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!”
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.
Chicago real estate agents are needed guides before during and after one of the most intimate transactions in a lifetime…buying or selling a home. Yes, it is a business process, but one that demands a professional who embodies integrity, dedication, a personable demeanor, and a good sense of humor. In addition having a long standing profile of concrete Realtor results doesn’t hurt either. Below are the top 5 essentials for success in any business, real estate included:
1. Understanding the Big Picture is Priceless
Taking the time to learn about a client’s business (and personal) goals and objectives is the backbone to success. Asking smart questions and doing lots of listening ranks high on the list. Understanding the dynamics and trends of an industry sets a professional apart from the rest. Look for proven results and outcomes.
2. Knowing a Client’s Expectations and Exceeding Them
Creating a reasonable set of expectations and then see if the professional will do their best to beat them. This mindset is 100% accepted and admired in any business process. The idea of following through with commitments in a timely manner is within this concept; a guaranteed way to earn trust and loyalty.
3. Observe and Execute the Client’s Preferred Way of Communicating
Asking a client for their method of frequent communication and delivering updates/progress reports often saves time as well as potential frustration from both sides.
4. Acclimate the Client to the Team Working on Their Matters
Taking the time to introduce clients to the team or group who will be working on an end goal is a good business practice for sure. Knowing the specialties of each staff member can eliminate confusion and create a seamless transaction or process.
5. Show the Client You Appreciate Their Business
Client love is the building block for friendships and ongoing business associations. Taking the time to show a client that you value their business earns loyalty, trust, and sustains a positive reputation.
Ian Schwartz with The Ian Schwartz Group, prides himself on his keen ability to listen, and consistently advocate client-centric results. Ian and his team combine forces to ensure an outstanding real estate experience for each and every client they service. For more than 14 years, Ian has been among the elite group of top performing Realtors in Chicago and by rank fall in the upper 1% of real estate professionals nationwide. number 1 in closed sales volume within his highly productive Lincoln Park Plaza (1910 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL) Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate office in 2017, he understands his profile of success in 2018 and years after will depend on his ability to continue to gain client trust, loyalty and friendship.
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 to 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!
The U.S. government and local organizations can often offer special tax credits/incentives for first-time home buyers. When the economy was a shambles and the housing market was in disarray back in 2009 and 2010, factors often resulted from a purely financial standpoint, that people who bought then may have been better off renting and putting their down payment and transaction costs into the stock market, according to a new analysis by Zillow Research. On the other end of the spectrum…Many people who took the government and other organizations up on special home-buying incentives six years ago remain in those homes and may end up making a financial killing this year and in years to come.
The only sure lesson to take from these set of scenarios is that no single element — low interest rates, low prices, government incentives — should compel you to buy or sell. That kind of myopia can backfire. The home-buying decision isn’t made in a vacuum, but includes a host of factors that make the timing right. For example, how long you plan to live there should be a major consideration. In fact, many other factors go into owning a home — some financial, some emotional, many timed to the needs of a particular buyer and/or family. Having an experienced real estate team to work on your behalf as an advocate is vital to ensuring sound real estate decisions. More information HERE
Per a recent client testimonial, Ian with the top performing Ian Schwartz Group.. “is savvy, smart, skillful, funny, aggressive, hardworking, an incredible broker who will go above and beyond not only every day, but every hour, quite possibly every minute of every hour, to get the job done.” Ian and his team strive to surpass expectations and make each and every real estate transaction a seamless success; or in other words….everything we touch turns to SOLD!
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|
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!
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-shopping — 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
Real Estate can be overwhelming. Having a top producing Chicago real estate team like The Ian Schwartz Group as a trusted guide can be priceless. A team small enough to focus and truly listen to your needs/wants but large enough to efficiently get the job done, all while gaining your trust, loyalty, and friendship.
Guest blogger: Matt Dobbe, Regional Marketing Coordinator, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage – Wisconsin Region
As someone new to the real estate industry, I’ve learned that buying a home is more than just bed and bath counts. It’s waterfront property, big yards, BICCs and a friendly neighborhood. It’s FSBOs, REOs and contracts and paperwork…A lot of paperwork.
It probably shouldn’t have surprised me, but I didn’t realize how much had to be signed, approved and permitted when buying or selling a home. I also didn’t know that all real estate agents were fluent in more than one language: The Language of Real Estate. The Language of Real Estate consists largely of acronyms and abbreviations and if you happen to be one who’s not fluent in Real Estate, deciphering what a certain acronym or term may mean can make it seem like you’re trying to crack a decades long real estate code; similar to…
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