While many Chicago buyers may be swayed by a home’s appearance, financing, and location, a recent article in U.S. News & World Report lists tips for those often-forgotten aspects of home ownership that ring true for buyers across the country and also here in the Chicago-Lincoln Park area:
Remodeling Rules: Purchasers who are looking to have a house grow with their family’s needs through the years may want to investigate any such rules beforehand to make sure that they’ll be able to add onto their home as needed. Many community associations may set limitations on what you can do to property, particularly if the buyer ever wants to make exterior changes like adding a garage or guest house.
Stay Informed, Ask Questions, Test Your Knowledge: Keeping abreast of the intricate details and considerations of buying a Chicago home can make or break your home buying experience. Are you fully informed? Do your homework and take the financial literacy quiz to test your knowledge when it comes to making important decisions regarding your money. Ultimately, having the patience to carefully weigh these considerations and improve your education surrounding mortgages, negotiations, real estate language helps to create peace of mind on this big-ticket purchase. Above all, using your Chicago top selling realtor as a guide to save time and help you avoid costly mistakes.
Lifestyle Amenities: While some may not seem outwardly important at first, they contribute to heightened housing market values in the community and affect whether you’re satisfied with your home purchase. Choosing the right kind of amenities for your present and future plans can impact future savings in terms of convenience and commuting costs, especially if the prospective neighborhood is lacking in that facet. Exploring neighborhood amenities such as schools, public transportation, recreational parks, and proximity to entertainment are additional things to consider when buying a house. More info HERE
Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group has been representing both buyers and sellers as a Licensed Broker Associate in Coldwell Banker’s Lincoln Park Plaza office, one of the top-five-producing Coldwell Banker offices in the United States. Ian has sold over 500 million dollars of real estate, including sales in excess of 55 million dollars in 2015 and sales in excess of 50 million dollars in 2014. He is consistently in the top 1% of agents in the Chicago Association of Realtors and in the top 1% of Coldwell Banker agents nationally. Look to Ian and his accomplished team to find out why…everything we touch turns to SOLD!
With the Chicago temperatures climbing, people are out and about, including buyers. Make your home the object of attraction using city curb appeal techniques. Are you Jonesing for a green retreat in a space that’s unique? Turn square footage into foliage with these top 4 urban gardening ideas:
1. Review your challenges
Chicago rooftops and balconies in high-rise buildings are basically microclimates, buffeted by wind, the radiant heat of concrete, and the shade from neighboring buildings.
Opt for plants known for their hardiness, slow growth, and ability to withstand gusts. The higher the floor, the more wind comes into play in plant selection. Nasturtium and daylilies have flexible stems that sway without breaking. A lattice windbreak adds a stylish protection element
Pollution is another issue for urban gardeners. Choose plants with shiny leaves that won’t trap dust:
- Morning glory vines
Your Chicago balcony, terrace, porch, railing (think climbing vines), or curbside patch of dirt is room enough for urban gardening, and a neat way to add some Zen to any potential concrete and steel surroundings.
2. Think long and lean
Select plants with:
- Small footprints — plants tagged with the labels “dwarf” or “miniature.”
- Tall silhouettes. Up is the way to go when plotting in feet and not acres. Good choices are container-friendly columnar apple trees or Baptisia australis with spires of violet blue flowers. Another way to get height: a green wall, sometimes known as a vertical of living wall. It’s not only practical, it can be stunningly sculptural.
Before you do anything, check your building’s management or home owners association rules on where or what you can plant.
3. Plan for your conditions
Identify your plant hardiness zone, then look for plants that can thrive in your local conditions.
Sun blocked by tall buildings? Shade-tolerant varieties include:
If your space has a clear sight line to the sun, choose plants like:
And don’t discount vegetables in a small-space garden. They grow handily in containers, and are a great way to add color and save money on produce.
4. Save on supplies
Need to keep the word budget in mind? No problem. No more than $250 is an absolutely doable figure, and should cover enough plants for a modest space; containers, soil, and basic tools like a hand trowel, pruners, and hose.
