Category Archives: Top Producing Chicago Realtor

Top 3 Myths About 2019 Home Staging-Chicago Real Estate

Making the most money on the sale of a home for 2019 is often the name of the game, and the agents who can do that, and ideally in a short span of time, becomes the Realtor of choice.  There’s been a lot of talk about staging a home to sell these days because Chicago sellers are recently seeing a trend of above asking price offers!  Staging often plays a role; unfortunately, Staging-101there are quite a few myths about home staging that need to be outlined…

 Myth #1 – Staging is mostly for vacant homes.

FALSE! Staging is more critical in occupied homes because it costs a lot less and has a huge impact.

 

Myth #2 – Staging is about neutralizing and painting all the walls beige.

FALSE! Staging is about working with what the seller has, so that the more expensive cosmetic changes may not always need to be done.

Myth #3 – Staging is mostly “decluttering.”

FALSE! Staging is about “styling for the photoshoot.”

While removing the extraneous in a home in order to give the buyer a view of the architectural details is a part of staging, completely clearing off the kitchen counters, dining tables, and coffee tables is most definitely NOT what a good home stager recommends.

Listing photos online often show kitchens, for example, with completely cleared countertops and that are overall lifeless.

But an expert home stager works with the home’s integrity to capitalize and merchandise the space into something that will resonate with the buyer from online glance to in-person experience — so they’ll then want to see more of the home and true engagement is achieved. More information on this topic can be found HERE

June 2019 continues on a path of top-producing, high performing client-centric results for Ian Schwartz and The Ian Schwartz Group. Look to him and his team this summer for optimally ranking attention with buying, selling, relocating or renting residential real estate property in the city of Chicago. Find out why he and his team are known for.…everything we touch turns to SOLD!

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Best Urban Curb Appeal Tips for Summer2019: Chicago Real Estate Experts

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
  • 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 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:

  • 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 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.

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 2019 and remembr…everything we touch turns to SOLD!

 

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

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

 

Curb Appeal Holiday Quiz 2017-Chicago Real Estate

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.

• Add a welcome mat, it helps keep your homes interior cleaner, and sends an instant assuring message when someone enters the home. More info HERE and HERE

 Happy Holidays from Ian Schwartz and The Ian Schwartz Group! Remember…everything we touch turns to SOLD!

5 Myths About Home Selling Exposed – Chicago Real Estate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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!

 

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!