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

Contact Ann

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Green Tips - summer suggestions

As summer comes, here are a few tips from the EPA:

Lawn and Garden
A beautiful and healthy lawn is good for our environment. It can resist damage from weeds, disease, and insect pests.
Here are some tips to follow

  • Develop healthy soil. Make sure your soil has the right pH balance, key nutrients, and good texture. 
  • Choose the right grass for your climate. If your area gets very little rain, don't plant a type of grass that needs a lot of water. 
  • Longer is Better. Make sure the lawn mower blades are sharp. Grass that is slightly long makes a strong, healthy lawn with few pest problems. Weeds have a hard time taking root and growing when grass is around 2½ to 3½ inches for most types of grass.
  • Water Early. It is time to water if footprint impressions stay in the lawn and do not spring back. Water early in the morning and only for short periods for time so the soil may absorb the water. Longer grass has stronger roots and retains water better.
  • Use manual tools. Tools that don't require electric or gasoline engines are especially handy for small yards or small jobs. 

Using and Storing Gasoline
In the summer, lots of portable containers are used to store and transport fuels for lawnmowers, chainsaws and recreational vehicles. These portable containers can emit hydrocarbons; in addition, spills can leak into ground water. Here are some tips to follow to reduce these concerns:

  • Use Proper Containers - Use only containers approved by a nationally recognized testing lab, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). 
  • Store Carefully - Store as little gasoline as possible and be certain to keep your gasoline container properly sealed. 
  • Avoid Spills - Avoid spilling gasoline on the ground, especially near wells. If a small spill occurs use kitty litter, sawdust or an absorbent towel to soak up the spill, then dispose of it properly.
  • Dispose Properly - Do not dispose of gasoline down the drain, into surface water, onto the ground, or in the trash. 

Have a great summer!

Monday, May 21, 2018

New Listing

Check out my new listing at 660 Morningside Drive, Lake Forest

click here

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


She tentatively let me into her home. While she had called me to come over, there was a fearfulness about letting a stranger into her space. I looked around – it was a lovely home. It really was. That said, it felt like it should be nestled in the Berkshires with other saltbox houses. It felt somehow out of place situated in a neighborhood of post-WWII colonials.

She had accumulated hundreds of things. They were everywhere: brass candlesticks; gorgeous earthenware; ceramic figurines, antique trivets, lovely watercolors, chairs and more chairs, quilts and woven cloths not to mention an attic full of dust-covered, unopened boxes.

She pronounced that she wanted to downsize to less than half of much space. She was considering continuing care facilities and was trying to figure out what to do before she moved. We talked about taking down wallpaper, updating fixtures, and all the other things sellers can do to prepare their house for the market.  

When I asked which things, she was going to bring with her, she became flustered and overwhelmed. I’m not sure she realized that things from a four-bedroom house rarely fit comfortably into a two-bedroom apartment. 

I had touched a nerve. As much as I tried to reassure her, I think she was genuinely surprised, that she was going to have to make choices. But how does one choose from a lifetime of accumulated items?   It was like her things were a part of her being and letting go of a chair would be like amputating an arm.

Sadly, in my work, I have seen many families fight over things as the house gets dismantled. It's almost as if, things are what binds them to the person who is gone -- or worse, the person made the possession of these things somehow equivalent to their love.

I had an epiphany about things, when my mother died.  

One moment she was with us – the next moment she was gone. In her wake were so many things. And not one of her things could even begin to fill the void created by her death.  Mother was such a loving, powerful presence in our lives, that her things seemed so insignificant and meaningless.  They were such a poor substitute for the loss in our lives. 

Mother wasn’t protective of her things. I can remember the casualness of how we might rummage in her bedroom dresser for a hair clip or piece of jewelry to wear.  She never complained or made an issue out of it.   She wasn’t much of a collector or even anywhere close to being a hoarder.   Sometimes she would generously gift an admired item to the admirer.  

But Mother was sentimental and had a great eye for beautiful things. She had carefully saved all the baby shoes and handmade dresses my grandmother had stitched for me as a child. Her jewelry box contained bracelets and charms with mysterious initials on them. We reached into the back of her closet and pulled out a shoebox wrapped in string. With some fearful hesitation, we opened the box and were shocked to find a porcelain doll, we’d never seen before. 

