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


Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Finding the Right Contractor

by Allyson Hoffman

Are you looking for a contractor so you can either update your current home or remodel in order to sell your Northern Illinois home? If so, finding the right contractor is crucial. Locating the “right” contractor is about a lot more than just finding the cheapest price though. Here are a few things to look for when researching a contractor for your home improvement project:

  • Make sure your contractor is properly licensed. Keep in mind that even though a contractor has a license it doesn't automatically mean they will do a great job. It does however provide some financial protection for you as the customer. 
  • Make sure your contractor is properly insured. In addition to being licensed it is vital that your contractor have proper insurance. Always ask your contractor for a copy of their proof of liability insurance and bonding or the name and number of his/her insurance agent to call and verify proof of coverage.
  • Ask for references and check them! Talk to other clients that this contractor has done work for in the past. Ask them if they were happy with the quality of work, was the work completed on time? Also be sure to inquire as to if the work was completed by the agreed-upon schedule? Websites like Angie's List are very helpful in getting other clients' opinions.
  • Get two or three different written bids. As with any large project or purchase it is a good idea to do your research and shop around. Different contractors can vary widely on pricing and level of detail even when bidding for the same job. 

It’s not always the wisest decision to automatically go with the lowest bid. You need to take into consideration that the higher bid could possibly mean better materials, workmanship and reliability. You must ask yourself, do you trust this person to work on your North Shore home? Do you feel comfortable with them around you children and your valuables? Create a checklist of all these above items so that when it is time to interview your choices, you can make a better decision.

Image courtesy of Life-Of-Pix/


"Summer Blues Set" in Evanston This Saturday!

by Allyson Hoffman

This Saturday, August 27, Evanston’s Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre will present "Summer Blues Set" at 7:00 p.m. at the Theater at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Evanston.

The Summer Blues Set features Vince Agwada, a guitarist of the highest caliber. Agwada has been a fixture on the Chicago music scene for over 25 years and stands poised to become a major player in the continued evolution of the Blues.

The Blues Set will be the finale of Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre's 2011 summer season.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

Image courtesy of jonathansautter/


Affordable Bathroom Renovations

by Allyson Hoffman

Many North Shore homeowners are making the choice to remodel their bathrooms, whether to improve their newly purchased home or to sell their previous home by making it more appealing to buyers.

The popularity of bathroom remodeling may be attributed to the concept that it can be a very affordable means to make your master suite more comfortable and add value to your Chicago home when it’s time to sell.

If you are considering making some improvements to your bathroom, below are some tips to help give your bath a great lift:

Vanity Sinks: From artistic vessel sinks to furniture pieces that have been modified to accommodate plumbing, sinks can become a bathroom showpiece while keeping their functionality.

Countertops: Granite, ceramics, recycled glass and marble are all popular materials to consider if you want to update the counters of your existing vanity.

Showers: Open, walk-in showers are very popular right now and can be designed to accommodate more than one person.

Faucets: Old, polished brass fixtures really date your bathroom – check out new silhouettes and finishes for your faucets and cabinetry.

Lighting: Bathrooms that are well lit, especially with natural light sources look fresh and modern. Consider glass block windows and skylights to bring in natural light and create an open feeling.

Tile: Tile can be used creatively in the shower and wet areas as well as the floor and for backsplash.

Before starting a home improvement project, list your objectives, create a budget and do your homework before you select a contractor. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) also offers a list of resources and reference guides to help make decisions and find qualified professionals.

Image courtesy of ErikaWittlieb/


New Mariano Fresh Market Opening August 23 in Chicago!

by Allyson Hoffman

Mariano's Fresh Market has become quite famous in Illinois due to its wide selection of grocery items and unique features. There are already two of these excellent grocery stores in our area, one in Arlington Heights and the other in Vernon Hills. Mariano's Fresh Market has announced it is now set to open its first store in the city of Chicago, located at 3350 N. Western Avenue (Roscoe and Western) on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 6:00 a.m.

