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June 12, 2013

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Another Tool For The Belt

When a client is looking to sell their property they now have a whole host of exciting new tools to help them.  Technology has changed the real estate game for the better by providing both agents and sellers more information.  As realty agents it is our job to help our clients understand these new technologies.  Part of that responsibility is discovering how much a home or property is worth.  In 2006 a company named Zillow created an online tool called Zestimates that aids home sellers in focusing in on a value.  Six years later Redfin, Trulia, and the major banks began to follow suit.

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May 9, 2013

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Preparing For Your Spring Open House

Home prices are rising as fast as spring tulips.  To take advantage of the market an agent’s approach to open houses should change to suit the season.  In Chicago, especially this year, spring has blossomed: neighbors are throwing open doors, barbecues are being lit, and bicycles thrust out of sheds. Preparing a home to be spring friendly means changing its atmosphere so that it is light, friendly, warm, and crisp. When a potential buyer walks in they should feel uplifted. Nearly 45% of homebuyers make their decision on whether or not to purchase after an open house. Try these five tips before your next showing.

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April 5, 2013

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Welcome Century 21 Affiliated Pro-Team!

2013 is indeed turning out to be a great year for us as we expand our team with the addition of C21 Affiliated Pro-Team.

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November 8, 2012

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Lemont Living

We’re back with a look at another growing suburb. From the countryside of Lake in the Hills, we’re off to the scenic suburb of Lemont.

Check out what Lemont has to offer by reading the list of highlights below.

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October 19, 2012

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Getting To Know Lake in the Hills

Here we are again at another edition of our suburban blog tour. Last time we visited the urban burb of Skokie. This time we’re moving west to beautiful Lake in the Hills.

Lake in the Hills: Q & A

Q: Are there actual lakes in Lake in the Hills?

A: Lake in the Hills boasts four lakes. Woods Creek Lake attracts swimmers and sunbathers, fishing is the name of the game at Goose Lake, and Willow Lake and Lake Scott are shallow ponds teeming with wildlife. But lakes aren’t the only things that add to the beauty of the area. There are also wide-open parks and nature preserves.

Q: What is the history of Lake in the Hills?

A: Lake in the Hills started off as a farming community. Federal Judge Walter J. La Buy (say that 5 times fast) came to the area in 1923 and eventually bought 472 acres of land. He built homes on the property, planted trees, and helped create Woods Creek Lake. The village was incorporated later on in 1952.

Q: How many people live in Lake in the Hills?

A: A mere 20 years ago, the population hovered around 6,000. Today, it is close to 30,000. Now, that’s some growth! This population increase means more businesses and residential services have developed in the village, improving quality of life for residents.

Q: How close is Lake in the Hills to airports? How about proximity to major roads?

A: O’Hare International Airport is only about 30 miles from the village. You can jump on I-90 (about 6 miles away) to get there. There is also a regional airport if you are flying on smaller aircraft. The major roads that are within access are Route 62, Route 31, and Randall Road.

Q: What are the schools like in Lake in the Hills?

A: The community has several school districts, including districts 300, 47, 155, and 158, that provide preK–12 educational services to residents. High schools in the area rank in the top 100 in the state. Older students can take advantage of class offerings at nearby McHenry County College.

Fall happenings in Lake in the Hills:

Looking for more information about Lake in the Hills? Contact an Agent for an insight look or tour of the community.

Come back and visit for another look at Chicagoland’s suburbs!

October 2, 2012

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6 Things You Should Know about Skokie

Welcome to our first blog in our suburban series. Let’s begin with a trip to the northern suburb of Skokie.

6 Things You Should Know about Skokie

  1. Skokie has a wild history. Back in the 1800s, Skokie was not the thriving residential and commercial suburb it is today. It was actually swampland and forest. It wouldn’t be unusual back then to see animals such as the buffalo, deer and wildcat roaming through the area. Skokie’s founder Henry Harms tamed the wilderness by building homes and starting schools. By the 1900s, vegetable farms cropped up and the Chicago & North Western Railroad made its way to town.
  2.    Skokie has an urban vibe. The reinvented downtown with eclectic shops and restaurants, the CTA station at Oakton, ethnic and religious diversity, and abundant cultural offerings, are all aspects of Skokie that make it feel like a mini-city
  3. Skokie is a commuter’s paradise. Getting to work is not a problem in Skokie. You can easily access the Edens Expressway, hop aboard a CTA or Pace bus, or take the Skokie Swift, the EL’s Yellow Line, to the Red or Purple line transfer stations.
  4.   Shopping opportunities abound in Skokie. Shopping is all around in this suburb, from novelty stores like Aw Yeah Comics downtown to the trendy shops of Westfield Old Orchard mall along Skokie Boulevard. You’ll never have to leave the area to find exactly what you want.
  5. Skokie has top-notch schools. Whether public or private, Skokie offers its residents an array of high quality schools. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education presented Niles Township High Schools with Excellence in Education awards. In 2007, these high schools were also declared to have the best arts education program in the country by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  6. Recreation is the word in Skokie. Skokie Park District maintains countless parks and facilities for relaxation, swimming, sports and fitness. If you’re looking for a little art with your exercise, try a stroll through Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park and marvel at the contemporary sculpture exhibits.

