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

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

Sunday, April 30, 2017

How's the Market as of May 1, 2017?

Hello May -- What a glorious April. It feels like Spring came early this year!  Let's hope this doesn't mean that we are going to have a long, hot summer!

And how about real estate on the North Shore? 

I can't speak for other agents, but I sure have been busy this month!  I don't think I've been this busy since the housing market tanked.   Lots of sellers and the buyers are coming out as well.   Hopefully this bodes well for 2017 for everyone.

The first report shows units sold, the second presents the median prices.
(For better clarity, you can click the charts to see them enlarged.)

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.  Evanston continues to have a severe shortage of inventory,  Lake Forest continues to have a high surplus.   The rest of the North Shore looks pretty good!

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was a stunning, contemporary 10-year-old home on nearly an acre of lakefront property in Glencoe at 441 Lakeside Terrace.  

There are currently 201 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of April, 11 houses closed in this price range:

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

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

Have a wonderful month!

Like my monthly update?   Perhaps you'd enjoy reading my monthly newsletter, How's the Market?   

Click here if you would like to receive it.  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Check it out!

My wonderful listing in Onwentsia Gardens just had a remarkable price adjustment.   Check it out!!!

382 S. Basswood Road
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Green Tips - Filter your air with plants!

In the late '70s and early '80s, NASA began evaluating a variety of plants on their space stations to help clean the air of not only carbon dioxide, but also from gases of volatile organic compounds. These gases, when contained and allowed to circulate in an indoor space, can lead the building’s occupants to contract a variety of illnesses. Since the average person spends around 90% of their time indoors, and the EPA estimates that indoor air quality can be two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors.  NASA identified 31 plants in their Clean Air Study as some of the best filters for these contaminants.  

Want to make the air in your home a little more breathable? Consider using the best filtering plants.   Here are 10 of them:

Monday, April 24, 2017

New Listing

I'm putting a new listing in the MLS today.   It's a terrific little ranch home in Highland Park.  Great location -- high school students can go to either Highland Park or Deerfield High School!

Check it out - 1794 Berkeley, Highland Park

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Happy Earth Day

After all the tumultuous events of this year, it's time to pause and remember we have only one earth -- celebrate it with Earth Day!

Earth Day Events in the Chicago area:
Spend part of Earth Day exploring Mary Mix McDonald Woods at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Earthfest at the Adler Planetarium
Earthlings of all ages are invited to attend on Saturday, April 22, Earthfest, and take part in a community-wide conversation about why preserving the planet is more important now than ever before.

In the spirit of the March for Science, engage in on-screen science.  FREE film screenings of The City Dark.  One Earth Film Festival.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Without helmets

I’m incredibly lucky. I was born in the early 1950s. America was in the midst of an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity. Anything was possible; after all we were the nation that had just saved the world from tyranny.

Our President was beloved by most everyone – even one of the dogs in our Kenilworth neighborhood was named “Ike” in honor of the man. The good guys and the bad guys were obvious – that sentiment was translated into our games and discussions. Khrushchev was viewed as the ultimate bad guy and to be called a communist or Russian was a total insult.

Like most families at that time, we only had the one landline and the one TV set with the 5 channels. We had to share and take turns watching different shows. My brother and I would argue over what we would watch; until my dad would get concerned that we were watching too much TV. When that happened, he would reach behind the television set and remove the fuse and take it with him to work.

That was it for television, until he’d put the fuse back in on the weekends.

Life moved a little slower; flying was out of the question: too expensive. We always drove or took the train to faraway places. Construction of the interstate system was just underway; it was a big deal when the Eisenhower was built -- right through some neighborhoods in Chicago.   Although you wouldn't know it today, driving Edens made the commute to the city easier.

The dads disappeared everyday on the morning train, and the mothers -- who were anything but helicoptering -- loosely orchestrated our lives.   It was sort of like acting in a play with only female leads – the men were always the supporting players.

We walked or biked (without helmets) everywhere. It was simply not cool to be driven. In fact, you were considered a bit of a wimp and even teased, if your mother happened to drive you to school.

