Fall 2018 Home Maintenance Checklist-Chicago Real Estate

Is fall home maintenance as important as spring cleaning….absolutely!  The air on a brisk 2018 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 softwoods 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

October 2018 – 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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2018-Back to School and Pre-Autumn Advice-5 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes: Chicago Real Estate

Buying-School-First TimeAre you a first time Chicago home buyer this 2018 fall season…enthusiastic and ready to get into the real estate market? It’s certainly that time of year when individuals consider moving whether for work, school, to reduce costs, better lifestyle access, the list is endless; but are you aware of the common pitfalls associated with taking the plunge? Listed below are the top 5 tips to consider before making the “move”:

  1. They don’t ask enough questions of their Realtor and/or lender and end up missing out on the best deal.
  2. They don’t act quickly enough to make a decision and someone else buys the house.
  3. They don’t find the right agent who’s willing to help them through the home buying process.
  4. They don’t do enough to make their offer look appealing to a seller.
  5. They don’t think about resale before they buy. The average first-time buyer only stays in a home for five years or less

A long-standing resource with over 15 years of experience, Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group has enjoyed representing both first time home buyers and sellers as a top performing Licensed Broker/Real Estate Associate in Coldwell Banker’s high producing Lincoln Park Plaza office, one of the top five ranking Coldwell Banker offices in the Country. Ian and his team will have all your bases covered. They combine forces to ensure that your overall real estate experience will be exceptional. They are located within the Lincoln Park Plaza office

Love of Open Floor Plans for Summer 2018-Chicago Real Estate Trends

The open room concept is simply how we live. Open living, that one room for all reasons, is the National and Chicago real estate OpenFloorPlantrend that keeps on trending.

Open living does the following things:

  • Adds space without changing your home’s footprint (a good thing because it saves money)
  • Increases natural light
  • Improves traffic patterns
  • Lets you enjoy more of your home more of the time

Here are some ways to achieve open living:

 Bringing in More Light

Adding daylight will make your rooms appear bigger and brighter. Here are some ways to bring in more light:

  • Widen windows. Bust through your Chicago home’s exterior and add bigger, more energy-efficient windows. If you change a 3×5 double hung window to a 5×5 picture window, it’ll cost you $450 to $1,000 for the window and $350 to $473 for labor. Add another 50% to 100% in installation costs if you have to remove siding and reframe the new window.
  • Add French doors or sliding patio doors. Put them where windows used to be ($1,200-$3,000 installed for 6-foot-8 by 5-foot wood door). To make the most of these doors, let them open up to a patio or deck—finished outdoor space that feels like you’re extending indoor living.
  • Install skylights. Adding skylights brings in lots of daylight—about 30% more than a similar-size window. Install skylights ($650 to $3,500 for a 2×4 model) with build-in light fixtures that you can turn on when the sun doesn’t shine.
  • Lighten the drapes. A low-cost way to bring in more light is to exchange heavy curtains for sheer drapes or fabric blinds.

Removing Walls

It’s a simple concept: Take down a wall to combine spaces ($500 to $4,000, professionally done). If the wall in question is not load-bearing and doesn’t hide plumbing pipes, it’s a relatively simple task for a contractor to do the following jobs:

  • Demolish drywall and studs
  • Reroute electric lines
  • Build a chase for an HVAC duct hidden in a wall
  • Patch flooring
  • Patch and paint the ceiling where the wall was attached

Taking down a load-bearing wall is not as simple, but definitely doable by a professional (not a DIY project). You’ll need an architect or structural engineer. Half walls also can pull double duty as breakfast bars, bookcases, and extra storage.

More information can be found HERE

 

With summer 2018 top producing, top-selling, high-ranking Chicago real estate results already existing, Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group leaves no stone unturned. He and his team (Jenna Plakas, Victor Elting, Michael Shin and Alexander Pappas combine forces to offer a client-centric, results-driven approach to buying and selling real estate in the Chicagoland area.   Ian’s legal, marketing, and consulting background, combined with his outgoing personality, his good sense of humor, and his integrity, professionalism, and dedication, have led to his ongoing success as a Licensed Broker Associate in the Chicago Lincoln Park-Coldwell Banker residential real estate office. He and his team pride themselves on the ability to listen and analyze the needs of both buyers and sellers;  giving them conscientious service all while winning their trust, loyalty, and friendship.

 

Top Summer 2018 Remodel Projects That Produce the Biggest Bang for Your Buck-Chicago Real Estate

RemodelingIt’s summer time, often an opportunity to update, change and add on to a Chicago home. But which one provides the biggest bang on home improvement ROI? Below is a list that breaks it down and sheds some light:

Chicago homeowners who updated their most frequented rooms and those who added on more living space often enjoyed the biggest return on investment, according to Remodeling Online’s latest Cost vs. Value Report. The annual report is the result of responses from 300 real estate professionals in 60 markets nationwide. Remodeling Online asked the pros what level of return a given remodeling job would provide if the house were sold within one year of the work. On the average nationwide, kitchen and bath remodels along with second-story, bath, family room and master suite additions were rated tops. Experts say newness and spaciousness are key.