Mariano, the CEO of the company, is thrilled to be back in Chicago and proud to once again provide the community with what he calls “the aisle by aisle selection and the value every shopper deserves.” Mariano’s Fresh Market epitomizes their brand promise: Shop Well. Eat Well. Live Well. The emphasis of the stores is on fresh offerings in produce, meat, seafood, bakery and deli, with prepared foods available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The full-service shopping experience also includes natural and organic products, and a wide selection of homeopathic remedies.

The wine and spirits department, sushi bar, and Italian themed café featuring espresso, gelato, and panini are additional attractions that elevate the shopping experience to a new level.

Image courtesy of jjuntune/



Avoiding Common Staging Mistakes

by Allyson Hoffman

Staging is a wonderful way to help sell your North Shore home because it helps your home become more appealing to a wider gamut of possible buyers. Your goal is to impress these possible buyers, so you want your home to look neat, well maintained, spacious, and ready for them to move in.

Below are some of the top mistakes sellers make that you want to avoid when you are preparing your house for the market:

  • Don't go it alone. Get advice from others on what looks neat and organized. Get your realtor’s advice; or if selling on your own, have a trusted third party walk the home with you and point out areas that look cluttered or cramped.
  • There is no need to make extensive renovations or replace all the furniture. Keep things simple and your investments small. Updates to paint, replacing light fixtures or changing out pillows or bedcovers can all go a long way to giving your home an updated look without major expense.
  • Leave out personal items and knick-knacks. Be sure to remove family photos, school projects and other personal items that might make it hard for a new family to envision themselves living in the space. 
  • If you need some inspiration, visit a few model homes for sale for ideas on attractive staging ideas for open spaces. Open up heavy curtains with tie backs and make sure that your furniture isn’t in the way of creating bright open spaces. If you need to take some things out, try temporary storage.
  • Avoid painting with dark or intense colors. Keep your wall and flooring colors to neutral, adaptable tones. Even if bright or varied color palettes are trendy, they are too much for most prospective buyers.
  • Avoid over-staging with accessories. Over the top accessories, including flowers, scents, and home décor items not only make it look like you are trying too hard, they can detract from the real form and functionality of your house.

Keeping it simple is the key to getting results from staging your home. Clean, uncluttered and neutral surroundings show off the possibilities of your home to your potential buyers.

Image courtesy of TNS Sofres/


Out to Lunch in Libertyville

by Allyson Hoffman

Wanting a relaxing place to spend a summer afternoon? Searching for somewhere that you can go during your lunch hour to recharge? If so, Cook Park in downtown Libertyville, Illinois is where you want to be!

You can visit either this Friday, August 12 or next Friday, August 19 between the hours of 11 am and 2 pm for some fun in the sun. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the summer day visiting with friends, or “grab and go” on your lunch hour. There will be many different food vendors there offering tasty food such as subs, brats, Mexican, Chinese, salads, barbecue and even ice cream for dessert! Sit back and enjoy the live music playing as well. There’s no better way to spend a Friday afternoon in Libertyville than that!

Parking can be found in the covered free parking garage on Lake Street, as well as the municipal lot behind St. Lawrence Episcopal Church, or designated areas at PNC Bank or the MainStreet parking lot at 160 E. Cook. 