We were like the mailmen – “Neither snow nor rain nor heat…” kept us from walking back and forth to school every day – actually -- twice a day. I always came home to a hot lunch.

Hank, an older retired policeman, would lead children across the street at the corner of Kenilworth Avenue and Abbotsford Road. But I never walked to that corner, because – well, I knew how to safely cross Kenilworth Avenue without Hank's assistance!

I'm not naive. I know that my 1950s childhood was idyllic and that not all my contemporaries lived as well and as nicely as we did in Kenilworth.  But to me, this life was normal.

Our parents felt such gratitude that they had survived and had done well after the stresses of their youth.  They chronicled their own lives in terms of cataclysmic events. They used phrases like “Before The Crash, “During The Depression,” or “after The War” to specify various years. Their lives were utterly defined and entwined by these tragic historic years. Where I might say, “When I was in college,” my mother would say, “during the War.”

Probably because of their haunting youths, the Kenilworth parents seemed to fall into two categories. Some parents denied their children nothing. It was like they didn’t want their kids to feel the same deprivations that they had felt growing up in the Depression.

Or they were like my parents, who said “no” to just about everything. Don’t get me wrong – my parents weren’t selfish: we had wonderful vacations and lovely Christmases – they just didn’t want to waste money. The little unexpected gifts that happened along the way are still very memorable because of their infrequency.

Finally being able to buy their forever home, was a huge deal for my parents.  It was a lovely old house on Warwick Road near the Holy Comforter Church.  It was built sometime around 1912 and my parents were the second owners.  When we moved in, the house was in a bit of a time warp -- probably hadn't been redecorated since the 1930s. But my parents were so thrilled and proud: it was Mother's dream home and it was where they lived for over forty years.

My dad was on call most weekends, so he didn't do much around the house.  My mother was busy with all of her civic activities, so decorating and changing the house became a budgeted annual line item for which they saved.   One or two rooms at a time would get decorated.  I slept in my little pink bedroom with the wallpaper peeling off the walls and with a light bulb dangling from the ceiling for 4 years, before that room got decorated. As I look back, it really was pretty pitiful.

My folks had already lived there for fifteen years before they got around to remodeling the original kitchen.  (Even the little cabinet door to the exterior for the "ice" box was still there.)

In the forty years that they lived in the house, my folks never updated the bathrooms.  We had no showers and I shared a bathroom with my siblings.  We had no central air conditioning, either -- just window fans and air conditioners.  The closets were pretty small, so my dad kept his clothes in my younger sister's bedroom.

I thought I grew up in a happy home with ample space.  It was a nice house on a great street in a beautiful suburb.  In fact, I thought we had a fabulously luxurious house.

Given the exacting expectations of today's buyers, I guess we didn't live so well.

Probably, because of the way I was raised, I am always a bit perplexed by many of the buyers today.   Their expectations for new homes seem so... well... over the top.    Even having to remove wallpaper or paint walls to a different color are considered reasons for eliminating homes from consideration. Some of the comments I hear on a regular basis actually sort of amaze me.

I'll never forget the buyer, who was looking at a four bedroom/two bathroom house, turn to me and say, "I can't possibly expect my children to share a bathroom!"

I must have looked at her, like she came from another universe.

Even more shocking to me are some of the buyer requests from their home inspections.  There is a fearfulness about taking on a house -- with all it's history, quirks and karma.  I remember one buyer actually asking the seller to replace all the plumbing and electricity in the house just because it was older!


Any way you cut it, buying a home is not without work or without risk.  Life is full of uncertainty and risk.  Expecting the sellers to turn over a perfect, risk-free house is unrealistic -- in fact, I think it's a bit absurd.

Making a house your own home is part of the deal.  This may include fixing loose hinges, replacing an outlet or switch, painting the trim or rerouting the gutters.

Buyers today seem to want the sellers to take on all the risks.  I always wonder why.  Don't they want to create their own home?

