Don’t Forget Holiday Curb Appeal: Chicago Real Estate

During the holidays, your curb appeal needs to not only spread holiday cheer, but attract the right message to guests and potential home buyers. If the outside of your home is not appealing, you may leave a not so great lasting first impression before anyone even experiences what the inside has to offer. Many real estate professionals and home stagers have found that hints of holiday colors and decorations on the outside of your home can create a warm and inviting atmosphere for all that cross the threshold. With so many poor examples of proper outdoor decorations, it is hard to know what is appropriate for decorating the exterior of your home. REALTOR® Magazine  provides guidelines to create holiday curb appeal the right way:

1. For a classic exterior look, home stagers recommend twinkling clear, white lights.

2. Hang a festive wreath at the front door that will look great and create a nice smell when buyers enter your home.

3. Add some seasonal flowers to your front entryway to add some holiday color.

4. Show off your windows with battery-operated candle lamps at primary windows.

5. Leave outdoor lights on after 5:00 p.m. to give all a clear pathway as they enter your home.

6. Think winter and not a specific holiday…avoid placing religious-themed decorations outside your home.

7. Make sure your home is in home staging shape with nicely trimmed bushes, fresh house paint, etc.

Since your home will be looking its best, take a photo that you can use to create a special holiday card or flyer to be used as marketing material through the holiday weeks.  With these tips, you will be on your way to leaving good vibes with visitors, guests, and potential home buyers.

4 Reasons to Buy Right Now!-Chicago Real Estate

In Chicago, right along with spring, autumn is commonly the busiest real estate time of the year. You can buy and sell houses at any time, although the Chicago real estate market during the fall offers unique and plentiful benefits to buyers. Take a peek at the recommended list below for the run down:

1. Fall into tax breaks. The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, as well as some of the costs involved in buying your home. By September/October, people are already reviewing year-end tax breaks they may be eligible for. Fortunately for homebuyers, owning a home can yield immense dividends in tax returns. For example, both mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible from gross income.  Also, if you have prepaid any interest before the due date of your first payment and you close your loan before the year’s end, that amount will also be deducted. We recommend you consult a tax professional for specific details and guidelines.

2. Additional home buying choices. Chicago home buying and selling often reaches a competitive peak during the fall season. Some may feel pressure to buy due to the quicker turnaround of houses on the market, but at the same time a benefit often seen is a wider selection of homes available. To make sure you don’t miss out on finding your dream house, it’s a good idea to examine on-line advertisements  frequently, since the hottest Chicago listings are updated often!

3. Consistent Predictability. Unlike rent, your fixed-mortgage payments don’t rise over the years so your housing costs will likely decline as you own the home longer. However, keep in mind that property taxes and insurance costs will increase.

 4. Oh yes, Freedom. The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and benefit from your investment for as long as you own your Chicago home.

November 2016- For more information and to experience accolade supported,  client focused guidance on buying selling or renting Chicago-Lincoln Park area real estate, contact The Ian Schwartz Group. They will leave no stone unturned, ensuring smooth and pleasant real estate experiences… everything we touch turns to SOLD!

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist-Chicago Real Estate Experts

Although autumn can be one of the busiest seasons for Chicago real estate and current homeowners, it’s also the best time to take advantage of the moderate weather to repair any damages before the first frost sets in. Here are some home maintenance ideas that will keep your Chicago Fallhome running in peak condition all the autumn season long in 2016.

EXTERIOR MAINTENANCE
Check foundation for cracks and caulk around the areas where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the house, and around the windows and door frames to prevent heat from escaping. “Caulking and sealing openings is one of the least expensive maintenance jobs,” says Michael Hydeck, Hydeck Design Build, Inc., Telford, PA, and National President, National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). “Openings in the structure can cause water to get in and freeze, resulting in cracks and mold build up,” he says. “Regardless of whether you live in a cold or warm climate, winter can bring very harsh conditions resulting in water or ice damage. A careful check of the outside structure combined with inexpensive maintenance can save you money in the long run.”

Install storm windows and doors and remove screens. Before storing, clean and repair screens, spray with a protective coating and place in a dry area of the basement or garage.

Slideshow: 10 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Examine your pool cover for damage and replace if necessary.

Weather-strip your garage door. Make sure the seal between your garage door and the ground is tight to prevent drafts and keep out small animals.

Inspect your driveway for cracks. Clean out and repair any damage with driveway filler, then coat with a commercial sealer.

INTERIOR MAINTENANCE 

“Heating and cooling amount to 47% of the energy costs in your home. Proper sealing and insulation can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs, or up to 10% on your total annual energy bill,” says Katie Cody, spokeswoman for Lowe’s. “Air leaks from windows and doors are easy to find by moving your hand around the frame. Applying weather stripping and caulk to these areas will help cut down on drafts.” More information HERE

October 2016-Get all your Chicago real estate needs completely met with Ian Schwartz and The Ian Schwartz Group this autumn season. With over 15 years of top ranking, high producing, nationally recognized performance, Ian and his team combine forces to ensure an outstanding, client centric experience from start to finish. Buyers and Sellers alike, no stone will be left unturned until the transaction(s) are completed with experienced ease.

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 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 1840 N Clark St, Chicago, Illinois 60614-5881.

3 Commonly Overlooked Areas Before a Home Purchase: Chicago Top Producing Realtor

When choosing a Chicago home or any home for that matter, housing experts say that buyers often overlook important factors that may keep them happy for years to come with their property purchase.

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!

 

Best Urban Curb Appeal Tips for Summer2016: Chicago Real Estate Experts

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
  • Coleus
  • Zinnias
  • Marigolds

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:

  • Fuchsia
  • Impatiens
  • Hosta

If your space has a clear sight line to the sun, choose plants like:

  • Petunias
  • Salvia
  • Geraniums

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.

C. Check your local municipality for freebies. Chicago, for instance, runs a sustainable backyard program with workshops and rebates for trees, rain barrels, compost bins and native plants.

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 Best Time to Buy or Sell for 2016 is Now?..Chicago Real Estate Experts

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!

 

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

Even the most luxurious, well-maintained homes need an efficient 2016 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 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!

 

 

Top 7 Spring Home Maintenance Tasks: Chicago Real Estate

Click image for more 2015-16 season info!

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.

Read more HERE and also see why The Ian Schwartz Team…everything we touch turns to SOLD!

Do You Know What You Want in 2016? :Chicago Real Estate Experts

Everyone has at least one..a wish list. But, what about when the time comes to purchase a home?  Do you know what List of-wantsyou 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:

Neighborhoods

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?

Schools

What Chicago school systems do you want to be near?

Transportation

How close must the Chicago home be to these amenities?

  • Public transportation
  • Airport (O’Hare or Midway)
  • Expressway
  • Neighborhood shopping
  • Schools
  • Other

Home Style

  • 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?

Home Condition

  • 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?

Home Features

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!