Chicago's North Shore - North and Northwest Suburbs Real Estate Archive

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Protecting Your Home When You Are Away

by Allyson Hoffman

For many families summer means vacation season. To ensure peace of mind when you are traveling, consider these simple security precautions.

The first line of protection for your home is a good door lock and deadbolt. Make sure you use them consistently. Next, check your windows. While you may rarely open them, it’s easy to forget to lock them when you do. Locks are the most basic protection, but they can’t work if they’re not used.

Another easy precaution to protect your home includes the use of lights on timers. Timers can readily be purchased in many stores such as a local hardware store, a supermarket or pharmacy. Simply set up these lights to come in key household locations at a time approximating your actual usage schedule.

Be sure to not leave signs of your absence.  Stop your mail and newspaper deliveries or have a neighbor retrieve these for you. Nothing screams more that you are gone than an overstuffed mailbox or a week’s worth of newspapers in your driveway. It might also be beneficial to let your trusted neighbors know you’ll be away and provide your contact information should anything suspicious occur.

For an even higher level of assurance, you might want to consider installing a security system. Many security systems provide the option of an offsite monitoring service. These systems can be programmed to alert for home entry violations, fire and even a medical emergency. Moreover, many insurance companies offer a discount on homeowner’s insurance if an alarm is installed, so be sure to inform your insurance carrier if a security system is connected.

Lastly, common sense says you’ll probably be excited about your vacation. Just don’t share your vacation plans on social media and announce to the world that your house will be empty.  While you may have many trusted online connections, inevitably there will be some folks who you barely know.  It’s better to share details after you’ve returned.

Vacations should be fun, so eliminate the worries before you depart to maximize the great times and memories while traveling. These simple steps will help to ensure that your home is exactly as you left it when you return. For additional thoughts on protecting your home while you are away or protecting its value when you consider selling, 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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What You Need to Know About Radon

by Allyson Hoffman

Anyone who has bought or sold a home in recent years may already be familiar with Radon gas. Because Radon gas poses a long-term health risk, it is worth knowing more about.

Radon is everywhere. It is a naturally occurring invisible, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas produced from the breakdown of Uranium in rock, soil, and water. It becomes a concern when that rock, soil, and/or water is under our homes because it produces low-grade radiation which gains entry into buildings through openings in foundations, collecting particularly in low lying areas of structures.  Prolonged exposure to Radon increases the risk of developing lung cancer and it is the second most prevalent cause of the disease with approximately 21,000 cases annually. Therefore, testing, removing, and preventing Radon exposure is important. 

It is estimated that one of every fifteen homes in the country has an elevated Radon level, specifically defined as 4 pCi/L or higher. The prevalence of elevated Radon gas may vary from area to area.  So it is best to check with Radon experts in your local region for the frequency in your community.  It is recommended that homes be tested for Radon gas every two years and after any renovations. Testing may be done by individual homeowners; however, if your home will be listed for sale, more stringent requirements regarding testing may be applicable.  Check your state’s rules and regulations with regards to testing and for information about Radon as listed on the EPA site

Fortunately, reducing Radon gas levels is fairly simple and relatively inexpensive. Today many new homes are designed with prevention in mind and built with technology that eliminates most of the concern. Your real estate agent should be able to provide information regarding Radon testing, removal and prevention.

Most homeowners’ questions regarding testing, removal and prevention of Radon gas in our homes can be found on the EPA website where abundant information for home sellers, homebuyers and homeowners is readily available.  For recommendations regarding Radon testing and Radon mitigation services in Chicago’s North Shore, North and Northwest suburbs, feel free to contact me today.  I will be happy to answer any questions and provide assistance in the home buying or selling 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.   

Photo courtesy Flickr.com/sactivism

Common Home Safety Issues

by Allyson Hoffman

Homeowners want the peace-of-mind of knowing that their family is safe at home. In reality, even if you have taken extra precautions to make your home safe, you might be surprised by some of the common safety hazards that can make your home dangerous. Remedying these issues quickly will not only protect your safety, but will also protect the value of your home. Luckily, most safety concerns aren’t difficult to correct.  So here are some methods for fixing common safety issues:

Clutter - Keep walkways clear of obstructions that can cause accidents. Items blocking hallways, stairwells, or exits can not only provide obstacles to trip over, but can also prevent a hasty exit in the event of fire or other emergencies.

