Does a Housing Upgrade Make Sense..Now?-North Shore Real Estate Trends

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Despite aspects of sluggishness in the Chicago-North Shore real estate market, one group continues to be active and thriving : buyers or sellers with or without families, who are bent on upsizing for space, walkable communities, and better school districts.

The following questions will help you decide whether you’re ready for a North Shore home that’s larger or in a more desirable area. If you answer yes to the majority of the questions, it’s a sign that you may be ready for a move.

  1. Have you outgrown your neighborhood? The Chicago-North Shore neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same neighborhood you want to settle down in for the long-term. For example, you may have realized that you’d like to be closer to your job, life style conveniences or live in a better school district.
  2. Are you comfortable moving in the current  North Shore housing market? If your area is showing continual progress in home sales, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy also will be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you’ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home.
  3. Have you built significant equity in your current North Shore property? Look at your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out. Usually, you don’t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest, but if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains.
  4. Has your income or financial status improved? If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving and moving up.
  5. Is there a reason why you can’t remodel or add on? Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn’t large enough, your city doesn’t allow it, or you’re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best next choice.
  6. Do interest rates look attractive? A low mortgage rate not only helps you buy a larger home, but also makes it easier to find a buyer.

For information on moving up or down in this market click HERE and HERE

Visit for community comparison and market snapshot data. You may also stop by our North Shore Coldwell Banker office for information on mortgage rates, loan options, market reports, data and outcomes statistics..640 Vernon Ave, Glencoe, IL 60022


Recent Home Sales Data..What it Means for You: North Shore Real Estate

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If you heard or followed my recent posts, home sales in the Chicago/North Shore/Illinois areas were up 1.3 percent from a year ago.  This is ideal news, but what does that really mean for you, if you’re considering buying or selling North Shore real estate? You don’t have to put off buying or selling a home because of uncertainty about how to view recent market reports, statistics, data and’s why:

If You Are Selling a Home

Chicago’s North Shore home sales have maintained an increase from July to December 2011, which is a strong indicator that the economy is recovering slowly but steadily. However, it could be several years before prices improve in all national markets to where they were before the housing crisis occurred. House prices are expected to rise each year that you are a home owner, even if those increases are modest compared to the gains seen in the early 2000’s.

If you are looking to sell your North Shore home, the current market offers a lot of under publicized opportunities. Record-low interest rates are moving savvy investors off the sidelines and into residential real estate. This more sophisticated breed of buyer is driving demand and subsequent price increases in areas such as Chicago’s North Shore.

If You Are Buying a Home

If you have good credit and the required down payment, this is an ideal time for you. You may be able to negotiate a lower price on a home you like. You will certainly pay less than you will in a few years from now when the economy finds even ground. If you do your research and find a home with a good value, in a sought after neighborhood, with great schools, you will have invested wisely for the time when you may be ready to sell.

One detail that must be considered when purchasing a home is how long you plan to stay in it. If you want to live there only a few years, the price increases seen in your property could be temporarily offset by current difficulties with the economy. However, if you plan to live there for five years or longer, it will likely be a worthwhile North Shore investment. Other factors play a role such as the specific area your home is located in, and jobs in the surrounding communities.

The current market is unique, but the current market also resembles any mid-recovery period. And, for all its peaks and valleys, the facts reflected in the current North Shore market data shows: you can still become a homeowner with the right funding and you can still sell your house with the right pricing. More info HERE

Our North Shore Coldwell Banker office can and will proudly provide more detail on North Shore market data/history.  Find us downtown Glencoe, Illinois 60022, 640 Vernon Ave.

Select a Realtor With These 10 Tips: North Shore-Chicago Real Estate

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Sure, Realtors can facilitate a great deal, when it comes to selling or buying a North Shore home. But to help with one of the largest transactions in your life,  you should do a little homework before engaging in a business relationship for such an important purchase. An effective Realtor can assist in determining an appropriate asking price, stage a house to sell and market the property properly.

It’s recommended that sellers interested in using the help of a real estate agent or a Realtor (the proper name of an agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors) should interview at least three top agents before choosing one.

To find these potential Realtors, first ask neighbors for references, or attend open houses in your neighborhood. Strike up conversations with colleagues who have recently sold homes nearby. Once you have a list of Chicago-North Shore Realtors, set up interviews with individual agents.

