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

Chicago North Shore, North and Northwest Suburban Real Estate Blog

Allyson Hoffman


Displaying blog entries 1031-1040 of 1051

Back to School in Chicago

by Allyson Hoffman

It's back to school time and kids and parents are busy trying to get everything organized to start the school year prepared. Kids are typically more concerned with buying the right outfit while parents are more concerned with making sure they have the proper supplies for their classes.

To help you with the basic school supplies the Chicago Public Schools website has itemized the essential items needed for all grade levels.

Pre-K through

  • Large pencils
  • Large crayons
  • Washable markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Kleenex, paper towels

1st through 3rd
  • Pencils
  • Pocket folders
  • Notebook
  • Crayons
  • Washable markers
  • Pencil top erasers
  • Supply box
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Kleenex, paper towels
4th through 6th
  • Pencils
  • Pocket folders
  • Notebook
  • Crayons
  • Washable markers
  • Pencil top erasers
  • Supply box
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Kleenex, paper towels
  • Pocket folders
  • Watercolors
  • Sketch pad
7th through 8th
  • Same as 4th - 6th:
    • Colored pencils
    • Spiral notebooks
    • Wide rule notebook paper
    • Additional folders
    • Dictionary
    • Calculator
    • Assignment notebook

9th through 12th
  • Same as 7th through 8th
    • Subject specific supplies given by teachers.

Some teachers may request specific school supplies, in addition to the ones listed above. These special requests will be outlined the first few days of classes.

Have a wonderful school year. 

Image courtesy of jarmoluk/

10 Packing Tips For Your Next Move

by Allyson Hoffman

When you decide to make a move to a new home there are a number of things to take care of including the dreaded packing. Not many people enjoy this process, but it can be a lot less stressful if you are organized and make a plan.


Here are a few tips to get you started.


  1. Plan ahead and budget for the move. Will you be moving yourself or will you require the assistance of a moving company? If you are planning to use a moving company it’s a good idea to price this out ahead of time by using a moving calculator.


  1. Make sure you have plenty of the following: strong packing boxes (more than you think you will need), markers and tags to label boxes, rolls of packing tape, bubble wrap for fragile items, packing paper, scissors and a knife for opening boxes.


  1. Pack room-to-room keeping similar items together.


  1. Use smaller boxes for heavier items so it is easier to lift.


  1. You can use towels, linens and curtains to line the bottom and sides of boxes with fragile items. All fragile items should be individually wrapped. Clearly mark these boxes FRAGILE.


  1. Make sure that any opened boxes or jars are tightly sealed before packing them.


  1. Use colorful tags to identify the contents of the box and which room it will be taken to in your new home.


  1. Pack any rugs last so that they will be the first thing unpacked and placed in the home.


  1. Make a master list of all household items and personal belongings.


  1. Finally pack a box with all the essentials and mark it “Open Me First”. This box may contain items such as: a few basic tools (flashlight, pocket knife, masking tape, light bulbs), bathroom essentials (toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes & paste, hand towel), Kitchen items (paper towels, coffee maker & filter, paper plates, cups, utensils, pet food, trash bags).


Planning ahead will make all the difference to an overwhelming move. Do your research and make a plan.


Image courtesy of Lisa Risager/

How to Sell Your Home Quickly in a Slow Market

by Allyson Hoffman

In a time when real estate has slowed down and the future of the market is uncertain, it is critical to be able to sell your home as quickly as possible, for the best possible price.

Peter G. Miller, Columnist for Realty Times has outlined 10 negotiating steps to follow in order to increase your chances of a quick sale for the best price. These steps include the following:

Step 1: Get a local broker.

Step 2: Read the sale agreement.

Step 3: Know the marketplace.

Step 4: Know your terms.

Step 5: Reduce deposit requirements

Step 6: Throw in stuff.

Step 7: Update MLS photos.

Step 8: Review the marketing plan.

Step 9: Visit open houses.

Step 10: Have context.

For more information and detailed descriptions of each step read Peter G. Miller's full article, 10 Steps To Sell More Quickly In Stalled Markets.

Image courtesy of Mark Moz/

The Key to Your Credit Score

by Allyson Hoffman

When it comes to purchasing a home there are few people that can afford to buy it outright while the rest of us are forced to rely on banks and lending institutions for some sort of mortgage. There are a number of factors lender's consider when qualifying you for a mortgage and one of the more important factor's is your credit score.