Recalls - Items subject to recall can range from toys and cribs to everyday appliances and vehicles. Register your household goods and appliances when you bring them home.  It’s easy and it ensures that you receive recall notifications. Recall information is also often broadcast over TV, radio, in print and online. So remain alert by subscribing to recall notices via email.

Electrical Cords and Wiring - Check your electrical appliances for loose or frayed cords and plugs. Do not overload outlets.  Be sure to replace worn extension cords. Don’t run electrical wires under rugs, and don’t burden power strips. Replace or professionally repair any appliances that spark, smell unusual, or overheat.

Carbon Monoxide – Because you cannot smell carbon monoxide, invest in carbon monoxide detectors and change the batteries on a regular schedule.

Gas Appliances - Check any unusual variances on your gas bill which could be the result of hidden gas leaks, and make sure that your gas appliances are serviced regularly.

Chemicals – Many homes contain toxins ranging from asbestos and lead paint, to daily household cleaners that are harmful to your family. Children, the elderly, those with compromised heath, and pets can be especially susceptible to these toxins. If you live in an older home, consider having it inspected for asbestos and lead. Regarding chemical solutions, remember to store them up high and out of reach or locked away. Also for household chemicals, consider replacing them with organic or natural alternatives.

Just a little due diligence can prevent most home safety hazards. These easy-to-fix solutions will definitely ensure that your home is safer for you and your family!  

For additional information on home safety pointers or information about the real estate market in Chicago’s North Shore, North and Northwest suburbs, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about 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

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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 Jarmoluk/Pixabay.com

Kitchen Safety

by Allyson Hoffman

Due to the fact that it contains almost every element to cause potential disaster including electricity, water and heat, all of these elements in extremely close proximity to one another, the kitchen is the most dangerous room in the house, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA).  Because we work in the midst of these dangers many times daily, the NKBA has developed some safety reminders and suggestions for choosing the design and layout of a new kitchen or improvements to your current kitchen.

Since kitchens tend to be busy areas within a home, well-planned design can increase safety while cooking.  Positioning ranges out of the general traffic flow, and away from doors or refrigerators, can add protection for children and family members who will invariably spend time in or going through the kitchen.  The kitchen, often considered “the heart of the home” for most families and its flow should be assessed for safe design when building or considering a home purchase.  Here are several additional safety ideas to consider:

Select appropriate lighting to maximize efficiency and safe kitchen working conditions.  Overhead lighting can create shadows that proper task lighting for food preparation surfaces can easily eliminate while substantially removing dangers.

The most essential safety item in the kitchen is a fire extinguisher. Make certain it is placed far enough away from the range, but still easily accessible in case of a fire.

Since liquids inevitably end up on the floor of the kitchen, flooring should be slip-resistant. Good choices include many vinyl flooring options and even non-skid throw rugs, especially for areas near the sink.

Height of appliances, such as microwaves and ovens, should be planned to avoid overhead reaching.  This can minimize potential for accidents with extremely hot substances.

Access cooking equipment and storage containers without strain by incorporating slide-out bins and shelves.

Make sure corners of kitchen islands and counter-tops are not sharp.  This is especially important for homes with small children.

Water-temperature regulators in kitchen and bathroom faucets help to avoid the danger of scalding. Many can be preset to the owner’s specifications.

The distance of electrical outlets from kitchen and bathroom water sources should, ideally, conform to proper building code and electrical receptacles should be protected with ground-fault circuit interrupters.

Stove-tops with single-row burners are excellent choices to avoid burns from boil-overs while cooking. Controls should be aligned across the front or sides of the range to avoid reaching over cooking pans.

With little additional expense but careful forethought, your kitchen can be a much safer place for enjoying time with your family. For help in finding a great home with a kitchen designed to benefit the comfort and safety of your family or to discuss popular ideas for a kitchen redesign that will reap future benefits when you sell, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about buying a home in Chicago's North Shore, North or Northwest Suburban communities.

