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

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

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Green Tip of the Month - think about the coffee you drink!

Did you know that coffee is the world’s second most traded commodity after oil?

Avoid using a "pod system" of single brew coffee. The best known brand of single brewing coffee produced 8.3 billion K-cups in 2013, enough to wrap the equator 10.5 times. Only 5% of the cups are made of recycled plastic. The rest are #7 plastic, the contents of which are a proprietary secret, and they are often not accepted by recyclers. As if this is not enough reason to stop using them, the NY Times determined that single brew coffee costs $50/pound.

Source: The Garden Club of America

Thursday, May 19, 2016

But I already have an agent ... 4 reasons to use a local agent

I often meet potential clients at open houses, etc. who want to buy a home on the North Shore.   When I ask if they are working with an agent, I find they are sometimes working with an agent from the city or a friend who lives in another part of Chicagoland. 

Fair enough.   Buyers should be able to work with whomever they want.  But here are 4 reasons why using a local agent is better:

Local agents know what's going on in their town - Real estate information is shared within every community -- who's retiring... getting a divorce, etc. are the sorts of things that local agents know -- they might know of potential houses that haven't even come on the market yet.  I've been able to show neighbor's homes to potential buyers simply because I knew my neighbors were planning to move in the next year or so.  Buyers working with out of area agents may miss opportunities because their agent simply isn't in the know. 

Local agents know their own inventory and market trends -  The local agent can explain why one house may be overpriced -- why another house may be a great value.  They can tell their clients when  to come see a new listing -- because they know it's not going to be on the market for long.   I have met many sellers,  who want to move to a different part of town.  When I ask them why they want to move,  more often than not, they bought their home with an out of area agent and they didn't realize that their current location had issues.   Out of area agents just don't know the local market as well. 

Local agents know the ins and outs of the community -  A local agent will have personal experience with the school systems, the local clubs, recreation facilities, etc.  They can tell you which grocery store has what; where to get things, etc.  Basically a local agent can share their knowledge of the community with you. 

Local agents know the other local agents - An experienced local agent will network with other agents to get the scoop on information before it ever hits the Internet.  They know which agents can be reliable and helpful; which agents work particular neighborhoods and might have knowledge of new listings.  All this information can help during both the house hunting and negotiations.  

Going it alone or with an out of area agent is certainly a strategy for house hunting.   I just doubt it is the best way to find the right home!

Thursday, May 12, 2016


I recently have been working with a family that was moving to a new home. Even though the move was totally discretional, every member of the family was feeling ambivalent leaving their current home - especially one of the children.

When I walked through the house one last time with the new buyers, the place just wasn’t the same. Oh the walls and floors had the same colors and textures, and the smells hadn’t really changed, but the cadence of the home was gone. Without a family living there, it really wasn’t a home anymore -- it was like an empty container that needed to be refilled.

Moving is such an emotional experience and fraught with anxiety, financial commitment, and conflicting desires. On the one hand, you want to downsize, upsize, relocate, move to the city, move to the 'burbs, get on with your life, or _________________ (just fill in the blank).

On the other hand, moving is changing and altering current reality. One can’t help but feel conflicted. It’s no wonder that sometimes people find themselves stuck in a home that makes no sense anymore. They’ve outgrown the space or their knees can’t handle the stairs or the yard is taking too much time or ....

I recently went through all these emotions with my Dad as I helped him downsize from his cottage to an apartment at Lake Forest Place. I had no idea that I would feel all of the same emotions that sellers have when they change homes.

While going through this move with Dad, it really hit me. Our lives are like chapters in a book. With each new chapter, comes change and perhaps even new venues or settings. Moving is part of life, because life is about movement.

Originally published in Patch Lake Forest - May 7, 2012

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Did you know that more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year?

This is the week to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.

I'd like to shout out about one of my favorite small businesses. As some of you may know, my sister, Meg Barnhart, is the Founder and Co-Creator of the zen of slow cooking. The intention for this business is to create employment opportunities for developmentally disabled adults. She and her co-creator, Jane McKay, have been building this very special business for the last four years.

After so much hard word, exciting things are happening for them. Their products have recently been picked up by Whole Foods, Peapod, and Mrs. Green's Natural Market. To take the zen of slow cooking to the next level, they are initiating a Kickstarter campaign this month. I hope you'll take a moment and look at what these two remarkable women have created and consider joining in to help them build their business. It takes a village to make these things happen! Thank you!

To learn more about their campaign, click here:

Kickstarter Campaign

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How's the Market as of May 1, 2016?

‘Tis May – I always want to break into song when the first of May comes… I only wish it were a more spring-like day.  The Spring market is happening and every day new listings are coming on.  There is something optimistic about May!

So how was the real estate market in April?

The first report shows units sold, the second presents the median prices. 

As you can see, the inventory is still pretty high in communities where there are a lot of high-end properties (Kenilworth and Lake Forest). But there appears to be a significant shortage of inventory Evanston, Wilmette and Northfield. The months of inventory is the probably the best barometer of the health of a market. Anything less than 6 months is considered a sellers' market -- anything more than 8 months is considered a buyers' market. 

In the next chart I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale was a contemporary home in Winnetka with with a beautiful beach on the lake.  While sales were up in the luxury market, there continues to be significant levels of high-end inventory all along the North Shore, particularly in Lake Forest, Winnetka and Kenilworth.

There are currently 245 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of April, 9 houses closed in this price range:

Sold this Month
# for Sale
Highland Park
Lake Forest
Lake Bluff

In summary, April looked about the same as it did last year.  Let's hope the buyers start getting out there and we really keep this Spring Market humming!

Source: MRED (Midwest Real Estate Data) Multiple Listing Service

'tis May