Your credit score is a three digit number between 300 and 850 derived from a point or scoring system called FICO. Ultimately the higher your credit score the better your credit and the more likely you will qualify for your purchase. Your FICO score is determined by a formula that factors in the following information.

  • 35% of your score is determined by your payment history.
    Are you paying your bills and are your payments on time? How many times have you paid your bills late and how late were they? Have any of your bills been sent to collections?


  • 30% of your score is based on the amount of outstanding debt you have. The more debt you have the lower your score will be.


  • 15% of your score is determined by the length of time of you have had the credit.


  • 10% of your score is based on the number of times people have inquired about your credit


  • 10% of your score is determined by the types of credit you have

Before applying for credit it is important that you are aware of what is in your credit report on the chance that there are any inaccuracies that might affect your score. You want your credit report to reflect the most recent credit activity available. There are currently three national credit bureaus that have their own scoring system based on the FICO system and you can pull your credit report from any/all of the following:

  1. Equifax
  2. Transunion
  3. Experian

All credit bureau websites have extensive information about how the scoring system works, how to read your report and identify any inaccuracies.

It's a good idea if you plan to purchase a home, or make any large purchase, to stay on top of your credit and review your report regularly.

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Staging Your Home to Sell

by Allyson Hoffman

You want potential buyers to look at your home and be able to envision themselves living there, but how do you draw these buyers into your home? With impressive curb appeal. This is where the home staging process begins. By following a few important staging tips, you will be prepared to "wow" potential buyers and create an unforgettable first impression. 

1.       Begin with your front yard. It should be inviting and clean. A good wash or fresh stain to the exterior of your home will present a fresh clean look.

2.       Your lawns, shrubs and trees should be trimmed and flower beds and pots weeded so as not to take away from the exterior view of your home.

With a well groomed exterior and front yard, buyers will want to continue inside your home. Now that you have attracted a buyer into your home, first impressions don't stop there. A buyer will know within minutes of stepping foot into your home if they want to take a thorough look through the home.

A few things to consider when staging the interior of your home include the following:

3.       Keep your home clean and free of clutter

4.       Limit the "personalization" in your home by removing any collections, knick-knacks and family photographs.

5.       Eliminate any strong scents that may be in your home (i.e. pet odors, candle scents, cigarette smells, etc.) A fresh coat of paint could help freshen and clean-up a room.

6.       Some rooms in your home may appear small to some buyers so you may want consider removing extra furniture in a room to give the illusion of more space. The same effect can be achieved by eliminating clutter from closets.

Don't miss out on a possible sale. Home staging is a growing trend that agents are using regularly with sellers to attract more buyers and sell your home faster. Visit Home Seller Tips for more home staging tips and home seller reports.

Image courtesy of Briget Murphy/

Happy 4th of July - Independence Day in Chicago

by Allyson Hoffman









Chicago will be celebrating Independence Day in many ways and I hope that you will find time join in on the many festivities around town with your friends and families. A few of the festivities include:

Many more fireworks displays can be seen across Chicagoland and are listed on Chicago's CBS 2 website.

Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July.

Image courtesy of wintersixfour/

Search for the Right Real Estate Agent

by Allyson Hoffman

Selling your home can be overwhelming and that is why finding the right real estate agent is key.

It is important that you are comfortable with your agent and know that the agents efforts are going to be right for you. There are a number of things to look for, and questions to ask, to determine which agent will be the best match for you. Use the checklist below to get you started in your real estate agent search.

  • How long have you been in real estate?
  • Have you recently sold any homes in my area?
  • What education designations have you obtained?
  • What is your average market time vs. the market?
  • What is your list price to sales price ration vs. the market?
  • How will you market my property?
  • How do you market to the public?
  • Do you market to other agents and if so, how?
  • May I see sample of your marketing pieces and brochures?
  • Do you provide a written report to your sellers?
  • Do you have an assistant to help with details?
  • Do you have a resume or personal brochure to review?
  • Do you have defined plan of action for the marketing of my home?
  • If I list my home, when would the marketing begin? 