Don’t be surprised if you need to set aside part of your budget to replace the occasional plant in street-level plots throughout the season. They may feel some wear and tear from cars, dogs, and people.
To get the most out of your budget, keep an eye out for no- or low-cost offers and a way to reconnect with your community. Often, neighborhood groups encourage home owners to garden, often with money-saving programs. Here are four ways to save:
A. Organize a seed swap with friends and neighbors, root stem cuttings, and divide up perennials to keep costs down
B. Contact your local cooperative extension office for free supplies like mulch. These organizations also offer soil-testing services, for a small fee, which help maintain healthy plants or diagnose problems.
D. Visit your local botanical garden or conservancy for free expert advice and gardening workshops.
More Info HERE
Look to The Ian Schwartz Group for all things real estate this summer 2016 and remembr…everything we touch turns to SOLD!
The U.S. government and local organizations can often offer special tax credits/incentives for first-time home buyers. When the economy was a shambles and the housing market was in disarray back in 2009 and 2010, factors often resulted from a purely financial standpoint, that people who bought then may have been better off renting and putting their down payment and transaction costs into the stock market, according to a new analysis by Zillow Research. On the other end of the spectrum…Many people who took the government and other organizations up on special home-buying incentives six years ago remain in those homes and may end up making a financial killing this year and in years to come.
The only sure lesson to take from these set of scenarios is that no single element — low interest rates, low prices, government incentives — should compel you to buy or sell. That kind of myopia can backfire. The home-buying decision isn’t made in a vacuum, but includes a host of factors that make the timing right. For example, how long you plan to live there should be a major consideration. In fact, many other factors go into owning a home — some financial, some emotional, many timed to the needs of a particular buyer and/or family. Having an experienced real estate team to work on your behalf as an advocate is vital to ensuring sound real estate decisions. More information HERE
Per a recent client testimonial, Ian with the top performing Ian Schwartz Group.. “is savvy, smart, skillful, funny, aggressive, hardworking, an incredible broker who will go above and beyond not only every day, but every hour, quite possibly every minute of every hour, to get the job done.” Ian and his team strive to surpass expectations and make each and every real estate transaction a seamless success; or in other words….everything we touch turns to SOLD!
Real estate experts like The Ian Schwartz Group are trained to list and sell your beloved Chicago home for sale, but it doesn’t hurt to study up on some real estate basics. Consider the following real estate sales strategy. Take note of these 3 steps, and you’ll be well on your way to jump-starting your home sale:
Find a real estate agent. As you’re getting your house in order, start the hunt for a real estate agent. You’re not looking for just any agent; you need a real star to get you to the finish line. Put the word out to your network and don’t feel like you have to work with someone because they are family. Once you have some referrals, take the time for an interview and get to know their selling style. If said agent declines the interview request, they’re probably not for you — proceed to the next one on your list. If they seem almost right, keep looking until you find a great match. It’s worth the time investment to find the right agent.
Schedule a strategy session with your real estate agent. Purging and cleaning were the warm-up act. Now you’re ready for the main event. After you’ve signed on the dotted line with your real estate professional, schedule a walk-through before listing and take your agent’s feedback seriously. They know what color to paint that old maroon accent wall, how to stage the living room so it looks 20% bigger, and how to deal with outdated kitchen cabinets. They also know how to allocate your dollars to impress potential buyers.
Be vigilant with your belongings. Now is the time to tackle those organization and cleaning projects. The detritus of life tends to stack up in our living spaces, which may be fine for every day but isn’t great for selling. Make the adage “less is more” your mantra and divide your belongings into two piles: one to take to the new place, one to toss or give away. (Or try following a flow chat for decluttering tips.) And remember, packing items away doesn’t mean shoving them in the hallway closet. Buyers will very likely open every cabinet and drawer, so those spaces should be tidy too. For more advanced tips see info HERE
Ian with The Ian Schwartz Group, has sold over 500 million dollars of real estate, including sales in excess of 55 million dollars in 2015 and sales in excess of 50 million dollars in 2014. He and his team are consistently in the top 1% of agents in the Chicago Association of Realtors and in the top 1% of Coldwell Banker agents nationally. Find out why this spring and summer 2016…everything we touch turns to Sold!
