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

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Monthly Photo Walk

by Allyson Hoffman

February 1, 2014

Chicago Botanic Garden

Glencoe, Illinois

Dress your family in layers, grab your camera, and come to the Chicago Botanic Garden this Saturday morning to partake in the winter Monthly Photo Walk. Whether you are an amateur at snap shots, or a professional sharp shooter, the Photo Walk welcomes photographers of all skill levels.

The Alsdorf Auditorium, located at the Chicago Botanic Garden, will open its doors at 9:00 AM for a short discussion regarding the touring of the grounds.  Also during this time, you and your family will receive expert tips on natural photography. Then you’ll be off to the Garden, where you can let your creativity blossom. 

Winter is a wonderful time of the year to take the Monthly Photo Walk and enjoy the wide variety of blossoming winter plants.  But don’t overlook the dormant florae. The lack of foliage of the dormant plants reveals a magnificent sculpture-like piece of art.  Both the blooming, and the dormant plant life are deserving and worthy of capturing with your camera.  Once developed, your photos should expose the magnificence of both the flowering and latent vegetation.

If you have an interest in photography or just an appreciation for the true beauty of nature, the winter Monthly Photo Walk through the Chicago Botanic Garden is an event that you will not want to miss. 

So join in on Saturday morning to expand your photography skills, capturing nature at its finest.  Be sure to bring the entire family, as each member will want the opportunity to snap a memorable photo of their own.

When: Saturday, February 1st from 9:00 AM-10:00 AM

Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois

Admission: Free

For more information regarding the Monthly Photo Walk, 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
[email protected]

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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 Kevin Cole./Flickr.com

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Sellers to Make Repairs to a Home

by Allyson Hoffman

What happens when you love a home and want to make an offer, but there are issues you would like fixed?  Consider a repair request as part of your proposal or structure a lower offer price that provides you the financial comfort you’ll need to handle the repairs after closing.

It’s that simple.

Repair concerns and requests are common in many real estate transactions.   As such, they can be a valuable tool for the buyer during their home purchase negotiations.

But there is an etiquette involved in making these requests that often determines success or failure in obtaining seller cooperation.  A tactful presentation that doesn’t offend the seller will consider the following pointers:

Keep it Reasonable

Changing ugly paint or outdated carpets, both easy to remedy, are not reasonable requests. A good rule of thumb to follow is that minor repairs, routine maintenance items, aesthetic objections and/or matters of taste are issues that will not gain favor with sellers.

Alternately, justified repair requests typically involve problems identified during a home inspection and  typically address concerns with higher repair costs.  Many times these issues relate to potential health and/or safely defects found in the major mechanical systems of the home such as electrical, HVAC, plumbing or structure.

Because many of these issues are not readily apparent during regular home previews, this is the basis for including a home inspection provision in a purchase contract.  It's an essential element in determining the condition of critical components and the major systems within any home.

While you can ask the seller to repair things such as a broken window or a leaky toilet, most of the time it is not worth it. It’s much easier to offer less initially or ask for a reduction in price and repair those minor things yourself -- moreover, then you are in control of the work being done on your new home and the contractor selected.

Be Timely

It's important to request repairs promptly, both to comply with the timeframe permitted in your contract, but also to assure the seller ample time to complete all repairs prior to closing. Timely notice should minimize the chance that sellers lose their incentive to complete the work prior to their departure and before you close and take possession.

If repairs must occur after the closing, then make sure you are protected by having the seller provide you an agreed amount or setting up an escrow holdback account with enough money to cover all agreed upon repairs.  Once repairs are complete and receipts are available, then those funds are used to defray the repair costs with any overage returned to the seller.

What If the Seller Says, “No" ...

Most of the time, sellers will agree to some reasonable repair requests.  But if they don’t or if they are unable to do so due to financial distress such as in short sales or foreclosures where properties are sold in "as is" condition, be sure to have your inspector document the defects.  Equity sellers and their agents will have an obligation to reveal those flaws to every other potential buyer and, as a result, may be more inclined to make legitimate repairs sooner or later.

If you find sellers who take a hardheaded position, you may have already driven such strong bargain, that they simply won't budge.  In that case, you can either pay for the repairs yourself or walk away. Those are really your only two options.  So you'll then have to decide if the house is worth the hassle.