Choosing the right Realtor® is a big decision. It could save or make you a lot of money. I work hard to accomplish your real estate goals and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to Contact Me at your convenience.

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Backyard Living Areas - Chicago Style

by Allyson Hoffman
Summer is here and most of us love nothing more than to be outside enjoying the warm weather after a long cold Chicago winter. What better way to enjoy the outdoors than in your own backyard. We don’t realize that our backyard is, and can be used as an extension of our home.
For years we have been hearing about “bringing the outdoors in” by creating a garden oasis inside our homes, however more recently there has been a new movement of people bringing the comforts of indoors into their backyards. As reported in the Chicago Sun Times, homeowners are transforming their backyards into “specialty rooms” that may include outdoor kitchens, bars, TV’s and heaters for those cooler nights.
In the Chicago Sun Times article, Our backyards are new extra room, author Frank Fontana goes into detail about some of the things homeowners are doing to create this extra outdoor living space for entertaining or simply to enjoy as your own personal retreat.
A few of the new backyard summer trends mentioned include:
  • Fire Pits and Full Fireplaces
  • Outdoor Lighting
  • Outdoor Kitchens
  • Backyard Theaters
Read more about how to transform your backyard into an extension of your home for gathering, entertaining and enjoying the summer, outdoors.
Image courtesy of Gail Frederick/

You're ready to buy a home, but do you really know how much you can afford? 


Before you set out on your new home search, it is important to know how much you are able to afford. This is referred to as being pre-qualified, which is different than being pre-approved. During the pre-qualification process you will learn a number of different things about your finances such as:


  • How much home you can afford


  • The amount of down payment you will need


  • The minimum down payment and the advantages of higher down payments


  • What the bank feels you can afford for a monthly payment


Determining this information ahead of time will also assist your agent in finding the right properties for you to look at that fall within your budget.


The next step recommended is to be pre-approved. This step is more involved as your lender will review your finances in detail to determine how much money they agree to loan you for your home purchase. Your lender will review the following:


  • Gross Monthly Income


  • Credit History


  • Amount of any/all outstanding debts


  • Source and amount of money available for down payment and closing costs 


  • Type of Mortgage 


  • Interest Rates, etc. 


Analysis of this information will allow the lender to determine two important ratios:


  • Debt-to-Income Ratio
    Your bills/debt each month should not exceed 36 percent of your gross monthly income


  • Housing Expense Ratio
    Your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28 to 33 percent of your gross monthly income


For more information about pre-qualification visit Pre-Qualify For Your Mortgage or visit our Home Finance page for additional mortgage information.


Image courtesy of Stefan Baudy/


A Guide to Your Real Estate Closing Costs

by Allyson Hoffman

The process of purchasing a home can be overwhelming if you are not familiar with all the steps and costs involved in a real estate transaction. The most common costs that tend to be overlooked by buyers and sellers are a bundle of fees called closing costs.

It is important to be aware and budget for these costs so you are not surprised on closing day and possibly fall short within your finances.

Below is a guide to some of the more standard costs that you may be faced with on closing day.

  • Loan Origination Fee or Points
    Fees charged by the lender for generating your loan.
  • Broker Fee
    These fees are occasionally combined into the Loan Origination Fee.
  • Credit Report
    Lenders may require this fee up front to obtain and review your credit history. (Approx. $21 - $60)
  • Appraisal Fee
    This fee is normally non-refundable and will vary depending on the value of the home.
  • Inspection Fee
    Fees paid to have a Certified Home Inspector evaluate the structural and mechanical condition of the home.
  • Title Search
    This search will provide verification that the seller owns the house you are buying.
  • Title Insurance
    This fee insures against losses as a result of any title defects.
  • Prepaid Interest
    To pay up the mortgage interest to the first of the following month.
  • Mortgage Insurance
    Insurance to protect the lender in the event that the borrower (mortgagor) is unable to repay the loan.
  • Administration Fee

Your real estate agent will be able to give you a rough estimate of some of these costs, however once you have applied for your loan, the lender will provide you with a Good Faith Estimate of what they anticipate the closing costs to be.

Familiarize yourself with these terms, ask your real estate agent questions and budget for these fees on closing day.

For more Home Finance information, visit my Finance Information page or Contact Me should you require additional information.

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Displaying blog entries 1031-1040 of 1051




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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

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