireplace as you come into the lobby.  But my favorite room is the Hearth Room. My family has been having a pre-Christmas gathering every year for the last few years.  Both the ambience and comfort of that room are warm and charming. There is just something special about The Deer Path Inn!

3. Grocery drive thru pick up at Sunset - I have a good friend from the UK.  When she came to visit,  she was utterly amazed the way you could "queue up" to get your groceries loaded into the "boot" of your car.   When I think of the way I used to shlep bags of groceries for several blocks when I lived downtown, the drive-up at Sunset is a simple pleasure that I love about living in the Lake Forest. 

4. My neighborhoodMeadowood – talk about loving where you live.  I think Meadowood is the best kept secret in Lake Forest.  I love it when I walk my dogs how everyone stops and talks to one another.  And as the sun settles in the west, the sunsets in my neighborhood are beyond spectacular. 

6. The Lantern -- it's not that the food is anything spectacular or the decor is all that attractive -- but The Lantern reminds me of Mary's Cupboard -- a familiar haunt to those of us who lived in Winnetka and Kenilworth during the 1950s.  In the days before fast food, eating out was a complete luxury for most families.  So going to eat out at places like Mary's Cupboard or The Lantern or Hackneys on Lake were very special treats.  It happened so infrequently, that every occasion is memorable.   When I walked into The Lantern for the first time, it felt like a step back to my childhood.  I love the little electric train circling the ceiling,  I love the family friendly atmosphere, and I actually do like the hamburgers served in a plastic basket.  

7. Market Square - Known as the “first artfully designed shopping center in the country,” Lake Forest Illinois’ Historic Market Square was constructed in 1916, it resembles the character of a small English market center.  When I lived in the UK there were 3 main features to every town: the city centre; the church with a local cemetery, and the neighborhood pub.  Market Square resembles the character of a small English city centre -- it feels familiar and friendly.  Market Square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 as “America’s first planned shopping center.” Perhaps its real significance is that it is “emblematic of Lake Forest.  It is the first and last view of the community from the train; its fine architecture makes people feel gratified, visually and emotionally.”  I love seeing the square in December with the Christmas tree and all the trees lit.  

8. Winding streets -- having grown up in the "planned community" of Kenilworth where the roads are rigidly parallel and perpendicular to each other, I have always loved the way the Lake Forest streets meander to the lay of the of the land. As Lake Forest was first developed in 1857, the planners laid roads that would provide very limited access to the city in an effort to prevent outside traffic and further isolate the tranquil settlement from neighboring areas. It may not be the best configuration for the traffic patterns of today's drivers, but I love the feeling of east Lake Forest where the roads seem to follow to the contours of the ravines and the beautiful trees adorn the city. It's so gorgeous and scenic. 

9. The Beach -- Having Lake Michigan in our back yard is the biggest perk of living in the Chicago area.  As a native of the North Shore, I have never lived more than a stone's throw from the lake.  Even when I lived in Chicago, I could walk to the beach from all of my previous homes.  It's weird to be living west of 41 and to actually have to drive to the beach.  But I make the drive from time to time -- it's worth it.  There is something utterly magical about our beautiful lake…. and Lake Forest knows how to create a memorable beach experience.  We not only have an amazing set of beach facilities, we have a beautiful park above the shores.   When I first moved to Lake Forest, I would bring my sweet Dewi to Forest Park Beach and let him run and chase the squirrels.   He loved it.  In my opinion, our beach is one of the best on the North Shore. 

10. The feeling of a small town.  As the daily noon siren blasts, it seems like a throw back to a different time and place.  It was a time when people set their watches and clocks to that sound and some set their lives by it.  It was life in a small town.  I love that when you go into the stores, you actually know the owners of the stores -- they're your neighbors -- not some strangers.   I get a kick out of Lake Forest Day when all the merchants, politicians, non-profits, etc.  have their floats or march in the parade.  I think it's so sweet when the trick or treaters stop into the various local offices and there is candy waiting for them.  
I love the day after Thanksgiving when the town gathers on Market Square to sing Christmas carols and switch the little lights on along Western Avenue.  I so appreciate that we have a fabulous community hospital and two train stations.  I like that we have fine dining at a restaurant like Lovells across the street from a McDonalds.  

I know Lake Forest is a suburb, but it doesn't feel that way to me.   To me it feels like a small town and has the attitude of one.   And that's just one of the many reasons why I love living here!

For those of you who are moving to the North Shore, be sure to add Lake Forest to your list of towns to tour -- you won't be disappointed.   (Worth noting is Lake Forest's property tax is the lowest in the area!!!

Call me. I'd love to show you this special place and share with you all that it has to offer!  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

my new favorite app

As someone who follows the latest in real estate technology, I've got new favorite app.  Have you discovered Estately?  I recently signed up and all also added the app to my smart phone.  The features are amazing and for those of you out there looking for a new home, consider adding this one!

See the reviews on iTunes Preview

Using a Real Estate Agent to Buy a New Home