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

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Timing the Sale of your Home

by Allyson Hoffman

When is the best time to sell your home? Understanding the right time to list your home for sale could ultimately mean a higher sales price as well as less time on the market.

Spring is typically the best time for real estate. Overall, sales tend to peak between April and May; however, they also remain strong throughout June and July in many areas. One of the reasons for this is that this time of year is often the best time for families to move while the weather is pleasant and school is between terms. Also since many people have often received their tax refunds by this time as well, the funds can be applied toward down payments or moving expenses. Estimates indicate that approximately 60 percent of all moves take place during the summer. It is important to keep in mind that even if you get an offer right away, closing the sale of your home can take a few weeks to months with averages running about sixty days from contract to closing, particularly when mortgages need to be obtained. For this reason, it is important to list your home somewhat earlier rather than later in the season.

Sales tend to begin slowing in August as many people decide to travel before the end of summer or begin to shift their attention to the new school year. During the fall, many areas may see a brief surge in sales, but by winter, most prospective buyers are focusing on the upcoming holidays rather than buying a new home. Exceptions include highly motivated, ready and able families who are relocating in a job transfer or those whose homes have just been sold and now need to secure that next location.  So while the market typically picks up again right after the New Year with many buyers venturing out once again, the late fall buyers and those on the hunt in the dead of winter or holiday period, will often be high quality purchasers with an immediate need to fill.

Hence, it is a good idea to try to list your home during the peak season, but if that is not possible, listing in the winter may actually be beneficial. Despite the smaller pool of active buyers during the winter, the upside is that your home is likely already cleared and decorated for entertaining and the holidays. Additionally, you may also have distinctly less competition during this time of year.

Keep in mind that when it comes to seasonal buying trends, there are no absolutes. Every market is unique. Pay attention to the local housing market and what is taking place in nearby areas. Any number of factors could result in a sudden glut of homes on the market or an influx of buyers regardless of the time of year.

If you are considering selling your home and would like a market update for your area, please contact me.  We can review the inventory levels that specifically pertain to you and your home, the statistics that come directly from your area and create a plan that is designed specifically with you and your home in mind.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
[email protected]

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.  

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Quick and Easy Curb Appeal

by Allyson Hoffman

If you are preparing to sell your house, you’ve probably got a lot to consider.  One of the biggest tasks on your agenda may need to be a modest makeover -- not necessarily redecorating or remodeling, but certainly a thorough cleaning followed by strategic decorating.   This means your house needs to look its best from the outside as well because first impressions really count and you’ll only get one chance to make that a good one.   Even if you have a lot to do, the importance of this is not to be lightly dismissed.  So here are three ideas that can be done quickly and inexpensively.

Spruce up the Front Door Area

The entrance to your home should be a potential buyer’s elegant introduction to the house. So, make sure that the front porch (if you have one) is immaculately clean. Clear out the cobwebs, wipe off the dust, repair damaged spots and then give everything a tidy new coat of paint. Make sure metal door handles and knockers are polished, too!   If you have furniture outside the door, or on your porch, make sure it’s clean and in good condition.  Lastly, put down a new welcome doormat as well.

Dress up the Yard

Take a good look at your landscaping and decide if there are places where planting some inexpensive annuals could add a dash of color.   Check your beds, bushes and shrubbery and definitely make sure that those areas are weeded, pruned and attractively trimmed.  You might want to consider planting some fragrant herbs in window boxes or attractive pots.  If you take just a few minutes each morning to check for and remove dead or dying flowers and scan for wind-blown debris, your yard will certainly look much better.  Also don’t forget those garbage cans outside – try to keep them hidden if possible, but also clean and odorless.

Make it Look Like Home

You’ll definitely want a potential buyer to easily picture their family living in your house.  So, take the time each day before you leave to make sure a buyer’s first impression of your home is a purely positive one. This may include sprucing up your mailbox.  If it needs some attention, try spray painting it in a color that will accent or nicely contrast the color of your home.  You might even want to replace it with an attractive one that is new.   Also, make sure your house numbers are visible on the mailbox and/or the front of your home.

None of these ideas are costly, and none of them will take more than a few of hours of effort at the most.  So, investment of your time and modest/minimal expense should be well worth the effort as buyers begin to visit your home for the first time.

When you are ready to buy or sell, please contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions about the real estate process.  Should you have questions about making your home stand out for today’s buyers, let me know and I will be happy to share additional ideas with you. 

 

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
847-310-5300
[email protected]

Get your latest Home Value
Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

Let’s Connect, Socially!

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google +1

Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

 

 

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!

 

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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.

 

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How to Sell Your Home When Your Neighbor's House is Unsightly

by Allyson Hoffman

Before you were trying to sell your home,your neighbor's horrendous lawn and unsightly paint may have been  annoying, but now their unkept property poses a real threat! How can you expect to sell your home for the price that you want when your neighbor's house looks terrible?

