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


Displaying blog entries 941-950 of 955

Chicago Illinois Home Insurance

by Allyson Hoffman

When purchasing a home, you will need to acquire homeowners insurance. In fact, all lenders will require a policy be in force prior to funding the loan. Make sure you have enough coverage, should anything happen. Policies refer to "replacement costs" that may not cover everything.

You should ask your insurance agent a lot of "what if" questions. The deductible amount also plays a big part in setting your premium. Higher deductibles lower the number of claims, and reduce your insurance costs.

Check with your insurance agent for more information on these issues, and any others. If you don't have an insurance agent, we have access to several top-notch agents we can refer you to with confidence. A great online resource can be found right here.

For more information on how you can save money on your next transaction, download our free report called "Eight Insider Tips That Save Buyers Thousands!" This report is offered to all guests.

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First Time Home Buyer Assistance Programs

by Allyson Hoffman


Buying a home is a big a decision and for a first time home buyer it can be an overwhelming and complex process. A number of first time home buyers may need a little extra help in reaching their goal of buying a first home and there are a number of organizations available in the greater Chicago area that might be able to help.

Listed below are a few places to look for help in the decision making process as well as financial assistance.

Chicago City Mortgage Program

Oak Park: Home Buyers Assistance

IDHA First Time Home Buyer Program

HUD - Cities that offer home buying assistance programs

HUD - Public Houseing Vouchers for Homeownership

As with any program there will be certain qualifications that you will have to meet and the application process will include the following steps:

1. Pre-approval

2. Loan Application (see How to Prepare for Your Mortgage Lender for more information)

3. Loan Processing

4. Closing

For more information regarding first time home buyer assistance programs visit the websites listed above or visit the Greater Chicago Housing and Community Development Website for a listing of additional programs.

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IRS Tax Credits for Energy Efficient Homes

by Allyson Hoffman
As we take time now to gather receipts and information for our 2007 income tax returns we are often not aware of all the income tax credits that we may be allowed. Did you know that as homeowners, we are allowed an additional tax credit for improving the energy efficiency of our homes?


Under this tax law, homeowners are provided a 10% credit for purchasing energy efficient improvements for your existing main place of residence in the United States. In order to be eligible for this tax credit, the items purchased have to meet specific criteria as set forth by the 2000 Energy Conservation Code.

 The following items are eligible: 

  • Insulation systems that reduce heat loss/gain
  • Exterior windows (including skylights)
  • Exterior doors
  • Metal roofs (meeting applicable Energy Star requirements)

 Tax credits are also offered to taxpayers for expenses to the home that qualifies as a residential energy property. A residential energy property is also determined by meeting specific requirements as set forth by the Secretary of The Treasury.

 Eligible expenses include the following:

  •  $50 for each advanced main air circulating fan
  • $150 for each qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler
  • $300 for each item of qualified energy efficient property.


Additional credits can be taken for the following:


  • Qualified solar panels
  • Qualified solar water heating equipment
  • Qualified fuel cell power plant


For more detailed information on Energy Credits for Homeowners, including maximum allowable credits, visit the IRS website.


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Is It A Buyers Market? How To Know When To Buy

by Allyson Hoffman

As we sit on the edge of our seats to see which way the real estate market will turn next, there are a number of people waiting for the market to hit bottom before they decide to buy. How do you know when is the right time?

Blanche Evans, columninst for Realty Times has outlined a number of indicators to watch for if your are thinking about buying. Keep an eye on your local market and watch for these signs.

  • Inventories Start to Decline
  • The Days on Market Reduce
  • Mortgage Applications Increase
  • Sold Homes Go For Closer to List Price
  • Prices Remain Firm or Rise
  • Incentives Disappear

Some of these factors may already be happening in your area, so don't wait. If you were planning to buy and you were just waiting to see where the market would go, the time may be now. To read the full article, or watch the video, titled Realty Viewpoint: Six Signs It's Time For Home Buyers To Buy by Blance Evans click here.

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Are You Aware of What May Be Growing in The Corners of Your Home?

by Allyson Hoffman


As homeowners we should be aware of the existence and dangers of mold in our homes and how to address the issue before it gets out of control.

A lot of times we are unaware that mold may be growing in the corners behind appliances after a water leak, or in the walls of our bathrooms without proper ventilation which is definitely a concern if you are looking to sell your home.

Steve Rodriguez, Columnist for Realty Times has outlined 6 important things to know about mold. Additional information about mold can also be found on the EPA and CDC websites.

1. Molds are everywhere and have been around forever.

2. Use common sense in your approach to mold.

3. You cannot spot the feared "Toxic" or "Black" mold simply by looking at it.

4. Most of the media attention surrounding Stachybotrys is overblown.

5. Mold can be cleaned and corrected.

6. Always get the home professionally inspected.

For a full description of each of these important things to know about mold, read Steve Rodriguez's article Mold Must Go: 6 Things to Know.

