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

Contact Ann

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Year of the Dog

So it's the Year of the Dog -- based on Chinese zodiac.   I rather like this sign: my mother was born in the year of the dog and she actually possessed most of the positive qualities attributed to this sign:  honesty, friendliness, faithfulness, loyalty, intelligence, straightforwardness, venerable and have a strong sense of responsibility.

It's my year of the dog as well...  I just got a new puppy.   Meet Monty.

If you love dogs as much as I do, you know that there are both plusses and minuses to having this animal in your life... particularly if you are trying to maintain a home.  Both my Lewie and Monty love me like I am the only person on this earth.   They give me a great reason to get up early in the morning.   Their presence is warm and loving... BUT...they are dogs and as such they are pretty messy, too. 

Some thoughts... particularly if you are planning on selling your house. 

Fresh Start: Get That Dog Odor Out of Your Home
Smell - and dogs can smell.  When something smells “off,” buyers often walk out the door. Consider professionally cleaning all the furniture or rugs where your pets have slept and keep those spots off limits until the house is under contract. If your dog has rolled in muck or whatever, get him bathed and smelling sweet again soon, so he doesn’t bring that odor into the house. While you’re marketing your house, vacuum frequently, open windows, and let that fresh air in. 

Muck and mud -- in this weather, dogs track in so much mud.   I struggle with this myself.  Try to keep your pets contained in areas where you can clean up easily.  

Scratches and stains  - dogs leave stains and scratch floors leaving things amiss.   There are a number of pet cleaning products, which can eliminate the stains. Make sure nothing looks unsightly. If you can't eliminate the stains then consider removing the rug or replacing it.  Buff the hardwood floors to make them look a little more presentable. 

Animal paraphernalia -- when you have showings put things away: dog beds, food and water dishes, toys, etc.    

We love our pets -- but not everyone does.  Some people are allergic; some are fearful; some simply don't like animals... go figure?

If you were born in the year of the dog, (1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006) hope you have a good year!

Check out these photos in the Wall Street Journal!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

30 online resources as you move to Chicago's North Shore

Moving to the Chicago area?   Trying to figure out where to live?  Thinking about the North Shore?

Well if you are, this post is for you!

While I've been blessed and had opportunities to live in various states in the US and places in Europe...that said... as a Native of the North Shore, I keep coming home!   And by home, I mean the area located along the SW shore of Lake Michigan -- Chicago to Lake Bluff!

I love Chicago -- and I'm not alone.  TimeOut surveyed 15,000 people in 32 cities—from Austin to Hong Kong to Tel Aviv—and asked in-depth questions about dining, neighborhoods, affordability, happiness, etc.  Each city was then scored.  Chicago has captured the No. 1 spot for two years in row.

So here are some of my thoughts on online resources to explore as you consider making the move to the Windy City's North Shore!
  1. Geoffrey Baer Tours Chicago's North Shore
  2. Homeward Bound, North Shore
  3. Chicago's North Shore Communities
  4. Do you know this place?
  5. Understanding Illinois Property Taxes
  6. Schools on the North Shore
  7. Metra
  8. Edens Expressway, US41
  9. Neighborhoods and Market Reports
  10. Cook County and Lake County Forest Preserves
  11. Chicago Botanic Garden
  12. North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
  13. Writer's Theatre
  14. Ravinia Festival
  15. Old Orchard
  16. Central Street Evanston
  17. Plaza del Lago
  18. Market Square
  19. Northwestern University
  20. Walker Bros. The Original Pancake House
  21. Homers
  22. Sweets
  23. Three Tarts Bakery and Cafe
  24. Foodstuffs
  25. 13 Chicago Locations From John Hughes Movie
  26. Bahá’í Temple
  27. The History of New Trier Township
  28. Lake County History
  29. So you want to live in Lake Bluff
  30. Landmark Renaissance Theatre 

Any other ideas out there? 

where you live!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

How's the Market? As of February 1, 2018

And now it's February.  January was an incredibly busy month – at least for me.  I’m enjoying my new office and learning the ins and outs of a different brokerage.   @properties has so many fantastic tools and aids to support their agents – I continue to be thrilled with my move.  

