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


Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Budgeting After a Divorce

by Allyson Hoffman

You may not know that in Chicago's North Shore the divorce rate is higher than is recent years. In fact, it's risen over 40% in the last two years.  Divorce is very difficult both emotionally and financially. How can you prepare for budget adjustments in Chicago during this transition? Here is a helpful and informative blog by Becky Sarwate:

Anyone who has been through a divorce will tell you that it’s a complicated and difficult process on so many levels. In addition to the emotional toll of separating from a spouse, the transition to life as a newly-single person and the impact of divorce on children and extended family members, there are real, long-term financial considerations. There is a reason that divorce ranks number two on the famed Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.

Budget adjustment after divorce can be one of the most grueling tasks of all, whether the divorcing spouses have children to provide for or not. Budget adjustment can be especially challenging for partners who may have taken a backseat when it came to managing the finances during the marriage. The now single person will have to quickly acquire new financial skills to gain control of assets and monthly expenses, make investments and plan for retirement.

Fortunately, there are some basic strategies that can put even the most overwhelmed on the path toward financial health. Budget adjustment after divorce is painful but not impossible.

The first, and perhaps most critical step is to establish a monthly budget that allows for the payment of bills as well as a little future planning. It can be a huge shift to learn to live on only one income and it’s essential for you to understand where your money is going as soon as possible. Once done, you will have a clearer picture of where changes could and should be made – whether paying down debt or channeling more resources into savings.

How does your retirement future look? If you can’t answer that question, now is the time to act. Budget adjustment after divorce should always include the evaluation of IRAs, 401ks and investment funds. If you don’t have any of these, it’s time to get serious. A financial planner can help.

Divorce filings involve many small, often arduous details, but some of the tiniest particulars are the most important of all. Stressed spouses often neglect to check their  life insurance and retirement accounts and change listed beneficiaries after divorce. For the protection of children and your individual estate, these modifications should not be overlooked.

While taking ownership of your financial prospects may not dull the pain of ending your marriage, it can create a tremendous sense of empowerment. Budget adjustment after divorce is a challenge you will thank yourself for facing. After a painful event, with the right help you can have much success financially in Chicago's North Shore and surrounding area's.

Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood

by Allyson Hoffman

What will you be doing this Friday, April 27th in Chicago's North Shore? Come to Skokie, Illinois  and see comedians Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood!   The stars of the Emmy nominated "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" have teamed up at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy. Thats right, the entire show is made-up on the spot! Using their quick wit, Colin and Brad take contributions from the audience to create hilarious and original scenes...just like a live version of "Whose Line"! ,The entire show is driven by audience participation. Audience members yell out suggestions and Colin and Brad do the rest. Also, throughout the show, audience members are brought up on stage to add an extra element of the unexpected.Their high-profile presentations have played to sold-out venues all over the country.Wondering if this comedy is kid friendly? Many people have brought their 8-10 year old children to the show with no complaints. An Evening with Colin and Brad is a totally improvised show. Although they do attempt to keep the show family friendly, Colin and Brad can’t be responsible for audience suggestions. Therefore, we recommend you make your own judgment call based on your own child's sensitivities to bald men. Don't miss this exciting North Shore comedy event!

Tickets are on sale from $56 - $60. Purchase your tickets now!

Thanks cnscvb for the info!

Adding Curb Appeal With Landscaping

by Allyson Hoffman

Spring is in full swing and now is the time to invest in a well-lanscaped yard for your North Shore Chicago home. It creates curb appeal and helps your property retain maximum value when you choose to sell it.

A beautiful yard is a head-turner, no doubt about it. The good news is that even if you can’t tell a tulip from a turnip at the garden center, you can still create eye-catching curb appeal by paying attention to the basics of good landscaping. Ignoring your yard—or doing something that’s out of character with the neighborhood—can jeopardize the assessed value of your home. Poorly maintained landscaping can be as much as a 5 or 10% deduction in its value.

Appraisers are quick to praise the allure of a well-tended lawn and good-looking landscaping when it comes time to sell your home, but most do not assign any specific increase in monetary value for upkeep.
Nevertheless, most professionals agree that curb appeal and a well-maintained appearance prevent your property from losing value. Here are the top suggestions from real estate agents, appraisers, and landscape designers for boosting the curb appeal of your yard:

Green up the grass

If your house has a front yard, make sure it‘s neat and green. You don’t want bare spots, sprawling weeds, or an untrimmed appearance.

It’s very simple to go to Home Depot, buy fertilizer, apply it every six weeks, and water it. This easy maintenance will keep your yard looking green and beautiful.

If the yard looks really scruffy, you may decide to invest in some sod. According to the National Gardening Association, the average cost of sod is 15 to 35 cents per sq. ft. If you hire a landscaper to sod your yard for you, labor will add 30% to 50% to the total cost of the project. 

Another alternative is to plant low-maintenance turf grasses. Turf grasses are durable and drought-resistant. Expect to pay $18 to $30 for enough turf grass seed to plant 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn area.

