Fall Home Maintenance Checklist-Chicago Real Estate

Is fall home maintenance as important as spring cleaning….absolutely!  The air on a brisk 2017 autumn morning inspires us to dutifully button up the home in preparation for cooler days and longer nights, right? Below is a quick reference guide full of safety inspired tips to sharpen up a Chicago home or any property for that matter:

Give the roof and chimney a look-over
Assuming your roof isn’t too steep, and isn’t covered with slate or tile, you may be able to carefully walk on it on a dry day. Look for broken or missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing and seals around vent pipes and chimneys, and damage to boards along the eaves.  Tip: Also peer down your chimney with a flashlight to make sure no animals have set up house in it. If you can’t get on your roof, perform this inspection with a ladder around the perimeter.

Weather-stripping to doors and windows a must
On doors, make sure the bottom seal is working properly — there are many sweeps, gaskets and thresholds designed to seal this gap. Doors generally need weather-stripping in their jambs as well.    Weather-stripping can be plastic, foam, felt or metal; its job is to seal small gaps, keeping moisture and cold air outside where they belong. Tip:  Look around your doors and windows: Is the weather-stripping torn or missing? This can become expensive if ignored. Adhesive-backed foam pads are easy to install for this purpose. Newer, energy-efficient windows generally don’t require added weather-stripping, but if your windows are older, weather-stripping can keep drafts at bay and

Don’t forget the gutters
they’ll be performing double duty soon with rainstorms and falling leaves—Do a quick visual check to make sure gutters are clear.

Exterior caulk is key
Carefully read manufacturer’s directions to make sure the caulk you buy will work where you plan to use it, and don’t forget to purchase a caulking gun. Early fall is a good time for this task because caulk becomes difficult to apply when the temperature falls. Think of caulk as weather-stripping in a tube. Tip: Any gap on the outside of your home can be a candidate for caulking. Look at transition spots: corners, windows, doors, areas where masonry joins siding, or places where vents and other objects protrude from walls.

Speculate Insulation
This is a good time to check the condition of insulation and see if you need more, especially if you live in an older home. You can purchase unbacked or loose-fill insulation if you are just beefing up what is already there. Tip: If you are adding batted insulation to a spot that has none, remember that the foil-backed side is the vapor barrier, and it must face the heated area.

For example, if you are laying fiberglass insulation in an unfinished attic floor to keep heat in the living room below, you should see pink when you’re done — not foil. If your walls lack insulation, consider having a professional install blown-in insulation foam. The energy savings will probably offset the cost of the procedure in a couple of years.

Ok on wood?
Wood piles attract insect and animal pests, so stack wood away from the house. Wood dries best when it’s protected from rain and has air circulating around it, so under the roof of a wall-less carport would be an ideal wood storage spot. If you have a wood stove, it’s not too early to lay in a supply of firewood. Tip: Though most of us buy whatever’s local, bear in mind that soft woods like fir and cedar burn faster and create hazardous creosote in the chimney, thus requiring more system maintenance and more wood. Hardwoods such as oak, hickory and maple are slow, hot, clean burners.

Remember the dryer vent
This is another one of those tasks that should be on your to-do list every six months. Scoot your clothes dryer away from the wall, unplug it, and vacuum behind it. Tip:  (If it’s a gas dryer, turn off the gas supply to the dryer at the appliance shutoff valve.) Unhook the tube that leads to the vent and clear as much lint from the tube as you can. Grab a shop vacuum, go outside, and tackle the outside dryer vent as well. More information HERE

November 2017 – Top producing, client driven Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group takes joy in over $50,000,000 sold so far this year; as well as outstanding testimonials such as: “This is where Ian really shines and his mental rigor as a former lawyer came into play. He is a masterful and brilliant negotiator. For this reason alone, it would be a mistake not to hire Ian if you are looking to purchase a new house. Ian does not stop working for you until you have the deal closed, keys in hand and are fully happy. I have the highest regard for his capability and would highly recommend him”.

Find out why Ian and his team say: everything we touch turns to SOLD!

