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Don’t Forget 2018 Holiday Curb Appeal: Chicago Real Estate

During the 2018 holidays or any holiday no matter the year, 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.

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Fall 2018 Home Maintenance Checklist-Chicago Real Estate

Is fall home maintenance as important as spring cleaning….absolutely!  The air on a brisk 2018 autumn morning inspires us to dutifully button up the home in preparation for cooler days and longer nights, right? Below is a quick reference guide full of safety inspired tips to sharpen up a Chicago home or any property for that matter:

Give the roof and chimney a look-over
Assuming your roof isn’t too steep, and isn’t covered with slate or tile, you may be able to carefully walk on it on a dry day. Look for broken or missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing and seals around vent pipes and chimneys, and damage to boards along the eaves.  Tip: Also peer down your chimney with a flashlight to make sure no animals have set up house in it. If you can’t get on your roof, perform this inspection with a ladder around the perimeter.

Weather-stripping to doors and windows a must
On doors, make sure the bottom seal is working properly — there are many sweeps, gaskets and thresholds designed to seal this gap. Doors generally need weather-stripping in their jambs as well.    Weather-stripping can be plastic, foam, felt or metal; its job is to seal small gaps, keeping moisture and cold air outside where they belong. Tip:  Look around your doors and windows: Is the weather-stripping torn or missing? This can become expensive if ignored. Adhesive-backed foam pads are easy to install for this purpose. Newer, energy-efficient windows generally don’t require added weather-stripping, but if your windows are older, weather-stripping can keep drafts at bay and

Don’t forget the gutters
they’ll be performing double duty soon with rainstorms and falling leaves—Do a quick visual check to make sure gutters are clear.

Exterior caulk is key
Carefully read manufacturer’s directions to make sure the caulk you buy will work where you plan to use it, and don’t forget to purchase a caulking gun. Early fall is a good time for this task because caulk becomes difficult to apply when the temperature falls. Think of caulk as weather-stripping in a tube. Tip: Any gap on the outside of your home can be a candidate for caulking. Look at transition spots: corners, windows, doors, areas where masonry joins siding, or places where vents and other objects protrude from walls.

Speculate Insulation
This is a good time to check the condition of insulation and see if you need more, especially if you live in an older home. You can purchase unbacked or loose-fill insulation if you are just beefing up what is already there. Tip: If you are adding batted insulation to a spot that has none, remember that the foil-backed side is the vapor barrier, and it must face the heated area.

For example, if you are laying fiberglass insulation in an unfinished attic floor to keep heat in the living room below, you should see pink when you’re done — not foil. If your walls lack insulation, consider having a professional install blown-in insulation foam. The energy savings will probably offset the cost of the procedure in a couple of years.

Ok on wood?
Wood piles attract insect and animal pests, so stack wood away from the house. Wood dries best when it’s protected from rain and has air circulating around it, so under the roof of a wall-less carport would be an ideal wood storage spot. If you have a wood stove, it’s not too early to lay in a supply of firewood. Tip: Though most of us buy whatever’s local, bear in mind that softwoods like fir and cedar burn faster and create hazardous creosote in the chimney, thus requiring more system maintenance and more wood. Hardwoods such as oak, hickory and maple are slow, hot, clean burners.

Remember the dryer vent
This is another one of those tasks that should be on your to-do list every six months. Scoot your clothes dryer away from the wall, unplug it, and vacuum behind it. Tip:  (If it’s a gas dryer, turn off the gas supply to the dryer at the appliance shutoff valve.) Unhook the tube that leads to the vent and clear as much lint from the tube as you can. Grab a shop vacuum, go outside, and tackle the outside dryer vent as well. More information HERE

October 2018 – Top producing, client-driven Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group takes joy in over $50,000,000 sold so far this year; as well as outstanding testimonials such as: “This is where Ian really shines and his mental rigor as a former lawyer came into play. He is a masterful and brilliant negotiator. For this reason alone, it would be a mistake not to hire Ian if you are looking to purchase a new house. Ian does not stop working for you until you have the deal closed, keys in hand and are fully happy. I have the highest regard for his capability and would highly recommend him”.

Find out why Ian and his team say: everything we touch turns to SOLD!

