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

Contact Ann

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Year in Review

As a blogger, I like to see what people enjoy reading.   It's always a bit of hit and miss -- I'm often surprised at things people love versus the posts that have little readership.  I thought I would do a scan on the stats and highlight my top posts for the year!

10. Without helmets - my take on how buyers and buyer values have changed

 9.  Rocking the Ages, redeux - an update to my 2014 generational series, Rocking the Ages

 8.  What's your type?  Which broker works for you?

 7.   Several of the Green Tips posts ranked very high, specifically, Valentine tips for the eco-friendly, One People - One Planet, and Hot Products for the Luxury Green Home .

 6.  My life in Real Estate: Remodeling

 5.  On to the Next Chapter - notes to the Baby Boomers

 4.  Financially Savvy Home Improvements

 3. Demonization - I always like to think win-win!

 2. Disclose, Disclose, Disclose.   My words of advice to sellers!

 1. The Rules and The Rules Continued.   I got more positive feedback from these posts than from any others that I have written in the last five years.   The affirmative response was heartening!

And the Grand Winner is always my annual biggest hit, 
How's the Market? End of Year Recap for 2016

Stay tuned.   I'll be getting you my end of the year recap for 2017 within the next week!

Friday, December 15, 2017

To pay or not to pay....

My tax accountant suggested I prepay my property taxes... so I did.   Maybe you might want to check with your tax advisor...

I thought this article was helpful

Prepaying 2018 Property Taxes by December 31, 2017 - DHJJ: With both the House and Senate tax reform plans calling for a $10,000 limit to the property tax deduction, it further strengthens prepaying property taxes before 12/31/2017 for those who would receive a tax benefit. Each taxpayer’s situation is different, so please check with your DHJJ CPA at 630-420-1360 with any questions. Property Tax Prepayment... Read more »

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How to lower the value of your house

I write this tongue in cheek -- but really, there are dozens of articles about what can increase the value of your home and tips for selling.  But has anyone ever spelled out things that will really devalue your home?

Buyers today come with their calculators when they are evaluating a house.  They will quickly deduct from the purchase price, if they don't think these issues are factored into the asking price.  

Do any of these things stand out with your house?  

In our market, garages are pretty important.   In general buyers prefer an attached garage with a minimum of two spaces.   Anything less than that may be perceived a real negative.  Not only that, most people want the additional storage space that a garage can provide.  

If you fall into this category of "less than," look for ways to add value.  Make sure the garage is well-organized and de-cluttered to, at least, give the illusion of more space.   

Consider adding an additional "landing pad" for that extra car.  One technique. that I have seen that is environmentally friendly, is brick blocks with grass growing in between.  

Swimming Pools
Swimming pools are tricky.   Having a pool can be a mixed blessing.  In our climate, buyers rarely consider a pool an increase to the value of the home.   In fact, for some people it will devalue your home.   Think twice before installing a pool at your house. 

Tired Roofs
In the last several years, I have found myself with a roof being a major issue from the home inspection.  Buyers will rarely pay a premium for a new roof, but they will often devalue a home with an old roof.  Sellers, if your roof is at the end of its useful life, I would think seriously about replacing it before you put your home on the market.  

Limited Storage
Buyers today want good storage and great closet space.   Look at your house with an objective eye and figure out ways to improve storage.   If you need some ideas, check out my Pinterest board on storage and closets

Dated Appliances
Nothing dates a kitchen or house faster than old appliances.  Buyers are putting out a lot of money to purchase they house -- they don't want to have to continue to put out money to buy new appliances.  New appliances are relatively inexpensive and they can make a world of difference to a buyer who is looking homes.

Problems of a Health and Safety Nature
As you may know, I recommend pre-listing inspections.   Inspectors may point out issues like asbestos, mold, radon, poor electrical connections, etc.  If you think you may have these problems, get them addressed early -- before you put your house on the market.  Trust me when I say, that they will surface during the inspection phase and raise red flags to buyers.

Deferred Maintenance
If your home has too many things wrong from squeaky hinges to torn screens, it can be a real deal-breaker for many buyers. Unless they’re specifically looking for a project, they aren’t interested in taking care of your maintenance issues.

Exterior Problems
You may be saving money by ignoring exterior paint jobs and tree trimming, but you’re also decreasing the value of your home right upfront.  Nice curb appeal is critical and that means a clean paint job, polished hardware, tidy mailbox, excellent yard clean up and trimming, clean gutters and foundations that are not pooling water -- good drainage away from the house.  