 

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5 Myths About Home Selling Exposed – Chicago Real Estate

Misinformation can waste your time and cost you money. When it comes time to list your Chicago home, you may need to do your research so you can separate fact from fiction, or enlist a trusted, experienced real estate expert toMyths assist and guide. Real estate agents from across the county participated in Zillow’s 2017 Home-Selling Season Survey identified five top real estate myths. The debunking of them should put in the frame of mind on the fast-track to selling your property:

Myth No. 1: The outside of my home isn’t as important as the inside.

Truth: Home buyers often make snap judgments, often based simply on a home’s exterior. Therefore, curb appeal is very important.

“A lot of buyers I work with have done some preliminary online searches or they’ve driven by properties before they even enlist my services,” says Bic DeCaro, a real estate agent Westgate Realty Group in Falls Church, VA. “If a property looks bad, if the yard is cluttered or the driveway is all broken up, there’s a chance they won’t ever enter the house – they’ll just keep driving.”

The great news is that it doesn’t cost a bundle to make some big changes to your home’s exterior appearance. Start by cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and clearing away any clutter. Then, for less than $50, you could put up new house numbers, paint the front door, plant some flowers or install a new, more stylish porch light.

Myth No. 2: I need to redo my kitchen and bathroom before selling.

Truth: While kitchens and bathrooms can increase the value of a home, you may not get a large return on investment if you do a major renovation just before selling.

Minor renovations, on the other hand, may help you sell your home for a higher price. New countertops or new appliances may be just the kind of bait you need to reel in a buyer. Check out comparable listings in your neighborhood and see what work you need to do to compete in the market.

Myth No. 3: If my house is clean, I don’t need to stage my home.

Truth: Clean and tidy is a good first step, but as more and more home sellers across the country have enlisted the services of professional home stagers, the bar has risen. It’s not enough anymore to toss dirty laundry in the closet and sweep the front steps.

Stagers strive to make homes appeal to a broad range of tastes. They can skillfully identify ways to highlight your home’s best features and compensate for its shortcomings. A stager might, for example, recommend removing blinds from a window that has a great view or replacing a double bed with a twin to make a bedroom look bigger. It’s common for stagers to de-clutter and depersonalize homes by putting furniture and family photos into storage. Or, if you’ve already moved out, a stager can move in furniture to give potential buyers a sense of how rooms might be used.

Myth No. 4: Granite and stainless steel appliances are no longer “in.”

Truth: The majority of home shoppers still want granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Quartz, marble and concrete counters also have wide appeal.

Myth No. 5: Home shoppers can look past paint colors they don’t like.

Truth: Moving is a lot of work and, while many home buyers realize they could take on the task of painting walls, they simply don’t want to.

That’s why one of the most important things you can do to update your home is to apply a fresh coat of neutral paint. Neutral colors also help a property standout in online photographs – which is where most potential buyers will get their first impression of your property.

Hiring a professional to paint the interior of a 2,000 square-foot house likely will cost $3,000 to $6,000, depending upon labor costs in your region. You could buy the paint and do the job yourself for $300 to $500. Either way, if a fresh coat of paint helps your home stand out in a crowded market, it’s probably a worthwhile investment. More tips HERE

October 2017-Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group enjoys representing sellers and buyers this spring, with a client focused, top ranking profile of success. Ian and his team leave no stone un-turned, priding themselves on pouring their hearts and souls into effectively marketing Chicago real estate online and in print to have it seen by the largest possible audiences. Look to this dynamic and experienced group to confirm their mission….everything we touch turns to SOLD! 

Getting the Most Out of a Home Purchase in 2017: Chicago Real Estate Trends

Buying a home can be emotional, but negotiating the price shouldn’t be. The key to saving money when purchasing a home is sticking to a plan during the turbulence of possible high-stakes negotiations. Keep your emotions in check and your eyes on the goal, and you’ll pay less when purchasing a home.

Having a savvy, well-informed, and seasoned  Chicago real estate agent who represents/guides you is key. However, you are the one who must make the final decision during each round of potential offers and counter offers. For first time home buyers especially, these 6 tips will help in promoting the best price and outcome on Chicago real estate transactions: 1. Get prequalified for a mortgage

Getting prequalified for a mortgage proves to sellers that you’re serious about buying and capable of affording their home. That will push you to the head of the pack when sellers choose among offers; they’ll go with buyers who are a sure financial bet, not those whose financing could flop.

