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

Contact Ann

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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Exciting announcement

I have changed my brokerage affiliation.   
My new contact information is:

Ann Jones
600 N. Western Avenue
Lake Forest, IL 60045

I'm incredibly excited to be joining the fastest growing brokerage firm in the Chicago area. As a locally-owned, independent company, @properties is deeply committed to supporting the communities and clients they serve. 

Established in 2000, @properties was built around the idea of providing brokers and their clients with the highest level of service in the industry through cutting-edge sales and marketing programs. What I really am excited by is their corporate culture which values innovation, relationships as well as a strong local focus.

In less than 10 years, @properties became the #1 brokerage firm in Chicago. Today @properties is one of the top 11 residential brokers in the U.S. by sales volume, the #1 real estate firm in the city of Chicago, and the second largest brokerage firm on Chicago's North Shore.

I'm looking forward with great enthusiasm to this new affiliation. 

I thought this might be a good time to make one more change. 
My website address is now

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Green Tips - Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for the Holidays

Let me say this -- Happy Thanksgiving.    I came across this article worth sharing:

12 Ways to Green Your Thanksgiving

As Black Friday approaches tomorrow, consider this: Choosing eco-friendly gifts is not only possible, it's affordable. Here are some green gift giving ideas will help guide you through your shopping over this Christmas season.  Being gentle on the earth means also giving from a place of generosity and care.
Scale Down
Americans tend to spend hundreds of billions of dollars just during the holiday season.  Just imagine how much of that ends up in the trash within a few months or becomes obsolete. Much of what we give or receive is just not needed or wanted in the first place. Most of us buy out of obligation, without really considering our impact on the environment or our wallets.

Shopping for eco-friendly gifts starts with these questions: Who do I really need to buy for? How much do I really need to spend? Do the presents I'm buying have a purpose or meaning?
Buy Local
Search craft shows, swap meets, local listings, etc for a one-of-a-kind and locally-made eco-friendly gifts.
Quality, Not Quantity
When purchasing gifts, forego lots of inexpensive and poorly made items and opt for fewer quality items that will last longer. The lifespan of the item will soon outweigh any initial cost.
Don't Buy New
Used, secondhand, vintage, it what you will.  Some of my very favorite Christmas gifts were items that my mother had in her home and passed on to me as a present.
Can you paint, crochet or knit, take nice photos, make awesome crafts or display some other talent through your holiday gift giving?
Green gift giving doesn't have to include anything complicated. Homemade cookies, cakes, and pies are always appreciated by those wishing to cut back on unnecessary gift giving.
Sustainable Materials
As hard as it may be, eco-friendly gifts should avoid plastics, polyesters, hardwoods or any other non-sustainable materials. Many of these materials are not easily renewable and/or may produce toxins either in their manufacturing or during use. Opt instead for cotton, bamboo, wool, etc.
Put a spin on green gift giving: Instead of just buying things that are green, try buying things that teach green. Perhaps a vegetable gardening book with a few garden tools, or some shade grown coffee or give someone a class at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  They have some wonderful youth and adult programs.  
Give the Gift of Charity
Any impossible-to-buy-for people on your list? Donate money, plant a tree, support their favorite charitable organization in their name. Organizations like  or are a great place to start.   My family did that last year and it was wonderful -- we learned about different charities and there was no wrapping paper clean up!
Give the gift of time
In our busy days of rushing around, maybe just spending an hour with your kids playing cards or visiting older friends at in a nursing home can be a wonderful present.   Our undivided and focused time is often the most precious gift we can give someone.  

and finally Start them young enjoying our National Parks 

Adventurers, explorers, historians, Junior Rangers, and everyone in between have grown to love the classic Passport To Your National Park since its introduction in 1986, using the little book to log visits to National Park Service units across the United States.

"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." - Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tech trends

Annually, the National Association of Realtors hosts its convention and expo for its over 1.5M members from the US.   The venue varies, but this year it was in Chicago, so I went for the first time to see what it was all about.  It was at McCormick Place, so as you might expect the crowds were tremendous - I met realtors from Montana to Tennessee. 

One session that was quite interesting was a presentation about new technologies endorsed by a sub-group called, REach®.   Some of the tools were really for brokers more than consumers, but there were a couple of technologies that I think consumers might find useful.
Thought I would pass along the information:

Centriq is an inventory management system for your home.  It's much more sophisticated because you can use it for ongoing home maintenance as well.   To learn more, you can see information here.  

Pearl’s certification system can help you create the home you want: comfortable, healthy, safe, and energy efficient.  To learn more, you can see information here.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

It's a matter of time...

As some of you know, I was in consulting for over two decades before getting my license to sell real estate.   In my prior life, at the Firm it was drummed into us, "Clients First."   

Serving clients became an overtime occupation. And everything we did was measured by time.   We needed to turn in time reports twice a month that spelled out in great detail as to where we spent our time.   The tasks, that we were asked to do, had an accompanying estimated hours for doing them.  There were work programs and we evaluated on how well we accomplished our tasks within the specified time. 

