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Port Clinton Art Festival and Taste of Highland Park

by Allyson Hoffman

August 28-30, 2015

600 Central Avenue, Highland Park, Illinois

Highland Park celebrates the last of summer with the 32nd annual Port Clinton Art Festival and the 9th annual Taste of Highland Park events, which run in conjunction the last weekend in August. More than 260 juried international artists present original artwork, and sixteen-plus local restaurants of Highland Park offer cuisine including Italian, Asian, Mexican, traditional Chicago hot dogs, pizza and BBQ.

The event typically draws crowds numbering approximately 275,000. The Port Clinton Art Festival is rated number five in the nation, according to Sunshine Artists magazine, and has been recently featured on their cover. One unique feature of the festival is its Youth Art Division, with original artwork by artists eighteen and under.  Children are welcome to participate in interactive art events geared for younger art enthusiasts, as well as games and other events of interest to younger attendees.

The Festival sprawls along Central, 1st and 2nd streets and provides plenty of seating in the form of benches and outdoor dining tables near the live music stages. While taking in the artworks including 3-D, sculpture, wood, painting and photography, one may shop for jewelry and home décor items as well. The live entertainment runs all day long each day. For a list of performers, schedules, and restaurants participating, please click here.

For a great end-of-summer outing, don’t miss the Port Clinton Art Festival and Taste of Highland Park! This will surely be a memorable weekend for the whole family.

Where:  600 Central Avenue, Highland Park, Illinois

When:   August 28-30, 2015

For information regarding the Port Clinton Art Festival and Taste of Highland Park, please click here.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
allyson@allyson.com

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Photo courtesy Activedia/Pixabay.com

Pros and Cons of a Bigger Down Payment

by Allyson Hoffman

In most cases, to purchase a home, a down payment is required. Except for VA loans available to US Veterans, the days of zero-down mortgages are, basically, a thing of the past. Even at the height of the real estate lending boom, lenders looked more favorably at borrowers who could afford some amount of down payment – and from the lender’s perspective, the bigger, the better, since it minimizes risk.

Today, future homeowners are encouraged to amass a down payment before approaching a lender to request a loan. Generally, down payments of 20-percent are looked at favorably but to assess how essential or beneficial that amount may be, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages.

The Advantages of a 20-Percent Down Payment:

• More Likely to Be Approved. Lenders generally look favorably on those who can afford to make a large down payment. Homeowners with a significant amount of equity in their homes are less likely to miss payments. If you’ve previously had credit problems, a significant down payment could make the difference between being approved or denied.

• Eliminates the Need for Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI is a way for lenders to insure against a possible foreclosure. Unfortunately, until a 20-percent equity position is reached, borrowers are required to pay PMI. Eliminating PMI, can save thousands of dollars in mortgage costs.

• Lower Interest Rate. Those borrowers willing and able to tender a 20-percent down payment may additionally qualify for slightly lower interest rates. Even slightly lower rates can produce substantial long term savings.

• Instant Equity in Your Home.  A substantial down payment translates to instant equity in your home and that equity can potentially be leveraged in the future.

• Lower Payments. A larger down payment reduces the debt owed the lender. This produces lower monthly payments which may improve quality of life and reduce overall stress.

The Disadvantages of a 20-Percent Down Payment:

• Takes Time to Save. The average price of a home in the United States is nearly $200,000. To make a 20-percent down payment, $40,000 would need to be accumulated. For some prospective buyers, saving that amount could take years while homes of interest may sell or increase in price as the market changes.  Increasing prices may produce a cycle forcing borrowers to save even more.

• Large Amount of Capital Tied Up. For those who prefer to make their money work for them rather than just sit in a bank or be tied up in non-liquid assets, investing a large amount of your available capital up in a home might adversely impact ability to capitalize on other opportunities.

While it may appear that the pros of making a large down payment outweigh the cons, ultimately it is up to each individual to determine which approach is best suited to their situation. Amongst others, an experienced real estate agent can help you to make the right decision. Feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you find your dream home.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
allyson@allyson.com

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.   

Image courtesy of Pictures of Money/Flickr.com

South Pacific

by Allyson Hoffman

August 22-23, 2015

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

For an entertaining and romantic evening of theater and unforgettable music, few things could top Light Opera Works’ production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical drama South Pacific.

