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

Chicago North Shore, North and Northwest Suburban Real Estate Blog

Allyson Hoffman

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Some things you can do to spruce up your yard could be:

  • A thorough wash of the siding or fresh stain
  • Lawns, shrubs and tress should be trimmed
  • Flower beds and pots should be weed free

Once you have created an inviting and clean front yard, potential buyers will want to enter the home for a closer look. There are a few basic home staging techniques that you can follow for the interior of your home that may help seal the deal.

  • All rooms and hallways should be clutter free
  • Try to rid your home of any strong odors that may turn off potential buyers (i.e. pet odors, cigarette smells, or strong candle scents)
  • Keep you "personal" knick knacks, collections and family photos to a bare minimum
  • You may have some smaller rooms in your home. To have these rooms appear bigger, try removing some of the unnecessary or extra furniture

First impressions can make or break the sale of your home, so don't miss out. A little clean up can go a long way.

Spring is sneaking up on us and for those of you that are planning to sell your home, below are a few tips to help you get your home "sale" ready.

When preparing to "stage" your home it is a good idea to start with your front yard. This is where first impressions are formed. Ideally you want your yard to be tidy and well groomed.

Image courtesy of Wicker Paradise/Flickr.com

Home Energy Saving Tips

by Allyson Hoffman

 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical U.S. family will spend in excess of $1,600 a year on energy costs. This amount could be lessened as a large portion of the energy used is wasted. There are a number of simple steps we can take to save energy, and money, in our homes.

 

The following energy saving tips by the U.S. Department of Energy are easy, and cost little or no money at all to implement into a new energy efficient home for you and your family.

 

  • Set your thermostat comfortably low in the winter and comfortably high in the summer. Install a programmable thermostat that is compatible with your heating and cooling system.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).
  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120° F.
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on home appliances and products. ENERGY STAR® products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.


This is the first step in making your home “energy efficient” and will also save you money. For more information on any of the tips listed here, or to learn how you can cut your energy use up to 25%, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website for consumer tips.

 

Image courtesy of Joanna Bourne/Flickr.com

 

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.

Image courtesy of f2n_downtown/Flickr.com 

Proposed Dual Purpose Condominiums in Evanston

by Allyson Hoffman

Developers John Cunningham and Tom Engel along with local architect Ellen Galland are proposing a unique, dual purpose condominium structure to replace the well known commercial area that was demolished last year.

 On Wednesday, February 20/08, the city's site planning committee reviewed the proposal to build seven, three and a half story condominium units that would offer office or retail space on the main floor and personal living space above the main level place of business.

Each condominium unit located kitty-corner to Penny Park will offer the following:

Main Level                                                    Third Floor
Retail/Office                                     Two Bedrooms
                                                       Two Baths

Second Floor                                                Fourth Floor
Kitchen                                            Bedroom
Living Room                                     Bath
Dining Room                                    Outdoor Deck

The developers are also looking to add an elevator to each unit and plan to sell each unit for under $800,000.

Currently this property is zoned B-1 which allows for this unique combination of commerical and residential use, therefore no additional zoning changes would be required.

To view a conceptual model of these dual purpose condominiums click here

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.

Image courtesy of www.gotcredit.com/Flickr.com

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.

 

Image courtesy of FutUndBeidl/Flickr.com

Ten Tips To Make Your Small Room Appear Larger

by Allyson Hoffman

 

 When deciding to sell your home it is important to take the steps necessary to ensure that the rooms in your home are properly “staged” to appeal to prospective buyers. This may harder than expected as we all have rooms in our home that may be on the smaller side and hard to decorate. What can really be done with a small room?

 

Below is a list of ten tips to help you open up the small spaces in your home to appear larger and inviting to prospective buyers.

 

 

  1. The use of light colors such as pastels, neutrals and white are a better alternative to “bright” or dark colors.

 

  1. For your furniture, rugs, etc. you should select different shades and textures of the one color you select from above.

 

  1. Lighting is critical when trying to create an illusion of a larger space. Recessed lighting is ideal for smaller spaces. In the event that this option is too costly, torchiere lighting is a viable alternative as the light bounces off the ceiling and back into the room.

