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North Shore Festival of Art at Old Orchard

by Allyson Hoffman

July 26-27, 2014

Westfield’s Old Orchard Shopping Center in Skokie, Illinois

This weekend, Amdur Productions, a nationally-acclaimed arts festival production company, returns to the Westfield Orchard for its sixth annual North Shore Festival of Art event.  The Old Orchard Shopping Center, a luxury outdoor shopping destination with an ideal atmosphere for this highly-revered Festival, will showcase the works of some of the country’s finest artisans.

The North Shore Festival of Art at Old Orchard event will feature a wide variety of art mediums including, amongst others, mixed media items, ceramics, jewelry, glass pieces, sculptures, paintings, photography, furniture, and much more.  Over 120 juried artists will be on display, hailing from all over the country.

Additionally, Festival-goers will enjoy live entertainment and an array of assorted activities.  The north end of the shopping district will be dedicated to children, offering hands-on art projects and even a train!  Fantastic food will keep your family well-nourished throughout the course of the day. The event also provides live art demonstrations, educational booth chats and “meet and greets” with the artists. 

Admission to the North Shore Festival of Art at Old Orchard happening is free.  So join in and see for yourself what has made this event such a resounding success, year after year.

Where: Westfield’s Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie, Illinois

When: Saturday July 26th from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Sunday July 27th from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

For more information regarding the North Shore Festival of Art at Old Orchard event, 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 of AmberSculpture/deviantart.com.

Why Your House Needs Solar Power

by Allyson Hoffman

Solar panels have existed for more than 50 years, but only recently have they gained enough notoriety to be considered a power source for an individual home. In the past four years, panels became more efficient while installation became less expensive. As a safe, renewable energy sources, you want to consider what solar power can do for you and your home.

Price Barrier

Sometimes saving money means spending upfront. Were you to purchase a solar panel system big enough to power a house for a family of four, it would likely cost about $24,000 including permits and installation. Depending upon where you live, there may be rebates or incentives available to offset as much as 50% of the expense. This depends on your local, state and federal governments. Tax credits may also be available providing as much as a 30% tax credit on the price of your system.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow ...

Even with the high initial price-point, energy cost savings can return your investment in about eleven years. So if you plan to remain in your home a long time and given the average system lifespan of about 25 years, a system installation could generate nearly 14 years of revenue through energy savings or possibly more depending on local electrical rates in your area.

An alternative to consider for those whose budget cannot absorb the initial high costs would include leasing a home solar energy array. Generally, this method requires a long-term lease of 15-20 years with payments covering the solar-generated electricity used. Even leasing should produce a 10-25 percent lower energy cost than your average utility provider, but will not add the ultimate benefit of free electricity that can be realized by those who purchase instead once their expenses are returned through energy cost savings.

If You Can Afford It, Do It

Solar energy systems can add value to your home.  Real estate appraisers estimate that this single home improvement can yield a 20-to-1 valuation, meaning if your solar panels were to save you $1,000 per year, you could expect your home's value to increase $20,000. In terms of kilowatts, you would, theoretically, add $17,500 resale value to your home by adding an average 5KW system.

Solar-powered homes are no longer a concept for the future. They're here and they're setting the bar high for clean, renewable energy. Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you determine 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.

Photo courtesy of Dave Dugdale/Flickr.com

Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival

by Allyson Hoffman

July 19-20, 2014

Centennial Park, Evanston, Illinois

This weekend the city of Evanston, Illinois will celebrate the arts and cultural diversity of more than 100 nations.  In its 29th consecutive year of embracing ethic diversity, the Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival promises to be even bigger and better than in year’s past.

With its spectacular lakefront setting, Centennial Park is honored to be the venue for this year’s happening.  Continuous world music and dance, ethnic cuisine and a family arts activity area will all be featured at this year’s event.  The festivities start on Saturday with the parade of flags featuring over 200 countries.  Twenty thousand attendees are expected to indulge in the sights, sounds, colors and even aromas of our world’s cultures. Visual arts reflecting the skills and talents from every corner of our continent will be dispersed throughout the festival grounds.  Feel free to try your hand at origami-making or participate in suminagashi workshops. The activities available for your family’s participation are endless.