But then again, I always rode my bicycle without wearing a helmet.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Rules

Last year I had a house guest visiting from England.  We were looking at TV one night trying to find something we both wanted to watch.   While channel surfing, she stopped on NCIS.  She knew the series and wanted to see the show.   

I had never seen NCIS, so I started watching it for the first time.   A few episodes later and with some explanation, I began to understand the premise and characters of the show.   I became hooked and started looking forward to the reruns on USA, so I could watch the series from the beginning with the pilot episode.   

I started loving the characters: McGee, Ducky, Ziva, Tony et al -- and of course, the silent, gut-driven Leroy Jethro Gibbs. 

For those of you who don’t watch NCIS, Gibbs (AKA Mark Harmon) has a set of rules by which he leads his NCIS team as well as his personal life.   From time to time, a rule is mentioned and the team reacts.   Learning Gibbs's rules is how the NCIS team operates with so much synchronicity and cohesion.  Some of the more popular rules, that I began to recognize included: 
Rule #9 – Never go anywhere without a knife.    
Rule #39 – There is no such thing as a coincidence   
While Gibbs is a bit of a maverick, he is also very consistent and doesn't break the rules.   (Although in one episode he did write down on paper, what appeared to be a new rule:  Rule #51 - Sometimes you're wrong.)

I started thinking about rules.   

I feel like I have rules or principles that drive my life and personal relationships.  

But what about work?  What are the rules that are needed to navigate the ins and outs of this highly unpredictable and demanding business?  

If I could only do this job -  just by the rules and everyone knew the rules and they reacted accordingly... it would be ever so much easier.  

Some of Gibb's rules might even apply.  For example, 
Rule #8 – Never take anything for granted.
Rule #28 - If you need help, ask.
Rule #3 - Never be unreachable. 

And there are some of Gibb's rules that can never apply.  When it comes to real estate, you can forget: Rule #13 - Never, ever involve lawyers.

And then there are some of Gibb's rules, that I sometimes wish I could adopt.  But clearly they are just not my rules.  

Rule # 6 - Never say you're sorry.  It's a sign of weakness.
Rule #10 - Never get personally involved in a case.

So here goes.  What are some are my rules of real estate, that I wish everyone followed and believed?

Jones's Rules of Real Estate

I am borrowing my first three rules from the memorable and remarkable, Wendy Bergseth...

