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


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Lake County Home Improvement and Remodeling Expo Sept. 17 & 18

by Allyson Hoffman

Have some miscellaneous home remodeling projects that need to get done? You’re in luck! The Lake County Home Improvement & Remodeling Expo is returning to the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake, Illinois on September 17th and 18th! Attendees will find hundreds of local and national industry experts who can help get those unfinished projects and to do lists finished so northern Illinois dream homes can become realities.

This Expo will include hundreds of exhibits featuring kitchens, baths, flooring, roofing, windows, doors, heating & air, fireplaces, spas & leisure products, sunrooms, landscaping, energy efficient, green products and much more. Homeowners will have the opportunity to get ideas, inspiration, estimates and great deals. Exhibitors will have exclusive discounts and coupons while drawings, giveaways, deals, food, activities for the whole family and much more will happen throughout the duration of this 2-day event.

If you have specific projects in mind, make sure to bring floor plans, measurements and estimates to get those projects started right away! The companies at the Expo will have products and samples on hand, and specialists to answer any questions who will be ready to help with all home improvement projects.

Expo hours at the Lake County Fairgrounds are Saturday, September 17th from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 18th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission and parking are FREE, so this is an event that you can’t miss!

For more information, please visit or call (630) 468-2237.

Image courtesy of Nancy Hugo, CKD/



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/


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


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Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5




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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]