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Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Celebrate the Classic Nutcracker Suite

by Allyson Hoffman

An afternoon for music lovers - The Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra is in concert Sunday afternoon at 3pm at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts [map].  The highlight of the performance will be Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite, but pieces by Borodin and Prokofiev will be heard as well. The Nutcracker, a two act ballet, was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892. It wasn't much of a success until Tchaikovsky extracted a twenty minute version that because The Nutcracker Suite. Many Americans first became familiar with the piece with the 1940 release of Disney's Fantasia.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.

Winter Tips for Homeowners

by Allyson Hoffman

While we still, technically, have a few weeks of autumn left, there’s not a lot of doubt winter is setting in. Which means a lot of things, but don’t let some simple home maintenance for the season slip your mind. As always, a few preventative steps now can save you time, money and heartache over the next several months.

Check the Pipes

If you’ve never done it, inspect the pipes inside of your home. Check the attic, basement and/or crawl space and make sure those pipes are well insulated. Make sure your garden hoses are disconnected as well. For more on preventing frozen pipes, check out this list of tips from State Farm.

Check the Walls

Cracks and holes in your walls and foundation can attract small, furry visitors seeking a warm place to spend the winter. Inspect your walls and seal up any openings you find. Those holes don’t have to be very large; a tiny mouse only needs enough space to squeeze it’s head through and then it’s inside!

Check the Gutters

Fall leaves and ice can make for a disaster the next time it rains. Either check them yourself or have a contractor do it. And then have them cleaned out if necessary. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged roof, leaks in your foundation and mold problems. If you haven’t had them checked recently, now is the time to do it.

Keep Mother Nature in Check

Make sure to trim tree branches and shrubs that are growing close to your windows. One good ice storm, and they become heavy clubs ready for the wind to blow them into the windows and shatter the glass!

Keep the Air Clean

You should always check the filters in your HVAC units once a month anyway, but now’s a good time to do it if you don’t keep to that schedule. Dirty filters are going to make it much harder to keep your home warm.

Reverse the Fans

If you have ceiling fans, you may be able to reverse their direction. Instead of pulling the warm air up to the ceiling, have it push the warm air back down.

Fireplace Safety

If you burn wood in a fireplace, make sure to have your chimney checked. Deposits can block the chimney, causing a fire hazard as well as a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. And make sure to store firewood at least thirty feet from your home to prevent another fire risk.

For more information about protecting yourself and your home in the winter, check out these links.


This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy KennyFerguson/flickr.com

Nothing Odd About This Show

by Allyson Hoffman

Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" began life as a Broadway show 47 years ago, and has remained popular ever since, with a movie, television series and repeated revivals. Now, Northlight Theater in Skokie is bringing the show home with stars Tim Kazurinsky and Marc Grapey. "The Odd Couple" runs through December 9th, with shows this Friday at 8:00pm, Saturday at 2:30pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday at 2:30pm and 7:30pm. Tickets run $25 to $72, $15 for students.

Market to Continue Rebound in 2013

by Allyson Hoffman

While forecasting the economic future is still murky, there are signs of a growing rally in the housing market. Those conditions were the focus of discussions two weeks ago at the 2012 Realtors Conference and Expo in Orlando. Indicators such as housing starts, new home sales and existing home sales are all showing gains in contrast to the last four years.

And that means good news if you're selling or buying. Although, for buyers, there may be a limited window of time to act before the cost of borrowing for a house starts to go up. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors® believes costs will remain low through 2014, and prices to rise meaningfully over the next couple of years. "Today," he says in this report on Realtor.org, "is a perfect opportunity for moderate-income renters to become successful home owners."

And if you're still not sure, perhaps some of recent moves by billionaire Warren Buffet might peak your interest. Buffet, as reported by Businessweek, has been buying real-estate brokerages around the country and partnering with Brookfield Asset Management. The investments will be very profitable for Buffet and Brookfield if the housing market continues to improve. 

So what does this mean to you? Every market is unique, but in general, if you're looking to buy, you'll want to act as soon as you can, but you still have some time before we see any upward movement on interest rates. And if you'd like to put your house on the market, the time to make the best of the situation is coming. Ideally, you'd like to see the value of your home rise before it gets more expensive for buyers to borrow money. Whatever the case, I can help you stay ahead of the curve and maximize the value of your money.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.

Arts and Crafts in Evanston

by Allyson Hoffman

If you have some free time this weekend, you might enjoy an expedition to the Evanston Art Center [map] for the Winter Arts & Crafts Expo. The doors open at 10am Saturday and the show will run through the next 32 days! This is the 10th year for this very popular show, which features original, handmade works of jewelry, ceramics, fiber, metal, glass, painting, photography, mixed-media and more. All proceeds from the EXPO sale will benefit EAC's ongoing exhibition, scholarship, and outreach programs.

