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Red Flags to Home Improvement Scams

by Allyson Hoffman

In today’s world it’s imperative to know who you hire and allow into your home. Because scam artists come in many forms, it is important to be aware and understand how to protect yourself. Before letting someone work inside your home or even do outside chores, be aware of some of common ruses fake remodelers and handymen use to gain access to your home’s interior or take your hard-earned cash.

Below you’ll find five ways to protect yourself from home improvement scams:

1. Don’t fall for high pressure ‘now or never’ deals. Some contractors will knock at your door with a special ‘one time only’ offer. If you don’t sign up immediately, they’ll warn that you will lose the opportunity to get that great deal. Reputable remodelers may offer specials, but they also recognize that you may need some time to think it through, talk it over with your spouse, or check out their references. Ask to see a price list, a website, and a list of verifiable past customers before you agree to allow any work to be done.

 2. Watch out for unsolicited offers, especially exterior repairs. In one common ploy a repairman comes to your door to report that he ‘just happened to notice’ several exterior features of the house that need repair.  Don’t fall for it.  Be especially wary, if he ‘just happens’ to have all the materials with him that are needed for your job. Chances are the materials were intended for a neighbor who paid more for repairs than needed.

3. Don’t pay for the job up front. If the contractor-to-be requires full payment before starting, it’s a real possibility that you will never see him again. Never pay for a job before the work is finished. Legitimate remodelers typically require a down payment of a third or less to get a job started (which is reasonable) and pay for materials. The balance due in your agreement should only be paid after different milestones have been completed, with the final payment due only when all work has been finished to your satisfaction.  It is advisable to get your agreement in writing.

4. Don’t do business with out-of- town contractors. Beware contractors who drive unmarked vehicles or trucks with out-of-state licenses. They may be part of a band of scammers who are making their way through your area. This is especially common after a storm or other widespread event that makes homeowners vulnerable to quick repair scams. Make sure that the remodelers or repairmen you choose are established in your area and have both trade and customer references.

5.  Always check references. Don’t just request references. Instead, take the time to actually follow up by contacting those provided to you. Five or more solid references should be encouraging.  Also ask for bank or trade references and check with the Better Business Bureau and/or local license board to make sure their business practices and credentials are sound.

Use good judgment when selecting a home improvement contractor or remodeler. To find several good, professional remodelers in your area, do a little research. The results of the effort will make you glad that you did!

If you have been a victim or can offer additional tips to help protect others, be sure to share your experiences and ideas.  And, should you need the name of a reputable contractor, feel free to contact me for recommendations. Take the time to make wise choices – it’s better to be safe than sorry!

 

 

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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Low Budget Improvements Can Yield High Impact Results

by Allyson Hoffman

Home remodeling is an easy way to update your new house, add new life to your existing living space or fix up your property before you sell.

Professional home remodeling projects can typically cost tens of thousands of dollars. However, before you call in the professionals, consider the many small projects you can do yourself that will add value to your home and make your house more livable, without breaking the bank. Here are a few ideas to update your home without breaking the bank:

- Make a big impact by painting the exterior of your house. If you do the work yourself, your only cost is paint and a few brushes and tools. This is an easy way to spruce up your home from the outside and improve your curb appeal.

- The kitchen is another place where a complete remodel can cost thousands of dollars.  But for minimal expense to brighten it up, try a kitchen facelift with new paint on the walls and/or replacing old appliances.  Another cost-effective option producing a dramatic change includes repainting cabinets and replacing your hardware. Any or all of these changes can automatically provide an updated look without burdensome expense.

- Consider increasing your available storage by installing attractive closet organizers. You’ll not only make better use of your closet space, but the rest of your home will also appear larger and more spacious when you can put everything neatly away.

- If painting is an easy change, you may want to not only spruce up the the exterior of your home and your kitchen, but also provide a fresh coat of paint to the rest of the interior. Fresh paint in today’s contemporary colors brightens your space and makes your home look refreshed and like new.