Below are a 10 questions to ask before choosing a realtor:

  1. How well do you know the neighborhood?
  2. What are your plans for marketing my house?
  3. How much do you think I should ask for this house and how do you justify that price? Can I see the data?
  4. Will you be going to the closing with me or will you send an associate?
  5. With whom will I communicate in the office?
  6. What have you sold lately?
  7. How much experience do you have?
  8. What percentage of sales have closed?
  9. What is the average time the homes were on the market?
  10. How do you plan to market this house among your colleagues?

Look the agent up by name on the Internet, check their websites and reviews/feedback. Look for Realtors who not only give information, data, reports and statistics about their listings but also can provide valuable data about their region — both the good and the bad. You want an agent who knows their primary selling locations.

After looking on the Web, call Realtors who seem like a good fit. Recap the conversation. Do you hit it off? Do you feel like they’re trustworthy? Can you communicate well? Remember, you might be spending long hours with this individual. Having confidence in your North Shore Realtor, as well as feeling comfortable with him or her, can help you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

Gloria Matlin’s office is located at 640 Vernon Ave in downtown Glencoe, Illinois.  Our high-ranking, top performing, Coldwell Banker Real estate office has been providing superb service for over forty years. Let us show you our level of optimal Chicago’s North Shore real estate market expertise. More information on selecting a realtor can be found HERE

Glencoe-North Shore Market Trends: Update Jan-February2012

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The year starts off with a bang and more good news..December Illinois Home Sales Mark the Sixth Month of continual year-over-year gains . Sales in the Chicago-North Shore area up 1.3 %!

The Illinois Association of Realtors latest review shows that statewide home sales (including single family and condominiums) in December 2011 totaled 8,828 homes sold, up 14.0 percent from 7,746 home sales in December 2010. Unseasonably warmer weather, historically low mortgage rates and attractive market pricing led to a sixth straight month of increases in home sales, according to data released by the Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) today.

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central-North Shore region was 3.94 percent in December 2011, down from 4.0 percent during the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Last year in December it averaged 4.80 percent. The mortgage rates dropped again this week ending January 20th with rates averaging 3.88 percent!

“Housing market forecasts for January, February and March 2012 for Illinois and the Chicago PMSA suggest that sales volume will be significantly higher than the same period last year, although prices will still be lower than a year ago. Until these foreclosed properties and additions expected in 2012 clear the market, sustained upward movement in prices will be unlikely,” said Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois.

More than half of Illinois counties reporting including North Shore, cook county (52 of 100) showed year-over-year home sales increases in December 2011. Forty-three (43) counties showed year-over-year median price increases. “December ended the year with an optimistic showing of North Shore buyers coming out and making decisions about investing in a home. “While the year-end numbers for 2011 were down over 2010, a positive upward trend in sales toward the end of the year is a great indicator of a strong 2012 winter and spring season for buyers and sellers, alike, looking to get off the fence,” said REALTOR® Bob Floss, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS®.

In the city of Chicago, December 2011 home sales (single family and condominiums) totaled 1,536, up 6.4 percent from 1,444 homes sold in December 2010. The city of Chicago average or median home sale price for December 2011 was $156,000, down 6.2 percent compared to December 2010 when it was just $166,250.

The Illinois Association of REALTORS® is a voluntary trade association. In addition to serving the professional needs of its members in conjunction with the multiple listing service MLS, the Illinois Association of REALTORS® works to protect the rights of private property owners in the state by recommending and promoting legislation that safeguards and advances the interest of real property ownership.

Find Illinois housing stats/analysis/data/reports/outcomes marking January through February of 2012 and the University of Illinois REAL forecast at

You may also stop by our Glencoe Coldwell Banker office for an in-depth explanation of this report or for specific reporting in a North Shore area or town.  We are located at 640 Vernon Ave in beautiful downtown Glencoe, Illinois.


Signs of a Great Real Estate Investment: North Shore Market Trends

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Investing in Chicago’s North Shore real estate can mean different things to different people. With that said, how can you be sure you are making the right decision? It helps to have an experienced real estate agent who demonstrates he/she has an established pulse on market conditions. Otherwise, below are a few tips that can shed light based on individual preference or circumstance:

A Personal Residence

1. if you are not planning to own on the North Shore for at least five years you will most likely not be getting positive returns on your investment. The longer you own it, the better the chances for appreciation in value and wealth building.

2. a good personal real estate investment is one that will increase your net worth over time. you need to look at how much you are paying in housing expense versus how much that amount would be if you were just renting someone else’s property. So the overall question again is, “Is your wealth going to improve by owning the property?”

As proof positive on this, find someone who has owned real estate for 20, 30, 40 years and ask them what is a good real estate investment? It is generally easy to find them, they are retired, living comfortably, and usually happy to tell you about the properties they bought years ago!

