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


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Saving On Moving Costs

by Allyson Hoffman

When buying a new home there is no doubt that there will be many expenses, both planned and unplanned. You have to figure in closing costs, inspection fees, utility hook up costs and many other things that can pop up and drain your budget quickly. Especially in a difficult economy saving money and cutting costs anywhere you can is vital. Below are some cost cutting tips to help you save money where you can when you move.

Moving your belongings yourself is going to be a big money saver but it may not always be possible. If you do plan to use a professional service, be sure to shop around. As with any professional service, it is a good idea to do your homework and get at least three estimates. It's important to remember that the cheapest service may not always be the best value. Check references, ask questions, look for red flags and do your homework before deciding on a moving company to avoid being scammed.

Be creative and use your own packing supplies. Most moving companies will charge big fees for supplying packing supplies. You can save big money by being creative and using items you already have to pack. Things like suitcases or plastic bins are great for packing clothes or other small items. Consider using linens and towels to wrap breakable items. Instead of paying for boxes, start collecting free cardboard boxes from local stores as well as newspaper for packing.

Look for discounts. If you are using a professional service, be sure to ask about all available discounts. Some movers will give discounts if you are able to give the mover some room when it comes to pickup and delivery dates. If possible, give the movers a span of three to five days when they can pick up the load and three to five days when they can deliver. Be sure to ask about hidden costs such as if the mover has to go up stairs or if there are accessibility problems on arrival.

Pack It Yourself. Having a moving company pack your items is expensive-sometimes up to or more of 25% of the moving cost. Something to think about is to do a partial pack where you pack things like your clothing, linens and then have the mover handle the breakables.

Image courtesy of Hitcom/

Should You Get A Home Warranty?

by Allyson Hoffman


If you have just purchased a new home or are going to be buying a new home in the near future you might be considering a home warrantyLike any other warranty, this guarantees the property against failure of mechanical systems, such as plumbing, electrical, heating and installed appliances. Many first time home buyers go with a home warranty to help protect them against the cost of unexpected covered repairs or replacement on their major systems and appliances.


The cost for these warranties are fairly inexpensive, typically ranging from $250 to $600 annually, depending on coverage. There are many different plans with different requirements, most tend to operate the same way. If an appliance or item covered breaks or stops working, the home owner calls the home warranty company. The home warranty company calls a provider with which it has an arrangement and they contact the homeowner to come out to fix the problem.  Typically if the problem can be fixed per the contract coverage than the warranty company pays the contractor directly.

Each company is different in what items they cover but below are some typical systems and appliacnces that are covered and what are not typically considered to be included.

Typically Covered

  • Air conditioner system/ Furnace / heating
  • Dishwashers
  • Doorbells
  • Water heater
  • Garbage disposals
  • Inside plumbing stoppages
  • Ceiling fans
  • Electrical systems
  • Range and oven

Typically not covered

  • Outdoor items such as sprinklers, or pool filters/spa systems
  • Not all plans pay for refrigerators, washers & dryers or garage door openers
  • Spa or pools, unless specific coverage requested

It is important to know that pre-existing conditions are not covered. The home warranty company expects to start with a clean sheet and they require home owners to fix any pre-existing issues before the new policy becomes effective. It is a good idea to get the home inspection done before you sign the contract, so that you have a proof if necessary.

Image courtesy of Monam/

Carbon Dioxide Detectors

by Allyson Hoffman

With the arrival of the colder weather in the Chicago area, there is an increase in the number of fuel-burning appliances being used in the home. Such appliances include ovens, space heaters, generators, and fireplaces. These appliances can also cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in the home. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. With these factors it is a good idea to install a carbon monoxide detectors to safeguard your family. 

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas. It results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, such as wood, kerosene, gasoline, charcoal, propane, natural gas, and oil. This gas can form in the home from incomplete combustion from any flame-fueled (i.e., not electric) device, and open flames, such as from ovens and ranges, are the most common source of carbon monoxide. Vehicles are the most common cause of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you are considering purchasing a Carbon monoxide detector, they work by triggering an alarm based on an accumulation of carbon monoxide over time. Carbon monoxide can be dangerous if you are exposed to high levels in a short period of time, or to lower levels of carbon monoxide over a long period of time. Carbon monoxide detectors range in price from $30 to $150 and are most effective models are those that offer that offer back-up battery power.

Purchasing a detector is a great idea and below are some tips to help protect you to avoid any problems.

•  Prevent any problems by making sure that your heating appliances are in good working order and used only in well-ventilated areas. Never use a stove for heating.

•  Don’t run a car engine in the garage, even to warm it up; move the car outside first. CO can leak into the home.

