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

Contact Ann

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

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thought for the day...

As I have been "decluttering" my office, I came across something from Wendy Bergseth. Whether she wrote herself, or simply chose to share someone else's words -- I can her voice in this text. Such good thoughts to think about these days....

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Green Tips - Staying Green in Fall

As the leaves change color and kids go back to school, there are several ways we can all do our part to make the daily routine and seasonal chores more eco-friendly. 
  1. Host a Swap Party. Reusing instead of buying new is a great way to save money and to take a more environmentally friendly approach to school shopping. This also a great idea for your own clothes and kids’ school supplies!  (My niece who lives in Washington DC is in a mother's group that regularly swaps childrens' clothes with each other -- her boys always look fantastic!)
  2. Navigate Safe and Sustainable Travel to School. Start a carpool to cut down on the number of cars going to school, or consider finding a safe bike route that families can ride together on for the trek. 
  3. Pack Lunch the Reusable Way. Reusable lunchboxes and utensils will cut down on waste in a big way. Many lunch containers now offer smaller containers (check out stainless steel options) within the box itself, perfect for snacks, sandwiches, and any other treats you pack for your kids at school.
  4. Compost Yard Waste and Leaves. Burning leaves is not an opton and filling up yard waste bins adds up to major space taken at the landfill. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to contribute to, or start, a fantastic composting system with those excess leaves. Your gardening will benefit greatly from the nutrient rich result of composting yard waste.
  5. Clean Indoors with Green Products. 5 billion: the number of pounds of chemicals that the institutional cleaning industry uses each year. Cut back on that staggering figure and keep your house healthier all in one by choosing products that are nontoxic, biodegradable, and are made from renewable sources. If you not sure of what brand to buy, make your own cleaning solvents from apple cider vinegar and baking soda and a little warm water to wipe grime away from almost any surface.

Source: Piedmont Environmental Alliance

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Fact or Myth? 5 home buying myths...

Not too long ago, I got a phone call from one of my buyers. They were in panic -- the preliminary closing document had come back and more funds were expected than they had budgeted for at the close. They had only thought only a certain amount would be due. (It turned out that everything was OK, but there was moment of distress... they were misunderstanding the closing statement.) 

That said, one myth that I have seen is a naive thought that the buyers only need to come up with the down payment amount when they want to purchase a home. Here is that myth and some other ones debunked.

Myth #1: The only money needed for purchasing a home, is the down payment.
If only that were true! When I moved to Lake Forest, it felt like I was writing checks every day... just for starters, the home inspection cost over $500!    Various municipalities require the purchase of transfer stamps -- for example in Wilmette -- the cost of the transfer tax is $3/$1000. That would mean a home buyer would have an upfront fee of $3,000 on a $1M home. There are loan fees, processing fees, etc. When purchasing a home, I suggest buyers assume at least 2-4% of the purchase price for miscellaneous expenses upfront as well as closing costs.

Myth #2: Home inspections are a waste of money.
Even on a little condo, I recommend a home inspection... you never really know what is happening with a property: there might be a heating problem, mold in the attic, a sluggish dishwasher... who knows what else? That's not to say, that some inspectors go overboard making buyers feel like they are buying a lemon. A balanced inspection of the home can enable buyers to have a more informed opinion about the property they are buying.  A home inspection is rarely is a waste of money. 

Myth #3: The selling price should be 95% of asking price.
Maybe this is just my market, but I can't ignore how many people actually believe this. I can remember my first sale -- another agent told me that the initial starting position would be 90% of asking and we would meet in the middle at 95%. If that was true, then why is there a negotiation at all? At the time I thought that was a strange way of looking at it... I still do.  
The selling price almost always turns out to be fair market value. FMV is what a buyer will pay and a seller will accept. FMV's ebb and flow based on the market... there is no fixed % that buyers will pay. Today, there is so much information available about property values, that buyers KNOW or have a pretty good idea what the fair price should be for a home. Therefore, homes that are priced competitively often sell for more than 95% -- sometimes 97%, 98% and even over 100% of asking price. Homes that are overpriced can sell for as low as 80% of asking. That 95% number is just an AVERAGE... certainly not a fact.

Myth #4: I don't need to worry about the schools, since my kids are grown (or I don't have kids).
You may love the house and it may be in your price range, but that's only half of it. The neighborhood/village/town you choose really matters. Quality of the schools drive up/down property values -- good schools make a difference in the value of your home long term. While evaluating homes absolutely consider the schools as well as the walkability, commute time, and any other quality of life features. This is going to be your long term home -- not just your house.

Myth #5 Homes are a good investment.
One survey showed that buyers believed home values appreciate by 7 percent a year. Historically, home values in a normal market appreciate by 2 to 5 percent in a year. So no, homes are not a particularly good investment. If you want to make money, then invest in the stock market... not the housing market. I believe one should enjoy their home; update it for their pleasure and when it comes to sell, be realistic about market conditions. I love this Knight Kiplinger's quote:

"I regard my home as a place to live, not as an investment. It is not a substitute for retirement savings."
Fact or Myth? There are many other myths about purchasing a home. These only a few... what other myths do you think need to be dispelled?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Family-friendly fests in the Chicago area

