You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!
One of the best ways to sell your house quickly and for the best price is to stage it. In some markets, this means hiring a professional staging company to come in, rearrange furniture, put most or all of your things in storage, and redecorate with furniture they have on hand. Not every market expects this level of staging, and many people can do it themselves.
First of all, give your house a very thorough deep cleaning and decluttering. This is a great way to get ahead on packing! Sort through papers, pack up all your off-season clothes and decorations. You’ll probably want to put books, photographs, and mementos in storage, too. Don’t neglect cupboards, closets, the garage, or basement, either. Aim to have storage spaces half full, at most. The goal for this part of staging your house is to get it feeling as clean, bright and spacious as possible.
Once everything is sparkling, start going through each room of the house. Begin with the entryway. Does it feel inviting? Is there a clear “landing strip” where people can set down mail, hang up a coat or bag, or sit to put shoes on and off? Even in a small entry, a console table and a cheerful piece of art will create a feeling of welcome. As you go through the house, make sure that each room has a clear purpose. Maybe there is one room that was sort of a junk room. Turn it into a guest room or an exercise or crafting space. (And take note for your next house!)
Lighting is also very important. Install new, high wattage bulbs in the kitchen, living room, and hallways. Be sure the living room has a few table lamps with softer lighting, too. The bedrooms should have a warm, bright overhead light, along with bedside lighting that is lower wattage.
Don’t forget the front landscaping! Most people form their first and strongest impression of a house within a few seconds of seeing it. Plant bright flowers in the flower beds. Even in winter, try to get a few evergreen plants to plant out or have in attractive pots. Consider repainting the front door a subtle yet stand out color. Bright lighting around the front door is also important. Make sure it’s easy to see the house number from the street.
If you have questions, talk with your real estate agent. Anyone selling Chicago property can get in touch with Lauren McGinty to work with a local real estate expert.
Never try to sell a house in the winter, right? And if you’re looking to buy, homes listed in the winter will be few and probably not what you want. Wait until after the Super Bowl to list your house. This is conventional real estate wisdom. And it’s not all wrong. There are usually fewer home sales from about November through February. In a lot of places, like Chicago, cold weather is a factor. Then there are the holidays, and people would rather stay put than go through the hassle of moving. However, if you really do need to sell now and can’t wait until the spring, don’t panic! There are several good reasons why winter is a great time for house hunting or selling.
For sellers, you’re probably going to get more serious buyers in the winter. Buyers will find sellers who are motivated to sell quickly. There also tends to be less competition, which can make the process less stressful for everyone. Being on a deadline to start a new job, for example, can really motivate all parties to work together to agree on a deal.
Buyers and sellers will find that they will typically get more attention from their real estate agent during the so-called off season. We usually have fewer clients, so we’re able to help you search for just the right place for you and your family.
Real estate agents aren’t the only people who have more time to focus on you. Home inspectors and mortgage companies are likely to be able to get your job expedited because of the lower work volume.
In a city like Chicago, home heating costs are a significant part of any household budget. By touring a home when it’s cold, you can find out if there are drafts that make the house less efficient and insist on getting them fixed. And you can probably find a contractor to do it quickly, too. They tend to have less work in the winter, as well.
Of the many, many reasons there are to love Chicago, the incredibly diverse restaurant scene stands out as one of the top ones. From straightforward hamburgers to cuisine from all over the world to the fusion dishes dreamed up by top chefs, Chicagoans have a dizzying array of choices. To get you started on a culinary journey of your own, we’ve assembled a list of our own favorite places to eat around the city.
1. Maple & Ash, 8 West Maple Street. For a truly luxe night out, head to Maple & Ash, a totally new take on the steakhouse. Enjoy the cuisine of Chef Danny Grant, who has earned two Michelin stars, as well as the amazing wine list, which Wine Spectator rated as one of the best in the world.
2. S.K.Y., 1239 West 18th Street. Head to Chef Stephen Gillanders’ debut restaurant and try out his unique take on Asian fusion cuisine. The rotating list of indigenous beers and spirits has representatives from India and Japan, as well as local Chicago brews.
3. Revival Food Hall, 125 South Clark Street. Revival Food Hall is the place to go to try offerings from many of the city’s best chefs, all collected in one venue. Get a meal, a cup of coffee, some bakery treats, or cocktails with friends. The All-Hall Happy Hour, from about 3 to 5, depending on the vendor, is a great way to try out some of the best offerings at a reduced rate.
4. Band of Bohemia, 4710 North Ravenswood Avenue. Band of Bohemia boasts that it’s the world’s first Michelin-rated brewpub, and you’ll know they’ve earned their bragging rights after your first visit. Try some of the beers, all brewed on site, as well as the menu options, which give a nod to their Bohemian heritage while being brought up to date.
5. Honey Butter Fried Chicken, 3361 North Elston Avenue. You can’t go wrong with chicken dipped in honey butter, then fried. Honey Butter Fried Chicken also serves up mouth-watering macaroni and cheese, as well as fanciful cocktails invented by guest chefs.