2. Ask questions and get details

Ask your  Chicago realtor for information to help you understand the sellers’ financial position and motivation. Are they facing foreclosure or a short sale? Have they already purchased a home or relocated, which may make them eager to accept a lower price to avoid paying two mortgages? Has the home been on the market for a long time, or was it just listed? Have there been other offers? If so, why did they fall through? The more signs that sellers are eager to sell, the lower your offer can reasonably go.

3. Work back from a final figure to determine your initial offer

Know in advance the most you’re willing to pay, and with your realtor work back from that number to determine your initial offer, which can set the tone for the entire negotiation. A too-low bid may offend sellers emotionally invested in the sales price; a too-high bid may lead you to spend more than necessary to close the sale.

Work with your top Chicago realtor to evaluate the sellers’ motivation and comparable home sales to arrive at an initial offer that engages the sellers yet keeps money in your wallet.

4. Avoid complicated contract requirements

Sellers favor offers that leave little to chance. Keep your bid free of complicated contingencies, such as making the purchase conditional on the sale of your current home. Do keep contingencies for mortgage approval, home inspection, and environmental checks typical in your area, like radon.

5. Remain focused-unemotional

Buying a home is a business transaction, and treating it that way helps you save money. Consider any movement by the sellers, however slight, a sign of interest, and keep negotiating.

Each time you make a concession, ask for one in return. If the sellers ask you to boost your price, ask them to contribute to closing costs or pay for a home warranty. If sellers won’t budge, make it clear you’re willing to walk away; they may get nervous and accept your offer.

6. Don’t let competition change your plan

Great Chicago-Lincoln Park homes and those competitively priced can draw multiple offers in any market. Don’t let competition propel you to go beyond your predetermined price or agree to concessions—such as waiving an inspection—that aren’t usually in your best interest. More Chicago Real Estate Tips

8 Reasons a Realtor Should be Used: 2017 Buying or Selling Chicago Real Estate

  1. Marketing power of your property. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of Chicago real estate sales comes as the result of an agent’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a top Chicago REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
  2. Interpersonal skills-an objective voice. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, Chicago home buying and selling is often an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll every make. Having a concerned, sincere, thorough but objective third party, helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
  3. Key negotiating skills. There are many negotiating aspects, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
  4. Finding the best property that fits “you”. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the Chicago market, and it will take some investigation by your seasoned and experienced Chicago REALTOR® to find all available properties.
  5. Skill at navigating complicated processes. Buying, selling or even renting a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multipage settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly errors.
  6. Information and opinions. Chicago REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
  7. Someone who knows the language. If you are not sure what a CMA from a PUD is, you can understand why it’s important to work with a real estate professional that is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
  8. Background/Experience. Most people buy and sell only a few properties in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you have done it before, laws and regulations change.  REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having top ranked, top performing expert on your side is critical. More information HERE

Summer Real Estate Details to Consider – Chicago Real Estate Experts

Before you put time and effort into finding a house, weigh why a 2017 summertime home purchase may or may not be the best deal for you. March through July are the commonly popular months for buying a house. In the spring and SummerSoldsummer, you’ll often find a large selection of homes for sale, but you may also encounter competition that drives up prices, but each market is different. Consulting experienced, top producing, Chicago real estate professionals can help confirm the best individual home buying and/or home selling decisions.

Reasons to Buy a Home in the Summer
Do you have kids in school? If so, you probably want to sell your house and move into a new one before the next school year starts. Moving over the summer lets kids finish the term at their old school, as well as explore the neighborhoods and make friends before the first day at their new school.

Houses and neighborhoods often look their best in the summer, with lawns, flowers, gardens and trees in full bloom. You can see how well neighbors take care of their grounds, whether kids are playing outside, and how much the neighborhood socializes at barbecues, the local pool, and the like.

Possible Cons to Buying During the Summer
Summer is a popular time for house hunters, and that means two things: competition and a possible spike in prices. You may find yourself struggling to see all the available homes, feeling pressure to choose quickly, getting caught in a stressful bidding war, or missing out on the home you want. If you can, you may want to wait until fall or winter, when the house selection is smaller but prices are lower and buyers and sellers are more focused.This again is a time to consult a trusted, top producing, seasoned Chicago real estate professional for your best plan of action.

