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


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 15

23rd Annual CSL Art Exhibition

by Allyson Hoffman

The CSL Art Exhibition was the vision of Dr. E. J. Duffy, Principal of Glenbrook North High School. His goal was to unify the CSL Schools through the visual arts, in a non-competitive environment.

Organized and facilitated by CSL Art Educators, the inaugural show was at Northbrook Court in 1988. The intent is to further nurture and cultivate a sense of Community and Commonality amongst all participants centered in the Visual Arts.

Friday, April 8th from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm you can check out the exhibit at the Art Center Highland Park at 1957 Sheridan Road in Highland Park.




Closing Day Tips

by Allyson Hoffman

Closing day is when all the decision are final when purchasing a new or pre-owned Northern Illinois home. The purchase price is paid and the title is transferred from the seller to the buyer. In many states the mortgage lender’s attorney or a title agent will handle the closing details and protect the buyer and seller’s rights as a neutral 3rd part.

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

Closing day is the most important step in the home buying process. Always be sure to ask questions about anything you do not understand. Your realtor or attorney can handle most questions and if they don’t know, they’ll know which direction to point you in.

Image courtesy of David Wall/


Tax Deductions For Homeowners

by Allyson Hoffman

Tax time is here, but homeowners have an advantage with many tax breaks. Make sure you’re not missing out on important home-related tax deductions. Everyone has a different situation and you may actually qualify for other deductions you were not aware of, so always check with your tax advisor to find out which deductions apply to you. Below are some of the common deductions.

Deducting Real Estate Taxes. Real estate taxes are deductible in the year paid. They are generally reported on Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement, the annual statement from the financial institution holding your mortgage, or on your county real estate tax assessment statement. You should also deduct any prorated taxes collected from you at closing. These amounts are not always included on Form 1098, but may be itemized on your real estate closing statement.

Deducting Loan Points Paid on a Purchase or Refinance
The points you pay on a loan for a
home purchase are tax-deductible for the year you made the purchase. You can deduct the points you paid as well as those a seller paid on your behalf if you meet the following criteria:

  •   The loan is secured by your primary residence
  •   The loan was used to buy, improve or build the home
  •   Paying points is a common practice in your geographic area
  •   The points are calculated as a percentage of the loan principal

First-time home buyer credit.  A $7,500 tax credit is available to eligible taxpayers must have bought, buy, or enter into a binding contract to buy, a principal residence on or before April 30, 2010 and close on the home by June 30, 2010. For qualifying purchases in 2010, taxpayers have the option of claiming the credit on either their 2009 or 2010 return. and before July 1, 2009.  You are considered a first-time home buyer as long as you did not own a home during the three years leading up to the purchase of your new home.

Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit.  For 2009 and 2010, homeowners can take a tax credit up to $1,500 for energy efficient home improvements. If you purchase an energy-efficient product or renewable energy system for your home, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit. Click here for more information

Health-Related Improvements - Any home improvements for medical purposes can be deducted entirely from your taxes as long as the improvements do not add to the overall value of the home and have been made for a chronically ill or disabled person.

Moving expenses. If a move is connected with taking a new job that is at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your old job was, you can deduct travel and lodging expenses for you and your family and the cost of moving your household goods. 

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Expenses To Expect When Selling Your Home

by Allyson Hoffman

It is a known fact that when you purchase a homeyou will have many different expenses related to the sale. It is important to know as well that when you sell your home, you will also have expenses that will be required. Below is a list of some of the most common costs that come with selling your home.

Closing Costs: Although most of the closing costs are the responsibility of the buyer, the seller is expected to pay the property taxes and insurance up to the date of the closing, even if they're not due yet. in addition, some buyers will ask the seller for help with other closing costs as part of the negotiations.

Realtor Commission: Typically there's a 4 percent to 7 percent commission on the sale price of the house if you opt to go with an agent. Usually this rate is between 5 percent and 6 percent, so be sure to account for this cost when pricing your home and figuring up your expenses that come with selling your home.

Home Inspections: Although the buyer pays for the home and pest inspections, it's a good idea to get your own inspection before putting your house on the market. This way you're aware of any hidden problems before selling.

Legal expenses: Even if you are using a real estate professional and not selling your home yourself, you still may want an attorney to examine the sales contract and assist with closing, which can be complicated.

Prepayment penalty: Many mortgages have prepayment penalties if you pay off the mortgage early. Be sure to examine your mortgage agreement and read the fine print.

Many homeowners are not aware of the costs involved with selling a home but there are some perks as well. With any home sale you are eligible for a tax write off of up to $250,000 gained in the sale of your home for a single owner, and $500,000 for married couples. This applies for most state taxes as well; check with a tax professional to get all the details of any tax credit that may be available to you and your situation. 

Photo courtesy Sufi Nawaz, Stock.XCHNG.

New Rules To Protect Buyers

by Allyson Hoffman

Many new home buyers are surprised to find that when they go to closing to finalize the sale, that the costs to close were more than they expected. Unfortunately, the Good Faith Estimate that tells the buyer an estimate of the fees associated with a mortgage loan due at closing, is exactly that – an estimate. Many times these costs increase by the time the buyer gets to the closing table without warning.

There is good news for homebuyers, as of January 1, new federal rules adopted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development took effect. The new rules will implement a redesigned, simplified Good Faith Estimate form to help buyers avoid those closing-table surprises.

Until now the way lenders would provide the borrowers with the estimated fees was complicated and confusing. Under the new rules lenders will all be required to use the same form for their Good Faith Estimates – a three-page document issued by HUD.

There are also new rules that will put a cap on the increases in costs that are indicated on the Good Faith Estimate and guidelines so that fees listed on the initial estimate reflect the actual cost at settlement.