 

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

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

Real estate experts like The Ian Schwartz Group are trained to list and sell your beloved Chicago home for sale, but it doesn’t hurt to study up on some real estate basics. Consider the following real estate sales strategy. Take note of these 3 steps, and you’ll be well on your way to jump-starting your home sale:

Find a real estate agent. As you’re getting your house in order, start the hunt for a real estate agent. You’re not looking for just any agent; you need a real star to get you to the finish line. Put the word out to your network and don’t feel like you have to work with someone because they are family. Once you have some referrals, take the time for an interview and get to know their selling style. If said agent declines the interview request, they’re probably not for you — proceed to the next one on your list. If they seem almost right, keep looking until you find a great match. It’s worth the time investment to find the right agent.

Schedule a strategy session with your real estate agent. Purging and cleaning were the warm-up act. Now you’re ready for the main event. After you’ve signed on the dotted line with your real estate professional, schedule a walk-through before listing and take your agent’s feedback seriously. They know what color to paint that old maroon accent wall, how to stage the living room so it looks 20% bigger, and how to deal with outdated kitchen cabinets. They also know how to allocate your dollars to impress potential buyers.

Be vigilant with your belongings. Now is the time to tackle those organization and cleaning projects. The detritus of life tend to stack up in our living spaces, which may be fine for every day but isn’t great for selling. Make the adage “less is more” your mantra and divide your belongings into two piles: one to take to the new place, one to toss or give away. (Or try following a flow chat for decluttering tips.) And remember, packing items away doesn’t mean shoving them in the hallway closet. Buyers will very likely open every cabinet and drawer, so those spaces should be tidy too. For more advanced tips see info HERE

Ian with The Ian Schwartz Group has sold over 500 million dollars of real estate, including sales in excess of 55 million dollars in 2015 and sales in excess of 50 million dollars in 2017. He and his team are consistently in the top 1% of agents in the Chicago Association of Realtors and in the top 1% of Coldwell Banker agents nationally. Find out why this spring and summer 2018…everything we touch turns to Sold!

 

 

2017 First Time Home Buyers: Top 9 Ways to Prepare-Chicago Real Estate

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!

Top Questions to Ask at an Open House – Chicago Real Estate Experts

When you’re looking to buy something as expensive as a home (when else do you drop hundreds of thousands of dollars without missing a beat?), there’s no room for error. Most of us are familiar with the idea of window-shoppingopen-house — browsing through the racks on the off chance you’ll find a diamond in the rough….which brings us to the subject of real real estate open houses; every open house presents an opportunity to land that hidden gem, or to sniff out an overpriced dud? The best way to take advantage of this personal meeting is by being prepared. Get the inside scoop by asking questions. Remember visiting an open house  gives the prospective buyer, an opportunity to speak directly to the seller’s agent or direct team/staff member(s). Use the opportunity to ask some basic questions:

What’s the seller’s timeline?

Sometimes sellers choose a buyer’s offer simply because of timing. Perhaps they want to sell quickly because of a job offer, or delay the sale so their kids can finish the school year.

The more you know about what the sellers want, the more easily you can work around it — and put together a tempting offer while getting a good deal on the price.

Where can I get a bite to eat?

Getting directions to a local eatery or coffee shop will tell you a lot about your neighborhood. If there’s a retail strip close by that locals frequent and feel proud of, chances are, you’ll love it too.

What are the neighbors like?

Is the neighborhood kid-friendly? Are there lots of retired people? Is there a thriving bar scene on the weekends?

Some people are fine doing their own thing and don’t require (or want) a tight-knit neighborhood. But other people are much happier if they’re surrounded by kindred souls who are in a similar stage of life. The seller’s agent will be able to give valuable information about the people you’d be rubbing shoulders with, if you choose to buy.

And don’t forget: While open houses are great venues to ask questions and listen, be careful not to give away more than you want to about your own situation. Being discreet about your finances and how much you love the home will benefit you when it’s time to bargain for a good price.

How many offers have been made?

Does the agent look happy? Maybe even … suspiciously happy? Is she distracted, perhaps not giving you the “hard sell”? She might have received word that an offer is coming in any minute.

Make sure to anticipate the conversation by asking her directly how many offers have been made on the home so that you can negotiate accordingly.

Has the asking price fluctuated?

