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

Contact Ann

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Announcing a New Blog Just for Baby Boomers

Our Next Chapter event on April 21 was a success.   The top three things I learned that day...
  1. Consider a combination long-term care/life insurance.   It seemed like a very interesting product to have.  Read more at Ordering the Combo: Life Insurance with Long-Term Care Benefits
  2. When preparing ones' estate, have a plan for digital assets.  Read more at Estate planning for your digital assets
  3. Keep your property "sale ready."   Consider doing a home assessment checkup.  
To keep the dialogue going, I have set-up a separate blog for Baby Boomers on the move.   Check it out:
The Next Chapter

Also I am going to be sending out a periodic newsletter.   If you have any interest in subscribing click here.

Green Tips: How to get rid of unwanted mail

Sometimes when I pick up my mail, I stand over the recycle bin and dump items right into the container.   It feels great that the paper never made it inside my house.   I discovered Catalog Choice a few years ago and it has been a godsend. 

Here's a good article in the New York Times that provides tips to eliminate snail mail:  How to Cut Down on Unwanted Junk Mail

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Questions answered about REALTORS.

Despite what people think, REALTOR® is not a job title.   The terms broker, real estate and REALTOR® are often used interchangeably.   However, in Illinois there are more individuals with real estate broker licenses, than there are REALTORs®.

A REALTOR® is simply a member of the National Association of Realtors. (NAR). Every year the NAR releases a membership report. Here are some statistics from that report:

There are 1.22 million members nationwide.

63% of all members are women.

The median age of members is 53 years old.

82% own their primary residence.

Median years of experience for members is 10 years.

4% of members are under 30.

30% of members are over 60.

In 2016, the typical agent had 12 transactions, which is up from 11 transactions in 2015.

The median gross income is $42,500.

More than half of the members, who have less than two years of experience, earn around 10K a year.

51% of member agents are affiliated with independent firms.

People often ask me, how many licensed agents there are in along the North Shore? 

I did a lookup in MRED - our local multiple listing service.   Based on office location, these were the results:
Evanston - more than 500
Wilmette - 50
Kenilworth - 2
Winnetka - more than 500
Northfield - 39
Glencoe - 93
Highland Park -278
Highwood - 4
Lake Forest - 267
Lake Bluff - 63


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What's your credit score?

Not too long ago, I was working with some folks who wanted to lease their property. Before a landlord accepts a tenant, they ask for two things - references and the potential tenant's FICO (or credit) score. As agents, we need to run the credit score with a third party that solicits the information from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. After the recent data breach incident with Equifax, citizens are pretty aware of the types of sensitive information that these agencies collect.

There are various ways of calculating credit scores. The FICO score (the name comes from the corporate name: Fair Isaac Corporation, who developed the score) is the most commonly used type of credit score in the US. 

FICO scores are also used by mortgage lenders to determine the possibility of whether a borrower is a good risk for lending. If you want to get any kind of financing (appliances, cars, etc.), this three-digit number is one of the most important numbers of your life. It signifies your creditworthiness and it can make or break your ability to get a loan. Credit scores generally range from 300 to 850, with higher credit scores being the best of all.

As of April 2017, 20.7 percent of Americans have a FICO score above 800, according to data from FICO. This makes a record high percentage of people with credit scores over 800 and correlates directly to lower delinquency rates.

Since payment history makes up 35 percent of the credit scoring calculation, there's a strong relationship between having a high credit score and a lower amount of late payments.

After we get a credit report, we need to share it with the landlord and then they make a determination, whether they want to rent the property to these particular tenants. A great score is anything over 750. A lousy score is anything less than 700. The highest score I've ever seen was 878 -- impressive. I won't tell you the lowest.  Let's just say, my landlord client had zero interest in renting to those particular people. 

With the recent financial collapse, people's credit scores took a hit and renting became really challenging for folks, who had lost their homes. Tenants were having to pay 6-12 months rent upfront in order to get the property.

That's actually what happened with this recent situation. The potential tenants had a credit score in the low 600s. My clients were unwilling to rent to, what appeared to be, wonderful tenants.  They just happened to have a poor FICO score. Eventually we were able to secure the lease -- but the tenants had to pay for the full year of rent up front. Ouch.

There are tremendous benefits of having a credit score over 800.

You're more likely to have your applications approved. I recently rented a car - my score is good and it was smooth sailing -- they were very excited to lease to me.

You'll qualify for lower interest rates. Your credit score helps determine the interest rate on loans. Having an 800 credit score will allow you to qualify for lower interest rates and save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. This can be a significant difference with mortgage interest. 

Anyone who manages their credit properly can get an 800 credit score. Here are some tips from the experts:

Pay everything on time.

Maintain lower credit card balances. People with best credit scores use less than 10 percent of their credit limits.

Avoid too many credit checks. Each time you make an application that requires a credit check, a hard inquiry is placed on your credit report. These hard inquiries are 10 percent of your credit score.

Monitor your credit and act quickly to clear up errors. There are sources where you can request your score for free. After the Equifax debacle, I signed up for LifeLock -- they send me my credit score every month. But some other sites to consider:,,,, and If you see something wrong, get it fixed immediately.

Any negative information will eventually age off your credit report. It may take a while, but you too can get your score back over 800.

So what's your credit score -- it's a number to remember!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hope you'll join us on April 21!

Are you one of the 76.4 million babies that were born between 1946 and 1963? Are you thinking about the next chapter of your life and trying to make decisions about the future?

The Next Chapter is the event just for you!  Susan Kelsey and I are bringing this unique program of local experts together to help us plan and answer some of these looming questions: Retire or keep working? Downsize or age in place? Trying to understand Social Security or Medicare? So many decisions – so many options.

Luncheon speaker is Sunny Morton, award-winning writer and popular genealogy speaker whose lectures share a unique brand of warmth, humor, expertise and industry knowledge. She is the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites and Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy.

Date: April 21 morning

Venue: Gorton Community Center

For more details, speaker bios, and to register for this complimentary event go to:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

How's the Market as of April 1, 2018?

Hello April!  

As vacations end, the spring market takes off in full force!  Just since the first of April,  59 new listings have been entered into the MLS on the North Shore.  We're off with a bang!  

So how was the market in March?  I would have to say that it seems a bit slower than usual.  While there are exceptions, the number of units sold seemed to decrease in March.   That said, inventory levels seem to be improving.

The market varies from community to community.  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 is either balanced or a buyers' market.  Despite the higher inventory in Lake Forest the trend is good and sales are on the rise.

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was a lovely home rebuilt by the Poulton Group located on over an acre and a half on Onwentsia Road in Lake Forest.

There are currently 201 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of March, 9 homes closed in this price range:

Sold This Month
# for Sale
Highland Park
Lake Forest
Lake Bluff

Happy Spring!

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