 

  1. Declutter the room.

 

  1. A light colored floor and ceiling will open up the room and make it appear larger.

 

  1. Mirrors are a must as they add dimension to the room by reflecting images, light and colors. Mirrors provide a “see through” feel to the room.

 

  1. Remove large bulky furniture from the room. One or two smaller pieces placed closer to the walls are better than one large piece of furniture in the middle of the room.

 

  1. Don’t clutter the walls with a collection of pictures. Replace the many pictures with one larger picture or painting.

 

  1. Take advantage of the view of your yard and bring the outside in by allowing prospective buyers to see out into your flowerbeds or gardens.

 

  1. Glass tables such as a dining table, end table or coffee table will maintain the “open” and airy feel in a small space.

Image courtesy of ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay.com

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.

Image courtesy of one2c900d/Flickr.com

Indentity Theft - Top Tips to Protect Yourself

by Allyson Hoffman

In a day and age when technology seems to rule a big part of our lives, it is important to make sure that our “identity” is protected. As we have all read the horror stories of the victims of identity theft, there are steps we can take to protect ourselves and our personal information.

 

For starters we should be clear about what identify is and how we are identified as individuals in this high tech world we live in. Identity theft occurs when our personal information is collected without our permission and utilized, most of the time, for criminal activity. What personal information do these people target?

 

1.      Your Name

2.      Address

3.      Birth Date

4.      Social Security Number (SSN)

5.      Credit Card Numbers

6.      and Other Personal Identification Numbers

 

This is the type of information someone would need to open credit card or bank accounts, apply for cellular phone service, purchase vacations packages, forward your mail, etc. So how can you protect yourself from this information getting into the wrong hands?

 

  1. If asked to provide personal information, ask why is it needed, how will it used, if it will be shared and with whom.
  2. Carry the least amount of personal information with you as possible.
  3. When asked for your credit number over the phone or internet, make sure that you know who you are dealing with and the communication line is secure.
  4. It’s always a good idea to take extra security measures when dealing over the internet (i.e. digital signatures and data encryption).
  5. Knowing your billing cycles can prove to be very useful should you not receive your bills in the mail. This could help in determining if you mail has been illicitly redirected.
  6. Order your credit report at least once a year and review for any inaccuracies or any unusual activity.
  7. Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
  8. You can also request that your accounts require passwords before any inquiries or changes can be made
  9. Choosing the right password is extremely important. You don’t want anything obvious and you DON’T want to write them down.
  10. Always protect your pin number when using debit machines, bank machines or telephones.
  11. Review your credit card cardholder agreement. A number of companies offer protection from credit card fraud.
  12. Lastly, be aware of your garbage. Anything with the above mentioned personal information on it should not just be thrown out. Shredding this type of documentation (especially financial statements, receipts, etc.) is an effective step in preventing identity theft.

Taking the necessary steps above to protect your identity is not difficult. It’s as simple as being aware of what these identity thieves are looking for and arming yourself with the knowledge on how to properly protect your personal information.

 

 Image courtesy of Sh4rp_i/Flickr.com

 

Do You Qualify for a Moving Expense Deduction?

by Allyson Hoffman

Have you recently moved or relocated as a result of a new job or job transfer? If yes, you might like to know that some of the costs associated with a move of this type may be used as a moving expense deduction on your income taxes. A few of things to keep in mind that help in determining if you would qualify for a moving expense deduction include:

  • The distance between the old home and the new job must be at least 50 miles
     
  • If you move within a year of taking the job at the new location
     
  • If you work full-time for at least 39 weeks (the total is 78 weeks if you are self-employed)


Whether a homeowner or renter, you can deduct the cost of moving household goods and the direct cost of moving you and your family. You can also deduct expenses for lodging during the move but not meals.

It is important to keep detailed records of all expenses during a move and
consult a tax expert to make sure that you take all the lawful tax deductions allowed by the IRS criteria for expenses related to selling your old home or buying your new one. For additional reading regarding moving expenses, the IRS publication No. 521 entitled "Tax Information on Moving Expenses" is also a great resource.

Image courtesy of Hitcom/Pixabay.com

Displaying blog entries 831-840 of 879

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

(847) 310-5300
Allyson@Allyson.com

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