Regardless, don't be afraid to tactfully open up a discussion because requests are generally expected when buying and selling real estate. They are just part of the process.

So, when you are ready to buy a home, please contact me for an appointment to review and start the process. I’ll be happy to help you determine how much house you can afford, and help you find your next 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
[email protected]

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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 Keith Williamson at Flickr.com.

Three Friends of Winter Bonsai Silhouette Show

by Allyson Hoffman

January 24-26, 2014

Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois

This weekend the Chicago Botanic Garden invites you and your family to celebrate the winter season, Japanese-style.  The Mallott Japanese Garden Family Weekend will proudly feature The Three Friends of Winter, along with a stunning Bonsai Silhouette Show.

Japanese tradition utilizes the bamboo, pine, and plum to convey how three friends can flourish and thrive amid adverse winter conditions.  The symbolization of the Three Friends will be explored, focusing on their ability to survive through even the harshest of conditions.

The popular Bonsai Silhouette Show will complement the Three Friends of Winter educational experience.  The Garden is honored to be the home of one of the most exceptional bonsai collections in the Chicago area.  More than 220 bonsai trees will be on exhibit, with the accompaniment of a Japanese accent object.  Objects include statuary, pottery and cottonwood benches, all of Japanese origin.  The numerous bonsai trees being featured in the show will be in their dormant stages, highlighting the elegance of their branch structures.  Lacking foliage, the bonsai trees are truly picturesque, living sculptures.

During the show, you and your family can participate in hands-on activities, including the creation of scrolls depicting the Three Friends of Winter, and the bonsai silhouettes.  In the sumi-e Japanese traditional style, shades of black ink are used in making decorative scrolls which portray a story of winter survival.

Many of the bonsai trees on display are featured in the book Bonsai:  A Patient Art.  The Garden welcomes you to sit down with the book and absorb the Japanese bonsai heritage.  If you prefer your own copy, the book will be available for purchase.

Admission for this very entertaining and exciting event is free for the entire family.  So take the opportunity this weekend to appreciate the winter season Japanese-style with the Three Friends of Winter Bonsai Silhouette Show!

When: Friday, January 24, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Saturday, January 25, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Sunday, January 26, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM.

Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois

Admission: Free

For more information regarding the Three Friends of Winter Bonsai Silhouette Show, 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
[email protected]

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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 aurochstock/deviantart.com

Integrating Smart Technology into Your Home

by Allyson Hoffman

The latest trend in home remodeling isn’t a color scheme or granite countertops. It’s more like something out of a science fiction movie.

Smart homes are finally here, and many homeowners are surprised at how affordable it is to convert an existing “dumb home” into a cutting-edge, smart home.

Smart homes used to easily exceed the budget of the average consumer.  But with advances in technology – and the fact that many consumers now have a smart phone or tablet – the cost of integrating smart technology into the home has plummeted.  

It won’t be long before smart-technology integration is a requirement rather than an upgrade feature, especially in the luxury real estate market.

So, why not be ahead of the curve and make the transition now rather than later?

Here are a few things you can do today for a relatively small investment.

Smart Door Locks

How often do you misplace your keys, have to rush home to let in a visiting friend or open the door for a handyman? What about all the time you waste digging through your pockets or purse trying to find your keys with a handful of groceries?

Once you install a new Smart Lock System, those concerns will be a thing in the past.  For example, the August Smart Lock opens as soon as an authorized person approaches the door. You can also unlock (or lock) the door remotely -- just in case your guests beat you home. It can even allow you to issue temporary keys to people such as contractors or short-term guests. Smart locks like the August Smart Lock typically cost between $150 and $250 and can be installed in a matter of minutes.

Smart Interior and Exterior Lights

Smart light switches have solved that decades-old desire to turn on and off lights without the need to get up from your couch, chair or bed.  Today, with just a screwdriver and a few minutes effort, you can easily install smart lights switches throughout your home that can be controlled via a smartphone app or your voice. These lights can be set to turn on or off on a predetermined schedule or when the sun rises and sets. Your best option for smart light switches only run about $50 apiece. Another choice for those who don’t want to install new switches or folks with a healthy fear of electricity includes using smart light bulbs by Phillips Hue. Each bulb can be controlled through your smart phone with no screwdriver or electrical tampering at all!

