WHY CURB APPEAL STILL MATTERS

The picture is starting to improve in the real estate market. The Chicago real estate market traditionally kicks into gear right after Super Bowl Sunday and this year it got an even earlier start. We are seeing many more first time buyers out this winter when compared with last year. More buyers are planning to purchase in the $200,000 to $350,000 range. The increased activity will help to sell off some of the existing distressed inventory that includes short sales and foreclosures, and eventually prices will rise.
I believe the recent rise in the stock market is the reason for increased activity. For a while now Boomer parents have wanted to help their children with a down payment on their first home, but have hesitated to take money out of their mutual funds because the share values were so low. Now that the stock market is showing steady growth, they are more comfortable in pulling out money to gift to their children who need help putting together a down payment.
That said, it’s not too early for condo owners who are planning to sell to get their places in shape. A well maintained building can increase your sale price by up to 10%. And in our current market that is described as a price and beauty contest, we see over and over again that buyers purchase well priced places that look really good.
It’s still not a market where you can afford to lose a potential buyer because the outside of the building doesn’t look well maintained. As a Realtor®, I experienced many instances where buyers won’t even step inside a condo building that is poorly maintained on the outside, even when they have an appointment to see the home. It all goes back to what we call curb appeal. It is well known that homes and condo buildings with high curb appeal command higher prices and take less time to sell. Buyers will pay thousands of dollars more for a well-kept condo or home because they trust that it has been cared for rather than neglected.
Nothing can sour a buyer on a property faster than if they see litter on the street and up against the curbs, unkempt parkways, and alleys with graffiti and garage doors that are dirty. I’m not talking about replacing major elements such as bricks or siding. I’m talking about regular maintenance and beautifying tasks you’d like to live with anyway. It can add up to thousands more on the purchase price of your home or condo.
Stay tuned later this week and I’ll give you projects that will have the most impact.
Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team

Rogers Park, Evanston Summer Camps Abound

After the long and dreary winter we’ve experienced, it’s hard to believe that summer is  actually right around the corner, and now is the time to get your children enrolled in summer  day camp.  

If you live on the north side of Chicago, you’re in luck.   You have dozens of options to choose from.   There are camps that focus on literally every activity under the sun–from academic camps to yoga camps, and everything in between.   Traditional day camps are the favorite of many, and there are many such camps in Rogers Park and Evanston.   Here are  two of the local favorites:

Rogers Park

Kid’s Playing Camp– Partners with St. Scholastica Academy, 7416 N. Ridge, Chicago.

This camp is a well-kept secret, according to many satisfied parents.   There are three sessions: 6/21 – 7/3, 7/7 – 7/18 and 7/21 – 8/1.   You can sign up for one, two or all three sessions. This camp has a generous drop off and pick up policy.   Drop off is between 8 and 8:30am, and pick up is between 3:45 and 5:00pm.  

Activities include sports, music, cooking, drama, science, arts and crafts, photography and swimming.   Every Wednesday is field trip day, when the children venture out to museums and recreational activities.  Fridays are swimming days, when the children get to swim and play at the beautiful Northeastern University pool.   Camper/counselor ratio is 1:6.   Fees are $300 – $325 per session.

Evanston

McGaw YMCA Day Camp

This camp fills up quickly every year. Ten weekly sessions run from June 16 – August 22. Camp Rainbow is for the younger kids – ages 2.5 – 5 years old, and Camp WaNaGo is for kids from 1st to 5th grades.  

Both camps fill their days with activities ranging from arts and crafts, sports, games, learning activities and swimming, and weekly field trips. Regular camp hours are 9am – 4pm (shorter hours for the little ones), and extended hours are available for an additional fee. Per week fees for non-YMCA members are $203, and for members, $169.  Each week focuses on a different theme.  

For a comprehensive listing of Chicago-area camps, visit here.