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, the North Shore looks pretty good, although Evanston and Wilmette appear to have a shortage of inventory.   Some of this is seasonal.  Often sellers take their homes off the market during the winter months, thus lowering the inventory levels.   We should probably see inventory levels begin to rise after the SuperBowl coming up. 

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was classic lake front home with over on over two acres in Winnetka.  It sold for $10,000,000!  There is discussion about the house being torn down.  Amazing.

There are currently 156 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of January, 11 houses closed in this price range:
Sold This Month
# for Sale
Highland Park
Lake Forest
Lake Bluff

It feels like we’re off to a good start for 2018.  Let’s keep it going!

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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Green Tips - Looking for zero-waste tips

According to As You Sow, food packaging is a primary culprit in creating vast amounts of waste. Nearly half of the solid waste stream is comprised of packaging and paper goods.

Zero-waste meals are both a great way to save natural resources as well as money.

1. Pack a Lunch from Home
One of the best ways to achieve significant waste reduction is by packing a lunch for yourself and your kids.

2. Use Reusable Food Containers
Individual portions of food products while convenient, contain more packaging and are more expensive. When possible shop for bulk.   Re-package them yourself smaller, reusable packages. Use reusable containers and bags for sandwiches, soups, yogurt, salads and entrees.   Bring back that trusty lunchbox and Thermos!

3. Source Locally Produced Foods
Some foods are transported hundreds or even thousands of miles across the globe to arrive in our lunchboxes.  To save energy and to support local farmers, source as much food from local farms as possible. Frequent your farmers market, join a CSA farm, start a backyard garden and look for locally grown foods at the grocery store.

4. Make Your Own Snacks and Condiments
Back in the old days, people made virtually everything themselves from scratch. Energy bars, nut milks, smoothies, hummus and salad dressings are easy to make, often reducing packaging.

5. Prevent Food Waste
A zero-waste lunch also means preventing wasted food. Pack realistic quantities, so there is less waste.

6. Avoid Getting Carryout Food with Excessive Packaging
For example, skip the disposable silverware, bag and napkins by using your own reusable ones, and forgo the condiment packets if you won’t use them.

7. Find a Recycling and Compost Bin
Whenever possible, make sure to recycle the packaging and compost the food.

Source -

Thursday, January 18, 2018

8 things to consider about your front door

I was looking for inspiration for a post and saw an interesting picture of a wall of doors.   For some reason the quote, "The eye is the window to the soul" popped into my memory.   Sounded like Shakespeare to me, so I was surprised to to find out it was actually Proverbs 30:17. 

I'm digressing.  

Why the quote?  Just as the eye is the window to the soul, the front door is the window to the soul of the home.  A front door is incredibly revealing and tells us a lot about who and what are inside.  When I am out touring to look at homes, I always pay close attention to the entry. 

Some things to consider...

1. Where is the front door?
Have you ever been to a house and you're not sure where the front door is?   The driveway leads to the garage, but there is no sidewalk.   Or perhaps, there are two doors
in front and it's unclear which one to enter.   I think the front entry needs to be clear to everyone.  It gives the house a presence.  
2. What color is the front door?
The color of the door tells me something about the residents of the house.   A muted color gets lost.   I love to see doors with a contrasting color.  It makes the door stand out.  
3. How easy is it to lock and unlock the front door?
So many of us enter the house through the backdoor or through the garage, that we rarely pay much attention to our front doors.   One of the little frustrations for agents -- and this happens more than you think -- sellers have the lost the keys to their front door, or the lock gets stuck or the door doesn't open easily.  From time to time, check out your front door.  Use a little WD-40 or put in new locks.  
4. What does the hardware look like on the front door?
The front door is one of the first impressions buyers observe about a house.   Does the hardware match the house?  A contemporary house needs contemporary hardware!  Is the hardware in good shape, clean and in good working order?   I've been to homes where the door knob is actually falling off! 
5. What's around the front door?
Is it clean or are there cobwebs?   Is it well lit with sparkling light fixtures?  Is there any staging like flowers or a bench?  Is it inviting?   Does the doorbell work and is it clearly seen?  
6. Is the front door well lit at night?