Smart Thermostats

The most popular smart thermostat currently on the market is the Nest Thermostat. While programmable thermostats have been around for years, and they are great, they do require programming. The Nest Thermostat eliminates that need and programs itself. All you have to do is set it and adjust it as you normally would throughout the day.  It remembers and adjusts itself based upon your usage. The Nest Thermostat also gives you the ability to set and monitor temperature via your smartphone or tablet.  A Nest Learning Thermostat runs about $249 and can be installed in under an hour.

Smart Appliances

Finally, there are the new smart appliances.  Because there is no way to turn a dumb appliance into a smart one, these are among the most expensive upgrades you can make since you will have to buy new appliances.  So, if you are currently in the market for a new refrigerator, dishwasher, coffee maker or washer and dryer, going the smart route is something to consider.  

Integrating smart technology into your home can improve your quality of life, and also improve the resale value of your home if you decide to sell.   As a new and exciting improvement, smart technology can set your home apart from others and provide an added bonus in its marketing. So before your sell, you may want to consider making a small investment to impact your potential return and smarten up your home.

Are preparing to sell your house? Contact me today and I’ll be happy to help you determine the value of your home and suggest ideas designed to assure that 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
[email protected]

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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 Stephane at Flickr.com

Weekend Family Class: Hot Chocolate

by Allyson Hoffman

January 18, 2014

Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois

With winter upon us, the thought of snuggling up with a nice cup of hot chocolate sure sounds divine!  But have you ever given any thought to where the chocolate in your cup actually comes from?  This Saturday at the Chicago Botanic Garden you can discover the background of hot chocolate, along with chilies, and other chocolate variations.  Chocolate fans will not want to miss this Weekend’s Family Class:  Hot Chocolate.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a living plant museum that prides itself on offering educational, hands-on, family experiences.  This Saturday the Garden is excited to study the plants of South America, and the products that are generated from their various parts.  You and your family are invited to examine and discover how these plants and beans are transformed into the yummy sweets that we indulge in on a daily basis.

Hot chocolate may be our favorite wintertime pleasure, however, The Weekend Family Class will also introduce us to a variety of other chocolate drinks that were consumed in the past. For example, your family will learn how to prepare an ancient Aztec version of our modern day hot chocolate.

After having prepared a number of chocolaty drinks, you will not want to go home empty-handed.  A chocolate mint and a chocolate pepper plant will be given to each family to continue chocolate drink experimentations at home. 

Registration to attend the Weekend Family Class:  Hot Chocolate is $22.00 per nonmember child. 

A 20% discount is offered to Garden Plus members.  To register your child, or children online, please click here.  To become a Garden Plus Member, and enjoy special discounted rates, please click here.

Your family will love this fun, hands-on experience in learning how the plants of South America have a direct influence on your cup of hot chocolate. Come out to the Weekend Family Class: Hot Chocolate event and have a great time!

When: Saturday January 18, 9:30 AM-11:00 AM or 1:00 PM-2:30 PM

Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois

Admission: $22.00 per nonmember child, 20% discount for Garden Plus members.

For more information regarding the Weekend Family Class:  Hot Chocolate, 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
[email protected]son.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 of hot chocolate cup courtesy of The Shifted Librarian/Flickr.com

Photo of cacao tree courtesy of Kai Yan, Joseph Wong/Flickr.com

Is It Time to Organize the Basement?

by Allyson Hoffman

With holidays having come and gone, now is a good time for start-the-year-off-right projects.  One that may be most beneficial for many families is to tackle the basement.  In many homes it is an area that craves attention and could offer so much more utility to the owners.

So if your basement is one that qualifies for an organizing plan and/or make over, consider the following step-by-step guide to organizing your basement this year.

Get Rid of All That Stuff

Decluttering your basement – and your life – is a goal worthy of any New Year, and it’s an indispensable step along the way to better organization in any aspect of your life. When it comes to basements, it means getting rid of all the junk that you’ve been collecting for the last decade (or two, or three). The easy things to discard are old, broken things you’ll never plan to use again. Sentimental items will be harder to let go, but despite the emotion, if it’s been stored, forgotten and unused for years, only the most meaningful keepsakes should stay.

Start by eliminating things you can easily throw away; then, move on to the older items that you haven’t seen or used in years. You’ll likely find it much easier to remove sentimental items once you have some positive momentum going.

Map Out Your Basement

Basements should be divided into three zones: utility, storage and recreation/living area. By dividing your basement into zones, you’ll have a better idea of exactly how much usable space you actually have.

