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


Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Last Weekend for the Skokie Farmers Market!

by Allyson Hoffman

Chicago North Shore residents have been enjoying Skokie's famous, fabulous, fantastic Farmers' Market, for more than a quarter century of operation!  

Summer has come and gone and the harvest of the season has been enjoyed by many. This weekend marks the last farmers market of the season.

This Farmers' Market continues to proudly boast of this community-spirited event and the freshness of its vegetables, fruits, cheeses and flowers, often picked just hours before being made available to customers.

Hours/Dates:7:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. October 29th - October 30th, 2011 and the market is located at 5127 Oakton Street, Skokie, Illinois 60077.  Call 847/673-0500
for more information.

Don't miss out on the last weekend to enjoy fabulous fresh and local produce and goods!


Why is Having a Good Credit Score Important When Buying a Home

by Allyson Hoffman

Interested in buying a home in Chicago's North Shore? Lenders are telling us that they want to make loans, but in this difficult economy, those with the best credit will be approved.

While many Americans are struggling to make payments and hang on to their good credit scores, mortgage companies and other institutions are tightening their standards and credit qualifications more than ever before.

Those rock bottom interest rates? They are reserved for top tier credit risks – borrowers who have scores of 720 and above. Your banker is also looking for thorough documentation of your income and assets. Keep in mind that from mortgages to car loans, your credit history and score matter more than then they ever have in the past.

If you're buying a new home or refinancing the mortgage on your primary home, you'll need a minimum down payment of 5% to 10% for a conforming loan or 10% to 15% for a conforming jumbo loan (125% of a metro area's median home price, up to $729,750).

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will take a credit score of 620 if you have at least 25% equity in the property or a score of 660 with equity of less than 25%. Oh and that debt to income? Make sure it’s at 36% or less.

In addition to stellar credit history lenders look for:

  • Proof of income – You’ll need to show pay stubs for the past 30 days and W-2 forms for the past two years, along with retirement-account and investment statements.
  • Self-employment – Be prepared to give up  two years of tax returns and keep your fingers crossed. It’s become harder than ever for declared income borrowers to get mortgages and other lines of credit.
  • Rental income - You can use only 75% of rental income to qualify for a mortgage, along with 30% equity in your former home.

Even if you are preapproved, you will be subject to a second or final approval – lenders will pull a second credit report before closing. If you have taken on any new debt, your deal may go right out the window. Home equity loans are tougher to get now as well. In most areas you'll be able to borrow no more than 80% of the appraised value – and that’s with your perfect credit score.

The bottom line – take good care of your credit. It can be very challenging in this recession but your credit history and credit score are more important than ever. Bad lending practices have resulted in tight standards that will give credit only to the top tier borrowers who have enough cash and income that they may not even need to borrow money in the first place.

In this tight lending environment, credit is key. Have questions?  Contact me about ways  to improve your credit score to have the best home buying experience!

Photo courtesy


Antiques and Modernism Winnetka Show

by Allyson Hoffman

Winnetka is home to one of the Midwest's most well-respected events, the Antiques and Modernism Winnetka Show. This exhibition runs October 21st - October 23rd.

This show encompasses periods of design ranging from the 17th century to the mid 20th century.

Esteemed dealers from across the country will showcase fine examples of American, British, French and Asian antiques, as well as pieces from the Arts and Crafts, Art Nou­veau, Art Deco and Mid-Century design movements.

The exhibition and sale will offer furniture, silver, ceramics, jewelry, garden antiques, lighting, rugs, textiles, fine and folk art, architectural artifacts and even more. $15 per person, 3 day admission.

This is a great community event where you can browse art and antiques and purchase unique items you won't find every day.

Image courtesy of Pedro Ribeiro Simões/



How to Sell Your Home When Your Neighbor's House is Unsightly

by Allyson Hoffman

Before you were trying to sell your home,your neighbor's horrendous lawn and unsightly paint may have been  annoying, but now their unkept property poses a real threat! How can you expect to sell your home for the price that you want 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 it is true that you unfortuantely cannot 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.

Are you in a similar situation and need help? Contact me and I can help with other tips to sell your home when your neighbors are not a great selling point!  

Photo courtesy Alex Hafer, Stock.XCHNG




Wagner Farm Corn Harvest Festival!

by Allyson Hoffman

A blast from the past is happening here in the Glenview area on Saturday, October 15th from 10am-4pm!

Experience harvest time from an earlier era complete with corn picking, wagon rides, farm activities, harvest food treats and live demonstrations.

Admission in $3, kids 3 and under are free. Call 847/657-1506 for more info or visit this link. Wagner farm is located at 1510 Wagner Road, Glenview.