Opening in New York in 1949 and originally starring Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin, South Pacific won 10 Tony Awards. Based on James A. Michener’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Tales of the South Pacific”, the drama explores many cultural issues still pertinent today, set against the backdrop of WWII. The story is a study of contrasting characters of widely divergent backgrounds who find themselves in otherwise unlikely romantic relationships due to the events of the War.

The songs of South Pacific are thought to be some of the greatest of musical theater and invoke nostalgia for the best years of American musicals.  Light Opera Works has done several productions of South Pacific, with Larry Adams returning as the male lead, Emile deBecque, and Sarah Larson as Ensign Nellie Forbush. This production features other returning performers as well. It is conducted by musical director Roger L. Bingaman.

Tickets start at $34.00, with those aged 21 and younger at half price. The performance is suitable for viewers ages 12 years and up. For ticket information and/or purchase, please click here.

Don’t miss an opportunity for a lovely end-of-summer evening of musical theater at the Cahn Auditorium featuring South Pacific.

Where:  Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

When:   August 22, 2015 at 8 PM

              August 23, 2015 at 2 PM 

For more information regarding South Pacific, please click here.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
allyson@allyson.com

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

 

Image courtesy of Phillip Capper/Flickr.com               

Applying for a Home Loan

by Allyson Hoffman

Buying a home may be the largest purchase most of us will ever make. So before you apply for a mortgage, take these steps to make sure your credit is in good shape.

First check your credit report annually for free by pulling your records from all three credit bureaus. Read them over to assure that all the information is correct. For a small fee, you can also obtain your overall credit score.

If you notice any errors on your credit report, proactively work to clear those conditions before applying for a mortgage. It should make loan processing easier, and could raise your credit score allowing you to ultimately obtain a better rate on your mortgage. Better rates typically translate into saving thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan, so this is definitely an important consideration.  Common credit reporting errors include payments showing as late that really weren’t, and/or bills showing as outstanding that have been paid off. Follow the credit bureau’s instructions to fix any errors you find.

To avoid any drop in your credit score, be sure to make all payments on time. If you’ve had previous late payments, you can improve your score by making all current and future payments on time. Experts also suggest that you can bump up your score a few points by paying down credit card balances and maintaining those by avoiding new purchases to those cards.

In the months before applying for a mortgage loan, don’t buy any big ticket items, like cars or furniture. Also, applying for new credit can temporarily lower your credit score. So, ideally you should not take on any new debt within a year of buying a home.

In general, your objective is to show a long, reliable credit history, so make sure you keep your oldest credit card open. Use your credit wisely, but don’t abuse it.

Shop for a home with confidence by maximizing your credit potential -- it can save you money and affect how much house you can afford.  Should you have any questions about checking your credit score or getting a mortgage pre-approval, feel free to contact me for lender references or to set up an appointment for a consultation. I’d be happy to offer you suggestions about the home buying process and introduce you to top notch mortgage originating professionals who can advise you on how to improve your score so that we can find the home of your dreams.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
allyson@allyson.com

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.   

Photo courtesy www.gotcredit.com/Flickr.com

July 2015 Midwest Real Estate Market Reports

by Allyson Hoffman

The July 2015 Midwest Real Estate Market Reports are now ready for your review. These market reports provide an insight on the real estatemarket statistics for Cook County and Lake County. These statistics are helpful when you are considering buying or selling in today’s real estatemarket.  And, remember should you need tailored reports on a subdivision or neighborhood in the North ShoreNorth and Northwest Suburban Chicago, Illinois area, please let me know.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager 
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
allyson@allyson.com

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

The Chicago Air & Water Show

by Allyson Hoffman

August 15-16, 2015

North Avenue Beach, Chicago, Illinois

One of the most popular events in Chicago is returning August 15-16, 2015. Since 1959, the Chicago Air & Water Show which has entertained millions of residents and visitors alike is the largest free military and civilian aerobatics show in the country. Featuring the ultimate in aerial performers from the U.S. and abroad, the Air Show provides two days of beach-front entertainment viewed best from North Avenue Beach and on the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street.