Your agent can find out how many times the price has shifted since the home was first listed, but the seller’s agent will likely jump at the chance to explain why. Perhaps the price dropped because the seller has to move on a tight timeline.

Info like this might even clue you in that the list price is somewhat flexible — and you can use that to your advantage when it’s time to draft your offer letter. See more tips and suggestions HERE

September 2015 –  A recent rating of Ian with The Ian Schwartz Group…”Ian really shines and his mental rigor as a former lawyer came into play.  He is a masterful and brilliant negotiator.  For this reason alone, it would be a mistake not to hire Ian if you are looking to purchase a new house.  Ian does not stop working for you until….” See this recent review of Ian HERE

 

 

 

 

Sell a Home Faster with Staging-Chicago Real Estate

If you are trying to sell your Chicago home, presentation can make all the difference. You always hear about “location, location, location,” but no matter where your house is, if it’s messy, cluttered or if you have your kitchen set up as a home office, it just isn’t going to sell. Staging is an integral part of selling, and selling at a faster rate:

HomeStagingTips

 

More information HERE

 

Closing on a Home-Don’t Forget the Important Details: Chicago Real Estate

BusyIt’s probable to be a little hectic right before the closing of a real estate transaction, but you should always make time for a final walk-through. Your goal is to make sure that your new Chicago home is in the same condition you expected it would be. This is your last chance to conduct a series of checks, to ensure things are in working condition and that agreed-upon repairs have been made. Here’s a short list of what not to overlook on your final walk-through. Keep in mind having an experienced Chicago Realtor as your resource, can be the difference between a successful or not-so-great real estate transaction:

To start, make sure that:

  • Repairs you’ve requested have been made.
  • There are no major changes to the property since you last viewed it.
  • All items that were included in the sale price are there.
  • No plants or shrubs have been removed.

  • All appliances are operating, such as the dishwasher, washer and dryer, oven, etc.
  • Intercom, doorbell, and alarm are operational.
  • Hot water heater is working.
  • All personal items of the sellers and all debris have been removed.

Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group, a trusted Chicago real estate resource for over 14 years.  Over the past 9 years,  with the help of his team, Ian has been the number one agent in Resale Sales Volume in the Chicago Lincoln Park Plaza office, averaging more than 25 million dollars in sales per year. In 2012 he was the #1 agent in closed units, and ranked in the  top 1% of all Coldwell Banker Agents nationally. He continues to be the best in providing unparalleled service to buyers and sellers alike. For more information visit him HERE.

4 Tips for the 2013 Real Estate Buyer-Chicago Real Estate

HomeBuyingYou’re a new buyer or maybe a repeat buyer, all too familiar with the Chicago real estate process. You’ve been saving for a down payment and watching the Chicago housing market news. You see the low interest rates, are confident you’ll own a property for at least five years and know that you’ll be able to find a Chicago home that you’ll love within your budget. This recipe means you’re on the way to buying a home in 2013!

But before you take the leap, glance over these 4 important tips and video:

1. Find a lender

Get qualified for a loan and find out what your options are. This sets the tone immediately when working with a real estate sales professional to determine which areas and types of Chicago properties fit within your budget.

2. Find an experienced and competent Chicago real estate agent

Oh the search to find the Realtor whom you feel can best represent you. Talk to acquaintances and friends for referrals, and interview at least three agents to get a feel for “your  style” of real estate professional. Ask them for references. Get a grasp of how many properties they’ve sold in the past few years, and if they work as an agent full-time and are familiar with the areas where you would like to purchase:

 3. Be a good student

This will most likely be your most complicated, expensive and riskiest purchase of your life. Consult with your  real estate agent and possibly a lawyer. Read books, articles or take a class. In other words, do everything you can to better understand the real estate buying process and how to make the best home purchase decisions.

 4. Take to shopping

Consider all the Chicago neighborhoods that fit in your price point. Drive them during the day, at night and on the weekend to get a feel for the areas. Check online to capture the stats, ratings, and reports for the communities. How are the schools? Does the area fit your lifestyle needs/wants? Learn all you can about where you may potentially be a Chicago real estate owner. More info HERE and HERE

Ian Schwartz with the Ian Schwartz group represents buyers and sellers alike. He understands their needs and listens closely to ensure an outstanding Chicago real estate experience.  As the number one agent in Resale Sales Volume in the Lincoln Park Plaza office for 9 consecutive years, averaging more than 25 million dollars in sales per year;  Ian and his team (Jenna Labinger and Tracy Olson) will leave no stone unturned until the perfect home is found or sold. Ian proudly serves the 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, Rogers Park, and Evanston locations.