From a minor kitchen remodeling job’s return of 88 percent to a 71 percent return on both a major kitchen remodeling job and a master suite addition, here’s a look at what gives you the top five best returns for your money. Maintenance-related jobs are excluded. For periods longer than a year between the remodeling work and the home sale, expect smaller returns.

Although the data is updated annually, the figures below should give you a general idea of what return you’ll get on your improvements.

 Best Returns:

Home Improvement Job Cost Resale Value Cost Recouped
Minor Kitchen Remodel $17,928 $15,278 85.2%
Window Replacement (Wood) $11,040 $9,416 85.3%
Bathroom Remodel $12,918 $10,970 84.9%
Window Replacement (Vinyl) $10,160 $8,500 83.7%
Two-story Addition $105,297 $87,654 83.2%
Major Kitchen Remodel $54,241 $43,603 80.4%
Attic Bedroom Remodel $44,073 $35,228 79.9%

Source: Remodeling Online/Hanley-Wood.

Resale/Selling Value Tip:

The psychology of newness and more spacious quarters translates into top resale value when several conditions work in conjunction:

  1. Curb Appeal
  2. Remodeling to Existing Standards
  3. Quality of Work

Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group is among Chicago’s top selling Realtors.  Look to him and his team this summer 2018 to provide unparalleled client-centered service, dedication, passion, and top producing results; all while working to earn the trust, loyalty and friendship of each and every buyer or seller they represent. More info HERE

Are you Ready to Sell?….See the 2018 Spring into Summer Plan – Chicago Real Estate Experts

Even the most luxurious, well-maintained homes need an efficient 2018 sales strategy for a smooth transaction. The house won’t sell itself!dealseal

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 tend 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 2017. 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 2018…everything we touch turns to Sold!

 

 

3 2018 Housing Trends Buyers-Sellers Should Know This Spring: Chicago Real Estate

The summary of hot housing trends going on right now this spring 2018: Potential Chicago-Lincoln Park home-buyers may find that if they were waiting for mortgage rates or house prices to hit bottom, they may have delayed too long. Expected mortgage rate increases will serve as a warning to borrowers who thought the low rates would last long term. Good news: mortgage rates are still at historic lows.

Good news: Chicago home purchases have picked up considerably, many are ready to buy. In addition millions of current borrowers will have the opportunity to refinance their mortgages through two government programs that make the refinancing process easier and cheaper.

Top 3 Chicago real estate trends you should expect to see for spring 2018:

Homebuyers are expected to get off the fence

Attractive mortgage rates, low home prices and rising rents make the current housing market the perfect opportunity for Chicago and surrounding area buyers and investors.

The price gap is closing between what sellers expect to get for their homes and what buyers pay; one reason home sales are improving. As consumer confidence and Chicago rents rise, more renters will likely want to become homeowners.

Mortgage rates rise but won’t hit the roof

Many Chicago borrowers missed the record-low mortgage rates seen earlier this year, but they still have a chance to grab low rates this spring.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest forecast indicates that the rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage will average about 4.3 percent in the second quarter. That’s up from the first quarter’s average of 4.16 percent in a weekly survey. But 4.3 percent would still be low, especially when you compare it to the 6 percent or 7 percent borrowers paid at the height of the housing boom.

Refinances get easier, cheaper

Another government program, known as HARP 2.0, will make it easier for thousands of borrowers to refinance their mortgages this spring. Homeowners who have FHA-insured mortgages and who are current on their payments will be able to refinance with lower fees through the FHA streamline refinance program starting in June. Only loans that closed before June 2009 are eligible to be refinanced in the program.

The FHA will reduce loan fees by more than half on streamline refis. As of June 11, borrowers who refinance through the FHA streamline program will pay only 0.01 percent of the loan in upfront insurance fees and 0.55 percent in annual mortgage fees. More info HERE

 

5 Steps to Chicago Real Estate Success in 2018-Property Selling and Buying

Chicago real estate agents are needed guides before during and after one of the most intimate transactions in a lifetime…buying or selling a home.  Yes, it is a business process, but one that demands a professional who embodies integrity, dedication, a personable demeanor, and a good sense of humor.  In addition having a long standing profile of concrete Realtor results doesn’t hurt either. Below are the top 5 essentials for success in any business, real estate included:

1. Understanding the Big Picture is Priceless

Taking the time to learn about a client’s business (and personal) goals and objectives is the backbone to success. Asking smart questions and doing lots of listening ranks high on the list. Understanding the dynamics and trends of an industry sets a professional apart from the rest. Look for proven results and outcomes.