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Happy Thanksgiving - Chicago McDonald’s ® Thanksgiving Parade

by Allyson Hoffman


Come join in the Thanksgiving festivities as presented by the Chicago Festivals Association (CFA). The CFA is proud to present the  McDonald’s ® Thanksgiving Parade. A fun filled morning with fabulous floats, marching bands and talented equestrian units, unique performance groups and local and national celebrities.

The parade will travel north on State Street from Congress to Randolph. Click here for a detailed route map.

Thursday, November 22, 2007—Thanksgiving Day

8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

State Street—from Congress to Randolph
Click the link below for Google map directions.

For more information about the  McDonald’s ® Thanksgiving Parade, visit the Chicago Festivals Assocations website.

Wishing you and your families a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Selling Your Home In Chicago? - Real Estate Appraisals and Market Analysis

by Allyson Hoffman

Setting the right price is an important first step in the process of selling a home. Is it necessary to spend $200 to $400 for a professional appraisal of your property before placing your home on the market?

A professional appraiser's opinion of a property's market value is based on the recent sales of similar homes in the neighborhood, and on the square footage and condition of the property. Different appraisers might come up with different figures. Even if all of them agreed on a value, there is no guarantee that you would receive that amount for your property.

An alternative to a professional appraisal is to ask a professional real estate agent for a written market analysis of your property. This analysis will include information about recent home sales in your neighborhood, as well as how those homes compare to yours. Real estate agents may provide this service with no charge or obligation. If you are still unsure of the value of your home, you may wish to pay for an appraisal.

To get started with a FREE, no obligation computerized analysis of your home's value, click on the link below and have the report emailed directly to your inbox.

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Buying or Selling Real Estate in Chicago Illinois - A Must Have Read

by Allyson Hoffman

 If you are thinking of buying or selling a home in the Chicago Illinois area, you won't want to miss these two highly acclaimed, Chicago Illinois specific, real estate books that I was a co-author of.

As a home seller in Chicago Illinois, the book, Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home will guide you through the home selling process and cover topics such as:

   Selling Your Home: The Basics

   Buying Your Next Home

For more information about the authors and a detailed listing of the Table of Contents visit Buying in Illinois or Selling in Chicago?.



How to Make Your Realtor®  Get You the Best Deal will guide you through the purchasing process and describe the following topics:

   History of the home buying process

                 A new law for the people

                How to select your Realtor®

          Negotiating the best deal


For more information about the authors and a detailed listing of the Table of Contents visit Buying in Illinois or Selling in Chicago?.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require additional information regarding either of these books. I would be happy to discuss the contents of these books with you in more detail.

5 Things Your Cell Phone Can Do!

by Allyson Hoffman

It is just amazing how technology works. Here are 5 things you never knew your cell phone could do:

1. Emergency - The emergency number worldwide for mobile phone is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number, 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.

2. Hidden Battery Power - Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370# Your cell will restart with a reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This, reserve will get charges when you charge your cell the next time.

3. Have You Locked Your Keys In The Car? Does your car have the remote keyless entry? If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock doors or the trunk.

4. How To Disable A Stolen Mobile Phone - To check your mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone - *#06# A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. If your phone gets stolen, you can call your handset provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. If everyone does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

5. Free Directory Service For Cell Phones - Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 or more for 411 information calls when they don't have to. When you need to use 411 information, simply dial: 800-FREE411 or 800-373-3411 without incurring any charge at all.

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How to Prepare for Your Mortgage Lender

by Allyson Hoffman

Meeting with a mortgage lender can be a little nerve wracking for all of us, but what better way to conquer those nerves than to be prepared. Your lender will require a variety of documentation from you in order to process your home loan application.

  • Employment information.
    Include current contact information for all your employers in the last 2 years
  • W-2s.
    These forms should have been given to you from your employer.
    Include W-2s the last two years filed
    You may also want to make a list of any additional sources of income such as self-employment income, pension’s, rental income, child support or alimony or social security.
  • Pay stubs.
    Include pay stubs received in the last 30 days.
  • Federal income tax returns.
    Include tax returns filed in the last 2 years
  • Bank statements.
    Bank statements for any/all your accounts for the last 2 months
    Providing these statements will verify that amount of cash available for your down payment
    In the event that a portion of your down payment is a gift, grant or assistance program, you may need to provide documentation to verify this as well
  • Current debts.
    Make a list of any/all debts you have with company names, account numbers, balances and minimum monthly payments

Your lender may have already given you a list of items required and if not use this as a guideline. Most institutions will require similar documentation, but check with your lender first as they made need additional information from you.


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Displaying blog entries 941-950 of 955




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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
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