Rule #1 - Nice Matters.
Wendy would always say, "Be nice."  I'm always amazed at how some of the principals in this work seem to think that acting rude or being a jerk is how to get a better deal.  Trust me, it isn't.  Buying and selling real estate does not need to be unpleasant. 
Rule # 2 - If a house isn't selling, you have two options: either "raise" the house or lower the price. 
Often sellers think that more marketing will sell a house.  They'll look to their realtor for that silver bullet, that is going to make the difference.   I wish it was that simple.   But the reality is a house needs to sell within a market.   When there is a surplus of inventory, your house has to be the best one in its price point in order to be picked.   
As a seller you have two choices - either make your house the best one (take down wallpaper, re-stage furniture, de-clutter... whatever it takes) or lower the price.   
It really is as simple as that. 
Rule # 3 - Some money is better than no money.   
Wendy would say this all the time.  When sellers would balk at a lower offer, she would help us explain to them that this was the offer they had.   Sometimes it's better to accept a lower offer and move on, than to wait for that illusive next offer.  
Rule #4 - Pricing your home correctly from day 1 is the most strategic marketing decision you can make. 
Anyone who has read my blog or worked with me knows that this is my personal mantra!
Rule #5 - If you want to sell your home, then be a seller who wants to sell. 
I often say there are two types of sellers. Those who want to sell their home and those who want someone to buy their home.  And there’s a huge difference. 
The sellers who want to sell their home will do anything and everything to get their home sold. They understand that it’s not personal. It is business and they are selling a product. 
The other kind of sellers: those who want someone to buy their home, just put their home out there - as is - and then say to themselves, “My house is special. Everyone is going to love it.” 
It simply doesn't work that way -- buyers rarely buy your house as is.  They are looking for their house.  
Rule #6 - There is no such thing as a perfect house.
Every home requires compromises.   Buyers keep looking and thinking they are going to find the perfect home.   It's not going to happen.  The perfect home exists only in heaven.  
Rule #7 - An offer is never an insult.  
I'm always amused when a client tells me that an offer they received is "an insult." Of all the homes this buyer could have picked, they took the time to write an offer for your house, and you're insulted?  Really?   
An offer is simply a starting point for negotiations.  You may not like the offer, but react with gratitude, that you received it!
 Rule #8 - When in doubt, disclose.   
I've written about this before: Full DisclosureDisclose, disclose, disclose.... 
Rule #9 - The right house will be there, when you're ready to buy. 
I've seen this happen over and over again in this business.   I remember my cousin crying for a day, when she lost out on her dream house.   Six months later an even nicer, less expensive house that she liked better came on the market.   It was meant to be.  
Rule #10 - A property is worth what a buyer is willing to pay and what a seller is willing to accept.  
It doesn't matter what Zillow says.  It doesn't matter what your friends say.   It doesn't matter that your house is nicer than your neighbor's house and it sold for $x.  It doesn't matter what another realtor says.   It doesn't matter what you have "invested" in your house.   It doesn't matter what an appraisal said. 
At the end of the day, a house is only worth what a buyer will pay for it and a seller will accept. Period. 
Rule # 11 - The inspection report is not a punch list for the sellers. 
See Inspections - Ugghh! or How important is a home inspection?
Rule #12 - Empathize. 
Or as Mother always said to us, "Stop thinking about yourself." 
It amazes me how people think about this process only from their own perspective.  There are two sides to every real estate transaction.  Trying to understand the other side, is the first step in moving through the process of buying and selling real estate.   I wrote about this as well.   Demonization
Rule #13 - Once you put your house on the market,  say good-bye to it.  
The house ceases to be your home as soon as you put the sign out front; it has now become a commodity that needs to compete in the housing market.  One of the hardest things for sellers is to emotionally detach from their home.   It's so personal to them. It's emotional and it hurts when others don't feel the same way about the place.   
To a buyer your house is simply a property to be evaluated -- it's no longer your home.  
Rule #14 - Moving is not for the faint of heart.
Short of war, death, illness, torture, calamitous weather or accident, terrorist attack or divorce, I can't think of a more stressful and potentially unpleasant experience than moving.  Be sure you understand why you're moving and why you are putting yourself through this ordeal of an experience.  Don't waste your time or put your house on the market, if you're not committed to actually making the move.  
Rule #15 - Don't look back.   
I write this rule more for myself than anyone else.  It's so easy to second guess your words, decisions and actions.  It's not that you shouldn't take lessons learned and use them for the future, but constantly revisiting something serves no purpose.  
Be joyful in your new home.  Remember the good times from your last home.   Recognize that everyone probably did the best job they could, given the circumstances that they were presented.   So often people wonder, if they could have sold their home for more, or whether they should have bought a different house.   
Maybe this sounds rather Zen-like -- but you are where you're supposed to be! 
So these are my rules... so far.  Maybe like Gibbs, I'll add more as a go along.   
Ah, if only everyone agreed and followed my rules -- how much easier this would all be!   

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

New Listing

Check out my new listing at 145 High Holborn in Lake Forest!

lovely home with great curb appeal

Monday, April 3, 2017

How's The Market as of April 1, 2017

Welcome April -- I can see the tulips popping up early and the buds forming on the trees. Let's hope it's a beautiful month.

And how about real estate on the North Shore? I can't speak for other agents, but I have sure have been busy this month! I feel like the spring market started early and many things are around the corner!.

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. Inventory levels changed very little from February. So while we had more sales, we also had more listings come on the market. Evanston continues to have a severe shortage of inventory, while Kenilworth and Lake Forest continue to have a high surplus.

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was newer home in Winnetka on Trapp Lane.

There are currently 196 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of March, 6 houses closed in this price range:

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

Have a beautiful spring!

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