2. Knowing a Client’s Expectations and Exceeding Them

Creating a reasonable set of expectations and then see if the professional will do their best to beat them. This mindset is 100% accepted and admired in any business process. The idea of following through with commitments in a timely manner is within this concept; a guaranteed way to earn trust and loyalty.

3. Observe and Execute the Client’s Preferred Way of Communicating

Asking a client for their method of frequent communication and delivering updates/progress reports often saves time as well as potential frustration from both sides.

4. Acclimate the Client to the Team Working on Their Matters

Taking the time to introduce clients to the team or group who will be working on an end goal is a good business practice for sure. Knowing the specialties of each staff member can eliminate confusion and create a seamless transaction or process.

5. Show the Client You Appreciate Their Business

Client love is the building block for friendships and ongoing business associations. Taking the time to show a client that you value their business earns loyalty, trust, and sustains a positive reputation.

Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group, prides himself on his keen ability to listen, and consistently advocate client-centric results. Ian and his team combine forces to ensure an outstanding real estate experience for each and every client they service.  For more than 14 years, Ian has been among the elite group of top performing Realtors in Chicago and by rank fall in the upper 1% of real estate professionals nationwide. number 1 in closed sales volume within his highly productive Lincoln Park Plaza (1910 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL) Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate office in 2017, he understands his profile of success in 2018 and years after will depend on his ability to continue to gain client trust, loyalty and  friendship.

Spring 2018…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 2018 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 2018, 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. Don’t get left behind…Jump in now!

 

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.

 

 

 

Advantages to Selling During 2018 Winter Months-Chicago Real Estate Market Trends

What is the whole truth about Chicago 2018 winter real estate? Homes are more likely to sell in winter than at any other time of year. Not only that, they sell quicker and they often sell for more money. These statistics hold, at various Winterhomepercentages, whether the home is in balmy San Diego, Calif., or snow forming parts of the Midwest.

Some national news headlines do us no favors by claiming that the reason for any possible winter sales slump is because of February’s “cold, dark weather” across most of the country. Sure, that can be a deterrent, but most of the slide in sales may be due to the media helping to form public perception that winter is a horrible season for real estate deals…simply not the case. Successful Chicago real estate professionals know better. Winter is actually a great season to sell a home, and below are just a few of the many reasons why:

Less Competition From Other Sellers

“Just your luck – you have to sell your home in winter, the slowest and dreariest sales season of all,” begins a column on winter real estate from USA Today. “Winter can be the toughest season to put a house on the market,” claims a writer at Fox News before he goes on to give tips to increase “chances of a winter sale.”

Naturally, many homeowners read these news items and decide to hold out until spring. Worse yet are the homeowners who take their homes off the market as winter approaches, aiming to re-list in spring. Sadly, they may be missing a prime opportunity to finally get the home sold – and for top dollar. Because other homeowners took the bait, however, there is far less competition for those that do list, and Chicago homeowners are definitely in the driver’s seat in a winter transaction.

Buyers Are More Motivated During Winter

What would motivate someone to buy real estate in the dead of winter, especially in areas with wicked weather? Job transfers are high on the list of reasons, so if you practice real estate in an area with large influxes of transferees aka relocating to Chicago, winter is an even better time to sell.

“It’s true that if your home isn’t on the market in winter, the new Microsoft manager relocating from California won’t see it and will thus buy another home,” writes Seattle agent and broker Sam DeBord for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“But that same situation for a home seller who is on the market is magnified. Your competition is nowhere to be seen,” he continues. “While the buyer may have had 30 homes to choose from in June, there may only be 10 homes that fit their criteria in January. If they are motivated to buy, they will choose one of those 10 homes.” More information HERE

February 2018 – Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group is dedicated to ongoing high ranking, top performing, client focused Chicago real estate expertise in winter and through all seasons.  This top producing, nationally awarded, savvy Chicago real estate team prides itself on leaving no stone unturned to find you the perfect home. If you are a seller, Ian and his experienced team will pour their hearts and souls into effectively marketing your home online and in print to have it seen by the largest possible audiences around the world. They will take all necessary measures to bring qualified buyers in the door and close the real estate sale(s) with ease.

4 Reasons Why 2018 IS The Year to Make a Move – Chicago Real Estate Experts

Chicago….If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, 2018 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 housing economists 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.

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 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.

Related: How to buy a home without a 20% down payment

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 2017, Ian Schwartz with the Ian Schwartz Group is determined to once again surpass expectations in 2018! 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 2018…everything we touch turns to SOLD!