Attendance for your entire family at The Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival event is free.  So this weekend consider clearing your agenda to take part in this two-day affair honoring the world’s varied cultures!

Where: Centennial Park, Evanston, Illinois

When: Saturday July 19th from Noon-7:00 PM. Sunday July 20th from Noon-7:00 PM

For more information regarding the Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival event, 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

Get your latest Home Value
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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 of alandsteev/deviantart.com.

Knowing When to Refinance

by Allyson Hoffman

Deciding to refinance your home is a big decision because the process accompanying a refinance resembles the same procedures followed when initiating your original purchase mortgage. You'll again need to submit an application, have credit reviewed and obtain a new appraisal for your home.

Refinance costs and the associated potential savings should be evaluated based upon how long you plan to remain in the house to help you determine the financial benefits of this decision.

For example, if refinancing could save you $200 per month and the refinance fees cost $2,500, it would take a year before true savings started.   Generally, the longer you remain in the house, the more money you'll save in the long term.  So, should you plan on selling in the near future or may be eligible soon for a better job in a new area, refinancing might not be as beneficial as the monthly savings indicate.

Here are a few fees that come with refinancing:

  • Application Fee
  • Appraisal Fee
  • Underwriting
  • Recording
  • Credit Report

Some simple guidelines for deciding to refinance include:

  • Consider refinancing to reduce your monthly payments and lower your interest rate.
  • Consider refinancing to reduce the term of your loan.
  • Consider refinancing to consolidate debt.
  • Consider refinancing if the interest rate is more than two percent lower than your current rate.

Keep in mind that these are not hard-and-fast rules since each situation has its own unique elements to consider. Contact me today if you would like assistance and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you determine 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 Juli/Flickr.com

Northbrook Nine: Sidewalk Sale & Downtown Event

by Allyson Hoffman

July 12, 2014

Village Green Park, Downtown Northbrook, Illinois

This weekend bring the entire family to Village Green Park and indulge in the 7th week of the Northbrook Nine series of events, at the Northbrook Nine:  Sidewalk Sale & Downtown Event.  Art in the Park, a Fine Arts Festival, will take the limelight as Downtown Northbrook is transformed into a shopper’s paradise.

Hosted by the Northbrook Merchant Association, the Northbrook Nine:  Sidewalk Sale & Downtown Event features opportunities for all shoppers regardless of budget.  Local stores will hold sidewalk sales, while additional outside vendors will be setting up shop.  They will offer a variety of unique, one-of-a-kind gift items.  Over 70 highly-acclaimed artisans will show their work at the Art in the Park segment of the Event.  Wonderful fine art of all shapes, sizes and mediums will be on exhibit, and for sale.

In addition to this rare shopping experience, there will also be live entertainment, food offerings, contests, silent auctions and more.  Balloon artists will create art of their own to accompany variety of children’s activities and games.

The Northbrook Nine:  Sidewalk Sale & Downtown Event is free for all to attend.  So come early tomorrow to browse sidewalk sales before heading to the main Art in the Park r!

Where: Village Green Park, Downtown Northbrook, Illinois

When: Saturday July 12th from 8:00 AM-5:00 PM

For more information regarding the Northbrook Nine:  Sidewalk Sale & Downtown Event, 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

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.

Photo courtesy of pixabay/pixabay.com.  

Property Wars: Condo vs. House

by Allyson Hoffman

To find the perfect home, some homebuyers debate whether to purchase a house or a condo.  For some, this is an easy decision given factors such as children, location, money or space, but for others there isn't always a black or white answer.

Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages. Consider these Pros and Cons:

  • Traditional Freestanding House

Traditional homes provide greater freedom over decisions relating to updates, improvements, additions and changes.  They eliminate most worries regarding consent from others with exception of any local homeowner’s association regulations. This permits greater flexibility with regard to your choices since neighbors generally have enough space between them to afford that luxury.