- Refreshing your flooring can make big a welcome change. So consider professionally cleaning your carpets or do it yourself with a steam cleaner.  If you have wood floors or tile, try deep cleaning and polishing to add benefit at a truly minimal cost.

So if you’re preparing to sell your house or on a challenged budget in your new home, try tackling these easy and economical improvements for a new look that will make your home more appealing to potential buyers or simply for your family’s pleasure.
Contact me today if you’re thinking of selling and would like information regarding the selling process.. I’ll help you determine the value of your home and advise you on the best remodeling jobs to assure you obtain best price for your house.


 

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 Felixco, Inc., FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Home Improvements to Make to Help Your Home Sell

by Allyson Hoffman

When you are ready to sell your home, you will likely want it to sell quickly and for the most money possible. Standing out from your competition can be easy when there few homes available at the time, but certainly harder as the size of your competition increases. 

So here are some updates you should consider if your home needs them.  The impact of these improvements on your bottom line typically returns the expenses, and then some, at the end of the day.

1. Fresh paint in neutral colors. Not everyone likes bold colors or has the same taste as you. Neutral paint will allow buyers to imagine their own personality in the home. Even if they change the paint eventually, they can probably live with a neutral color for a while until they are ready. Introduce colors if you like them, as accents or in the furnishings that will go with you when you leave.

2. Flooring updates. If your carpet is stained or worn, tile is dull and hardwood floors are scratched, it is time to contemplate updates. Some carpets can benefit from a thorough cleaning but depending on the age, replacing may be the better answer.   Again, keep new choices neutral.

3. Remove popcorn ceilings. This is not the easiest task to do as it can be a little messy but it makes a huge difference to buyers looking at homes. Popcorn ceilings really date a home and a nice, smooth ceiling will make a big difference.

4. Update your landscaping and home exterior. Your home needs to attract people from the outside first and you get only one chance to make a great first impression.  You’ll want it to be impressive and memorable to the extent possible.  Fresh paint or a pressure-washed exterior, trimmed bushes and trees, seasonally appropriate flowers and fresh mulch or pine straw can go a long way to helping your home look its best so the buyers want to come inside and take a look.

Talk to your real estate agent if you need help deciding which projects will have the greatest impact. Almost everyone has a fixed budget and you may have to make choices about the updates to make but your agent should be able to suggest those with the greatest all-round benefits. For additional ideas regarding preparing your home for sale, the selling process or moving tips, please 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. 
  

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Time for Spring Home Maintenance

by Allyson Hoffman

A few brief glimpses of warmer weather may have teased you into a lighter jacket or a short sleeve shirt, but warm weather will eventually be here for good. On one of the milder days now is the time to address some routine home maintenance. Then, when the sun is actually shining, your day can be filled doing something more entertaining!

1.  Give your Roof a Once Over - Ice, packed snow, wind, falling limbs and many more things can unsuspectingly damage your roof.  Depending on the pitch of your roof and height of your home, you may need to contact a professional roofer, but you or an expert should thoroughly examine your roof for any damage or wear.  A small repair now could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage caused by an otherwise preventable.  Because spring and summer storms can be brutal on roofs, be sure that your roof isn’t overly susceptible to any storm damage.

2. Check Your Gutters - Leaking or overflowing gutters can easily cause damage to your home from penetrating water.  So clear your gutters to properly direct water away from your home.

3. Tune Up Lawn Equipment - If you are a DIY lawn-care type, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers and other equipment all need to be serviced regularly.  Before the season starts, change filters, oil and make any necessary repairs.  If you are not, make sure to contract with a professional lawn/landscape contractor to keep your grounds manicured and groomed during the heavy growth season.

4. Service your AC Unit - Definitely call a professional HVAC contractor before the cooling season begins. An efficiently running system should save you money and also extend the life of your unit. Regularly-maintained systems last longer and break down less often while ensuring your ongoing comfort during hot summer days when no air conditioning can not only be uncomfortable, but also unhealthy.

