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


Displaying blog entries 941-950 of 978

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

Image courtesy of 

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/

Carbon Dioxide Detectors

by Allyson Hoffman

With the arrival of the colder weather in the Chicago area, there is an increase in the number of fuel-burning appliances being used in the home. Such appliances include ovens, space heaters, generators, and fireplaces. These appliances can also cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in the home. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. With these factors it is a good idea to install a carbon monoxide detectors to safeguard your family. 

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas. It results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, such as wood, kerosene, gasoline, charcoal, propane, natural gas, and oil. This gas can form in the home from incomplete combustion from any flame-fueled (i.e., not electric) device, and open flames, such as from ovens and ranges, are the most common source of carbon monoxide. Vehicles are the most common cause of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you are considering purchasing a Carbon monoxide detector, they work by triggering an alarm based on an accumulation of carbon monoxide over time. Carbon monoxide can be dangerous if you are exposed to high levels in a short period of time, or to lower levels of carbon monoxide over a long period of time. Carbon monoxide detectors range in price from $30 to $150 and are most effective models are those that offer that offer back-up battery power.

Purchasing a detector is a great idea and below are some tips to help protect you to avoid any problems.

•  Prevent any problems by making sure that your heating appliances are in good working order and used only in well-ventilated areas. Never use a stove for heating.

•  Don’t run a car engine in the garage, even to warm it up; move the car outside first. CO can leak into the home.

•  Install a CO alarm outside every sleeping area, on every level of your home and at least 15 feet away from every fuel-burning appliance. Be sure to check  the batteries on your CO alarms at the same time you do your fire detecors – and replace the batteries twice a year.

•  Have all gas, oil or coal burning appliances inspected by a technician every year to ensure they’re working correctly and are properly ventilated.

Image courtesy of judenicholson/

North Shore Holiday Events

by Allyson Hoffman

The holidays have arrived in Chicago! Aside from shopping and decorating our area offers many fun and festive events to enjoy during this wonderful time of the year. Giving to those less fortunate is a wonderful way to celebrate the season, below are some ways to do both! Have a safe and happy holiday season!


Charitable Events

Connections For The Homeless-Evanston:
2010 Dewey Ave. Evanston,  847.475.7070/Ext. 100
This organization supports families in housing need in the Evansotn area, operating emergency shelters. They currently are in need of the following donations: Coats, boots, gloves, men's long pants and jeans

Toys For Tots
Cars of America in Glenview is partnering with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program and is collecting new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year. Typically, these toys will be distributed in and distribute those toys as holiday gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. Toys will be collected at Cars of America. 1727 Chestnut Ave. Glenview , M-F, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Call 866carCARE for further information

Tree Sales

If you are looking for the perfect tree below are some options!

You can find fresh trees at the Optimist Club sale located at the corner of Jewett Park Drive and Park Avenue, Monday - Friday, 3 - 9 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sundays, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Wagner Farm will have fresh cut trees, wreaths and greenery for sale beginning Saturday, November 24. They're located at 1510 Wagner Rd., on the corner of E. Lake and Wagner near the Glenview/Wilmette border.

Holiday Events

Macy's Santa Breakfast at Westfield Old Orchard
December 12, 2009 - December 13, 2009
Reservations Required. Located in the Lower Level Marketplace, a balloon artist, face painter and Santa himself entertain with a special gift for each child. Event begins at 9am. Adults $16; children $12. Type: Festivals/Fairs.   Macy's Westfield Old Orchard Shopping
I-94 and Old Orchard Road, Skokie, IL 

Menorah Lighting Downtown Evanston
December 14, 2009 - December 14, 2009
Mayor Elizabeth B. Tisdahl and Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein will light the Menorah. There will be greetings from city officials and community members, a boys choir, music and refreshments.    Fountain Square , Davis St., Sherman Ave. and Orrington Ave. Evanston, IL

Grove Holiday Store
December 16, 2009 - December 20, 2009
Choose those specials holiday gifts from a selected collection of personalized ornaments, holiday decorations, unique home accessories, crafts, gourmet and baked items and more. 10 am-5 pm.  The Grove  1421 Milwaukee Ave., Glenview, IL 847-299-6096 

New Year’s Eve Fun Skatef
Location: Winnetka Ice Arena, 490 Hibbard Rd.
Date: December 31st
Time: 7 - 9 p.m.
Cost: Free

Image courtesy of Patrice_Audet/

What To Expect At Closing

by Allyson Hoffman

The final details of buying a new or pre-owned home take place on closing day when the purchase price is paid and title is transferred from the seller to the buyer. In most states the mortgage lender's attorney or a title agent will handle the closing details and protect buyer and seller rights as a neutral 3rd party.

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

The closing is the final step in the home buying process and ultimately the most important. You should always be sure to ask questions on anything you don't understand. There are many websites that can be a good resource to help answer questions but you should check with your realtor or attorney on any specifics you don't understand..

Image courtesy of Dave Dugdale/

Is A Mortgage Refinance For You

by Allyson Hoffman

With rates at historic lows, now is the time to take advantage and consider refinancing. If you have been thinking about refinancing your mortgage there are some factors to take into consideration before making your decison. Although rates are low now, the current economic crisis has caused many lenders to reduce the amount of loans they provide. This is quite a change from the last few years when almost anybody was eligible for mortgage. If you are thinking on how to save on your mortgage refinance, you must be precise in getting your facts right.