Alternately, these freedoms come with a price, primarily the required effort and commitment to maintenance that accompanies homeownership. The costs of upkeep are fully the responsibility of the owner and, many times, performed by the owner.  At a minimum, this is planned, arranged and paid for by the owner.  So there is both a financial commitment and a time commitment as well. Utility bills may also run higher due to the typically larger square footage of freestanding homes.

  • Condominium

Condos generally appeal to folks with a bit of an itch for urban-style living where tighter proximity to neighbors is generally accompanied by convenient and nearby access to stores, restaurants, sports facilities, transportation and other amenities. Condos can also be an attractive choice for those seeking low-maintenance living in a quest to find additional free time each day. Since condo association fees usually cover exterior concerns such as building maintenance, lawn care/landscaping and snow removal, eliminating all these responsibilities frees up more time to enjoy life.

On top of mortgage principle and interest, taxes and insurance costs, an additional monthly fee is the price paid for that freedom. Occasional one-time bills may also affect overall charges above the set monthly assessments.  Lastly, because condo living means neighbors in close proximity, it can also mean that an inconsiderate neighbor may do irritating things, intentionally or unintentionally.  Association rules and regulations set out guidelines to follow, but how well residents adhere to them or how well they are enforced by the association and management can determine how disruptive others may or may not be.

Choose More Pros than Cons

There are pros and cons to every situation.  Determine which cons you can accept and which pros you most look forward to enjoying. This way your best choice will be based on your lifestyle choice.  Either a freestanding home or a condo can be perfect for you.  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

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.

Images courtesy of lonniehb/freeimages.com and charlotel/freeimages.com

Bubble Palooza Chicago

by Allyson Hoffman

July 5, 2014

Lake County Fairgrounds, Libertyville, Illinois

This weekend dress your family in white t-shirts and head out to the Lake County Fairgrounds for the Bubble Palooza Chicago event. The happening will feature a 3-mile course where colorful bubbles will rain down on your family.

The Bubble Palooza Chicago event will offer the option for your family to walk, run, or even dance down the course, as walls of bubbles come pouring down from the sky.

Upon finishing the course, your family will be given a packet of colored cornstarch to launch into the air, as the marathon Bubble Bash commences.  Music will play as numerous bubble machines will unleash a fury of color every 15 minutes.

Admission to this colorful day of magical memories ranges in price from $21.50 to $43.00.  To view your ticket options and to purchase them online, please click here.

Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in Bubble Palooza Chicago, where foam and fantasy unite.  Experience a delightful journey through storms of bubbles at this fun family event!

Where: Lake County Fairgrounds, Libertyville, Illinois

When: Saturday July 5th - 10:00 AM

For more information regarding the Bubble Palooza Chicago event, 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

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.

Photo courtesy of 123freevectors/deviantart.com.

Simplifying the Moving Process

by Allyson Hoffman

Moving, in theory, is a pretty straightforward process. You pack everything into boxes, put those boxes into a large truck and head off to your destination.

But if you're one of the forty million Americans that pack up their homes and move each year, you probably don't find it that effortless. That's why you need an action plan to help you manage your belongings and your time.

Inside most folks’ homes are things they want to keep, but don't often use.  One way to gain an edge is to pack these items early and store them in a spare room, basement or garage. Tackling a box or two each day also helps to simplify the process as the actual moving day approaches.

A great way to keep organized during a move includes creating a labeling system. A basic labeling system for most people is a black permanent marker. But when using recycled boxes or when pressed for time, a different easy solution may be the answer.  Trying buying tape in different colors or use multi-color Post-It Notes, to color-code boxes on the fly. This makes it much easier to match boxes with rooms.

When packing, it’s easy to forget things stashed in areas that don’t get much use.  These might include the garage, the attic or even storage under the stairs. A good rule of thumb is to address those areas first and eliminate items that can be trashed, donated or sold. The less there is to pack, the less there is to move.

Buying boxes and bubble wrap can very quickly get expensive. So consider free resources to help you get started.  Local stores often give boxes away.  Some folks share them on Craigslist or for the environmentally-conscious mover, try www.Freecycle.org.

The truth is that moving isn't easy. But when you're prepared for the transition, the entire family will benefit, stress will be reduced and that is definitely a big plus.

Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the moving process, buying or selling a 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

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 Mpopp/Flickr.com

Highwood Days with Taste of Summer

by Allyson Hoffman

June 27-29, 2014

Everts Park, Highwood, Illinois

This weekend the Highwood Chamber of Commerce is excited to kick-off the Celebrate Highwood 2014 agenda.  The Highwood Days with Taste of Summer event is North Shore’s version of “Taste of Chicago”, featuring a family-friendly, carnival-style happening.

For three consecutive days you can partake in Highwood’s oldest, and most popular, must-attend festival.  The extravaganza has been revamped, now being hailed as the most memorable Highwood-hosted event, throughout the entire year.

This weekend Everts Park will be transformed into a fair-goers paradise, offering on-going live entertainment.  Music will fill the air as your family enjoys carnival rides or convenes with friends for a bite to eat.  Expect to find fresh foods from a variety of local vendors and restaurants introducing the tastes of the North Shore.  You can even imbibe cold ale in the beer garden while your children participate in the varied activities being offered.

The Highwood Days with Taste of Summer event is free.  So clear your agenda this weekend and don’t  miss all three days of this spectacular event!

Where: Everts Park, Highwood, Illinois

When: Friday June 27th from 5:00 PM-11:00 PM. Saturday June 28th from 1:00 PM-11:00 PM. Sunday June 29th from 1:00 PM-9:00 PM.

For more information regarding the Highwood Days with Taste of Summer event, 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

Get your latest Home Value
Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

Let’s Connect, Socially!

Facebook
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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 of Kniye/deviantart.com.

Remodeling: Cost vs. Value

by Allyson Hoffman

There are lots of questions to ask yourself when you're tossing around the idea of remodeling your home.

Whether you're planning to redecorate a room or staging to sell your home, the objective is typically to add value without breaking the bank.  But not all projects provide the same potential return for your effort and investment.    

Remodeling magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report for 2014 provides some great insights that can help you maximize the benefits of your money and time.  For example, a simple front door replacement, sometimes a good paint job, can add, on average, a 96.6 percent return on the amount you spent on the door and add that value to your home.

Because people focus on rooms where they spend precious time, updating kitchens and bathrooms remains one of the most profitable, if not difficult, ventures to undertake, adding roughly 82.7 percent of the cost to the value of the home. These improvements are not inexpensive with even the average minor kitchen remodel running about $19,000 -- not exactly pocket change for the average consumer.

Start with smaller renovations.  This might include guttering, energy-saving windows, heating and cooling elements or small decks.  These changes can add value without knocking down walls. For those with an adventurous spirit and the need for a new room, consider converting an attic or other usable space to a bedroom or powder room with a sizable 84.3 percent return. But be cautious before embarking on any major home expansion.  While these can be profitable, many more factors must be reviewed before proceeding with assurance that the end result will be worth the cost and inevitable headaches.

Here are three renovations with great returns on investment:

  • Deck addition (wood): 87.4 percent
  • Garage door replacement: 83.7 percent
  • Minor kitchen remodel: 82.7 percent

Here are three renovations with not so great returns on investment:

  • Home office remodel: 48.9 percent
  • Sunroom addition: 51.7 percent
  • Master suite addition: 67.5 percent

Remember, these are merely financially-based results that cannot measure the actual value to your family.  So if a game room, greenhouse or in-ground pool will bring years of joy to your clan, keep that in mind too since happiness typically does not have a price tag.  Contact me today for a consultation. I will be delighted to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you determine 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

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.

Photo courtesy of www.hbfotografic.com /Flickr.com

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Licensed in the State of Illinois

Allyson Hoffman of RE/MAX Villager provides real estate services in 
Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs providing information on real estate and homes for sale in this Northern Illinois area.
 I list and sell residential real estate including freestanding homes, condominiums and townhomes as well as investment properties, vacant land and lots for sale in the
North Shore, North and Northwest Suburban Chicago, Illinois area in the northern Illinois.

 

This website is maintaned by Kim Hughes - Real Estate Virtual Assistant