Is the light strong enough to see the stairs, etc.   Is the pathway marked, clear and approachable?
7. How safe are the stairs and railings up to the front door?
Again, this is something I have personally experienced.   I've actually fallen at a couple of homes -- the stairs were uneven, steep or in disrepair.   One house didn't have a railing and I slipped on the ice and fell down the stairs.   It's really important for homeowners to make sure that any steps or stairs leading to a front door are safe and easy to navigate.  It's a huge turnoff for buyers when they see that they need to fix the front stoop -- even before they have seen the inside of the house!
8. Does the door match the house?
Maybe this is a personal pet peeve, but I really don't like it when the doors don't match the style of the house.   A Tudor-styled home just shouldn't have a contemporary door.  It's like wearing sneakers with a ballgown!
I keep a Pinterest Board on Doors - it always provides me with some inspiration.

Buying or selling?  What does the front door tell you?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

No matter what you read about putting one's house on the market, the first instruction given is to


  1. noun
  1. 1.
    a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.

    "the attic is full of clutter"

We don’t all define clutter the same way.  The above definition would suggest it could be anything lying about.  But I think an even better definition is  

clut·ter: “stuff” that distracts potential home buyers.   

Clutter gets in the way of potential buyers seeing the bones and the beauty of the home.  We all have clutter and sometimes it is disguised as prized family heirlooms or our children's amazing art projects.  

Here are a few items that become clutter once the home is for sale:

  • Family photos bunched together on a table or wall
  • Grandma's prized teapot
  • Refrigerator magnets holding up sports schedules, doctor's business cards and pictures of grandchildren
  • School calendars
  • Fake plants and flower arrangements
  • Book shelves overflowing with too many books
  • A piece of furniture that blocks a window or door -- or simply too much furniture in a room
  • Too many table cloths, doilies and draping window treatments 
  • Bath mats and throw rugs
  • Too many chairs around a table
  • Oversized furniture
  • Collections (dolls, paperweights, stuffed animals, wooden ducks, canes.... you name it and we've seen it)
  • Posters of Anthony Rizzo or Patrick Kane
  • Heads of animals that have been mounted -- ugh
You get the idea.   

How we live in a home and what we treasure is extremely personal.  The things we treasure can represent precious memories and important people.  They can even define who we are.  

But selling one's home is no longer a personal matter - it's business.   It's important to remember that too much personalization takes away from the effectiveness of marketing of a property.  

Sellers: edit, edit, edit.  Less is more and making the space look larger can be achieved by having less furniture and "stuff" in a room.   Caution:  I once saw a home where they de-cluttered to a point that the room was sterile and uninviting.   I think a few family pictures here and there are OK.  A nice houseplant or fresh flowers are wonderful.  

If you need help with this task, there are some wonderful stagers and organizers in our area.   My personal go-to folks are The Organizing Girls from Libertyville.  They are great.  

So, thinking about selling?  Start de-cluttering. 

Put away or better yet, start to pack up your stuff now.   That way, it will be all ready to be moved to your next home!

Monday, January 1, 2018

How's the Market? End of Year Recap for 2017

Happy New Year! 2017 was certainly a year to remember.   I hope your 2017 was a year of blessings and much happiness.  

I had a wonderful year both personally and professionally.  It was a great year with my business as I end it on an upbeat note by moving to @properties in Lake Forest.  And personally, it was also great fun with my cross-country trip on Route 66.  
That said, events in the world seem to be a bit more uneasy with challenging weather conditions and unpredictable national leaders.  This article highlights many of these events,  Biggest Housing Stories 2017: The News That Rocked the Real Estate World.  

Probably the one story that will impact us most is the recent passage of the modifications to the tax code.   What does it mean to us?  The Trib outlined some of the impact to residents in How the tax bill impacts homeowners, buyers and sellers
While all real estate is local, we’re not immune from world events so it makes for interesting conditions coming into 2018.
Once again, I am writing my end of the year recap for our local housing market on the North Shore ...These charts present data as of January 1, 2018.  (Just a caution: sellers often take their homes off the market in December, so inventory levels are generally lower during the winter months and start to go back up in the Spring. These numbers are absolute and not seasonally adjusted to reflect this reality.)
(To see a chart more clearly, click on each one to enlarge.)