•  Install a CO alarm outside every sleeping area, on every level of your home and at least 15 feet away from every fuel-burning appliance. Be sure to check  the batteries on your CO alarms at the same time you do your fire detecors – and replace the batteries twice a year.

•  Have all gas, oil or coal burning appliances inspected by a technician every year to ensure they’re working correctly and are properly ventilated.

Image courtesy of judenicholson/

North Shore Holiday Events

by Allyson Hoffman

The holidays have arrived in Chicago! Aside from shopping and decorating our area offers many fun and festive events to enjoy during this wonderful time of the year. Giving to those less fortunate is a wonderful way to celebrate the season, below are some ways to do both! Have a safe and happy holiday season!


Charitable Events

Connections For The Homeless-Evanston:
2010 Dewey Ave. Evanston,  847.475.7070/Ext. 100
This organization supports families in housing need in the Evansotn area, operating emergency shelters. They currently are in need of the following donations: Coats, boots, gloves, men's long pants and jeans

Toys For Tots
Cars of America in Glenview is partnering with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program and is collecting new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year. Typically, these toys will be distributed in and distribute those toys as holiday gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. Toys will be collected at Cars of America. 1727 Chestnut Ave. Glenview , M-F, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Call 866carCARE for further information

Tree Sales

If you are looking for the perfect tree below are some options!

You can find fresh trees at the Optimist Club sale located at the corner of Jewett Park Drive and Park Avenue, Monday - Friday, 3 - 9 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sundays, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Wagner Farm will have fresh cut trees, wreaths and greenery for sale beginning Saturday, November 24. They're located at 1510 Wagner Rd., on the corner of E. Lake and Wagner near the Glenview/Wilmette border.

Holiday Events

Macy's Santa Breakfast at Westfield Old Orchard
December 12, 2009 - December 13, 2009
Reservations Required. Located in the Lower Level Marketplace, a balloon artist, face painter and Santa himself entertain with a special gift for each child. Event begins at 9am. Adults $16; children $12. Type: Festivals/Fairs.   Macy's Westfield Old Orchard Shopping
I-94 and Old Orchard Road, Skokie, IL 

Menorah Lighting Downtown Evanston
December 14, 2009 - December 14, 2009
Mayor Elizabeth B. Tisdahl and Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein will light the Menorah. There will be greetings from city officials and community members, a boys choir, music and refreshments.    Fountain Square , Davis St., Sherman Ave. and Orrington Ave. Evanston, IL

Grove Holiday Store
December 16, 2009 - December 20, 2009
Choose those specials holiday gifts from a selected collection of personalized ornaments, holiday decorations, unique home accessories, crafts, gourmet and baked items and more. 10 am-5 pm.  The Grove  1421 Milwaukee Ave., Glenview, IL 847-299-6096 

New Year’s Eve Fun Skatef
Location: Winnetka Ice Arena, 490 Hibbard Rd.
Date: December 31st
Time: 7 - 9 p.m.
Cost: Free

Image courtesy of Patrice_Audet/

What To Expect At Closing

by Allyson Hoffman

The final details of buying a new or pre-owned home take place on closing day when the purchase price is paid and title is transferred from the seller to the buyer. In most states the mortgage lender's attorney or a title agent will handle the closing details and protect buyer and seller rights as a neutral 3rd party.

You will receive a number of important documents at the closing meeting. Review this list of documents before you go, so that you'll know what to expect when you're there.

Documents the Buyer Typically Receives

  • Settlement statement, itemizing the services provided and the fees charged
  • Truth-in-lending statement
  • Mortgage note
  • Mortgage or deed of trust
  • Sales contract
  • Any required affidavits, if any
  • Copy of the deed
  • Keys to the home

Closing costs are one of the least-understood aspects of the home purchase procedure. You should be sure to speak up and ask about anything you don't understand. Closing costs can vary but they generally are between two and five percent of the home's purchase price and include:

  • Attorney fees
  • Escrow fees
  • Property taxes to cover the period to the closing date
  • Interest from the closing date to one month before the first monthly payment
  • Loan origination fees
  • Recording fees
  • Survey fees
  • Mortgage insurance, if applicable
  • Title insurance, both for the buyer and the lender
  • Loan discount points
  • The first escrow payment for future real estate taxes and insurance
  • Homeowner's insurance policy payment or receipt
  • Appraisal fees
  • Pest or other specific inspection fees
  • Document preparation fees

The closing is the final step in the home buying process and ultimately the most important. You should always be sure to ask questions on anything you don't understand. There are many websites that can be a good resource to help answer questions but you should check with your realtor or attorney on any specifics you don't understand..

Image courtesy of Dave Dugdale/

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5




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

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