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 State Farm/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

Grilling Safety Reminders

by Allyson Hoffman

Warm weather brings many pleasant outdoor activities, and one of the most popular is outdoor cooking. Enthusiasts would likely agree that almost nothing beats the taste of foods cooked on the grill while also providing the opportunity to enjoy relaxing family time. But before firing up the grill, consider these basic safety concerns:

Gas grills

With any gas appliance, some components deteriorate over time, even when infrequently used. Even a stored grill that is not exposed to the elements may be suspect due to erosion of critical parts. Whether your gas grill is brand new or used, simple checks can reassure you of safety. For gas grills, periodically check hoses for leaks to avoid potential catastrophic accidents. Hoses checks are typically easy using a soap and water method.  Next, be sure to check the connectors and tighten if loose. Should a gas leak be detected, do not use the appliance until it has been serviced by a professional. For any lingering odor of gas, immediately notify the fire department and avoid close proximity to the grill.

Charcoal grills

Many times the entire family is nearby when cooking on the grill.  So care should be taken with lighter fluid, matches or igniters, especially if there are small children present. Definitely make a point of placing potentially hazardous items well out of the children’s reach and never add lighter fluid to an existing flame.  Many accidents have resulted from this common practice.  Be sure to only use only charcoal lighter fluid or alternately, try newer and safer methods such as newspaper chimney starters and electric igniters, for example. Be certain any extension cords are rated for outdoor use and position your grill away from structures or low-hanging tree branches.

Most importantly, be cautious and attentive at all times when using grills of any type to assure that your summer get-togethers safe!

For additional information, please contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about buying or selling a home in Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs.

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 Pixabay.com/dotlizard

Carbon Monoxide Safety

by Allyson Hoffman

With winter upon us, there will be an inevitable increase in the number of fuel-burning appliances used in homes. Carbon monoxide detectors should be a must in all homes with water heaters, furnaces, grills, ranges, cooktops, gas-started fireplaces or homes utilizing a generator during power outages.  Homes solely running on electricity are the exception. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America and so it’s important to install carbon monoxide detectors to safeguard your family. 

Carbon monoxide, an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas, results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, such as wood, kerosene, gasoline, charcoal, propane, natural gas, and oil. It can form in any home with a flame-fueled system.

If you are considering the purchase of a carbon monoxide detector, it is good to know that these devices trigger an alarm based on an accumulation of carbon monoxide over time. Carbon monoxide can be dangerous whether you are exposed to high levels in a short period of time, or to lower levels of carbon monoxide over a longer period of time. They range in price from $30 to $150 with most effective models providing back-up battery power.

To avoid potential problems with carbon monoxide, consider the following tips:

  • Have fuel-burning appliances inspected by a technician every year to ensure safe operation and proper ventilation.
  • Do not warm or run your car’s engine in the garage -- this can cause CO to leak into the home.
  • Install CO detectors at least 15 feet from every fuel-burning appliance, on every level of your home, and outside every sleeping area.
  • Check the batteries on your CO alarms at the same time you do your fire detectors and replace the batteries twice a year.
  • Professionally inspect and clean your furnace before each heating season to prevent any problems.

To ensure your family’s safety this winter, review and complete these important tasks.  For additional tips, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about buying or selling a home in Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburban communities.

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 Jeffrey Beall/Flickr.com

Fall Home Maintenance

by Allyson Hoffman

As homeowners, we depend on the proper functioning of various systems within our homes, especially our heating system in the winter and air conditioner during those warm summer months, amongst others. The last thing needed is for one of these systems to fail during crucial times and to prevent this from happening, regular maintenance is essential.  This approach, in the long run, often saves money by avoiding otherwise costly repairs.

If you plan to sell your home taking care of these items is especially important.  So consider this list of maintenance tasks which can improve the efficiency and safety of your home, eliminate issues when the home is inspected by the buyers and protect your home’s value:

  • Make sure carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are operational
  • Schedule annual appointments for heating and air conditioning service and change HVAC filters regularly
  • Have your chimney cleaned prior to use at beginning of heating season
  • Check fire extinguisher expiration dates and replace or recharge as necessary
  • Inspect your home for potential fire hazards, such as defective electrical outlets and lint build up in your dryer exhaust vent
  • Test and reset GFI breakers
  • Look for gaps or inadequate insulation
  • Clean light fixtures, replace dim bulbs and/or switch to energy saving LED bulbs
  • Watch for worn components or leaks in the dishwasher, washing machine, ice maker or any other appliance using a water line
  • Replace or install weather stripping around doors and windows if needed, check for damage and repair caulk as needed
  • Schedule a pest control inspection – as the weather cools, critters look for warm places to shelter
  • Perform exterior maintenance including trimming shrubs and tree branches near the home and clean/repair gutters
  • Check and repair decks or any exterior steps for loose boards or nails

So be sure to set aside some time for annual fall maintenance tasks before cold weather arrives.  For additional tips on selling or buying in the fall or winter, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and/or help you determine your home’s value.