Be Ready to Close
“Don’t blink, or it’s gone,” real estate agents advise. If you determine that summer is the best time for you to buy, be prepared to make an offer quickly, and don’t expect the seller to lower the price easily. Make sure you know your limits: Which home features are must-haves, and what is the most you are willing to spend? Also, keep in mind that even if you’re preapproved for a loan and are ready to push paper, it may take weeks or a couple months to close on the home. If you want to move in midsummer, you may need to start house-hunting in spring. More tips can be found HERE

July 2017- Ready to surpass expectations this summer and leave no stone unturned, Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group has built a team of experienced, client focused, top producing real estate professionals you’d want representing you this season. Find out why they say…..everything we touch turns to SOLD!

 

How to Sell a Home Fast This Summer 2017: Chicago Real Estate

In today’s current Chicago real estate market, how can you sell your house amazingly fast?  Real estate experts across the state and nationally all agree..the most influential factor to getting your home sold quickly is the price you sell it for, no matter if it’s Fall, Winter, Spring or Summer 2017.  Renovations may count too, but in the end, there will be no quick exchange if the price is not right.  Having an experienced, top performing  Chicago Broker/Realtor in your corner can be a huge benefit. See the classic video below for some additional tips:

 

2017 First Time Home Buyers: Top 9 Ways to Prepare-Chicago Real Estate

No time like the present when Chicago real estate is buzzing through the spring 2017 season. Interest rates are still fairly low, prices are attractive, and first time buyers are out and ready to buy. Use the tips below to determine if you are truly ready:

1. Know your credit landscape. Get a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.

2. Do some saving. Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.

3. Figure in the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.

4. Determine what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a Chicago home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.

5. Explore your mortgage qualifications. How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, investigate different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.

6. Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.

7. Make your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four Chicago neighborhoods you’d like to live in- Lincoln Park, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lakeview, Roscoe Village, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, Andersonville, River North, River East, Streeterville, North Center, Logan Square, West Loop, South Loop, Loop, Lakewood Balmoral, Edgewater, Old Irving Park, River West, Uptown, West Ridge? Take into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.

8. Consider other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.

9. Contact a Top Producing, Top Ranking Chicago REALTOR®. Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the Chicago real estate process with ease.

More info HERE

The Ian Schwartz Group is a trusted resource for first time home buyers.  With more than 15 years of solid experience and results, this real estate group is ready to provide conscientious service; winning trust, loyalty and friendship all along the way!

Spring 2017…Off to a Running Start-Chicago Real Estate

Despite the mild wind and cold weather experienced this winter, the Chicago real estate market continues on a warm spring 2017 driven path. The median Chicago home price surged with an annual increase of 12.1%. Interest rates remain attractive as the monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central- Chicago region was 4.32 percent in February 2017, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.

Buyers are already expelling pent-up action and are out in force. Sellers are seeing the benefits of listing NOW, as demand/ideal Chicago market conditions continue to benefit all parties involved.

 

Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group, reports that “everything we touch turns to SOLD”. So far this year, Ian and his team have sold over $5o million dollars in real estate units in the city of Chicago. As a recipient of Coldwell Banker’s International President’s Premier award, Ian and his team remain client centered, attentive, sincere, tenacious, and knowledgeable; with an end result of top producing, top performing, high-ranking Chicago residential real estate results. For more information on The Ian Schwartz Group visit HERE and HERE.

 

Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Spring 2017-Chicago Real Estate

Chicago homeowners planning to put their homes on the market shouldn’t wait for flowers to bloom before getting ready to sell. With spring being one of the busiest times for Chicago real estate transacting, having time to prepare can make for a much smoother selling experience. If you’re a prospective Chicago home seller, here are the top five things you can do now to get ready for an exceptional spring sale:

Interview REALTORS®

Your choice of an experienced Chicago listing agent will make a big difference in how quickly your home sells and how much of a profit you’ll realize. Get recommendations from friends and interview several Chicago listing agents to see which ones have the right experience with similar homes in your price range and area. A REALTOR® with a great marketing plan and deep local Chicago knowledge is extremely important. Don’t just go with the one who tells you they can sell for the highest price; choose someone who can present you with detailed market analysis and a good grasp of what you’re looking to do.

