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


Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Fireworks at Chicago's Navy Pier

by Allyson Hoffman
One of the great parts of summer is celebrating the 4th of July. Barbeques, family, fun and of course fireworks make this holiday special. This Independence Day, Chicago's Navy Pier will host a spectacular fireworks extravaganza to celebrate America in Chicago, Illinois.
 In addition to the amazing fireworks display, visitors will also enjoy a variety of other activities including live entertainment from some of Chicago's hottest musical artists. There are always interesting things to see and do at the festive Navy Pier 

Great fun for all ages awaits at the Annual 4th of July Celebration at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois.

 Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Image courtesy of jeff_golden/


Should You Renegotiate Your Mortgage?

by Allyson Hoffman

When the economy takes a hit, many homes in many neighborhoods are foreclosed upon. Many Northern Illinois homeowners are struggling to make the monthly mortgage payment.  Even with these tough times, the good news is that many lenders are more willing than to negotiate terms to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. By renegotiating their mortgage, homeowners may be able to get a lower finance rate as well as change your rate from a high fixed-rate mortgages or adjustable-rate.

Most lenders require that you have at least 10 percent equity in your home. You can easily check the value of your home on sites such as and I can provide you with a free and quick estimate of your North Shore home’s worth . In addition, most lenders typically will require that you have a credit score of at least 720 to qualify for good and quick estimate of your home’s worth  Lenders are aware of the many fiscal difficulties borrowers have in making their mortgage payments when hardships arise. However, they typically won't volunteer or advertise their help.

So if you are struggling to make your payments on time, it is vital that you take the initiative and contact your lender and give them a heads up on your current financial hardship before you miss payments.  Keep in mind that lenders have more incentive than ever to work with you. Plunging property values mean they’re recovering less now on foreclosures. Plus, many that received cash infusions from the  U.S. Treasury are under pressure to show that they’re responding to the housing crisis. 

Image courtesy of OpenClipartVectors/











Dine out at Pizanos in Glenview

by Allyson Hoffman

Pizano's newest location is now open in Glenview, Illinois at 1808 N Waukegan Road - just half a mile north of Lake Street.

They feature their famous thin buttercrust and award-winning deep-dish pizzas, homemade pastas and sauces from
recipes that have been passed down for generations.

Patio seating outdoors in the warmer months, always friendly service, comfortable atmosphere, and the old world tradition of great food and the celebration of family, friends, and life in

Image courtesy of Sebastian Mary/


Mortgage Money IS Available…For Now

by Allyson Hoffman

One comment that I hear from real estate agents and lay people alike is that “it’s hard to get a mortgage; so hard, in fact, that no one can get one”.  This is just NOT true!  In reality, lenders are lending at a healthy pace.  Interest rates continue to cooperate and there are many programs for customers.  It’s just that lenders, for the most part, only approve borrowers now that can demonstrate their ABILITY to repay (via income verification)   and their WILLINGNESS to repay (via credit scoring and automated underwriting systems).

That being said, as I look ahead, the mortgage product menu is looking a bit blurry:

Let’s start with FHA…rumors are stronger about increasing the minimum down payment from 3.5% to 5%…there is also talk of cutting back the allowable seller’s concession from 6% to 3%…but further, the maximum loan limit allowable under FHA was inflated to assist in the housing recovery and that is set to expire later this year. Predictions vary on the cut range, but I think a $100,000+ reduction is likely. Is the government trying to lessen demand for FHA insured financing? Seems like they are.

Well, what about Conventional loans? Conforming products (typically underwritten to FannieMae or FreddieMac guidelines) seem okay for now, assuming the GSEs stay in business. But, Jumbo loans (those in excess of the $729,250 amount for a one family home) are facing the 5% Risk Retention requirements being brought on by QRM Rules. How will lenders price loans where they need to set aside 5% of the loan amount in reserve?

At the same time, Jumbo lenders are starting to explore different options for qualification. I am hearing things like “average monthly deposits as support for income when tax returns might appear insufficient” and such. This looks like more aggressive lending beginning to reappear in the non-conforming world.

With inflation starting to heat up, and rates likely to move higher, look for lenders to start offering more adjustable rate mortgages to help people qualify.  It is the standard reaction when the hike in rates either scares buyers back to their apartments or puts unlocked loans which are in process in jeopardy of not remaining approved.

My advice stays the same.  Pigs get slaughtered.  If you can get a mortgage today, at these rates, and with these guidelines, TAKE IT.  Too many people will regret missing this wonderful opportunity that 2011 has presented them.