For more information call the MainStreet office (847-680-0336) or visit their website at

Image courtesy of Hajime NAKANO/


Top 5 Trends of the Modern Home

by Allyson Hoffman

Potential homebuyers in today’s real estate market have made it crystal clear that extravagant, over-the-top homes are a thing of the past. Today’s buyers want their Northern Illinois homes to be affordable comfort zones with efficient and sustainable materials. They want combined elements of indoors and outdoors lifestyles, thoughtfully planned living space, and room to make a nice home office. Listed below are some of the top trends that homebuyers are looking for these days:

  1. Green building and sustainability – from recycled materials to water wells and water collection systems, today’s home buyer is concerned with organic, sustainable features. While green building can sometimes be expensive up front, even the cost conscious know that the results may save money in the long run.
  2. Energy efficiency – those who go green are also concerned with sustainable, efficient resources. Buyers want energy efficient appliances and the latest in insulation techniques using spray foam and gels. Not only do they reduce current energy costs, but energy efficient homes help with resale.
  3. Outdoor living areas – more people are staying home these days, and one of the hottest trends is outdoor living areas that create a seamless indoor to outdoor space and include living room style features. From comfortable sofas to televisions and sound systems and creative outdoor cooking areas, the right outdoor space becomes a natural extension of the interior.
  4. Main floor master suites with luxurious baths – now more than ever, home is an oasis for hardworking homeowners, and large masters on the main floor (away from kids rooms or play areas) are key to a homeowner’s satisfaction. Along with the master, buyers are interested in soaker tubs, walk-in showers with seating and dual showerheads.
  5. Home offices – more and more people find themselves telecommuting or working from home in the evenings, and space for a home office has taken priority over traditional home features like formal dining and living and even media rooms. Home buyers seek that unique space that separates work from family living areas.

Home buyer's priorities have shifted to reflect changing economic times. The top trends reflect a new desire for comfort and flexible lifestyles, along with an ever growing concern for sustainability and efficiency.

Image courtesy of Nick Keppol/


Ravina Festival at Martin Theatre

by Allyson Hoffman

Come out to beautiful Highland Park this Saturday for the Ravina Festival and Martin Theatre.

This family friendly event will have an instrument “petting zoo” from 12-1pm!

Founded in 1979 by Ravinia Festival Trustee and cellist Larry Block, the Highland Park Strings is a local orchestra with a mission to provide community concerts where families, friends and North Shore neighbors can gather for an afternoon of musical enjoyment at the highest level. Led by Principal Director Francesco Milioto, the orchestra features top-notch soloists, including members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and gifted rising stars who are given the opportunity to perform for an appreciative audience

For tickets and more information to this event in click here.

Image courtesy of nosha/


Packing Tips For An Easier Move

by Allyson Hoffman

There is enough to do when buying a new Northern Illinois home, so make it easier on yourself on un-packing day by organizing a packing plan so you can easily find your essentials! 

 Here are a few tips to get you started.

 Plan ahead and budget for the move. Will you be moving yourself or will you require the assistance of a moving company? If you are planning to use a moving company it’s a good idea to price this out ahead of time by using a moving calculator.

Make sure you have plenty of the following: strong packing boxes (more than you think you will need), markers and tags to label boxes, rolls of packing tape, bubble wrap for fragile items, packing paper, scissors and a knife for opening boxes.  

  • Pack room-to-room keeping similar items together. 
  • Use smaller boxes for heavier items so it is easier to lift. 
  • You can use towels, linens and curtains to line the bottom and sides of boxes with fragile items. All fragile items should be individually wrapped. Clearly mark these boxes FRAGILE. 
  • Make sure that any opened boxes or jars are tightly sealed before packing them. 
  • Use colorful tags to identify the contents of the box and which room it will be taken to in your new home. 
  • Pack any rugs last so that they will be the first thing unpacked and placed in the home. 
  • Make a master list of all household items and personal belongings. 
  • Finally pack a box with all the essentials and mark it “Open Me First”. This box may contain items such as: a few basic tools (flashlight, pocket knife, masking tape, light bulbs), bathroom essentials (toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes & paste, hand towel), Kitchen items (paper towels, coffee maker & filter, paper plates, cups, utensils, pet food, trash bags).

Do your research and plan ahead so that your packing strategy makes  unpacking in your new home  much less stressful!

Image courtesy of Joanna Bourne/



Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9




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.
Barrington, IL 60010

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

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