Bring out the whole family this weekend for a fun community event and enjoy the fall harvest!

Image courtesy of TesaPhotography/


Be Prepared For The Home Buying Experience

by Allyson Hoffman

It can be overwhelming and confusing to some buyers as to exactly what they should do, especially first time homebuyers. With a trusted realtor by your side you can avoid common mistakes and be prepared for the homebuying experience.

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 can 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! A large house with bells and whistles is tempting 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 finding your dream home turn into a nightmare! Do your homework, talk to your realtor and be prepared for this experience.

Image courtesy of



Baking Demo, Tasting, and Book Signing

by Allyson Hoffman

The Book Cellar and Now We're Cookin' are honored to host a baking demonstration, tasting and cookbook signing for the Baked Expectations Cookbook Tour.

Join us October 11th at 1601 Payne St, Evanston, IL 60201 at Now We're Cookin' in Evanston, IL and meet nationally recognized bakery owners and best-selling cookbook authors, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Hear their story and share their passion for baking. Watch as they stir up delicious samples of their unique style of sweets/baked goods in the Now We're Cookin' demonstration kitchen.

Best of all, you'll be able to taste these amazing samples for yourself. Prepared to be wowed! $35 per person (books purchased separately).

For more information about this North Shore event, visit this website.

Image courtesy of Unsplash/



Print This and Keep In Your Car For Emergencies

by Allyson Hoffman

4 Things You Might Not Have Known About Your Cell Phone

This is for everyone with a cell phone, whether you live in North Shore or somewhere else. (This should be printed and kept in your car, purse, and wallet. It’s good information to have with you at all times.)

There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for

Check out the things that you can do with it:

FIRST (Emergency)

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out

of the coverage area of your Chicago mobile network and there is an Emergency, dial
112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the
emergency number for you, and interestingly, this number 112 can be dialed
even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

SECOND (Hidden Battery Power)

Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#.

Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show
a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge
your cell phone next time.


THIRD (How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?)

To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following Digits on
your phone:
*#06# .
A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your
handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe.

If your phone is stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them

this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief
changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't
get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't
use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in
people stealing mobile phones.

And Finally....

FOURTH (Free Directory Service for Cells)

Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411

information calls when they don't have to. Most of us do not carry a
telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of
a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial:
(800) FREE411 or (800) 373-3411
without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your cell phone now.
This is sponsored by McDonalds.

This is the kind of information people don't mind receiving, so pass it on

to your family and friends.

Image courtesy of OpenClipartVectors/

New Trends Home Buyers Want

by Allyson Hoffman

In today's tough competitive real estate market, potential Northern Illinois homebuyers have increasingly made it clear that their‘must have’ list of amenities now includes efficient, sustainable materials and features that focus on making their home an affordable sanctuary to live and work. Gone are the extravagant, over the top, “McMansion” types of home and now the trend is for thoughtfully planned living areas that combine both indoor and outdoor lifestyles and make room for a home office. Below are some of the top trends that homebuyers are looking for:

  1. Green building and sustainability – from recycled materials to water wells and water collection systems, today’s home buyer is concerned with organic, sustainable features. While green building can sometimes be expensive up front, even the cost conscious know that the results may save money in the long run.
  2. Energy efficiency – those who go green are also concerned with sustainable, efficient resources. Buyers want energy efficient appliances and the latest in insulation techniques using spray foam and gels. Not only do they reduce current energy costs, but energy efficient homes help with resale.
  3. Outdoor living areas – more people are staying home these days, and one of the hottest trends is outdoor living areas that create a seamless indoor to outdoor space and include living room style features. From comfortable sofas to televisions and sound systems and creative outdoor cooking areas, the right outdoor space becomes a natural extension of the interior.
  4. Main floor master suites with luxurious baths – now more than ever, home is an oasis for hardworking homeowners, and large masters on the main floor (away from kids rooms or play areas) are key to a homeowner’s satisfaction. Along with the master, buyers are interested in soaker tubs, walk-in showers with seating and dual showerheads.
  5. Home offices – more and more people find themselves telecommuting or working from home in the evenings, and space for a home office has taken priority over traditional home features like formal dining and living and even media rooms. Home buyers seek that unique space that separates work from family living areas.

Home buyers priorities have shifted to reflect changing economic times. The top trends reflect a new desire for comfort and flexible lifestyles, along with an ever growing concern for sustainability and efficiency.

Reach out to a well-informed realtor who can give you the latest industry trends!

Image courtesy of AndyG/



Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9




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]