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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.)