5. Give Your Home a Thorough Spring Cleaning  - While it’s easy to avoid deep cleaning go for long periods of time devote some time to this task as the weather improves.   This affords you the opportunity to inspect all the parts of your home and take note of issues to address down the road and plan for those based upon priority and need.

So let this spring be a fresh start for both you and your home. These tips should ensure that your home is well prepared for the long-awaited warmer months. For additional information on maintaining your home to preserve or enhance its value, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, help you to find your dream home or determine the value of your existing property

 

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.   

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Eight Hot Home Trends for 2018 Unveiled

by Allyson Hoffman

If you are like many people who want their homes to remain current and updated but aren’t always certain of what to choose, here are eight hot home trends expected to pop up more frequently in 2018. So when you are ready, consider taking advantage of these ideas and accents to update your home.

1. Dare to be bold with Pantone’s 2018 color of the year, ultra violet, a rich, dark purple. If this deep hue is simply too much for you, lavender is also expected to show up everywhere so try adding some lavender to a room for a fresh pop of color.

2. High contrast color palettes make a huge impact, even without selecting trendy colors. As a low-cost project requiring only the expense of paint if you do the work, combine a deep grey or blue mixed with white for a great update assuring that the dark hue isn’t overwhelming.

3. Geometric shapes will remain popular, but expect to see more circles replacing tired triangles. Circles will appear in throw pillows, draperies, linens and even light fixtures.

4. Despite stainless steel enduring as a lasting classic, brass has again creeped back into current decor. If you are looking for a quick and easy change, just add a small amount of brass to your bathrooms, kitchen or as lighting accents.

5. Consider incorporating natural elements into your home’s design as a way to connect with your surroundings using stones and woods that are native to certain areas and create beautiful accents – from limestone showers to walnut cabinets.

6. Consider incorporating some trim in colors other than white. While using bold colors for this style change will remain uncommon, expect of see charcoal or other neutrals appearing on trim to make a room stand out in a new way.

7. In recent seasons velvet has appeared in closets. Expect that to transition to home goods as well. As with many trends, a little can go a long way so if you aren’t ready for a velvet couch, pillows or an ottoman will do the trick equally well.

8. Lastly, “statement” lampshades will show up this year. It’s an easy update to consider without a big commitment. New patterns, materials, colors and shapes will replace the oh-so-common white classics.

With almost any trend, a little goes a long way. So be careful to not overdo the updates or combine too many trends in one room. Your home should always reflect your personality and interests as well as providing a comfortable retreat for you and your family. For additional ideas on how to improve the value of your home, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, help you to find your dream home or determine the value of your existing property.


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 sandeepkalangi at Pixabay.com

 

New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

by Allyson Hoffman

It is the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions for themselves or family.  Adding homeowner resolutions will help ensure your home is well cared for.

Perhaps consider an easy resolution relating to proper maintenance of your home such as changing your air filters as recommended by your HVAC manufacturer. Changing your air filters regularly allows your unit to run at maximum efficiency and may also save you money on costly repairs as well as extend the life of your system. 

If you have an interest in gardening and landscape and don’t farm these tasks out to professional contractors, try a resolution to add some helpful yard and lawn tasks such as fertilizing, mulching, and/or aerating to punch up the look and appeal of your exterior this year.  Since these chores don’t have to be left to the professionals, require little skill and/or specialized equipment, with minimal effort you can complete them and save some of the costs.

Another resolution might be to plan an update you’ve been contemplating. If you are ready to change your carpet or other flooring and/or paint your home, layout the blueprint you’ll need to afford the improvement and make it a reality.

You can even resolve to learn new skills to add to your repertoire of talents that will aid you in managing some of the smaller and simpler home maintenance tasks.  Lessons can be found online or even at local home goods and hardware stores if the spirit moves you.