Here are a few actions you can take to make your neighborhood a little more presentable:

  1. Start by communicating with them. You may uncover a problem that you can help to solve. Is your neighbor elderly or ill? Perhaps you could help out with lawn care or basic maintenance. You might even get other neighbors involved to lend a hand.
  2. If you have an HOA, you can go to the president or governing committee. Most HOA’s have strict requirements for upkeep, and they take quick action to correct violations.
  3. Call the city code enforcement. If your neighbors’ grass is knee high and they have a rusted out Chevy in the front yard, they are probably in code violation.
  4. Use a fence or landscaping to hide unsightly side or back yards.
  5. Some home sellers who are serious may offer to pay to haul off trash or try to work out another option to try to help the situation.

Another property de-valuer, especially in today’s economy, is the foreclosure. While it is true that you unfortuantely cannot personally do anything about a foreclosed home in your neighborhood, you should be prepared to take a hit on your home’s appraisal value. Be aware of the home values in your neighborhood and what other sellers are listing their homes for. You may need to consider discounting your home or offering incentives to counteract the foreclosure.

Foreclosure is so commonplace now that it probably won’t affect people coming to your neighborhood – in fact, it may draw potential buyers. You just have to be ready to compete with the ‘bargain’ a foreclosure may present.

Are you in a similar situation and need help? Contact me and I can help with other tips to sell your home when your neighbors are not a great selling point!  

Photo courtesy Alex Hafer, Stock.XCHNG

 

 

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Common Costs Involved With Selling Your Home

by Allyson Hoffman

If you are planning to sell your northern Illinois home, it is important for you to know about the potential costs involved. Many sellers are unaware of the expenses involved simply because they are uninformed, but that doesn’t have to be you! It is always a good idea to consult with your agent as to what expenses you should budget for during the selling process, but listed below are some of the most common costs associated 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.

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.

Home Repairs: If your inspector finds problems or if you know of problems that you have been wanting to correct, it is time to fix them. The less problems that the home has, the more attractive it is to buyers. Don't forget to budget for new paint, plants, hardware etc. that offers a fresh new look as well.

Legal expenses: Many sellers choose to work with a real estate 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.

Other Fees Negotiated by the Buyer: Buyer negotiated fees are becoming more common in the current real estate market. Some of the most commonly seen buyer negotiated fees might include a home warranty paid for by the seller, the cost of repairs needed to make the sale, and the cost for a home inspection. Keep in mind that most parts of the real estate contract are negotiable.


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. 

Image courtesy of Rheog/pixabay.com

 

 

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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/Flickr.com

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Staging Can Make for a Quicker Sale

by Allyson Hoffman

If you want to sell your Northern Illinois home quicker and for more of a profit, you need to learn about a successful tool: staging.  Staging will help you to make your home look bigger, brighter and give it a welcoming appearance. The best thing staging does is make the home buyers want it! As challenging as today’s market is, you need every tool you can find to help you to sell your home for top dollar, and fast!

Now you ask what staging actually is. Staging is showcasing your home in the best light possible. You  are showing the buyers your home’s best attributes.  And skillfully diverting their attention from the less than perfect parts.

In essence, staging is creating visual “eye candy” to bring out your homes positive parts. It takes science as well as art, and a lot of marketing.  You can do this by painting, re-carpeting, new lighting and/or new window treatments.  You could even borrow or rent furniture to give each room a new and improved look.

Watching shows like HGTV’s Designed To Sell or The Stagers will give you an idea of where to start.  Also check out Top 10 Home-Staging Dos and Top 10 Home-Staging Don’ts by Designed to Sell’s Donna and Shannon Freeman.

Another good question: Should you stage your own house, or hire someone to do it professionally?   There are two staging tricks that every home seller can use:

* Clear it out. You have stuff--lots of stuff. And your house is overloaded with all that stuff. Go through each room and get rid of the clutter everywhere you see it. Your rooms will look bigger, more restful, and more inviting. And all you did was pick up!

* Clean it up. Make sure everything shines inside and out, from windows, floors and countertops inside to the deck, garage and yard outside. Pay particular attention to the kitchen and bath. A little well-applied elbow grease will go a long way in selling your home. And it’s free!

Do these two simple things, and you’re already ahead in the staging game.

But should you keep going and stage other aspects of your own home? That depends on whether you have the eye, the skill--and the objectivity. Can you put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and see your home as the buyer will see it--positive points and negative points? Are you prepared to tackle those negatives? Do you have the “designer’s eye” for color and other design elements? Do you have the technical skills to complete improvements?

Whether you hire a professional or choose to do it on your own, staging can definitely give you the upper hand in selling your home. Feel free to contact me and we can go through a few more staging ideas and recommend a professional if needed.

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Image courtesy of Avia Venefica/Flickr.com

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. 

Image courtesy of http://401kcalculator.org/Flickr.com

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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.

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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview IL 60025
847-310-5300
Fax: 847-400-0881

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1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL, 60025

(847) 310-5300
[email protected]

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