Add colorful planting beds

Flower beds add color and help enliven otherwise plain areas, such as along driveways and the edges of walkways. In general, annual flowers are a bit cheaper but must be replaced every year. Perennials cost a bit more but come back annually and usually get larger or spread with each growing season.

If you’re not sure what to plant, inquire at your local garden center. Often, they’ll have a display of bedding plants chosen for their adaptability to your area. Also, they‘ll be inexpensive because they’re in season. Pansies are good in the summer, and asters and mums in the fall add vibrant color.

Add landscape lighting

For homeowners who have made a sizeable investment in landscaping, it makes sense to think about adding another 10% to 15% to the bill for professional lighting. You can’t see landscaping after dark, and buyers are not always looking at houses on a Saturday afternoon.

The cost of a system runs from $200 for a DIY installation to more than $4,000 for a professional job. If you‘re doing it on your own, the key is to light what you want people to see, such as mature trees and flowering shrubs. 

Plant a tree

The value of mature trees is particularly difficult to determine. Mature trees contribute as much as 10% of a $100,000 property’s overall value. In addition, a properly placed shade tree can shave as much as $32 a year on your energy bills. Expect to pay $50 to $100 for a young, 6- to 7-foot deciduous tree.

You can make your own initial assessment of the value of your property’s trees by visiting the National Tree Benefit Calculator. For example, a mature Southern red oak tree with a diameter of 36 inches in the front yard of a house in Augusta, Ga., would add $70 to the property value this year, according to the calculator.

In need of some ideas on how to use landscaping to make your home more inviting to buyers? Contact me today!



Antiques and Garden Fair

by Allyson Hoffman

Don't miss out on this Chicago Illinois event!  Make plans this weekend from 10:00AM - 5:00PM to head over to Chicago's Botanical Garden! Celebrating  their 12th year, the Antiques & Garden Fair continues to offer the best in classical and contemporary garden furnishings, botanical art, and home and garden design from more than 100 exhibitors from the United States and Europe. Honorary Chair and guest speaker David Easton is one of the world's most sought-after interior designers. While he has made his name as a new-classicist, his expertise in architecture and decoration is wide-ranging and ongoing.

Special Guest and guest speaker David Howard is former head gardener at Highgrove for H.R.H. The Prince of Wales. During his lecture, "My Gardening Life," Howard will take you on a journey of his 40 years of gardening in the U.K.Treasure Hunting in style! The Fair will be held in the beautiful Regenstein Center. There will be tents over the Esplanade and the Rose Garden as well as vendors in Burnstein Hall, Runnells and Searle Courtyards, Nichols Hall, Joutras Gallery, and the Greenhouse Galleries. Guests will find a variety of treasures in every price range.

One day pass is $17 at the door; $15 in advance for nonmembers; $10 in advance for members.  Tickets sell fast so purchase them quickly right here! 

Thanks cnscvb for the information on this awesome North Shore Event!!!





Is Your Home Priced to Sell?

by Allyson Hoffman

Wondering why your North Shore home is still on the market when the neighbors are selling like hot cakes? Frustrated sellers will blame a bad market, and it's definitely a challenging one we're navigating now, but a savvy real estate professional will tell you that many times, a slow sale is often attributed to the listing price.

It comes down to a simple face, if a home is overpriced, buyers will stay away. But, if the price is competitive with similar homes in the area and “shows” better than the competition, it will have a better chance of being sold quickly. The secret is perfecting a technique called comparative shopping!

Although comparing houses with different styles, square-footages and locations is challenging, real estate professionals still feel it’s one of the best methods to use when determining a home’s market value.

A responsible real estate agent will effectively evaluate a home’s worth through a process known as Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).Taking a look at assets, such as a swimming pool, bigger than normal living spaces, a fantastic view, adjacent city parks and other attractions, the agent will begin to compare your home with similar properties, called “comparables,” that have sold in the area within the last six months. Typically, it is a realistic price range that will ensure you top dollar and a reasonably quick sale.

However, factors such as the amount of time needed to sell your home can affect the agent's price recommendation dramatically.

Assuming you have sufficient time to market the home, here are a few small steps you and your agent can take to finding the right price for your property.

The best comparisons can be made with similar homes that have been sold within the last 45 days as opposed to the standard six months. Any longer, and other factors, such as the economy, could cloud your view of how much your home is really worth.

Another good benchmark is to review the selling prices of homes that have just been sold and are pending closes. Most MLS services provide information on deals pending that most real estate agents should be able to share with you.

A good rule of thumb before setting a price is to make 20 comparisons of comparable properties within a one-mile radius of your house. Once completed you can feel comfortable that the price you’ve picked is a good gauge of the home’s worth and won’t discourage qualified buyers.

Being open and honest about what you see as the home’s greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses will also help your agent get a better feel for how to best evaluate (or assess) and market your home. Think of your home as if you were the buyer. If your home is listed at the right price, you’re well on your way to a speedy and fruitful sale with the right real estate professional.