Photo courtesy of Pictures of Money/

Neighborhood Watch

by Allyson Hoffman

Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and best-known crime prevention concepts in North America. The National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) created the National Neighborhood Watch Program in 1972 to assist citizens and law enforcement. In 2002, the NSA in partnership with USA Freedom Corps, Citizen Corps and the U.S. Department of Justice launched USAonWatch, the face of the revitalized Neighborhood Watch initiative, which represents the expanded role of watch programs throughout the United States.

This program empowers homeowners to become active in protecting their community through participation in Neighborhood Watch groups. Residents participate in Neighborhood Watch in their area by organizing residents to communicate any suspicious behavior to others by phone trees and reporting it to the authorities.

If you are interested in starting a neighborhoood watch in your community, below are some steps to help you get started!

  • Form a small planning committee of neighbors to discuss the needs of your community, gage the level of interest and potential problems, decide on a date and place for an initial Neighborhood Watch meeting
  • Contact Your Local Sherrif's Office or Police Department for more information or to arrange a speaker
  • Arrange a meeting location close to your neighborhood. It should have enough room to hold your invited neighbors and, if needed, for the use of audio visual aids such as an overhead projector.
  •  For more information and educational materials related to starting a Neighborhood Watch, visit the National program's website.
Image courtesy of Eva Luedin/

Information on Bridge Loans

by Allyson Hoffman

There are many different types of loans available but if you already are a homeowner and need to purchase a new home, a bridge loan might be for you. Also known as a swing loan, gap financing, or interim financing, this type of financing is a short term loan that a homeowner takes out against their current property to finance the purchase of a new home.  When a home buyer is buying another home before selling an existing home, two common ways to find the down payment for the move-up home is through financing either a bridge loan or a home equity loan (or home equity line of credit).

Generally, a home equity loan is less expensive, but bridge loans contain more benefits for some borrowers. In addition, many lenders will not lend on a home equity loan if the home is on the market. It is a good idea to compare the benefits between the two loans to determine which is a better fit for their particular situation and plan ahead before making an offer to purchase another home.

How Do Bridge Loans Work?

When applying for this type of a loan, you must be able to prove to the lender that you are you are financially able to pay both mortgage payments in case the primary property does not sell right away. To ease the transition, most bridge loans will allow you to have a few months before your actual first payment is due. However, interest will accrue during that time.

Bridge loans are meant to be short term loans, normally coming due in a year or upon the sale of the primary property. Because it is a short term loan, the interest rates are usually quite a bit higher than regular mortgages and there are fees associated with it.

Benefits of a Bridge Loan

  • A bridge loan is a great solution if you want to purchase another home without having to sell your current property.
  • The buyer can immediately put a home on the market without restrictions.
    Bridge loans may not require monthly payments for a few months.
  • If the buyer has made a contingent offer to buy and the seller issues a Notice to Perform, the buyer can remove the contingency to sell and still move forward with the purchase.

Cons of a Bridge Loans

  • Bridge loans cost more than home equity loans.
  • Strict lending requirements. Buyers must be qualified by the lender to own two homes and many will not meet this requirement.
  • If the buyer is unable to sell their primary property, they will have to pay 2 mortgages and risk foreclosure on the 1st.

As with any loan option it is a good idea to look at both the pros and cons and consider all your options. If you think a bridge loan might be the solution for you, check out this Bridge Loan Calculator to see an estimated idea of payments.

Bridge Loan Calculator

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Professional Carpet Cleaning Options

by Allyson Hoffman

Whether you are planning to sell your home or if you just want to freshen up your living area, he appearance of the carpet in a home are one of the first things noticed. Having your carpets professionally cleaned is an easy, cost effective way to give your house a face lift before showing it to prospective buyers.  Stains and worn traffic areas can cause potential buyers to rethink the home and the thought of having to replace the carpet can cause them to walk away. If it is not in your budget to replace your flooring, having your carpets cleaned by a professional can do wonders by removing stains as well as lifting the nap of the carpet to reduce the traffic wear and giving it a fresh look.

There are many different options you have when looking for a professional to clean your carpets, below are some of the methods available. Contact a professional in your area you are not certain which method is best for your style of carpet.

Hot Water Extraction or "Steam" Cleaning
This is the most common method where a cleaning solution is sprayed on the carpet and immediately extracted (along with the dissolved soil) by a wet vacuum. Extraction equipment can be portable or truck-mounted, the latter being more powerful in terms of spray pressure, heating capabilities and power of the vacuum pumps. Hot water extraction is often referred to as "steam" cleaning and is considered by many carpet manufacturers as the most thorough method. Drying time is generally between 4 to 6 hours.

Dry Cleaning 
dry cleaning method of cleaning carpets is when the cleaning agent, an absorbent dry compound (containing solvents and detergents) is sprinkled on the carpet and worked into the pile by a machine. It is vacuumed off after about half an hour, removing the soil suspended by the compound. Many companies offer organic, natural materials when cleaning. Drying time if any is usually less than 1 hour.

Foam Cleaning
This system uses detergent in the form of a foam.  A machine generates a foam, which is agitated on the carpet by brushes. The foam is then removed, with trapped soil, by an extraction-vacuum pickup.

Bonnet Cleaning
With this method of cleaning, a bonnet is placed at the base of a buffer. It is dipped into a shampoo solution first and then it will go over the carpet, just as if buffing a floor. The bonnet starts to get soiled. This means it is actually removing dirt from the carpet. It is usually rinsed out and this is continued until the dirt is removed. The carpets are vacuumed once the carpets are dry. Drying time is usually 30 minutes.

Image courtesy of Ali/

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/

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 15




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Photo of Allyson Hoffman Real Estate
Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview IL 60025
Fax: 847-400-0881

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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL, 60025

(847) 310-5300
[email protected]

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