In a basement closet, stored carefully in hanging bags were four outfits: her going away suit
Mom in her Girl Scout uniform at 
annual Kenilworth Pancake Breakfast
from her wedding; the bright green dress she had worn at my brother’s wedding, the soft pink dress she had worn at my sister’s wedding and her Girl Scout uniform from when she led the village Girl Scouts. 

I wanted to ask Mom so many questions. Why this doll? Why these dresses? All the things that were left behind meant something to her – but she was gone and took with her the code of what they all meant. What memory or place or person was intertwined with that thing? Were we supposed to get rid of these things -- things she had felt were important enough to keep?

the basement
My basement is now filled with things.  It's ironic, when I moved into this house I vowed I would put nothing in the basement.  That vow lasted about ten years...

Then my sister asked if she could store some furniture in the basement.  And thus the creeping began.  With my parents passing, I became the storage locker for the family “things.” It all crept up on me until now my basement is filled with the old photo albums, historic family pictures and scrapbooks, boxes of Dad's treasured genealogy research, generations of Christmas decorations, reels of home movies, Great-Grandmother Mean’s butterchurn and Great-Grandfather Woodbury’s handmade furniture, Mother and Dad's Sheraton chairs... 

I know some of the code – but not all of it. I know enough, that I feel responsible. These things -- they meant something to someone at some moment in time. Am I going to be the one who drops the ball?

My nieces and nephews don’t want these things. They want to live in a sustainable manner. I laugh. Don't they realize that sustainability would be "shopping" in my basement? 

I want less and yet I find it hard to part with my own things… a little key chain reminds me of the friend that gave it to me; the pottery statue of the Lady of Bath reminds me of my exploring Rye, while living as an expat in the UK; every little trinket box in my box collection has a story or a place or a person or a time in my life … Even as write this, in front of me on my desk are four paperweights. I use none of them, but parting with even one of them is a painful thought. I know the moment. I know the people. I know the place. I know the code. 

We spend our youth in acquisition and then as we approach the last few chapters of our life,  we have to think about divestiture.   
How do we end up with so much stuff – so many things? 

It’s a question that I have been asking myself lately.  I have no good answers. 

I realize this is an existential crisis that many of us are facing right now.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The (First) Price Is Right

When it comes to selling a home, the backbone of any successful marketing strategy is proper pricing. That’s because the highest volume of potential buyers see your home within days of it hitting the market. So if your home is perceived as overpriced right off the bat, you’ve already missed a huge opportunity.

In fact, Chicago homes that required one or more price changes sold on average for 90% of original asking price in 134 days last year, whereas homes that did not require a price change sold for 98% of original asking price in just 60 days.

The same is true for luxury homes in the city. Among homes priced at $1 million and above, those with one or more price changes sold on average for 88% of original asking price in 201 days, while those that were priced accurately sold for 96% of original asking price in 120 days.

As the numbers indicate, setting the right listing price is paramount to a faster, more lucrative sale.

If you’re thinking about putting your home on the market, you can ensure you land on the right listing price by asking a broker to prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).

This resource helps you accurately gauge pricing and market activity in relation to your home, and ultimately determine the appropriate list price – the first time!

Of course, pricing is just the beginning. In order to achieve the best possible results for our clients, we also leverage cutting-edge sales and marketing programs that give you a competitive advantage.

Source: @properties blog

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

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

Hello May.   I feel like we've skipped spring this week and went straight to summer.    After such a longggg winter, it's nice to see the greenery appearing, albeit quickly!  

And how about real estate on the North Shore?  The first report shows units sold, the second presents the median prices.   Only Winnetka and Northfield saw a decline in sales this month.   The other communities had more sales.   Median prices are all over the place, so it's hard to see any kind of trend.

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. Inventory levels changed very little from February. So while we had more sales, we also had more listings come on the market. Evanston and Wilmette continue to have a shortage of inventory, while Lake Forest continues to have a bit of a surplus.  The other communities are fairly balanced. 

The highest sale this month was a Winnetka new construction home on the lake with 1.3 acres and approximately 19,000 square feet of living space.

There are currently 212 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of April, 6 houses closed in this price range:

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

Looks like things are moving well in the North Shore real estate market.

Have a beautiful spring!
Source: MRED (Midwest Real Estate Data) Multiple Listing Service