Should you be planning to purchase a new home and list your current home for sale in 2018, a good solution might include an outline of tasks help you prepare to sell in the new year. Your local real estate professional should be able to provide you suggestions designed to ensure the most profitable and timely transaction.

If you made a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price when you bought your home, you may be carrying the expense of private mortgage insurance. The ability to eliminate this payment will add money to the budget. This could be achieved by setting a goal to advance principal payments by adding them to your mortgage costs as funds are available.

To assure the greatest likelihood for success, limit your resolutions to simple steps that build good habits for the long term and will benefit you for years to come. For additional information, reliable recommendations to trusted affiliates or to arrange a meeting to discuss your needs, please contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the home sale and/or home buying process.

Happy New Year to all!

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. 
  

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Winter Curb Appeal

by Allyson Hoffman

Whether you want to spruce up your home because it is on the market or just want it to be the envy of the neighborhood, there are some easy options for upping your winter curb appeal and making your home look its best.

If feasible, freshen up the mulch and/or pine needles if they have been out for a while. Though it won’t make a significant statement, it will benefit the overall look of your home and show that you take good care of it. Also, a fresh coat of paint on the front door will garner attention and any visitors will undoubtedly take notice.

Strive to keep your yard clear of leaves and limbs. This is an easy fix requiring minimal attention to maintain a cared-for appearance. Little else makes a home look worse than debris strewn helter-skelter across your lawn.

To go from drab into fab consider adding a few winter-flowering shrubs and perennials to your landscaping. Pieris japonica, the hellebore or Christmas rose, pansies and winter jasmine hold up well in some colder temperatures.

For safety, be sure to clear areas around your home where ice can become a problem during winter storms. It can be a distinct hazard for the elderly or those with disabilities as well as an unneeded liability for you. While shoveling snow and spreading salt or melting agents can temporarily alleviate the problem, try to find more permanent solutions to chronic ice problems and make sure you have good drainage away from your driveway and your house.

Clean your gutters out. Once the leaves fall, gutters can be hard to keep empty and can really detract from your home’s appearance if they are overflowing. Moreover, unattended gutters can lead to winter ice dams on the roof and interior leaks as a result.

Lastly, try adding some solar lights following the path to the front door. This will really brighten up your home and make the approach inviting to visitors.

In just a little time and without significant effort, these simple steps can help your home standout and create a great first impression. So consider trying one or all of these ideas to present a fresh new look for your home’s exterior and yard. For additional ideas to enhance your home’s curb appeal, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you to find your dream home or determine the value of your existing property.

 

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.   

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How to Use Bold Color in Your Home

by Allyson Hoffman

If you love bold colors and bright patterns, but you’re afraid to try it in your home, initially try creating a fun space that isn’t overwhelming. To guide you in your journey, follow these tips to help you learn how to use vivid colors without going overboard.

Start Small

Don’t start by painting the walls a bright shade if you’re afraid you won’t like it, but rather begin with an accent wall in one room or even the front door. Adapting to a new bold color without having it surround you on four walls will be easier this way. For an unusual touch of color, the walls could even remain neutral with the ceiling painted in an unexpected shade to add excitement to any room.

Begin with One Room

Don’t redo your entire house in bright shades. Instead, try selecting a “busy” room with lots of traffic to make your changes. A living room, a child’s bedroom, a play room or even a family or media room is a great place to add a burst of color to the walls. But keep the areas where you want to rest a neutral tone to maintain a relaxing atmosphere.

Balance the Color

Be mindful to not go overboard with too much color. If you paint the walls a bright tone, use neutral-colored drapes and accessories to tone it down or use lighter shades of the same color to soften the effect. For example, a bright blue on one wall should pair well with grey or with pale blue.

Also, to avoid feeling overwhelmed, it’s best to use one color family and opposed to combining several bold hues together. So for example, if you are accenting a child’s room in touches of primary colors, don’t paint complete walls in competing colors or the results may be too bright.