This year’s headliners include the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights Parachute Team. Also featured are the Navy Leap Frogs, the AeroShell Aerobatics Team, the Chicago Air/Sea Rescue Team helicopters and many others. New this year will be the Breitling Jets, aerial performers based in France, and the largest team ever, Team AeroDynamix, which features a twelve-plane aerobatics group.  For a full list of performers, please click here

Many food vendors offering various selections of snacks and fast-foods will be present; however, advisors predict very long lines, so a plan to bring plenty of your own snacks and water is advised. And don’t forget the sun-block!

A “sneak preview” of the Air Show’s headliners during the teams’ Friday performance practice can also be viewed before the actual weekend show when the teams rehearse their feats of aerobatics over the city.

The beach-front is considered the best viewing site; however, several restaurants also offer rooftop views, while city skyscrapers and lakefront condos will also afford a great vantage for the Show. For additional information about these viewing sites, please click here.

Don’t miss a renowned Chicago tradition and an opportunity for the entire family to enjoy the best of aerial ballet and aerobatics. The Chicago Air & Water Show is sure to be a memorable and exciting event!

For more information about the Air Show, please click here.

Where:  North Avenue Beach, Chicago, Illinois

When:   August 15-16, 2015 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
allyson@allyson.com

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Image courtesy of Tony/Flickr.com

Home Selling Safety Tips

by Allyson Hoffman

When selling a home and facing the inevitable potential for it to be shown at almost any given time, it is important for you to take some precautionary steps to protect yourself, your family  and your home by following some basic safety guidelines.

Working with a real estate agent provides one of the best ways to assure your protection, since all communications take place via your agent and his or her office. Without an agent by your side, you could find yourself alone with total strangers during a showing of your home or an open house – not an ideal situation for those who are safety minded.

When using a Realtor, qualified buyers viewing your home will be accompanied by their agent. Additionally, appointments will be scheduled and/or confirmed in advance based upon agreed procedures you’ve decided upon ahead of time. Be sure to never open your home to someone who appears without notice and indicates an interest in seeing your home.

Vacant homes can be prime targets for criminals.  Should your home be vacant while it is on the market for sale, avoid publicizing that fact. Also, consider installing lights or even automatic blinds controlled by a timer to give the appearance that the home is inhabited. Some added insurance can be achieved by removing any obstacles that block windows or doors, and closely trimming shrubbery near the house to provide a clear line of site and eliminate possible hiding places. Not only will this be a safety asset but it will also boost your home’s curb appeal.

Prior to a showing or open house, it is prudent to secure jewelry and other valuables in a safe location that is out of sight and hard to find. You might even consider removing these items entirely before announcing to family, friends, and neighbors that your home is available to view or will be open for visitors at a precise time.

During showings and open houses, try to allow as much natural light into your home as possible. This is an important safety precaution and can provide you an additional selling point.

Once a showing or open house has concluded, make sure that everyone has vacated, that nothing is missing and that all of your windows and doors are locked. Windows or doors opened during visits and then not relocked are easy targets for access later when you have left.

For additional pointers on the selling process, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about showing your home safely or any other selling concern you may have.  Additionally, I can assist you determining the value of your home.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
allyson@allyson.com

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.   

Image courtesy of reynermedia/Flickr.com

Art at the Glen

by Allyson Hoffman

August 8-9, 2015

Glen Town Center, Glenview, Illinois     

The Glen Town Center hosts the 12th annual Art at the Glen this weekend. The festival will take place at an outdoor walking-mall contained within the Town Center of Glenview. The Village of Glenview is a serene, self-contained and lovely suburban planned community that provides the ideal atmosphere for the festival. The Town Center resides on what was once the Glenview Naval Station, converted into charming townhomes with the Town Center at its heart.

The 185 juried artists will display a broad range of mediums including paintings, photographs, jewelry, and ceramics, to name a few. The exhibition is in the top 12 art shows in the country according to Sunshine Artist magazine. Expect large crowds – as many as 35,000 to 40,000 art enthusiasts usually attend.

In addition, restaurants with outdoor patio seating make it the ideal summer experience, with selections to satisfy a variety of culinary tastes. The Festival also provides live music during the two-day event.

Shopping is another pleasant activity at the Town Center venue, with many unique boutiques not found anywhere else in the city, and several high-end department stores in which to browse.