Investment Properties

1. your returns are part cash flows and part appreciation in value. For example, if your property rental income minus expenses produced $250 per month positive ($3,000 per year); and your invested cash equity was say $50,000, that’s a cash on cash return of 6.00% ($3,000/$50,000). And that is a pretty darn good deal in real estate.

2. some investment properties my not be worth a second look! Often, unconventional property such as a boat house or beach front cabana on an island no one can pronounce are ones to stay clear of. Purchase something like that and expect the net rental income to be low compared to the purchase price, usually resulting in  projected negative cash on cash returns. So if you buy a fancy property with negative (4.0%) cash on cash returns, even if it appreciates 2.0% per year, you are typically at a 0.0%, or worse, return on your equity cash investment. And that isn’t a deal most experienced investors would take. Will January or 2012 be your time for real estate investing?

See additional North Shore real estate investment information and investment/mortgage calculators HERE and HERE

Top 7 iPhone Apps For Your Home: North Shore Housing-Technology Trends

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Just in case a North Shore home improvement project was on your list of 2012 New Year’s resolutions, these apps can help you with everything from cleaning the drapes, remembering home related tasks, to refinishing your floors:


1. Color Capture and ColorSnap
Download: Color Capture from Benjamin Moore for iPhone and ColorSnap from Sherwin-Williams for iPhone
Price: Free

Repainting your bedroom? Maybe even the whole house? Choosing a color to paint your walls can be pretty intimidating — there are thousands of options! And what if you already have a color in mind but aren’t sure how to find it in the paint aisle at the hardware store? Maybe you want to paint your bathroom walls to match a certain color towel or paint your living room to match the sofa.

These apps can help. Using your phone’s camera, you can take a picture of anything you like, and the app will analyze the colors in the photo and show you the closest match in its color line. Color Capture is available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Android phones; ColorSnap is available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. Both apps are free.

2. iHandy Carpenter
Download: iHandy Carpenter for iPhone
Price: $1.99

With this app, $1.99 buys you 5 essential tools for home improvement. There’s a plumb bob, a surface level, a bubble level bar, a steel protractor, and a ruler. While it probably won’t replace the real thing if you want to be absolutely certain that your walls are straight or your measurements are accurate, it’s very handy for quick estimations.

3. HomeSmarts
Download: HomeSmarts for iPhone
Price: Free

This free app is designed to help you remember all the tasks that go into maintaining a home. HomeSmarts starts with a short survey to gather basic information about your home, including the type of heating and cooling system you have, whether or not you have a pool or a garage, and so on. Once it has this information, it will create a yearly schedule of items that need your attention, and you can adjust how you receive alerts.

The developers of this app have quite a sense of humor, making you smile with messages like “shoveling coal into the servers” and “charging the flux capacitor” as it’s loading up your items.

4. Home Maintenance
Download: Home Maintenance for iPhone
Price: $4.99

Much like HomeSmarts, Home Maintenance helps you keep track of home maintenance tasks. This app costs $4.99 but includes a much wider range of features and capabilities. You can add more than one house and note facts like the date it was built, date purchased, purchase price, and appraised value. For each house, you can then add custom tasks or choose from predefined lists such as chimney cleaning and deck maintenance. You can even add photos for any item and email yourself a complete maintenance record.

5. Chore Pad
Download: Chore Pad for iPhone
Price: $2.99

Finding it hard to motivate yourself to get those chores done? Finding it hard to motivate your kids to get their chores done? Chore Pad can help! Add the members of your household, then add as many chores as you want, assign them to different people, and set up their frequency. You can also set up rewards, and as you complete tasks, you collect stars that you can then turn in for rewards. Get your kids to clean up their rooms by bribing — er, motivating — them with, say, a trip to the ice cream shop. At $2.99, this app is both affordable and useful.

6. HandyMan Sidekick
Download: HandyMan Sidekick for iPhone
Price: $1.99

This highly recommended home improvement app does it all. Whether you’re painting or wallpapering a room, putting mulch in your garden, or trying to figure out how much drywall you’ll need, just plug-in the dimensions of your space, subtract any doors and windows, and figure out exactly how much you’ll need. There’s also a handy metric-to-imperial (and back) converter and a flashlight so you can see in those small, dark corners of the house.

7. Handy Man DIY
Download: Handy Man DIY for iPhone
Price: $1.99

Much like HandyMan Sidekick, Handy Man DIY offers calculators to help you figure out how much paint, wallpaper, flooring, or trim you need to complete your project. You can also create shopping lists (or choose from prebuilt options), store-room dimensions for later use, create lists of tasks for each project, or check seasonal reminders of home maintenance tasks for various times of the year.