Natya Dance Theatre & Mordine and Company Dance Theater

by Allyson Hoffman

Planning a date night this Saturday, the 14th  in Chicago's North Shore? If you don't have plans for what to do, make plans to bring your someone special to see a beautiful show. Natya Dance Theatre and Mordine & Company Dance Theater join forces in this daring, cross-cultural exploration. Journey with these two critically acclaimed Chicago dance companies as they bring together East and West to challenge preconceptions about culture, difference, and the experience of being human in these times.

"Pushed to the Edge" presents Bharata Natyam, a dance theater from India, as practiced by Natya Dance Theatre, and contemporary Western dance, as practiced by Mordine and Company Dance Theater.  They will be doing this one performance Saturday. April 14th at 8:00 PM. Located at Centre East Theatre in Chicago's North Shore!  Buy your tickets now for $30- $38 that you can purchase here.

 Don't miss out on this amazing performance!

Thanks CNSCVB for the info on this fun Chicago event!




What Closing Costs Can I Expect?

by Allyson Hoffman

Finally, after so much searching you've found the home you've been dreaming of in Chicago's North Shore.  You know you will be expected to pay closing costs, but what exactly are these costs and what will you be expected to pay?

Typically, closing costs run between 3% and 5% of your loan amount, so if you're borrowing $100,000 you can expect closing costs of $3,000 to $5,000. If you're borrowing $200,000 you can expect closing costs of $6,000 to $10,000.

The smart thing to do is to obtain good faith estimates from two or three lenders and compare the costs. Then be prepared to ask the lender you choose to meet the best offer. Here are some of the items you can expect to find on a Good Faith Estimate:

~ Loan origination fee (1% of the amount borrowed, or $100 for every $10,000 borrowed)
~ Loan discount fee
~ Loan application fee ($75 to $400)
~ Points (to "buy down" the interest rate: between $100 and $300 for every $10,000 borrowed)
~ Lender's attorney fees
~ Buyer's attorney fees
~ Appraisal fee
Credit Report
~ Lender's inspection fee
~ Mortgage broker commission or fee
~ Tax service fee
~ Processing fee
~ Underwriting fee
~ Wire Transfer fee
~ Interest from the day of settlement to the date of the first mortgage payment
~ Private mortgage insurance premiums to protect your lender ($750 to $1750)
~ Hazard insurance premiums
~ Property taxes from the day of settlement to the end of the tax year
~ Settlement or closing/escrow fee
~ Document preparation fee
Notary fee
~ Title search and title insurance to protect your lender ($400 to $600)
~ Title insurance to protect you
~ Recording fees
~ Tax stamps
~ Pest inspection

Property taxes placed in an escrow account are one of the largest expenses at closing. The amount depends on the value of the house you buy and the tax rate in the town or county where the house is located. Many lenders require you to include a monthly estimate with your mortgage payments equal to 1/12th of your annual property taxes and homeowners insurance. For most people, this is easier than coming up with a large lump sum each year when taxes are due.

There is alot of information to take in, especially if you are a first time home buyer. Stay educated and don't be taken advantage of at closing, and don't go to closing unprepared. Choose a realtor that will walk you through the entire process who will educate you about the ins and outs of home buying! Contact us with any questions, we would love to help!



Grateful Dead Tribute

by Allyson Hoffman

Calling all Dead Heads in Northern Illinois! Bring your wife, girlfriend, husband or boyfriend and enjoy the music of Paradise Waits! Original jam band music from Chicago, with some Grateful Dead and Phish thrown in. PW is best known for it's imaginative and psychedelic improv jams, unique interpretations of jam band related covers, and powerful vocal harmonies. PW's original material is rooted in rock, blues, country and bluegrass, and their extensive cover repertoire includes Grateful Dead, Phish, Ween, Mr. Blotto, The Allman Bros, JGB, Pink Floyd, The Band, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan, to name a few. 

Paradise Waits will be performing Friday, April 6th from 9:00pm -10:30pm. at 275 Parkway Dr, Lincolnshire, IL 60069 (Viper Alley) Best of all tickets are on sale for only $10 that you can purchase here!

Thanks NorthBrooke Patch for the info on this jammin Northern Illinois event!




Signs That You are Ready to be a Home Buyer

by Allyson Hoffman

It's time to buy in Chicago's North Shore, but there is a lot to consider when purchasing a home. For example, how do you know that you are ready to take the leap? Here are a few signs of readiness, ask yourself these questions-are you ready?

  • Do you have your finances in order? Becoming a homeowner, especially in a difficult economy can be financially challenging. If you have created a budget and stick with it you are on the right path. 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.
  • Do you have a sizable down payment of at least 20%? While this is a large amount of money to come up with it is important to have as you will start out with having some equity. Just a few years ago, homeowners could obtain a home with little or no money down, but the rules have changed. However, 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 (private mortgage insurance).
  • Do you have a steady source of income? Of course in a recession 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.
  • How does your credit look?  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.
  • Are you ready for the responsibility of owning a home? In addition to the financial aspect of homeownership, you need to be sure you are ready for the other things that come along. Things like lawn care, upkeep as well as unexpected repairs need to be considered as part of owning a home. 

If you are ready to buy a home contact me today to help you find the perfect house for you and your family! 





Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9




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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]