The Question: Buying or Renting

by Allyson Hoffman

There's been a lot of talk in the last few years about the making a choice between buying or renting a home. The recession and uncertainty in the market have some experts suggesting renting can be a better choice. Others, like Forbes contributor Stan Humphries, say the decision isn't as simple as it might sound. When it comes to making a choice, everyone has a unique situation which requires a unique calculation. But it comes down to basic math: What choice will be the most economically sound for you.

The Benefits of Buying

Some benefits are obvious. Building equity over the long term, freedom to remodel, and a sense of stability and community. It used to be that you would want to live in a home for at least five to seven years to recover various costs involved in buying. But, that has changed because of the state of the market, and in some areas that two years or less is all you need. One major consideration at the moment is the rising cost of renting. Demand for rentals has driven rent prices up considerably. Another benefit of buying, which hasn't changed during the recession, are the tax deductions, which can be quite substantial.

The Upside of Renting

On the other hand, there are some obvious benefits to renting as well. It's easier to relocate if necessary. While your rental costs may go up year to year, when you buy you'll need to carefully consider the transaction costs. Buying a home is a little more than the down payment and mortgage. Closing costs, including inspections, insurance and title fees can have an affect on your monthly payment. And you'll need to plan for maintenance costs. When renting, the property owner bears the responsibility for the cost of replacing a roof or a broken furnace. But, you're assuming that responsibility when you buy. And that can be expensive.

Tools to Use

There are some useful tools to help you decide which choice is right for you. Zillow's Breakeven Horizon shows how many years of ownership it takes before renting the same home is a better decision. The New York Times offers a fantastic graphic calculator to show when you'll benefit from buying over renting. And Realtor.com offers a different tool for balancing buying versus renting for your particular situation.

And of course, a qualified real estate professional can help assess your particular situation. Let me know if I can help you!

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.

Arts & Crafts at The Grove

by Allyson Hoffman

The Grove Arts and Crafts Faire wraps up this weekend at the Grove Historic National Landmark on Milwaukee Avenue in Glenview [map]. Artisans, more than 50 of them, will be displaying and selling a variety of items, perfect for gift shopping.  Take delightful tours of the decorated historic homes and savor lunch at the Sugar Plum Cafe.  Tickets are $5, and the Faire will be open until 8pm Friday night and 10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy The Grove

Preparing Before Disaster Strikes

by Allyson Hoffman

Watching the struggles of thousands of people in the wake of Superstorm Sandy isn't easy, especially if you've been through a similar experience. But, it does serve as a good reminder to put together a disaster preparedness kit if you don't have one. Better safe than sorry, and it's not that complicated or expensive to be prepared.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is hard at work in the wake of Sandy, has a suggested plan for putting a disaster kit together. Among the elements in the kit, they recommend the following:

• Assume you’re not going to have clean drinking water. Set aside three gallons of water everyone in the household, including pets. You may also want to keep a container of plain household chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper to make disinfectant or purify water.

• No electricity means you won’t have refrigeration, so have a three-day supply of non-perishable food. A manual can opener is probably obvious. Put aside extra pet food as well.

• A battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and weather radio.

• A flashlight. More than one won’t hurt.

• Wrenches and pliers to turn off utilities, such as water or gas.

• A whistle to signal for help.

• A dust mask.

• Plastic sheeting and duct tape to help rig an emergency shelter if necessary. If you enjoy camping, you may already have a tent you can use in an emergency.

• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

• Local maps and a compass.

• Emergency chargers for cell phones. Solar chargers, inverters or emergency battery chargers may be the only way for you to reach loved ones or help.

• Batteries. Extra, lots and of the right sizes to power your emergency devices.

• Baby formula and diapers.

• Travelers' checks.

• Matches in a waterproof container.

• Prescription medicines and glasses.

Hopefully, your disaster kit will sit in a secure location and never be needed. But, if something does happen, you'll be glad you've taken the time to prepare.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy rikomatic/flickr.com

Celebrate Sousa on Saturday

by Allyson Hoffman

Strike up the band folks! It's time to celebrate the marching music of John Philip Sousa. So head over to the Patty Turner Center [map] in Deerfield at 2pm Saturday. The Deerfield Community Band will be performing some of Sousa's best, including "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and many more. It's stirring, patriotic music at its finest. John Philip Sousa was born on November 6th 1854 and was known for his American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of the march composition, he is known as "The March King." Among his best known marches are "The Washington Post", "Semper Fidelis" and The Stars and Stripes Forever!" On Saturday, November 3rd, in celebration of Mr. Sousa’s birthday, join the Deerfield Community Band as they pay tribute to the March King in this glorious and patriotic celebration of timeless marches! All are welcome!

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy United States Library of Congress

Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

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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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1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL, 60025

(847) 310-5300
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