Stick with Accents

While the idea of adding color can definitely be somewhat frightening, starting with accent pieces such as pillows on the couch and table settings in the dining room will make the adaption and transition easier while allowing you to see the color in your home to determine if more color is the right move or not.

Bold colors aren’t for everyone, but don’t fear experimenting.  After all, paint is one of the easiest things to change and correct until you find the right look. For additional ideas on how to add more color to your home or for information about the buying and selling process and how inexpensive paint can add value to your home, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, help you to find your dream home or determine the value of your existing property.

 

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.   

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The Difference Between Contemporary and Modern Design

by Allyson Hoffman

While the words “contemporary” and “modern” are often used interchangeably to mean anything that isn’t traditional or outdated, in the world of design, these two terms are quite unique. When trying to decide on a new, updated look for a space, it’s important to understand the difference between the two and what fits each design style.

Contemporary Design

Contemporary design includes whatever’s current and trending today. It isn’t necessarily a specific style or look, but rather is determined by today’s designers, architects and stylists.  Designers often use unique materials and features that look to the future rather than the past.

Creating a contemporary design often includes using elements of varied styles and adding a new or different twist to them. For instance, an exterior design can be a unique color or lighting fixtures futuristic. Many times, a contemporary home will look unlike anything else around and provides the freedom to “break” design rules.

Modern Design

The word “modern” is actually misleading, because this type of design has its roots in the early-and-mid-20th century styles with special features found in most homes that truly fit this architectural scheme. For instance, there will be large walls of glass with structures often made of steel or concrete and an open floor plan.

Modern design utilizes little ornamental accents and alternately, creates a cleaner, less-cluttered look. The style uses features reminiscent of the machine age with metals and other hard elements for materials. Some common characteristics of this style include white stucco, right angles in the architecture and flat roofs.

One of the reasons for confusion in identifying contemporary design versus modern is that contemporary design is current while modern design reflects a style with open floor plans and simplicity that hearkens back to the mid-20th century unlike contemporary design which can change at any time.

For additional information on contemporary versus modern design or the buying or selling process, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, help you to find your dream home or determine the value of your existing property.

 

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.    

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What You Can Learn from Design Shows

by Allyson Hoffman

By watching or attending home design shows, owners can acquire skills to make their homes look magazine worthy. By applying these tips and techniques to your home, it’s likely that friends will be amazed at how fabulous it looks and buyers will be won over if you plan to list your property.

The Overall Picture

Keep in mind -- it’s the big picture that really counts.  Even on TV design shows where rooms are staged to show off a particular design element or product, first impressions generally embrace the entire space. Think of “the big reveal” from exterior to the interior with rooms that stand out.

Don’t lose sight of the big picture when adding accents or deciding on features. It’s easy to over-focus on each one. Instead, make sure all your components work together and create the cohesive look you want.

Invoke Emotion

When planning your own design, decide how you want people to feel when they enter your home and rooms. Every aspect of your design should work towards that goal.

To confirm this, check out any design show on HGTV and watch for the reaction to the end result of a makeover.  Monitor how you also personally feel.  Correctly-designed rooms should evoke an emotion such as a relaxing family room, romantic bedroom or fun playroom. The foyer could be inviting while the kitchen engenders a sense of warmth and welcomes you in.

Embrace the Unexpected

Try visiting a home design showroom to see the latest styles, materials and products.  Innovative ideas for your home may be among the many unique and unusual displays. Unexpected design elements incorporated within a complete picture, add a fresh look, interest and excitement to the space.

So, don’t be afraid to try something new in your home. You can start small with accent items that are easily replaced.

For additional information or advice regarding decorating and/or home design elements that maximize home values, please feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the home buying or selling process, help you to find a new home or determine the value of your existing property.

 

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 PIRO4D/pixabay.com

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

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