Research Your Market

If you plan to buy another Chicago home, an important decision to make is whether to sell your home first or make an offer on a new home before putting yours on the market. A knowledgeable REALTOR® can help you evaluate how fast homes are selling in your market and help you estimate how long it will take you to find a home. This decision also depends on your financing, so you may want to consult with a lender to see how you can finance the transition from one home to another if you choose not to sell your home first.

If you spend the winter months preparing for spring, you’ll find yourself ready to move fast when buyers come out of hibernation.

Improve Your Home

While you don’t necessarily want to do a major, expensive renovation project before you sell, you can make minor repairs and improvements that will make your home look fresher to buyers. Try things such as replacing the caulk and grout in your bathroom, updating old or rusted ceiling fans and light fixtures, and changing switch plates, doorknobs and other hardware for a clean and neat appearance. Consider painting your front door and trim even if your rooms don’t need new paint.

Clear Away the Clutter

If you visit model homes or open houses of homes that have been staged, you’ll never see a stack of unread magazines, children’s artwork loosely hanging on the refrigerator, or a cluster of unpaid bills on a table. While everyone has clutter, buyers want to see a fantasy version of your house, in which they can envision living. Once your home is on the market you’ll need to keep it as neat as possible. One way to make that easier is to reduce the amount of clutter you have on your shelves and surfaces. Put away items that are regularly on your kitchen sink and pack away the family photos that gather dust.

Start Packing

It may sound crazy to start packing months in advance of your move, but since you’ll eventually need to do this anyway, you might as well get organized now. We’re not suggesting you pack up your kitchen and eat off paper plates, but you can sort through your storage closets, attic, basement or garage to determine what you want to keep, what to give away and what to sell. Boxing up items will make your space look larger and neater when it’s time to show your home. You can also get an idea of whether you need to rent a storage facility while your home is on the market. More information HERE

For over 15 years, Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group has enjoyed representing both Chicago buyers and Chicago sellers as a Licensed Broker Associate in the top ranking Coldwell Banker’s Lincoln Park Plaza office- 1840 N Clark St, Chicago, Illinois 60614-5881, one of the top five producing Coldwell Banker offices in the Country. Ian was given the distinguished title of being in the top 1% of agents within the Chicago Association of Realtors for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. His sales consistently produce in excess of 50+ million dollars each year.  Additionally, with the help of his high ranking team, Ian steadily holds the coveted top 1% of Coldwell Banker agents within the United States. Think of spring and select a Chicago real estate group with a compelling profile of success and a client centered style that produce results. More information on Ian and his team can be found HERE and HERE.

Top Tip for Sellers in Today’s Market…Honesty Rules

It’s as true in real estate as it is in politics: There are no secrets anymore. Buyers have access to an enormous amount of information. On the Internet, details about what a Chicago home last sold for and how much it now might be worth are usually only a series of clicks away. Where sellers might once have coyly declined to say what they paid for a house, sellers and buyers can now assume that each has most or all of the information the other has. “I tell my sellers that the buyers are going to look at all the same facts I’ve [given] them in the listing presentation,” Owen says. “There’s no way to hide it.”

Some sharp real-estate agents have been capitalizing on the newfound transparency, playing to buyers’ understanding of the market. They may trumpet the size of the bargain, such as the listing for a St. Charles home sold in June that announced the asking price of $1.249 million was “$1 million less than seller paid in ’06!” A Chicago-Lincoln Park propertie’s listing sheet blared that the $1.75 million asking price was well below both the original asking price of $3.65 million and the appraised value of $2.5 million. For another residence—this one in Lake View—the agent confessed that the home “was overpriced for much too long.” Those revelations might spark pangs of humiliation in the sellers, but at the same time, they send a clear signal to buyers: Game on.

Honesty is essential in another aspect of the home-selling process. When first meeting with a real-estate agent, sellers should be up-front about their financial status. As Parent explains, there are markedly different routes for selling a home that is…CONTINUED