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!
Prepping the home rarely happens in one weekend. It takes time and thoughtful planning. Having an experienced, highly skilled Chicago real estate professional as your trusted guide certainly helps. If you intend to sell your Chicago home this spring, here are a few steps you need to consider right now:
Stash your stuff
As you prepare to sell, think of your home as an investment and start to see it through the eyes of potential buyers and the market. When you’re trying to sell your home, the less-is-more approach applies.
Put away big furniture and personal items. Store or put away all the things you won’t be using until you move into your new home. In the kitchen, make space in the cabinets for items you will need to use daily, but will want to put away for showings.
Paint, clean and make small improvements
It’s common for sellers to make cosmetic improvements before they list. Kitchens and bathrooms can sell a home. Plan to have the bathroom grout cleaned and have some parts of the house painted to give it a fresh look.
Consider cleaning rugs, refinishing hardwood floors or painting kitchen cabinets. If you plan to list in the spring, you likely have an outstanding local Chicago real estate agent on your side by now. Get their advice and ask for referrals to do the work. There are lots of inexpensive contractors who can help spruce up your home quickly.
Research like a buyer
- Today’s buyers have research in their DNA and will investigate all they can. Check with your local building department and ensure there are no outstanding issues with your home.
- Verify that property records reflect your home accurately, and prepare to remedy any discrepancy. Make sure your title report is clean, and talk about potential disclosure items with your trusted Chicago real estate agent. Banks won’t lend if there are outstanding issues, and you don’t want to jump through hoops at the eleventh hour. Researching now will keep you one step ahead of the buyers.
- The sale of your home is likely one of your biggest financial transactions. Get a real estate agent on your team early, and make a list of all the tasks you need to complete before listing this spring. Now is the time to have those discussions. Smart planning and a good strategy will ensure a quick, painless and profitable home sale. More tips can be found HERE
April 2019 – Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group is prepared to take spring on by storm! With an ongoing client-centered approach to top producing, high ranking Chicago real estate performance, Ian and his team combine experienced real estate strengths to ensure that your overall real estate transactions are outstanding! More information on Ian Schwartz and his dynamic group HERE and HERE…”everything we touch turns to SOLD!”
2018-Back to School and Pre-Autumn Advice-5 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes: Chicago Real Estate
Are 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”:
- They don’t ask enough questions of their Realtor and/or lender and end up missing out on the best deal.
- They don’t act quickly enough to make a decision and someone else buys the house.
- They don’t find the right agent who’s willing to help them through the home buying process.
- They don’t do enough to make their offer look appealing to a seller.
- 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
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.
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.
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
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 percentages, 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.
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:
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 home running in peak condition all the autumn season long in 2016.
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.
“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.
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!
You’re thinking of listing your Chicago property, or maybe, your bags are already packed — you’re ready to move. The last thing you want to do is follow your real estate agent’s advice about putting time and effort into listing photos…Or should you? But if you don’t, your photos could prevent your stunning Chicago home from selling, and doing so quickly. Consider these 6 do’s and don’ts to help your Chicago real estate listing attract the attention it deserves online and in person:
Do: Capture your home’s selling points. You may think it’s best to skip the bathroom when taking listing photos, but if yours was recently updated, show it off! Bathrooms are among the first spaces to be upgraded in newly-owned homes, according.
Do: Welcome visitors. An attractive front door and entryway go a long way in setting the tone for the rest of your home. Leaving the door open in one of your photos can also send a welcoming message.
Do: Stage each room. While there are several options to consider when staging your home, the key is to put your best foot forward in your listing photos. In the kitchen pictured above, a vase of flowers freshens the space without hiding the countertops or other high-end finishes.
Don’t: Stage a mess. If there is one absolute “no” when it comes listing photos, it’s capturing a mess. It’s one of the things sellers do that drive agents nuts. To check if your level of cleanliness is the right amount, do the “grandma test” by asking yourself if your grandma would feel at home here.
Do: Show off the view. If the view is one of your Chicago home’s selling points, you’ll definitely want to show it off. It’s best if you can capture it with a part of the house — such as the deck or porch — in the shot. That way, buyers can tell where the view is from and more easily picture themselves there.
Do: Show off architectural details. Archways, nooks and crannies may be hard to photograph, but they are what give your home its Chicago charm and character. Try to capture a few of the architectural details if you can. More information HERE
September 2014…..The Autumn season is upon us in Chicago. Real estate is bustling and Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group continues providing top producing, high ranking, expert, client centric, personalized service, all while gaining trust, loyalty and friendship with each and every transaction. He and his dedicated team – Jenna Plakas, Victor Elting, Wendi Gordon Shelist, and Michael Shin combine experienced forces to certify that your overall real estate experience is exceptional. As a buyer, no stone will be left unturned to find you the perfect home. As a seller, Ian and his attentive 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. They will take all vital steps to attract qualified buyers, and close the sale(s) with ease.