Don’t miss these fun activities going on this fall in Skokie!

  • The Farmers’ Market, named “Best of the North Shore” by North Shore Magazine, is held at the Village Green every Sunday until the end of October.
  • Check out Scream Scene, a spooky haunted house, located at the Skokie Water Playground in October.
  • For something a little tamer, head down to the Skatium Ice Arena for Scooter’s Halloween Party a public skate session with a costume contest on October 26th.

Want to learn more about the vibrant community of Skokie? Ask your Agent to give you more details or a tour of real estate offerings.

Stay tuned….more suburban explorations coming your way!

August 31, 2012

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A Ride Through Lakeview

From the cultural corners of Logan Square, we are off to the lakefront to visit the neighborhood of Lakeview.

 

A Closer Look at Lakeview

Check out the stops on our tour of Lakeview to get to know this popular, and expansive, neighborhood of Chicago.

 

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Stop 1: Belmont El Station

If you’re on the Red, Brown, or Purple Line you can get off at the Belmont station and find yourself in an eclectic stretch of ethnic restaurants, out-of-the-ordinary clubs, and vintage boutiques. The Belmont station isn’t the only el that services Lakeview, though. Take the Red Line to Addison or the Brown to Southport. Once you’re there, get ready to walk. The neighborhood scored a 91 out of 100 for “walkability” according to walkscore.com.

 

Stop 2:  Lakeview East

Lakeview East is the district of Lakeview closest to Lake Michigan. In this area, you’ll find an active nightlife scene, a foodie’s paradise, and great live theatre offerings. The district is home to a large LGBT community and hosts an annual Gay Pride Parade each June.

 

Stop 3: Wrigleyville

Wrigley Field stands in the heart of Wrigleyville and gives the district a unique charm. Nowhere else can you find townies and tourists alike enjoying the camaraderie that stems from Cubs-loving than right where it all takes place. Restaurants, bars, and music venues surround the iconic stadium, persuading you to stay in the area long after the final pitch.

 

Stop 4: Waveland Park

Along the shores of Lake Michigan, you’ll find Waveland Park. Play tennis or softball at Waveland or just pack a picnic for some chill time. Speaking of chillin’, the annual Better Homes and Gardens Chill and Grill Festival is held here every summer.

 

Stop 5: Lake View High School

The massive school at the corner of Ashland and Irving Park was re-built at its monolithic status in the late 1800s. The school is known for its commitment to education, as are other schools in the area, including elementary schools Nettelhorst School and Burley School.

 

 

 

Think Lakeview sounds like your kind of neighborhood? Find out how you can become a Lakeview resident by contacting your Agent today.

 

http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/neighborhoods/lakeview.html

http://www.nettelhorst.org/

http://www.mylakeview.com/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/Chicago_IL/chi-lakeview-profile_chomes_0919sep19,0,7050226.story

http://www.chicagosportandsocialclub.com/leagues/facilities/view/34

http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2012/06/06/chill-and-grill-with-better-homes-and-gardens.php

http://www.chicagonow.com/show-me-chicago/2012/03/chicagos-summer-2012-festivals-and-events-calendar/

 

 

 

 

July 19, 2012

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The Lowdown on Logan Square

Welcome back to our Chicago neighborhood series. From the glittering Gold Coast we are heading northwest to the historic boulevards of Logan Square.

The Low-down on Logan Square

Find out what makes Logan Square a dynamic part of Chicago.

  

Catch the Cultural Wave Norwegian and German immigrants were the first to make Logan Square their home. They set up businesses and built the two-flats that still stand today. Next to create an authentic enclave were Polish families in the early to mid-1900s. In the last 40 years or so, Hispanic populations have taken an interest in Logan Square, starting with mainly Cuban and Puerto Rican residents and later expanding to people from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

Soak in the History The boulevards of Logan Square today still reflect the original design of the city’s transportation system in 1900. And this isn’t by accident. In 2005, the Chicago City Council declared 2.5 miles in the community an official Chicago Landmark District. Both the boulevards and the mansions that line them are protected from major alterations by this designation.

Listen to the Music Logan Square has a thriving music scene. To hear well-known acts, check out the palatial Congress Theater built in the height of the Gilded Age or the Logan Square Auditorium and its early-nineteenth century ballroom. But if you’re more of a lounger, you can enjoy local groups at a slew of bars like Quenchers, Ultra Lounge, and Cole’s Bar.

Grab a Bite (or Drink) You won’t be disappointed with Logan Square’s variety of restaurants and bars. Sip some wine and sample the seafood at Telegraph or settle in for brunch at Lula Café. If you’re in the mood for food on the go, try any number of taquerias, such as Los Comales or Tacqueria Moran, or small joints like El Cubanito for a quick Cuban sandwich. And once your belly’s full, you can hop over to laidback bars like Small Bar, the Whistler, or Marble.