The Art at the Glen Festival is one of the more relaxing and refreshing art events of the summer, with plenty of activities for children to participate in and display their artistic sides. Admission and parking for Art at the Glen is free. For more information, please click here.

The captivating Village of Glenview offers the perfect setting for this popular area event.  Be sure to experience all that Art in the Glen has to offer this weekend!

Where:  Glen Town Center, Glenview, Illinois

When:  August 8-9, 2015. 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
allyson@allyson.com

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Image courtesy of LadyDragonflyCC/Flickr.com

About Closing Costs …

by Allyson Hoffman

There are obvious costs included in buying a home -- from the price of the home and required down payment to the interest rate of the mortgage and additional expenses that are sometimes overlooked by first-time, and even experienced homebuyers.

One of these includes the closing costs associated with buying a home. Closing costs, a catchall category, covers various fees associated with closing a home such as running a credit report, processing fees, legal fees, inspections, appraisals, title searches and recording fees. Together, depending on the cost of the home, this can be a relatively significant amount.

Reducing Your Overall Closing Costs

While many closing costs are typically the buyer’s responsibility, there are ways to offset or split your closing costs.

In some cases, the seller will contribute to a portion of the closing costs.  To take advantage of this potential benefit, discuss with your real estate agent the possibility of splitting the closing costs so that it can be incorporated into any purchase offer you prepare. Then your agent will be able to determine the seller’s willingness to cover a portion of these charges in finalizing a contract with the seller’s agent.

Be careful of “no closing costs” mortgages offered by some lenders. While these seem may great, on the surface, be sure to review the fine print carefully. You may find that these fees are actually rolled into the structure of your loan and result in you paying much more than you otherwise might after factoring in the added costs. Your qualified agent, who likely understands loans and the mortgage industry better than most, can be a valuable resource in reviewing and helping you to make the best choices.

Save and Plan Ahead

The days of the zero-down mortgages are largely over, possibly with exception of qualified United States veterans whose benefits may include the option of a 100% financed government-backed mortgage on a home purchase. So to purchase a home, you will need to amass the funding for a down payment and associated closing fees.  At a minimum most buyers will need 5-10% for a down payment and a cushion to cover the closing costs noted here.  Additionally, keep in mind that you may also need monies for your move and possibly to purchase some new furnishings for your home.

To discuss these concerns more specifically, please contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you structure a personalized plan to start the home buying process.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
allyson@allyson.com

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.   

Nature Nights at the Chicago Botanic Garden

by Allyson Hoffman

August 1, 2015

Chicago Botanic Gardens, Glencoe, Illinois

For an ideal summertime family outing, consider a Nature Nights adventure at the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden. Activities, both educational and entertaining, aimed specifically for children 4 years and up, can be found at the Botanic Garden.

The Nature Nights programs have just the right mix of physical activity and participation events to engage even younger children. They can enjoy a tram ride, planting project, campfire fellowship, and making s’mores!  Programs include intriguing titles such as “Harnessing the Fire”, which teaches the history of the use of fire by Native Americans, and “Seed Scatter”, which teaches interesting and unique methods of plant propagation by seed dispersal and even includes seeds for participants to scatter at home.

Many people like to experience the Gardens not only during different seasons but different times of day and evening. The Nature Nights after-hours program is one of the few times one may visit at night with its unique appeal for both adults and children. Be prepared to roam the grounds and enjoy the calm beauty of the Garden at night.

A maximum of three children aged 4 through 10 may register per adult supervisor, and they must be accompanied by that adult at all times. The non-member admission fee per child is $26.  Children attending with Garden Plus members receive a 20% discount. Since attendance is limited, all children must be registered to attend. For more information, and to download registration forms, please click here.

Families are encouraged to bring a picnic basket.  Desserts will be provided. Participants are asked to dress appropriately for the weather and comfort during the outdoor activities. So gather the whole family, and spend a fun and educational evening at Nature Nights this Saturday.

Where:  Chicago Botanic Gardens, Glencoe, Illinois

When:   August 1, 2015 from 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
allyson@allyson.com

Get your latest Home Value
Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

Let’s Connect, Socially!

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Image courtesy of Matthew Hoelscher/Flickr.com

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 603

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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview IL 60025
847-310-5300
Fax: 847-400-0881

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