Category Archives: Lincoln Park
With the Chicago temperatures climbing, people are out and about, including 2019 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 homeowners 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 homeowners 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 2019 and remembr…everything we touch turns to SOLD!
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
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 2017 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!
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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
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!
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|
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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!