I suppose for this reason, I continue to be amazed by the income model used in selling real estate.  Typically, agents are paid based on a percentage of the sale price of the house.   Time isn't even factored into the equation.   I have brought in a huge commission after doing, what felt like, very little work OR a paltry sum after working extensive hours of effort.  

It's a funny business. 

Sometimes agents will spend two precious hours on a Sunday afternoon sitting at an Open House and no one comes to see the house.   Or sometimes they'll spend 4 hours at an inspection of a property -- not to mention the hours of showing houses and negotiating a deal -- only to have their buyers decide to rent instead.  

There seems to very little correlation to time and income.   In the depths of the housing collapse, if measured in time, agents were making substantially less than minimum wage for the numbers of hours they were working.    I continue to think it's an odd way of being compensated for one's efforts.

And believe it or not, our income often depends on the clients and their expectations.  It depends on their efforts and not ours. 

For example, getting a house sold has a lot to do with the house and how it is presented to buyers. Some sellers insist on a ridiculous list price and then chastise their agent because they are not getting any showings.   Or some sellers do very little to present their home in a favorable light or they will cancel showings if it's an inconvenient time for them.   

And buying a home requires some flexibility and empathy.   Some buyers are driven to WIN rather than negotiate a fair deal.   Or they expect a perfect house and walk away from a deal because of some minor issues on the inspection.   Some buyers move from agent to agent looking for answers.  They are disloyal and show little regard to the work and efforts of the agent, with whom they have been working. 

But then there are clients, who work with their agents in a partnership and constructive manner; who listen to their agent's advice and are willing to negotiate fairly.   They are loyal and respectful of their time.   These clients (AKA, Best Clients) are utterly fantastic!!   They are so much fun and the results are usually very positive.  It's a win-win for everyone.  For me, working with Best Clients is quality time and I love these clients!    And an added bonus: many of them end up being great friends. 

Therefore, Clients First does not always mean that clients are right or fair.  I learned with time, that there are great clients and there are less than great clients.   With experience, I learned, which clients were simply not worth my time.

Sometimes I'm willing to walk away from a prospect if their expectations are unrealistic.  Sometimes they eliminate me, if they don't like my honesty and directness.   Unlike some agents, I really, really am OK with this situation.   I'm going to be in a client-agent relationship with these people, which could potentially be for a long time.   We need to be in sync with each other or the ensuing months will probably be fraught with conflict and unpleasantness. 

What makes a Best Client?   

Years ago, I sat down and laid out for myself the questions I needed to ask myself when evaluating prospects.  Sometimes in an effort to serve, I forget to consider the criteria.   But lately, I've been thinking that I am going to stick to my criteria more often.  

 So here goes:

                             Best Client Criteria
Can this prospect(s) become Best Client(s)? Are they:
  • respectful of my advice and abilities 
  • realistic, smart, flexible and/or adaptable 
  • empathic and looking to work with the other party in a constructive manner 
  • loyal 
  • willing to provide a testimonial and refer business 
Does this prospect have achievable expectations? 
Will the net profit from this transaction justify my time and expenditures?
When a transaction is over, I want to feel good about the people with whom I worked and I want them to feel good about me and the job that I did for them. 

The bottom line is this:  
Did we have a good time working together?

It's a matter of time...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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

Did you have lots of trick-or treaters last night?   I had my share.   Love seeing their little faces and their cute costumes.   Reminds me of my days at Joseph Sears and how we wandered the streets at night - looking for that house that had Hershey Bars or Snickers.  

Halloween is sort of an ending point for the North Shore real estate market.  That's not to say that we don't have activity in the next few months... it just gets a little quieter as people prepare for the holidays.   Often the inventory levels get a little distorted as people remove the listings of their homes from the MLS to take a break from showings during the holidays.  

So how was the market in October? (click on chart to see at full size)

This first chart shows units sold, the second presents the median prices.  
We had a pretty good month in October.  In general, units sold were up from last year.  Inventory levels are decreasing.   

The continued uptick of sales in Lake Forest was very encouraging...   Median prices are tending to remain constant or decreasing.    

I study inventory levels to really have a sense of how local markets are doing. I highlighted in green, red, and blue.

Green = sellers' market
Blue = balanced market
Red= buyers' market

With the exception of Lake Forest, the North Shore is looking great for sellers, although it's a little more challenging for buyers in some of the other communities.  In Evanston, Lake Bluff, Northfield and Wilmette there is actually a shortage inventory.   All the communities are doing better this year and we're seeing more sales and a healthier market.  

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community.  The highest sale was a the so-called "Pabst Mansion" on Sheridan Road in Glencoe - a gated residence set on 2+acres with a pool, spa and sport court - 8 bedrooms and 8.4 baths.

There are currently 188 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

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

As we come to Thanksgiving, I'm reminded how utterly blessed we are to live in this beautiful area in this amazing country.   I came across this lovely blog post that I will share with you. 

What if we are just grateful?

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.