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 Mark Hunter/Flickr.com

Safety Tips for Home Sellers

by Allyson Hoffman

 

Once you have made the decision to sell your home, it is important to take some precautionary steps to make certain both you and your home are always protected. When your home is listed for sale, the potential for it to be shown is present at almost any given time. Although most buyers present no danger, it is always important to follow some safety guidelines.

Perhaps one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your home is to work with a real estate agent. By opting not to work with a real estate agent, you could very well be putting yourself and your home at risk because you will frequently be alone during showings or open houses, should you choose to have one. By working with a real estate agent, you can ensure that all communication takes place via your agent.

 Even when working with a real estate agent, it is still a good idea to make sure that your jewelry and other valuables are secure prior to a showings or open houses. If you decide to invite the public in by hosting an open house, it’s best to have more than one host present for your own protection and so that multiple visitors can be managed with less concern for your possessions.  It is good to also let your family, friends, and neighbors know that you will be hosting an open house and the precise time it will be held. During showings and open houses, try to allow as much natural light into your home as possible. This can be a great selling point and can also serve as an important safety precaution.

Following an open house, ensure that everyone has vacated your home once the event has concluded. In addition, ensure that all of your windows are locked and that nothing is missing from your home.

Never open your home to someone who appears without notice and indicates an interest in seeing your home. A legitimate buyer should always be accompanied by a real estate agent. In addition, buyers and their agents should have scheduled an appointment with your agent ahead of time.

Ensure that all of the shrubbery near your home is closely trimmed. Any other obstacles that might block the doors and windows should also be removed. Along with boosting your curb appeal, such steps can provide a clear line of site while also eliminating possible hiding places for criminals.

If your home is going to be vacant when it is for sale, avoid publicizing that fact. Vacant homes are prime targets for criminals. Consider installing lights that are on a timer to give the appearance that the home is inhabited.   For greater peace of mind and safety, use these simple precautions in your next home sale.

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 scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Identify Theft – Protect Yourself

by Allyson Hoffman

When you are ready to buy a home one of the first things to do is to check your credit.  Unfortunately, this is when you might discover that someone has stolen your identity.  In a day and age when technology seems to rule a big part of our lives, it is important to make sure that our “identity” is protected.  We have all read the horror stories of the victims of identity theft, but there are steps we can take to protect ourselves and our personal information.

For starters it’s important to be clear about what identify is and how we are identified as individuals in this high tech world. Identity theft occurs when our personal information is collected without our permission and utilized, most of the time, for criminal activity. What personal information do these people target?

1.      Your Name

2.      Address

3.      Birth Date

4.      Social Security Number (SSN)

5.      Credit Card Numbers

6.      and Other Personal Identification Numbers

This is the type of information someone would need to open credit card or bank accounts, apply for cellular phone service, purchase vacations packages, forward your mail, etc. So how can you protect this information from getting into the wrong hands?

  1. If asked to provide personal information, ask why is it needed, how will it used, if it will be shared and with whom.
  2. Carry the least amount of personal information with you as possible.
  3. When asked for your credit number over the phone or internet, make sure that you know who you are dealing with and the communication line is secure.
  4. Take extra security measures when dealing over the internet (i.e. digital signatures and data encryption).
  5. Know your billing cycles -- should you not receive your bills in the mail, this could help in determining if your mail has been illicitly redirected.
  6. Order your credit report at least once a year and review it for any inaccuracies or any unusual activity.
  7. Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
  8. Request that your accounts require passwords before any inquiries or changes can be made.
  9. Choose secure passwords -- not anything obvious and you DON’T write them down.
  10. Always protect your pin number(s) when using debit machines, bank machines or telephones.
  11. Review your credit card cardholder agreement – many companies offer protection from credit card fraud.
  12. Don’t throw anything with sensitive personal information in the garage – instead shred these types of documents/documentation (especially financial statements, receipts, etc.) as an effective step in preventing identity theft.

Taking the necessary steps above to protect your identity is as simple as being aware of what identity thieves are looking for and arming yourself with the knowledge of how to properly protect your personal information.

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 market.


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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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