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


Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

Chicago is A Green City!

by Allyson Hoffman

In a recent article, featured 10 top "green" cities that put clean air, clean water, renewable energy and green public transportation first. Chicago was on that list!

Chicago offers it's residents renewable and sustainable energy as well as a commitment to improve the standard of living. Our city also has 42 green-certified building projects, with more to come.

Eventhough Chicago is already green, the city aspires to improve even more and hopes to buy 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources this year. Local officials also will offer tax incentives to homeowners who invest in Chicago’s many historic homes and retrofit them with energy efficient heating and cooling systems.

Tourism is also "green". Many people are unaware that all of the city’s nine museums and the Art Institute of Chicago have been converted to run partially on solar power. Boaters and swimmers who enjoy the city's lakefront will be happy to know that the water quality is rated as excellent by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Image courtesy of p.Gordon/

Air Duct Cleaning

by Allyson Hoffman

If you are beginning to start your yearly spring cleaning, an important area to not overlook is your air ducts. Air duct cleaning is an important part of home maintenance because a dirty air duct can lower the quality of the air in your home by promoting the circulation of allergens and bacteria in the air. 

Cleaning your air ducts can help allergies, asthma and the overall air quality in your home. The cost for this service can range in costs depending on the services offered, the size of the system to be cleaned, system accessibility, and level of contamination.

You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:

  • There is substantial visible mold growth inside the ducts. You may not always be able to see the mold in sections of the ducts that are not accessible. You will need a professional to inspect the ducts for this.
  • Ducts are infested with vermin such as rodents or insects.
  • Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.
  • You notice a strange or offensive odor from your air supply.

If you decide to have your heating and cooling system cleaned, be sure to have the service provider clean all components of the system and is qualified to do so. Duct cleaning generally refers to the cleaning of various heating and cooling system components of forced air systems, including the supply and return air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing.

To find a qualified HVAC technician near you and to learn more about duct cleaning, visit the   National Association of Duct Cleaners.

Image courtesy of David Bruce Jr./

Becoming A Homeowner-Are You Ready?

by Allyson Hoffman

If you are considering purchasing a home, now is certainly the right time for buyers. With historically low interest rates, first time homebuyer credits and low home prices, many potential homebuyers are making the leap into homeownership. Purchasing a home will most likely be the largest purchase you will make, is a big step, so how do you know if you are ready to take that leap and become a homeowner? Below are some things that you can consider when making the decision

  • You are on the right track if you maintain a budget and are able to stick to it. If you have your finances in order that is the major first step. in becoming a homeowner, especially in a difficult economy that can be financially challenging. Having good money-management skills are a must-have so that when you do own a home you will be able to have a smooth financial flow for monthly home expenses.
  • Saving is hard, especially in a struggling economy, but if you are able to save and have a sizable down payment of at least 20%, you are on the right path. Keep in mind that with a downpayment of at least 20%, you will start out with having some equity. There are options out there for zero or low money down loans but if you have to sell your home before you expect you can potentially loose money and you will also need to pay for PMI (priviate mortage insurance).
  • Because a mortgage is a large monthly commitment, It is important to have a steady source of income. We all know that these days there is no real thing as job security but when you buy a home you are going to be required to have a reliable source of income to cover not only mortgage payments but all the other monthly and unexpected expenses that come along with homeownership. It is important to look at how stable your source of income is as well as having an emergency savings fund where you will have enough funds to cover these expense in case of a loss of a job or other emergency.
  • Your debt and credit are clean. Having a good credit score will help to not only get a home loan but will also get you a lower interest rate on your mortgage. Hold off on any large purchases such as cars before applying for a loan as this could effect your rating. Also review your credit report for free at before even applying for the loan to check for any errors.
  • In addition to the financial aspect of homeownership, you need to be sure you are ready for the other things that come along. Owning a home is a big responsibility, things like lawn care, upkeep as well as unexpected repairs need to be considered as part of owing a home. 
Image courtesy of Pictures of Money/

Avoiding Common Mortgage Mistakes

by Allyson Hoffman

During the home buying process you will eventually need to obtain financing. This can be confusing and it can be easy to make mistakes, especially if you are a first time homebuyer. Below are some tips you can follow to avoid making some of the most common mortgage mistakes.

1.Do your research on the different mortgage options. You want to make sure to select the right financing for you and not one that will hold you down for even a short period of time with the wrong mortgage. It is vital to investigate all your options, then crunch the numbers and weigh your options.  Be sure to look at initial interest rates, future interest rates and payments (if different), and the possibility of prepayment penalties.

2. Avoid excessive credit. Having too much credit is almost as bad as having bad credit. Lenders will focus on this even if you pay your bills on time and you could get turned down for a mortgage. Postpone any big ticket purchases until after you buy your house.

3. Be truthful on your loan application. While this may seem like a no brainer, even if you exaggerate your income slightly or stretch the truth on other questions, it is a federal offense. While it is rare that you would get arrested, it can cause big problems down the road if the lender finds out. Lenders they can call your loan due and payable. Remember to never sign your name to a loan application that is not completely filled out, you will be held responsible for anything on the application.

4. Not fixing your credit. Even before you even think about applying for a mortgage, obtain copies of your credit report and your FICO credit score. Your FICO score is the three-digit number that's used in 75% of mortgage-lending decisions. Dong this at least six months in advance should give you plenty of time to correct any errors on your report and ensure that they're removed by the time you're ready to apply for a loan.

Image courtesy of

Piggyback Loans

by Allyson Hoffman

A "piggyback loan" is a home financing option in which a property is purchased using more than one mortgage from two or more lenders. While there are many variations, the piggyback loan, also known as the 80-10-10 loan can typically be defined as a 10 percent second mortgage coupled with a traditional 80 percent first lien and a 10 percent down payment, hence the 80-10-10. But this type of a loan can be mixed in different variation to make up the difference between a conventional loan and almost any amount of down payment. Other examples are an 80-5-15 or the 80-20 loan.

A piggyback loan is basically a second mortgage given at the time of a home purchase or a refinance. This type of a loan allows the home buyer to acquire or refinance a home with less than a 20 percent down payment or equity. An advantage to this type of loan is that the homebuyer does not need to carry private mortgage insurance (PMI). 

Homebuyers can also use piggyback loans as a source of funding for making a bigger downpayment on the new home. Homeowners who don't have the funds to make the 20 percent downpayment can use this loan to their advantage because private mortgage insurance can be expensive and is not tax deductible. 

Image courtesy of 

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

Listing Alerts

Be the first to know what's coming up for sale in the Chicago Illinois real estate market with our New Property Listing Alerts!

Just tell us what you're looking for and we'll email a daily update of all homes listed for sale since your last update. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Get Notifications

Quick Search

Contact Us

There are several ways to reach me. Call me at the number below for the quickest response or click the Contact us Online button. Thank you.

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]