We are part of the Midwest landscape. Our weather patterns may test the structures of our sturdy Chicago-Lincoln Park homes. So, certain property maintenance tasks should be completed each season to preserve value, prevent structural damage, save energy, and keep all your home’s systems running and humming like new. What maintenance tasks are tops for the Chicago-Midwest in spring or summer? Here are the major issues you should be aware of and critical tasks you should add to your list:
1. Double Check your GFCIs. (ground fault circuit interrupters) are electrical outlets that protect you from deadly electrical shocks by shutting off the power anytime even a minimal disruption in current is detected. They feature two buttons (“test” and “reset”), and should be present anywhere water and electricity can mix: kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages, and the exterior of the house. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you do this once a month. It’s a good idea to incorporate it into your spring maintenance routine.
2. Make sure gutters and downspouts are clear. Stuff accumulates even after your fall gutter cleaning. Items like pine needles especially, which fall all year long and are difficult to get out. Even children’s toys may find their way into gutters between cleanings, as well as nails and other debris from the roof. Look for any sign of wind or ice damage—has the gutter pulled away from the house, or bent so that there are depressions where water can stand? You can usually repair damage yourself for under $50 by adjusting or reattaching brackets and gently hammering out bent areas.
3. Examine your roof for winter wear. This is best done using a ladder, but if you’re allergic to ladders, use a pair of binoculars to check your roof from your yard. Look for loose and missing shingles. If anything looks unusual, investigate further yourself or call a roofing professional.
4. Inspect your chimney. High winds, rain, and snow can damage a chimney. Look for cracks, missing mortar, loose bricks or boards, and signs of rot. If any of those things are present, call a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America for a repair estimate.
5. Check on your drainage. Make sure soil slopes away from your foundation at least 6 vertical inches in the first 10 feet on all sides of the house and that there are no areas of standing water. If you have properly sloped foundation drainage but still have areas of standing water, consider a landscaping solution, such as a swales (contoured drainage depressions), berms (raised banks of earth), terraces, or French drains (a shallow, gravel-filled trench that diverts water away from the house).
6. Investigate your siding. Has any of it come loose or started to rot? Repair any damaged sections before moisture has a chance to settle in. No matter what your siding is made of (wood, vinyl, brick), it may need spring cleaning. The best DIY method for any kind of siding is a bucket of soapy water and a long-handled brush.
7. Setup biannual HVAC inspection. Get ready for the air conditioning season with your spring tune-up. If your system wasn’t running well last year, be sure to tell your contractor, and make sure he performs actual repairs if necessary rather than simply adding refrigerant. Your maintenance checklist should include checking thermostats and controls, checking the refrigerant level, tightening connections, lubricating any moving parts, checking the condensate drain, and cleaning the coils and blower. On your own, make sure your filters are changed and vacuum out all your floor registers. NOTE–duct cleaning, while it probably won’t hurt anything, is not necessary; be wary of contractors who want to coat the inside of the ducts with antimicrobial agents, as research has not proven the effectiveness of this method and any chemicals used in your ducts will likely become airborne.
Everyone has at least one..a wish list. But, what about when the time comes to purchase a home? Do you know what you specifically want? Are your wants and needs organized/recorded somewhere? What does your future Chicago-home look like? Where is it located? As you narrow in on your dream property, consult the details below as a guide to evaluate properties and keep your “must haves” top of mind:
What Chicago neighborhoods do you prefer Lincoln Park, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lakeview, River North, Roscoe Village, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square, Ukrainian Village, East Village, West Town, Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, North Center, Andersonville, River East, River West, Streeterville, West Loop, South Loop, Loop, Lakewood Balmoral, Edgewater, Old Irving Park, Uptown, West Ridge, Rogers Park, or maybe Evanston?