Get Around By El, you can access the neighborhood by getting off the Blue Line at either Logan Square or California. Once you’ve got your feet on the ground, use them. According to www.walkscore.com, Logan Square is “very walkable” with a walkability score of 83, so it’s relatively easy to get around. Of course, you can take your bike, if you’d like. The famed Ignaz Schwinn once lived in the neighborhood, and his legacy lives on in the large number of bicycle enthusiasts residing in the area.

Savor the Summer Looking for fun summer events in Logan Square? Take a stroll through the Logan Square Farmers Market on Sundays from June to October or enjoy free concerts as part of the Summer Sessions on the Square. They’re held on every fourth Saturday during the season at Illinois Centennial Monument Park.

To learn more about Logan Square and its residential opportunities, contact an Agent today.

Stay tuned for our next Chicago neighborhood installment!

July 2, 2012

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Warren Buffett Bets Billions on Housing

When it comes to the housing market, the recovery is on the horizon, at least according Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.  Last month Berkshire announced plans to bid 3.85 billion dollars to acquire Residential Capital LLC, a Detroit based mortgage company.

 

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Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has bid $3.85 billion on Residential Capital, a mortgage company. Buffett has been expressing optimism about a housing recovery for months.

 

         The bid by Berkshire is one of several indications that the company is optimistically preparing for the housing market to rebound. Berkshire recently acquired a brickmaker and expanded its real estate brokerage and wagers on commercial real estate, forming a venture called Berkadia Commercial Mortgage LLC.

 

       Mr. Buffett has shared his predictions that the market will soon regain strength for months. During a CNBC interview in February, he said, “ If I had a way of buying a couple hundred thousand single-family homes and had a way of managing them… I would load up on them”, emphasizing the opportunity presented by historically low interest rates available on loans. That same month, in a letter to share holders, Buffett wrote, “Every day we are creating more households than housing units. People may postpone hitching up during uncertain times, but eventually hormones take over”, further explaining his confidence that the market would soon recover.

         Recent data seems to confirm Mr. Buffet’s predictions that there has been a shift in the real estate market.  According to RealtyTrac Inc., foreclosure filings in the U.S. have fallen on an annual basis for 20 straight months and home prices jumped 1.8 percent in March, the biggest monthly increase in at least two decades.

         The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), reported in June that sales of single family homes jumped 19.8 percent from May 2011 to May 2012. Between April and May, new home sales increased 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted 369,000-unit annual rate, hitting a two year high, beating forecasts for the month. The last time sales were this high was the spring of 2010.

          Reports also indicate that record low mortgage rates and shrinking inventory are leading to increased demand.

         While it may be too soon to celebrate, the predictions of Mr. Buffett, known as the “Oracle of Omaha”, may indicate that sunny days are ahead for the real estate market.

June 15, 2012

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We hope you enjoyed stopping by Ravenswood in our last neighborhood blog. Our next stop is to the lakefront to visit the famed Gold Coast.

 

 

Gold Coast: Fact or Fiction?

Think you know the Gold Coast? Find out what’s fact and what’s fiction about the neighborhood by taking our little quiz below.

 

The Gold Coast became a sought-after neighborhood after the high-end shops took root.

 

Fiction. While the Gold Coast is home to the likes of Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, and Harry Winston, just to name a few, the neighborhood has been a haven for the rich and famous since the late 1800s. Ever hear of the Palmer House or the Goodman Theatre? The actual Palmer and Goodman families resided in the Gold Coast back when it was nicknamed the Astor Street District. The McCormick family is another iconic group that lived in the neighborhood as well as Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln.

 

There are both pricey and less expensive restaurant options in the Gold Coast.

 

Fact. There are plenty of high-end restaurants in the neighborhood for a luxurious meal. Head to Gibson’s or Morton’s if you’re looking for a fine steak. Your taste for Italian can be satisfied by Carmine’s (as well as a hankering for some good people watching). In the mood for seafood? Try Hugo’s Frog Bar. When you want to save a little dough, head down to Pizano’s for some pizza or Dublin’s Bar & Grill for classic bar food.

 

The buildings in the Gold Coast are all Victorian mansions and luxurious brownstowns.

 

Fiction. Although the talents of architectural greats like Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright can be seen in the businesses and residences that line the Gold Coast streets, there are other more modern housing offerings. The high-rise condos in the neighborhood provide some more affordable options.

 

The Gold Coast is a “walker’s paradise.”

 

Fact. The website www.walkscore.com rated the neighborhood a 94 in walkability. There are so many shops, restaurants, bars, and historic sites within walking distance that you can leave the car in its parking spot. If you do want to hop the El, though, there’s a convenient Red Line stop at Clark and Division.

 

There are only private schools in the Gold Coast neighborhood.

 

Fiction. While the Gold Coast boasts some fine private schools, like the K-12 Latin School, you will find excellent public schools as well, such as Ogden School, O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy, Skinner Elementary School, and Payton College Preparatory High School.

 

Want to learn more about this well-established community? Contact an a Agent to take a closer look at all the Gold Coast has to offer its residents.