PLEASE let me know if you are aware of any other great apps..let’s share!!

Now you have no excuse to get cracking on that to-do list! Except perhaps that it’s a gorgeous day and there’s fresh iced tea in the fridge… but at least with these handy apps, you’ll be able to get your chores done sooner and thing of the coming spring on Chicago’s North Shore additional North Shore real estate Tips

If you need additional market resources for your North Shore home, feel free to come by my office located at 640 Vernon Ave, downtown Glencoe, Illinois.  I or one of our top producing brokers can assist you.

The Importance of Home Inspections:North Shore-Glencoe Real Estate


Especially in today’s North Shore real estate market with various purchase options available and access to immediate information via the internet; before you buy or sell a home, one of the things that should be done is throughly confirming the homes status with an inspection using a licensed inspector. Buying a home is an investment, and selling real estate requires du diligence. The added expense can save thousands if not millions in the long run for both buyer and seller. Below is a list that covers the what, whys and hows when it comes to home inspections. (If  this is your first time buying a home, be sure to take note of these valuable tips):

For Sellers:

Resist the impulse to make quick, cheap repairs before an inspection. You may raise a question that produces undue concern with buyers

10 Tips to Prepare for a Home Inspection 1. Clean debris from gutters and roof 2. Caulk around windows and doors 3. Seal asphalt driveway 4. Clean HVAC filters 5. Seal basement walls 6. Clean the chimney 7. Replace burned out light bulbs 8. Have all documentation on hand for recent repairs and inspections 9. Remove firewood from contact with the house 10. Clear access to attic, crawl space, and garage.

10 Most Common Home Inspection Issues 1. Faulty wiring—open junction boxes, amperage mismatches, no wire nuts on wires. The cure: Fix junction boxes; upgrade to at least 100 amps. 2. Poor grading and drainage—spongy soil around the foundation, signs of leaking in basement. The cure: Regrade so that grounds slopes away from house for 10 feet; remove porous material around foundation. 3. Faulty gutters—clogged or bent gutters, water not channeled away from house. The cure: Preventive maintenance; gutters of adequate size, splash pans to divert run-off. 4. Basement dampness—water stains, powdery residue on walls, mold or mildew. The cure: Repair gutters to channel water away from house; apply waterproof coatings to basement. 5. Roof problems—brittle or curled shingles; broken or missing flashings. The cure: Apply new shingle, or tear off if needed (usually after three re-roofs ); replacing flashings, especially around chimneys and other protrusions. 6. Foundation flaws—cracks in foundation, sloping floors, sticking doors or windows. The cure: Fill cracks with silicon caulking or epoxy; apply waterproof coating to exterior. 7. Poor upkeep—needs repainting, worn carpeting, cracked driveway. The cure: Give the house a minor facelift. 8. Faulty plumbing—inadequate water pressure, slow drains, signs of leaks on ceilings. The cure: Clean and rout drains; reseat toilet with new wax ring, repair leaks. 9. Poor ventilation—extreme heat in attic, vapor condensation. The cure: Ensure that roof soffits are not blocked; install additional roof vents; vent bathroom and kitchen fans outside. 10. Defective heating—cracks in the heat exchanger or water tank; carbon monoxide leaks. The cure: Reseal chimney flues; replace sacrificial anode in water heater.

For Buyers:

Buyers can get extra protection and piece of mind by purchasing a home warranty insurance policy. Such policies may also be a way for sellers to protect themselves from post-sale claims by buyers for defects undetected in home inspections.

Your North Shore realtor can be a source to find a reliable and trusted inspector as well as home warranty policies.

10 Questions to Ask the Home Inspector 1. What are your qualifications? Are you a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors or National Associaton of Home Inspectors? 2. Do you have a current license? Inspectors are not required to be licensed in every state. 3. How many inspections of properties such as this do you do each year? 4. Do you have a list of past Chicago’s north shore clients I can contact? 5. Do you carry professional errors and omission insurance? May I have a copy of the policy? 6. Do you provide any guarantees of your work? 7. What specifically will the inspection cover? 8. What type of report will I receive after the inspection? 9. How long will the inspection take and how long will it take to receive the report? 10. How much will the inspection cost?  More HOME INSPECTIONS TIPS FOR BUYERS AND SELLERS..HERE

For a list of  North Shore real estate resources, feel free to visit our Coldwell Banker Office located at 640 Vernon Ave, Glencoe, Illinois

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