6. Pequod’s Pizza, 2207 North Clybourn Avenue. Chicago is associated in the minds of many with its distinctive deep-dish style of pizza. Pequod’s has its own take that’s well worth trying. The waits are legendary but well worth braving, and you can also get carry out.
7. Portillo’s, 100 West Ontario Street. Portillo’s is best known for its yummy take on the classic Chicago-style hot dog, as well as its crispy fries and onion rings. Do save room for dessert, as the chocolate cake and shakes are equally delicious.
8. Au Cheval, 800 West Randolph Street. Come to Au Cheval and taste their rightly famous burger or try their flavorful take on the humble bologna sandwich. Their brunch is not to be missed, and their cocktail list will tickle your fancy.
9. Las Carnitas Uruapan, 1725 West 18th Street. You might not think of Chicago as a place to get great Mexican food, but it is! Locals know that Las Carnitas Uruapan is the place to go for authentic Mexican cuisine, and their tacos are legendary. Try the many homemade salsa options, and don’t forget the homemade rice and beans to round out your meal.
10. Calumet Fisheries, 3259 East 95th Street. Get incredible, naturally-smoked fish at this waterfront fixture. You can take fish by the pound to eat at home or order one of Calumet Fisheries’ dinners. These are served with fresh fries, coleslaw, crackers, and sauce.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! Chicago is home to dozens, if not hundreds, of great spots to eat out. We’d love to hear about your favorites.
In a big city like Chicago, every neighborhood and suburb has its own personality. Before you start house hunting, you need to think carefully about what you need in both a house and its surrounding area. This will help you narrow the possibilities and expedite the process.
First of all, consider the type of house you want. Are you on the market for a single-family home, a condo, or a townhouse? Do you want a yard? Have you budgeted for HOA fees? This should help you decide whether you are interested in a neighborhood in Chicago itself or if you’d be happier in one of the suburbs.
Next, start looking at the safety of the area. You can search online for these statistics. Calling the local police department is another good idea. They can tell you about crime trends and help you find the safest neighborhoods that meet your criteria.
Whether or not you have kids, you should look at the public schools in any neighborhood you’re considering. This is because good schools tend to go along with safe, stable neighborhoods, where property values are high.
When you’ve narrowed down your choices, plan to visit your top picks several times at different times of the day. Try to be there at both morning and evening rush times. How long does it take to get to the main routes? Are you near a park, and do people park on the neighborhood streets? How close are you to the grocery store, bank, gas station, and other places you need to get to regularly? Is it easy to get to them from the area you’re considering?
Finally, what will your commute time be? Some people don’t mind spending a long time getting to and from work. Others find it completely draining. Public transit can help, so see if that’s a viable option.
If you need to talk to a Chicago-area expert, give Lauren McGinty a call! She’s got many years of experience and can help you choose the right neighborhood for your next home.
For most people, buying a house is the biggest financial decision they’ll make. But because the decision is bound up with the feelings around the meaning of “home”, it’s also a highly emotional decision. However, it’s vital that potential homeowners understand the nuts and bolts of the buying process so they can make an educated decision about how much house they can really afford and what will serve their long term financial health. Here are a few things I want every homebuyer to consider.
1. Take an honest look at your finances. You need to sit down, with your spouse or partner if you have one, and write down all your income and all your expenses, including student debt. Add up the two columns. Now you need to figure out your debt to income ratio. Most lenders suggest that your household expenses shouldn’t be more than 28 percent of your income. Your debt load, including credit cards, car loans, and student loans, should be less than 36 percent of your income. Before going house hunting, you might need to start paying down your debt or curbing your expenses.
While you’re examining your budget, get a credit report. Make sure there aren’t any mistakes on it, and check your credit score. The better your credit, the more likely you are to get favorable terms on your mortgage loan.
2. Shop around for a real estate agent with expertise in the area you want to buy in. You might feel pressure from family or friends to hire someone you know. However, for a decision as big as buying a house, you absolutely must be sure that you’re working with someone who understands the market and will give you rock solid advice. Check out the credentials and experience of several agents, then interview at least three before making a final decision. Also remember that the selling agent is legall bound to get the sellers the best deal possible, while your own agent will go to bat for you and you only.
3. Get preapproval for a mortgage and shop around for the best rate. This is different from being prequalified. To get preapproval, you have to submit documents proving your income and expenses. This will give you and idea of the type and price of the home you should be shopping for. Be sure to look at several banks and credit unions before settling on one. What appear to be small differences in loan terms can really add up to a lot of money over the life of the loan.
4. Factor in your future plans. Are you married to your current partner? Are you planning to have kids in the next few years? Do you expect to keep your current job? If any major changes are on your horizon, it might make sense to shop for a house that costs less than you’re preapproved for.
5. Don’t skip a home inspection. This will reveal any significant issues with the house and should inform your negotiations with the seller over the final price. Or you might decide the issues are too big and that you need to walk away.
6. Finally, have a back up plan and stay flexible. If there’s anything I’ve learned over my decades of helping people buy and sell houses, it’s that things rarely go exactly according to plan. Try to keep your sense of humor handy and don’t get your heart set on anything until you’re holding the keys in your hand!
Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!
You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.
We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.