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


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Follow These Tips For A Smooth Homebuying Process

by Allyson Hoffman

There are several things to consider before you start the home buying process and even before you look at any properties. It can be overwhelming and confusing to some buyers as to exactly what they should do, especially first time homebuyers. 

Below are some some important tips to follow before you begin to help ensure a smooth transaction.

  1. Avoid making any major purchases – at least not on credit. If even you are pre-approved, do not make any large credit purchases or take out any loans before you close on your new home. For example:
  • Autos, boats or other vehicles
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Electronics
  • Student loans
  • Refinanced property
  • Personal loans

2. Don’t wait to get your approval from your mortgage lender – the more up front work you do before you are ready to sign, the better. This includes making sure your credit is in good shape, with no mistakes or surprises on your credit report.

3. Don’t change jobs – unless you absolutely have to or you are making a major step UP the career ladder. A steady and stable employment history is another important piece to getting approved and getting a good rate on your mortgage.

4. Don’t skip the home inspection or rely on the seller’s inspector. Your best bet is to get an objective third party home inspection (your agent should be able to recommend one) and make sure that any repairs or problems are not on your contract.

6. Finally, as tempting as it is don’t buy a home you can’t afford! Sounds like common sense but foreclosures are at an all time high for this reason. Be sure to take into account the property taxes, utility bills, HOA expenses, insurance and maintenance. The price of your home is much more than the mortgage payment!

Don’t let your dream turn into a nightmare – get pre-approved, be prepared and avoid these home buying mistakes!

Do you have a homebuying mistake that you have learned from? Share with us and help homebuyers from making the same mistake!



Local Halloween Fun!

by Allyson Hoffman

The Chicago North Shore area is gearing up for Halloween fun! Trick or treating is not the only thing you can do to have a good time. Below are some local events happening in the area that are fun, festive and perhaps a little spooky. Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Goebbert's Farms Pumpkins and More

Goebbert's Farms
40 W. Higgins Rd.
South Barrington, IL 60010
(847) 428-6727        
Do you love a good scare? Goebberts farm offers an 8 room Haunted House is designed for school age children - but make no mistake, it’s scary — so be ready! Other Halloween and fall activities include wagon rides, pony rides, camel rides, pig racing, a corn stalk maze and a little straw town maze for your tiny ones. And don't miss Animal Land, with 55 different types of animals, like cows, pigs, goats and baby chicks, plus camels, kangaroos, llamas, zebras, lions and a giraffe.

Farm general admission is free, but other attractions may require tickets which can be purchased for a fee. Time: 9am-6pm , Cost: FREE, Ages: All ages

Children's Halloween Party 

Games, dance contest, costume parade, & treats
Date: 10/29/10  Start Time: 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Schedule Notes: For ages 3-13
Cost: free
Location : Loyola Park,1230 W. Greenleaf Ave.,Chicago, 60626 
Halloween festivities include fun for the entire family with great pumpkin patches, haunted houses (and not so haunted houses), parties and much more. At the Chicago Park District's pumpkin patches, you can pick your personal favorite from a field filled with pumpkins of all sizes, and many of our pumpkin patches offer some of the following activities: pony rides, pumpkin decorating, petting zoos, photo stations and treats. Activities are designed to appeal to all ages. Call 773.262.8605  for more information.

Boo At The Zoo

Brookfield Zoo
First Avenue and 31st Street
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 485-0263

From a crazy costume parade to pumpkin-carving demonstrations, Brookfield Zoo’s annual Boo! at the Zoo festival is the perfect way to celebrate Halloween, and everyone is invited to attend! The not-so-scary event will include frightfully fun activities for the entire family. Visit web site for schedule.  Cost: Included with regular zoo admission.


We would love to know of other events in the area, share with us other fun things happening in the area!


Your neighbor’s overgrown lawn and boat trailer may have been mildly annoying, but now you are ready to sell your home and their unkept property now poses a real problem. How can you expect to sell your home when your neighbor’s house looks terrible? Here are a few actions you can take to make your neighborhood a little more presentable:

  1. Start by communicating with them. You may uncover a problem that you can help to solve. Is your neighbor elderly or ill? Perhaps you could help out with lawn care or basic maintenance. You might even get other neighbors involved to lend a hand.
  2. If you have an HOA, you can go to the president or governing committee. Most HOA’s have strict requirements for upkeep, and they take quick action to correct violations.
  3. Call the city code enforcement. If your neighbors’ grass is knee high and they have a rusted out Chevy in the front yard, they are probably in code violation.
  4. Use a fence or landscaping to hide unsightly side or back yards.
  5. Some home sellers who are serious may offer to pay to haul off trash or try to work out another option to try to help the situation.

Another property de-valuer, especially in today’s economy, is the foreclosure. While you can’t personally do anything about a foreclosed home in your neighborhood, you should be prepared to take a hit on your home’s appraisal value. Be aware of the home values in your neighborhood and what other sellers are listing their homes for. You may need to consider discounting your home or offering incentives to counteract the foreclosure.

Foreclosure is so commonplace now that it probably won’t affect people coming to your neighborhood – in fact, it may draw potential buyers. You just have to be ready to compete with the ‘bargain’ a foreclosure may present to your potential buyers.


If you have been in a similar situation with a less than ideal neighbor, we would love to know how you handled it. Share your ideas!



Self Employed? Getting Approved For A Loan Can Be Tricky

by Allyson Hoffman
For many, owning their own business and being their own boss sounds like a dream come true. While being a business owner can be a great deal of work, it is part of the American dream. The downside is that if you are in the market to purchase a new home and are planning on applying for a home loan based on your self-employment income, you may be faced with some challenges you weren't expecting.
Unfortunately the current economic situation has forced many lenders to tighten their requirements and that may make getting a loan more difficult than in past years for self employed home buyers. Here's the score on what today's lenders are looking for.
1.    Forget about a 'stated income' mortgage - you are going to need tax documents, bank records and at least a two year history of business stability for a lender to even consider your application. Even if you are just branching out in the same kind of business that you have done for years, expect tight requirements and nearly perfect credit to move forward with qualifying.
2.    Do your homework - research the banks or mortgage lenders you want to approach and find out exactly what paperwork and documentation they require to process a loan for a self-employed borrower. Spend time putting your documents together carefully and thoroughly in advance of your application.
3.   Look for lenders who have a track record of accepting self-employed borrowers and try to meet with them in person to review your paperwork and find the right kind of loan package for your needs and situation.
4.   Take a break from write-offs for a couple of years - those tax deductions help with your disposable income, but they also take down your gross income level. Lenders want to see a good debt-to-income ratio, not how clever you are about expensing your income away. Direct any questions about how to manage your expenses and write-offs to your CPA.
5.    Stay liquid - build your bank account so that lenders can see your ability to make payments even if you have seasonal or other fluctuations in your income levels month to month or year to year. A solid savings plan and liquid assets can be helpful in getting your application approved.
Finally, if you have a strong co-signer, one with great finances and a steady income, you may be able to overcome your lender's concerns and hesitation when it comes to considering the source and level of your personal income.

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4




Contact Information

Photo of Allyson Hoffman & Paul Wells Real Estate
Allyson Hoffman & Paul Wells
RE/MAX of Barrington
306 W. Northwest Highway
Barrington IL 60010
Allyson: 847-310-5300
Paul: 847-913-6100

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RE/MAX of Barrington
306 W. Northwest Hwy.
Barrington, IL 60010

Allyson Hoffman
(847) 310-5300
[email protected]

Paul Wells
(847) 913-6100
[email protected]