What Chicago school systems do you want to be near?
How close must the Chicago home be to these amenities?
- Public transportation
- Airport (O’Hare or Midway)
- Neighborhood shopping
- What architectural style(s) of homes do you prefer (Brownstone, Chicago Bungalow)?
- Do you want to buy a home, condominium, or townhome?
- Would you like a one-story or two-story home?
- How many bedrooms will your new home have?
- How many bathrooms must your new home have?
- Do you prefer a new Chicago home or an existing home?
- If you’re looking for an existing home, how old of a Chicago home would you consider?
- How much repair or renovation would you be willing to do?
- Do you have special needs that your home must meet?
Use the grid below to circle or highlight your ideal choices:
|Front Yard||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Back yard||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Garage ( __ cars)||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Patio/Deck||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Pool||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Family room||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Formal living room||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Formal dining room||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Eat-in kitchen||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Laundry room||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Finished basement||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Attic||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Fireplace||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Spa in bath||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Air conditioning||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Wall-to-wall carpet||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Wood floors||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
|Great view||Must Have||Would Like||Willing to Compromise||Not Important|
For more information visit HERE
The Chicago market is alive, thriving do doing well and very active! This trend continues to dominate The Ian Schwartz group; with ongoing top performing, high ranking, best producing results with residential real estate client centered services. Look to Ian Schwartz and his award winning team to find out why…..everything they touch turns to SOLD!
Winter weather can potentially pose some challenges during the moving process, but those who want or need to assume a new residence during cold weather months have options to prevent problems from affecting their relocation. I have helped countless clients with relocation that include buying or selling a home. As a preferred USAA Movers Advantage realtor, I assist by sorting out real estate matters that can easily become an overwelming process. Keep the following 10 tips in mind before the big day:
1. Make sure your moving paperwork is organized.Create a move file to store information and collect expense receipts.
2. Get in-touch with your new community.Contact the local chamber of commerce or visitors’ bureau for your new community. See if they can send you a telephone directory and newspapers.
3. Confirm school schedules and enrollment requirements.Arrange to pick up school records or have them sent to the new schools.
4. Protect your items.Obtain appraisals for high-value items. Call USAA at 1-866-398-7537 to obtain coverage for your possessions while in transit or storage. Contact your homeowners insurance company at least 24 hours before you release your belongings to the mover (For USAA, call 1-800-531-8111).
5. Don’t leave your car out.Take care of auto maintenance and repairs. Call USAA at 1-800-531-8722 to get an auto insurance quote for your new location.
6. Switching your utility services. Notify your utilities and local services of disconnect dates. Order utility services for your new address, including Internet, cable, home phone, electricity and natural gas through the Utility Marketplace.
7. Update address info.Get change-of-address cards from your post office. Aside from friends and family, make sure you provide your new address to medical facilities, schools, magazines to which you subscribe, and USAA.
8. Lighten your load..have a garage sale.Donate anything that isn’t sold to charity. (Don’t forget to keep receipts for income tax deductions.)
9. Remember cleaning.Properly dispose of flammables such as aerosol cans, cleaning fluids, paint, ammunition, weed killer and acids. Drain oil and gas from your lawn mower or other power equipment. Clean the refrigerator and the freezer; allow them to dry one or two days with the doors open. Remember to block the doors to keep them from closing if you have small children or pets.
10. Travel well prepared. Separate items you don’t want to pack, such as suitcases, and store in an empty closet. Pack prescriptions and immediate necessities in an easy-to-access suitcase. If you are traveling by air, do not check this bag. If you have children, compile a list of traveling games for the car or plane ride. MORE INFO
Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group looks forward to making 2016 a year of more top performing, high ranking, client focused, accolade producing results. See why he and his team are known for…everything we touch turns to SOLD!