You will first need to look at your loan-to-value ratio. In a no-cash-out refinancing (where the amount of your new loan doesn't exceed the balance of your existing loan, plus points and closing costs, if applicable), you may be able to borrow as much as 95% of your home's value. However, if the value of your home has fallen below the amount of your existing mortgage balance, you may be unable to refinance at all. This has unfortunately been the case for many homes but you may be able to proceed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009's Home Affordable Refinance program. 

The major advantage of refinancing to a new lower interest rate, you will save a substantial amount on your monthly mortgage payment. This is of course why most people choose to refinance their mortgage. Keep in mind however that there are going to be costs involved with refinancing such as closing costs, points, and possible appraisal  and attorney fees.

Do your research and shop around for the best refinancing interest rates. All banks are not created equal, some banks and financial institutions charge higher rates than others. Normally, the smaller Community Banks and Credit Unions are more consumers oriented and charge lower rates.

Also when shopping around look and compare interest rates and points vs. no points before you refinance. Watch out for embedded points included in the closing costs. Some lenders will include points in the closing costs without specifically quoting these costs as points.

Image courtesy of Mark Moz/


Thanksgiving In The Chicago North Shore/Suburbs

by Allyson Hoffman

It's that time of the year again! Thanksgiving time is here and whether you plan to cook, shop or just enjoy this time with family and friends, the Chicago Metro area offers so much to do! Kick off this holiday season by enjoying all that our area offers. Happy Thanksgiving!

Chicago Thanksgiving Parade 2009 

This famous Thanksgiving Parade kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on November 26, 2009 and features giant inflatables, marching bands, dancers and more.  The State Street Thanksgiving Parade is attended by over 400,000 spectators and features over 100 participating "units", including marching bands, floats, horses, drill teams, circus performers, and more. Parade starts on State Street from Congress to Randolph  8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m

Dining Guide

Thanksgiving is all about eating, so even if you don't plan on cooking or if you were not lucky enough to be invited to dinner you can still feast.  Chicago restaurants will be offering their renditions of the classic holiday feast. From traditional turkey with stuffing and mashed potatoes to spiced-up ethnic interpretations, click here to find a place where you and your family can eat well this Thanksgiving, minus the dishes.

Turkey Shoot at Davis Square Park

Football fans of all ages can head to Davis Square Park for the annual Turkey Shoot event on the field. The games run from 10 a.m. to noon on Thanksgiving day, and the event is open to all ages. This free activity is a fun way to enjoy the great outdoors before your Thanksgiving meal. Call (312) 747-2001 for more information.

NoMI Thanksgiving Brunch Buffet

The NoMI Thanksgiving brunch is host to one of the largest brunches in the city. This upscale restaurant serves a grand holiday buffet with all of your Thanksgiving favorites and comfort foods. They feature traditional fare such as turkey, potatoes, Thanksgiving sides as well as sides and a grand showcase of desserts. NoMI is located on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt hotel on 800 North Michigan Avenue. Call (312) 239-4030 for Thanksgiving 2009 brunch reservations and more information.

The Great Tree at Macy's

Kick off your holiday season on Thanksgiving night with the annual lighting the Macy's Great Tree.  The 45-foot tree takes a few weeks to decorate with over 1,200 themed ornaments and hundreds of lights. It's a Chicago holiday tradition you won't want to miss, and takes place in the Walnut Room of Macy's Chicago.

Image courtesy of morano.vincent/

Homebuyers Receive Extended Tax Credit

by Allyson Hoffman

A bill signed into law Friday by President Obama extends the homebuyer tax credit, originally scheduled to expire Nov. 30. This new law will give buyers until April 30, 2010 to sign purchase contracts and another 60 days to close. And it will no longer be just for first-time buyers. Homeowners who have lived in their current home for five of the last eight years can claim $6,500, under the new law, which would only apply to houses purchased after the current tax credit expires Nov. 30. Income limits will be more generous: $125,000 a year for individuals, $225,000 a year for married couple.

Since both first time as well as existing homebuyers can benefit from this credit extension, below are some clarification for the benefits.

First-time home buyers. A  "first-time home buyer" is defined as someone who hasn't owned a home in the three years before the purchase. If your spouse owned a home in that time frame, you're not eligible. So, those eligible can claim a tax credit for 10% of the purchase price, up to a maximum credit of $8,000. The credit is refundable, which means that if you owe less than $8,000 in taxes, you'll receive a refund for the difference. The credit is not available for home purchases that exceed $800,000.

You can claim the credit if you sign a sales contract before May 1, 2010, and close before July 1. Members of the military who serve extended duty outside the USA have until July 1, 2011, to claim the credit, as long as they sign a contract before May 1, 2011.

Existing homeowners. Home buyers who have lived in their current home for five out of the last eight years qualify for a tax credit of up to $6,500. The deadlines are the same as for first-time home buyers.

The income requirements for existing homeowners are also the same as those for first-time home buyers. Likewise, existing homeowners can't claim the credit if they purchase a home for more than $800,000.

Taxpayers can claim the credit on their federal income tax returns. If the credit exceeds their tax bill, the government will issue a payment. Taxpayers who want immediate refunds can amend their tax returns for 2008 to claim the credit.

Image courtesy of


Displaying blog entries 941-950 of 978




Contact Information

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

Listing Alerts

Be the first to know what's coming up for sale in the Chicago Illinois real estate market with our New Property Listing Alerts!

Just tell us what you're looking for and we'll email a daily update of all homes listed for sale since your last update. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Get Notifications

Quick Search

Contact Us

There are several ways to reach me. Call me at the number below for the quickest response or click the Contact us Online button. Thank you.

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

(847) 310-5300
[email protected]

Contact Us Online