Utility Zone

The utility zone is the area of the basement that houses all your utilities such as the furnace, water heater, sump pump, breakers etc.  Most organizers advise that you keep this area free of any obstruction and don’t use it as storage space. Should something go wrong, you may need to easily access this area quickly. If you must store things in this area, make sure the storage containers are easy to move or, ideally, wheeled storage racks.

Storage Zone

This is a key zone in your basement, and it is normally broken down into subzones. Effective organization can be achieved by marking out the subzones on your map with spaces specifically identified for things such as camping equipment, tools, winter clothes, lawn equipment, furniture, and holiday decorations.  By putting similar things together, you’ll eliminate confusion later.

Living Zone

Not every basement has a living zone, but if you are fortunate enough to have a large basement, you might want to consider incorporating a living area into your overall basement plan. It could be as simple as a workshop, exercise area or room that you dedicate to a particular hobby. Or you might also consider an extra den, recreation or game room – the possibilities are endless and can be designed to suit your specific needs.

Get Organized

Once you’ve mapped your basement design and thinned enough out to open up some workable space, you’ll be ready to really get systematized. Accessibility and durability should always be top of mind in the organizing process. 

Accessibility means knowing where your items are – keeping like items together in a single location – and being able to get to them when you need them. This can mean constructing shelves and buying bin organizers. Remember, if something looks neat, nice and organized, you are more likely to keep it that way. If something looks messy – even if it’s organized – you lose that incentive.

As far as durability is concerned, you’ll want to protect your items from the damp or cold.  Investing in plastic bins, not cardboard, will help to solve this problem.  Elevating items off the floor either by placing them on shelves or hanging them from the walls provides additional protection.

Label, Label, Label

Organization is more than just making things neat – it is arranging things in such a way that you can find them easily when you need to.  To do that, you’ll need to label your items, especially things you don’t often use.  So, invest in labels and a permanent marker.  Then get busy and prominently mark your bins and shelves so you know exactly what goes where.

Tackling a disorganized basement can be a thankless and sometimes dirty job. But once it’s done, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy and appreciate your new simplicity as well as the added time you won’t invest in hunting down your basement treasures.

So if you’re preparing to sell your house, tackling this project is even more important. Contact me today if you’re ready to list your home for sale. I can help you determine the value of your home and review the selling process at any convenient time.

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
[email protected]

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 market.

Photo courtesy of Eric Mueller at Flickr.com

Protecting Yourself and Making Sense of the HUD-1 Settlement Form

by Allyson Hoffman

With the amount of paperwork that is shuffled at a real estate closing, it is easy to become intimidated when it comes time to close a real estate transaction.

Don’t be intimidated. Most of this is the standard boilerplate and legalese that lawyers love. Most closing attorneys will breeze through this, expecting you to just nod and agree.

However, there is one document in your closing papers that you need to review carefully, the HUD-1 or settlement form.

The HUD-1, a government-mandated settlement statement, breaks down the costs of the real estate transaction in exhausting detail. This is an important document because it defines how the end amount that the buyer and seller owe is calculated.  Any miscalculation can mean that one party owes thousands more than they should.

So, let’s break down the HUD statement piece by piece.

The First Section

The first section of your HUD-1 settlement form will cover the basic information about the loan that will be used to purchase a specific piece of real estate.  In sections B through I you will find the buyers, sellers and lenders’ names. You will also find the address of the property and a legal description, if necessary.  The settlement/title company will be listed; the closing date will be listed; and the loan will be explicitly described.

Most of this is pretty simple, but mistakes can be made. One area to pay close attention to is the “Loan Type” section. Make sure the box that is checked is the correct one.

The Second Section

Section two of your HUD-1 settlement form will summarize the costs of the buyer and the seller. Section J deals with the buyer’s costs. It bears a strong resemblance to a tax form. Fields 100 through 120 detail the various sums the buyer owes. Line 120 will show the total. Fields 200 to 220 pertain to amounts credited to the buyer with 220 being the total. 300 to 303 calculate the final amount due from the buyer using line 120 and 220 to calculate line 303 – the final amount due.

Section K deals with the seller’s side of the transaction. It will detail and total any reductions in the final amount due to the seller at close.

You and your attorney will want to check these figures carefully to make sure they are accurate.

