From fundraisers to family events and movies to mingling, there are plenty of things to do around town this April! [Read more…]
Mart finishes and breathtaking unobstructed Hancock and city views in this extraordinary River North location. [Read more…]
• Inventory levels continue to trend low which could contribute to a market slow down on a national level. Across Chicago’s near north neighborhoods the inventory is under 3 months with the exception of the Gold Coast which is slightly higher at 5.6 months worth of inventory and the West Loop which is well below at 1.2 months. Our local market has not shown signs of a slow down yet, aside from the predictable seasonal trend.
• First Time Buyer pool has increased by 21% month over month from last October to October 2015, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors. Credit availability is getting stronger with average FICO credit scores for Ellie Mae closed loans dropping to 722.
• Short Sales and Bank Owned properties are about 4% of the inventory both in new listings and December closed sales demonstrating only a nominal difference over last year at this time and a small fraction of the market.
See what is happening in Chicago this month! [Read more…]
Published: January 7, 2013
When you declutter your house, are you choking off your life energy or soothing your soul?
When it comes to decluttering your house, do you ever want to just throw in the towel (preferably on the floor) and stop trying so hard? Maybe a little clutter is a good thing.
After all, is life really better when we sort, color-code, and neatly stack everything in clearly labeled plastic bins? Or is an uncluttered life not worth living — antiseptic, alienated, a Stepford home that feels like nobody really lives there?
Clearly, mounting clutter stresses some folks. A UCLA study shows that cortisol (stress hormone) levels in women rise in sync with the amount of clutter in their homes.
Yet some people love their clutter and think a full house is akin to a full heart and an active brain. Lifestyle coach Jolanda Molenaar says that if you love the items around you, and you don’t feel overwhelmed, then clutter is a nonissue.
Teenagers, we know, seem happiest when sweaters and dirty dishes litter their bedroom floors. And when parents pick their battles, the clutter hill is not one many moms choose to die on.
Some adults hate clutter, but seem helpless to corral it. They turn to $150/hour professional organizers who crack the whip and force them to toss old photo albums and even the trophies that junior got for merely showing up to the pee-wee championship soccer tournament.
But I find that the more chaotic my insides, the more I must simplify and organize my outsides. Unfortunately, my clutter bug husband is the opposite; when he’s most stressed, clutter soothes him, like a security blanket of stuff.
If I get him to organize the garage, is that a fair compromise?
How about you? Are you a neat-freak or a clutter aficionado?
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The Third Quarter 2015 Chicago neighborhood quarterly Residential Reviews are in! We’ve expanded to cover more of the neighborhoods I serve, and now have real time data features! See how the market is doing in the Gold Coast, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, North Center, River North, West Loop and Wicker Park/Bucktown.
If apple picking is a fall tradition for you, here are some options for a day trip or to include in your itinerary for your weekend about to Lake Geneva or Harbor Country. Predictions are that late September, early October will make for good Fall Foliage road trips.
Some orchards charge and admission fee, while others only charge for apples. It’s always a good idea to check with the orchard you plan to attend before leaving; picking conditions can change daily.
All Seasons Orchard
14510 IL Route 176, Woodstock
U-Pick season starts August 29. Open 10am-5pm weekdays, 10am-6pm Saturday & Sunday. Open Labor Day and Columbus Day 10 am-6 pm. 10-acre corn maze, petting zoo, country market, restaurant, mini zip park, jumping pillow, tire mountain, pedal cart track, mini zipline park, and more. Pig races and magic shows on the weekends.
Open daily 10-5 with 13 varieties of apples and Asian pears.
**Make a day of it, and check out the Illinois Railway Museum
Royal Oak Farm
15908 Hebron Road, Harvard
Open 9:30am-5:00pm Monday-Saturday through August 31. From September 1 through October 31, hours will be 9:30am-5pm Monday-Thursday and 9:30am-7pm Friday-Saturday, 11am-6pm Sunday. Over 25 varieties of apples and a pumpkin patch opens in mid-September. Country market & bakery, restaurant, petting zoo, “Royal Oak Express”, carousel, play area, and hay rides.
More Than Delicious Orchard
9905 Thompson Road, Woodstock
Open Sept 26-27 10-5, and check their Facebook Page for harvest updates, more than 40 varieties of apples, apple cider donuts and honey also available.
