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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Green Tip of the Month -- Be Grateful for the Environment

Thanksgiving can be a time for gratitude for the environment and all that it provides for us. Try following these tips:

Feast on local, seasonal foods: Fruits and vegetables in season for the late fall don’t need to be trucked around the country, and your purchases support your community. 
Use natural decorations: Forgo craft store supplies for beautiful, biodegradable decorations you can find in nature. Pinecones, gourds, leaves, and acorns are just some of the materials that can add seasonal ambience to your dining room. 

Purchase a heritage turkey… Most commercial turkeys are raised with hormones to force them to gain weight very quickly – so quickly they can hardly move.  Heritage turkeys, in contrast, are similar to their wild cousins: they’re slower growing, smaller, tastier, and treated more humanely.

Don’t forget about the leftovers: Americans waste almost 40% of all edible food, much of it through improper storage.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Source: Earth Share

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Do you know this place?

When I was a kid, I saw a Disney movie called The Miracle of the White Stallions. It was the story of the evacuation of the Lipizzaner horses from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna during World War II. Watching the movie, while interesting to me, was a little difficult to really understand. Like so many of their contemporaries, other than using The War as orientation for a time period within their lives (as in, "before The War"), my parent never discussed The War or anything about it. I didn't fully appreciate how special these horses were or why they were in need of protection.

The ancestors of the Lipizzan can be traced to approximately A.D. 800. The earliest predecessors of the Lipizzan originated in the 7th century when Barb horses were brought into Spain by the Moors and bred with native Spanish stock. By the 16th century, when the Habsburgs ruled both Spain and Austria, the powerful but agile horse was desired both for military uses and for use in the fashionable nobility of central Europe. The Lipizzan breed dates back to the 16th century, when it was developed with the support of the Habsburg nobility. The breed takes its name from one of the earliest stud farms established, located near the Karst Plateau village of Lipica (spelled "Lipizza" in Italian), in modern-day Slovenia. The breed has been endangered numerous times by warfare sweeping Europe, including during the War of the First Coalition, World War I and World War II. They are amazing horses that are agile, strong and long living.

Like many others, I had always assumed that the horses could only be seen on tour or in Vienna. When I was in high school, I lived in Austria one summer on an exchange program. We toured the school, but the horses weren't there at the time, so I never saw a performance.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to see this amazing breed of horses perform.

And guess where?

Right here in Lake County at Tempel Farms. Tempel Farms in Wadsworth is the only place in the United States where the rare, white Lipizzan stallions are bred and trained, then perform.

In the late 1950’s Tempel and Esther Smith attended a performance of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. They were incredibly impressed with these beautiful animals and started a venture that would change their lives forever. Tempel Smith felt that he should bring these horses to the United States and start a school of riding modeled after the Spanish Riding School. Both the horses and the art of classical riding, or dressage, was virtually unheard of in US. 

In 1958 the Smiths imported twenty horses to Spring Grove, IL. Over the next ten years the Smiths recruited the help of many professional breeders, veterinarians, and riders to grow their herd and to maintain the quality of the herd and the riding. In 1969 the East Good Luck Stables in Wadsworth, IL was purchased where they still perform today. For the past 27 years, the farm setting has been backdrop for the 90-minute performances in the tradition of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.  They perform during the summer months.  Look for their schedule; it's well worth a visit.  You can also rent parts the farm for special group events like weddings, etc.

But there is even more to Tempel Farms.   Tempel Farms Organics is a diversified, certified organic vegetable, cut flower and egg farm located in Old Mill Creek, Illinois.  They practice sustainable agriculture that enriches the soil to provide for high quality vegetables, cut flowers, eggs and more. Their pasture grown hens are raised on certified organic corn and soy based vegetarian feeds with no antibiotics or medications.

Their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program provides 200+ families with freshly harvested vegetables and fruit from early June through the end of November. 

My visit to Tempel Farms was amazing.   It was well worth the time for the visit -- and who knew?  

Right here in my own back yard!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Make Them Buy My House

I was having a conversation with one of my clients not too long ago. My client was frustrated because they had had over 20 showings and no offer. We were all over the place talking about location, condition of the property, pricing, etc.

It's my personal feeling that when a home looks fantastic and is in a fabulous location, then the buyers just can't get their minds wrapped around the asking price.

It's hard for sellers to understand that their home is no longer their home: once it's on the market, it's just a commodity. Their home is being compared to hundreds of other homes on the North Shore. So I tried to suggest that perhaps the buyers just didn't see the value.  Trust me, this is never an easy discussion.

Out of frustration, my client said to me, "You need to make them pay at least $... for my home."

I almost started laughing, but realized that wouldn't help. My client gave me way too much credit -- no agent has the ability to make a buyer like a house or make an offer or pay a certain price. Wouldn't it be fabulous, if we did?
Buyers are fickle and finicky and demanding these days... they can afford to be. After years of acquiescently giving in to seller demands, the buyers know they call the shots. And buyers don't always make a lot of sense.

I had one client who repeatedly told me that they wanted a house that had several key features. Out of the blue, they called up to look at house that was 180 degrees opposite of that.  Go figure?

I have found that often buyers -- while they talk about price, location and features -- are really looking for just the right home. We can all relate. When I was looking for a new home, I would often find a place that was 95 percent there -- theoretically and on paper.

But it just wasn't right. Buyers don't often know what they want ... Until They See It!

So sellers, sorry, unless someone is uninformed or emotionally in love with your house, they will not make an offer or pay a certain price unless they want to.

Originally published in Patch Lake Forest,  July 19, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vote Today

I always think of my mom on election day.  She loved politics and was usually an election judge.   On election day, she would be up early and out of the house; we'd have to get ourselves to school.  She'd come home later in the evening when the all the votes in the precinct were counted and then be glued to the TV until she knew the outcome of the election.  
My mother loved this country with all her heart -- flew the American flag year round.   As much as I miss her, I'm glad she's not here to see this election.   It would break her heart. My hope is that we can come together as one nation after this election is over.  

Whether her candidate won or lost, my mother always respected the Office of the Presidency - regardless of who was sitting in it.  Taught us to do the same. 

 I can hear her voice telling me:
"You've got to vote -- it's your civic responsibilty."  So, Mom,  I'm off to vote!

Today is Election Day.  Not sure where to vote?
Polling Places Look-Up

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

How's the Market - November 1, 2016

November is the month to reflect and take time for gratitude. For starters, with this roller coaster ride of an election, I will be thankful when it is over!

While the season is slowing down a bit, there are still buyers out there looking for the right house… and there are a lot of great houses on the market.

So how was the real estate market in October?
The first report shows units sold, the second presents the median prices.

I suppose the most notable statistic -- there were NO sales in Kenilworth during the month of October. As you can see, in general sales slowed down in October as compared to last year. The months of inventory on the first chart is a better way of measuring progress. Anything less than 6 months is considered a sellers' market -- anything more than 8 months is considered a buyers' market. As you can see, it's somewhat inconsistent on the North Shore. Most of the communities are doing pretty well. Lake Forest and Kenilworth continue to struggle a bit.

In the next chart I show the high-end sales for each community. Lake Forest had the highest sale with an elegant neo-classical home was designed by renowned architect John Volk.

There are currently 221 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of October, 5 houses closed in this price range:
Sold This Month
# for Sale
Highland Park
Lake Forest
Lake Bluff

The market continues along. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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