Chicago….If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, 2016 will be the year to take the plunge! See below on why:
1. Rents will still hurt
Rent prices are expected to continue to climb in the new year, which means in most cities like Chicago, buying will be cheaper than renting. Even though mortgages could get more expensive, buying might still be the better deal. Interest rates would need to rise to around 6.5% for the cost of buying to equal that of renting on a national level, according to Ralph McLaughlin, housing economist at Trulia.
2. Home prices will finally calm down
Real estate values have been on the rise for a while, but are likely to slow their pace next year. Prices are expected to rise 3.5%,according to Zillow’s Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.
Buyers who’ve been stuck behind the wave of rising prices may finally get the chance to jump in. And that could lead to a flood of buyers, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Realtor.com.
“We have the potential for about six million home sales just through the months of April through September; that is basically impossible to do,” he said. But not everyone will be in a position to take advantage. Despite the slowdown, Zillow still expects home values to outpace wage growth, which can make it tough to afford a home, especially for lower-income buyers. Plus, prices in the country’s hottest markets — like San Francisco, Boston and New York City — aren’t expected to pull back as much next year.
3. More homes will hit the market
The slowdown in home prices will prompt more owners to list their homes, Smoke said, giving buyers more choice. “Because of the price appreciation they have experienced, you will have more sellers put homes on the market next year,” he said.
The new home market is also expected to grow in the coming year with builders focusing more on starter and middle-range homes, which will also boost inventory and make it easier for buyers.
With more homes on the market, bidding wars will become less common and prices could ease even more.
4. Dirt cheap mortgages could disappear
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to begin increasing interest rates soon, which means the window for record low mortgage rates is closing. While rates are expected to go up gradually, higher rates push up borrowing costs and monthly mortgage payments. More details can be found HERE.
With over $50,000,000 sold in 2015, Ian Schwartz with the Ian Schwartz Group is determined to once again surpass expectations in 2016! By providing outstanding, client driven service, Ian and his team pride themselves on leaving no stone upturned until each and every real estate transaction is done earning trust, loyalty, and friendship of those they assist. See why in 2016…everything we touch turns to SOLD!
A job that should be done year round… the upkeep of curb appeal, a Chicago property staple for many. Take the Chicago curb appeal quiz (Holiday edition) and see if you’re keeping up with the season:
1. Driving home at night, you see a wide variety of Chicago outdoor decorations and cozy lit details. You then:
a. Enjoy the display and feel connected to the Chicago community.
b. Wonder how some people can afford to pay their electric bills!
c. Wishing your Chicago home looked that awesome!
2. The day after your holiday feast finds you:
a. Looking at a pile of dirty dishes and wondering if friends or family will help tackle them.
b. Reaching for your antacids and the remote.
c. Putting up your front yard holiday decorations.
3. You pull up in front of your Chicago home on a dark, windy and snowy night, and immediately:
a. Feel slightly uncomfortable that the front of the house hasn’t been tended to since the summer.
b. Are glad it gets dark early and you have no lighting to call attention to your home?
c. Feel a thrill of pride at living in a warm and welcoming Chicago home, graciously lit and beautifully decorated; ready for visitors, friends, family even buyers or sellers of Chicago real estate!
The following are tips especially for those of you who enjoy your holiday cheer — those who answered “b” we are talking to you! Make your Chicago home a joy to come home to and above all get noticed for all the right reasons:
• Light strands with battery packs make it possible to light potted porch plants with no fuss.
• Use battery-operated candles to create fire-safe luminaries to light your paths and driveway.
• Be sure outdoor lighting is on after dark. A timer or photocell can help with this.
• A natural wreath on the door made of fresh winter berries and foliage is a beautiful addition to any home. Colored garland over the doorway creates an added sense of welcome.
Happy Holidays from Ian Schwartz and The Ian Schwartz Group! Remember…everything we touch turns to SOLD!
Is fall home maintenance as important as spring cleaning….absolutely! The air on a brisk 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.
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 2015 – 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!