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

Contact Ann

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Green Tips - Cleaning up after holidays

Looking for some ideas how to make it a greener holiday -- try these:
  • Use your real Christmas tree as a shelter for birds in your yard. Then in the spring, you can also use the tree as mulch or wood chips.
  • Save the foam and packaging from Christmas gifts to use later for shipping or mailing.
  • Recycle your used holiday lights.  Check out SWALCO or  SWANCC's website.
  • Compost everything possible. Live decorations such as cones and berries are compostable.
  • Give old or unwanted Christmas gifts to charity.
  • Keep Christmas cards to cut up and use as gift tags next year or cut them in half, write a message on the back of the picture and send as a Christmas postcard.
  • Keep gift bags and wrapping paper for wrapping gifts next year. Unwrap presents carefully and neatly fold the paper to store until next Christmas. Most wrapping paper is not recyclable, so it will all end up in the garbage if you don't reuse it.
  • Recycle wine bottles and glass liquor bottles.
  • Start talking now about what you could do differently next Christmas such as donating to charities or giving gift certificates or vouchers for your time (eg. babysitting) instead of buying gifts.
source: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

From my home to yours...

Merry Christmas!

(Lewie and Bert, too!)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Loan Street Blues

Recently I received a copy of a letter from an attorney.  It arrived at around 5:00 on the day before we were scheduled to close on a property.  The buyer was requesting an extension of the mortgage contingency date.  The letter said something like "we're planning on closing tomorrow, but we still haven't received confirmation from the lender." 


I would like to say that that letter was an anomaly and that 99.9% of the lenders deliver as planned.  Sadly, it's not.   I've had five sellers and a least one buyer in the last two years, who have had sleepless nights worrying whether the lender was going to get the money wired in time for the close.  

Three times -- they didn't.   We waited one, two, three and even four weeks for the lender to get their act together.   Three of my seller clients had moved mountains and paid a premium to get out of their homes, in order to meet an aggressive close date - only to find that the buyer hadn't received confirmation of their loan.   

A buyer, who needs to get financing, will rarely make an offer without a mortgage contingency -- and they will not waive their mortgage contingency until the loan is "clear to close."  Sellers are finding that they need to deal with this reality.  

It's a Catch 22 for the sellers.  Once they have vacated their property, they can't really put their home back on the market -- it's empty and doesn't show well.  The balance of the earnest money is in escrow.   They've already had attorney review and inspection.   But they find themselves carrying two homes -- albeit briefly -- which was something they didn't want to do in the first place. 

For buyers it is equally as frustrating.   In some cases, they have vacated their homes; their furniture is sitting in storage and they are living in a hotel waiting for their lender to deliver.   They have produced every form, notice and affidavit that was asked of them.  They have spent countless hours on the phone dealing with voice recordings trying to get a straight answer.  They've got their attorney on speed dial at this point waiting, waiting, waiting....

My colleagues and I commiserate about the current state of mortgage lending -- we've all been there.    We understand that the 2008 financial melt down was a game changer.   (Did you see The Big Short?)   But getting a mortgage has been such an ordeal today.  The "system" has been over-corrected.  When buyers present a cash offer -- sellers take notice and will often take a lower cash amount, and a sure thing -- rather than dealing with the uncertainty of the buyers' financing. 

It has been my experience that the bigger the bank, the worse the service.  There are now four lenders on my Enemies List.  When I see that one of them is the lender, I groan.   

My personal advice:
Buyers -- think twice before going to the big bank mortgage lenders.    The smaller guys deliver -- the big ones will probably give you nightmares and have you dealing with people,  who don't know what they're doing.  

Sellers -- all things being equal -- a cash deal is something to get excited about -- consider it seriously every time!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Sweet Spot

I got a phone call last week from someone thinking about selling their home.

The question I asked was, "How long will it take me to sell my house?"

My answer was, "Well, that depends..."

As of today, there are 550 homes for sale in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. In the last 12 months, 434 homes have gone under contract. [note: numbers and days are from 2011 when article was originally published.]

While the math would seem to indicate that it takes at least a year for something to sell, that's rarely the case. Some homes have been on the market for well over 1,000 days. Some homes have gone under contract in one day. There is no precise answer to this question.

It depends -- it depends on whether the home is priced at the "sweet spot."

The sweet spot -- that's the price that gets buyers excited. That's the price when offers start appearing. Did you know that the median days on the market for Lake Forest houses that have found their "sweet spot" is less than 35 days? That's means when the house is priced right -- it sells fast. Even the most unlovable houses have a sweet spot -- it's just a matter of finding it.

If a home has been on the market and it hasn't gone under contract within 90 days at a certain price, what makes a seller think the next 90 days are going to be a lot different? Sure that elusive buyer may show up. But why wait? In a declining market, houses that sell quickly usually sell at a higher price than those that linger waiting for a buyer.

Want to sell your house? Find the sweet spot and it will sell!

Originally published in Patch Lake Forest, June 28, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2016

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

December already? Where did the year go? November was such a memorable month -- the Cubs won the world series and a reality TV star is elected president.  Amazing. 

And how about real estate on the North Shore?

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

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.  With the exception of Lake Forest and Kenilworth, most of the North Shore looks pretty good.   Some of this is seasonal.  Often sellers take their homes off the market during the holidays, thus lowering the inventory levels.  

In the next chart I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was newer home with over on almost 1acre of property in west Highland Park at Churchill Lane. It sold for $3,650,000.

There are currently 201 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of November, 6 houses closed in this price range:
Sold This Month
# for Sale
Highland Park
Lake Forest
Lake Bluff
Next month I'll give my annual market wrap-up for 2016.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a most joyful New Year.

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