The Third Section

Section three itemizes the various settlement charges such as brokerage fees, lender fees, title insurance, escrow deposits, recording fees, etc.

Once again, make sure these fees are accurate and do not hesitate to ask questions of the closing attorney if you have any.

The Fourth Section

This is the Good Faith vs. Reality section.  For good reason, many real estate professionals feel that this is the most important section for the buyer. In this section you will find a line-by-line comparison of the estimated costs of the loan versus the actual costs of the loan.

The final line includes both a dollar amount and a percentage that the actual amount varies from the estimated amount. Most of the time this percentage is minimal, but on occasion, lenders make mistakes. If the amount exceeds 10-percent, the borrower is entitled to a refund for the overage.

The Final Section

The final section of the HUD-1 settlement form deals with the particulars of the loan.  It will cover the loan amount, interest rate, monthly payment, amount of insurance, etc.

Despite its intimidating appearance, in reality the HUD-1 form is quite simple, and you shouldn’t feel daunted as you check it line by line.  Because it is a very important document, make sure to protect yourself, however, and carefully read it.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I will be happy to go over any questions you may have. 

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
[email protected]

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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 ceskyfreund36/Pixabay.com

WinterFest

by Allyson Hoffman

If you and your family are looking for a day of both indoor and outdoor entertainment, you will not want to miss this year’s WinterFest.  A long-standing event held at the Volo Bog State Natural Area, WinterFest offers something for everyone.

Volo Bog State Natural Area is a nature preserve featuring woodlands, marshes, an open water quaking bog, and an indoor recreation area.  This Sunday bring your family to indulge in an afternoon of live music, storytelling, photo contests, and a variety of craft sessions.  Fresh baked cookies, hot cocoa, and coffee will be available for sale by the Friends of Volo Bog.

After your fill of the indoors, head outside to play in the snow.  Weather permitting, you and your family can partake in snow sculpting contests, snow-shoeing, and cross country skiing.  However, if Mother Nature does not comply, a fantastic winter bog hike can be taken. You can walk the grounds to enjoy all the magnificent scenery.  Don’t forget your camera since you might want to take photos of the panoramic views.

This Sunday the Volo Bog Natural Area is offering free entertainment for all.  Whether you prefer to be indoors, outdoors, or perhaps both, WinterFest will provide an unforgettable day of activities and recreation. See you there!

When: Sunday, January 12th, Noon - 4:00 PM

Where: Volo Bog State Natural Area, Ingleside, Illinois

Admission: Free

For more information regarding WinterFest, 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
[email protected]

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 market.

Photo courtesy of Alex Maki/Wikipedia.org.

Check Your Credit Before You Shop for a New Home

by Allyson Hoffman

Buying a home is a big step and a home mortgage is a long-term commitment, unlike any other item you’ll likely experience. To prepare for applying for a mortgage, you may want to take these steps to ensure that your credit is in good shape.

The first thing to do is check your credit reports. Once a year this can be done for free by pulling your records from all three credit reporting bureaus. You’ll want to review them to be sure that all of the information is correct. For a small fee, you can also get your overall credit score.

If you find errors on your credit report, work on getting them corrected before applying for a mortgage. It will make the process easier, could raise your score and place you position to secure a better interest rate. Higher credit scores which make you eligible for lower interest rates can easily translate into saving thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan.

Common credit reporting errors include payments showing as late that really weren’t and bills showing outstanding balances that have been paid off. Follow the credit bureau’s instructions to correct errors you may find.

Late payments can decrease your credit score, but consistently making all future payments on time will help to mitigate the situation. Experts also suggest that you can bump your score up by a few points by paying down or paying off your credit card balances. Of course, you’ll need to keep your balances down, so don’t charge new purchases to those credit cards unless you are able to pay the full balance at the end of the month.

Applying for new credit will also temporarily lower your credit score, so buying any big ticket items like a car or furniture, in the months before applying for a mortgage loan is discouraged. Ideally, you may not want to secure any additional new debt within a year of buying a home.

Finally, don’t close old accounts thinking it will raise your score. In general, you want 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.

Making sure your credit score is optimized should save you money in the long run on mortgage costs, as well as let you know how much house you can afford. This will allow you to shop for a home with confidence.