Here are a few family-friendly fests you can’t miss in the last half of summer.
10-12: Hone in on your children’s hot dog appreciation at the Chicago Hot Dog Fest’s celebration of meat, baseball, and blues. Stop by a talk on hot dog history in between your no-ketchup delights. Not to worry, all those dogs and sodas and elephant ears will settle just fine with a few rounds in a bouncy house in the kid zone.
10-12: Ginza Holiday Festival is one of Chicago’s most honored family festivals. Celebrate Japanese culture with mesmerizing Taiko drum, martial arts and Minoyo folk dance demonstrations, as well as mouth-watering chicken teriyaki, udon noodles, spam musubi, and shaved ice.
10-12: Festival Cubano in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood has a line-up of get-up-out-of-your-seats musicians. The experience also includes an incredible vintage car show, dominoes tournament, carnival rides, hand-rolled cigars and a boxing corner with matches and fitness classes.
11: The Bud Billiken Parade and festival celebrates the legacy of the Chicago Defender’s legacy diversity, credibility, representation of African American Chicagoans and care for children. Everyone in the family can cheer for the dance and drill teams, marching band battles, and kids who travel from across the country to compete, connect and participate in the parade.
11-12: If it is nearly impossible to please every picky eater in your home with one dish, you’ll love taking the whole family to the Near North Food Truck Social. Pass out the cash to fend for (and feed!) yourselves with dumplings, deep dish, donuts and whatever delights appear from the truck windows.
17-19: Edison Park Fest is not just any fest on the blocked-off streets of the city. It is also a community fundraiser that helps support free local programs, events, and groups.
18-19: You cannot escape the Chicago Air and Water Show, whether you’ve got a prime seat on the beach to watch or are stuck in a downtown cubicle and can hear the roar of the planes when pilots practice the day before the big event. Free admission is a plus, but squeezing in, parking and public transportation can be tricky. Plan well, or finagle an air-conditioned view from a friend’s downtown office or apartment.
22-26: Immerse your family in farm and fun at the Will County Fair in Peotone. Swing by the 4-H exhibits, on to the carnival rides and around to the tractor and truck pull competitions.
24-26: Savor the saganaki, gyros, wine, dancing and Hellenic pride at Taste of Greektown.
31-Sept. 3: Taste of Polonia in Jefferson Park is the largest Polish festival in the country. With a casino, four stages hosting more than 30 bands, tons of food and drink, cooking classes, inflatables and even Disney character appearances, this is the place to live it up before the kids go back to school.
1-2: Cider & Sliders Festival in Lakeview is here to kick off autumn. In its inaugural year, this festival promised 50+ ciders, delicious mini-burgers and lots of crafty stuff to keep the full-bellied kids happy.
7-9: German American Oktoberfest in Lincoln Square kicks off with a Steuben parade and German mass. Not to worry, the beer flows soon after, and there’s always live music, food vendors, games and plenty of neighbors and school friends with whom you can raise a commemorative stein or hand-pulled root beer well into the evening.
7-23: World Music Festival is a multi-venue, 11-day jubilee hosted by the city, bringing 650 artists and ensembles to perform for more than 650,000 audience members in the last 19 years. Check the site for free performance schedules and locations.
15: Bring your blankets & lawn chairs and enjoy food, music & entertainment at Lake Forest's Gorton Community Center’s third annual Block Party and Movie under the Stars! This event consists of fun games, food vendors, live music, face painting, and more! Outdoor movie, "How to Train Your Dragon" begins at sundown. 

15-16: Ravenswood Artwalk opens the doors of local artist studios, galleries and shops to wander through and experience. There’s also plenty of craft beers and food for purchase, vendors to peruse and music to enjoy. Follow the stream of strollers to find your way.
15-16: Printers’ Row Art Fest is a great place for families to experience dynamic artistry. The juried show and exhibitions include up-cycling and mixed media artists, photographers, jewelers, painters and street artists.
21-23: Apple Fest calls city-dwellers and suburbanites alike to Long Grove for a charming, family-centered pop-up orchard lined with seasonal treats, pie-eating contests, tug-o-war, music, and dancing.
22: Get your kids a front-row spot to the Creative Youth Festival in the Loop, where they will applaud and be inspired by talented teens performing dance, drama, spoken word, and visual arts. Check the site for details.
28-30: Oktoberfest Chicago in Lakeview is your last big hurrah before the down coats come out. Adults can enjoy Craft Brew Night while kids kick it at KinderFest. Do some polka, eat too many pretzels and pop over to see the German band Oompah.
29: Bike Winnetka is an event that will take bicycle riders of all ages through scenic Winnetka in a group rider format. 
30: Bring the whole family for an evening of games, fun, Scottish entertainment, picnic feast, wine, beer & spirits at the beautiful Middlefork Farm Nature Preserve in Lake Forest. The evening culminates with the landing of kilted sky divers, a dramatic bagpipes procession and the lighting of the bonfire. 
Source: @home

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

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

August 1 -- where did the summer go?  I have to admit I have been loving this milder weather we've been having the last week or so.   Sales slowed down a bit in July, so perhaps others were enjoying the weather too!

So how was the market in July?  These next charts show units sold and the median prices.

The months of inventory is the best way to determine the health of a housing market.  Anything less than 6 months is considered a sellers' market -- anything more than 8 months is considered a buyers' market. The level of inventory has not deviated much over the last few months.  There continues to be a shortage of inventory in Wilmette and Evanston with a surplus in Kenilworth and Lake Forest.  

In the next chart, I show the high-end sales for each community. The highest sale this month was in east Glencoe - a New England Colonial built in 2016 with large yard on Old Green Bay Road. 
There are currently 204 houses for sale on the North Shore that are priced greater than $2M. During the month of July, 7 houses closed in this price range:

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

Enjoy the last days of summer!