Bad Location
Location is everything in real estate.  When buying a home pick your location carefully.   The Neighborhood Features That Drag Down Your Home Value—Ranked:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

America's finest: 6 luxury home improvement products made in the U.S.

It's Pearl Harbor Day.   I thought I would post something memorable in honor of that momentous time in our history -- something American.   I came across this article and thought I would share it...

(BPT) - Peruse any home improvement media and you may get the impression you just can’t build, renovate or decorate a quality home without relying on foreign-made products like granite from Italy for countertops, cherry hardwood flooring from Brazil or textiles from India. However, you don’t have to sacrifice quality and luxury in order to buy American for your home; some of the finest home decor products originate right here in the U.S.

Here are six of America’s finest domestically made products for the home:

ANN SACKS — Every tile in the company’s 14 MADE by ANN SACKS collections is handcrafted and produced in its Portland, Oregon, headquarters. Founded in 1981 by Ann Sacks, the company’s tile and stone products in unique patterns, shapes, sizes and glazes are favorites of homeowners and interior designers seeking top-quality luxury and beauty for their home designs. In addition to a repertoire of standard tiles, the company also has partnered with famous designers to create innovative luxury lines. They even create custom designs to help homeowners achieve a truly one-of-kind look in their homes.

The company is also a pioneer in another aspect of American culture: the focus on sustainable business practices. The company recycles all excess raw clay, uses only lead-free glazes, filters production waste water and uses only recycled and recyclable packaging for shipping products.

Stickley — Founded in 1900 by the Stickley brothers, the luxury furniture brand continues to conduct all its manufacturing in its Manlius, New York, factory. Their furniture is known for its beautiful wood construction, durability and meticulous attention to details.

Robern — Rooted in the belief that “your everyday routine should never feel ordinary,” Robern has been making innovative medicine cabinets, bathroom mirrors, vanities and lighting since 1968. From smart medicine cabinets with features like touch-dimmable task lighting, magnetic storage and integrated USB outlets to wall mirrors with lights, audio and defogging capabilities, all products are still made in Bristol, Pennsylvania.

Bloomsburg Carpet — Founded in 1976 to produce quality, luxurious carpet, Bloomsburg Carpet weaves all its carpets in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley. Third-generation weavers produce Axminster, Velvet and Wilton carpets under one roof. The company weaves with raw, sustainable fibers that it describes as “ecologically friendly and readily renewable.”

Viking — Founded in 1987, Viking produces professional-quality ranges and refrigerators at four manufacturing facilities in Leflore County, Mississippi. The company’s products are favorites of both professionals and home chefs.

Thomasville Bedding Company — The company that began over 40 years ago in a one-room building now occupies 36,000 square feet of factory and showroom space in Thomasville, Georgia. In addition to offering a wide selection of mattress styles, the company is also one of the few remaining bedding makers who will manufacture a custom set to fit any size bed.

You don’t have to sacrifice the pride of buying American to find the luxury, quality and customization you desire for your home decor. Purchasing quality American-made products is an investment that can deliver high returns in beauty, durability and satisfaction.

Posted: Thursday, October 26, 2017 7:01 am | Updated: 3:33 am, Fri Oct 27, 2017 on Brandpoint (BPT)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

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

Oh my goodness. December already? Where did the year go?

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

As you can see, the units sold were somewhat different from last year -- there were both ups and downs. The months of inventory on the first chart is a better way of measuring the market. Anything less than 6 months is considered a sellers' market -- anything more than 8 months is considered a buyers' market.  It continues to be inconsistent on the North Shore, however most communities are in pretty good shape. It appears that high-end homes are moving more slowly than those that are more affordable. The median sales price is going both up and down in the communities so there doesn't appear to be a pattern. 

One caveat: sometimes the numbers are a little distorted this time of year.   Sellers often take their homes out of the MLS during the holidays, so often there are more homes available for sale than show up in the computer system.

In the next chart I show the high-end sales for each community. Wilmette had the highest sale with an amazing 1941 lake front property. 

There are currently 169 houses for sale in the MLS 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

The market continues along. Enjoy the next few weeks. As the year comes to a close, I think about other holiday seasons and memories of times past.  It has been a remarkable year with an amazing cross-country adventure, wonderful times and new beginnings.   I'm looking forward to 2018 at my new @properties office and hope to see many of you in the new year.  

Wishing you all the best during this holiday season.

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