Open 9am-6pm daily with over 60 varieties of apples, pears and other fruits and vegetables available for U-Pick. Shop their country market.
County Line Orchard
200 S. County Line Road, Hobart
Open 9am-5pm daily. Over 20 varieties of apples and a pumpkin patch available in the Fall. Bakery, gift shop, kitchen grill, Kids Farm, Moo-Choo, and corn maze.
Open 10am-5pm on weekends. Home of the ‘Best Gourmet Apple Pie in America’. You’ve probably seen their gourmet ‘pie in a bag’ in our local Chicago grocery stores. Now go see the where it all happens! Ride the historic East Troy rail road, go on a hayride or a take the kids on pony ride.
If you are looking for a good spot for brunch these are some of our best neighborhood spots!
4729 N. Lincoln Ave.
5022 N Clark St
2152 N. Damen Ave.
Kanela Breakfast Club
2537 N. Kedzie Ave.
Hotel Lincoln*1800 N. Lincoln Ave.
837 W. Fulton Market
746 W. Webster
1001 W. Washington Blvd.
Published: May 4, 2010
Don’t neglect to budget time and money for opening and closing a vacation home before the season starts and after it ends.
A big reason for owning a vacation home is rest and relaxation, but it’s not all fun and games. Opening and closing a vacation home takes time and money. Plan to spend a day before the season starts to open your vacation home, and another day at season’s end to close it down.
Specific tasks, such as draining off pipes or turning on utilities, will depend on climate, as well as when and how the vacation home is used. A beach cottage has different requirements than a mountain cabin. If you don’t live nearby or don’t want to do the work yourself, be sure to budget for a property manager or local caretaker.
Opening a vacation home
When it’s time to visit your vacation home for the first time, or start renting it out for the season, you’ll need to get it ready. A ski chalet might require you to shovel snow and chop firewood, while a summer retreat by the shore might call for cleaning patio furniture and staining the deck.
Much depends on how well the house is maintained throughout the year. Opening your vacation home could be as easy as stocking the pantry, or if the house was neglected in the offseason, you could have multiple repairs on your hands.
A well-maintained vacation home shouldn’t take more than a day to get in shape for the season, assuming no major repairs are needed. Here are some typical opening chores:
- Turn on utilities
- Clean and stock kitchen and bathrooms
- Look for evidence of plumbing and roof leaks
- Cut lawn and trim shrubs/trees
- Clear walkways and driveway
- Set up outdoor furniture
- Change light bulbs and smoke detector batteries
- Replace furnace filters
- Check for signs of pest infestation
Closing a vacation home
Closing a vacation home also takes about a day to complete. The emphasis should be on safeguarding your home against the elements as well as fire risks. Here are some common closing tasks:
- Turn off nonessential utilities
- Secure all windows and doors
- Turn on alarm system
- Close storm shutters
- Dispose of trash and perishable foods
- Adjust furnace settings for climate
- Bring in outdoor furniture
- Unplug appliances and electronics
- Drain water lines to prevent freezing (in cold climates)
- Request mail-forwarding service
To deter vandalism and theft, consider installing a home security system. You can also put in automatic indoor lights that turn on at dusk or outside flood lights that are motion-activated.
If the house is only going to be vacant for a couple of months, call your utility providers to see if discounted “vacation rates” are available. It might be cheaper than turning off services and paying a reconnection fee a few weeks later.
Property manager vs. caretaker
It’s costly to hire a property management company to maintain your vacation home, including opening it and closing it. If you plan to rent out your vacation home, a property manager typically gets 20% to 60% of the rental income, according to Christine Karpinski of HomeAway, a vacation rental website.
A less expensive alternative is hiring a local housecleaner or handyman to open and close your vacation home, and keep an eye on the property during the offseason. A good rule of thumb for calculating cleaning fees is to budget $20 for each bedroom and bathroom, so a 3-bed/2-bath home would cost $100 to clean.
If you live far from your vacation home, you may have little choice but to hire local help. Ask owners of nearby vacation homes for referrals. Look for a property manager or caretaker with good references who has been in business locally for an extended period of time. And no matter who you end up hiring, be sure that anyone coming onto your property to do work is bonded and insured.