If you have any questions about checking your credit score or getting a mortgage pre-approval, contact me to set up an appointment for a consultation. I’d be happy to offer you suggestions on how to improve your score and help you 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
[email protected]

Get your latest Home Value
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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 Marius Mauresan, Stock.XCHNG.

Five Problems with Your Home that are Only Going to Get Worse

by Allyson Hoffman

How would you feel if you were told that a problem you just paid $5,000 to fix could have been solved last year for just a few hundred dollars? Pretty bad, right?  Let’s be honest -- you would likely be kicking yourself.

Each year, thousands of homeowners across America experience what I just described. They put off fixing a small problem until it became a big and very expensive problem with a large bill to pay.  Don’t make the same mistake!

Here are five small issues that could become big problems if you don’t address them quickly.

Poor Drainage

After a good rain, check around your home to make sure that the rainwater is being channeled away from the foundation and not pooling around the house or overflowing the gutters.  If you notice that water is pooling or overflowing the gutters, check your entire gutter system for clogs, leaks, corrosion and gaps. Poor drainage can lead to foundation problems, rotted siding and even mold and mildew if moisture penetrates the walls.

Damaged Roof and Siding

Your roof bears the brunt of any storms, and so, it’s one of the areas of your home most susceptible to water infiltration. Siding has almost as much exposure, and what your roof and siding protect is expensive to fix and/or replace. On a sunny day, use a pair of binoculars to inspect your roof shingles or tiles for signs of damage.  If shingles or tiles are curling, cracked or missing, you may additionally want to use a ladder and climb on the roof and check the flashing or contact a roofing professional for an assessment.  Should or you or your roofer notice any problems, have repairs completed by qualified contractors.

Siding should also be regularly checked for damage. Pay special attention to areas around your gutters, windows and eaves. Openings and gaps should be sealed with caulk.

Remember, if water penetrates your attic or walls, it can cause structural damage which can cost thousands of dollars to repair.

Termites and Ants

These critters might be small, but they can cause plenty of damage in a short amount of time. Termites and ants love moist conditions and offer one more reason to make sure the area around your home is draining properly. Some areas of the country are more prone to problems with ants and termites, so if you are located in an area known for issues of this type, experts advise that you have a professional check your home at least twice a year for signs of termites.  In only six months, termites and carpenter ants can cause a huge amount of damage.  Accordingly, it’s also a good idea to examine your property between inspections.  Check for termites by poking a screwdriver along the mudsill.  If it goes through or in, you may have a termite problem. Carpenter ants can be spotted by the little piles of sawdust that they leave behind in their wake.

Mold and Mildew

Only a few years back everyone was petrified of “toxic” mold.  So if there was even the slightest evidence of mold, selling your home could be a problem.  While buyers are not as fearful today, it’s still important to identify potential issues that may signal larger concerns. Generally a mold and mildew problem develops when moisture is trapped in the walls, under carpet, or if a persistent damp environment exists such as a leaky pipe that goes unnoticed for weeks or months.  Should you notice mold or mildew in your home, first eliminate source of the moisture. Then, you can treat the problem. Most small problems – under 10 square feet – can be effectively treated with a solution of one cup chlorine bleach to one gallon of water. Larger outbreaks will require professional assistance. So, it’s always a good thing to catch a mold and mildew problem early. Bleach only costs a couple of dollars a gallon, but professional remediation service costs thousands.

Cracks in the Foundation

Cracks may be insignificant or signal larger issues.  Because houses settle over time, cracks do appear. Most of the time, these flaws are not problematic, do not affect the home’s value or create a safety hazard. Regardless, a crack is still something to watch. As a general rule, vertical cracks are immaterial. Horizontal cracks, however, can be real problem. So if you have a crack larger than 3/16ths of an inch across or one that a pencil can fit into beyond the sharpened point, that’s not good.  For any area of concern, mark that crack with chalk or a piece of tape and monitor it for a few months. Should it continue to expand, its wise call a structural engineer to evaluate the problem before it becomes a major structural issue.

Thus, to protect your real estate investment, don’t let minor home issues become major, expensive headaches. Monitor problems areas, especially those specific to your region to maximize your property appreciation.  When you are ready to sell your home, be sure to rely on an area expert for assistance. Contact me today for an appointment if you would like to discuss how to best prepare your home for 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
[email protected]

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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 Chris Baranski/Flickr.com

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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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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL, 60025

(847) 310-5300
[email protected]

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