Article from KCM Blog


Image courtesy of

Real Men Cook!

by Allyson Hoffman

Father's day is this Sunday and if you have not already made plans with your dad, check out Chicago's #1 Father's Day Celebration!

Real Men Cook in Chicago, Illinois takes place this Sunday, June 19, from 3PM - 6PM. Opening Ceremony at 1:30PM CST (VIP ONLY)


Chicago State University - Student Union Area, 9501 S Dr Martin L King Jr Drive / Chicago, IL  60628

 This event features delicious food from Chicago's real men charities. This great organization provides career speakers and mentors for teens. There will be family fun and live entertainment!

Advance VIP Tickets - Adult - $40.00 / Child - $20.00- Advance Tickets - Adult - $20.00 / Child - $10.00. Free parking. For more information click here.

Happy Father's day!

Image courtesy of Jeff Kubina/


What is Title Insurance and Do I Need It?

by Allyson Hoffman

When you buy a Northern Illinois home, you are given a title.  The title is your right to possess and use the property.  A very important fact is that it may not be the home seller who owns the title.  If a bank has a mortgage on the property, they may own an interest in it. Or if someone has done work on the house and didn’t get paid, they could have a lien against it.  

How can you be sure that when you purchase a home that the title has no problems that go with it? And that the seller truly does own the property? These problems could end up being a financial loss to you. That is what the title search and title insurance is for. 

A title search will reveal if someone other than the owner of the property owns the title. This search can be done by examining public records to look up the history of property ownership. While you can easily do your own title search, if you are obtaining a loan to purchase the property, the lender will require that a qualified third party do the title search. The title search shows not only limitations on the use of the property and rights others may have in the property, but also liens or monetary obligations that are outstanding against the property.  

Title insurance is different than the standard insurance where you are covered in case of a future event. For example, if you get car insurance you are insured in case you have an accident, you buy health insurance in case you get sick.  Title insurance is different as it covers events relating to the title that have already happened. It does not cover anything that happens to the title after the date of issuance. For example if you have liens filed against the property for taxes that you have not paid, your title insurance policy is not going to help you. But, if the lien is for taxes not paid by someone who owned the house before you, then you may have coverage under your title policy. 

Title companies can do a title search on the property before issuing the policy to see if there are any problems with the title. This search is done to minimize the risks of offering insurance. The search can turn up problems with deeds, wills, outstanding mortgages, judgements, and tax liens on the property.   When these problems are not cleared, they will often be listed as exceptions to the policy’s coverage. You then would have to make the decision on whether the property was something you wanted or not, knowing the problems. 

Image courtesy of Monam/







Rihanna in Chicago

by Allyson Hoffman

Rihanna will be at the United Center at 1901 West Madison Street in Chicago on June 15th at 7:30 pm.

In less than six years, Rihanna has sold over 15 million albums and over 45 million singles. Her videos have generated over a billion views on Youtube. She has three Grammy Awards and was Billboard’s ‘Digital Songs Artist of the 2000s’. She is, Rihanna. Now embarking on her fourth tour, Rihanna has firmly cemented her place in popular music history.

Great way to break up the week and enjoy the weekend in Chicago!

Image courtesy of Nicole Yeary/


Learn to Save on Energy

by Allyson Hoffman

The Department of Energy tells us the typical US family will spend in excess of $1600 a year on energy costs. This amount could be lessened as a large portion of the energy we use is wasted. Here are a few simple steps to take to conserve energy and money.

  • Set your thermostat comfortably low in the winter and comfortably high in the summer in your Northern Illinois home. Install a programmable thermostat that is compatible with your heating and cooling system.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).
  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater in your Chicago North Shore home
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on home appliances and products. ENERGY STAR® products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

This is the first step in making your home “energy efficient” and will also save you money. For more information on any of the tips listed here, or to learn how you can cut your energy use up to 25%, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website for consumer tips.


Image courtesy of Advanced Telemetry/

Architecture & Fireworks Cruise

by Allyson Hoffman

Throughout the summer, Navy Pier celebrates Chicago with fireworks and the best way to experience them is on a Shoreline combination Architecture/Fireworks Cruise. This dramatic, nighttime cruise takes you down all three branches of the historic Chicago River for a glittering view of our city’s iconic skyscrapers. The evening ends with an up-close view of Navy Pier’s spectacular fireworks from the mouth of the Chicago River.

Shoreline’s 75-minute combination Architecture/Fireworks Cruises leave from Ogden Slip at Navy Pier at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and at 9:15 p.m. on Saturdays.

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

Paul Wells
(847) 913-6100
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