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

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

It's the little things

Many years ago there was advertisement in the Wall Street Journal for some company (which I can't remember).   My mother loved the ad so much, that she wrote in and got a copy of it for framing.   I still have it on my desk and look at from time to time - particularly when I'm having a bad day!  I was able to scan it for this post:

At the time I was living in the city, so I particularly liked "an empty parking space."

When I look at this framed list, it reminds me to be grateful for all the little things, that make our lives special.

Just like with our lives, it's the details that can make a home special and stand out from the others.

We don't sell our homes the way we live in them.   I know I sometimes forget to hang up my coat or put away mail, but then I'm not selling my house.  Some things are really obvious - drawers closed; things organized nicely, beds made, dishes washed and put away. 

But there are other details that are actually more revealing and more influential than you think.  For example, when a doorbell doesn't work or there are dripping faucets or mouse droppings in the basement or hinges that look loose, etc., it makes a buyer wonder.  How well has this house really been maintained?  What are the bigger issues that I can't see?

Here are some basic areas to consider when selling your house -- take care of these things upfront -- BEFORE the buyers ever come through the door or at very least, before the buyer has an inspection on the house.   Be preemptive:
  1. Roof and gutters -- before you list the house, have the roof inspected.   Replace missing shingles.  If moss is growing on the roof, get it cleared off.   Clean the gutters and downspouts.  Make sure water isn't pooling anywhere around the house.  While you're at it, have the chimney inspected and any necessary tuckpointing done ahead of time. 
  2. Wash the windows -- this is so important.   Dirty windows imply that the house is dirty.   Clean windows show the owners take care of their house plus they allow for more light to come into the rooms!
  3. Exterior appearance -- check the sidewalks and exterior -- repair front stoops; clean the flower beds -- mulch if needed.  Trim trees and shrubs: haul away any dead limbs.   The exterior is so important -- it's the first thing that buyers see.  Make sure the grounds have no miscellaneous trash or the mailbox is overstuffed -- actually make sure the mailbox looks clean and freshly painted.   Power wash the lawn furniture -- make sure everything looks fresh and nice. 
  4. Service the HVAC.   I can't tell you how foul it looks during an inspection,  when the inspector pulls out a dirty furnace filter.   It looks like the system hasn't been serviced in years.   And another thing: if the house is vacant, make sure the air is set to the appropriate temperature.  It's not very welcoming for buyers to walk into a very cold or very hot house.   
  5. Look around for seasonal things to consider.   Have you reset the digitals clocks around the house to reflect daylight savings time?   Has the patio furniture been stored for the winter or brought out for the summer?  Has the Christmas wreath been removed from the front door?
As I've said before, before you put your home on the market, walk into it like you are seeing it for the very first time.  Pretend you are the buyers... what do you see that you don't like.   You know the issues -- address them upfront!   

It's the little things... 

Details make the difference!

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