Avoid Common Holiday Blunders-Chicago Real Estate

Yes Chicago’s holiday season may be one of the best times to buy and sell, but BIG self sabotaging methods can wiggle their way in. Don’t be a potential enemy to your own real estate transaction. Routinely, various approaches can end up costing more than anyone ever expected.HolidayPresents

The great news is, prevention by way of education can be the first step. Below are 3 examples of clear and concise ways to detect and/or avoid common home buying or selling pitfalls:

1. Rejecting expert advice.   If you have a reputable, competent, hardworking Chicago agent, you might be surprised at how often they can save you money with simple nuggets of experience-laden advice specific to a given real estate scenario, like:

  • Make a move, act fast
  • staging
  • list it for…
  • offer less/more
  • counter-offer for…
  • be assertive
  • consider the bank’s terms
  • get one more inspection/bid
  • don’t remove contingencies yet/remove contingencies now
  • ask for X, Y or Z repair, price reduction, credit, or longer time to close.

Experienced, local, seasoned Chicago agents have a strong sense for some of the precise things that may be tricky for a buyer or seller to wrap their heads around, like pricing and negotiations. You should definitely ask your agent for data and the logical rationale behind their advice, and should keep asking until you understand and are comfortable with the decision that you make.

If you have a hard time trusting your agent’s advice for whatever reason, consider that you might simply not yet have found the right agent.

2. Property overpricing or lowballing.   Setting a list-price that is significantly above what other, similar homes have recently sold for will not only not get you that price, it poses the potential to turn buyers off, keep them from coming to see your home, make your place sit on the market longer than it needs to and ultimately, it can result in low or no offers. At the extreme, overpricing can force you to cut the price, sometimes dramatically, to activate buyers who have learned to disregard the obviously overpriced listing in their online house hunt search results.

And beware buyers: making lowball offers significantly below the fair market value of target homes has a similar impact. Sellers ignore them or counter them up higher or they get beat out (often repeatedly) by more realistic buyers. I have seen the tendency to lowball cost buyers thousands over the months they are trying to get a fantasy-land deal, in terms of home price increases or money that same buyer ends up throwing at their eventual home, out of desperation and frustration.

Don’t let your emotions be the ruler of your pricing or offer decisions. Motivation is one strong factor to consider, but the data on recent, comparable sales should be given much more weight, to keep the threat of price-related self-sabotage at bay.

3. On the fence or hesitating.  Once you’ve done the math, saved your pennies, prepped your property and otherwise decided to move forward on your home buying or selling plan of action, hesitation can cost you.

  • Buyers who hesitate to make an offer can lose out on a home entirely – or can wait so long another offer comes in, forcing them to make a move they may not otherwise select.
  • Sellers who hesitate to take an offer can lose out on a buyer, when a new listing comes on the market that catches their eye or better meets their needs.
  • Mortgage borrowers who wait too long to lock their interest rates can end up paying more when rates creep up instead of down.

Eliminate hesitation-related self-sabotage by:

  • working through the life and financial decisions that are intertwined with your real estate matters completely and on paper before you start the process.
  •  getting as educated as possible in advance about your local market dynamics and neighborhood home values.
  • dive head first into the discomfort and uncertainty that everyone experiences when they make major decisions, sitting down with your agent and other pros involved to get every question you have answered in a timely manner so you can move forward, rather than putting decisions off and “sleeping on it”.

Let The Ian Schwartz Group guide you through the Chicago real estate process with integrity, experience, professionalism, and proven top performing results. Ian and his team expertly analyze the needs of their clients to deliver quality service for buyers and sellers alike. Ian Schwartz can be found in the Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate office,  located in the Lincoln Park Plaza- 1840 N. Clark Street, Chicago, 60614. More information  HERE and HERE

 

Ian Schwartz Tips In a Bidding War?-Top Producing Chicago Realtor

Ian Schwartz Tips In a Bidding War? 5 Ways to Win the Home You Want http://ow.ly/1kHzKS